HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » bigtree » Journal
Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 ... 39 Next »


Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: Maryland
Member since: Sun Aug 17, 2003, 11:39 PM
Number of posts: 76,019

Journal Archives

how long had Barack Obama been in the Senate before he was elected president?

...new to national government and all.

At the rate of attrition you're suggesting, the future is bleak for legislators like Kamala Harris, Black, a woman in a hierarchy of mostly White men.

But, maybe you're right. Maybe they'll let her excel, one day.

That debate some were having about 'spikes' in Covid infections due to BLM protests

...protesters took a lot of flack for this, including from my own governor grousing on television about more cases coming from protests, even after he allowed beaches to be filled with travelers to the Eastern shore without any visible safety measures, unlike BLM protesters who were mostly masked and distanced, outdoors where there's less chance of spreading the virus.

There is no evidence yet that the wave of Black Lives Matter protests across the U.S. has sparked COVID-19 outbreaks in the more than 3 weeks since they began, a new study says. https://t.co/mPX9QII4Ta?amp=1


my earlier post (May 31):

How does anyone get to cite these nascent protests as cause for the virus re-spreading

Gov. Hogan looks like he's done with concern over testing Marylanders, angling to open our state

Hogan saying he needs to see 'a few more days' of what he says are downward trends shows how eager he is to pull the rug out from under those Marylanders whose workplaces still carry un acceptable risk. I have to think it's more about paying workers unemployment benefits, than any sound policy focused on our safety.

What's become of testing Marylanders outside of these 'hot spots?' What we know about asymptomatic infections should give pause to any assertion that numbers of infected residents are going down. It's impossible to tell how many have contracted the virus with only 500k (and dropping) test kits that he's been bragging about - it's a farce.

Why isn't Md. testing grocery store workers, for instance? So much public traffic is focused on grocery stores. Neglecting to test workers provides a hidden threat, waiting, I suppose, for some tragic turn to draw the governor's attention. That's not proactive, it's folly.

Further, we've yet to see the impact of the outbreaks in nursing homes and meat plants in the state. The governor's myopic focus on the numbers he says are declining ignore the impact we should expect in these workers' communities, among families and friends.

You want to mingle with an infected poultry plant worker at the beach? A nursing or retirement home resident fresh out from one of the states' hundreds of outbreak sites?

What happened to determining whether reinfection can occur? What about the murky immunity question?

I'm a night grocery worker and tomorrow our store will test every worker's temp before their shift. That's fine, but wholly inadequate to anyone actually concerned with how many workers have been infected. Right now, Gov. Hogan is transitioning to a crap shoot. Russian roulette. His true republican self back in action, it seems.




Grocery Work and the Coronavirus

As some here may know, I work as a night-grocery clerk. It's the end cap to over 35 years working in retail grocery - from front-end management, to produce, to dry goods. I work in suburban Md. at a splinter of one of the larger food chains (not prudent or allowed to mention which one), and I'd like to share some of my experiences and concerns surrounding this coronavirus outbreak.

First of all, I've felt this thing was coming right at me from the start. I'm the better part of 59 years-old, and I have a serious asthma condition which is managed pretty well by a twice-a-day Symbicort puffer. I haven't experienced waking up gasping for air for years now, the persistent rattle in my chest is gone, and I'm hoarse most of the time, but breathing deeply and easily with the medication.

That hasn't eased my constant fear of catching so much as a cold, all the more afraid of catching a flu or virus bug, and I mentally monitor my breathing 24/7 out of fear of returning to the state which brought me to the brink of breathlessness in the emergency room several times in the past.

Yet, here I am, now an 'essential worker' in a job which has never offered much in the way of thankfulness for my commitment to the community in the past. With the temporary $2 an hour (temporary) 'hero' raise granted by the company a week ago, I've been elevated to the rank of soldier in this virus war. I mentally pull myself together every night, don one of my scrounged up masks, and head into what I'm convinced is a virus pit, of sorts, with scattered and inconsistent protocol against infecting ourselves and others.

