Monday Reads: Death has a sense of Irony

Under the Orange Tree, Berthe Morisotsot, 1889

Good Day Sky Dancers!

Folks may think they’re done with Covid-19, but Covid-19 is not done with us.  I’m thinking of JJ and her daughter Bebe who struggled with the virus and lost dear friends.  Covid deniers in the US and other places have made hell on earth for the rest of us with their blatant acts to ensure its spread.  Not only do they cough on you, but they seem hell-bent on proving themselves right. Well, another one bites the dust. Death may take a vacation, but it also has a deep sense of Irony. That’s my literary take, but the deal is you can’t fight scientific findings with Iron Age folk tales. You do not want to see people dying of anything, but most of all, from stupidity. This is from The Daily Beast. “Conservative Activist Dies of COVID Complications After Attending Anti-Vax ‘Symposium’.”

“I am truly heartbroken to learn that my dear friend Kelly Canon has passed away from complications from Covid pneumonia. Just yesterday around 4pm she told a group of friends that she definitely felt better and that the docs had told her she had ‘turned the corner’ with improved blood test results. She was talking about wanting to come home. Later last night she developed an acute abdominal issue, was given pain meds and put on the ventilator,” wrote Maggie Clopton Wright“

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More recently, Canon had been an outspoken critic of COVID-19 vaccine mandates and pandemic-related restrictions. In one of her final Facebook posts, Canon shared several links to speeches she attended at a “COVID symposium” in Burleson in early December devoted to dissuading people from getting the COVID-19 vaccines that are currently available. The event was organized by God Save Our Children, which bills itself as “a conservative group that is fighting against the use of experimental vaccines on our children.”

Canon had shared similar content on Twitter, where her most recent post was a YouTube video featuring claims that the coronavirus pandemic was “planned” in advance and part of a global conspiracy.

As news of her death spread Tuesday, pro-vaccine commentators flooded her Facebook page with cruel comments and mocking memes, while her supporters unironically praised her for being a “warrior for liberty” to the very end.

I’m not sure she deserves to be mocked, but her example is not one to follow. That may not be the case in this Congress.

Berthe Morisot,
Julie Manet picking cherries, 1891

Since I’m already on this topic, I might dive in fully. This is from Common Dreams.  “Christian Nationalism vs. the Separation of Church and State. The Founding Fathers wisely recognized what religion would become in the hands of charlatans: a theatrical performance and political tool to hypocritically showboat their “piety” as a way to manipulate voters for political gain.”

What a sorry little God he would be if he weren’t more open-minded than his closed-minded children who insult him by their demeaning image of him and use that caricature as their puppet who “reveals” to them alone what he wants for their country or political party!

Whether such proselytizing zeal is disguised aggression, megalomania, or repressed self-doubt that feels both threatened and driven to convert others to dispel that doubt, these are very dangerous people and should never be part of government or have their theological views of the Second Coming guide an administration’s foreign policy toward Israel and that tinderbox of the Middle East.

And yet, unbeknownst to themselves, these individuals render the nation an inestimable service by being a constant reminder of the very reason for upholding this Separation of Church and State. The Founding Fathers believed that religion was, and must always remain, a private affair because bringing the volatility of “religious enthusiasm” into the public arena would only trivialize religion and destabilize a nation. They feared the political effects of interdenominational feuding, the polarization caused by doctrinal differences, the demonization of dissenters, and the eruption of religious intolerance and hatred.

There was also a second reason why the Founders feared religion in politics — the rise of religious opportunists who would inflame political passions to promote themselves. Religion would become in the hands of these charlatans a theatrical performance and political tool to hypocritically showboat their “piety” to manipulate voters for political gain.

An unscrupulous politician could disguise his lack of convictions by holding his finger to the wind to determine which way the wind was blowing and telling his audience whatever he thought it wanted to hear. This individual well understood the art of inciting “enthusiasm” or hysteria toward some plan of action and call it “the Will of God.”

The Founders would have blanch­ed at politicians returning to their constituents and pandering to their sincerely held religious convictions to gain a following or court popularity — not that they couldn’t take part in religious services as private citizens, but not as representatives of their government lest people think they were lending the prestige of their office to their particular church or religion.

These Founders also knew their Bible, as it played such a pivotal role in their 18th-century world. They knew of Christ’s admonition in Mat­thew 6 about not playing the hypocrite by standing on the street corner and making a public display of one’s piety, for one would have already received one’s reward. Instead, one should withdraw to one’s room, close the door, and in privacy pray to God as grandstanding didn’t count as prayer with the Lord! As experienced men of the world, they knew only too well how politicians might cynically abuse religion to seek power and votes.

They were also highly educated, even erudite, men, especially Thomas Jefferson, whose library contained a Who’s Who of “great authors,” one of whom was the celebrated French playwright Moliere, author of “Tartuffe,” the embodiment of religious hypocrisy. It is both an uproarious romp into the glacial regions of inner emptiness, as well as a manual for observing the bobbings and weavings of unctuous sanctimony raised to high art.

In that great patrician school of Parisian sophistication, it was thought that the only way to effect moral change was never by sermons but by ridicule. Many don’t mind being considered a scoundrel, but never a fool! Castigat ridendo mores (“Comedy corrects manners”) was the essence of Moliere’s art that skewered human folly by laughter alone.

This caustic mockery of his characters and the gales of laughter that broke forth from the audience were much more effective in pillorying vice than sermons delivered from Notre Dame’s pulpit. Moliere, the French Aristophanes, was and always has been a moral institution for the French, who can laugh at themselves in his characters with no loss of face.

Jefferson and his colleagues well understood that some members of government might be tempted to play Tartuffe on the political stage. One Tartuffe, or a group of them, could do untold harm to a nation by using religion for political ends. To the educated, the 18th century was an age of taste and decorum, moderation and dignity, and everything had its proper place. Religion especially could never be allowed to be vulgarized or cheapened by demagogues toying with people’s religious emotions.

There would be no limit to their unbridled ambition and religious hypocrisy in saying whatever would ingratiate themselves to the favor and trust of an audience. So profound was their cynical abuse of religion for being elected that they would wax rhapsodic on the metaphysical subtleties of Hottentot theology if they thought it would secure them a “leg-up” over their political rivals at election time.

I must admit that I’ve never understood the religious right, the moral majority, or the radicalism of Emp-ty G.  One line of my father’s family–Huguenote French Protestants and Jewish folks–fled Alsace Lorraine after the region after the Catholic Church was handed all their belongings and began the persecution of both groups when Napolean handed them the region. Both sides of my family had signers of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, so I had a firm grounding in staying out of another’s religion.  I was horrified by Pat Robertson’s minions when they moved on Iowa and captured the Reagan version of the Republican Party.

