Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Policing, Policy, Murder, Racism, and Corruption

White Americans are shocked, shocked to discover that they are living in a police state.


On the 25th of May 2020, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin murdered African-American George Floyd in cold blood while officers Tou Thou, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng looked on. The murder was recorded on video and posted to Twitter. The Minneapolis police department (MPD) then announced that Floyd had “died a short time” after a “medical incident.” The MPD police union president, Lt. Bob Kroll, said: “Now is not the time to rush to judgment and immediately condemn our officers.”

Monday, June 29, 2020

“Let people die, that's the whole damn plan.”

Jim Wright, writing on Facebook on the Republican health care plan: “Let people die, that's the whole damn plan.”

The left has been saying this for decades. The fascist streak in US politics has taken over the Republican Party. Republicans have become fascists, fascists rape, torture, and kill people just to assert their authority. Orwell knew. Orwell's monstrous interrogator O'Brien said: “How does one man assert his power over another, Winston? […] By making him suffer. Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation.”

Anyone who has walked the picket line outside a deadly workplace (and those have come back, even before COVID-19), fought the goons – they know.

Orwell, again, “You must get rid of those nineteenth-century ideas about the laws of Nature. We make the laws of Nature. […] The earth is as old as we are, no older. How could it be older? Nothing exists except through human consciousness.”

So even though death and disease surround them, Republicans will deny death and disease and die themselves.

This is the malignant narcissism that Dr. Lee and her co-authors wrote about in The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump. Trump is the mirror of it, but he is not the source.

What do we do about it?

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Leviticus 13 and Deuteronomy 24: the Bible Supports Social Distancing

The Israelites knew plague.

Tzaarat,” whose diagnosis and management is described in Leviticus 13 and mentioned in ‪Deuteronomy 24:8, is the name of a group of skin diseases, and is usually translated as “leprosy” – Hansen’s disease – but it is not Hansen’s disease, which doesn’t seem to have actually been present in Israel in biblical times.

Rabbinical teaching sees tzaarat as a physical manifestation of spiritual failing, yet the Torah itself says nothing of this: tzaarat is the name for a physical disease for which Leviticus 13:1-46 give a protocol for diagnosis, treatment, and management. Leviticus 13:47-59 describes identifying tzaarat in cloth. Deuteronomy 24:8 advises victims to follow the instructions of the Levite healers. Perhaps the ancients thought that skin and cloth rotted in similar ways, or perhaps tzaarat was caused by a fungus which also affected fabric. Scientific medical commentators cannot identify tzaarat; it may not be a currently active disease, or it may be so rare as to be relegated to obscure papers and texts.

Leviticus 13 describes a protocol of isolation, examination, and monitoring for tzaarat. (One commentator even gives a flowchart of the protocol.) In extreme cases, when the disease would not heal, the victim was pronounced tame (טָמֵא, taw-MAY), unclean, and required to isolate themselves until they healed.

What has this to do with modern Christians? The Old Testament recognizes the existence of physical disease and the need for diagnosis and quarantine as appropriate: god did not prevent disease. When modern Christians say that god will protect them against COVID-19 and that there is no need for precautions, distancing, or quarantine, they are adopting an unbiblical stance. Deuteronomy advises victims to do the equivalent of following their doctor’s orders. When Christians say that they do not need to do so because god will protect them, or that quarantine is an infringement on their rights, you can answer them that the Israelites knew plague, and that their own laws told them to quarantine if necessary.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

In Which Andy Slavitt Is Radicalized and I Wonder About Pandemics and Health Care Systems

“There are two things the pandemic shows has to change about US health care: payments should be to doctors not insurance companies; and health insurance should be tied to existence not ” – @ASlavitt on Twitter
This is the Andy Slavitt, Obama's Medicare and Medicaid director ("Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services"), former UnitedHealth Group executive, former Goldman Sachs banker, former McKinsey consultant. And he is now practically endorsing Medicare for All.

And, I wonder… the British National Health Service was established in 1948. The Swiss health care system dates to the early 20th century. The German system dates to 1883. The French system dates to 1902. These Swiss, German, and French systems date to the times when tuberculosis was endemic. The British system dates to a time when the 1918 flu pandemic was still living memory.

I wonder how much of the creation of national health care systems was due to the influence of pandemics on the public, and on political leaders?