Lazy Caturday ReadsPosted: August 21, 2021
As usual, the news is pretty depressing today–Covid-19 is still raging and the media is still viciously attacking President Biden on Afghanistan while ignoring the roles of Trump, Pompeo, and Stephen Miller in setting up the current state of affairs. I have a mix of reads to share, beginning with the obituary of a brilliant author and anti-racist who worked to change Americans’ understanding of our history.
The New York Times: James W. Loewen, Who Challenged How History Is Taught, Dies at 79.
James W. Loewen, a sociologist and civil rights champion who took high school teachers and textbook publishers to task for distorting American history, particularly the struggle of Black people in the South, by oversimplifying their experience and omitting the ugly parts, died on Thursday in Bethesda, Md. He was 79.
His death, in a hospital, was confirmed by Ellen Adler, his publisher at the New Press, who said he died after an unspecified “long illness.”
“Those who don’t remember the past are condemned to repeat the 11th grade,” Dr. Loewen wrote in “Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong” (1995), the best known of his dozen books attacking historical misconceptions.
Dr. Loewen was a relentless contrarian who challenged anyone who imagined academic life as a passage through genteel lectures on settled matters for drowsy students on leafy campuses. He charged through history like a warrior, dismantling fictions and exposing towns for excluding minorities; teachers and historians for dumbing lessons down; and defendants in 50 class-action lawsuits who, according to his expert testimony, victimized people in civil rights, voting rights and job discrimination cases.
A Northerner fascinated with Mississippi, he wrote his first book about the Chinese population there. He wrote another about how America’s historic sites distort our knowledge of the past. And it was a mistake to get him started on the origin of Thanksgiving: Plymouth was already a village with cleared fields when the Pilgrims found it deserted by plague victims. No turkey was served in 1621 — perhaps it was duck. And there was no pie. The settlers had no wheat flour for crust and no oven for baking. The holiday Americans celebrate has nothing to do with the Pilgrims. It was invented 242 years later by Abraham Lincoln to celebrate the North’s victory at Gettysburg.
“History is by far our worst-taught subject in high school,” Dr. Loewen told The Atlantic in 2018. “I think we’re stupider in thinking about the past than we are, say, in thinking about Shakespeare, or algebra, or other subjects. Historians tend to make everything so nuanced that the idea of truth almost disappears.”
Loewen’s work is more important than ever with the current rise of disinformation and conspiracy theories.
Trumpists are organizing a pro-January 6 rally in Washington D.C. on September 18, and this time the Metropolitan Police are taking the warnings seriously. The purpose of the rally is to free the “political prisoners” who are being prosecuted for attacking the U.S. Capitol building.
WASHINGTON — In a flash notice sent to all officers and members of the department Thursday, Metropolitan Police activated the entire force and postponed vacation days, in anticipation of a Sept. 18 protest organized by supporters of Jan. 6 defendants.
The rally, known as “Justice for J6,” is planned for the Union Square area of the Capitol grounds, the section of the west front encompassing the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial and Capitol reflecting pool.
The full activation alert, sent as Thursday’s Capitol Hill bomb threat investigation continued, assigned specific notice to MPD civil disturbance units trained for First Amendment demonstrations. The department-wide notification has not been previously reported.
When asked for comment, MPD responded with this statement:
“In anticipation of First Amendment activities on Saturday, September 18, 2021, the Metropolitan Police Department will be fully prepared. As with all First Amendment demonstrations, MPD will be monitoring and assessing the activities and planning accordingly with our federal law enforcement partners. MPD will have an increased presence around the city where demonstrations will be taking place and will be prepared to make street closures for public safety.”
Read more about the known goals for the event at the link, but here’s a brief summary from The Daily Beast:
The event, organized by former Donald Trump flack Matt Braynard, hopes to seek justice for those who stormed and defiled the Capitol on Jan. 6. Braynard announced the rally on former Trump adviser and current crackpot Steve Bannon’s podcast. “As we continue to raise the profile of these individuals, it makes it harder and harder for the left’s phony narrative about an insurrection to stick,” Braynard said, according to WUSA9. “What’s going to define [the rally] is where it’s going to take place: we’re going back to the Capitol.” He said the event has obtained permits. U.S. Capitol Police said it was aware of the event, but declined to comment.
Covid-19 is raging all over the country, but especially in the South. CNN reports: Governor sees ‘astronomical’ number of new Covid-19 cases.
Overall hospitalizations are continuing to increase across Alabama as the “pandemic of unvaccinated people continues,” state health officer Dr. Scott Harris said on Friday. Alabama hospitals have a negative capacity of ICU beds available, he said, and the state is seeing the highest number of Covid-19 cases among children than at any other time during the pandemic.
Louisiana has seen an “astronomical” number of Covid-19 cases during the latest surge, according to Gov. John Bel Edwards, as infections are increasing particularly among younger populations.
“I can tell you that for the last couple of days, 28% of all the new cases that we’re reporting are in children zero to 17,” he said on Friday.
In Orlando, Florida, Mayor Buddy Dyer warned residents to conserve water. Orlando Sentinel: Orlando urges reduced water usage as liquid oxygen used to purify water goes to COVID patients.
The city of Orlando and its water utility made an urgent appeal Friday afternoon for residents to cut back sharply on water usage for weeks because of a pandemic-triggered shortage of liquid oxygen used to purify water.