Renoir, Girls Picking Flowers in a Meadow, about 1890

This depressing article was in the New York Times today. “How Kevin McCarthy Forged an Ironclad Bond With Marjorie Taylor Greene. The close alliance that has developed between the speaker and the hard-right Georgia Republican explains his rise, how he might govern, and the heavy influence of the extremes on the new House G.O.P. majority.” I had difficulty understanding Phyliss Schafly’s actions and speech back in the day, but this new group of right-wing women is beyond explanation.  It just seems this entire group just will do anything for attention.

Days after he won his gavel in a protracted fight with hard-right Republicans, Speaker Kevin McCarthy gushed to a friend about the ironclad bond he had developed with an unlikely ally in his battle for political survival, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.

“I will never leave that woman,” Mr. McCarthy, a California Republican, told the friend, who described the private conversation on the condition of anonymity. “I will always take care of her.”

Such a declaration from Mr. McCarthy would have been unthinkable in 2021, when Ms. Greene first arrived on Capitol Hill in a swirl of controversy and provocation. A former QAnon follower who had routinely trafficked in conspiratorial, violent and bigoted statements, Ms. Greene was then widely seen as a dangerous liability to the party and a threat to the man who aspired to lead Republicans back to the majority — a person to be controlled and kept in check, not embraced.

But in the time since, a powerful alliance developed between Ms. Greene, the far-right rabble-rouser and acolyte of former President Donald J. Trump, and Mr. McCarthy, the affable fixture of the Washington establishment, according to interviews with 20 people with firsthand knowledge of the relationship, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss it.

Their political union — a closer and more complex one than has previously been known — helps explain how Mr. McCarthy rose to power atop a party increasingly defined by its extremes, the lengths to which he will go to accommodate those forces, and how much influence Ms. Greene and the faction she represents have in defining the agenda of the new House Republican majority.

“If you’re going to be in a fight, you want Marjorie in your foxhole,” Mr. McCarthy said. Both he and Ms. Greene agreed to brief interviews for this article. “When she picks a fight, she’s going to fight until the fight’s over. She reminds me of my friends from high school, that we’re going to stick together all the way through.”

It is a relationship born of political expediency but fueled by genuine camaraderie, and nurtured by one-on-one meetings as often as once a week, usually at a coffee table in Mr. McCarthy’s Capitol office, as well as a constant stream of text messages back and forth.

Mr. McCarthy has gone to unusual lengths to defend Ms. Greene, even dispatching his general counsel to spend hours on the phone trying to cajole senior executives at Twitter to reactivate her personal account after she was banned last year for violating the platform’s coronavirus misinformation policy.

Ms. Greene, in turn, has taken on an outsize role as a policy adviser to Mr. McCarthy, who has little in the way of a fixed ideology of his own and has come to regard the Georgia congresswoman as a vital proxy for the desires and demands of the right-wing base that increasingly drives his party. He has adopted her stances on opposing vaccine mandates and questioning funding for the war in Ukraine, and even her call to reinvestigate the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol to show what she has called “the other side of the story.”

Young Girl Holding a Basket, 1891, Berthe Morisot

This does not bode well.

Yesterday was supposed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Roe v Wade. Instead, the same group is not happy with its’ overturn. They’ve moved on to more extremism under their limited view of Christianity. Vice President Kamal Harris gave a rousing speech on the need to protect women’s abortion rights.  This is from NPR. “On 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Kamala Harris urges federal abortion protections.”

Vice President Kamala Harris commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision by imploring Americans to work to enshrine abortion rights into law.

“For nearly 50 years, Americans relied on the rights that Roe protected,” Harris said at a speech delivered in Tallahassee, Fla., on Sunday. “Today, however, on what would have been its 50th anniversary, we speak of the Roe decision in the past tense.”

The landmark Supreme Court decision on Jan. 22, 1973, guaranteed the constitutional right to an abortion for nearly half a century. The U.S. Supreme Court officially reversed Roe v. Wade in June, which immediately rolled back abortion rights in almost half of the states, and led to many more restrictions. In speaking in Florida, Harris, the nation’s first female vice president, delivered a speech in a state which passed a 15-week abortion ban into law.

In her speech, Harris spoke directly to the anti-abortion rights policies implemented by Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, and state officials.

After the Food and Drug Administration changed a rule to allow retail pharmacies to fill prescriptions for abortion pills, Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration reportedly sent a letter out to pharmacists telling them that dispensing the abortion pill could lead to criminal charges.

“Here, in Florida, health care providers face prison — prison! — for up to five years for simply doing their job,” Harris said. “And now the state has also targeted medication abortion, and even threatened Florida pharmacists with criminal charges if they provide medication prescribed by medical professionals.”

President Biden moved to support legal access to chemical abortions.

Fillette portant un panier, Young Girl Holding a Basket, 1888, Berthe Morisot

This is from The Guardian. “In a more just world, this would be the 50th anniversary of Roe v Wade, written by Moira Donegan.  Until last year, Roe made it more possible for women’s lives to be determined by their choices, not merely by their bodies”

If the supreme court hadn’t overturned it last June, undoing a longstanding precedent and inflicting untold harm to women’s well-being and dignity, Sunday 22 January would have been the fiftieth anniversary of Roe v Wade.

Over those 50 years, Roe changed American life dramatically. Abortion became a routine part of life, a resource people planned their lives around having. In contrast to its political controversy, abortion in the Roe era was – as it is now – aggressively common. Approximately one in four American women will have an abortion at some point in the course of their reproductive lives.

The figure lends credence to the pro-choice assertion that everyone loves someone who had an abortion – and the accompanying quip that if you think you don’t know a woman who has had an abortion, you really just don’t know any women who trust you enough to tell you. But part of the legacy of Roe is not just that these women you know and love have been able to have freer, healthier, more volitional lives, but also that their abortions, for many of them, are not worth confessing. For most, abortions were not tragedies to be whispered about, or life-altering moments of shame, but banalities, choices to which they were unquestionably entitled, and from which they could move unconflictedly on. But Roe is gone. Now, for many women, these choices are crimes.

It’s worth reflecting on what we had during those 49 years. While it stood, Roe offered a promise: that women’s lives need not be circumscribed by so-called “biological destiny”; that gender – its relations, performances, and obligations – might not be something that is imposed on women, but something that they take up and discard on their own terms. In the Roe era, this frank entitlement by women to determine the courses of their own lives was the decision’s greatest legacy. Individual women’s distinction and determination, or their conflictedness and confusion, or their ambivalence and exploration: once, before Roe, these parts of a woman’s personality almost didn’t matter; they were incidental eccentricities along the inevitable road to motherhood. Roe made it more possible for women’s lives to be determined by their characters, not merely by their bodies.

