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unraveling

31.Aug.2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

...through the corners of our mind Permalink to this item

I can look through my own dang photos (or let some cloud service remind me about "this day"), or I can sit back and let Facebook push my own shares back at me. The latter is strangely alluring; you may know the feeling.

Last year on August 30, I went sailing up at the lake, and it just happened that one of my buddies brought his waterproof camera and took a bunch of great photos and shared them around, providing me with a "new cover." (This year, it was yesterday I went sailing, with the air a bit less smoky, but not as warm, and the lake a hundred feet lower than it was a year ago.)

Scanned from a print? I forget

Two years ago, we came around the corner from the SE side to our first glimpse of Mt. Rainier, on the way to a big family get-together. Also, apples were ripening on our tree (as they are today). Four years ago, we had a peach blushing to ripe! (Not this year; our tree's one-and-only fell off yellow, and got mixed in with the bonanza from a friend's tree.) And, Integrity Auto Glass came to our house to slap a new windshield on our car, after a rock between here and Great Falls cracked the old one. Five years ago, that same lake as above, and yesterday, sunrise. (And full). Six years ago, there was some rain, and a rainbow. Eight years ago, we went to a Boise Hawks game with friends and 18 runs scored and a 6-4-3-2 double play (safe at 1st, OUT at home), on the same day that a mom down the street came by with her firstborn sun and their conversation drifted in through an open window.

"Oh an acorn! Oh it's so fun to collect acorns and put them in your pocket so mom can wash them in the washing machine, and then dry them in the drying machine!

"Oh what is this? Look how SHARP!" (She describes our prickly pear, from a functional, and cautionary point of view)

"There's all SORTS of things growing here!"

At the bottom, Facebook assures me "You're All Caught Up" and invites me to "Check back tomorrow to see more of your memories!"

Today is yesterday's tomorrow, and a(nother) nice day to have a look. From the bottom up: In 2012, a professional friend of our daughter's took our portrait, probably the best my bride of (now) 40 years and I will ever look. In 2014, there was a basket of blushing peaches from our tree, maybe its best year ever. 2016, I had a photomontage of an osprey flying over Barclay Bay with a fish for breakfast. 2017, the first acorn of the season hit the roof. 2019, my grandkids were jumping for joy on a hiking trail, and the sun set over the White River.

27.Aug.2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Smackdown Supreme Permalink to this item

It's been quite the week for news, top to bottom, such that a unanimous, stinging rebuke of the Idaho Legislature by our Supreme Court did not stay at the top for very long. Just Monday!

House Majority Leader Mike Moyle spoke for most of his caucus in one of this year's earlier walkbacks: "I say things I probably shouldn’t say." Also, they do things they shouldn't do. One of those things was SB 1110, the bad faith and vindictive effort to beat down the citizens' legislative ability through initiatives and referenda by raising the bar to for getting a measure on the ballot to 6% of registered voters in every one of Idaho's 35 legislative districts. As Betsy Russell reported, "the court was clear in its ruling."

We conclude that the Legislature has acted beyond its constitutional authority and violated the people’s fundamental right to legislate directly,” the court’s opinion stated.

The respondents for the petitions brought by Reclaim Idaho and the Committee to Protect and Preserve the Idaho Constitution, Inc., and another by Michael Stephen Gilmore were our secretary of state, and the leaders of our two legislative chambers, in their official capacity. Speaker of the House Scott Bedke went on record as "disappointed at the Idaho Supreme Court’s decision limiting the voice of rural voters." [sic] And Senate President Pro Tem Chuck Winder was "a little bit surprised that they would rule the way they did and as narrowly as they did, and not give more deference to the Legislature..."

In the garden today

Our same Legislature that gives precious little deference to the other two branches of state government, county governments, city governments, public health districts, the State Board of Education, and, at issue in this case, THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF IDAHO, thinks it didn't get enough deference. Cry us a river.

The court described "a dispute many years in the making." One hundred six years, in fact, starting with "setting several onerous—if not impossible—conditions for a ballot proposition to qualify for the ballot," and when those were vetoed, "set[ting] a course of deliberate inaction, failing to pass any enabling legislation and allowing the people’s initiative and referendum power to remain dormant for another 18 years."

From 1933 to 1997, the people's ballot measures could qualify with a signature count of 10% of the statewide votes cast in the prior gubernatorial election. In those 64 years, 24 initiatives and 3 referenda qualified, and one attempt to raise the bar, in 1984—by doubling the threshold—was quashed by Democratic Gov. John Evans' veto. In 1997, the legislature did succeed in raising the bar, "citing unspecified abuses," which was to say succeeding in passing an initiative the legislature didn't like, creating term limits. The new requirement was 6% of registered voters, with a county-based geographic requirement that was struck down in federal court. (Our 44 counties' populations vary from nearly half a million here in Ada County to less than a 1,000 in Clark Co.)

In 2013, after three successful referenda, the legislature added the requirement that signatures from 6% of registered voters at the time of the last general election must come from each of at least 18 of Idaho’s 35 legislative districts, as well as reaching 6% overall. After several sessions of failing to enact Medicaid Expansion, and Reclaim Idaho getting an initiative on the ballot that voters enthusiastically passed, the legislature came back to make it still harder. 6% of registered voters from EVERY SINGLE DISTRICT was the new concept, before the people could be permitted to vote on something directly.

For good measure, they amended a statute to prevent initiatives from setting an effective date “earlier than July 1 of the year following the vote on the ballot initiative,” leaving themselves six months to repeal or amend any voter-passed law before it could take effect. The court was as displeased as Idaho voters.

"...At best, it looks as though the Legislature has devised a requirement that nearly doubles the previous threshold—from 18 to 35 legislative districts—while also claiming that it would not affect anyone very much.