Initially, our family spent day after day worrying about what we believe is a pretty good chance of getting the infected with the virus. Then we got proactive and decided we would be less potential victims by arming ourselves against our daily battle with our concealed, camouflaged foe. My wife was tasked with making masks from a pattern on the internet, personal and home cleaning supplies were stockpiled, and strategies were developed among us for waging our daily battle. It eased a lot of the worry to prepare for the worst and substitute our despair with defiance.

Until a couple of days ago, my workplace was mostly devoid of folks wearing face masks, and very little adherence to safety measures like wearing gloves. In fact, I was the ONLY night crew member wearing a face mask for weeks. That was before the store made face masks mandatory, and began providing one a night for workers just 2 days ago. Flimsy plastic gloves are available, but workers aren't required to wear them (yet).

We have a crew of about seven, with about five of us working together in a night. One of the tasks is unloading and separating large pallets of product to put on shelves, and two to three of us are required to cluster together to accomplish this. No matter how many times that I suggest we separate tasks, our crew manager has been unable or unwilling to make it happen, so we gather together every night and perform our risky endeavor.

It's basically human nature which has prevented us from separating our workload to distance ourselves from each other like the numerous signs around the store exclaim and counsel we should. To be clear, no one has shown any signs of infection, but you'd need to suspend all reasoning to imagine that we're risk-free. None of us know where the others have been all day, and there's just no accounting for anyone's state of health. Yet, we all gather together every night in this crap-shoot, Russian-roulette of a mission challenging the odds one of us might get sick and infect the others.

We talk about this almost all night. As I mentioned, we only got masks a couple of days ago, and although everyone is masked-up today, there's still been too many breaks in our virtual chain of safety to erase our fears, and more the rub, that inconsistency and carelessness is being brandished by some as a badge of pride in self, like the virus was some sort of personal fight that can be fought and won solely through the power of will (or political ideology).

There's a glaring political tinge to the ones openly defying the protections offered and mandated against infection in the store. To a person, the ones in the store resisting (and in some cases, still refusing to mask-up) are low-information, self-identified conservatives who are, no doubt, following the lead of the evolutionarily-deficient politicians and pundits who have adopted this earth-shattering denial that threatens all of us in this crisis with their ignorant flaunting of basic rules and protections.

Indeed, the level of their ignorance can be traced to their deliberate refusal to acknowledge *facts* about the dangers their inaction and negligence can pose to themselves and the people who surround them. Simply put, if you're a staunch follower of republican politics, you are ostensibly the danger all of us sheltering ourselves against this virus fear.

In fact, the actual manager of the store has openly lamented about the 'senior' hour afforded twice a week in the early morning for older folks at-risk to avoid the regular crowds as 'discriminating,' worrying out loud about 'what if we said blacks could come shop early.' Yeah, he's a winner. He also complained to one dept. manager that the entire virus event was a 'hoax,' causing that associate to read him the riot act about a family member who had actually died from the coronavirus.

Having folks in charge who follow the political chicanery of the republican party like cult-members has been one of the most insidious challenges we've faced in confronting the risks. It's my opinion that those people should be avoided like the plague, seriously. Is there anything more confounding than someone who gets their info from Trump, or one of the republican mouthpieces, in a position to direct of affect the health and safety of others?

It's literally been one of the most infuriating things about what we're facing. Idiocracy reigns in American today, and we're not going to get a handle on this crisis unless we get control over these misinformed (and misinforming) demagogues trying to hold onto their dominance over the nation. We are almost undone by their aggressive ignorance.

So goes the virus war here in Md.. It was a relief to see our governor finally mask-up, but you just know that if this republican is suddenly taking precautions they resisted for weeks, then there's something really bad coming down the pike, not to mention all of the danger they have ignored in the critical days lost politicking the virus.

None of the four members of my family in my home can afford to shelter-in-place to the extent that most of the community has for about a month now. Three of us work retail and two of us work grocery. Going to work literally feels like going into a war zone for us all, every time a bit more fearful than the last. Not the vulnerability and fear health workers must experience in every waking hour, but still palatable anxiety about the dangers and risks from this invisible, opportunistic assailant; for ourselves, and for others. I'm a bit more hopeful, but still fearful that the worst is yet to come.

