WHEN WORDS FAIL – Marilyn Armstrong

I was reading a comment in the Washington Post that followed my own line of thought:


Yes, the politicians are to blame — but so are we. The two trends intersect.The Republican war on science succeeded by making people distrust our medical experts. Next, there are, apparently, many fewer Americans willing to endure even minimal discomfort for the good of us all! 


I understand that politicians — neither Republicans nor Democrats — started the pandemic. And Republicans didn’t “make people” distrust medical experts. We just have an extraordinary number of really stupid people in this country who will believe anything Trump or his menagerie tell them.

That Trump and his menagerie are all liars is true but they couldn’t do it without a lot of stupid, selfish people who choose to believe them. Want to believe them. Because these morons don’t like reality, don’t want to learn, never read books, and ONLY watch Fox News. The concept of research appalls them.They hate educated people and firmly believe their ignorance is as good as an expert’s knowledge.

These are the same selfish pigs who are helping make American the pestilential center of the world. No other country has managed to have behaved as poorly as the good old U.S,A. We are the sickest country in the world and have the kind of citizens living here who think making things worse is okay because it’s their constitutional right to not be inconvenienced by a plague.

I’ve read the constitution. Nowhere does it says that our government can’t inconvenience us. They inconvenience us all the time and to top it off, they are racist and anti semitic.

Today, as the number of COVID patients has risen to an all-time high, Trump’s people went to court to kill Obamacare, The ACA. So that 20 million more people will be unable to get medical care. In the middle of a pandemic. Who are these people? What is wrong with this country? How have the rest of us been so negligent as to allow these insensitive thugs to be in charge? How can we have allowed it to happen? I didn’t vote for this government. Neither did Garry or any of my friends but a lot of people did vote and many of them, without regrets. Some wish they hadn’t, but a lot are still worshipping this sleazebag as if he is some kind of bizarre, larded god.

And more than ten percent of the voters aren’t sure who they will vote for. Aren’t sure? What would make them sure? When we are excluded from the rest of the world because we still have the disease and everyone else got their acts together and got rid of it? When nobody takes this country seriously or trusts us?

I’m boggled. I don’t even have the words to say how bad I feel and how ashamed I am of this country. It really is humiliating to be an American these days. And that is an awful way to feel.

SO MANY FLOWERS ARE GONE – Marilyn Armstrong

When I started writing Serendipity eight years ago, I was enthusiastic and full of energy. Undisciplined. All over the place. Writing too much, leaping from subject to subject. Angry one day, mellow the next. Ranting about the wrongs of the world and how we needed to fix everything. I think I knew more when I was younger. I even ranted about philosophy. Imagine that.

Almost the end of this run of orchids

And then I just dropped everything and took pictures of birds and flowers and rivers and autumn leaves..

I was so passionate I probably contradicted myself a dozen time a week, but who was counting?

A hideous election that completely altered my world view — and massive heart surgery — and now, I am living in my nightmare world. I expect awful things and to no ones surprise, that’s what we get. Because somehow, through the perfect storm of politics, we elected the worst possible president and now we are living under his tweets.

The last of the orchids … except for 2 more buds

I remember 2012, when I was full-bore into the election and all the positive change I expected to see. The election ended. Gridlock began. The air went out of my bubble. Life got grim and rather ugly. I got sick. I didn’t want to get down in the trenches and duke it out with people with whom I disagreed. I didn’t feel like bothering to call out the crazies for being crazy. I wanted to hear music. Not new music. Old music.

As we head into elections in 2020, we need to be a whole lot smarter. Less passionate, more intelligent. Anyone who still thinks voting has nothing to do with them is beyond help. Let’s find people we can help. Let’s give up on all those people who live in a state of blind hate. They aren’t going to change and we will never convince them of anything. More than half the people I hear from are irrational, stupid, and fascist. We aren’t going to bring them to our side. They don’t have a side. They simply hate.

How do you talk to people who are completely irrational? Who don’t care whether what they believe is true or not? People who think their personal feelings are more important than truth? Any truth?

Meanwhile, there’s music.John Prine is one of our lost flowers.

The current future looks rather bleak. I want it to get better, but it’s hard to see past the mess we are in.

I want to move back to the United States. I’m pretty sure — this ain’t it. Are you hearing Phil Ochs singing “I ain’t marching anymore …” Are you wondering where have all the flowers gone?

This last one was originally sung by THIS group in a tiny coffee house run by my first husband, right near my college. It’s how I got to know the man. The Incredible String Band were … well … incredible.

WHY WE NEED TO SAY IT – RICH PASCHALL

From The Battleground, by Rich Paschall

When someone says “Black Lives Matter” (BLM), some are quick to respond “All Lives Matter” or “Blue Lives Matter” or some other variant. Of course, they are all true, but they are not the right response at this moment in history. You would think the reason would be clear by now. Unfortunately, it is not.

