"Tuesday Afternoon" (opens in separate window)

delta variant: closer to the edge

friday, august 20th, 2021

How does a once-great country become the complete mess America is today? The honest answer is we are all at fault. It's as easy for the left to blame conservatives as it is for the right to blame liberals. It's easy for the elites in cities to say Americans aren't working as hard as they used to and are getting fat off too much fast food. It's easy for regular Americans to look at the hypereducated urban elites and feel like they've sold out and left America behind to pursue profits in foreign markets. The problem is all of this is true.

[FULL TITLE: "The Delta Variant Pushes a Broken Country Closer to the Edge".]

America is no longer a true community based on shared ideals and principles. It's now a group of segregated societies. There is still racial segregation (something the left bizarrely and sadly even encourages these days), but class separation is what most divides Americans. Elite Americans live in private, high-end communities, dine at private clubs and fly in private planes. The economic divide has always existed, but the scale and extent of it has reached new highs. America is no longer a cohesive society. It's so sad that nobody likes to talk about any of it, but it's where America is in 2021. NYC has stricter entry requirements, than what our southern border does. Reflect on that for just one moment.

All of this background explains how a relatively minor matter (defined by the number of deaths nationally) like the delta variant can so emotionally tear apart a country. Mask fights are back. Lockdown debates aren't civil. The right looks at the left's reaction to delta and sees authoritarian hysteria. The left looks at the right's reaction and sees reckless ignorance. How do you bridge this gap? The only thing each of us can do is make an actual, good-faith effort to talk more to people we disagree with.

The Daily Caller, the news site I run, is doing just this every day. Well, technically Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings on our premier show, "Vince and Jason Save the Nation." "Save the Nation" is co-hosted by a Black liberal and a white conservative. Vince Coglianese, the conservative host, is a Daily Caller editor and a Washington, D.C., radio host. Jason Nichols, the liberal host, is a contributor to numerous liberal news outlets and a Black studies professor at the University of Maryland. They are both smart and informed on virtually every current events issue.

They disagree ... a lot. The difference is they are friends. They are committed to talking through things and, when possible, even finding some consensus. The result is more entertaining and informative than it is angry. Not everyone wants this sort of content. Unless more people start wanting it -- and start doing this in their own lives -- our country is doomed.

For conservatives, there is no "own the libs" outcome that ends the current national breakdown, yet that's the obsession on the right. For liberals, it may be enticing to hold all the levers of media, corporate and (for the moment, anyway) political power. Canceling conservatives and driving them from the public sphere may feel good, but it's just making things worse. YouTube's suspension of Sen. Rand Paul for questioning nonmedical cloth face coverings takes the left's authoritarian anti-speech impulses to an entirely new level. Paul said things many scientists of all political persuasions believe. There is certainly no hard consensus that he's wrong. More importantly, the sort of debate Paul is engaging in is the way to reach national consensus. YouTube did not ban Paul because he's wrong; YouTube banned the senator to stifle debate. They banned him because he dared stray from the official government position. This is plainly un-American. More importantly, has anyone on the left considered in even the most shallow sense where this ends?

Even holding all the levers of power will not allow the left to defeat the right without honest debate, yet the liberals willing to engage with conservatives could literally share a taxi together. There are only a handful. Listing them is easy: Rep. Ro Khanna, former Rep. and Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard, Daily Caller's Jason Nichols, journalist Glenn Greenwald and maybe a couple of others. That's about it.

On the right, there are certainly many more willing to debate, but the overall attitude is also more interested in a fight. In this case, the result is even more dire. News flash to conservatives: It's not working. You are not winning these debates. The majority of Americans are for both vaccine and mask mandates. It's time to try a new strategy. For starters, less hysteria would help.

These mandates are not matters of fundamental personal liberty. I'm not sure where that idea came from, but every society has the right to protect itself. The U.S. government has the right to forcibly draft our strongest and youngest and send them off to die in a war if that's what our leadership decides is needed. Our only redress is to vote the politicians out of office.

It's the same with vaccines. State governments have been mandating vaccines for hundreds of years now. The courts have examined the issue thoroughly. There hasn't been a ton of debate. If the government determines that a vaccine is needed to protect society, the courts have generally allowed it, subject to very few and very specific exemptions. So, stop screaming about your liberty.

Instead, maybe talk about the real part that bothers you. COVID-19 is not risky enough to the young and healthy for the government to take this choice away from individuals. The vaccine is available (and highly protective) for those who are at risk. Given that fact, we should be able to decide for ourselves on this one. That's not crazy. Conservatives may even convince some people, if we even bothered debating anymore.

© Aug 13, 2021 by Neil Patel.

A Day In The Life.