Stirring Up The Dust At Ground Zero

. . . Bush's invasion of Iraq made me go out and buy a computer, learn to use it, start a website, and eventually, arrive at DU in 2003. I must have pumped out about 200 or so Iraq articles; ending with a few directed at President Obama in the early days of his first term. This is an article I wrote in 2006...

"I will show you fear in a handful of dust." -- T.S. Eliot

Is there anything more repugnant than hearing bin-Laden's taunting words so close to the anniversary of the 9-11 attacks? I don't mean the latest video he sent Bush to amp up the president's fear and smear campaign. I'm not thinking of the grainy shots of bin-Laden greeting his accomplices out in the open air of his mountain refuge.

Bush has been practicing his new protection scheme this past week with a series of speeches in which, as the explainer-in-chief, he's been methodical and zealous in his elevation of Osama bin-Laden; carefully reciting the most offensive and threatening of the terrorist's statements and dispatches. Beginning in the second in his series of speeches, Bush chose the moment right after he had remarked on the "flood of painful memories" and the "horror of watching planes fly into the World Trade Center", to amplify bin-Laden's gloating remarks that the attack was "an unparalleled and magnificent feat of valor, unmatched by any in humankind."

This weekend, on the eve of Sept.11, Bush traveled to New York's 'Ground Zero' looking for a pile of rubble and a bullhorn to elevate himself and talk down to us from some lofty perch. He bit his tounge - trying not to think of the deaths he had allowed to happen on his watch - as he and his wife silently placed two wreaths in the twin reflecting pools. Bush found his voice later at the firehouse overlooking the site.

"It's hard not to think about the people who lost their lives," Bush told reporters. "Horrific scenes" inside what he called a "fantastic place of healing" reminded Bush that "there's still an enemy out there.'"

Bush is desperate to revive and re-animate the demoted specter he had called his "prime suspect" in 2001. "I want justice," Bush had said then. "There's an old poster out West... I recall, that said, 'Wanted, Dead or Alive.' Six months after the attacks, however, he simply turned away from his 'hunt' and acted as if he didn't care anymore about catching him. Our forces had Bin-Laden cornered at Tora Bora, and then, he was allowed to escape into the mountains. "I don't know where he is," Bush replied six months later when asked why the terrorist hadn't been caught. "I-I'll repeat what I said, Bush sputtered, "I am truly not that concerned about him."

It's five years from the date of the attacks, and Bush has finally found cause for concern. His party is poised to lose their majority in the House and, possibly, in the Senate. Voter opposition to Bush's occupation in Iraq has pulled his republicans down in the polls and threatens to take away the power that enabled him commit the troops to Iraq and keep them there. The specter of Osama bin-Laden is the only wedge Bush has to rally his dwindling base and convince voters that his party should be allowed to continue to lord over the authority they squandered in the five years since the attacks.

It's strange to hear Bush bring up bin-Laden. Bush has barely mentioned the terrorist since he claimed to be unconcerned about his whereabouts. In Bush's updated, 'National Strategy for Combating Terrorism' that he references in his speeches, Osama bin-Laden is mentioned only once, in a reference to his 'privileged upbringing'. In fact, the Senate went ahead and unanimously passed a Democratic amendment this week which restored the Pentagon's bin-Laden unit charged with finding the terrorist that Bush just up and closed without offering an alternative strategy or effort. Dredging up all of the offensive rhetoric from bin-Laden now is designed to re-inflate those emotions that were so raw right after the horror unfolded; to re-ignite that uncertainty and anxiety which first made Americans fold in the face of his consolidation of power.

Bush's own initial reaction to the terrorist attacks on 9-11 was a mix of paranoia and bluster as he cast the fight as a defense of 'freedom' that he said the attackers wanted to 'destroy'. "They hate our freedoms - our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other," he declared in an address to a joint session of Congress. In his statement at the signing of the "anti-terrorism," Patriot Act, in October 2001, six weeks after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, President Bush claimed that the measure would counter the threat of enemies that "recognize no barrier of morality and have no conscience." He sought to assure that the measure "upheld and respected the civil liberties guaranteed by our Constitution." He ends his statement with a pledge to enforce the law with "all of the urgency of a nation at war."