This is similar to the Gay Pride arguments we discussed last year at this time. Some ask, “Why is there a Gay Pride parade?” or “Why is there a Gay Pride month? There is no Straight Pride parade and no Straight Pride Month.”  Gay pride erupted when Gay people were tired of being pushed down and discriminated against. The breakout moment finally happened against the police in New York in the “Stonewall Uprising” in 1969.

Stonewall 1969 (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

In June of that year,  the police showed up at Stonewall Inn for the usual round of harassing the patrons and arresting the drag queens and anyone else they wanted to bring along. They released some people but they waited outside. The crowd began to build and a riot erupted as the police tried to take some away in patrol wagons. The next night the rioting continued. Police responses included nightsticks and tear gas.

A year later parades were held to commemorate the battles that were held along Christopher Street in New York City. These were Pride Parades. It was a celebration of gay pride over discrimination. Parades will not be held this year. After 50 years of being in the streets to declare we will not accept mistreatment any longer, COVID-19 has put a halt to the parades. Why are there Gay Pride Parades? Stonewall is the answer.

Some ask “Why is there Black History Month?”  Like Gay Pride Month (June), Black History Month (February) highlights the often forgotten parts of African-American History.  When it was officially established in 1976, President Gerald Ford told Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history”.

Let face it, US history has been mostly White History month every month. It is important to say out loud the contributions of black Americans because they have been left out of our history books in the past. This is the time to bring them to the forefront of America’s collective knowledge. Yes, some object to a month to highlight Black history as it should be a regular part of history all the time. Think of February as the month we must hear ourselves proclaim this history.

Why is there Women’s History Month? The early history of the US was about explorers, warriors, settlers, entrepreneurs, in other words, all men. Few women found their way into history. Men were the “citizens” and women had to fight for their place.  When the 14th amendment granted citizenship to all born or naturalized here, they really meant men. Women began fighting for the right to vote as early as before the Civil War. They finally won that with the 19th amendment in 1920, but that really just meant white women. Roadblocks were thrown up to prevent black women from voting until President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

After consistently pushing back on women’s rights and women’s contributions to society, it is necessary to have a month to highlight what has previously been left out of history. Women’s contributions to the nation are more than just Betsy Ross sewing a flag.

There are a variety of history and heritage months. We often hate to look back through the ages to learn exactly what our history has been, and has not been. The systematic suppression of some people has led us to a list of groups who have been marginalized and discriminated against in the past. Over time they have risen up and demanded to be seen, be heard, be appreciated, and to be treated equally. Sometimes the only way forward is through marches and protests. These protests are not against the country, but against the discrimination that keeps people from being seen as equals, for understanding that their lives matter too.

“Black Lives Matter” has to be said for all those who still do not understand that it is a part of “All Lives Matter.” It is the part that is not recognized by white nationalists, neo-nazis, KKK members, supporters of extreme right-wing broadcasters, and certain politicians, including the orange one. It needs to be said over and over until those who have been deaf to it until now, hear and understand.

See also: “Stonewall Uprising,” SERENDIPITY, July 1, 2019.

A SWITCH OF REALITIES – BY TOM CURLEY

Marilyn asked me to dig this one up from the archives. It took me a while to find it. It was written quite a while ago. If I didn’t tell you this you would swear it was brand new. Unless you don’t swear. But really, who doesn’t swear? At least once in a while. There was my Aunt Helen, no wait. She could cuss like sailor …

Sorry, I got distracted.

I think if we suggested this now, everybody would go along with it. Including the idiot-in-chief. It’s the “get out of the White House without going to jail card”  he’s been looking for. The “get out of this insane reality card” we’ve all been waiting for.


I figured it out!

The solution!

To reality!

This reality!

This reality TV reality!


The problem is not so much that we are living in a reality TV reality. The problem is that we’re living in a REALLY BAD reality TV reality. Face it, it’s just not working folks.

youtube.com

Do you know what does work? Fictional TV reality! Think about it. There’s a show on TV today called “Designated Survivor.” In it, the whole U.S. government is blown up during a State of the Union Address.  The Executive Branch, the Congress, the Supreme Court, all gone. The one cabinet member that has to stay home becomes the President. He has to rebuild the entire government from the ground up. And while he’s doing that, there’s a mysterious cabal,  the ones responsible  for blowing everybody up, that’s also trying to take over the country. In spite of all that, their government and their President are doing a hell of a lot better job than ours!

tvguide.com

So here’s what we do.  Let’s just switch realities! It’s a win-win for everybody. How do we do this? Simple.

