Posts Tagged ‘Covid 19’

Solipsism

December 1, 2020

            The news seems to be that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Indeed. No, not the Covid 19 news, which is the real news, though there is a vaccine on the horizon (along with a hidden army of anti-vaxxers just over the ridge). Rather, the presidential election of 2020 appears to be reaching some sort of definitive finality. Unhidden is Dear Loser, er, Leader who can’t bear the thought of the spotlight not being on him, and him alone (he feels so naked without it). The pesky winners justifiably shine the light on the enormous turnout. 75% of registered Columbus Ohio voters did so. Unheralded is that, save for the top of the ticket, voting trends maintained the status quo, if not grew it nationwide. The party that hopes to be in the White House in 2021 actually lost traction with their other candidates on the exact same ballot. Like with the corona virus, the nation, and pundits, seem to be so fatigued that the only worthwhile news is something that projects a different future. But the well has been poisoned, and because of the fatigue, no one dares speak of holding anyone accountable for the devastating vandalism. GOP representatives and leaders who previously enabled and capitalized on Dear Leader’s lies (they are actually called lies in the vast majority of press coverage today. Finally) today are trying to distance themselves from the embarrassment. The Washington Post interviewed and found only 2 of the 53 GOP senators would admit Biden was the president elect the week immediately after the polls closed. Ohio Governor Dewine, who leads from behind a facemask, is now struggling with the state’s hospitals filling to capacity, not allowing space or staff for other medical conditions to be addressed (the normal function of a hospital). All because the well has been poisoned and the state’s constituents believe mask wearing and pandemic precautions are a matter of personal choice (conveniently referred to as a “political statement”). Who will be held accountable? But wait, the poisoning extends well beyond the alternate “personal choice” attitude as to what is science, and whose (as well as what is speculation, real or fancied). It hits at more nitty-gritty things such as relying on our institutions when the needs arise (established institutions which exist precisely to fill that need). The 2020 Census, upon which so many official decisions and policies rely, has been put in jeopardy (not the Alex Trebek kind). The EPA is no longer a source of clean water and air. The Dept of Ag can no longer be relied on for food security, whether the growing or distribution to those without (SNAP). Ditto Homeland Security, Dept of Justice, FBI, etc. ad nauseam. Even the courts role as arbiter of final resort is subject to personal interpretation. The poison seems to be that if all is in doubt then anything can be believed. And who is to be held accountable? Has culpability also succumbed to the solipsism of personal choice/interpretation?

The Question Of Secret Service Protection Entitlement

November 6, 2020

            The dominant news of the past week has been, regrettably, overshadowed by lesser affairs. The Covid 19 coronavirus has come roaring back, pretty much throughout the US. Most residents of Newark, Ohio and America have set their attention on the recent presidential election. This is unfortunate. Virus spread is unaffected by willfulness, the very essence of democratic process. True, true, true, mindful activity (like wearing a mask, etc.) does have a profound effect on the spread of viruses. But you don’t need Jon Kabat-Zinn to tell you that willfulness is not the same as mindfulness. Analysis finds the mixed bag of news from the past week to be full of little caveats of insight. Mike Dewine’s early success (and kudos) with regard to his handling of the coronavirus in Ohio went south with his caving to the political pressure of Trumpers following the resignation of Amy Acton. Now he’s in over his head without a clue, or a handle, on how to deal with the pandemic. Infections have sky rocketed 5 fold state wide from the previous weeks. But the economy is open which makes the Trumpers glad. Analogous to the virus, the Trumpers will not go away, no matter the election outcome. Much as Bernie (with Jimmy Fallon) accurately predicted the election week just past, so Bernie bros forecast the ineffectualness of the Biden candidacy. True, true, true, normal, calm and decency are valuable, especially now. But what was the first thing Mitch McConnell said after the Obama Biden win of 08? The number one priority is to get rid of Obama. McConnell, like the Trumpers, isn’t going to just disappear because there is a new administration. The national news coverage, along with some GOP politicians, is suddenly shocked at what a blatantly mendacious person Dear Leader is. What took you so long? Or rather, where have you been? The continuous lying will not cease because he is out of office. Analysis can only conclude that decent Americans have 4 years, and only 4 years, to get  Donald Trump imprisoned, on whatever charges – tax evasion, sexual assault, genocide (the pandemic deaths), corruption, whatever. After that, like the coronavirus, he will come roaring back full of lies, misinformation, disinformation, overt corruption and criminality. The question, not asked by the national news outlets, is whether a former president of the US is entitled to Secret Service protection while sitting in jail. Analysis finds supreme irony in all this. A Bernie Sanders welfare state legitimizes entitlement while a fascist Trumpist state denigrates entitlement, valorizing personal responsibility and self reliance in all matters.

