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VIRUS AND VIOLENCE

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on August 2, 2022 at 12:30 am

On July 23, 2021, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene found something to celebrate in Alabama.

Alabama had the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rate of any state in the nation. 

Days later, Alabama’s health leader said officials had tossed out more than 65,000 coronavirus vaccines that expired. They had expired due to low demand. 

And that low demand had resulted from Right-wingers’ politicization of the virus.

But that wasn’t enough to satisfy Greene. 

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene official photo, 117th Congress (cropped).jpg

Marjorie Taylor Greene

“Well, what they don’t know is that in the South we all love our Second Amendment rights. And we’re not real big on strangers showing up at our front door, are we? They might not like the welcome they get.”

In short: People should shoot volunteers promoting coronavirus vaccines through door-to-door outreach.

Her audience—at the Alabama Federation of Republican Women fundraiser—applauded and laughed at the idea of such murders.

Naturally, through her spokesman, Nick Dyer, Greene denied that she suggested people shoot those promoting vaccines.

“Your colleagues in the fake news are making things up and attributing things to her that she did not say,” he wrote in an email.

This despite the fact that Greene’s words had been captured in a video—and countless people had seen it after it was shared on the Internet.

When asked if Greene herself was vaccinated, Dyer refused to answer. 

“It really gets at the heart of the public’s trust in our government and the messaging around solid public health measures based on the science,” said Lori Tremmel Freeman, CEO of the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

“Our local health officials who are working on the ground are not political. They are completely apolitical,” she told CNN.

She added that Greene’s comments were “disheartening and distressing.”

“Outrageous and violence-encouraging” would have been a more accurate description. 

Greene’s comments demonstrate the twin pillars of Right-wing orthodoxy toward COVID-19: 

  1. Ignorance and
  2. Violence.

Donald Trump, as President, vividly personified both.

The apex of his embrace of violence came on January 6, 2021, when he refused to permit an orderly transition from one administration to another.

Instead, he incited a mob of his fanatical followers to attack members of Congress who were about to count the Electoral College votes cast for the 2020 Presidential election.

Melania Trump 'disappointed' by Trump supporters' Capitol riot - ABC7 Chicago

Donald Trump addresses his Stormtrumpers 

Trump had lost that election: 81,255,933 votes had gone to former Vice President Joseph Biden, as opposed to 74,196,153 votes for himself.

Yet even before embracing that final grotesque moment of infamy, Trump had been responsible for the deaths of 400,000 Americans. 

The COVID-19 catastrophe slammed into the United States in January, 2020. It was the inevitable result of a natural disaster colliding with an evil and incompetent administration.

Trump’s “cures” for COVID-19 included

  • Denial;
  • Lies;
  • Republican subservience;
  • Chaos;
  • Extortion;
  • Propaganda as news;
  • Quackery as medicine;
  • Demands to “re-open the country”;
  • Ignoring the danger; and—finally—
  • Resignation (“Learn to live with it”)

Early on, Trump made the virus a referendum on himself. If you supported him, you didn’t wear a mask when you ventured out in public. This despite the fact that, throughout 2020, there was no vaccine available and hospitals were rapidly overwhelmed by debilitated and dying casualties of the virus.

“I think, once Donald Trump and other Republicans made it a manhood issue, or a freedom issue, or whatever kind of issue they made it, it’s hard to walk back that culture war signal,” said conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks on the PBS Newshour on July 23, 2021.

Washington Post Columnist Jonathan Capehart echoed him: “I think, if we had had a president of the United States who took this seriously when this first came on the scene, if we had a Republican party that took this seriously enough to warn everyone, their constituents saying, wash your hands, then put on a mask, then go get the vaccine, we wouldn’t be where we are right now.”

PBS NewsHour | Brooks and Capehart on voting and gun violence legislation | Season 2021 | PBS

Jonathan Capehart

But neither Trump nor the Republican party urged Americans to “wash your hands, put on a mask, then go get the vaccine.” 

By March, 2021, three vaccines—by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson—became available. A total of 90.4 million doses of these vaccines had been given. And 30.7 million Americans had been fully vaccinated against the virus. 

But after a triumphant beginning, the pace of vaccinations slowed, then halted. By late July, 2021, only 49.6% of Americans had been fully vaccinated.

Covid-19 Vaccination Map of USA.png

COVID-19 vaccination map – July 21, 2021

George Karabassis, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

Many of those who had gotten one shot of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines refused to get the necessary second one. These must be given almost a month apart.

(The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one shot.)

And leading the way to this catastrophe of self-destruction were the states of the South and Midwest: Mississippi (47.1%,), Alabama (50.5%), Arkansas (53.2%), and Tennessee (52.9%) with the lowest rates of residents who have gotten at least one shot.

By late July, 2021, three states—Florida, Texas and Missouri—with lower vaccination rates accounted for 40% of all cases nationwide.

