Pandemic Exposes U.S. Underbelly

We are all aware of the enormous toll Covid-19 has taken on this country, both health wise and economically.  But what most fail to consider is how badly we’ve botched our response to the pandemic as compared to many countries.  All who are so quick to pound their chest and boast that the United States is superior to anyone, anywhere in any way need to stick their hands in their pockets and face the truth.

We dropped the ball.

Instead of letting our best health experts direct this battle, we allowed spineless politicians who value themselves and their hoped-for  future above all else, to seize too much of the debate.

Example: in a Friday, June 26 committee meeting in the U.S. House of Representatives, a shouting match broke out between Republicans and Democrats about wearing face masks.  Democrats want people to wear them, Republicans claim they are being infringed upon.

Sweet Jesus.  These are supposedly adults.  And every damn one of them, regardless their party, should be sent packing and replaced by folks with common sense and some decency.

National Geographic has an excellent piece you can find here that gives a good rundown on the pandemic.

Look at the chart comparing the United States to the European Union and 7-day rolling averages of daily virus numbers.  There are 330 million people in the U.S. and 440 million in the EU.

On  April 1 this average for EU was just under 30,000 per day and about 20,000 for our country.  But by mid-month the average here was higher than the EU and today they have 4,000, while we have 34,000.

Is it any wonder that the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) is now trying to decide if they should stop visitors from the U.S from traveling to Europe.  Here are the other counties on their list: Mexico, Brazil, most of Latin America, Russia, South Africa and Saudi Arabia.

Let that sink in.  Mexico, Brazil, most of Latin America, Russia, South Africa and Saudi Arabia.

Those are the countries Europe now says we are equal to in battling this pandemic.

What did other counties do that we did not?  From National Geographic:

The countries that have succeeded have been the ones that have had real political and public will unite,” says Jeffrey Shaman, an epidemiologist at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, whose lab is modeling hospital burden during the crisis.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) projects the Alabama death rate because of Covid-19 will be 2,008 by Oct. 1.  However, if 99.5 percent of the public wear face masks, the number drops to 1,334.  Yet people in Congress are debating the value of masks.

How far we have fallen.

“Stuck With Stupid”

Michael Steele is an attorney from Maryland who was once that state’s Lt. Governor.  He is seen often on cable news as one of dozens of commentators.  He is also a former chairman of the National Republican Committee.  As best I can tell, even though he is a Republican, he is not a fan of President Trump.

I saw him recently in a discussion about the pandemic when he uttered a line I wish I had thought of.

He said that while many countries appear to be getting control of Covid 19, this country is “stuck with stupid.”

And from my little cave in Montgomery where the days run together and I seldom leave the house, I have to agree with him.  One thing I am not doing is planning a trip to NYC because they won’t allow people from Alabama to visit without being quarantined for 14 days.

Where is the leadership?  Who is in charge?  Why does the government put out guidelines for how to deal with the virus while the White House ignores them?

The President said months ago that we have been invaded by an invisible enemy.  He is right.

But what if the enemy was not invisible?  What if every time we looked down the street we saw the enemy darting from house to house?  Would we do what Washington did and tell every state and every city to arm themselves as best they can and fight their own fight?  Yet this is what we did in the initial stages of the pandemic.  When everyone was scrambling for protective gear and ventilators. Washington said, “Good luck.”

Where was the coordinated national effort to get everyone the necessary ammo to battle the enemy?  Instead, we basically said to each state, good luck in finding enough BB guns or cap pistols, or sling shots or bazookas to win the war.  And we spent a lot of time pointing fingers and blaming someone else for the mess.

Comparing Iceland to the U.S. is fraught with peril.  The entire country has only 360,000 citizens, fewer than Birmingham.  However, the fact that this island nation defeated the virus can not be overlooked.  How?  Health care workers–not politicians–directed their efforts.  Obviously they decided against being stuck with stupid.

 

Politician Changes His Mind. Good For Him.

Earlier this week the Montgomery city council voted as to whether or not all citizens should wear a face mask during the pandemic.  The vote tied 4-4 and therefore failed.

The following morning Mayor Stephen Reed used an executive order to make masks mandatory.

Council member Glen Pruitt joined Reed at the press conference announcing the executive order to say that he made a mistake in voting against the measure the night before.

Unfortunately, Pruitt’s 19-year-old daughter, Courtney, died of cancer last year.  After the vote, Pruitt asked his wife how he should have voted and she told him, “If Courtney was still alive, you would have supported the vote.”  Pruitt agreed with his wife and changed his mind.

