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Dream: Journey

I (but not really very particularly me) was driving a flat-bed truck, with a companion in the cab, from some place to some other place where we were supposed to take something.  We remarked that, well, we could have taken the route “over the hump,” meaning up and over the mountaintop.  But we knew that we had chosen the better route, down the mountainside and along the valley.

We came to a place where we could see that, ahead, the road T’d at another road, onto which we would make a left turn.  We saw that, almost immediately, that road was intersected by a river that was flooding so high that the road went down a gentle slope and disappeared into it, and then emerged, 50 or so feet farther on, and proceeded up a gentle slope on the other side.

A vast procession of people, essentially humanity, was walking the road, in the same direction we would go, right to left.  They were probably going to the same place we were going.  We watched, as people arrived at the water, and just kept walking, at a steady pace, deeper into the water, until even their heads disappeared.  Then there was just the expanse of empty surface of water, flowing very slowly away from us, out into the valley landscape.  Then heads appeared again, and bodies re-emerged, as people walked on up the sloping road.

[This comes as no surprise, since I’ve been reading from the book of flowing water, the Tao Te Ching, every morning for at least a month.  It’s a good dream to have.]

Viral in Seattle

[Posted also on Facebook.]

Dear Friends.  As you know, turns out I’m living in the city where we first learned that America was joining the World Viral Alliance.  Since the Seattle Experience is still a preview of coming detractions for much of the country, I’ll offer a few local thoughts.

First:  Everybody stay well!  Do what it takes, including social distancing. (At about 9 last night I was making my regular promenade in my very normal neighborhood.  Nobody else out, no cars passing by.  A man walking his dog approached.  We were closing at about 3 ft/sec.  At 20 ft he swung way out into the street.)

In my isolation, I’ve been rereading Camus’s The Plague (actually this time, La Peste, reading out loud to myself, as part of my study of French).  A few days ago, at the end of Part I, the mayor issued the order to close the city (“Fermez la ville”).  Seattle is still open; but in many ways living with the virus here (unless Trump cancels social distancing to try to save his assets) is noticeably like life in Oran.  So it occurred to me that you might find it interesting to get an occasional report from this ville.

Vastly unlike Camus’s narrator, I have no expertise; and rather than being at the center of things, I live near the southern periphery of Seattle; and while Dr. Rieux is out and around, risking his life to aid his concitoyens, I’m aiding my community by keeping to myself and just trying to stay alive.  I do have a family friend, G, an anesthesiologist and medical ethicist, who is in the thick of things.  Yesterday we asked (by text) how she’s doing.  Reply:  

“Lots of admin stuff as we get ready to surge in about 2 weeks. WA is doing much better than New York. But we are doubling about every 5 days in deaths and cases (over 2200 cases today and totally of 110 deaths) to put in perspective, in 2 weeks that would translate to 17,000 cases and about 900 deaths and about 3500 hospitalized in WA alone if we don’t slow down. Damn how I wish the [navy hospital] ship was coming to us instead of LA. The virus is still moving too fast. But at least we’re not NY. New York alone now has 22,000 cases, more than France or South Korea, and 157 deaths (up 38% from yesterday).”

I’ll post more, soon, about family and city.

3/25 This will help understand the response Heidi got re. her serious symptoms:  On March 20 our friend G (anesthesiologist, medical ethicist) shared this letter, about Seattle health care resources:

The hospital situation is concerning.  We are not in a panic yet.   Here is the somewhat sobering message I sent to Todd yesterday, which is worth repeating.  Bold text shows where I am updating it for today:

“Seriously, no need to panic, but social isolation is important, not just to prevent YOU from getting the illness and spreading it or dying from it (and here’s the bad news–the latest wave of statistics say that younger people (20-60) are the biggest risk for requiring hospitalization and/or critical care than any other group.  Over 60 is most likely to die if they become critically ill, but serious infections seem to be very high in your age group), but also to slow the epidemic.  Texas by the way, is one of about a half a dozen States that have done the LEAST amount of appropriate measures and restrictions.  so hang on to your hat, Texas. 