And colliding head-on with the refusals of millions to get vaccinated was the newer—and deadlier—Delta variant of COVID-19. 

By July 27, 2022, there were 90.8 million COVID-19 cases in the United States—and 1.03 million deaths.

REPUBLICANS: TURNING INFORMERS INTO HEROES

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on July 18, 2022 at 12:10 am

You can’t understand what’s happening in Texas—and other states where abortion is now banned as a crime—without knowing the story of Pavlik Morozov.

Pavel Trofimovich Morozov—better known by the diminutive Pavlik—was born on November 14, 1918. Until his 13th birthday, he did nothing to win the status of a Hero of the Soviet Union.

Then his chance came—in 1932, at the height of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s campaign to confiscate the grain of millions of Soviet peasants.

Stalin intended to convert the backward Soviet Union into a major industrial power within a decade. Central to this: Turning land privately farmed by peasants into collective farms which would be “great factories of grain.”

Morozov was a dedicated Communist who led the Young Pioneers at his school and supported Stalin’s forced collections policies.

In 1932, at the age of 13, Morozov reported his father, Trofim, to the political police, the GPU—the forerunner to the KGB.

According to one account,, Trofim, the chairman of the Gerasimovka Village Soviet, had been “forging documents and selling them to the bandits and enemies of the Soviet State” (as the sentence read).

Another account charges him with hoarding grain.

Pavel Morozov.jpg

Pavlik Morozov

Trofim Morozov was sentenced to 10 years in a labor camp. There his sentence was changed to execution, which was carried out.

On September 3, 1932, Pavlik’s infuriated uncle, grandfather, grandmother and a cousin murdered him, along with his younger brother. 

Only the uncle escaped arrest by the GPU’s sentence to “the highest measure of social defense”—execution by a firing squad.

Soviet authorities quickly turned Pavlik Morozov into a Communist martyr. He became a subject for readings, plays, songs, a symphonic poem, a full-length opera and no fewer than six biographies.

The goal of these efforts: To encourage other Soviet children to inform on their parents.

Which brings us, appropriately enough, to 2022 America—and the June 24 Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the Court’s historic decision legalizing abortion in 1973. 

For Right-wing states dominated by Republican governors and/or legislatures, it isn’t enough to forbid women in their states to get abortions. They insist on preventing them from terminating their pregnancies (even in cases of rape and/or incest) in states where abortion is legal.  

And key to making this a reality is turning America into a nation of Pavlik Morozovs.

Even before the Supreme Court handed down its infamous decision, Missouri gave the nation a foretaste of what was to come.

A first-of-its-kind proposal from Missouri lawmakers allowed private citizens to sue anyone who helped a Missouri resident obtain an abortion.

This included the out-of-state physician who performed the procedure to whoever helped transport a person across state lines to a clinic.

Republican state Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman admitted that her measure specifically targeted a Planned Parenthood clinic in Illinois just across the river from St. Louis that opened in 2019 with the stated goal of serving Missouri patients.

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Mary Elizabeth Coleman

“If you believe as I do that every person deserves dignity and respect and protection whether they’re born or unborn, then of course you want to protect your citizens, no matter where they are,” Coleman told POLITICO.

“If a Missouri resident is hurt, even in Illinois, by a product that they bought in Illinois, there is still jurisdiction for them to sue in a Missouri court because that’s home for them … and this is extending that same kind of thought to abortion jurisprudence.”

This totally ignores the huge difference between unknowingly buying a defective product that causes harm and knowingly seeking a medical procedure.

Abortion pills—now the most popular method of terminating a pregnancy in the United States—are also a target of Republican-dominated states.

Several states including Texas have moved to ban prescribing the drugs via telemedicine and sending them by mail to people’s homes. Many others are looking to implement similar bans in the wake of the Biden administration’s move earlier this year to loosen restrictions on the pills.

Anti-abortion-rights activists claim they can’t eliminate all abortions without deterring travel across state lines. They blame pro-choice advocates who are raising money to help people terminate a pregnancy in another state. 

“You have a very aggressive industry working on helping people circumvent pro-life laws,” said Kristi Hamrick with Students for Life of America, which has chapters lobbying for restrictions in all 50 states. “So the conversation in Missouri and other locations is in direct response to that.” 

In post-Roe America, a woman’s cell phone can also become her legal undoing.

Pin on Literatuuropdracht Nederlands

Digital period tracking apps could be used against them. As a result, many experts advise removing them from cell phones.

More than 100 million women use period tracking applications. They help predict the date of the next period, the ovulation period, and track the signs of premenstrual syndrome. Dozens of applications are available.

And if you want to talk about abortion online in Texas, remember: Doing so on Facebook or Twitter could hurt you. 

Texas residents could find themselves in legal hot water for sharing a Facebook or Twitter post on how to get an abortion or holding an online fundraiser for someone seeking one.