Up at 9a on Friday, I went thru my finger stick to check my BSL (Blood Sugar Level) and recorded it on my Diabetes 2 chart, made coffee and breakfast, had a couple smokes in the semi-cool garage and checked to leftover errands list. It was already 86°, very, very humid, and it would get much worse by mid-afternoon. The ^^^EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING*** was still posted to all the weather channels, and it was forecast to hit 98°, with a Heat Index of 107°. By 2p, temps had hit 94°, with a Heat Index of 101°. Too much for me; I just had to stay inside, out of that crap.

In addition to the ***EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING***, a ***SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING***, to wit:

Severe Thunderstorm Warning

Friday, August 13, 1:10 PM EDT
Friday, August 13, 8:00 PM EDT
Source: U.S. National Weather Service, State College, PA.

Much too hot and humid for me to go walking, so after a few errandsin the early morning, I stayed-in the condo's AC all day. In the mid-afternoon. Sherry stopped-by to visit, after her stint at Hollie's shop, in nearby Hallam, and we had a great time, as usual, talking and catching-up. After dinner, one of my neighbors stopped-by to invite me over to a small party in his double garage, decked-out with all kinds of electronics, and a couple other neighbors showed-up, and I drank some 5-6 flavored seltzer 5% alcohol in cans, and we partied until almost midnight, way after my usual bedtime. Time for sleep.

Up at 9:30a on Saturday, it was still very humid, but morning temps were in the upper 70s, so it was tolerable, except for the 75% humidity. I had coffee and breakfast, and checked the weather and news. After a couple of nearby, quick errands, I had condo chores to do, lunch and some new paperwork. No severe weather warnings today, except for ***POOR AIR QUALITY***.

After lunch, I watched a NASCAR xfinity Race at the Indy 500 Racetrack Road Course, caught a few hours snooze on the LR couch, and then had dinner. I watched "Expedition Unknown" and very, very early, unseen before 2006 pre-production reruns of "American Pickers", until 11p. Lights out.

Sleeping-in until 9:30a on Sunday, I did the finger stick, made my usual Kona Coffee, had breakfast and grabbed my daily shower. Lee showed-up at 10a, with a 12-lb cantaloupe, and to watch some racing, but nothing on until 1p. He left. I had laundry to get started, and caught the NASCAR Cup Race at the Indy 500 Racetrack Road Course.

It was a bright, hot, humid day in August, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

After giving the cantaloupe to a neighbor, I watched a mega-disaster of unknowable proportions unfold, in Afghanistan, over the weekend. Nice job, incompetent demonKKKrat scumbag, idiot traitors.

Lunch over, I took a 3hr snooze on the LR couch, had dinner and watched Mecum Auto Auctions on NBCsN, until 10, when I did my nightly finger stick, to check and record the BSL. By 11p, I was nodding-off and hoofed it upstairs to get some sleep.

The rain, on the skylights, woke me up at 8:15a on Monday. It was a mild, but humid 71° start to the morning. I did the obligatory finger stick to record my BSL, made coffee, had breakfast and a couple of smokes in the garage. I worked on a food shopping list, maybe for later today, while listening to the "Chris Plante Show", and checked the week's schedule. I went food shopping at the nearby Weis Market, came home around 11a, and unloaded. After some PA Dutch Chicken Pot Pie for lunch, I took a 2hr snooze on the couch, and did some computer "house cleaning" and tune-ups.

After a light dinner of Grilled Cheese, Tomato, Pesto & Turkey, I watched some old episodes of "Bitchin' Rides", and "Tucker" at until the new episodes of "American Pickers" came on at 9p, then switched to "Laura" and "Gutfeld" until 11:30, when I unplugged.

Up at 8:30a on Tuesday, I did the BSL finger stick, made Kona Coffee, had a couple of smokes, and checked the weather and news. Looks like Tropical Storm/Hurricane FRED is going to pass thru our area, with 5-8" on rain, which started last night, with the outer bands dropping rain all day. Warnings posted:

Flash Flood Watch/ TS FRED

Wednesday, August 18, 5:00 AM EDT

Thursday, August 19, 2:00 AM EDT
Source: U.S. National Weather Service, State College, PA.
The National Weather Service in State College has issued a
* Flash Flood Watch for a portion of central Pennsylvania, including the following areas, Adams, Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Cameron, Clearfield, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Elk, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, McKean, Mifflin, Montour, Northern Centre, Northern Clinton, Northern Lycoming, Northumberland, Perry, Potter, Schuylkill, Snyder, Somerset, Southern Centre, Southern Clinton, Southern Lycoming, Sullivan, Tioga, Union, Warren and York.
* From late tonight through late Wednesday night.
* Widespread heavy rain of 5 to 8 inches with localized amounts possibly exceeding 10 inches from the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred.
* Winds 50-60mph.
* Rapid runoff from the heavy rain will lead to poor drainage flooding and fast rises on area streams and creeks. River flooding is not expected at this time. However, the development of larger areas of heavy rain could focus significant runoff into one or more larger river basins, increasing the threat for river flooding.
You should monitor later forecasts and be prepared to take action should Flash Flood Warnings be issued.