It is easy to speak of Roe’s impact in material terms – the way it enabled women’s long march into paid work and into better paid work, how it was a precondition for their soaring achievements in education and the professions, their ascents into positions of power and influence. So little of the vast and varied lives of twentieth-century American women could have been achieved in the absence of abortion or birth control – these women, their minds and careers, are gifts the nation could never have received if they’d been made to be pregnant against their wills, or made to care for unplanned, unlonged-for babies.

But it is less easy to discuss the sense of dignity that Roe gave to American women, the way that the freedom to control when and whether they would have children endowed American women, for the first time, with something like the gravitas of adults. Roe opened a door for women into dignity, into self-determination, into the still wild and incendiary idea that they, like men, might be endowed with the prerogatives of citizenship, and entitled to chart the course of their own lives.

Mid-Century, Roger Etienne, Man In a Flower Hat

This is from the ACLU.” Roe’s 50th Year Undid Its Promise”.

On this anniversary episode, we are going to look at the reality that people are facing in a post-Roe America, both those seeking care and those providing it. Without Roe, a key component of reproductive care has become illegal or restricted for more than 20 million people, throwing many into painful and life-threatening situations. We are joined by Community Organizer, Kaitlyn Joshua, who experienced firsthand how new restrictions on abortion endanger the lives and well-being of pregnant people, and Dr. Jennifer Lincoln, an OB-GYN, reproductive health educator, author, and Executive Director of Mayday Health, an organization focused on providing information on abortion access and options for people, regardless of where they live.

You may listen to the podcast at the link.

I think we have enough today to discuss and think about.  By the way, you reap what you sow.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: The War on Vaccines and Masks (i.e Health)

“JAN 14 1956, JAN 15 1956; Nurse Cuca Martinez (Left) does her best to soothe Elizabeth Tarrant, 7, of 881 S. Umatilla St., Dr. Rosalind Ting (right) readies the needle for child’s first polio injection. Elizabeth received her inoculation at the last free public clinic of the current series. Which was stopped because of a shortage of Salk vaccine.; Credit : Denver Post (Photo By Cloyd Teter/The Denver Post via Getty Images) – . GettyGetty”

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I’ve spent the early morning basically hearing one colleague after another at LSU beg their President and Board to take this 4th surge of Covid-19 seriously.  They were interrupted because the Board just had to listen to a sportscaster. They are not going to test students, staff, and faculty. They are not even taking the State’s order of indoor masking seriously.  We’ve done all of this before and politics and idiots are making things unsafe.

I remember getting in the station wagon, Daddy drove us to the gymnasium of Herbert Hoover Elementary school where everyone from my toddler sister and kindergartner me waved and smiled at all our friends and neighbors and got shots. I had the measles, the chickenpox, and enough of those diseases that Me–the mother–took both my kids to get what vaccines were available.  While Dr. Daughter had about as bad of chickenpox experience as I did, Baby daughter got into the trials for the chickenpox vaccine and had exactly one of the crusty little things show up near the injection site and no misery.  I had a wallet-sized record of vaccines that I had to show whenever I went to a new school or university.  No big deal. I’m pretty sure that was a nearly universal experience. Anyone who lived through any pandemic or massively deadly outbreak of something just did what they should do.  Roll up your sleeve and be thankful you’re not going to be the next person sick.

WTF has happened?

I’m watching this thread of Robert Mann who has basically said that he’s resigned himself to getting covid-19 even though he’s vaccinated because there will be massive numbers of unmasked, unvaccinated people on campus all crammed into rooms with inadequate ventilation.  The only ones the President and the board seem concerned about are the damn football players.

“Children receiving diphtheria immunization, New York City, 1920s
Metropolitan Life Insurance company promoted diphtheria immunization in New York in the 1920s. The children lined to up receive what at that time would have been toxin-antitoxin mixture from school nurses.”

UNO–no longer part of the LSU system but the LU system–still plans to open up too. I’m not teaching there this fall and frankly, I see that as a good thing for me. I can’t believe that everything will not be shut down again by September because of deliberately stupid people’s politics.  Meanwhile, the private sector is stepping up.

Michael M. Grynbaum / New York Times:  CNN fires three employees who went into the office unvaccinated.

Alison Sider / Wall Street Journal: United Airlines to Require All U.S. Employees to Get Covid-19 Vaccines

Jake Harris / WFAA-TV: Back to School: Here’s what to know about vaccination requirements

Christa Emmer / Our Community Now:  Disney to Reinstate Mask Requirements at US Parks

Meanwhile, President Biden is getting more creative about ways to get the country vaccinated. This is from WaPo: Biden administration considers withholding funds and other measures to spur vaccinations.”

The Biden administration is considering using federal regulatory powers and the threat of withholding federal funds from institutions to push more Americans to get vaccinated — a huge potential shift in the fight against the virus and a far more muscular approach to getting shots into arms, according to four people familiar with the deliberations.

The effort could apply to institutions as varied as long-term-care facilities, cruise ships and universities, potentially impacting millions of Americans, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive conversations.

The conversations are in the early phases and no firm decisions have been made, the people said. One outside lawyer in touch with the Biden administration on the issue is recommending that the president use federal powers sparingly.
There is a particular focus in the discussions on whether restrictions on Medicare dollars or other federal funds could be used to persuade nursing homes and other long-term-care facilities to require employees to be vaccinated, according to one of the people familiar with the talks.

If the Biden administration goes forward with the plans, it would amount to a dramatic escalation in the effort to vaccinate the roughly 90 million Americans who are eligible for shots but who have refused or have been unable to get them.

The discussion at the highest level of government also signals a new phase of potential federal intervention as the White House struggles to control the delta variant of the virus, which is spreading more rapidly than even some of the more dire models predicted.

Elvis Presley receives a polio vaccination from doctors at the CBS studios, New York, in 1956. Photograph: Seymour Wally/NY Daily News via Getty Images

Headlines on the Delta surge from Republicans are beyond ridiculous including DeSantos blaming the Delta surge on Biden and refugees at the Southern  Border while totally ignoring his mismanagement of Florida’s Public Health. This is from the Miami Herald: “Incredibly, DeSantis blames Florida COVID surge on Biden, immigrants. Scapegoat much?”  This is an Op Ed by Fabiola Santiago.

Florida Gov. Ron

DeSantis has failed to protect Floridians from COVID-19.

That fact alone is grounds for condemnation, but this week he’s throwing into the mix a little xenophobia for political effect.