Where’s Waldo, Er, Jeff Hall?

July 16, 2020

On 7-15-20 Ohio’s Governor Mike Dewine appealed to Ohioans to redouble their efforts in measures to counter the spread of the new coronavirus. Essentially, he said it was out last chance. We wouldn’t get another. The Ohio version of the pandemic would be out of control otherwise. Coincidentally, the 7-12-20 Sunday Newark Advocate editorial was “Our view: Licking County leaders must lead on coronavirus response.” They write “Our elected leaders must set an example for the rest of the community in how we respond to this crisis.” This was followed by some practical suggestions. No mention of what to do if you are losing, something Dewine’s leadership is ready to take on. Again, the Advocate editorial board pontificates: “Our elected leaders must be seen taking the coronavirus seriously. Why should residents wear masks when they don’t see their community leaders doing the same?” The Advocate editorial totally missed that the elected leaders of Licking County are indeed taking the coronavirus VERY seriously. They immediately self isolated and have maintained their distance from any public leadership whatsoever. Their self isolation insures invisibility which is just all too obvious. Unlike Dewine, they don’t wish to be associated with any sort of a losing effort. Give them a new building in an industrial park to crow over, or the opening of a shuttered restaurant. But anything outside of business and money making? Naaa. Analysis finds this in keeping with their track record. Public transit has been hemmed and hawed forever in Newark, no leadership there. Court evictions from sub standard housing requiring stricter codes, no leadership there. Lack of leadership on housing results in increasing number of citizens without shelter. This contributes to food insecurity, child neglect and abuse, and increases in addictive behavior. All from a lack of leadership on the part of those elected to lead. But then again, that would be leadership involving something other than the economic, money making kind.  Analysis also finds the Advocate complicit in glaringly eliding the absence of Newark’s elected leaders during this time of overwhelming crisis in Ohio (at least according to the Governor). This too is in keeping with the paper’s track record. Just as no one wants to be the leader on the losing side, so no one wants to be a cheerleader for that leadership. Give us a good business success story to cheer on instead. Otherwise, mums the word. The Advocates editorial board grossly failed to elaborate that leadership is multifaceted. It also has to do with sober projections of actions needed when things don’t look promising. The Advocate favors and stresses economic success and competence, especially at election time. As Dewine embodied, visible, present, at risk leadership is needed primarily when our side is not winning.

Decision 2020

May 28, 2020

5-25-20 AFP headlined: India yogi who claimed to live without food or water dies aged 90. “An Indian yogi [Prahlad Jani] whose claims he spent decades without food or water earned him a band of devotees and the scepticism of doctors died Tuesday, his neighbour told AFP.” “He told AFP in 2003 he got the “elixir of life from the hole in my palate, which enables me to go without food and water”. There was no way of verifying Jani’s claims, but doctors have said a person cannot go for long periods without food or water without organ damage and the body breaking down.” Who would you vote for, Jani or the doctors? Think carefully, decide wisely as this will be the foundations of the 2020 presidential election in 5 months. Back in 2002 European scholar and curator Bruno Latour organized an extensive investigation in what he entitled Iconoclash. It considered topics such as “Why do images Trigger so Much Furor?” and “What is Iconoclash? Or is There a World Beyond the Image Wars?” Etc. One of his prime examples centers on the Reformation, a period when there were wars fought over the appropriateness of statues, paintings, relics and other iconic images within the churches of Christianity specifically as well as within the religion generally. Writing at the time of these actual events Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) offers one description (amongst many): “To speak frankly, there seems to be great self-love and presumption in granting your opinions such esteem that you can justify disrupting the public peace in order to establish them.” Returning to present time, Analysis finds an analogous Iconoclash unfolding before our weary eyes. It may not be a disruption centered on imagery, but it certainly does involve a destruction of the previous regime that values science, research, statistical data, factual analysis and intellectual conclusions. Montaigne seems to speak to the present reformation when “there seems to be great self-love and presumption in granting your opinions such esteem that you can justify disrupting the public peace in order to establish them.” The evidence is overabundant with Dear Leader’s Twitter usurpation, extortion of North Carolina’s pandemic response for mass gatherings by moving the upcoming GOP convention (after promoting individual state response), disdain for following his administration’s own CDC guidelines and recommendations with regard to masks, forcing people to unsafe work in the midst of an “invisible enemy,” championing the ingesting of hydroxychloroquine proactively as well as injecting bleach prescriptively, etc. Analysis finds that in November of 2020 the choice will not be about an economy, or racism, or security (personal, national or international). The choice for America will be between Prahlad Jani or the doctors. Who will you vote for?

