Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Social Darwinism

In a country gone nuts, providing facts is as effective as bailing a boat with a salad fork. Nevertheless, patriotism and decades of doctoring compel me to try.

What spurred this particular holler into the wind was learning of anti-vaxers who need blood transfusions, demanding they come from unvaccinated donors. Because, you know, human embryonic cells. Or microchips. Or altered DNA. Turn them into "mutants," Alex Jones warns.

Because they care about humanity, people who donate blood are likely to be vaccinated. When I’ve ordered transfusions, the victims were usually mid-exsanguination. “Ten units,” I’d order. “O-negative, stat!!” No preference-polls taken. Also, blood is scarce nationwide. Would they rather die? They’ve said so, vaccine-wise. So, good luck. 

It’s true that development of the Covid-19 vaccines employed a fetal stem cell line, used in research around the world ever since it was cultured in the Netherlands. In 1973. It’s unclear whether that line came from one of countless abortions induced by God – aka “miscarriages” -- or by doctors. More importantly, whereas the vaccines’ safety was initially tested utilizing cells from that venerable line, their production neither uses nor contains them.

Or microchips. And, as anyone with eighth-grade science education knows (this may exclude people who were taught science in certain red states, or here whose parents convinced them to disbelieve), there’s absolutely no way vaccines alter recipients’ genetic material. Zero. Zip. Nil. Nada. None. Convinced? Dumb question number one.

Refusers do, of course, expect all the benefits of their rejected medical science when they get sick. Imagine that.

After five decades toiling in operating rooms, wearing masks for hours, I attest to their safety. It’s our global adversaries and Trumpists (difference?) who, wanting to divide us, spread the lies. Who would equate demanding common sense and common purpose with oppression? Pal Putin, for one. And Trumpublican leaders, and Trump, and rightwing media inciters, all of whom require a steady supply of enraged followers.

Which they have, in a decades-old, in-house-designed, carefully-maintained line of medical-strength, unquestioningly malleable adult humans. Sharing characteristics with that half-century-old embryonic cell line: Lab-tested; reliable; behaviorally predictable. Only the latter, though, was intended to benefit humanity.

Nikki Haley, once and future Trumpublican star, just injected more pretense into the body politic. About President Biden pressuring the Taliban to not interfere with departing US citizens and Afghans who’d helped them, she opined: “Negotiating with the Taliban is like dealing with the devil.” Inexplicably, she didn’t burst into flames.

What a brazen example of expecting stupidity. Trump “negotiated” (stretching the definition) with them bigly, gave them everything, bragging all the way. Pressured Pakistan to free the imprisoned criminal who may become Afghanistan’s new leader; forced the Afghan government to release five-thousand more, now among the takers-over. Got empty promises in return. As with his other favorite tyrants, he still praises them. Does ex-ambassador Haley believe Trumpists are that ignorant? (Me: no comment.)

As he fantasizes “presidency” 2.0, the last thing Trump wants is President Biden succeeding in anything, including the pandemic. So effective was his previous dissembling that, when he half-heartedly suggested vaccination to Alabama rally-goers last week, they booed. They’ll continue dying. Even after ingesting deworming cow paste, which, helplessly Trumpofoxified, they trust over vaccines.

To the same end, Trump continues shoveling his big election lie. Which, even after witnessing the feathery explosion of Pillow Mike’s promised, irrefutable, reinstatement-inflicting evidence, the cult fervently believes. In a country gone nuts.

Across the land and here in Snohomish County, parents storm schools in anti-mask anger, physically attacking teachers, pulling off their masks, hurling racial insults, threatening more violence. Made to believe deliberate falsehoods, from which they’ll never extract themselves. Uncaring who gets infected, including themselves and their children.

It’s conceivable they don’t intend to become killers. Without question, though, some will. The kindest explanation is endless Foxotrumpian lies, leaving them defenseless. Otherwise, it’s that they’re dangerously dim. Or, worse, that they’re inherently malicious.

Texas Governor Gregg Abbott, anti-mask hero and pandemic down-player, became infected after meeting unmasked (but vaccinated) with a covey of wealthy, unmasked, Texatrumpic donors. Evidently afraid of dying, he started taking Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody treatment, indications for which rarely include people who, like him, are asymptomatic. “I will downplay the seriousness for thee,” says he, “But not for me.”

Trump and Abbott: anti-abortion (Trump, only recently, because…), anti-fetal stem cell research, taking Regeneron’s antibodies. Which – surprise! -- was developed using the very same embryonic stem cells as the vaccines.

Feel silly yet, anti-vaxer/anti-maskers? Used? Deceived? Manipulated? Dumb questions two through five. 