Instead of supporting common-sense, expert-guided public health measures to deal with highly transmissible variants in Florida, the governor bet on GOP-branded rhetorical rubbish about “freedom of choice” on life-saving masks and vaccines.

And we lost.

Florida continues to lead the nation in COVID cases and hospitalizations, breaking most of the coronavirus statistical records that chronicle the sickness and suffering residents were, and still are, enduring. It doesn’t get any more gut-wrenching and infuriating than to see cases of children infected with the deadly delta variant soaring in Florida hospitals, more so than in any other state.

These lying bags of conspiracy shit are killing people.  It’s insane because it’s mostly their voters that listen to the nonsense but it drags innocent people along for the ride to the cemetery.  Los Angeles is looking for ways to mandate vaccines.

Here’s our crazy republican Attorney General shaming the Bishop of Layfette Diocese’s Catholic Churches

Texas and Louisiana are now facing the Lambda variant and it’s uglier than the Delta,

On April 18, 1955, 8-year-old Ann Hill of Tallahassee, Fla., received one of the first Salk polio vaccine shots.

I’m beginning to feel like we’re a group of Cassandras here.

The new COVID Lambda variant has been detected in Louisiana, doctors told WBRZ Thursday.

It was first reported in the U.S. in Houston and health care officials believe since Texas and Louisiana share a border, the virus variant was easily spread.

“I do know that with the proximity with Texas, there have been a few cases detected in North Louisiana with the Lamda variant.  But we don’t know whether this is going to be a more aggressive or less aggressive virus,” Dr. Aldo Russo, the medical director at Ochsner said.

Dr. Russo said the Lambda variant has not been detected in the capital region yet, but health care professionals are testing for it.

“We are monitoring this very closely. Our teams are sequencing the different variants,” Dr. Russo said.

The Lambda variant was first reported in Peru in December and has become the dominant strain of the virus there.  It’s concerning for the country because the vaccine used in Peru is not effective against this new variant.

“They have stated that there may be some resistance to the vaccine, but that it was a different vaccine that they were using. They were using the Chinese vaccine,” Dr. Russo said.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate was down in July with big gains in employment for Black and Latinx workers. This is via the AP. The entire economy rests on getting through this Delta variant.  Maybe that’s why Employers are getting a lot more serious about testing and vaccines than Republican stooges.

 U.S employers added 943,000 jobs in July and drove the unemployment rate down to 5.4% in another sign the economy is bouncing back with surprising vigor from COVID-19. But there is growing fear the fast-spreading delta variant will set back the recovery.

The worry is that the resurgent virus could discourage people from going out and spending and trigger another round of shutdowns or other restrictions.

“That is a definite downside risk,” said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics. “The risk is from a more cautious consumer, if they don’t want to engage in outside activities. … You’re also hearing about big companies that are delaying a return to work. That might be something that slows things down.’’

The Labor Department collected its data for the report in mid-July before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week reversed course and recommended that even vaccinated people resume wearing masks indoors in places where the variant is pushing infections up.

Still, the July numbers looked good. They exceeded economists’ forecast of more than 860,000 new jobs. Encouraged by their prospects, 261,000 Americans returned to the job market in July. And the unemployment rate fell from 5.9% in June.

I think most people prefer mitigation and vaccinated neighbors and workers to another potential shutdown. However, I’m staying put here in Lousyana where our Republican Stooges like everyone miserable but themselves.  Here’s so more on the struggle to get folks vaccinated.

Peter Slevin / New YorkerThe Struggle to Vaccinate Springfield, Missouri

Heather Long / Washington Post:‘We’re back to panicking’: Moms are hit hardest with camps, day cares and schools closing again

Nicole Carroll / USA TodayThe Backstory: My brother is one of millions who won’t get the COVID-19 vaccine.  I asked why.  Here are his reasons, my responses.

So, have you made any lifestyle changes yet?  More open or back to staying mostly home?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: The Media Should Stop giving Nincompoops a Platform

Portrait of a Man,
Erich Heckel ,1918

Good Day Sky Dancers!

This is not the post I intended to write today. I figured I would have to take a look at the US re-entering the Climate Change Agreement or the Putin Pull out or some other kind of change we get since we got rid of the Previous Guy. Instead, I got treated to an entirely huge number of wipipo who really don’t need any sort of media attention at all.

In fact, they need to take their little whiny white asses back to whatever miserable enclave they sprang from to whack off to black and white TV from the 50s and leave the rest of us safely unaware of their existence.  They do not have economic angst. They have a bad case of fascism, racism, and misogyny all wrapped up in a desire to replace democracy with white nationalism. It’s all so they can feel safe and good about themselves.

So, this bigoted idiot from Las Vegas was given print space  by the Orlando Sentinel.  He argues that Disneyland and Disneyworld should be there to give him his fantasy of white smeared with THAT sort’ve christian hegemony.  He expects the entire organization should just exist only to humor his white supremacist fantasies just because he spends money there.  The most distasteful thing in the article wasn’t the headline on how Disney Corp’s  wokeness was ruining his good times. It was that he expected every one else to just go ahead and playact whatever offensive stereotype generations of their family try to escape from.  Poor little white toad.  “I love Disney World, but wokeness is ruining the experience | Commentary”.  I just hope he stays away from New Orleans.

That spell is broken when the immersive experience is shattered by the real world. And boy, has Disney been breaking the immersion.

Recently, Disney announced that cast members are now permitted to display tattoos, wear inclusive uniforms and display inclusive haircuts. Disney did all of this in the name of allowing cast members to express themselves.

Man in Brown, Erich Heckel, 1912

His favorite thing to do first was the Pirates ride where he was regaled with kidnapped women in chains crying while guys yell “Marry a wench”.  White Toad misses him some slavery.  Then, there’s the entire longing for the Song of the South and the guide on the African river tour.  I’ll leave it to your imagination about how he misses his black friends on those rides.

Go read it and go look at the face of the ugly American tourist that every one in the world–and around here where you have to deal with them–wants a cattle prod and the ability to stuff their asses on a plane and send them back to Stupidlandia.  There’s some unwokeness for you!   I’m tired of them thinking we’re all here to affirm there ignorant bigoted ass and superstitions. Take your damn money!  Visit Hitler’s birthplace!  Get it out of your system!

Which brings me to the next phase of the Covid 19 Crisis.  This is where we spend tons of money telling those same ignorant asses to go get their ignorant asses to the nearest place they can GET a vaccination.  Then, roll up a sleeve and take it like an American!  Do it for your country! Do it so you do not kill other people! The shot is not going to turn you into some woke liberal!  Believe me on that one!  Education was already wasted on you!