If commercial and residential customers are unable to reduce water usage quickly and sufficiently, Orlando Utilities Commission may issue a system-wide alert for boiling water needed for drinking and cooking. Without reductions in water usage, a boil-water alert would come within a week, utility officials said.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer asked residents to immediately stop watering their lawns, washing their cars and using pressure washers. Landscape irrigation consumes about 40% of the water provided by OUC….
Medical authorities have reported that along with a spike in hospitalizations for COVID cases, hospitals are relying increasingly on treatment involving high flows of supplemental oxygen for patients.
That has spurred a nationwide shortage for liquid oxygen, which has been exacerbated by a lack of available tanker trucks and drivers.
In Mississippi, many people have been using a livestock deworming medication to treat or prevent Covid-19 that has been promoted on Fox News. ABC News: Mississippi officials warn against using livestock ivermectin to prevent COVID-19 after rise in poison control calls.
Mississippi’s poison control center has seen an increase in calls of people taking ivermectin, including versions of the deworming drug intended for livestock, to treat or prevent COVID-19, according to state health officials.
The Mississippi Health Department took to social media Friday to issue a warning about the phenomenon, which has been reported throughout the pandemic.
“Do not use ivermectin products made for animals,” it said in a Facebook post.
The Mississippi Health Department also issued an alert Friday to health care providers in the state regarding the increase in poison control calls due to potential ivermectin toxicity.
“At least 70% of the recent calls have been related to ingestion of livestock or animal formulations of ivermectin purchased at livestock supply centers,” stated the alert, which did not specify the number of total calls.
Meanwhile, there’s a free vaccine readily available that has emergency approval from the FDA.
Also in Mississippi: Mississippi threatens fines, jail time for Covid patients who don’t isolate.
Mississippi’s top health official Friday threatened jail time for people diagnosed with Covid-19 who don’t isolate in their homes.
State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs issued an “isolation order” that states, “All persons residing in Mississippi must immediately home-isolate on first knowledge of infection with COVID-19.”
Failure to do so could result in fines and jail time. Dobbs’ order mentions two possible levels of violation. One, a refusal to obey a health officer, comes with a $500 fine and, possibly, six months behind bars.
But the order says that where a life-threatening disease is involved in a refusal to obey, violators could face a fine of up to $5,000 and possibly five years behind bars.
State epidemiologist Paul Byers said Mississippi has the highest number of new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the nation. “These numbers are staggering guys,” he said during a weekly Mississippi pandemic update.
Big media is still focused tearing down Joe Biden, so much so that they hardly paid any attention to bomb threat standoff in DC.
John Stoer at Raw Story: How the media enables a political minority to steal the majority’s freedoms.
Peter Baker is a reporter for the Times. He said this yesterday: “The Biden team’s cold political calculation is that Americans won’t care what happens in Afghanistan as long as Americans are safe. To their point, today there are no front-page stories on Afghanistan in cities like Boston, Austin, Chicago, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Fresno or Miami.”
This is in keeping what I’ve been saying in the Editorial Board. Most people most of the time have something better to do than pay attention to politics. This goes double for August, that time of the year when normal people are thinking about vacations or preparing for the reopening of school. The Washington press corps barely paid any attention at all to Afghanistan, because most people most of the time stopped paying attention to it a decade ago, after the US killed the man responsible for murdering nearly 3,000 Americans a decade prior.
But Baker’s use of “cold political calculation” carries with it at least one presumption. It’s that Joe Biden is doing something obviously morally wrong; that “informed people” (i.e., elites) know he’s doing something obviously morally wrong; and that the obvious moral wrong is rooted in the fact that US forces are leaving Afghanistan. Moreover, it’s that Biden is betting he won’t pay a price for that obvious moral wrong given that voters have short attention spans and short memories, especially in August. It’s a presumption that itself presumes everything is as good or bad as everything else and nothing really matters.
“Cold political calculation” does not accurately represent reality, however. The Associated Press released this week the results of a new poll showing that two-thirds of the population does not think “America’s longest war was worth fighting.” That’s 67 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of Republicans. The poll, moreover, shows a gigantic switcher-roo over the duration of the “forever war.” In 2001, most people were worried about foreign terrorists. Now, according to the AP’s poll, most people see “major national security threats as being internal. Roughly two-thirds say they are extremely or very concerned about the threat of extremist groups based inside the United States.”
My point here isn’t to pick on Peter Baker. My point is to note how the press corps often overlooks, or ignores, majority opinion, especially as it relates to the dynamics of power in Washington. When put in its proper context, you can see the president and his team were not making a “cold political calculation.” To the contrary, they were acting in accord with the will of the majority. Everything is not as good or bad as everything else. Some things are good. Some things are bad. Some things are so clearly and morally one or the other, there’s a bipartisan consensus. A president is wise to take such preferences into account. I wouldn’t call this “cold political calculation.” I’d call it good politics.
Read more at Raw Story.
Here’s a link to Peter Baker’s article at The New York Times: Biden Ran on Competence and Empathy. Afghanistan Is Testing That.
More Afghanistan reads:
Franz J. Marty at The Guardian: I was in Kabul when it fell to the Taliban. The speed of the collapse stunned me.
As always, this is an open thread. I hope you all have a great weekend!