Clearly, they’ve been implanted with ignorance-inducing microchips.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Choice/No Choice


If the light-speed collapse of Afghanistan proves anything, it’s that, from day two, our involvement was a predestined failure. It did, however, make weapons manufacturers, Afghan “officials,” and warlords rich; and goosed the opium and meth industries

Any president would have retaliated after 9/11. Bush chose invasion. Alternatives are hard to conjure, so probably all others would have, too. Severe economic sanctions on the birthplace, funders, and protectors of al Qaeda, namely Saudi Arabia, would have made sense, had we not been addicted to their oil, nor our politicians to their cash. Only one legislator, California’s Barbara Lee, foresaw the inevitable and voted against the war.

And it was inevitable. Not for nothing, across centuries, has Afghanistan been considered the graveyard of empires. With its neighbors looking the other way or aiding the Taliban, “winning” from half a world away was exceptionalistic, neo-con hubris.

Had Rumsfeld not let bin Laden escape when they had him in Tora Bora, the US could have claimed “Mission Accomplished” and left. Maybe then, basking in victory, Bush’s Iraq invasion – and the lies behind it -- wouldn’t have occurred. But invade we did. If the die wasn’t already cast in Kabul, it was then.

Maybe if Carter and Reagan hadn’t armed and trained the mujahedeen to fight the Soviets, creating what became the Taliban, 9/11 plotters wouldn’t have had safe haven. But some say when those jihadis forced the Russians out, the end of the USSR began. So, worth it?

Twenty years, thousands of American lives, a couple trillion dollars better spent here, by Bush, Obama, Trump, and, briefly, Biden, claiming we’d created an uncorrupted, viable government there. Building, equipping (now in Taliban hands), training an army, 300,000 strong. (Far fewer, probably: audits found many more salaries paid, by the US, than identifiable people.) 

Desperate to be the one who ended the war, Trump “negotiated” an art-of-the-deal with the Taliban, committing the US to complete withdrawal, leaving out of it the Afghan government and military leaders, who called it a complete capitulation.

Declaring the Taliban future partners who’d fight terrorism, who’d magically become good guys, Trump set a date certain for leaving, bragging it couldn’t be undone. Immediately, the Taliban knew Afghanistan was theirs, and set about taking it, village by village, bribe by bribe, defection by defection, months ago

The final sweep confirms the one-sidedness of Trump’s “deal.” His usually fawning GOP would now like you to forget what he did

President Biden had two choices: after twenty years, acknowledge the obvious; or commit forever to defending a people no longer willing to defend the corrupt government we’d given them. Aware, surely, it could cost future elections, he made the tougher choice; the one previous presidents promised but never delivered.

Having planted my stake firmly in favor of pulling up stakes, I must say President Biden handled the denouement very badly. It’s understandable to have presumed that, twenty years in, our custom-built Afghan government and military would at least forestall, if not prevent collapse. But didn’t they know what the Taliban were doing? Had they no eyes in villages?

Evacuating our civilians and thousands of theirs who’d helped us at great personal peril should have had the highest priority. Chaotically, frightfully, it’s happening now. Hopefully, not too late.

Biden’s Monday speech was forthright; explaining his decision, taking responsibility for mistakes. Was it a compelling counter to hypocritical, CYA (see above) screams from the right? Does a bear use public restrooms?

Facing Republican gerrymandering, voter suppression, brilliantly effective distraction and disinformation, Democrats can’t afford mistakes. They’re already fighting amongst themselves instead of producing a coherent, resonating message.

If ever messaging should be easy, it’s now. Republican leaders and refusers are wholly responsible for the resurgent pandemic, uncaringly making it worse, even as their ICUs fill with younger and younger victims. Outside hospitals, corpse-cooling trailers have reappeared.

They’re pretending the January insurrection was a pleasant winter picnic, and – the law and order party – claiming the arrested, felonious perpetrators are “political prisoners.” Heroes. Trump all but literally called for violence against the defenders. Only the irredeemably Trumpofoxified aren’t appalled. 

Fast as they can, they’re legislating voting obstacles for non-Trumpists. Threatening election workers. Blocking aid to Americans in need. And still, while heatstroke kills, fires rage, glaciers melt, electric grids fail, acidifying oceans rise, sea creatures die, and water from the Colorado River is rationed, denying climate change. All to keep wealthy investors and corporate polluters on board. At whatever cost to everyone else.

Professionally-thickened skulls are impenetrable. For America to endure, in people and parchment, thoughtful citizens must vote in enormous numbers: the antipode of a sure thing. Maybe we should invade Grenada again. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Death At Death's Door

           [Take your pic pick. Couldn't decide.]

A doctor friend working in a Texas hospital foretells rationing ventilators, as Covid-19 patients overrun their ICUs. Who, he asks, should be denied? Vaccination refusers? Other than being partially-innocent victims of well-organized lying, their primacy on the rejection list is compelling. The brainwashed don’t know they’re brainwashed, but, as ubiquitous evidence makes persisting ignorance indefensible, sympathy wanes.