And of course, twitter responds:

The worst thing is these people actually vote the local village idiots into Congress and we get this “GOP Sen. Ron Johnson Criticizes ‘Big Push’ To Get Everyone Vaccinated”   This is from that outrageously liberal rag Forbes.

In an interview with conservative Wisconsin radio host Vicki McKenna, herself a vocal coronavirus vaccine skeptic, Johnson launched into a condemnation of “vaccine passports,” a credential that would allow businesses to verify vaccination status.

But Johnson also went a step further, declaring he sees “no reason to be pushing vaccines on people,” arguing their distribution should be “limited” to those most vulnerable to coronavirus, and asking, “if you have a vaccine, quite honestly, what do you care if your neighbor has one or not?”

Erich Heckel, Man on a Plain, 1917

Which brings me to FaceBook and  their idea of wokeness.  I’ve had a comment censored for “bullying” because I refer to these people as Plague Rats.  Believe, me I have sympathy for that rats who had no idea they were spreading the Bubonic plague.  However, these human beings should know better.  My doctor daughter told me I had to realize these people don’t have access to good information and they are surrounded by the same kinds of people.

However, their so-called leaders like Ron Johnson, Ted Cruz, Tucker Carlson, John Neeley Kennedy, and the like are the Pied Pipers of spreading ignorance. They are either idiots themselves like Johnson.  But worst, they play at idiocy because they can fleece idiots for power and money. Why does any one actively choose counterfactuality?  Are facts that threatening to them?  I frankly think they just like to be told they’re right and go do whatever the fuck they want no matter how hateful or destructive or life threatening it is.

And, just when we haven’t got enough if attention and money starve reality tv show personalities going doing the politics road we get this  from Axios:  “Scoop: Caitlyn Jenner makes it official for California governor’.  Dear wisdom beings haven’t we suffered enough?

Jenner said in a statement that “Sacramento needs an honest leader with a clear vision” and that “for the past decade, we have seen the glimmer of the Golden State reduced by one-party rule that places politics over progress and special interests over people.”

  • The statement decries California’s taxes as “too high” and criticizes an “over-restrictive lockdown” response to the COVID pandemic including on in-person schooling.
  • “This is Gavin Newsom’s California, where he orders us to stay home but goes out to dinner with his lobbyist friends.”

“Self-Portrait With Raised Bare Shoulder,” by Egon Schiele,

It says she’s trying to not run as a Trumpist but gee, that last bit screams I’m part of the cult!  Does it not?  Please!  No more celebrities in an Executive position.  Nothing good ever comes from that!  I’m still reeling at the idea of Matthew McConaughey running for Governor in Texas. Dubya couldn’t say anything over Republican atrocities of the last 12 years but by gosh he’s got an opinion on that.  Well, not an opinion per se. It’s more of an admonition.

Former US President George W Bush commented on actor Matthew McConaughey’s possible run for Texas’ governor calling it a “tough business”.

During an appearance on the Today show, co-hosted by his daughter Jenna Bush Hager, the previous Texas governor turned president said: “I read that about Matthew, yeah… I tell you this, it`s a tough business” when asked about the 51-year-old actor’s chance of winning in the 2022 race

At least Texas Governors don’t do as much as the usual state governor does.

Erich Heckel: Seated Man, 1909

Politico has one thing right today: “It’s been exactly one year since Trump suggested injecting bleach. We’ve never been the same. It was wild in the moment. In time, it came to symbolize the chaotic nature of the presidency and the early Covid fight.” It still symbolizes the way Republicans are dealing with it.

One year ago today, President Donald .Trump took to the White House briefing room and encouraged his top health officials to study the injection of bleach into the human body as a means of fighting Covid. It was a watershed moment, soon to become iconic in the annals of presidential briefings. It arguably changed the course of political history.

Some ex-Trump aides say they don’t even think about that day as the wildest they experienced — with the conceit that there were simply too many others. But for those there, it was instantly shocking, even by Trump standards. It quickly came to symbolize the chaotic essence of his presidency and his handling of the pandemic. Twelve months later, with the pandemic still lingering and a U.S. death toll nearing 570,000, it still does.

For weeks, Trump had been giving winding, stream-of-consciousness updates on the state of the Covid fight as it clearly worsened. So when he got up from the Oval Office to brief reporters gathered in the The James S. Brady Press Briefing Room on April 23, there was no expectation that the day’s proceedings would be any different than usual.

Oskar Kokoschka (1908)

So, there are tons of folks with “vaccine hesitancy” and I’ve bumped into a few. I ask why and just sit back and listen. I eventually just say that I couldn’t live with myself if I was responsible for some one’s death and move on.  But here’s a bit from VOX if you’re interested. It sums up some survey data.

The share of adults surveyed who are vaccinated or are willing to be vaccinated has grown from 72 percent to 77 percent from January through the end of February, a rise that reflects the increased availability of vaccines. However, the share of unvaccinated adults who are hesitant to get a vaccine has remained constant, at around 23 percent. It is this group that poses the greatest challenge to health care officials hoping to vaccinate the population to the point of herd immunity to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Some respondents hesitant about vaccination indicated general health concerns. Forty-five percent of those who said they definitely would not get the vaccine feared side effects, and 40 percent said they wanted to wait to see if vaccines were safe. (The vaccines have been shown to be safe and have generally mild side effects under clinical trials.) Others cited more conspiratorial reasons, with 29 percent of people not wanting the vaccine saying they didn’t trust vaccines and 27 percent saying they didn’t trust the government. Meanwhile, 20 percent said they didn’t think the vaccines work. People could select multiple reasons for not wanting a vaccine.

The vaccine rollout has been marred by misinformation, especially on social media. Some of the top narratives around the vaccine on social media include mentions of coronavirus conspiracy theories involving microchips and Bill Gates, according to new data from media insights company Zignal Labs. There’s also a conspiracy theory known as “the Great Reset,” the debunked idea that the coronavirus was created by the government to take control of the global economy.

Facebook, which has long been a bastion for the anti-vaccine movement, helped Carnegie Mellon survey its users for the report and is hoping to lead a large inoculation information campaign. After trying for years to crack down on vaccine misinformation, Facebook finally banned users from sharing anti-vaccine content in February. But vaccine misinformation can still be found on the site. A recent Washington Post report by Elizabeth Dwoskin examined internal documents at Facebook that suggest QAnon-supporting groups and a relatively small number of influential people are responsible for a significant share of vaccine skepticism on the site.