His display of courage and conviction is all too rare these days.

Instead we have people like one of Pruitt’s fellow council members who opposed the mask ordnance and spewed the all-too common malarkey about “constitutional rights.”  Which is basically an admission of how little someone understands about our form of government and how it is supposed to work.

“ANARCHY” is a state of disorder due to absence or nonrecognition of authority.  And invoking constitutional rights in the matter of face masks basically means you favor anarchy.  So the speed limit on the interstate is 70, why should that apply to you?  Slow down when you pass a school?  Hell no, tell the kids to get out of the way.  That stop sign?  Says who?

It doesn’t work that way in our form of government.  We can’t pick and choose what rules we obey and the ones we don’t.  (Though there seem to be plenty of folks around today who don’t understand this.)

We are all in this together.  At least we are supposed to be.

Glen Pruitt recognizes this.  Good for him.

 

 

 

Coming To The End Of The Road

How do you figure out when your fastball ain’t as fast as it once was?  Or that it takes you longer to run from home plate to first base than a few years ago?

In other words, what makes you face the reality that you have far more yesterdays than tomorrows and that your usefulness or inspiration just comes in occasional spurts, certainly not every day.

I started this blog in the spring of 2015.  I was 72 years old.  Hardly the season of life to start climbing another mountain

It’s been quite a trip.  Filled with encounters of far more wonderful people than I can recall.  People who have truly demonstrated the best of mankind in their service to others.  People who have shown undying love.to the children of strangers.  People who honestly and truly believe that every life, regardless the circumstances of its birth or home or family is deserving of every chance and opportunity the surrounding world has to offer.  People who are overworked and underappreciated and are driven by a deep calling to leave this world better than they found it.

I have tried to recognize these largely unsung heroes and to give voice to sentiments that they are unable to be speak.

Gratefully, I have been joined by hundreds and hundreds of others on this lone journey.  People who have been so kind to constantly offer a pat on the back, whether deserved or not,  Every word of encouragement and appreciation has been noted.  And will not be forgotten.

But my fastball has lost some of its zip, my stride has shortened and frustrations have too often weighed too heavy.

And without doubt, some priorities have been re-arranged, especially impacted by these very perilous times we find ourselves in.

Regular readers have certainly noticed that posts in the last three months have been less frequent.  Just as they will continue to be.  I plan to still write from time to time but I also hope to set aside more time for myself and explore some worlds I have yet to see.

Thanks for all you have meant.  For your friendship, for your kind words and for your steadfast devotion to making this a better world.

Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder (Or Reporter)

The first time I remember seeing my name in print was 55 years ago this summer.  I was sports editor of The Auburn Plainsman that summer and each week had my name and photo attached to a column I wrote.  Which is just another way of saying I have been around a long time and have read the work of many reporters.

During all this observation, I have always been amazed at how two journalists can work with the same info and impart two totally different views on something that occurred.

The June 9, 2020 decision by the state charter school commission to revoke the charter of Woodland Prep in Washington County being a prime example.  Within a few hours, both AL.com and the Alabama Political Reporter had articles on-line about what happened.  You can read the AL.com article here and the APR one here.

While the APR article is labeled as “opinion,” this is not the case with the AL.com piece.  And you only have to get to the third paragraph to get a strong whiff of which way the wind is blowing.

That paragraph says: Woodland Prep attorney Nash Campbell said, “It’s just a little disturbing that a large group of people that threaten businesses, threaten people–and also essentially used religious and racial elements–caused this school to never get off the ground.”

The reporter than proceeded to relate several paragraphs to talking points of the charter supporters, most of which were never substantiated or verified and were questioned by legal action of the Alabama Education Association.  There are no quotes or comments from anyone in Washington County who opposed the charter.

On the other hand, APR reporter Josh Moon largely related how Washington County residents, lead by Betty Brackin, were relentless for two years in expressing their opposition, doing their homework and simply refusing to stop standing their ground.

Washington County has been around longer than Alabama has.  Alabama became a state in 1819.  Before that, Washington County was the first territorial capital, it became the first state county in June, 1800.  It had the first bank in the county.

Point being that folks in this southwest corner of the state have been running their own affairs for a very long time.  And when folks from Texas and Utah showed up two years ago to tell them they knew more about schools than the locals folks did, their racket fell on deaf ears.

And had the “outsiders” been nearly as smart as they wanted folks to think they were, they would have figured this out and kept on going.