"Rather than evenly distributing power across the state, the Legislature has achieved just the opposite. By requiring a threshold of support from every legislative district in the state, the Legislature has essentially given every legislative district veto power over qualifying initiatives and referenda for the ballot. While this might theoretically assure that voters with minority interests will have a voice, it will achieve this end at a terrible cost. For example, a lone urban district in Boise could thwart an agricultural initiative with strong statewide support. Likewise, a paid special interest lobby could derail a popular initiative it dislikes by focusing its opposition efforts on a single legislative district with which it shares common interests."

The judges declared SB 1110 unconstitutional, and restored Idaho Code 34-1805 to its previous state. They also declared the newly added 34-1813(2)(a), delaying voter-approved initiatives until July 1 of the following year, unconstitutional.

Finally, the court found that the effort to "vindicat[e] the people’s constitutional right to pass and repeal legislation potentially benefits every citizen of Idaho." With my emphasis:

"Therefore, under the circumstances unique to this case, we conclude that attorney fees are warranted under the private attorney general doctrine. The contested legislation constituted a grave infringement on the people’s constitutional rights, making this matter vital to the public interest to people across Idaho. Accordingly, this Court grants attorney fees for Reclaim and the Committee, to be apportioned equally between the SOS and the Legislature, inasmuch as both were active in opposing the petition."

Greenbean dispatch Permalink to this item

YouTube served up a couple well-placed ads ahead of Rep. Heather Scott's "Audio update" video: one for "better communications," and then one for dog food. She's so wound up she decided to do a north Idaho hostage video instead of her usual newsletter, leading with "the jab," and healthcare workers who have to choose between accepting "the jab" or being fired. It's a little dark. Literally.

"This is absurd," she says, apparently not clear on the meaning of that word. Also "forcing our military" to get vaccinated. "People are fearful." Well, some people. "I don't think people *get it*, yet."

From the vid

"A lot of calls have to come to me, it's like 'why won't the legislature get involved?'"

"At the end of session [sic] this year..." the Senate adjourned, sine die, as usual. "The House did a little better," she says, imagining that they could just take "recess," and come back if they felt like it. Ah, but "one person makes that decision." She won't be happy with authoritarianism until she's in charge.

"There's another political thing going on behind the scenes that a lot of people don't know about and that's kind of what I wanted to shear—share."

It's all about... the race for Lt. Governor, really? Speaker of the House Scott Bedke (that guy) is running, and "a guy from north Idaho, and then Rep. Priscilla Giddings."

That's the recently nominated for censure Priscilla Giddings you may have heard of. (Especially if you followed along this spring.) "Lots of people have their ideas on why that may have happened," Scott says. People such as... the members of the Ethics Committee, who spelled it out in public session. Or the headline writer for Boise State Public Radio News: Ethics Committee Recommends Censure Of Rep. Giddings Who Shared Personal Information About Rape Accuser.

"But he, he makes all those decisions," she goes on, not really on top of How Things Work, since the Speaker of the House is not actually on the committee. Fun fact, though: if the House did come in from recess, they could vote on that Ethics committee censure recommendation for Scott's gal pal. Otherwise, the recess stunt could save Giddings from official censure by a Houseful of her peers, unless they were to take it up again next session.

"A lot of money was put into those ethics hearings," she says, as if... it's about money, really? And she thinks Bedke is "in a political predicament," because he and "the other gentleman running" (his name is Luke Malek) "are competing for big Pharma money."

Whereas Giddings "has actually ran [sic] a bill last, last session, which was earlier this year, um, it was ah House Bill 140, and it was called "The Medical Consumer Protection Act."

You could look it up to see that that is TO PROVIDE THAT EMPLOYERS OR COMPANIES CONTRACTING WITH THE STATE OF IDAHO MAY NOT ENGAGE IN DISCRIMINATION AGAINST UNVACCINATED PERSONS.

"That bill would completely take care of what's going on, uh, in our hospitals right now."

Completely. The House passed it, 49-21. It went to the Senate Commerce & Human Resources committee where the chair, Republican Jim Patrick sat on it, starting in mid-February. Somehow, Scott Bedke is pulling his strings? Or the "ropes and chains attached with some of this money"? BIG PHARMA WILL GET MAD AT HIM

"and they're going to support the other guy in the race, which I won't even mention that guy's name, 'cause he's probably not worth mentionin', so, um, anyway, that's all the politics goin' on behind the scenes, um, on why you know they're playing politics while you guys, the citizens, are suffering."

Also, "I had a bill that would end the emergency!" Just like that!

24.Aug.2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Troll flavor of the day Permalink to this item

Yesterday, Melissa Davlin of Idaho Reports tweeted an update with Idaho Covid-19 vaccine data (an uptick at the moment, responding to the fourth wave burning through the state, it seems), case counts, etc. She's been doing updates like this in various media since last spring. One fellow took a giant inferential leap for manunkind and non sequitured, "Wow. It's really important to a lot of you that others make the same choices you do."

They tell you not to feed the trolls, but I wasn't smart enough. I responded, pithily (or so I thought), "Yeah, that's how public health works." Now "Put Pat In Your Pipe," aka @RussellsRitings, wants to see my grocery list.

"I just want to make sure you and your kids are being healthy. That's my responsibility as part of your public health network."

Just to place this in our pandemic timeline, it was the same day that the vaccine fka Pfizer-BioNTech, now "Comirnaty," previously distributed under an Emergency Use Authorization, was approved by the FDA for individuals 16 years and up. Idaho's governor has been urging us to get vaccinated, here in one of the reddest, least-vaccinated states in the country. Last Thursday, Gov. Little put out a press release that Vaccination is our best shot at keeping kids in school.

"Our younger population—children under age 12—cannot receive the vaccine, and they need us—the adults—to make the right decision now so they can stay well and have a productive, successful school year."