First: The current administration leaves the government and instead, goes on real TV 24 hours a day. On Fox News. They all go to work on sets that look just like Washington, D.C.  They do the exact same things they do now. It will be just like on  “Big Brother”. Only bigger. And on Fox News.

quickmeme.com

They can pass laws, write executive orders, cancel health insurance for the whole nation, cut taxes for billionaires, eliminate “Meals On Wheels” or just kick puppies. Whatever they want! And here’s the best part. Trump supporters won’t be upset because they only watch Fox News. As far as they’ll be concerned, everything is normal.

It just isn’t real.

“And it’s only on Fox.”

Second: OK, great you say. But what about real reality? Who’s going to be the real President? The real cabinet?

Here’s who. Real honest to God fictional ones.

thegeektwins.com

And the cool part is, we have a lot of options. We have lots of choices for President. We could have Jeb Bartlett. He was a great President. Don’t believe me? Watch “The West Wing.” It’s on Netflix, the whole series, all seven seasons.

theoddessyonline.com

We’ve got Dennis Haysbert. I’m pretty sure he was President twice.

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We’ve got Morgan Freeman. Not only was he President, but he was also God!

knowyourmeme.com

And the list goes on. Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline, Jack Nicholson, Peter Sellers … (Oh, for God’s sake, Google the rest.) You get my point.

Now, appointing a cabinet becomes fun!

Secretary of State? How about Tia Leoni? She’s already Secretary of State and seems to be doing a pretty decent job of it. Every Sunday. Let’s give her the job for the rest of the week.

cbs.com

Attorney General? Julianna Margulies. She’s a lawyer, ran for State’s Attorney and by almost all accounts, is a good wife.

cbs.com

Secretary of Defense? Well I admit, at first, I was leaning toward Schwarzenegger or Stallone. Then it hit me.

CHUCK NORRIS! Think about it. We could cut the military budget down to nothing. Nobody’s going to go to war with us. Nobody fucks with Chuck Norris!

memegenerator.com


ISIS COMMANDER: We will destroy America!

ISIS GUY WATCHING THE NEWS: Sir, America just made Chuck Norris Secretary of Defense.

ISIS COMMANDER:  Shit.


(Insert favorite Chuck Norris joke here. My favorite? Chuck Norris once counted to infinity. Twice.)

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Department of Education? The cast of Sesame Street.

themarysue.com

Depart of Health and Human Services? Pick any of the stern but kindly Chiefs of Staff from the medical show of your choice. Any one of them will do just fine. (Except for Dr. Zorba. I’m pretty sure he’s dead.) (Extra points if you get that reference.)

humansofjudiasm.com

Department of Housing? Chris Rock. OK, he really doesn’t have any more qualifications for the job than Ben Carson does. But I just like the guy. He’s funny.

memegenerator.net

(If you get that reference, you get double extra points.) I could go on, but you get the point.

How do we do this? Simple. We have an election. Not the usual kind. Between voter suppression, low turnouts, gerrymandering, and the Electoral College, our elections are not working out well.  I mean, seriously — that’s how we got into this mess to begin with.

So what do we do? We have an election the same way reality TV shows do it. Everybody gets to vote from their smartphone, their computer, their tablet, or Android device. You can email or text your vote. You are only allowed to vote up to 20 times on any given device. You can vote up until 10 pm Eastern Standard Time. (Text and messaging fees may apply.)

ethnews.com

Granted, this will fire up the Millennials and confuse the hell out of old folks. Maybe it’s unfair, but it’s still better than the Electoral College. We can set up March Madness style brackets and have an election every week for maybe a month until we get a winner. More office pools!

yankeeinexile.wordpress.com

And we, the people, elect everybody. The President doesn’t get to appoint his cabinet. We do.


It’s Democracy at work!

And it could work!


As a cheese-faced person who somehow actually became President of the United States said to a bunch of totally incredulous Black people a while back:

theoddeseyonline


“Give it a try. What have you got to lose?”


DEAR REPUBLICAN SENATOR – By musingsofanoldfart

Dear Republican Senator

As an independent and former Republican (and Democrat) voter, I try to read and watch several validated news sources. They are validated, as they try to get it right and print retractions when they don’t. I also try to use an independent lens to see politicians for their good and bad actions and stances, regardless of party. Am I biased? Of course, we all are. But, my greater bias is favoring the truthtellers as I do not cotton to being obviously lied to by our elected officials.

That is why your support of this reckless president is troubling. It troubles me that he is so cavalier with the truth, that maybe, he does not know when the truth stops and the marketing schtick begins. But, this is not news, as five biographers of the president have noted he has a problem with the truth. And, the Mueller report (which I read) validated several untruths made by the president and did not exonerate him of obstruction of justice.

But, you know this, because I would worry about you more if you did not. Yet, it bothers me to see Senators seemingly support tribal loyalty over our constitution. You can say that you do not do that, but I can read how seemingly rational people bend over backwards to defend the indefensible.