MIA

May 22, 2020

In one of the recent Le Show broadcasts Harry Shearer posed a rhetorical question in regard the journalistic/cultural slant on the current Economic Depression. He made the observation that for the last 2+ months all the articles, talking heads, etc. speak of the “economy shutting down.” In actuality, according to Mr. Shearer, only half the economy has shut down. In addition to certain segments of the economy which are booming (i.e. Amazon), the financial sector hasn’t exactly withdrawn into a shell. As of this writing the DOW is only 10% off from its all time high. Shearer has a point. Pre Covid 19 debt obligations have not “shut down” or disappeared. Credit card companies, mortgage servicers, utilities, etc. all still post their bills and collect on them (electronically, so convenient! Save a stamp and all). They, along with the Wall Street financiers, are doing OK, thank you. So it was curious to read the Washington Post article headlined: “U.S. taxpayers might lose money helping companies. Economists say it’s a good thing. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin acknowledged this week that some of the $500 billion in aid to companies might not be repaid.” As the article pointed out, Obama’s TARP Act, meant to address George W. Bush’s financial meltdown of 2008, lost some taxpayer money “But overall, TARP ultimately made several billion dollars as most companies repaid the loans and some of the stock the government took as collateral turned out to be worth a good bit more when it came time to cash in.” Trump/Mnuchin’s CARES Act isn’t structured around repayment or collateral. Besides, who would report if it failed? We’ve become so inured to Dear Leader’s policies and practices of big business – the firing of those deemed disloyal, the hiring of corporate executives to regulatory positions, the dismissal of regulations, the neglect of institutions, etc. – that we don’t notice their presence (or absence) in our everyday surrounds. Nothing comes from nothing, and what is favored nationally is ditto found locally. In a 5-19-20 article, Newark Advocate’s Kent Mallett headlined “Licking County Chamber announces Facebook grant for local small businesses”. “The Licking County Chamber of Commerce announced it will coordinate a $100,000 grant from Facebook to help support small businesses battling through economic challenges.” In the text Mallett quotes LC Chamber Pres and CEO Jennifer McDonald and Facebook’s Community Development Regional Manager Amber Tillman, and no one else. 5-22-20 Mallett headlines “Downtown Newark survey shows public uneasy about reopening businesses amid coronavirus”. “A Downtown Newark Association survey showed considerable uncertainty and unease about reopening businesses after a two-month shutdown to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.” Again, he presents a stenographic rendition of the survey, quotes DNA President Trish Newcomb, and no one else. What do we elect civic leaders for? Where’s Newark’s Mayor Jeff Hall in all this? What about LC Commissioners Tim Bubb, Duane Flowers and Rick Black? Is there no interest that the Facebook grant money be distributed fairly, equitably and appropriately by those elected to insure such? Is there no want of direction, guidance and leadership on prudent measures for safely interacting within the war footing of a Covid 19 response? Have we become so lock step and attuned with the abdication of leadership and direction on the Federal level by our Dear Leader, as well as the journalists covering him, that we are OK with our own local MIA’s? Analysis finds that Harry Shearer  is right. Only half the economy shut down with the spread of Covid 19. The business half is still running everything. Only now they are doing it so overtly that the corporate news journalists don’t even bother with any other reality.