Yesterday, Gov. Little had a message about this "significant milestone," with hashtags #OurBestShot and #InThisTogether. Never mind his little chip shot for the former guy's supposed "leadership" that made life as we know it possible, here in the first world, you can get a FREE, CONVENIENT, LIFE-SAVING VACCINE. Or not. We could learn something from... Texas, maybe? Where the Texas Tribune reports that four rural districts are temporarily closing... but FREEDOM REIGNS!

In one of the four, "more than half the staff was out sick, a school official said." But they don't want to get tested; "their personal choice." In small-town Iraan, Texas, there were 50 positives in 119 tests. A 42% positivity rate.

"All four districts are in areas where fewer than a third of residents are fully vaccinated, and nearby hospitals that offer critical care are experiencing staffing shortages while the delta variant wages war on the Texas health system."

End of last month, I talked about tribal epistemology, and Charles Gaba's nationwide tracking of vaccination by county, which you won't be surprised to find out is correlated with the 2020 election results, anymore than you'd be surprised to hear that the former guy wanly suggesting his claque get vaxxed at a lackluster loser campaign rally was met with boos. He probably won't be pushing that again. What's in it for him, after all?

Not sure who might have any pull here in Idaho, where the Lt. Governor attended a mask burning, and the most populous county's commissioners appointed an anti-vax doctor pushing ivermectin to the district health board. Idaho is still not getting it, in large measure. We're bringing up the bottom. With Alabama and Mississippi.

Excerpt of Charles Gaba datagraphic

Update:

IDHW Director says in North Idaho and the Treasure Valley, hospitals are forced to use alternative space rather than the ER, such as hallways and conference rooms, due to excessive numbers of covid patients.

Let that soak in. They're treating patients in the hallways.

— Ruth Brown (@RuthBrownNews) August 24, 2021

22.Aug.2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Truth or consequences Permalink to this item

An aspiring thug and a Republican hack walk in to a county commission, and appoint a washed-up congressman and a quack to the district health board. It's no joke! James Dawson reports on public radio news that the Central District Health Board Wants More Oversight Of COVID-19 Guidance. The Board comprising political appointees.

One of the four characters in the opening scene, former founding member of the back-bench Freedom Caucus Raúl "Nobody dies because they don't have access to healthcare" Labrador is miffed that the Central District Health staff members recommended schools in its four counties follow CDC guidance, and people might think it was the Board saying such wild and crazy things.

“In my opinion, the CDC sometimes comes out with statements that are more politicized than they’re science-based,” Labrador said.

Who says irony is dead? At the same time Labrador is wringing his hands over "politicization," the latest COVID-19 Surge Has Idaho Hospitals Tipping Toward Crisis Mode.

We were supposed to Never Forget the 3,000 dead on 9/11, and here we are rounding the corner to two years of pandemic with TWO HUNDRED TIMES that body count, and... the rurals think everyone is lying to them, for political gain. (That inveterate truth-teller and Former Guy told them so.) One of Nevada's county commissioners, preaching to the claque:

“I’m at a very sad point in my life right now because I do not believe a single thing our government tells us,” he said to applause. “They have proven themselves to be liars over and over again and the media covers for them.”

Never mind that this is a member of "our government" speaking? Some of what pass for conservative leaders are trying to turn the ship around. The former guy tossed out a "get your vaccines" line in Alabama but shriveled away when the crowd wasn't having it. Montana's governor "recently urged constituents to take 'personal responsibility' and get vaccinated."

“It’s too late,” said Christine Porter, a public health professor at the University of Wyoming. “Eroding trust takes minutes. Building trust takes years.”

Conservative media and Republicans have spent the past year and a half sending mixed messages to Americans about the severity of COVID-19 and the safety and effectiveness of masks and vaccines, according to Porter. Conspiracy theories and disinformation campaigns about COVID and the vaccine have already taken hold in the minds of one in five Americans, according to a recent survey from researchers [in the Covid States Project]. That’s why she argues state and federal governments need to make vaccinations mandatory for all eligible U.S. citizens.

“Everyone who has chosen not to be vaccinated has chosen to be a breeding ground and to spread it to others,” she said.

I can't imagine mandatory vaccines, but it's not hard to imagine a swampy breeding ground of misinformation. The Covid States Project, researchers at Northeastern, Harvard, Rutgers, and Northwestern universities, has five dozen+ reports, including #60, COVID-19 vaccine misinformation: From uncertainty to resistance. They surveyed more than 20,000 people in all 50 states in early summer. Among their key takeaways:

Adapted from The Covid States Project report, fig. 9

19.Aug.2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Sports break Permalink to this item

There are parts of the sports section that interest me, but the Idaho Press' penchant for nearly all football, nearly all the time on the front page usually limits my time for that to a passing glance. Something about "Boise State OC Plough" was the big headline today, and I noted that, weirdly, I knew that "OC" stands for Offensive Coordinator, and why is an OC talking about D? Two sentences satisfied that curiosity. (Braggadocio.) But two (other) items did hold my attention this morning.

When I went to the web to give you links, the sports front page there makes my point about the IP's bias: "top" stories today just happen to be the commentary I'm here to talk about, and football, football, football, LOCAL ROUNDUP: No Treasure Valley [football] teams ranked first, football, football, football, football, football, football, football, and... wait for it... football.

Apparently, "High School Sports" is a synonym for football. There is also "Boise State," which has other sports. One item about basketball, one item about the softball coach, and seven about football.

The print version's number one attraction for me was Jake King's quintessential rodeo action shot (awoo, awoo, is that your hat?), which, I struggled to find on their website to share, until I remembered the e-edition! Subscribers only, but let me scrape a fair-use swath to illustrate my commentary, and to allure you with the attraction of subscribing.