Instead of looking to say those who investigated this corrupt and deceitful president somehow did not do it pristinely, it would be better to pay attention to that parade of honorable diplomats who testified under oath and at great risk of their concerns over the president’s actions in Ukraine. Now, the Republican Senate can pretend that all that did not happen, but these folks knew the president is highly vindictive, but testified anyway. Some have lost their jobs and received death threats, yet they still did it,

Rather than focus on whitewashing history, I would prefer the Senate to spend time focusing on the issues of today. COVID-19 deaths in the US are now in excess of 115,000. That is 27% of the global death total, but we have only 5% of the global population. And, as we have opened up the country more, too many have been too rash with their actions and COVID-19 is on the rise again. Frankly, this is not a surprise. The summer heat dampens the spread, but too many folks in close proximity, especially indoors, does the opposite.

The other issue is the ongoing racial injustice that is being shown to our black citizens. This new Jim Crow era is seeing greater degrees of incarceration for blacks than for whites for the same crimes and blacks being treated differently and more aggressively by police. I recognize the police have a hard job, but they need to better police their own. Every group has bad apples and even good police make poor decisions in the face of fear. We must do better at this. It is well-past time.

The current president has not helped on these two issues and it concerns me. We missed six weeks of planning on COVID-19, where we could have taken some steps instead of calling it a hoax and naysaying it as late as February 28, ironically the date of the first US death (now we exceed 115,000 just over three months later). Instead of being the leader we needed, the president decided to follow his modus operandi of misinformation, which continues to this day. As for the racial injustice, while I applaud the bipartisan sentencing reform of many months ago, the president has not been one to ease the tensions of the whole nation. We need him to be president for all, not just his more strident base of voters.

READ THE REST OF THIS POST: DEAR REPUBLICAN SENATOR

America’s Burning | lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown

AMERICA’S BURNING
By JUDY DYKSTRA-BROWN



America’s Burning

Count the faces. Take a tally
of the peaceful protest rally.
Their routine is most well-planned,
masks in place, placards in hand.

Enter police. Down on belly!!!
Enter newscasters for telly.
Teargas in the people’s park,
Truckloads arrive after dark.

Rioting and smashing glass.
Other dark deeds come to pass.
Using protest for excuse
to bring discord and spread abuse.

Violence becomes routine.
Authority a cruel machine.
A whole nation comes to grieve
the loss of what most folks believe.

An orange bigot, Bible raised,
pontificates, posturing, crazed.
A landmark of our country’s pride,
struck by a flash as freedom died.

Has our nation come to this?
This puffed-up, prideful bag of piss?
Shame on a country who listens to
a fool who’s rotten through and through.

Let sane men take the lead  and bring
some sanity to everything.
Equality and fairness reign
under a government more sane.

People stand up. Demand the best.
Do not give up. We cannot rest.
Seize back the country we have sold
to men who only care for gold.

Give succor to the halt and lame.
Do not play the money game
subsidizing rich man’s greed
instead of helping those in need.

Color is just an outer skin
and not a mark of shame or sin.
Use these sad times to make a start
to start to recognize the heart

that unites men from every nation,
every interest, every station.
Save our earth and save mankind.
Restore justice, and make her blind!!

Source: America’s Burning | lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown

WHAT WE ALWAYS HAVE BEEN – RICH PASCHALL

From the battleground, by Rich Paschall

With the continual unrest across the country and the prospects that in some places it will not end soon, many may be asking themselves, “How did things get to be like this? When did our country become so racist, so divided?”  I have an unfortunate answer for those who would be asking. It has always been this way.

The division of authority and power between black and white Americans goes back to the beginnings of the colonies.  In 1565 the Spanish explorer who founded St. Augustine Florida brought African slaves with him. African slaves were brought to the British colonies by 1619. Massachusetts legalized slavery in 1641. Companies were set up to deal with the slave trade as if the people brought here were just commodities.

Landing of Negroes at Jamestown from a Dutch Man-of-war, 1619. In this image, the Dutch sailors, who have captured slaves from a Spanish ship, are negotiating a trade with the Jamestown settlers for food. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

In 1705 the Virginia Slave codes stated that anyone brought in to the land who was non-Christian could be a slave. Apparently, they thought this included Native Americans. Well, there is a whole host of regrettable “milestones” along the bumpy road to becoming a nation.

It’s no secret that the authors of the Constitution struggled with the idea of slavery. The Southern colonies were much more dependent on the free labor to work under the hot sun. Their booming agricultural economy relied on the slaves they had bought. Rather than have no country, the compromise was to allow this system of racism and slavery, mostly in the South. When slavery was put to an end by a horrific civil war, the racism did not end. In fact, in many places, it has not ended yet.