Thus Texans, who have long prided themselves on their independence from authority, have become a state filled with informers hoping to get rich quick by invading the privacy of others.

“BLACK [THUG] LIVES MATTER!”

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Social commentary on March 10, 2015 at 2:49 pm

It’s happened again.

Another confrontation between a white police officer and an allegedly unarmed young black man.  Another struggle. Another dead black man, shot by police. And another outcry that police have once again murdered another innocent victim.

Except that the victim’s background proved anything but innocent.

Consider these three incidents:

Incident #1:

On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, a black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, is shot and killed during a street confrontation with Darren Wilson, a white police officer.

Almost immediately, Ferguson blacks generally and the Brown family in particular begin referring to Michael Brown as “a child.”

Except that this “child” was 18–legally an adult who could obtain a credit card, enter the armed forces and drive a car.  He also stood 6’3″ and weighed 300 pounds.

Oh, and one more thing: Just before his fatal encounter with Wilson, Brown, Brown was caught on a grocery store video strong-arming a clerk, who had just seen him shoplifting a box of cigars.

Click here: SURVEILLANCE VIDEO: Police say Michael Brown was suspect in Ferguson store robbery – YouTube 

Michael Brown (left) roughing up a store owner

Click here: Lawsuit seeking release of Michael Brown’s juvenile records claims slain teen was a murder suspect – AOL.com

Incident #2:

On March 1, 2015, officers of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) are summoned to downtown Skid Row to break up a fight between two black men.

A security camera outside a homeless shelter shows a man pushing over a neighbor’s tent and the two men duking it out.

When four officers arrive, the suspect–Charley Saturmin Robinet–turns and ducks back into his own tent.  Then he jumps out, striking and kicking before ending up on the ground.  Officers use Tasers, but these appear to have little effect.

As the officers swarm about him, a bystander’s video captures the voice of a rookie officer shouting, “He has my gun! He has my gun!” That’s when the other three officers open fire.

Blacks in Los Angeles and throughout the nation immediately claimed that Robinet–known as “Africa” on the street–was unarmed when he was shot.

But LAPD Chief Charlie Beck stated that an inspection of the video shows Robinet reaching for the pistol in the rookie officer’s waistband.

The officer’s gun was later found partly cocked and jammed with a bullet in the chamber and another in the ejection port, indicating a struggle for the weapon, said Beck.

Then, on March 3, as a black outcry continued to sound throughout the nation, a news bombshell dropped:

In 2000, Robinet had been convicted of robbing a Wells Fargo branch and pistol-whipping an employee.  The reason for the robbery: To pay for acting classes at the Beverly Hills Playhouse.

While in federal prison in Rochester, Minnesota, Robinet was assigned to the mental health unit, where it was determined he suffered from mental illness requiring treatment in a psychiatric hospital. He served about 13 years in prison before being released in May, 2014.

Under the terms of his release, Robinet was required to report to his probation officer at the start of each month.  He failed to do so in November and December, 2014, and in January, 2015. So a federal arrest warrant was issued on January 9.

U.S. marshals were searching for him at the time of his fatal confrontation with the LAPD.

Click here: Man killed by Los Angeles police was wanted by US marshals – AOL.com

Incident #3:

On March 6, 2015, 19-year-old Anthony “Tony” Robinson, black, was shot and killed by a white police officer in Madison, Wisconsin.

The shooting came after police got a call saying that Robinson was jumping in and out of traffic and had assaulted someone. Robinson fled to an apartment, and the officer–Matt Kenny–heard a disturbance and forced his way inside.

According to police, a struggle ensued and Kenny fired after Robinson attacked him.

Only hours after the shooting, Madison Police Chief Mike Koval–who is white–called Robinson’s death “a tragedy” and prayed with Robinson’s grandmother in her driveway.

And then, on March 7, came the news: In 2014, Robinson had pleaded guilty to armed robbery and recently began serving a three-year probation term for that felony conviction.

According to a criminal complaint, Robinson was one of five men who staged a home-invasion robbery in Madison in April, 2014, searching for money and marijuana. Police captured Robinson as he fled the home, and he admitted that he stole a TV and an Xbox 360 from the apartment.

Tony Robinson

He was sentenced to three years’ probation in December.

Reacting to her son’s death, Robinson’s mother, Andrea Irwin, said:  “My son has never been a violent person. And to die in such a violent, violent way, it baffles me.”

Not every police shooting of a black is a replay of Mississippi Burning, the 1964 case where three civil rights workers were murdered by white racist police.

Some police shootings are fueled by anger or prejudice.  Others happen by accident or negligence. So it’s foolish to automatically assume that every police shooting is totally justified.

But it’s equally foolish to assume that every police shooting is totally unjustified. Especially when, in case after case, the “non-violent” victim turns out to have had a history of violence.

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