Self-Portrait with Chinese Lantern Plant | Egon Schiele 1912

It’s still pretty obvious by the way the Republicans keep acting, what they keep saying, and the fanatical way they are trying to stop POC from voting that they are still not beyond the previous guy.  We will not get pass Covid-19 until they get pass the previous guy. We’re going to spend time in a lot of states stopping anti-democracy legislature .   We will be watching a lot of bad court decisions come out of courts too.

A lot of those bad decisions will be written by appointments of the previous guy. Kavanaugh’s et al overturn of prior Supreme Court precedent on sending teens to prison for life stands as a most horrific example.  Sotomayor wrote an especially scathing minority opinion.  This is from Esquire and Charles Pierce.

From out of the recently Trumpified Supreme Court came yet another decision that murdered precedent. Delivering the death blow was Justice Brett Kavanaugh. This was a major flex for the carceral state and a major hit to criminal justice reform. It not only closed off future improvements in that regard, but also undercut what few accomplishments already exist.

The case was Jones v. Mississippi. Over the years, the courts began to look askance at the idea of handing juveniles sentences of life without parole, essentially warehousing individuals for decades in the horrors of the American penal system for crimes they committed as minors. Twice since 2012, the Supreme Court has decided that such sentences were in violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. With a single decision, Kavanaugh, good Jesuit-educated lad that he is, and six of his colleagues decided that, instead, such sentences were both just and commonplace. It is yet another example of the current majority’s enthusiasm for gutting precedent while pretending that it’s not, and it is a monstrous legal offense against humanity.

By those two precedents, judges had to conduct separate proceedings before sentencing juveniles to life without parole and to provide a public explanation for those decisions. The 6-3 decision on Thursday for which Kavanaugh wrote the lead opinion effectively wipes out those two requirements which, in tandem, had reduced radically the number of juvenile convicts doing life without parole. And, in keeping with how that new conservative majority on the Court operates, Kavanaugh argues that he is keeping faith with those decisions he is obviously eviscerating. In his concurrence, Justice Clarence Thomas at least acknowledged that the Court was overturning precedents set in cases he considered wrongly decided.

I’m really beginning to understand why Buddhists want to deconstruct egos and Abstract expressionists deconstruct the human image.  To borrow something old testament … All is vanity.

With this, I  end with an appropriate song.  Sing it Pete!  (See he does more than provide background music for car ads)

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: Regime Change and Relief

Happy Friday Sky Dancers!

It would have been Muses parade Thursday last night up town but instead we had a flood of rain and the French Quarter under a heavy shut down order.  The Krewe of Muses was not to be left out of whatever fun we were trying to have at home.  Operation Shoe Fairy was on last night!  Glitter shoes were going to nurses and doctors and random people who bump into a muse driving her car full of glittery shoes around the city. Glittery Shoes from Muses and Glittery Coconuts from Zulu are the winning lotto tickets of parade throws.

“New Orleans is really resilient, and we rise to the occasion and we’re seeing that this year,” said Krewe Creator/Captain, Staci Rosenberg.

Rosenberg says not rolling this year is heartbreaking, however there is a plan in place to keep the magic alive. It’s called Operation Shoe Fairy.

“We’re going to be walking, driving, flying around the city, flitting around and landing in different parts of New Orleans giving glitter shoes to unsuspecting people,” she said.

All deliveries will follow COVID-19 safety guidelines. They’ll also be made at 12 local hospitals to recognize the heroic work being done during this tough time. They call it, “Heels for Healers.”

“We’re doing that because we so appreciate what the healthcare warriors at all levels have done for us this year,” Rosenberg said. “Their sacrifices have been unbelievable and if we can give them a tiny bit of joy, we want to do that.”

It’s not just New Orleans Krewes sending out  love and support this time of year!  Look what’s happening at the White House today!  No morbid red trees! No ripping up trees and flowers!  The First Lady Dr. Jill Biden sends out love for Valentine’s day!

Her predecessor is not amused.  Poor lil Melania did not get the same treatment  and like her husband, she doesn’t get it that people find her basically unpleasant and cold.  You can go read about her bitterness at the link at CNN.  Be sure to bring along the smallest violin in the world

Muses fill up the Community Food Fridges

But then there’s the big news that we may all have our vaccinations by summer!  I just got my first dose of Pfizer on Wednesday.  This is terrific news!  Via CBS “Biden announces deal for 200 million more COVID-19 doses.”

President Biden announced Thursday his administration has finalized an order for 200 million more doses of COVID-19 vaccine to be delivered by July 2021, adding to the 400 million doses that the Trump administration had already ordered from Pfizer and Moderna by that date. The two drug companies both produce a two-shot regimen, so the total 600 million doses will vaccinate 300 million people — most of the U.S. population.

The president also said the companies were on track to supply their initial orders of each vaccine weeks earlier, distributing their first 200 million doses each by the end of May.

“That’s a month faster,” said Mr. Biden. “That means lives will be saved.”

Though snafus with complicated vaccination scheduling systems and mishandled doses have hampered the vaccine rollout, local and state health authorities have insisted the key issue they faced was that demand far outstripped supply at most clinics.

The Muse Krewe’s Houses float entitled Cosmos.

Okay, so no we’ve really made some changes!  There’s a FACT SHEET posted on the development at the White House website.  Facts!  What a concept!

One of the most interesting things to read today is in Nature. “This COVID-vaccine designer is tackling vaccine hesitancy — in churches and on Twitter. Immunologist Kizzmekia Corbett helped to design the Moderna vaccine. Now she volunteers her time talking about vaccine science with people of colour.”  Here’s the blurb about her and you can read her interview at the link.

Kizzmekia Corbett, an immunologist at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), is one of the scientists who in early 2020 helped to develop an mRNA-based vaccine for COVID-19. Developed in collaboration with biotech firm Moderna of Cambridge, Massachusetts, the vaccine is now being distributed across the United States and elsewhere. And Corbett is taking on another challenge: tempering vaccine hesitancy by talking about COVID-19 science in communities of colour.

Corbett is one of many Black scientists and doctors who are doing this outreach, often virtually, in their free time. Researchers say it’s necessary to make scientific knowledge accessible in public forums, to ease health disparities.

In the United States, COVID-19 has affected Black, Native American and Latino American people at higher rates than white people, for reasons rooted in racism and historical segregation. At the same time, people in these groups are more wary of COVID-19 vaccines. In a December survey by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 46% of Black adults said they probably would not get vaccinated against the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, compared with 30% of white respondents. Those who were hesitant cited worries about side effects, and the speed at which the vaccines were developed. A legacy of exploitative medical research, such as infamous syphilis studies in Tuskegee, Alabama — in which doctors withheld treatment from hundreds of Black men from the 1930s and 1970s — contributes to this scepticism.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, Corbett was part of a team at the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland, and elsewhere, that was designing vaccines for other coronaviruses in collaboration with Moderna. The scientists’ mRNA technology delivers a piece of genetic code to a person’s cells to create immune-stimulating virus proteins. When the outbreak began, the team mobilized to quickly identify the SARS-CoV-2 genetic sequence it would need to make a vaccine for COVID-19, which Moderna then produced. Before trials began in people, Corbett designed tests of the vaccine in animals, and perfected assays that measured its effectiveness in clinical trials.