However, the President neglected to tell us which war he was referring to. The anti-terrorism measure was cobbled together in a few short months to take political advantage of the urge in Congress for a legislative response to the terrorist attacks, despite the president's claim that the bill was "carefully drafted and considered." It was a direct assault on the liberty, privacy, and free expression of all Americans.

From that document came a flood of legislative 'remedies' that would take advantage of the administration's blanket defense of 'national security' that they and their minions in Congress draped over every stalled piece of legislation that could be remotely tied to their 'war on terror'. But, their transparent politicking with their new anti-terror tools had nothing at all to do with catching the perpetrators they said were responsible for the 9-11 attacks. Their hunt for Osama bin-Laden became eclipsed by the violence their Iraq diversion had produced. Iraq became a terror magnet, just as Bush had planned. Instead of just "fighting them over there" as combatants responded to his call to bring it on, his occupation has had the effect of producing more individuals with a grudge who would harm our troops, our interests, or our allies; not less as Bush claims.

No amount of saber-rattling at Iran, showdowns with North Korea, or escalation of troops in Iraq to further prop up the crumbling Maliki regime can substitute for bringing bin-Laden to justice. The White House suggested yesterday that bin-Laden had not been found because they had degraded al-Qaeda's ability to use the phone and fax. "One of the things I can say is that bin Laden is harder to find these days because he, in fact, does not feel at liberty to move about," White House spokesman Tony Snow told reporters.

"He does not feel at liberty to use electronic means of communications. In many ways, the senior leadership of al Qaeda has been degraded. And under such circumstances, somebody leaves fewer clues."

"Harder to find than when, since we haven't found him?" he was asked. "It sort of sounds like since he's harder to find is a sign of our success."

"Well, in some ways, it is," Snow answered. "I mean, if bin Laden was thoroughly successful, he'd be sitting on a throne conducting press conferences or issuing fatwas in full view of everyone -- and he is not doing so."

There is apparently no throne, and no press conferences or fatwas in 'full view'. But, five years on the loose has made bin-Laden into an inspiration for others who have been provoked into violence of their own by the mindless collateral killings in Bush's dual Mideast occupations, thinking they can escape and rise to the same level of attention that Bush gives Osama. Yet, Bush has decided to elevate bin-Laden even more in his speeches and remembrances leading up to the 9-11 commemorations.

In Bush's radio address Sunday, he speaks of a 'solemn occasion' and proceeds to muddy it up with more of bin-Laden's taunts. The president advances the terrorist's call for a Caliphate as he bids us to "hear the words" of the terrorist. "Osama bin Laden has called the 9/11 attacks, "A great step toward the unity of Muslims and establishing the righteous Caliphate," Bush tells us. "Al Qaeda and its allies reject any possibility of coexistence with those they call "infidels."

"Hear the words of Osama bin Laden," Bush says about his partner. In their respective protection schemes, both use the extreme violent reactions of the other to justify their self-appointed roles as saviors and protectors of their followers. Both are counting on their words to elicit fear among their minions and their foes alike, but, Bush is playing bin-Laden's surrogate in this latest promotion; elevating the terrorist to a political equal, looking to give bin-Laden's words a place in our commemorations; hoping Americans will focus on the barbarity and zeal of the attacker rather than his own inability to suppress and capture him.

Bush returned to ground zero, looking for rubble and a bull horn to elevate his made-up role as protector-in-chief. But, the residents there have gone on with their lives, removed the debris, and paved over the hallowed ground for politicians to posture and preach on, and for others, to pray. All that is left in that city of the tragedy of September 11 are survivors and memories; and dust; the scattered remains from those pernicious, poisonous mountains of dust that exploded from the towers as they fell. The dust of the humanity of innocents and terrorists alike co-mingled with the debris, hovering for an eternity before it fell down upon the city; memories and the past inextricably mingled in the miasmic haze.

Bush can do nothing this September 11 except stir up settled dust from that hallowed ground; stir up resentments and recriminations, deliberately soiling his immaculate cloak. He will not be traveling to unify our nation; not in the way we came together on our own right after the attacks. Bush came to ground zero with bin-Laden's specter on his sleeve, looking for a political lift out of his swaggering militarism. He will be looking to widen the divide that he's been nurturing since he ascended to power, between those who have resisted his imperious grab for false authority in the wake of the violence, and those who still believe that he's protecting them with his blustering militarism and assaults on our own civil liberties.