With a war ripping America apart in the 19th Century, you would think things would change by the 20th Century. Unfortunately, the story of the first 65 years of the 20th Century is one filled with white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and the Klu Klux Klan. They terrorized black citizens and any white person who would dare to stand up for them. Whipping and lynching were a way of life in some communities. By the way, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky seems to be blocking an anti-lynching bill in 2020. You read that correctly. 2020!

All the racism and discrimination in schools and housing and employment were put to an end, on paper anyway, when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed by President Lyndon Johnson. It did not, however, put an end to the racism taught in the home and in certain school districts across the land. With no national standard and decisions on curriculum made in every community, school boards were free to incorporate whatever version of history and sometimes religion that they approved. Even some local pastors perpetuated the myth that some people are superior to others. You still hear it today.

When children hear hate and lies as they grow up, in the home, in school, and in church, these lessons become the beliefs that they cling to in adulthood. Racism is taught. It is the only way people will grow up to be such haters. It is passed down through the generations.

Many police departments, big and small, have officers who believe they must keep “those people” in line. At one time that meant black, but with racism spewed by many of our national politicians, it could also mean immigrants, non-Christian religions, gay, or any other “non-conforming” groups.

Those who do not see it, do not care to see it. It is an ugly part of our history some would like to hide away, but like the Nazi atrocities of World War II, we can not hide what has been going on, nor should we ever forget.

When there have been protests and riots in the past, they usually die down after a few days, but this time they continue, as a nation weary from a pandemic and unemployment looks on. One thing that keeps the people fired up is the childish and hateful tweets of the orange one in Washington. His tear gassing of protestors to have a picture taken of himself in front of a church holding a Bible, could not have been more ridiculous. Does anyone think he has ever read it? Any of it?

In a scary development reminiscent of a sad time in the 20th Century, Attorney General Barr deployed a special detail of police in black shirts, without any identification, to patrol the area around the White House. If you can not identify them in their helmets and dark glasses and no uniforms, are they free to commit crimes on behalf of the WH?

Some people ask, how can anyone follow Trump? Don’t they see what kind of person he is? I even wondered that here in “What We Don’t Understand.” Some people even think of his followers as some sort of cult, and perhaps some of them are. But here’s the thing. They are him. They are just like him. They grew up with racism in their hearts and they finally have a leader that will allow them to express it. It’s not that they don’t see it.  They do see and they are pleased. The more he tweets and lies to them, the greater he is in their racist eyes.

Those who were taught racism will be hard to win over, but perhaps we can at least silence them again. If the orange one is to return for another term, however, …

Sources: “Bill Barr Deploys His Own Army Of Federal Correctional Officers,” by Emily Goodwin, Daily Mail, dailymail.co.uk June 4, 2020.
Civil Rights Act (1964),” ourdocuments.gov
Slavery in the United States,” en.wikipedia.org
See Also: “What We Don’t Understand,” SERENDIPITY, teepee12.com May 12, 2019.
Black Like Me,” SERENDIPITY, teepee12.com June 5, 2020.

HOW BILLIONAIRES ARE LOOTING AMERICA AND NOT PROTESTORS by Sarah Midkiff

The looting of America is not the byproduct of protests, but rather it can be seen in our country’s broken economic system, one that allows tax breaks for the ultra-rich, unchecked legislation that enables shareholders to get payouts even when the money comes from a federal bailout, and corporate double-dipping while employees lose their livelihood.

Source: How Billionaires Are Looting America & Not Protestors

This is a brilliant post and points the finger — many fingers — at the real looters who have stolen our lives and our futures so they can have more money per hour than we will have in our entire working lifetimes.

Reblogged also on Judy Dykstra-Brown’s blog, it’s a reminder that the number of TVs stolen or for that matter, expensive clothing and broken windows, the real looters are sitting in their mansions and laughing at us. Laughing. Because we can’t touch them.

Please, let’s show them we CAN touch them. Let’s vote their shills out of office. Let’s get our country back. Let’s do it while we still can.

Let’s do something to fix the climate, make peace with our friends, stop trying to make war with everyone else. Let’s try to help the neediest, start growing healthy food. Let’s let our farmers return to farming so we grow our own food and don’t rely entirely on global distribution. Let’s give EVERYONE health care, mental and physical. Let the corporations pay what they owe … and they owe a LOT.

All my life I’ve been paying corporations. My taxes don’t go to my town to help it grow, It goes to political stooges and their PR agencies. Maybe it’s time they started helping pay our costs. Maybe, if we do it right, at least our grandchildren can have the life we hoped they would have.

DID DONALD TRUMP HIDE IN A BUNKER BECAUSE HE HEARD ANTIFA WAS NEAR

A dark White House on a night of angry protests. It sounds like the big bully is getting scared.


 

THE SHINBONE STAR

Americans who fought fascism during the Spanish Civil War gave birth to the Antifa movement.

