A well-earned respite

After two years of self-ordained deadline tracking the Pandemic and our response to it, a break was both needed and deserved.  Life, however, carries on despite what any of us do.  The world does not stop spinning.

The digital war carries on, grinding the Ukrainian people in a bloody grist mill.  The coverage of the war is different in my view.  I do not recall viewing images of the war dead, every day, day after day, from Iraq, from Sudan, from Afghanistan, and so on.  We did not see Aleppo every night on the news, but we do see Kiev. Aleppo you would have to go look for on Al Jazeera. I wonder why that is?  It is not a new phenomenon though, perhaps it is the lack of melanin?

Putin is ill, perhaps fatally so.  News has leaked that he is seeing a cancer specialist, never a good sign, and that he has Parkinson’s as well.  This makes Putin a man with nothing to lose.  His life is ebbing away, and his dream of a re-created, re-united Soviet Union has not come to pass.  That makes him dangerous, and is undoubtedly a factor in his quest for Ukraine.

The Ukrainians have fought bravely, and we are arming them to the tune of many billions of dollars, revealing new war technology along the way.  Russia has found all the failings in its own military, a fact which always is revealed in war.  A military is only as strong as the weakest link in its ranks, and Russia has discovered many.

Ukraine, using NATO and American weapons systems, is bleeding the Russian Army economically.  If my 2,000 $ missile, or 200$ drone and destroy your multi-million-dollar Tank, or ¾ billion-dollar Yacht; not once, but over and over, then the war becomes an economic nightmare.  A military Money pit, eating away at the overall strength and preparedness of your military.  It becomes a quagmire, like the Nam, or Afghanistan.  The difference is it is a quagmire on both of their borders, not far away from home.

The US wants to give more to Ukraine, to allow it to defend itself from Putin’s incursion.  33 billion more drones, missiles, ammo and artillery.  Artillery is vital in the west of Ukraine where the country is flat and open.  It would allow Ukraine to strike back into Russia itself, at war assets it holds just across the border.  This is already a proxy war between the USA and Putin’s Russia.

The first draft of Supreme court Justice Alito’s opinion was leaked yesterday to Politico.  The Supreme court rarely has leaks, I cannot recall any in my life offhand.  It is very rare, and vary telling as well.  The opinion overturns Roe V Wade, the case which allows abortion in America, which ordains it is a woman’s body and hence her decision, not anyone else’s.  Justice Alito’s opinion says that since the term abortion is not in the constitution the Supreme court should say nothing and refer the matter back to the states.

This was the situation at the time of the Roe case.  Rich folks, in particular rich white folks, if their teenager became pregnant by accident, would whisk them away to a clinic somewhere and shove the entire matter under the rug as a family secret.  If the woman was not independently wealthy, then the option to terminate a pregnancy might not be available at all.  Illegal, “back alley” abortions were common and risky, even deadly.

Further, teenage pregnancy was a constant topic in the religious right then.  With the table tilted in favor of only the wealthy, and abortion not an option for the poor, the political right used teenage pregnancy as a cudgel to disparage the poor, and in particular the poor of color, as immoral reprobates.  They would decry the rates of teenage pregnancy among the “blacks” as an indicator of their inferior morality.  This is the civil rights era, my childhood. 

Women of every stripe and strata fought back against that, but in the 50 years since the Roe case no Congress has passed a law about body integrity.  A law which says we all have the right to control our own bodies.  It is assumed in law, no one can force you to give blood, and no one can harvest organs from your corpse without your prior consent, based on our shared idea of body integrity. Only pregnant women are seen differently by some, who want to remove her personal control of her own body if she becomes pregnant.

No law on body integrity in half a century, that is inept.  It is also a spotlight on the religious mindset many people hold against abortion, and since those religious minded people detest abortion, they insist that all people must detest abortion, as if anyone desires an abortion. Anti-Choice people hold that idea only because of propaganda pushed at them in the 70’s, back then Billy Graham and the Southern Baptist Convention were pro-choice.

As such anti-abortion laws enforce a religious code onto people who do not hold to that particular religious code.  There exist Christians who are dead set against abortion and want laws forbidding others from doing something they see as evil.  There also exist Christians who see that as a personal matter best left between a woman, her doctor, and God, not the religious/political desires of some segment of society.  That is not accounting for all the non-Christians, who also hold differing views on abortion.

My personal take on all of this “right to life” argument is that it fails to take into account what type of life they are talking about.  If some young woman, addicted to Meth, gets pregnant, then her baby is going to have lots of long-term medical issues even if she stops using meth the very day, she knows she is pregnant.  Should she give birth to a child predetermined to suffer because she is addicted to meth?

Such questions can be illustrated for a great many things in this life, far too many to consider them all.  Is it moral for a mother to give birth to a child she cannot feed?  Will the existence of another child deprive her existing children?  Will the pregnancy itself kill the mother and leave all her children with no mother, perhaps as orphans?  What if the woman is married to a beast who beats her and abuses the children; a marriage so flawed she fears for her life daily?  Is it a good thing to bring a child into that, or an immoral thing to afflict a child with?

Hard questions like this grip every mother who becomes unexpectedly pregnant.  Laws banning abortion remove the women in questions right to decide their own fate and are doomed to be unable to foresee the many deep considerations any unexpectedly pregnant woman must face. In fact, some of these laws fail to even consider the reality that some women can go months before they realize they are pregnant, others know in a couple of weeks.