Across the fold of today's Sports section

Before I'd found that, distractions. There is no "Rodeo" link under the "Sports" navigation menu, that seems wrong. On the home page, something about "Sears suffers another setback," and I wondered about business news, but no, it was a football player named Sears. Having been fooled into that jump, I was transported to the alt-universe of BLUE TURF Sports.com, which (you might not be surprised) leads with football. A lot of football.

But the other thing that caught my eye in print, right next to the bucking bronco, was COMMENTARY. Sports editor Greg Lee posing the provocative question, Is there coming a day when prep sports will be no more?

I imagine myself pretty sports-savvy, but I struggled with the vocabulary. "Prep" in this context is short for "preparatory," which looks to a collegiate future, right? (And college sports have become Pro Prep these days, but never mind that.) Lee laments a possible day "when most sports offered in high school will be varsity only." Is varsity not "prep"? Back in my day, there was varsity, and JV, I guess, and not much else. The diving team I was on was too small for both, so I guess I was on the varsity team? Was that bad? Let him explain:

"There’s a disease attacking prep athletics and it doesn’t appear curable. It’s club, AAU, out-of-season pay-to-play sports.

"I hope prep athletics don’t succumb to this malady before my day’s [sic] on this planet end."

I can imagine "club" sports, and AAU is the Amateur Athletic Union, which I haven't heard anything about for many decades. What's wrong with "out-of-season," I wonder? Pay-to-play sounds kind of bad, but sports always cost money. Somebody needs to come up with a ball. Shoes. Athletic supporters. Blue turf. And so on.

Lee heard something from Bryant Gumbel on HBO (which costs money, by the way). "Participation in athletics for youth ages 12-18 has dropped 9%." I agree that's bad, because participation in sports is generally good. It's been good for me. Does "athletics" = "prep"?

"I know of a 5A high school in North Idaho where the turnout for football recently showed 10 seniors, 14 sophomores and 28 freshmen. In a 5A school no less."

So, I don't know exactly what 5A means, but I wonder why no juniors, and 52 boys seems like a lot, but no? There should be more than half a hundred boys playing football at a 5A high school? Lee puts "the biggest blame on elite and travel teams," before mentioning the elephant in the room:

"The thing that has plagued football has been the violent nature of the sport. I hear more and more parents say that won’t allow their boys to play the sport."

Good for them. And that's all he has to say about that.

"I will go watch a high school event — any event — all day long. But I will not go watch a summer league event, a club sport event or a 7 on 7 football event. No way, no how."

A good friend of his, "a longtime assistant football and basketball coach and a head track coach ... had to arrange his practice schedules around athletes playing age-level soccer and club volleyball." Inconvenient, I suppose, but doesn't seem exactly egregious.

"We know the lure of club or travel teams. It’s the promise of a college scholarship. Truth is college coaches will find you no matter where you’re at. Prep athletes don’t have to succumb to playing out-of-season."

I did not know that was the lure of those things, actually. But if it is... then that's another form of "prep athletics," isn't it? And this column is about... money. School districts supporting athletic programs. (Don't tell me, let me guess. Football programs, mostly?)

"Studies show that students will suffer academically if they can’t play sports."

Ok, sports. Yes, those are important, for long-term health and life satisfaction. For the vast majority of high school students, the "sports" they will participate in are not football. Ever.

(Also, academics. Somewhat out of scope for the sports editor, but he brought it up. Let's talk about the Transition to Postsecondary statewide dashboard, maybe.)

My brief foray in springboard diving (and an even briefer foray in track and field) were fine, but now that I'm past 60 (like Greg Lee), they don't matter very much. Not as much as bicycling, backpacking, city league softball, soccer, windsurfing, and tennis have been, even though you've never read about me in the sports section.

"Physical education" is an essential element of elemntary and secondary education. It should be a part of college, too, for those who go on to that. For everybody in college, not just the biggest and beefiest boys and men, and not in coliseums full of thousands or tens of thousands of spectators. And then after they're out of school, there should be all sorts of opportunities for individual and group sports that people can sample, and enjoy, and dedicate themselves to as the spirit, and body moves them.

18.Aug.2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Practicum in pathology Permalink to this item

GET YOUR FREE COVID-19 VACCINE TODAY

Public health in southwest Idaho is taking on a real Alice in Wonderland feel. After a one-week delay for reconsideration, two of our three county commissioners went ahead and voted to appoint Dr. Ryan Cole for the Central District Health board. Audrey Dutton reported for the Idaho Capital Sun that commissioners Rod Beck and Ryan Davidson said "their votes were guided by feedback from Ada County constituents, as well as their personal beliefs and experiences."

They were not guided by facts, such as the comprehensive analysis of Cole's misinformation and disinformation on Covid vaccines and treatment, available since April.

It wasn't in spite of what they know about Cole; it was because of it. They like an "outsider's view." In a "medical professional." On a "health board." Previously, when they ejected former commissioner Diane Lachiondo from the health board, neither Beck nor Davidson wanted the job, but they wanted one of their guys in the slot. They nominated former Congressman, immigration lawyer, and Idaho Republican party leader Raúl Labrador. Yeah, the same one who infamously told a town hall meeting that “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.” Back in that day, the feedback from Ada County constituents was broadly negative; 368-99 by KTVB's tally of the response to their public records request. Honey Badger Beck and Davidson don't care.

[Commissioner Kendra] Kenyon said “the majority” of Ada County’s medical community opposes Cole. Davidson said that was a point in Cole’s favor; he said he believes that the medical community is “leading us down a path” toward “force and coercion” on vaccines, and Cole would stand up to them.

After the meeting, Davidson told the Sun in a phone interview that he wanted to appoint someone who was opposed to mandates or government interference of any kind.

So, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Dutton's story notes that a majority of the four counties' commissioners have to approve. Two down in Ada, so they need just five out of the remaining nine to make Cole the one-and-only "licensed physician" on the board. Eric McGilp, former chair of the Boise County GOP tweeted that "Boise County will supply 3 additional votes."

Boise County has around 8,000 residents, to Ada County's half million-ish; that gives the good folk of our sparsely populated, mountainous 1,900 square mile neighbor more than 60 times the representation of Idaho's urban center. Our mountain folk are not quite 30% vaccinated according to Idaho's dashboard. Compared to 58% fully vaxed (and 5% more half-vaxed) here in Ada.

Unvaccinated Idahoans are being hospitalized at 13 times the rate of vaccinated Idahoans - IDHW data

On Monday, Melissa Davlin reported that we could be on the verge of crisis standards of care, as the fourth surge appears likely to be worse than last December's peak.

"According to modeling being shared by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Idaho could see 2,500 hospital admissions weekly and 30,000 new cases per week by mid-October. That’s more than 4,000 new cases per day. The previous high, reached in December, was 2,298."

The projection is "averaged from several different models via the COVID 19 Scenario Modeling Hub," with Idaho tracking the worst case of vaccination rate—we're low; 47% of the state's eligible population, overall—and transmissibility—the delta variant's is high. And if you're unvaccinated, it makes you sicker.

“If you look at the rate of increase of patients going in the ICU, I mean that curve is almost straight up,” [Idaho Rep. and physician Fred] Wood said. “Way steeper than the curve was with the last big surge. That gives me real pause that we’re in for it. We’re in for a tougher road than we had last winter.”

[Dr. Robert] Scoggins[, chief of staff for Kootenai Health and medical director for Kootenai Health’s critical care] said the same is true for his patients in Coeur d’Alene. “They come in sicker, they progress more rapidly to requiring higher levels of oxygen and requiring mechanical ventilation sooner, and they’re younger too,” he said.

Yesterday, Davlin and Ruth Brown reported that Idaho's crisis standards of care advisory committee will meet this week, with the positivity rate going up, and a much larger fraction of hospitalized patients ending up in the ICU. Last winter, it was about 1 in 5; now it's 1 in 3, as we set new records.

Oh, and we're facing a shortage of healthcare workers, as burnout and the incessant demand takes its toll. It should go without saying, but apparently, it does not. GET YOUR FREE COVID-19 VACCINE TODAY if you haven't done it yet. "Anyone age 12 or older can get vaccinated in Idaho. Thank you to everyone who chooses to protect our communities by getting the COVID-19 vaccine."

DPH Idaho Covid-19 Dashboard snapshot

16.Aug.2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Strike up the band Permalink to this item

Checking in on Twitter, saw that Juan Williams was trending, and as one does, I checked to see if it was his obit. Not exactly. I guess he said something deemed risible to the folks who know him as someone on Fox News, which, surely he should be doing that regularly enough that it wouldn't trend? Don't call him Shirley.

He's got a headline on The Hill, which I'm no longer sure is a reputable source, but you could find it in the trending, or searching for something like [the former guy's] coup attempt should bar him from 2024 race.

Yeah, and so should his other panoply of crimes, but the Republican Party keeps giving him Stay Out of Jail Free cards, and sending him money like he's some kind of hapless college student with a bottomless drug habit. Now that Friday the 13th has come and gone and our latter-day Freddie Krueger hasn't been "reinstated," we need some fresh folderol, apparently.

The Hill doesn't link to all of what Williams refers to, but you might be interested in former Labor Secretary Robert Reich's punchline in The Guardian that the Attorney General should "issue an advisory opinion clearly stating" that the evidence of the former guy's December call to the acting attorney general in which he pleads “Just say the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me” [and the R congressman, the notes said; Reich left that off] "should trigger section 3 of the 14th amendment, which bars anyone from holding office who “engaged in insurrection” against the US."

And you might be interested in the roadmap for the Justice Department to follow in investigating the former guy laid out by law professors and former US Attorneys in the Washington Post.

"The bottom line is this: Now that Trump is out of office, the DOJ’s view that sitting presidents cannot be indicted no longer shields him. Attempted coups cannot be ignored. If Garland’s Justice Department is going to restore respect for the rule of law, no one, not even a former president, can be above it. And the fear of appearing partisan cannot be allowed to supersede that fundamental precept."

None of that is what's trending on Twitter right now. If I may boil it down into a golden nugget, that would be from a "JudyC18," retweeting someone insisting "we don't need him in [']24 we need him RIGHT NOW" but addressing Mr. Williams personally, as if he could hear her.

"Juan Williams you need to be band from giving your opinion."

My photo, 2011

15.Aug.2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Updated snake Permalink to this item

Rather than burying it under Snake in the grass from Thursday, below, this seems worthy of highlighting. There's a story in the Idaho Statesman that Idahoans are using ivermectin to treat COVID-19. "Officials warn it could be dangerous," as well as not making sense to use an antiparasite drug as treatment for a coronavirus infection. Apparently there were some suggestions that it could helpful, as opposed to the actual large-scale clinical trials that demonstrated the safety and efficacy of the vaccines that have now had billions of doses administered.

The journal Nature reported on the withdrawal of a preprint that had suggested—somehow—reduction of death rates by more than 90%, in a study that included only 400 people with symptoms of Covid-19? That doesn't make sense either.

A larger study—with 1,500 patients—has shown “no effect whatsoever” on the trial’s outcome goals — whether patients required extended observation in the emergency room or hospitalization.

The Statesman story adds local color from Dr. Ryan Cole, "that guy" who the most extreme right-wing county commissioner wants to put on the Central District Health board. Cole "said he’s prescribed ivermectin to 170 patients with a high rate of success," but the story doesn't say that success is measured in his uncontrolled experimentation.