Donald J. Trump wants to add the anti-fascist anarchists of the loosely knit, poorly defined Antifa political movement to America’s international terrorist list (Antifa is shorthand for anti-fascist). Trump made his desire known last week the morning after hiding in a subterranean White House bunker until Secret Service told him it was safe to come out.

“These people are ANARCHISTS. Call in our National Guard NOW. The World is watching and laughing at you and Sleepy Joe. Is this what America wants? NO!!!” Trump tweeted hysterically after his ridiculous ordeal. It seems far more likely the world was laughing at Cadet Bone Spurs, Candy Ass First Class.

Trump’s international legion of haters had a field day making jokes about his panicked reaction after major news outlets broke in to their America Is Burning voice-overs to…

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HISTORY AND PLAGUE’S END – Marilyn Armstrong

It turns out that epidemics and pandemics all end the same way. People get tired of worrying about being sick and say “Life or death, I don’t want the rest of my life to be spent in hiding.”  It helps to not be part of the “if you get it, you’re dead” category of citizens, although many people who were not supposed to be at risk die anyway and no one is entirely sure why.

Bubonic or Pneumonic plague has no effective vaccine. You can’t get a “shot” that will prevent you from getting it and while heavy doses of antibiotics help, mostly, it kills you. Its favorite targets are young, healthy people, not very young or very old folks. Why don’t we see Bubonic Plague these days?

We do. Since it showed up in Europe in 1347 and decimated its population, it has made its way around the world, killing millions, including in the United States where the last cases were in 1900 and again in 2015 when the U.S. had 1,036 cases. In 2015, 16 people in the Western United States developed Plague, including 2 cases in Yosemite National Park.

It has not disappeared. It is lying low and could come back. Let’s hope not!

How did it end? The most popular theory of how the Plague ended is through the implementation of quarantines. The uninfected would typically remain in their homes and only leave when it was necessary, while those who could afford to do so would leave the more densely populated areas and live in greater isolation.  Also, the plague stopped being dependent on fleas and became Pneumonic, which meant that coughed up droplets or sneezes could spread the disease from person to person, no rats or fleas required.

Museum of London, Plague 1665-1666

While it seems like the Black Death was the only instance of the bubonic plague epidemic, there were many other bouts with it through the centuries, including a pandemic that started in Asia in the 19th century. The World Health Organization didn’t consider this pandemic officially over until 1959 when the annual deaths finally dropped to fewer than 200.

In 1920 Galveston, that “oozy prairie,” as early settlers described it, was only 20 years removed from the devastating 1900 hurricane. Then came Plague. A 17-year-old feed store worker was the first to contract and die from the disease. The first case was diagnosed in early June 1920. Over the following months, eighteen people were diagnosed. Seven survived.

There was initial mishandling with Plague. In two cases the doctors note in their report that the patient isolation “was not accomplished as rapidly as desired,” both because families were slow to call in a doctor and because the doctor didn’t consider bubonic plague to be an actual possibility.

Vaccines have not been found useful for Plague. Vaccines work best for diseases that are stable and don’t mutate such as smallpox and polio. The Coronaviruses are rapid mutators, so whether or not they can find an effective vaccine is a big question.

The plague bacteria, Yersinia pestis, had lain dormant in China’s Gobi Desert for centuries. But in the 1300s, it emerged with a vengeance, fanning out via trade routes from Asia to Europe and killing millions of people along the way. The plague was transmitted by fleas harbored by rats, which flourished in the overcrowded, filthy cities of the Middle Ages. By the end of the 1500s, between a third and half of Europe’s population had died from the Black Death.

Even during the 1900s, the plague still killed millions of people, but since then, the advent of better hygiene in cities and swift treatment with antibiotics has reduced this killer.

This article from The Washington Post by Mary E. Fissell, Professor of History of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine explains what we are seeing today with histories of previous pandemics and epidemics. It is shockingly similar to past events. Here are quotes. If you can read the entire article, please do.


“Just as today, a global economy was a key driver of the English epidemic. Bubonic plague, which is bacterial rather than viral, is typically spread to humans by fleas who have fed on the blood of infected rats. Earlier plague epidemics — such as the Black Death of the 1300s, which may have wiped out half the population of Europe — came to Europe via merchants traveling back from Asia along the Silk Road. In the same way, contemporary observers reported that the 1665 epidemic may have been brought to London by Dutch trading ships; the epidemic had already spread there a year earlier. In the months before it reached England, authorities had tried, obviously without success, to quarantine ships from the Netherlands and other plague-affected places.

Another conspicuous resemblance is socioeconomic. In the United States, we’ve seen that covid-19 is disproportionately affecting poor people, as well as blacks and Latinos. Overall, these groups tend to have poorer health and less access to health care, and they are more likely to live in crowded, unhealthy conditions and to work in jobs that require them to come into close contact with others who may be infected.