Why is social distancing important?  let me give you an example using Washington State (my numbers come from yesterday, by the way, and are already outdated, but here goes);

Let’s suppose that ultimately Washington state alone develops around 30,000 cases (it will be at least that–we are at about 1400 (this is increasing by about 50% every 24 hours at this time—yesterday was 1200 at end of day) confirmed cases and 74 (was high 60’s yesterday) deaths as of last night).  From China, which did a slightly delayed, but excellent job of lock down, the rate of serious infection needing hospitalization was about 15% (many if not most requiring intensive care), and death rate about 2.5 percent (I’m averaging a lot of reports).  Those numbers appear to be holding true for us, too.  That would mean in Washington state alone, there would be 4500 hospitalizations and 700 deaths.  How many ICU beds are there in Washington state?  Less than 1500 total.  (total hospital beds in Washington state are 10,231 as of this year) i.e. there will be no way we can take care of even 1/3 of serious cases if the epidemic “dumps” those cases all at once or over a short period of time–which it will do and in just a couple of weeks from now if we don’t move quickly–it may already be too late.  Since recovery time is about 3 weeks for hospitalized patients (and that is just an average–some take 6 weeks and months of rehab) then we cannot afford to see more new cases than “recoveries” come in over that period of time or hospital beds will be completely overwhelmed.  And that is presuming that no one else needs or gets a hospital bed for a non-corona related cause (god forbid you have a heart attack or cancer during the pandemic).  That would translate to maybe only about 3 new cases per day per ICU MAXIMUM.  Guess how many patients we have at my hospital and affiliate 2 hospitals in Seattle right now with COVID?  about 40, around a dozen in the ICUs.  Most of those arrived in the last 3 days.  And this is very early days of the appropriate measures.  The engine is just starting to rev, and soon it will roar.  Starting to get the picture?  We are already running out of protective equipment at the very beginning of the epidemic.  People are stealing masks from hospitals that they can’t even use.  We have had 2 doctors critically ill in ICUs in the Seattle area.  One of our most famous epidemiologists died Wednesday of COVID.  (he was retired however, and got it in the community).  

So we need to slow things down primarily so that the cases come in don’t flood the hospital beds (we’re at near capacity now), and don’t deplete us of needed medical supplies and protective equipment (we are running short now).  The pandemic, if we take our lessons from China, will continue apace for another 3-3.5 months, and then if we are diligent and do appropriate lock downs now (hey Texas, get with the program–there’s a pandemic going on), we may be able to ease restrictions in about 4 months.  (I know the media and the government are reporting a much shorter period, but trust me, it will be longer.  Inslee has already extended our lock down times for several weeks and he will have to do so again.  At the moment, our hospital is projecting a peak ((hopefully)) in about 3-4 weeks, after which we will be looking at minimum of 3-4 weeks for those cases to recover and new less serious cases will still come in for a while.

If.  

What measures are we taking in our hospitals?  We are screening every person who walks through our doors.  We don’t allow visitors in.  Period.  If your relative gets sick you will have to say goodbye at the door.  We are cancelling ALL elective surgery and procedures, ALL, which means all patients get screened to see if their care can be postponed.  We went from 80 cases per day here to 17 starting last Monday.  We are self-isolating exposures, testing, and home quarantining anyone who is positive.  We are donning expensive and very limited supplies of protective equipment when we have to take care of a COVID positive patient.  This includes full showers for the anesthesia staff after anesthesia or airway care in infected patients.  This all takes time, and resources.  And yes, it is exhausting.  

We are looking at methods to change visits to Telehealth.  Which requires education of our providers and installation of equipment that permits visual contact with patients.  That will take time.  We are looking at whether with reduced surgeries, if ICU cases continue to surge, anesthesiologists can be cross-used as intensivists and empty ORs used as extra ICU beds.  The Washington State Dept of Health in conjunction with the Wash State medical societies is outlining a plan for rationing of care in the event of an overwhelming need. Meaning not everyone will get extensive medical care if they are not expected to survive.  The President has just today enacted emergency powers to command that manufacturers divert resources to produce protective equipment (masks, gowns, etc) and sell them to the government for emergency dispersement to hospitals.