"[Cole] told the Statesman on Aug. 9 that he’s read multiple studies showing ivermectin’s effectiveness, including a meta-analysis in the American Journal of Therapeutics.

“I am a huge fan of ivermectin,” he said. “There are over 19,000 patients in ivermectin studies around the world and probably more by now.”

However, studies on ivermectin’s effectiveness against COVID-19 have come under scrutiny as well. Recently, data included in that same meta-analysis was retracted because of plagiarism and data manipulation, according to the scientific journal Nature.

(Same link as above.) What is a pathologist doing prescribing antiparasitics for a viral infection, one wonders? Let alone being "a huge fan." Let alone having a newspaper reporter updating him on week-old news that a key paper has been pulled.

It bears repeating that Cole said back in March that he and his family had been vaccinated. You should be too, no matter what kind of nonsense you stumble onto here in the intertubes.

Regrets Permalink to this item

A year and a half into the Covid-19 pandemic, the genre of misfortune is expanding. A Facebook blurb-meme, reposted by a friend led me to find out more about H. Scott Appley. The piece in the Washington Post ten days ago is coldly factual. You can just go with the headline: A Texas GOP leader railed against vaccines and masks. Then he died of covid.

The Texas Scorecard's farewell ("Someone's always keeping score * We think it ought to be the citizens"), emphasized his "deep love for Texas liberty" and that he was a "follower of Christ, a dedicated husband to Melissa Apley, and a loving father" to a 5-month-old. The Texas Republican Party chairman said "we will miss Scott deeply but find comfort knowing he is at peace in the arms of our Savior."

His wife and infant child—both of whom were also infected—are now on their own.

His clapback to Dr. Leana Wen, after she'd cheered positive news about the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine against the B.1.351 (a.k.a. "South Africa," now beta) variant may or may not reflect his following of Christ, but it does suggest that he was not following too closely.

"You are an absolute enemy of a free people," Apley tweeted, inexplicably, adding a crude one-off hashtag (as one does) to amplify his weirdly misplaced rage. #ShoveTheCarrotWhereTheSunDontShine.

Apley identified himself as a "Rotund Firebrand" for his Twitter account. "1st Amendment: A freedom OF religion, not a freedom FROM religion," it says, and with some white space for emphasis, "There is no problem for which God is not the answer."

His now posthumous tweetstream bounces between pithy religiosity ("IF I COULD SPEAK ALL THE LANGUAGES OF EARTH AND OF ANGELS, BUT DIDN'T LOVE OTHERS, I WOULD ONLY BE A NOISY GONG OR A CLANGING CYMBAL") and contemptuous derision for his political opponents.

The same day he told Dr. Wen what he thought of her, he posted a quickmeme of Luke 23:34. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

What a way to go.

13.Aug.2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Do the right thing Permalink to this item

Vx Status of ID Covid-19 cases

It's front page (and elsewhere) news today that Idaho's Governor Brad Little is urging people to get vaccinated. Bryan Myrick's photos of the guy at a podium in a school gym are fine, but we don't need so many of those? The story is that simple poster on the easel.

Well, that and the reason we're having this talk, near the top of the Idaho Press report:

"As of Thursday, 46.7% of Idahoans aged 12 and older have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. The national figure is 58.9%."

It's slightly better here in Ada county: 61.7% of us are vaccinated. Next door Canyon County—where the Governor went to have his presser—is below average, as usual. 43.8%. Freedom. Ruggedly individual.

We put men on the moon 50 years ago. We have widely available, safe, and effective vaccines for everybody 12 and up. What the hell, Idaho? This is not rocket science. In Idaho, since the beginning of 2021:

have been unvaccinated people. Since May 15, there have been

among the unvaccinated compared to vaccinated people.

...In the lobby outside the gym, a handful of people carried signs with messages against the vaccine. One person held a “Don’t Tread On Me” flag.

“We want people to choose to do the right thing,” Little said.

And lots more in the full press release, including this helpful reminder about vaccine safety:

"Over 197 million Americans have received the vaccine safely. The risk of serious side effects is extremely low. By comparison, the risk of death or hospitalization from the COVID-19 disease is much higher, and it’s growing."

12.Aug.21 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Snake in the grass Permalink to this item

After the waves of public opinion were sent in to the Ada County Commission regarding their forthcoming nomination to the 4-county Central District Health board, and after the commissioners interviewed the three candidates on Monday, and after they tabled the decision until next Tuesday, and I blogged about seeing part of that two days ago, I went back and watched Monday's interview with Dr. Ryan Cole.

He seemed like a reasonable person, rattled off some bona fides as qualifications ("Mayo-clinic trained"), and said some rather odd things, although nothing obviously risible.

He claimed to have seen 350,000 patients over the course of his varied career, an extraordinary number, and said that he expects to "see 30,000 patients this year through diagnostics."

We all know what it's like to see a doctor. Or to have a doctor see us. That's not quite like being seen "through diagnostics." 30,000 in a year would be some 100 to 150 per day, every work day of the year. Maybe he personally is looking at a hundred+ pathology reports in a day, and maybe in the 4 or 5 minutes he devotes to each one, he leans into a doctor-patient relationship. Your mileage may vary.

When it came down to Commissioner Ryan Davidson's questions about "individual freedom," Dr. Cole opined that "Health can be used in a very tyrannical form that we've seen throughout history" and I wondered whaaaat is that about?! There weren't any follow-ups to let him expand on his non sequitur. Asked (by Commissioner Kendra Kenyon) to assess why he thought the Idaho Medical Association endorsed Dr. Blue over him, Dr. Cole said:

"I think there are systems interests, to be quite honest, and there are financial interests. I have no commitments to large systems making decisions, I'm an independent..."