They sent a Covid patient to North Dakota for care. Needing a ventilator for non-Covid illness, another Texan had to be airlifted 150 miles; prior to which he required approval by a team husbanding the scarce resources. It’s Sarah Palin’s death panels, incarnate; necessitated by people made unable to process information. Unlike the stuff of her disordered mind, this is real. Texas’ Trumpicly irresponsible governor now begs smarter states to send help.

Why it’s happening is obvious. Trump’s pandemic ignorance and lies and inattention showed Republican leaders a winning strategy: To keep people distracted from their pre-failed economic agenda, and sending money, make it about “freedom,” or “communism.” Or, a perfect exemplar of effective disinformation, believing “Critical Race Theory” is taught in K-12 schools. Hint: It isn’t.
“Unmasked, Unmuzzled, Unvaccinated, Unafraid,” say their T-shirts. Translation: “Uninformed, Uneducated, Unreachable, Uncaring.” “I do my own research” – a claim that refutes itself. 

So successful is it that, dismissing massive contrary documentation, Trumpublicans still believe vaccines and masks are ineffective and/or dangerous; liberal “wokeness” signifiers. Had Trump, Trumpophile governors, and their media heroes urged their victims to pitch in, as Americans amidst crises always have, this Delta-variant siege wouldn’t have happened. Viruses spread -- and mutate -- among the unvaccinated. Deeming it acceptable collateral damage, Trump’s party has become a killer party. Why? Consider who benefits.

As their media stars pound rare breakthrough cases among the vaccinated, widespread deaths and deathbed regrets of anti-vaxers are ignored. Consumers only of Trump-approved news sources may have missed these data from the CDC, current as of July 31:

Of the 164m fully vaccinated in the U.S., 99.9% have NOT tested positive for Covid-19. Breakthrough cases represent .077%. Hospitalized: .004%. Died: .001%.

In contrast, 99% of those hospitalized and/or dying of Covid-19 are unvaccinated. A Florida church just lost six parishioners in ten days; four under thirty-five. Previously healthy. Unvaccinated.

Given those numbers, who of right mind refuses vaccination and masks? Trumpists. Among whom, because of disturbingly easy and successful mass deception, it appears no right minds remain. Killing thousands, manipulated and abandoned, for the most cynical of reasons: payola for bankrollers.

For decades, having nothing else to offer, Republicans created a human variant disinterested in truth; not changing course even as their voters are endangered. Only in a killer party could that be considered leadership.

On fawning media, Trump blames President Biden for the resurgence. Unlike Trump, he made vaccination widely available, fast, and urged it. Biden’s fault, says Trump, while his blinded flock refuse vaccination and masks, enabling Delta’s rise.

What hope is there for a county in which millions of such zombified people exist? (Bad analogy. They’re not eating brains, they’re offering their own to their leaders for lunch.) Evidence, mounting hourly, is ignored. And, no: evolving recommendations don’t validate their disbelief. It’s science: seeking and remaining open to new information. Why has that become “conservative” anathema?

Proving the point is a quote for our times, forced from lungs filling with Covid-19, spoken by a 31-year-old man in Branson, MO: “I was strongly against getting the vaccine,” Barker said through labored breathing. “Just because we’re a strong conservative family.” That’s Trumpofoxification in the mortifying flesh. What Trumpian acolytes have done is criminal. Murder most literal.

That poor guy is a victim of Trumpism. This one isn’t: a smug, bullying, attention-seeking, taxi-driving avatar for all of Trumpworld, who refuses masked or vaccinated passengers. Patriotic. Heroic.

For needed karmic relief, Texas Republicans provide: Covid-19 has derailed (temporarily, no doubt) their determination to suppress Democratic votes; the only way they can keep winning.

There are much worse and deadlier issues, though: Whereas the pandemic might end up killing only a million or two Americans, the latest IPCC report shows climate change on a trajectory to kill far more.

Unlike his pandemic dereliction, Trump’s climate denial isn’t wholly responsible. But he and his party did less than nothing about it: deregulating, dissembling, deceiving. Departing accords. All for fossil-fuel money. And to “stick it to the libs.” If that’s both murderous and suicidal, their reactionary inaction on climate change is pan-humanity genocidal.

Unconvinced by heatwaves, drought, acidifying oceans, dying reefs, wildfires, starvation, dried-up rivers and reservoirs, melting glaciers and methane-spewing tundra, Trumpists continue to laugh it off.

Against such radical resistance to reality, what can thoughtful citizens, actual patriots, do? Minimize energy use. Make it green as possible. And, since Trumpists are irretrievably uneducable, stop electing them. Until Texas, et. red, make that impossible, too.

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