In New York for example, the death rate among blacks is twice as high as it is for whites; for Latinos, it is 60 percent higher. In Louisiana, blacks make up a third of the population but so far account for almost 60 percent of covid-19 deaths. About 5,000 meatpacking workers, and perhaps many more, have tested positive for the virus to date, largely because of a lack of safety measures and the industry’s cramped and grueling working conditions.

The situation 350 years ago in London was similar. During the epidemic, the London city government counted the dead, tracking how many people died of plague in each parish. This work was performed by “searchers of the dead,” who were often older poor women. These parish lists, known as Bills of Mortality, were printed up and sold weekly, a kind of early version of Zip-code-by-Zip-code health reports from state health departments.

Examining these lists, both 17th-century readers and historians have found that, no surprise, the poorest neighborhoods tended to have the highest death rates from the plague. The reasons for this are probably similar to the causes of today’s disparities — the poor were already less healthy, lived in dense, unsanitary neighborhoods and did the city’s dirty work.

They could not leave. Even without our current scientific knowledge, people knew the disease moved from place to place. And once it reached English shores, people practiced social distancing as best they could, by getting away from the worst disease hot spots. Just as we are seeing today, those who could afford it left the cities for the countryside, where there was less disease; the classic medical advice of the time was “leave quickly, go far away and come back slowly.”

…  Today, as we face another disease, one that we still don’t understand very well, 17th-century England reminds us that despite the enormous leaps we’ve made in science and technology, humans themselves remain in many ways the same: imperfect, not always rational and still deeply vulnerable to novel nasty microbes.”


Thus we can see that human reaction to pandemic outbreaks hasn’t changed. We blame others for it. We persecute others for it. We run away if we can. The better-off survive while the poorest pay the full price.

People believe rumors. Others spread them. In the end, life goes on, but not as it was before the plague came. This “return to normal” is not a return to the world before the plague. It’s a social return only and it doesn’t mean people stop dying. Viruses don’t care how you feel about them.

Economies do not recover in a month or two. Not ever in the history of the world has that happened. Nations fall, governments collapse, economies are decimated. Plagues change everything, not just human lives.

Is this one over? Probably not. Wait. watch and we shall see.

The Devilish Deceptions Of “Warp Speed” Donald Trump – NAT HELMS

Another good one from Nat Helms!

natshouseblog

natsblog Covid-Buster “Fat Boy”, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. Trump used the horrific weapons development during the WWII Manhattan Project as a backdrop for his announcement of Operation Warp Speed, his grandiose plan to deliver 300 million doses of a still non-existent COVID-19 vaccine to America by January 2021.

Nathaniel R. “Nat” Helms

Pandemic apologist Donald J. “Warp Speed” Trump on Friday took time out from bungling America’s response to the novel coronavirus scourge to accept a commemorative flag on behalf the U.S. Space Force, the latest creation from the bowels of the Pentagon.

Outside the six-sided puzzle palace, more than 87,000 Americans were already dead and thousands more are fighting for their lives amidst Trump’s strident calls to open up America sooner than later. Vainglorious Trump says their tragic deaths and those sure to come are the unavoidable cost of making America great again.

Space Force flag U.S. Space Force flag.

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Hey Mr. Trump, Neither Snow, Nor Rain, Nor Heat, Nor Gloom Of Night… NAT HELMS

From natshouseblog

Published by Nathaniel R. “Nat” Helms

Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these courageous couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” – Herodotus, Greek historian, 500 B.C.

Donald J. Trump apparently hates the United States Postal Service (USPS), along with dogs, and women (particularly minority women), although any will do in a pinch. Fortunately, this missive is about Trump’s sudden need to kill off America’s postal service, whether it is coincidental that the USPS is led by a woman is merely conjecture.

The post office was officially created in 1792 as the Post Office Department. It is based on the Constitutional authority empowering Congress “To establish post offices and post roads”.

$.39 cent Commemorative Stamp

The real deal began 17 years earlier when reliable Benjamin Franklin was appointed the colonies’ Postmaster General in 1775. His plan was to build a reliable mail service that would bring our nation together.

It didn’t hurt that Ben used his position to cheapen the postal rates for newspaper publishers – including himself – so they could cheaply send the news of the day around the country. For 228 years it has managed to do so despite being an object of political plunder whenever the country’s fortunes wane.

The Pew Research Center conducted a poll March 24-29, 2020 asking 1,013 participants to rank federal government operations. The intent was to determine if Americans trusted their government during the pandemic emergency. Through it all the people depended most on the post office to see them through. The poll also revealed that all the major federal bureaucracies that sustain and torment us are still received favorably by most Americans.

Aptly named “ICE”, the unpopular U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, was the goat of the group, followed by the U.S. Department of Justice. Both received relatively low marks.