It's... some sort of conspiracy against him? Davidson also asked him about theories he's had that he changed his mind about.

"Delta has escaped what we're doing," Cole says, arguing that we need to pivot. To... looking for a treatment instead of a preventative? He compared the current Covid vaccines to FOUR YEAR OLD FLU SHOTS, because they were developed "four variants ago." While that's obviously true, it dismisses the considerable data that have been accumulated to show that the current vaccine does reduce the severity of illness, and the risk of mortality. It's more treatment-like than unproven alternatives that may or may not demonstrate efficacy.

He also deprecated the accumulated data in the US as based on "kind of a retrospective reporting system," and said "the world data tends to be much more up to date and prescient [sic] than what we have here."

Screenshot from Rumble video

How would he know, one wonders. Personally, I'm extremely skeptical that we can make better inferences from data from Inida, the positive example he cited, or that they have something other than "retrospective reporting" that can inform CDH decision making.

Finally, I looked up the video recording of Dr. Cole's presenting to the "White Coat Summit" of "America's Frontline Doctors" two weeks ago. (AFD has been booted off YouTube for disinformation; the video on AFD's site is hosted by Rumble.) I'd previously seen the BSU public radio report of it (also linked in Tuesday's post below), and was shocked. But the news report can't do it justice.

As he did before the Commission, he cited his "Ph.D. research in immunology," as if it qualified him as an expert. "Immunology and virology is right up my alley," he said. And the talk goes very quickly downhill from there. It is unprofessional in the extreme, and utterly gobsmacking.

There's the "pretty reasonable guy" interviewing with the county commission, and then there's the showman on the Texas stage with a white coat and cowboy boots, drawing chuckles and amens from the antimask, antivax crowd, in spite of him getting himself and his family vaccinated back early doors (if we can believe his self-report, which, who knows if we can).

He's a hell of a performer, at least. As for a doctor, pathologist, or Central District Health board member, let's just say I would prefer to see someone else. If you would, too, you can use The Idaho 97 Project's handy web form to send a message to the Ada County commissioners. (Or just send them email, at bocc1@adacounty.id.gov.)

Speaking of second opinions, the founder of America's Frontline Doctors was in on the January 6 attack, which she said was "not a riot," and "incredibly peaceful." Incredibly!

10.Aug.2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

A world of hurt Permalink to this item

Happened to check Twitter just as Heath Druzin was live-tweeting our county commission trying to make a decision about filling the seat for a medical professional on the district health board serving this, Idaho's most populous county, and three sparsely-populated neighboring counties.

This comes after a far-right "constitutional sheriff" who had anti-semitic and racist writings was a finalist for Ada County sheriff with the backing of the local GOP. He ultimately lost.

— Heath Druzin (@HDruzin) August 10, 2021

The one non-far-right Republican commissioner, Kendra Kenyon, tried to break the impasse between the most qualified and appropriate candidate, Dr. Sky Blue, and the "needle rape" guy, Dr. Ryan Cole. In the half hour+ I didn't see, Commissioner Ryan Davidson apparently made it clear that he was dug in the whack-job, while Kenyon made it clear she wanted the competent professional who is not a whack-job. I did not see Rod Beck, the chair of the commission, express any opinion.

Kenyon proposes that they take the "middle choice," Dr. Stanley Moss, s a retired orthopedic surgeon. Beck chortles that he'd have the most time to devote to the (unpaid) position. Kenyon further suggests that in matters of grave importance, they could encourage Moss to consult the other two doctors, and thereby allow all of them to serve the community.

Call it a win-win, could have been done and dusted right there, but Davidson harumphs that 90% of the community feedback was all in favor of the whack-job. There are 20 PDFs of "community feedback" on the county's website from July 8 (when the candidates were named), through August 6. So that won't include the email I sent last night, with the subject Cole must not be appointed to CDH:

This man is on record mocking the essential elements of public health response to the pandemic. He has no business in a position of responsibility for Ada Co, and for that matter, the medical profession.

“A fake vaccine, OK,” Cole said. “The clot shot, needle rape, whatever you want to call it,” he said to a laughing audience.

C.f. [Boise State Public Radio news report] This is TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE.

I did attempt to send a previous message endorsing Dr. Blue based on his relevant training and experience, but I'm not seeing it in the 1,082 messages captured from August 4 to August 6, when they stopped cataloguing for some reason.

Somebody is going to, or has already tallied the responses. Ryan Davidson referred to "90% of the emails" supporting his choice, and "the voters," without maybe mentioning how many of those were automatically generated, contained any substance, or whether (or how) it was determined if the writers were residents (or voters) in Ada County, or any of the other CDH counties. I do see it's a week in before anybody endorses Cole. Blue is the overwhelming recommendation up to that point, and from many apparently knowledgeable health professionals.

In response to Kenyon's floated proposal, Davidson suggests he'd need more time to consider, to hear from the voters and stuff. Is there any legal requirement for them to meet a deadline? (OR IDK, IS THERE ANY KIND OF HEALTH EMERGENCY THAT WE'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF RIGHT NOW?) Beck says there isn't. So fiddle-dee-dee! Let's put it off another week! Davidson says he doesn't think he'll change his mind, what a surprise.

It's mind-blowing that our county commission can't find its way out of a bag of psychopathy in the middle of a health emergency.

8.Aug.2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The elephant in the room Permalink to this item

Heather Cox Richardson's August 7 Letter from an American has me thinking once again about the handful of principled actors in the previous administration that made the difference in the survival of our republic. Jeffrey A. Rosen is the lead character, tapped as acting attorney general in the last days of the +rump administration, after Bill Barr called it quits, unwilling to push the Big Lie at the end. That seemed odd, given how many big lies he had pushed over the course of his sorry career.