Oh, and if you’re wondering, Why YES!  I am actively ignoring the Trump side show on the senate floor today.  They may not give him the guilty verdict but we know what he’s done and what he is not done and why things like the following are happening.  This is from the US District Attorney’s office in North Carolina as it appears on the DOJ’s website.  “Individual Charged With Threatening The President of The United States Appears In Federal Court”.   Trump’s “Big Lie” will continue to cost lives.

According allegations in the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, between January 28 and February 1, 2021, Reeves contacted multiple times the White House switchboard via telephone and made threats against President Biden and others. The criminal complaint alleges that, on February 1, 2021, a Secret Service agent contacted Reeves to discuss the threats. Reeves allegedly called back the Secret Service agent multiple times throughout the day, and repeated the threats against the President, the Secret Service agent, and others. According to filed court documents, on the same day, Reeves also contacted the U.S. Capitol Police switchboard and communicated similar threats.

Following today’s hearing, Judge Keesler ordered Reeves to remain in custody.

The charge of making a threat against the President of the United States carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and a $250,000 fine.

Well, it seems a few Republicans have decided their political interests don’t link with KKKremlin Caligula.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley issued stunning remarks breaking with former President Trump, telling Politico in an interview published Friday that she believes he “let us down.”

“We need to acknowledge he let us down,” Haley, who served in her ambassador role under Trump, said. “He went down a path he shouldn’t have, and we shouldn’t have followed him, and we shouldn’t have listened to him. And we can’t let that ever happen again.”

Haley’s remarks are her strongest yet against the former president in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and come as Trump’s legal team is set to present its defense of Trump on Friday in his second Senate impeachment trial.

Muse float of notorious RBG waiting in its Den for another day in the sun.

It’s still not a very brave statement but at least a few of them are speaking out still.  It’s a Politico interview with her so you’re forewarned about this link.   But to me, the take away is this.  I’m still shaking my head and laughing about “stunning” remarks because if you read the interview I don’t think they meant stunning the way I was stunned.

What was more striking was Haley’s underlying position: that because Trump believed he had been robbed, he was therefore justified in saying and doing whatever he pleased.

“You have the president of the United States telling everyone that he was cheated, that the voting systems are corrupt, that we’re living in a banana republic where the deep state has rigged this election against him,” I told her. “Isn’t that dangerous?”

“He believes it,” she smiled.

Yeah, That just means y’all need to send the nice young men in their clean white coats to take him away.  Just because he believes he’s following his oath means he should be absolved too.  Enabling delusion when it basically brings the country’s democracy to its knees ain’t pretty. Just say no to any public life for Ms Haley.  I’ve really had it with this tripe.

Here’s a real Muses Parade from 2018 if you want to see some of what goes on down here in a normal year.  I have a feeling with Joe and Kamala and all the professionals they have surrounded themselves with that we will have a more normal Mardi Gras next year.

I would also like to wish you Happy Chinese New Year!  Tashi Losar!  Happy Valentine’s Day!  And Best of Mardi Gras to you for the season that I consider the only Holiday season I recognize as worth the effort!  And to all of you who know any one who is even thinking about coming here tell them we do not want them here.  Auntie Latoya ain’t playing!

What’s on your reading and blogging list!  And let us know how things are going with you on getting that vaccine!


Monday Reads: School House Covid 19 Rock

Quiver School by Jeff Burton captures the degeneration of an old school building outside Havana, Illinois that once housed scores of children. The cold winter’s day and overcast skies create an atmosphere of desolation and solitude surrounding the old school. The school established in 1917, was one of the last one-room schools in operation before it closed.

Good Day Sky Dancers

The amount and content of the news right now is overwhelming.  It’s hard for me not to want to find a way to Rip Van Winkle myself to the future.  Maybe some kindle gentle version of a Dr Who will come give me a lift.  No story has stuck with me so much as the absolute chaos we’re creating by tossing children back into schools with very little resources, health care plans, and thought.  I can’t get the cartoon out of my head that BB shared when she discussed this topic this week.  Children were drawn as  the new classroom guinea pigs. They may also be the sacrificial lambs for the Trumpist Agenda.

I can’t help but wondering about all those folks involved in what it takes to run schools too.  Children are not immune from the virus. They are not immune from dying from it or suffering long term effects because of it.  This CNN article this morning held the usual shocking but not surprising given the state of affairs in our country under the most inept and destructive US federal government ever.  “More than 97,000 children tested positive for Covid-19 in the last two weeks of July, report says”. Christina Maxouris has the byline.

More than 97,000 children in the US tested positive for coronavirus in the last two weeks of July, a new report says.

The report, published by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, said in those two weeks, there was a 40% increase in child cases across the states and cities that were studied.

The age range for children differed by state, with some defining children as only those up to age 14 and one state — Alabama — pushing the limit to 24.

The compiled data comes during back-to-school season as health officials are trying to understand the effects of the virus on children and the role young people play in its spread. Some schools have begun welcoming crowds back to class and others have had to readjust their reopening plans in response to infections.

Schools provide an amazing number of functions and services for our children besides just pouring information into them and giving them skills.  They feed children.  They monitor children for potential issues at home. They provide play and social interaction along with the guidance one needs to function in a society.  All of this is missed if children are kept in isolation or in front of a screen.  But, the massive funds and commitment it takes to return children to school safely and protect the elders who support them is just not present at the Federal level.  Every school district should not be left to itself.

You can read a variety of local papers to figure out what’s going in each of the Districts all over the country. True, some needs of kids can be geographically specific like children out in the most rural areas have slightly different challenges then kids growing up in huge city centers.  However, classroom safety for a public health issue should come with complete, detailed instructions from our Federal Resources.  First and foremost the CDC should and has taken as much of a lead as it can.  We also have a Department of Education but the Secretary of that is about as useful as a comb is to a bald person.

There’s been more planning for school athletics programs–especially at the college and high school level–than for the academic environment itself. We all have seen and read about the Georgia School opening with its crowded hallways captured by one their young students Hannah Watters.  Now this headline (via the Hill): “9 people test positive for coronavirus at Georgia school where viral photos showed packed hallways.”  (Update: the young woman is no longer suspended but now she’s getting death threats).