Somebody forgot to tell Trump that 91 percent of the respondents in the Pew poll believed postal people are the federal employees closest to the hearts of their countrymen. Both Republicans and Democrats expressed their undying love of America’s humble messengers. It is an opinion not shared with any other federal agency.

So what’s the deal, Mr. Trump? Is it Megan J. Brennan, the marvelously appreciated 74th and first female Postmaster General of the world’s largest postal organization? Is it because she is a woman or head of the largest postal service in the world? A lot of Trumpians would love to see the USPS dismantled, shared among the delivery big dogs that pay low and charge high for convenience the postal service tries to compete with. Venal Trump would sell it in a heartbeat if it gained him political advantage except for loss of trust is already eating his lunch. For the moment Trump is merely bloviating.


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IF COVID HITS ALL THE OLD SENATORS, THERE MAY BE A LOT MORE RACES – Marilyn Armstrong

With the exception of fourteen youngsters in their forties, all the rest are over 50. Thirty-nine are over 60. Twenty-two have passed 70.

Six of them have said goodbye to 80.

If McConnell is going to drag all these geezers into the senate and put them in close quarters, shall we put bets on who’s going to get sick and maybe die before the election?

I don’t know what McConnell has in mind, but he’s no spring chicken himself. It sounds to me as if he’s determined to kill off as many of the senior members of his own “party” as he can. Has guilt grabbed him? Or does he actually believe that this virus is no big deal?

If, by random chance, he should travel into the hereafter with others, bon voyage. Have a great trip!

TRUMP IS BEING HOISTED ON HIS OWN PETARD – NAT HELMS

Watching Donald J. Trump get hoisted on his own petard is déjà vu all over again for those of us repelled by former Republican President Richard M. Nixon in the turbulent 1970s. Whoever opined that “where Trump goes, so goes the nation” is even more misinformed than vacuous Donald Trump. Nixon dropped like a lead balloon and the nation moved on with scarcely a ripple. It will happen again when Trump is gone.

History is a laundry list of despots who fell with equal approbation. People as delusional as Trump have always risen in times of discord. Thankfully, the always disagreeable and usually fragmented human race is ultimately too selfish to make room for madmen who threaten their slow, uncertain march to contentment.

Proof of a positive post-Trumpian outcome can be found in the dramatic story of  American political dysfunction when Nixon decided the U.S. Constitution was just another piece of paper to shred.  Nixon’s downfall started at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C, on June 17, 1972, when five burglars in the President’s employ burgled the Democratic National Committee headquarters seeking dirt to hurt the Democrats.

When the failed plot was linked to Nixon many respected pundits declared our nation was teetering on the precipice of doom. It was indeed a dangerous time. America desperately needed a hero and none could be found. The Vietnam War had seen to that. The astronauts were a wonderful distraction, so was Hollywood and television, but even collectively they couldn’t camouflage the rot eating the heart out of Washington, D.C.

American prestige around the world was at an all-time low. America’s vacuous youth were deemed out of control. Angry women from every station in life screeched at men in general for being self-absorbed sexists. Angry black men marched around with guns demanding justice from white men with bigger guns who dared them to try and take it. Native Americans prepared for another Wounded Knee. Hysterics warned a second civil war was looming.  Anarchy competed with racial discord and socialism dueled with capitalism to steal the nation’s soul. Sound familiar?

The naysayers crawling out of the woodwork in 1973 claimed America was doomed. They were certain the fabric of American society had been torn asunder. Political alarmists warned America’s great political experiment had failed.

Behind it all stood unrepentant Richard M. Nixon, the man who would be king. Like Trump, Nixon thought he knew better than our democratic institutions about what was good for the nation. And like Trump, he ended up getting all the blame when he was proven wrong.

When the dust from the scandal finally settled in 1973, his Attorney General John Mitchell, Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs John Ehrlichman, and chief of staff H.R. Haldeman had resigned. Subsequently, during the federal Watergate trials in 1974, all three men were convicted of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, perjury, and other charges. All three were sentenced to between two and a half and eight years in federal prison.

Nixon finally fell because a handful of resolute Republican politicians ultimately broke ranks with their intransigent colleagues, joining Democrats who said America was more important than Richard Milhous Nixon. Whether their stance was politics as usual or the sudden onset of emerging moral stature doesn’t matter.

Until they did so, no one in the Republican Party would admit Nixon was a liar who used his dreadful fabrications to save himself and his cronies.  His mendacity was so egregious that H.R. Haldeman, Nixon’s acid-tongued gatekeeper, reputedly coined the phrase, “That statement is no longer operative” to protect Nixon from himself.

Like Trump, Nixon didn’t utter one lie so big it tore the heavens asunder. His utterances were a constant barrage of half-truths, lies of omission, and petty denunciations of opponents through the mouths of cronies who knew that if Nixon went down so would they.


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