If the court does overturn Roe V Wade, then about 20 or so states will instantly revert to the bans they had in place 50 years ago, or to whatever measure they recently passed at the state level.  Banning abortion after a set number of weeks fails to grasp the reality that many women do not know they are pregnant for 3 months or more.  This makes the time to realize they are pregnant, evaluate the life situation they are in, make a decision, and schedule an appointment, all before the mandated time limit prevents the choice at all, regardless of the life circumstance.

Further, if it is overturned based on that very narrow interpretation of the 14th amendment, based further on the ideas of a British, witch-executing Judge who is quoted in the draft, then a lot of “rights” would become next. Gay marriage, Birth Control, Interracial marriage and others were all based on very different interpretation of the 14th. So, it follows if they nix one, that others based on similar foundations would all be at risk.

Climate keeps on ticking along, ever “increasing in frequency and intensity”, the weather events we all experience.  During my respite we had three major blizzards in the north country, that is Idaho, Montana, North and South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin.  As these strong lows flowed along the jet steam, a strong high held over Arizona, New Mexico and North Texas.  In between these areas, as in between all high pressure and low-pressure areas, a wind field held steady with high winds for days.  So, when a wildfire sparked the winds blew it up into a monster in New Mexico, and fanned the flames of others in the drought zone, which is now everything west of the Mississippi, to greater or lesser extent.

Lake Mead, the main reservoir for millions, has gotten so low that a body in a barrel, from the 80’s was found the other day.  Investigators expect more as the lake dries up.

And Covid is still a pandemic, still at pandemic levels of spread on this planet.  Here in the wealthy western world, where inoculations are common and medicines readily available the infection rates have dropped below epidemic/pandemic levels.  That is not true in other places, nor does it address the mutagenic properties of Covid.  That is here to stay, now another endemic disease for us all to deal with.

Currently we have 994,236 dead Americans from Covid, just short of a million in what is predestined to be an undercount.  We never get the numbers perfect, but we get a lot closer in hindsight, and we are not in true hindsight yet.  We are getting closer.

Then of course there is the never-ending mess of Trump’s attempt at a coup de ta, which to me, is still ongoing.  As more and more is revealed about Jan 6, more and more of our representatives are being shown to have known or been involved with direct attempts to overturn the election.  What is called a soft coup.  As that was ongoing, they also tossed around options for a hard, military coup, all based on the lie that the election was stolen or somehow invalid, when all evidence shows the opposite.

Perhaps one of the most disturbing aspects of this, to me, is how it continues in plain sight at Trump rallies and in the GOP nationwide.  Dozens of new laws make it more difficult to vote, mostly for the poor, a group which is disproportionately of color.  To may it looks very much like the right is stacking the deck so that no matter how any future election turns out, they can insert their choice instead of the will of the people, by creating laws which allow them to do so and creating obstacles people have to overcome to vote which are easy for the wealthy and sometimes near impossible for the poor.

As “Oathkeepers” plead guilty to seditious conspiracy we are finding they knew, had numbers of, and were in the same information loop as certain representatives and senators.  False electors for several swing states made false slates for Trump in cahoots with Trump pressuring Pence to reject slates of electors from those states.  Pence, to his unending credit, refused to violate the law and spirit of the constitution and confirmed the electoral collage votes for Biden.  We have a multi layered conspiracy to overturn the will of the people and instead substitute Trump, to me that conduct is treasonous.  It is my fervent hope that the DOJ pursues all these items with all due diligence and the full weight of the rule of law.

So, in closing, my question to myself is this . . . “What purpose do I have for this blog, which I only reactivated to make an everyman’s record of the Pandemic?”  The pandemic continues, but here in the states people act as if it is over.  The virus, on the other hand has mutated twice since BA@ “Stealth”, with each version becoming more infectious than the last.  BA3 and BA4 strains are spreading rapidly in Africa, with each generation since Omicron being more and more infectious.

Many epidemiologists see a much more contagious, but less deadly virus, as a greater threat than a more deadly virus which is less infectious.  The latter it is possible to control, to quarantine, and reduce the spread and therefore reduce the virus chance to mutate even further.  America and the western world has epically failed in that task, a task which is ongoing despite how most of us ignore or play down the issue.  Already that failure has allowed the virus room to spread, mutate and spread again.

Further our vaccine efficacy, that is how effective they are at preventing death and the most serious complications of covid, are waning.  With two vaccines you had about 95% protection, but as BA-3 and 4 make the rounds that level of protection will have dropped by half or more.  I think we need a longer-term plan to cope with what I fear might be coming, but the nation thinks it is over because the mask mandate was dropped.

So, I do not know quite what to do with this blog now.  It is not really a blog in the traditional sense.  It is not linked to FB and Twitter and attempting to reach a new audience, or any audience for that matter.  I was creating a real time history of the pandemic.  Since my nation, and the world, are facing multiple serious issues ranging from ecological disaster to war to fascist/authoritarian threats to democracies the world over, including America, I feel little choice but to continue to document these issues as well as I am able. 

If for no other reason than to help myself process and cope with the stress of all this BS we find ourselves mired in, I shall continue as I am able.  I have scant readers, a few random word press searches and a handful of people who followed me years ago and remain, occasionally checking in on what I have done.  For those folks I expect the work does for them what it does for me, helps them to process the immense amount of BS we all find ourselves in.  So, for those reasons I shall continue as I am able, and any reader who feels like sharing something from here should feel free to do so.

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