I slept-in until 10a on Wednesday, had coffee, breakfast, checked the weather maps for TS "Fred" and the news. We got ¾" of rain overnight and the plants are loving it. I remember 2011's TS Lee, dumping 14" of rain, with floods everywhere, billions in damage, and 15-20 people dead. It was a terrible mess.

I wasn't feeling well, so I decided to just stay inside for the day. No errands, so no need to go out. I noticed a new weather posting on all weather-related channels:

Tornado Watch

Wednesday, August 18, 11:30 AM EDT

Wednesday, August 18, 8:00 PM EDT
Source: U.S. National Weather Service, State College, PA PENNSYLVANIA COUNTIES INCLUDED ARE:

Oh, shit. As I was relaxing for the afternoon, eating little if anything, hoping to feel better, the wind picked-up to 35-40mph, with 50mph gusts, the skies darkened and the rain from TS FRED started again. It rained on/off, all day. In case we get a tornado, or power outage, I'm well prepared for both. Tomorrow will be a better day, but with temps in the low-90s. By 8-9p, it POURED for 1-2hrs, ropped 2" and flooding streets and storm sewers. I was amazed.

I watched "Mecum Auto Auctions" and an episide of "Expedition Unknown" until 11p, and called it quits. Tomorrow's another day.

My alarm went-off at 6a on Thursday, since the cleaning ladies were coming at 8a. After a finger stick, I made coffee and had a couple smokes in the opened garage. The fresh air felt good, but I could tell that it was going to be a hot day ahead. After breakfast, I checked the rain gauge, it showed 3½", but no tornadoes or floods here in East York. Other areas of York were flooded, and Red Lion, to the south, had a tornado touch down for a few minutes, doing some damage to a farm.

I had paperwork to do, dinner and watched Discovery's "Homstead Rescue" until 10p, and called it a week.

Return to office? HELL NO!

What if a large employer with oh, say 25,000+ Global Employees sent a poll out asking who wants to return to office in September?

And what if that poll included a statement that said anyone wanting to return to office would be required to sign a waiver, stating if they contract the China Virus they cannot hold the company responsible?

How many people would say "Yes! I want to return to office in September?"

More specifically, how many of those Global Employees, of which approximately 10,000 are Chicago based would say "Yes?"

As it turns out, here in the Chicago area that number is exactly ... ZERO.

Not necessarily because of the China Virus and to some degree, not because of the waiver.

It's the VIOLENCE, stupid!

None of us want to go back to CHICAGO because of the violence. Not just the murder rate, the VIOLENCE. The under-reported/un-reported muggings, beatings, robberies and more that happen inside the "loop" known as the Downtown Chicago business district.

So who in the HR & Legal Dept's thought this "poll" was a good idea, and are they going to re-issue the poll for cold and flu season?

I mean c'mon – if the company doesn't want to be held liable for someone contracting the China Virus, which has a 99.99625% or better rate of survival then why not require a waiver for colds? Flu? Allergy season?

Why not? If we can use that to stay away from the office to avoid illness, why can't we vote to continue working from home because we don't want to risk subjecting ourselves to the lawlessness of Shitcago?

– Anonymous.

Who Fucked-up Trashcanistan? Bush, Not Biden?

In what might prove to be a defining act of his Presidency, Joe Biden has accepted full responsibility for the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. And, it seems, just about everyone agrees he should. From radical feminists to the British Defence Secretary, there is unanimity that it was lost on Joe’s watch. Howls of feminist outrage characterise the decision as unconscionable, as it betrays 20 years of female emancipation, while Ben Wallace has made clear that Britain is powerless to act alone and the responsibility lies with the President. At one level, this is self-evidently true: Joe Biden has made the formal decision to withdraw residual American forces from Afghanistan. But the country was lost in the summer of 2002, not 2021. What we are witnessing now is no more than the final, largely pre-destined act of an attenuated tragedy.

To better understand this, we need to rewind to the events that immediately followed 9/11. On the day of the attacks America possessed an established military/political doctrine jointly authored by the former Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and the former Defense Secretary, Caspar Weinberger. The doctrine made clear that US forces would only be deployed in overwhelming strength, in pursuit of clear objectives and with a clear route to exit. In this it showed the legacy of messy engagements in Lebanon and Somalia and the long shadow of Vietnam. It was a sound, intellectually coherent approach — and completely inadequate to meet the unprecedented requirements of 9/11.