And just to be clear.  No chloroquine was not just released by the FDA, it was released years ago.  And no, studies are not very promising that it will treat COVID.  But it is early.  There are some triple antiviral therapies that actually have shown some promising results, but those drugs are pretty toxic in some people and we need more info.

All while Fox News announcers have it a hoax, our congressional representatives have been using inside information from their security briefings to avoid losses on the stock market, and idiot preachers decide it is there “right’ to have large gatherings, thus generating new cases and accelerating spread.  I will have a serious ethical problem on my hands if any one of these guys and gals presents to me and asks me to risk my life to take care of his/her COVID infection.  Maybe they should be allowed to compete instead for a Darwin Award.

Here’s the good news.  98% of us will be fine.  The problem is that the other 2% represents about 6 million people for the United States.

The skies are turning blue in Wuhan, for the first time in decades

The dolphins swim in Venetian waters again.

As I said before, Mother Nature loves the COVID virus, even if we don’t. ”

Thanks, G!! As of this morn, of 2469/123 confirmed WA cases/deaths, 1277/94 are Seattle metro area.  I’ll add that COVID-19 is one of the “10,000 things.” [2 b cont]

Trompf from Here on Out (14)

3-24-20  So I’m predicting that this is the moment when the Republican Party breaks in two.  I can feel it in my bones.  I hope they’re right, for a change.  They’re certainly due.

This is happening because the virus pandemonium is exposing Trompf’s demonic insanity (the whole kit-and-caboodle of syndrome), with its resulting meanness of spirit and deadly incompetence.   The virus is attacking his vulnerability and sapping his power.  Soon he’ll be drowning.  Elected Rs will realize that he cannot guarantee their victory, but furthermore he might cause their defeat.  The most vulnerable senators standing for re-election, for instance, and candidates running for the first time, must figure that they can’t win with him, so they might as well try to win without him (but they’re going down anyways).

Romney will emerge as the head of the Reform Rs, the Corporate (Personhood) True Conservative party.  T will continue to carry the flag of the fascist People’s Republican Party, but he won’t be running the show.  The fascists will coalesce around Jivanka.  The very wealthy owners of the current party also will split.  The R presidential nominee will be either Romney or Pence.  McConnell will try to save his ass by buying the loyalty of senators, with support by his PACs, but he’s finished.

I ran this past the author and he said, Hey, go for it.  It would not surprise him if I’m right, this time.  He pointed out, however, that my bones tend to tell me what would happen logically if there were a just and loving God.  I said, So if I’m right, does that prove that there is such an one.  No, says he, it only proves that there exists a just and loving moral arc of the universe, which powers the illusion of such a supremacist image.  Then I said, So if I’m wrong, does that prove that there is no such arc?  No, says he, it only proves that the supremacists are profoundly deluded in their sick imaginations.

Not being a person, myself, I don’t take the image personally, one way or the other.  I just want Trompf out of my narrative.  

3-14-20 Here’s an excellent exposition, by Peter Wehner (Atlantic), a Never-T Republican, of how/why Trompf has succumbed to the virus (RIH).

I have predicted that he will not be the R nominee.  I did not imagine a public health crisis being the cause of his demise—i.e. His presidency, of course.  I thought his insanity would be enough, quite possibly mortally exposed by a foreign relations crisis.

Now I’ve made a bet on it, with the author.  He thinks T will be the nominee (but lose the election—and the Rs will lose their Senate majority) .  

And as I’ve said, if by August, at the R Convention, they are willing and able to stand him up, or prop him up, in spite of all, my lost bet will simply be conclusive proof of how thoroughly fascist the morally bankrupt R Party has become (and how desperate, and furthermore how fkkkt America has become.

You might wonder (or not) what the author is thinking.  Well, as best I can understand:

The presidential shots are now being called by Ivanka, Jerad, and Stephen (Miller), with an administrative staff and cabinet that is increasingly reinforced with psychophants who can be depended upon, to the political death—except they actually believe that they can win.