There is no pile of rubble and humanity left in New York, or anywhere else, that Bush can stand on and bullhorn his way back into the nation's confidence. Some of the dust was wiped away from the stalled 9-11 investigation; revealing a shameful, reckless indifference to catching bin-Laden, as those individuals in the top echelons of our government, responsible for directing our nation's defenses, ignored the myriad of reports coming from the agents in the field. Bush's 'War on Terrorism' has been nothing more than a scam unleashed against the liberties of blameless Americans, and the waging of bloody military campaigns which have had a unifying effect among those combatants in Iraq and Afghanistan who would resist Bush's swaggering imperialism and consolidation of power.

President Bush spoke of "vigilance" at the end of his radio address. "With vigilance, determination and courage, we will defeat the enemies of freedom," he says, "and we will leave behind a more peaceful world for our children and our grandchildren. That's an amazing contradiction to his own strident use of our nation's military to overthrow and occupy two sovereign nations in his term. It's a load of hubris from Bush, who has pledged to continue the occupation of Iraq "as long as he's president", and has bequeathed the disaster to "future presidents.'"

Abraham Lincoln spoke of our responsibility to vigilance. "While the people retain their virtue and vigilance," he said, "no administration, by any extreme of wickedness or folly, can very seriously injure the government in the short space of four years. By the frame of the government under which we live," Lincoln continued, "these same people have wisely given their public servants but little power for mischief; and have, with equal wisdom, provided for the return of that little to their own hands at very short intervals."

We must resolve ourselves to vigilance against Bush's campaign to divide Americans into those who support his terror policies that he regards as patriots; and those that he portrays as traitors: who resist his imperious assaults on our civil liberties, diversion of forces and resources to Iraq, and question his failure to catch the perpetrators defined in the very authorization that he claims gives him the power to ignore our nation's laws and our Constitution.

Come this November we must hasten the return of our democracy to our hands. No amount of fear-mongering from Bush and his murderous specter should be allowed to stand in the way. Bush should not be allowed to dictate our future to us, using the voice of this terrorist's violence.

painting by my wife, Karen

my (mostly Iraq invasion and occupation) article archives at OpEdNews.com: https://www.opednews.com/populum/authorspage.php?sid=176&entry=articles&pg=1#start

Who Built Our Garden?

Looking out this year at the magnificence of my garden yard, it's tempting to take an undue share of the credit for its vigorous and unprecedented growth. It's lushness that's developed over the 20 years I've been working on it betrays very little of the trials and deaths of countless would-be companions and allies I tried to mesh with this glad and busy assortment of perennials, shrubs, trees, vines and other volunteers gathered so close together in this well-established 'woodland' habitat.

Gone forever, from the front of the house, is that marvelously perfect lawn that I had maintained with pride at the highest height that I could set my favorite lawnmower. It was a gratuitous and patronizing notice in the mail from the neighborhood association that my lawn needed cutting (my favorite lawnmower had died) which gave me the resolve to eliminate it altogether; and fill the space with anything but the short, butchered grass which so improbably makes up the vast majority of the flora which is grown on the long, sloping front yards in our nature-filled community and is polluting our signature lakes like they were farmlands- with their excesses of nitrogen, potassium, and other grass-growing chemicals.

In place of my vanquished trophy lawn is a refuge of plants of like and different varieties; daylilies; hostas; iris; campamula; black-eyed susans; Asian lilies; snakeroot; sundrops; loosestrife; euonymous; lamium; strawflower; butterfly bushes; ferns; clematis; lirope; trumpet vine; oakleaf hydrangeas; climbing hydrangeas; hydranga-hydrangeas; kerria; Japanese maple; forest-pansy redbud; witch-hazel; Harry-Lauder walking stick; diverse assortment of viburnums; astilbe; virginia creeper; phlox; poppy; ajuga; sweet flag; sunflowers; monarda; comphrey; mint; perennial geraniums; vinca; sedum; mondo grasses; other ornamental grasses of various sizes; peonies; barberry; bayberry; beautyberry; oxalis; assortment of perennial hibiscus; chinese lantern; crepe myrtle; azaleas; firebushes; goldenrod; ballonflower; hechuera; dianthus; lobelia; and the rest of my rescued annuals which were fortunate enough (or, not) to spend the winter inside - all of this suburban habitat opportunistically assembled for my big and little animal friends to congregate and propagate amongst the tangle of leaf, flower, berry, and branch.