Nine people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus at the Georgia high school that gained national attention after photos surfaced online showing dozens of students crowding into hallways.

North Paulding High School Principal Gabe Carmona said in a letter to parents on Saturday that at least six students and three faculty members who were in school for “at least some time” last week have since contracted COVID-19, according to a copy obtained by The Atlanta Journal Constitution.

In the note, Carmona said that the Paulding County School District was working with the state’s Department of Public Health (DPH) to implement “safety precautions and response plans.” He said the custodial staff would continue to clean and disinfect the school buildings daily. However, he did not mention whether any quarantine guidance would be released for students and faculty who may have come into contact with the infected individuals.

The Paulding County School District did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

Boys Football 1910Some backward sliding for the fall is happening.  Even the Big 10 have decided no college football.  From the Detroit Free Press: “Sources: Big Ten votes to cancel football season; no games for Michigan, Michigan State in 2020.”  Which braindead states voted to play?

See you later, college football.

The Big Ten has voted to cancel the 2020 college football season in a historic move that stems from concerns related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, multiple people with knowledge of the decision confirmed to the Free Press.

The sources requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the decision. A formal announcement is expected to Tuesday, the sources said.

The presidents voted, 12-2, Sunday to end the fall sports in the conference. Michigan and Michigan State — which both has physicians as presidents — voted to end the season, sources said. Only Nebraska and Iowa voted to play, Dan Patrick said on his radio show Monday.

The move comes two days after the Mid-American Conference became the first in the FBS to cancel ts season, and sources told the Free Press the Big Ten is trying to coordinate its announcement with other Power Five conferences.

Maybe we should take a hint from the disaster of School Openings in Israel.

The Washington Post characterizes it as “chaos from coast to coast”.

It’s going to be screen time all the time for kindergartners and graduate students alike. Teachers are threatening strikes. And students are already coming home with covid-19, the disease that has upended American education.

The 2020-2021 school year has dawned and it’s more chaotic than any before.

Plans are changing so fast that students and parents can hardly keep up. Districts that spent all summer planning hybrid systems, in which children would be in school part of the week, ditched them as coronavirus cases surged. Universities changed their teaching models, their start dates and their rules for housing, all with scant notice.

And many districts and col­leges have yet to make final decisions, even now, with the fall term already underway in some parts of the country.

Desegregation in the 1970s

The one thing that is certain is that these responses being so varied and so underfunded will cause an even greater education gap between poor and rich school districts.  This is from Market Watch: “Inside the struggle to close the education equality gap exacerbated by COVID-19.”

Indeed, a whole industry of firms — including tutoring companies, nanny agencies and teacher placement services — has popped up across the country in the past several weeks, offering to help parents hire an educator to teach a handful of students, siblings or a child one-on-one to compensate for or even replace remote classes.

But these services are largely available only to those who can afford them. Some companies are charging five-figure placement fees, and even parents who find a tutor or nanny on their own could pay up to $100 per hour.

“It made me very upset,” Messenger said of discovering this dynamic.So instead of cashing in, she decided to try to do something about it. At Spread Tutoring, the business she launched just a few weeks ago, families who can afford it buy an hour of tutoring at competitive rates — $50 per hour for one child or $30 per hour, per child for small groups — and an hour of tutoring is provided to a low-income family.

There are a few options available from nonprofits but more are likely needed.

Still, some organizations stepping into the void have already had success, or at least interest. In Tennessee, nearly 3,000 students in kindergarten through sixth grade this summer participated in the Tennessee Tutor Corps, a program that, like Spread, took advantage of a less-than-ideal summer for college students to help serve younger students who lost out on valuable schooling in the spring.

Through the program, run by the Bill and Crissy Haslam Foundation, an organization founded by the state’s former governor and his wife, more than 600 college students like Emma Crownover tutored younger students from a masked social distance at Boys & Girls Clubs across the state.

“It just felt like the best thing for me to do with my summer that was a little bit derailed because of COVID,” Crownover said. The 20-year-old aspiring teacher wasn’t sure of her plans for this summer before the pandemic hit, but she “wasn’t exactly planning to be in Nashville,” her hometown.

“That all changed when college got cut off in the middle,” she said. For six weeks, the Scripps College student worked from 10 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday with the same group of rising first graders for the first hour and sixth graders for the second hour.

They worked through a binder of materials provided by the program, and Crownover could set the pace — if students had progressed beyond that week’s lesson, they could move ahead. Still, she could see the impact of the time away from school, particularly with some of the sixth graders who, during the first few weeks, struggled with reading comprehension.

“When you’re that age, it’s a muscle,” she said. “Reading is something that you have to practice every single day.”

Leslie Yossarian, the membership coordinator at the branch of the Boys & Girls Club in Sevierville, Tenn., enrolled her 7- and 8-year-old daughters in the program to help ease concerns she had about them being prepared to resume school in the fall, when they’re planning to attend in person.

When her children were sent home in the spring, Yossarian worked with them on the learning packets provided by the school. But, as she puts it, “I’m not a teacher; I’m not a homeschooler. I did the best I could to try to do their assignments and turn them in and keep them on track.”

Then there’s Oklahoma: “Tulsa World editorial: Stitt uses federal COVID-19 relief to help private school students”.

Gov. Kevin Stitt’s program to underwrite private school tuition could help families earning up to 450% of the federal poverty level if they can demonstrate significant income decrease because of COVID-19. The income ceiling for a family of four increases then to $117,900. . Sue Ogrocki/AP file

So, I’m worried about this and about of thousand other things today.  And here’s some perpsective.

Unsettling as these transitions and circumstances will be, short of a complete economic collapse, none stands out as a turning point in history. But what surely does is the absolutely devastating impact that the pandemic has had on the reputation and international standing of the United States of America.

In a dark season of pestilence, COVID has reduced to tatters the illusion of American exceptionalism. At the height of the crisis, with more than 2,000 dying each day, Americans found themselves members of a failed state, ruled by a dysfunctional and incompetent government largely responsible for death rates that added a tragic coda to America’s claim to supremacy in the world.

For the first time, the international community felt compelled to send disaster relief to Washington. For more than two centuries, reported the Irish Times, “the United States has stirred a very wide range of feelings in the rest of the world: love and hatred, fear and hope, envy and contempt, awe and anger. But there is one emotion that has never been directed towards the U.S. until now: pity.” As American doctors and nurses eagerly awaited emergency airlifts of basic supplies from China, the hinge of history opened to the Asian century.

No empire long endures, even if few anticipate their demise. Every kingdom is born to die.

 What’s on your reading and blogging today?