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I read The Premoniton by Michael Lewis last weekend.

Ok, I don’t mean to put myself in the same category as the problem solvers, thought experimenters and out of the box thinkers that Lewis describes in his book but I will point to this post I made on January 24, 2020. By the time I wrote this, I had been checking out the JHU tracker for about a week:

And the government’s plan is… what, exactly?

Posted on January 24, 2020 by riverdaughter | Edit

We may have a Plague scenario developing:

Some of us have or may still have compromised immune systems. This s}#% isn’t funny. 

Luckily, I bought masks last year with a virus barrier layer. That won’t help much if we should all wear spacesuits. 

Normally, I wouldn’t get freaked out about this but we have a contagious illness with human to human transmission. It’s viral and we have no drugs or vaccines for it. It started in a densely populated area of a densely populated country and it’s a holiday season there. It’s spreading to other countries. 

I’d like to know what Trump’s plan is to combat this. I mean in coherent sentences and where he can answer questions that indicate he understands cause, effect and the consequences of inaction. 

He’s been gutting science in government so I’m concerned that we may be under resourced. 

Commence the “la-la-la, we can’t HEAR you!” response from the Republicans with a death grip on our health agencies. 

As Schiff asked, can we reasonably expect that Trump will do something in our interest and not simply his own?

The reason I was thinking about this is because I had been to Ontario on MLK weekend and when I came back, I saw that there were two cases reported in Toronto and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up as I wondered how close I got to them as I passed through a food court on the outskirts of Toronto on the way home.

Maybe it was just coincidence. But I can’t explain why my attention was so riveted on coronavirus back then. The news reports were only just starting. Even weirder was Trump’s response was about as underwhelming and irresponsible as I predicted. And our scientific infrastructure found it difficult to rise to the occasion.

Lewis’s book is all about the people who were initially tasked with coming up with a pandemic response back in the day when George W. Bush read about the 1918 Flu pandemic while he was on vacation. I hate to give Bush credit for anything. It’s not that he never did anything good. It’s that it was all negated by the tsunami of bad.

The wolverines consisted of former members of that pandemic task force (remember, they were disbanded by John Bolton) who came up with the social distancing concepts that we have relied on during this pandemic. Chief among the wolverines was an ICU doctor named Carter Mecher who appears to be a wizard at design thinking. He had planned school closing scenarios and safety net enhancements back in 2007.

But it was California’s Assistant Public Health Officer Dr. Charity Dean who took some of those ideas and created the public health pandemic plan and region codes we see today. Dean might be pleased to know that Pennsylvania adopted her plan. So did many countries around the world.

What I learned from this book is that the parts of the world that followed Mecher and Dean’s recommendations fared far better at controlling the pandemic within their borders than we did. The blame for that underperformance lies with the politicization of the CDC over 40 years and the lack of presidential leadership during the Obama and Trump years. Undermining our governmental agencies hit its apex during Trump but we might not have known how seriously our CDC and pandemic response was compromised if we hadn’t had Covid.

Now we know.

As for Charity Dean, the world owes her a medal. Her background is very similar to mine except for that whole MD thing. It probably helped that she wasn’t shifted around the country to a zillion schools in her youth. She managed to snag a scholarship to college that was intended for underprivileged kids. I’m not saying I’m bitter or anything but when you’re poor and your family is dead set against you getting a college education, it helps if someone takes notice and gives you a scholarship so you don’t have to work til 2am closing the restaurant you just worked a shift at instead of studying.

Let that be a lesson to all of us. You never know what a poor kid is capable of until you give them the opportunity to get a stress free college education.

Anyway, The Premonition is a unputdownable read. Highly recommended.

Republican Cowards

The House Republicans removed Liz Cheney from her position by secret voice vote. No open vote, no secret ballot. This comes from a source close to Cheney, via Chris Jansing of MSNBC.

The reason they did that is of course to hide how they voted. They don’t even have the courage of their radical fascistic convictions. They are doing the right thing, they proclaim. But they don’t want anyone to know who voted for it. This way they will say, oh, it was a rousing voice vote; many, many people were for it, hardly any dissent at all. Their only concerns were, 1) Getting Cheney out of power in the House; 2) Making sure that no one could run against any of them based on their vote, since there is no recorded vote.

One has scarcely ever seen anything like this kind of totalitarianism in American history. Well, come to think of it, the HUAC hearings in the late ’40’s and early ’50’s were comparable. The Republicans canceled the careers of many brilliant and talented people in their crusade to “get Communism out of Hollywood.”

The Republicans have a mission, and it is fascism, though they of course never would call it that. McCarthy, spokesperson for fascism, said yesterday that his party was for openness and expression of opinions, not like those “Cancel Culture” Democrats. Oh, yes, they certainly allowed Cheney to express her views, until they purged her, in a Stalinistic way.

They canceled Cheney. They will cancel anyone or anything who stands in their way, while they follow Goebbels’ dictum to always accuse your enemies of what you are doing.

No one should ever use the acronym “GOP” to refer to Republicans. That stands for “Grand Old Party,” and it is completely inapposite to put the word “Grand” anywhere near them.

I wish more Democrats would openly call them fascists. They certainly use the “socialist” label when referring to Democrats. Why are Democrats so cautious about labeling them? All the Republicans want to do is to try to make the Democratic Party seem so dangerous, that people will vote for Republicans, to avoid the horrors of “socialism” and “cancel culture,” which of course was chosen to seem like some kind of “liquidating” from the spy or gangster movies. So do not be afraid to call Republicans what they are. It might wake a few people up.

“Instead of the cross, the Albatross/About my neck was hung.” That is from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s extraordinary poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” Liz Cheney may turn out to be the albatross for Republicans, at least if there are still enough people who are capable of understanding and reacting to it. The poem also says, “He prayeth best who loveth best/All things both great and small.” Republicans love nothing but themselves, their power, and their money. It is too bad that none of them ever read the Romantic poets, but they wouldn’t understand any of it, anyway.