That natural iconoclast, the late Donald Rumsfeld, immediately abandoned its every precept in favour of a campaign with the speed and agility to match the operational conditions. The solution comprised huge volumes of indirect fire from invulnerable American aircraft, ships and submarines; CIA agents playing a 21st-century version of The Great Game; a ready-made infantry in the shape of the Northern Alliance; and an urbane and – at least then – compliant political leader in waiting in Hamid Karzai. In a seminal example of asymmetric engagement, this improvised force completely shattered the Taliban and drove its remnants into Pakistan or back to their villages.

At this point, America completely dominated the strategic situation in and around Afghanistan. The Taliban had ceased to exist as a coherent entity. Pakistan, having been bluntly asked if it was “with or against America”, was proving an amenable partner, as the capture of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and the purging of the ISI — the state intelligence agency — showed. Within Afghanistan, the sense of a better future was palpable. In the words of Jason Burke, Guardian correspondent and close observer of Afghan affairs: “everywhere one travelled…one found the expectation of a new era of security, stability and prosperity was dawning”. The scene was set for America to maintain the momentum of its success, install and bankroll a Karzai-led government, hand over aid, development and security responsibility to the United Nations et al, walk away and accept the laurels of victory. Had it done so, history might have been different and Joe Biden would now be off the hook. In the event, it chose another course, shaped by one decision of localised, tactical consequence and a second of epochal, strategic consequence.

It is easy to forget now that the American mood was, above all, vengeful. Elements of the US forces in 2002 began in some ways to resemble Sir George Pollock’s Army of Retribution that invaded Afghanistan after the catastrophic British retreat from Kabul during the First Anglo-Afghan War in 1842, and took its revenge. For US Special Forces, Afghanistan was a place to kill bad guys rather than a place to build a tribute to liberal democratic principles.

Consequently, US and, increasingly, Nato forces were conducting a campaign with a split aim: the larger part of it was international, about nation-building and the soft skills that create capacity and develop civil society; the subtext was a US national counter-terrorist operation and the hard skills that tracked and engaged America’s enemies, not always with the greatest discrimination. The two elements coexisted uneasily, though the tactical design could have been fixed had anyone been paying sufficient attention. But they weren’t and the epochal decision to abandon unfinished business in Afghanistan and follow the siren call of Iraq firmed up around this time. We need not be detained by subsequent events in Iraq, but the fact that it provoked a canon of commentary in which Thomas Ricks’s Fiasco is prominent tells all we need to know about a failure of truly historic proportions.

As a result, the West managed to contrive in Afghanistan the worst of all possible worlds: to stay in a tactically flawed, now subsidiary campaign, without the appetite or resource to make a real difference. It takes an effort of imagination to conjure the sense of incredulity that must have attended this passage of events in the inner councils of either the Taliban leadership or the Pakistani government. For the Taliban, it was evidence that the West could not – and never would — match the strategic stamina that was their strongest suit. For Pakistan, it meant a reappraisal of their strategic assumptions in a rough neighbourhood and a return to the policy of hedging its bets against a range of outcomes in Afghanistan. When the West returned to Afghanistan with real purpose in 2006 it lacked the moral and tactical clarity of the original invasion and, fatally, carried the taint of Iraq. While the Western military presence in Afghanistan might endure for another 15 years it would never regain the tactical, strategic, political and moral ascendency it briefly enjoyed in the summer of 2002.

Counter-factual history is something of an academic indulgence, but let’s indulge ourselves. Had America declared victory against terrorism and quit Afghanistan in 2002 the West might never have spent its power on unwinnable wars, it might have kept a far more wary eye on the rise of China and the strategic terms of engagement of the early 21st century might have been different. Indeed, America itself might be a less rancorous place. The eternally fissiparous Afghans might have made a mess of their new-found freedoms, but it would have been their mess and with much less scope for the bitter recriminations now raining down on the US President. In context, this might be seen as America’s Suez moment where the limitations of its power are revealed to both the watching world and to history.

When Sandy Gall observes: “Why did it all go wrong in Afghanistan? It can be summed up in one word: Iraq,” he identifies the proximate cause but behind that lies the hubris, delusion and incompetence that defined what passed for statecraft in the Bush administration, aided and abetted by the Blair government. The Wars of 9/11 turn on the events of 2002. The fatal mistakes made then set Western policy in Afghanistan on an ineluctable path to failure and the denouement we are living through now. The luckless Joe Biden is not the author of that failure; he just happens to be the fall-guy left standing as the music stops.

© Aug 16, 2021 by Robert Fry, "The Article".

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