Katie Benner's report in the NYT describes the big picture from "a two-hour meeting on Friday with the Justice Department’s office of the inspector general and [more than six hours of] closed-door testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Saturday." It includes Rosen's and his chief deputy, Richard P. Donoghue's efforts to block the efforts of +rump toady Jeffrey Clark to overturn the 2020 election, which Benner and Charlie Savage had reported in the NYT in January.

"Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, said Mr. Rosen discussed previously reported episodes, including his interactions with Mr. Clark, with the Senate Judiciary Committee. He called Mr. Rosen’s account “dramatic evidence of how intent Trump was in overthrowing the election.”"

The principle actors didn't comment out of doors, other than Clark trying to cover his tail. His "candid discussion of options and pros and cons with the president" were "consistent with law," he claims.

Just over a week ago, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform dropped the bombshell of Key Evidence of [+rump's] Attempts to Overturn the 2020 Election. The press release needs a little style boost for the explosive lede, quoted from Donoghue's handwritten notes from the conversation.

Trump instructed DOJ leaders to “just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen”

The House committee has a link to the PDF with 9 pages of Donoghue's notes. See here, straddling the page 4-5 boundary. "DAG" is Rosen, then actually the Acting Attorney General. And "P" needs no introduction.

Excerpt of Donoghue handwritten notes

For posterity, and non-cursive readers, my transcription:

DAG - we'll look at whether there [were] more ballots in PA than registered voters - should be able to check on that quickly but understand that the DOJ can't + won't snap its fingers + change the outcome of the election, doesn't work that way

P: "Don't expect you to do that, just say that the election was was [sic] corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R. Congressman."

If you believe that the former guy's heart is pure, and the "leave the rest to me" business was honestly contingent on the to-be-determined Pennsylvania result, then maybe you missed the news about the call to Georgia's secretary of state, and "I just want to find 11,780 votes." But here - there's a Federalist Society hack prepared to blame the lyin' NYT for a "deceitful portrayal." You know, "where the real corruptness lies: leftist corporate media."

I imagine Donoghue (and Rosen) will have cleared up any ambiguity in interpretation in their hours of testimony. In the meantime, I appreciate how precious it is for the Federalist Society to point at the supposed "deceitful portrayal" of their God-Emperor's behavior, as if he were just trying to root out all the "corruptness" throughout the land.

3.Aug.2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

A republic, if we can keep it Permalink to this item

What do the Heritage Foundation, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Leonard Leo, and the Federalist Society he chairs, the Honest Elections Project (fka Judicial Elections Project), the Election Integrity Project California FreedomWorks, and its National Election Protection Initiative have in common? Jane Mayer reports on The Big Money Behind the Big Lie in The New Yorker.

"These disparate nonprofits have one thing in common: they have all received funding from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. Based in Milwaukee, the private, tax-exempt organization has become an extraordinary force in persuading mainstream Republicans to support radical challenges to election rules—a tactic once relegated to the far right. With an endowment of some eight hundred and fifty million dollars, the foundation funds a network of groups that have been stoking fear about election fraud, in some cases for years. Public records show that, since 2012, the foundation has spent some eighteen million dollars supporting eleven conservative groups involved in election issues."

She links to the piece in The Economist, describing the "shambolic" third audit in Arizona, after the first two (presumably legitimate ones) did not overturn its result. Jonathan Rauch of the Brookings Institution quoted warning us "to regard what's happening now as epistemic warfare by some Americans on other Americans. The fever did not break with Trump's loss. The fever is now being institutionalised.”

Mayer goes on to say more about Cleta Mitchell, one of the folks in on the +rumpian call to Georgia, looking for "just" 11,780 votes. Mayer says she first interviewed Mitchell in 1996, wherein we learn her middle name is "Deatherage," just before we learn of her conversion to "antipolitical activist," a decade after she "left politics," as it were, to become a crusader for term limits, as "The Outsider."

[Mitchell] also represented numerous right-wing nonprofits, including the National Rifle Association, whose board she joined in the early two-thousands. A former N.R.A. official recently told the Guardian that Mitchell was the “fringe of the fringe,” and a Republican voting-rights lawyer said that “she tells clients what they want to hear, regardless of the law or reality.”

Getting a real Sidney Powell vibe to go along with Angela Lansbury in "The Manchurian Candidate." Whatever happened to old Sid, anyway?

That neofascist Zelig, Hans von Spakovsky, makes an appearance, along with a few others new to me. Jake Hoffman, "longtime friend of the Heritage Foundation," and former head of a teenage troll farm has graduated to the Arizona House, bringing forward bills to make "the Heritage Foundation's wish list a reality."

And thus the party that once confronted totalitarianism comes full circle, desperately, lawlessly, and truthlessly supporting party over country. Its poster child, the fake news impresario Tucker Carlson, is making a field trip to Hungary to bask in Victor Orbán's shadow.

Budapest, 2011

2.Aug.2021 Permanent URL to this day's entry

On "Human Natural Resources" Permalink to this item

From Ch. 4 of Zuboff's The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, p. 100. "The Moat Around the Castle":

"The commodification of behavior under surveillance capitalism pivots us toward a societal future in which market power is protected by moats of secrecy, indecipherability, and expertise. Even when knowledge derived from our behavior is fed back to us as a quid pro quo for participation, as in the case of so-called "personalization," parallel secret operations pursue the conformal control because we are not essential to this market action.

"In this future we are exiles from our own behavior, denied access to control over knowledge derived from its dispossession by others for others. Knowledge, authority, and power rest with surveillance capital, fo rwhich we are merely "human natural resources." We are the native peoples now whose tacit claims to self-determination have vanished from the maps of our own experience."

Other than that, how's your day going?

raveling

Tom von Alten
ISSN 1534-0007