My new neighbor asked me how much water his yard would need to grow and prosper. I told him that plants will send up new growth to match the nourishment and sustenance you're able to provide. More water and food means more growth, so, you're then obliged to continue to nurture that growth at the risk of withdrawing that support and abandoning your sprouts to the ravages of the elements.

Are we actually caretakers in this menagerie, or, are we merely antagonists bent on shuffling and scrambling nature about for our own edification? In mostly all of the natural world, we find most species adapted to an almost routine pattern of survival which advantages itself of every other instinct and expression of the environment - taking a bit of nature for themselves, here and there; giving another bit back, in return.

Does that nature manifest itself in the fox who found refuge for the majority of the day last winter (and warmth) on top of the pile of composting leaves at the back of my yard?

Or is that nature the providence of the family of rabbits who live (and, presumably, are killed) in the burrows under the bank of day lilies facing our driveway - the rabbit family that was the subject of the fox's intense hunt that I witnessed one night from an upstairs window; the garden predator weaving back and forth through the dense growth of foliage to find his innocent quarry?

Is the hawk less welcome atop the heights of the dead pine in back than the chipmunks who perform their death-defying feats of seeming mischief and frivolity with little visible worry or fear of the threat from above?

Are the deer who also time-shared the same cramped but accommodating space of refuge during the winter days - who now migrate through the yard and forage on every bit of nutritious foliage and flower they can find - friends or ultimate enemies of this arranged habitat?

Would that we could all be as enthusiastic and grateful for nature as the lowly caterpillar which has suddenly been transformed from a grub into a fluttering butterfly - able, at last, to explore and take advantage of the riches of nature from one garden to the next.

Maybe the ephemeral life of a butterfly wouldn't be such a smart trade-off. There's nothing at all which will ever completely ingratiate the former leaf-eater on a forced, slimmed-down diet with his nurtured, pollinated hosts. Yet, nature, by its own design, attracts and invites the obliging butterfly to become a vital and integral partner in the perpetuation of an important bit of what we call life on this planet.

Poet, John Ashbery ('Some Trees'), describes the accommodating mix of menagerie and flora as an arrangement of chance and opportunity:

These are amazing: each
Joining a neighbor, as though
Speech were a still performance.
Arranging by chance

To meet as far this morning
From the world as agreeing
With it, you and I (and others)
Are suddenly what the trees try

To tell us we are:
That their merely being there
Means something; that soon
We may touch, love, explain.

And glad not to have invented
Some comeliness,
we are surrounded:
A silence already filled with noises,
A canvas on which emerges

A chorus of smiles . . .
Place in a puzzling light,
and moving,
Our days put on such reticence
These accents
seem their own defense __

It is hard, but, not impossible, to imagine that all of this magnificence around us would occur without some hand in singling out new sprouts and nurturing, protecting, refereeing among their neighbors, and helping them take full advantage of the light, water, and nourishment that nature obligingly provides. Caretaking and nurturing them is as intimate as we humans can be with these miracles of nature, unable as we are to just root ourselves in the dirt and prosper like they do; plant our own feet that firmly in the ground and we would surely rot away with time.


Kamala Harris: 'Unions built the middle class in this country'

Kamala Harris @KamalaHarris
Unions built the middle class in this country and during our campaign we are going to remind people of that fact.


Kamala Harris in Reno, NV: "It is critically important that our nominee knows how to fight"

chris evans @notcapnamerica 19h19 hours ago
@KamalaHarris in Reno, NV: "It is critically important that our nominee know how to fight, and I do. I took on the biggest banks of our country"

watch clip:


watch full event:


Go to Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 ... 39 Next »