They thought they would win on the basis of the economy and stupidity, plus all the fascist ploys of fear-hate-anger, racism, xenophobic nationalism, etc., plus smearing the D, plus manipulation of the election, plus Putin for good measure.  Now, with the economy shot, they will simply double-down on all the rest.

That strategy will draw a lot of voters to them, because America is now a house divided.  In one wing dwell Ds 

In the other dwell the Rs, who are a mixture of 1820-60 militant white Christian fundamentalists and anti-democratic owners, 1920s plutocrats, and 1930s America-first isolationists.   

They can not sit down to the same table.  Each wing lays claim to the entire table, indeed the entire house

In the campaign, the Rs will blow up fear of The Other (Asians, Islamic terrorists, Europeans, and Mexicans; POC, especially black; uppity elitist women; coastal city elitists, corrupt politicians, and lazy takers) large enough to darken the heavens like an alien invader.  They will point out that the two, leading Dem candidates for leadership of the Democrat party were put in place by black people and commies.

They Ds will risk losing by offering anti-Trompf nostalgia, easy-fixes, and niceness.  They will win, nevertheless, because progressives will be presenting a Dem message of hope, based on the genuine prospect of major changes for social justice.

If Trompf declines so much that he simply cannot wave the flag of a viable campaign, they will replace him with the closest replica that they can get, who will campaign as a surrogate with Trompf’s and God’s MAGA blessing.

3-13-20 Okay, this is really it. During the last few days, Herr Trompf lost his chance of being re-elected.

He is a piece of burnt toast with orange mold growing on it.  If his disastrous botching of Covid-19 doesn’t bring him down, in flaming disgrace, absolutely nothing can.   It’s true that many of his supporters don’t see his incompetence, his insanity, or his evil as a problem, because they think his rule is God’s will; they like eating burnt toast, because it is bitter and because it is their toast.  But everyone except his psychophants and dead-ender racists can see how globally dangerous he is, at least in his incompetence and gross negligence.

Here are (among many today) columns by Waldman and Zakaria (WaPo) that sum T well, and a tweet by George Conway (article in HuffPost) that admits that T is mentally ill (and rightly places the blame for this disaster on the heads of the Republicans).  But what does it say about American culture that for all these years his illness has worked as a means to his prosperity?

[Previous page of this episode.]

This Is Insane

I just want to get this page started at this moment, to mark the point in the evolution of American democracy when the entire electoral consciousness became permeated with Trompf/Republican insanity, so I can get it off my brain and spend the rest of the day painting.

It’s like we’re at our Thanksgiving Day family dinner. A distant uncle, reputed for his wealth and flakiness, shows up. Somebody invited him, probably thinking about inheritance. Soon it becomes obvious that he’s not flaky, guy’s flat-out nuts. For one thing, he not only insists on sitting at the head of the table, but instead of carving and passing the turkey, he keeps it all for himself. He’s ripping off big chunks and eating with his mouth open, talking while he chews. It’s a bit scary so we try to ignore him. We’ll be okay after he leaves. When he starts making lewd remarks, with the children present, we try to distract them. When he becomes angry and shouts hateful bigotry, some of us try to calm him with appeasing smiles and soft modifications. Someone offers to take him home, with whatever food he wants to take along. We try to just go on eating, talking among ourselves. Somebody half-jokes about a straight-jacket. We plan our next holiday get-together, without him. He stands up and throws food. He throws glasses and plates. Most of us duck but some throw things back. He throws knives. Some of us are enjoying the novelty. Some, excited by a sense of power, and fearing his crazy wrath, join his side. Somebody calls the cops. They never arrive. Dinner becomes a complete breakdown. Everyone is consumed.

Btw, Happy Valentine’s Day.

20/20 What’s At Stake?

This year could “see” the beginning of a “political revolution”, or a catastrophe for democracy and America. I doubt we’ll simply return to status quo ante. What’s at stake?  