Invisible And Contagious

May 18, 2020

Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus Ohio has been advancing an “On Our Sleeves” campaign for juvenile mental health. The gist of the program is that children’s mental illness is indiscernible to most folks, and the individual pediatric sufferer has no way of indicating that they are afflicted. Like Covid 19, mental illness is an invisible pathogen (if one can call it that). And like Covid 19, it can be spread (intentionally or unintentionally) without knowing, capable of infecting entire communities. How? In a recent interview Dr. Bandy X. Lee, forensic psychiatrist at the Yale School of Medicine and president of the World Mental Health Coalition, had this to say in reply to a query regarding journalistic responsibility: “No one is connecting the dots to the greatest calamity in the nation’s history, which is the president’s mental incapacity. This should be our biggest focus — even more so than the pandemic — since it is making the pandemic much worse, and even greater calamities are likely awaiting as the stress from the pandemic grows. Excluding mental health experts and replacing them with political pundits has been catastrophic, in my view, resulting in the gross underestimation and normalization of severe psychopathology. And, as we have seen, mental symptoms are even more contagious than ordinary infectious disease, since they transmit through emotional bonds alone.” Lee has good cause to make her assessments (along with those of the World Mental Health Coalition). As of April 14, 2020, the Washington Post has noted over 18,000 false or misleading claims originating from our Dear Leader. The embrace of these claims by citizens in the form of conspiracy theories, the maligning of dedicated government service professionals, advocacy for detrimental or non-existent therapies, convoluted rationales for policies that foster death and suffering, etc. definitely exemplify “mental symptoms [that] are even more contagious than ordinary infectious disease”. What is to be done since there is no national “On Our Sleeves” campaign for adults in America? At the end of a different interview Dr. Justin Frank, former clinical professor of psychiatry (40 years) at George Washington University Medical Center and practicing psychoanalyst along with being the author of “Trump on the Couch” (as well as previous “Obama on the Couch”, and “Bush on the Couch”) offered this remedy: “If I were to advise on a political ad campaign, I would show all the times when Donald Trump said that he is doing a “great job” and then follow it up with images of people dying from the coronavirus pandemic. Trump must be shown to be the fool he is, and that all his claims of greatness are hollow and empty. Show Donald Trump to be the fundamentally destructive person he is.”

If That Just Don’t Beat All

May 5, 2020

The front page of the online edition of the New York Times for Tuesday, May 5, 2020 was an accurate barometer of the contemporary situation. On the left hand side the NY Times headlined “Infection Rates Show the Threat of Coronavirus Is Not Fading.” The top story line beneath the headline read “The U.S. is seeing at least 25,000 new cases per day, an increase of 2 to 4 percent. There have been more than 1,000 daily deaths for over a month.” On the right hand side, sharing equal billing was the headline “Wall Street set to gain amid signs of optimism.” The reflection of today was not limited to the NY Times exclusively. The same day The Wall Street Journal headlined an article with “Why Home Prices Are Rising During the Pandemic”. Again same day, different news source, USA Today headlined “Essential worker just means you’re on the death track”. The headlines for today are as polarized as the politics that surrounds them. Ohio’s Governor Dewine’s daily update on the Covid 19 situation in Ohio showed an increase in cases along with an increase in mortalities. As of this writing Licking County increased to 133 from a previous day’s 130, and the previous to that 114. Yet contrary to the Governor’s initial rationale for nixing the Arnold, halting the March primary and closing public institutions, etc., all systems are go for reopening, without the curve ever reaching a peak. It doesn’t matter? Or is something else at play here? During the Arab oil embargo of the 1970’s it was the simplistic “supply and demand” explanation. During the Reagan recession of the 80’s it was “too many dollars chasing too few goods.” In the 90’s it was the dot com bubble with its enterprising entrepreneurs self justifying mega dividends. W’s regime righted itself with a war economy after 9/11. The chickens came home to roost with his end of term meltdown on the bundled, junk sub-prime securities. B Rock rescued everything through compensating the source of the loss with the mantra of “we can’t let the system fail.” And now this. THIS appears to be the complete unbridled, shameless operation of the market with no other considerations. There is no rhyme or reason, no attempt to justify or rationalize any of it (“Supply and demand” or “too many dollars chasing too few goods” etc.). Those accustomed to making money off whatever situation find no difference in the current situation. Those who always had to pay, no matter the situation, find no difference today except that now it also includes paying with their lives. The polarization reveals itself for what it is: the US as an economy versus the US as a society.