From the McConnell-Republican politician point of view: a job, and one that gives them the personal power, status, privilege, opportunity for wealth, and belief in their own worth that makes life meaningful for people like them. Their steadfast voters are a shrinking minority. If they can’t cheat and steal elections, they will lose what makes life worth living. Keeping power in a democracy is expensive, and Rs have made it moreso. It is especially expensive if a party must steal the electoral victory. That money comes to the R Party from the rich, especially the very rich, by whom the RP is owned and whom it lives to serve. If they don’t win, they don’t get the dough. Forced retirement.

From the 1% point of view: ownership of $$trillions by, relatively, a handful of individuals (who place their personal, private satisfaction high above the wellbeing of humanity), plus control and use for their private profit of an enormous financial asset, the world’s richest and most powerful nation.  A major means to that end is control and use of the government of that nation for personal and corporate gain (i.e. fascism).  The major tool for that control is domination of the public sphere by a single, fascist, political party, which they own.  Domination is achieved and maintained by that party by any means necessary, including perversion of the institutions of governance for the obliteration of truth and justice and the nullification of electoral, representative government. And cruelty. (If you are not thinking on this level, you ain’t got serious.  You’re like an office picnic athlete playing in McConnell’s professional league.)

From the Trompf point of view, continuing self-aggrandizement and avoidance of prison.

(more coming)

Trompf from Here on Out (13)

1-31-20 The Rs have voted against invited witnesses or documents. I.e. this will not be a trial, it will simply be a partisan refusal to remove their leader from office. McC’s plot was that, since he could afford to lose 2 votes, he gave Collins a pass, so that she can pretend to be open-minded, and he gave Romney a pass, so that he can maintain his ruse of being aa rich but independent thinker from a marginal religion in the Far West. Rugged, self-made man with modesty and integrity.

1-26-20 Republican Senators simply are not going to remove Trompf from office.  They would remove a Dem, but they would not remove Herr Satan if he were a Repub (which, of course, he would be.  Not only is Trompf one of their own, but a R would thus be the first president ever to be removed from office.  For that reason, even R senators who have no other reason to vote against removal will do so.  Even if they prefer Pence they will not remove Herr Trompf.

And even if their constituency is solidly red they will not do it.  Even if, like Senator Collins, they are surely going down to defeat in November, no matter how they vote, they will not do it.  Even if Trompf shoots someone in the middle of Fifth Ave, they will not do it. It goes against their core identity, and they would be ostracized by Rs for the rest of life.  They will find a way to excuse themselves from duty. Not gonna do it.

1-4-20 Well it wasn’t Fifth Ave, it was just the highway near the Baghdad airport, by impersonal ambush in the night.  Trompf shows he can assassinate a leading member of the government and military of a sovereign nation, outside the capital of another sovereign nation whose government has invited his visit, and not lose a single supporter.  He’ll just lose our allies and the world’s respect and trust.  Now he threatens to commit war crimes, by destroying 50+ targets including world heritage cultural sites.  Clearly he jumped to this decision to distract from impeachment and get re-elected as a wartime president.  He can feel, and pretend to be, invincibly unaccountable, the law unto himself.  I suspect he’s now a shark who tastes the blood of a victim.  “This way madness lies.” We’re in a state of smoldering war with Iran.

1-1-2020 Be it hereby resolved: Fkkkm.

[(I’ll fill in a bit btween the last entry of THO (12) and today.) Next page of this episode.]

The Shearing of Hair Trompf (60)

The MF is Impeached! High Crimes and Misdemeanors, baby. Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress. And that’s putting it mildly.

Later: I’ve reread the first several pages of this episode. O my. I think the main thing that strikes me is that this narration was, back then, an early example of my being very mistaken about something crucial (akin to the many times that I’ve declared Trompf to be pain grillé). The big point is that I’ve been on the right track in my analysis based on history and logic, but way off in not realizing how completely anti-democracy, self-serving, power-hungry, corrupt, and frightened, angry, and hate-filled the Republican politicians are, and their voters along with them. Every time I’ve been wrong about the power dynamics, my mistake has been a revelation of how awful they all are.

[Previous page of this episode. First page (March 2, 2017).]