Return To Normalcy

April 20, 2020

“America’s present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration; not agitation, but adjustment; not surgery, but serenity; not the dramatic, but the dispassionate,” Joe Biden? Nope. Warren Harding 100 years ago during the 1920 presidential contest (which he won). “Return to Normalcy” was his campaign slogan. (Joe Biden’s ‘Return to Normalcy’ Campaign Has Echoes of 1920 by Ryan Teague Beckwith, Bloomberg, 4-11-29). Beckwith writes that the nation was traumatized by the enormous mechanized butchery of WWI, the loss of a half million people due to the Spanish Flu, and 8 years of a very unpopular (and disliked) president. Writing for New Yorker magazine just at the start of the currently pervasive Covid 19 pandemic, Erich Lach headlined: Joe Biden, the Normalcy Candidate, Keeps Winning in Abnormal Times (3-18-20). He writes of Biden in 2019: “He was the normalcy candidate. He asked voters not to look ahead, to potential policies like Medicare for All or free public colleges, but to look back, to the Obama Administration and its relative stability. Wouldn’t a restoration be nice? Let’s remember who we are.” Then his description for mid March 2020: “In polls, voters said that they liked the policy ideas put forward by Sanders and others. But, at polling places, they went for Biden.” His succinct last line gives the wistful: “But now, with many Americans shut up in their homes, or soon to be, many voters continue to say that a return to normal sounds pretty good.” Does it? Two Americans who have steadfastly stuck with their assessment (repeatedly over years), and have not been shy about voicing it, are Anthony Fauci and Bernie Sanders. Fauci would disagree about a rosy return to “normalcy” anytime soon. His sober prognostication on the future of handshakes when greeting forebodes any future “return to normalcy.”  In a NY Times Op Ed (Bernie Sanders: The Foundations of American Society Are Failing Us, 4-19-20) Sanders underlines the current fundamentals: “We are the richest country in the history of the world, but at a time of massive income and wealth inequality, that reality means little to half of our people who live paycheck to paycheck, the 40 million living in poverty, the 87 million who are uninsured or underinsured, and the half million who are homeless.” “The absurdity and cruelty of our employer-based, private health insurance system should now be apparent to all. As tens of millions of Americans are losing their jobs and incomes as a result of the pandemic, many of them are also losing their health insurance.” “In truth, we don’t have a health care “system.” We have a byzantine network of medical institutions dominated by the profit-making interests of insurance and drug companies.” “Further, while doctors, governors and mayors tell us that we should isolate ourselves and stay at home, and rich people head off to their second homes in less populated areas, working-class people don’t have those options. When you are living paycheck to paycheck, and you lack paid medical and family leave, staying home is not an option.” He ends with: “If there is any silver lining in the horrible pandemic and economic collapse we’re experiencing, it is that many in our country are now beginning to rethink the basic assumptions underlying the American value system.” Analysis finds the longing for “normalcy” to include the desire for a normal presidential election in November. If that should ever materialize in any “normal” sense is dubious, given the aberrant preliminaries. Either way Analysis finds it is shaping up to be a contest of mythic proportions – the myth of “Make America Great Again” versus the myth of “Return To Normalcy.”

Uninformed In Licking County

April 16, 2020

Politics was once the news. Now Covid 19 has usurped that title. Currently politics is attempting to wrestle the title back to itself. Evidence for this is Dear Leader’s claim of “total authority” to determine when it is over and safe to come out. Would you take his word for it? Since Dear Leader is without a plan, relying mainly on being a “stable genius”, the when has shifted variously – first “Poof” it will just disappear, then 4-12-20 (Easter), now 5-1-20 (has little to do with International Workers’ Day). When it will actually be determined resides with the virus, according to Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Who determines is the politics, only the virus has little regard for democracy. It votes without registering or being qualified. And it votes more than once. The Newark Advocate has once again shifted its coverage of the numbers. When the pandemic first started up in Ohio, the Advocate gave the daily box score of diagnosed infections in Licking County. Then when the numbers increased, the daily show ceased and went to weekly. Now with the numbers approaching 100, the daily tabulation has returned. Why does this matter? In California the Governor, Gavin Newsom, laid out the state’s plan for reopening. It has six major conditions that need to be met for the qualified “all clear” to sound – capacity for testing, isolating, follow up, etc., protection of vulnerable population, the health care system can handle resurgence, therapies are readily available, public institutions can operate while facilitating social distancing, and the ability to quickly reimpose self isolation if necessary. For the sake of generating public confidence, it is a plan based on qualifications that can only be achieved through open and available reporting. As of this writing the Licking County Health Department is reporting 91 cases of diagnosed Covid 19 in Licking County. Does anyone other than the Health Department know where these are located? When the Advocate ceased its daily tabulations Licking County was second to Delaware County in reported cases for the 6 counties adjoining Franklin County (Columbus). Franklin County is one of the major centers of the virus in Ohio. As of this writing Licking is now 4thbehind Delaware, Pickaway, Fairfield counties (in that order). All the counties adjoining Franklin now have almost half as many cases combined as the total in Franklin. The diffusion of the virus is inevitable. Is anyone reporting on this? For a plan based on conditional requirements (like Newsom’s) to work implicates open and accurate reporting. How would one know conditions are being met without such reporting?  Of the 91 current cases, what percentage of cases border Franklin County? Are in Newark? Or are they in Hebron, Hanover or Utica? For the sake of expediency, does the Newark Advocate/Dispatch prefer  the authoritarian “all’s clear” to a thoughtful and engaged reporting of what conditions really are? Crimes are reported by neighborhood, where registered sex offenders reside, as well as notification of habitual DUI’s (yellow license plates), even product safety recalls are grounded in specificity. When it comes to the Covid 19 virus, why are we so uninformed in Licking County?