Look At Denmark. Look At US.

“This can only be done,” said Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke, “… because the entire Danish population has made an enormous effort to achieve this.” 

He was talking about Denmark’s lifting all coronavirus restrictions on September 10,  this on the same day that Biden announced mandatory vaccinations for nearly 80 million in the US, sparking more Republican fury.

Yes, Denmark has, at least for now, survived the pandemic. And yes, the US is in the middle of a self-inflicted fourth wave.

75% of Denmark’s population has been fully immunized with vaccines vs 54% of the US. On Sept 10, Denmark had 557 new cases  and 4  deaths. The US had 171,068 new cases and 1,777 new deaths. 

And, it’s worth noting, Denmark’s reporting is far more accurate than ours.  

You can argue relative population size as a mitigating factor. What you can’t argue about is Denmark’s success. 

You know why they’re winning against Covid 19?

They care about each other. They trust each other. They share common values.

We had that, years ago. We shared poverty and loss during the depression, as nature (the Dust Bowl) and economics (the Crash) shattered people ruthlessly. World War II required shared effort and sacrifice, from the draft, to wounds and death overseas, to food and gas rationing at home. Those shared sacrifices carried the country and the world to victory and later drove the country to more success in the 50’s , 60’s and beyond.

Now, some eight decades later, the country is unable to come together for something as basic as fighting a pandemic or assuring everyone the vote.

What happened? A number of things. 

The Draft. It brought Americans from different backgrounds together. They learned from each other and about each other, and the importance of protecting the other guy, because when everyone did that, no one was left unprotected.  

Today? No draft. No national service. No shared sacrifice. 

The Media. News outlets in the last century reported facts. Opinion was labeled as such. There was little emotion because they didn’t want to alarm people. That, too, was a result of a time when the facts were scary enough. 

Today, the news is just a way to get eyeballs, ears, clicks. ABC news’ David Muir delivers the news leaning forward, with his hands on the table, like he’s about to leap up in fear or anger. He, and many reporters and news casters, speak in half-sentences, as though there isn’t time to use full sentences. 

And then, there’s Fox, Newsmax, etc, whose sole purpose is to use a carefully selected set of facts (and outright lies) to gin up the fight-or-flight glands of the tribe. 

Politics. Politics used to be about competing visions and honest debates. Now it’s about who has more money.

Advertising. Where it used focus on the product, now what you see and hear is some variation of “You deserve…!”( new makeup, new car, lower price, bigger house)… “You deserve it all!”

Education. Many of our public schools graduate kids who can barely read and don’t have even basic knowledge of history. (No, the Civil War was not about States Rights, it was about Slavery. Yes, our White forefathers slaughtered Native Americans and stole their land.)

Which leads to the biggest reason: We’ve become selfish. Life is all about us. The notion of “all for one and one for all” has been replaced by  “screw you!” 

To be sure, not everyone is selfish, as we were reminded during the 9/11 Memorials, people running toward danger instead of away from it, putting others’ lives ahead of their own. Yet these heroes have had to fight Congress to get the medical care they were promised.

As you look at the bitter divide today, the lawsuits, the spitting, the fist fights over something as simple as getting a vaccination and wearing a mask, you see what has happened two or three generations after the Greatest Generation.

Denmark is safe from Covid because its citizens have shared values, a sense of community, trust in their institutions and each other.

We used to have that. It’s how we soared through the Twentieth Century, survived the Depression, won WWII, beat measles, small pox, and polio.

Used to.

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How A Southern Baptist Minister Turned Texas Into A Police State

Texas, the land of 10 gallon egos, has joined the NKVD of Russia, the Stasi of East Germany, and every other police state on Earth. How? By giving each and every citizen a $10,000 lure to sue anyone even remotely associated with a Texas abortion.

Texas law SB 8 is also called “the heartbeat bill”. Here’s how it works: Once a fetus has a heartbeat  (6 weeks usually – well before most women even know they’re pregnant), the woman can be sued if she tries to have an abortion. Anyone involved in an abortion, from the friend who encouraged her to do it, to the doctor who did it, to the person who drove her home, can be sued – by anyone. With a minimum payoff of $10,000 plus legal costs if they win.

SB 8 makes abortion illegal, but prohibits state officials from enforcing it. It simply turns everyone else in Texas or anywhere else, from Anti-Abortionists to profit-seekers to anyone with a grudge, into vigilantes. The only difference between them and Stalin’s Secret Police is secrecy. These snitches are all in the open.

Mark Lee Dixon, 36, a Southern Baptist minister from Waskom, Texas, came up with the original concept. He enlisted former top lawyer for the state of Texas, Johnathon F. Mitchell, who crafted the law. Then they got the town of Waskom to approve it. Never mind that the Waskom (576th largest town in Texas, population 2,192, 80% white) had no abortion clinics or Planned Parenthood offices, the idea was to impregnate Texan Anti-Abortionists with the concept of spying on…all women. 

And it worked. The Texas Legislature – yes, the same group who destroyed the notion of “one person, one vote” last week – now makes even victims of rape or incest unable to have an abortion in the state.  

And you thought ours was a country that separated Church and State. “Bless your idiotic hearts!”, sayeth Pastor Dixon and his Oh-So-Holy Anti-Abortionists.

The Supreme Court, with 6 Catholics out of the 9 Justices, just stonewalled an appeal to SB 8. I don’t think it’s an overreach to predict what their ruling would have been had they actually listened to arguments. Maybe they wanted to enjoy the Labor Day weekend instead of laboring to appear unbiased. Maybe they were all having bourbon shots at the Puppet Master, Mitch McConnell’s, house.

It’s not the law that is idiotic – actually, the law is diabolically clever – it’s Texans who are idiots. They elected officials who cut voter access, a major pillar of democracy. Then the same officials toppled a second major pillar of democracy: protection of the minority under majority rule. In a matter of weeks, these democratically elected officials suppressed black and brown – minority voters – and gave Anti-Abortionists dominance over women. 

Move over Taliban. Here come the Texaliban.

It used to be, way back when, that the Supreme Court staunchly and publicly protected the pillars of our democracy. Last week, in considering appeals against SB 8, they issued a “No Comment” from behind closed doors. If you listened carefully you could hear a third pillar crumbling in the background.

Autocrats like Abbot and other Republican leaders are not just stifling those who disagree with them and stuffing their beliefs down our throats; they’re destroying democracy and replacing it with their own theocracy.

God help us.

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12 Reasons To Wear A Mask

1) Look what it did for Batman and Robin. They got a TV series out of it – actually several over the years – and multiple movies, which made lots of people besides them rich, and made them very famous. They always got the best looking, nicest, smartest girls. They had fan clubs, free drinks at the local bar and, I’m pretty sure, never got audited by the IRS.

2) Wearing a mask covers most of your face, which means you can be really stupid and no-one will know it’s you. Wearing a mask at work is even better, because you can always claim Kevin or Lindsey (there’s always a Kevin or Lindsey at work) goofed up, not you.

3) It covers up bad teeth.

4) Women with masks don’t have to fuss about what color lipstick to wear.

5) You don’t have to brush your teeth or buy mouthwash.

6) Mommy or Daddy won’t wash your mouth out with soap for using nasty words, because they can’t be sure which kid used the nasty words… unless you put the nasty words in writing. And if you do, you deserve it. 

7) You never have to wear dentures again. Just order soup.

8) It improves your chances of picking up pretty girls. How can they tell if you’re ugly?  

9) It improves your chances of picking up handsome guys. How can they tell if you’re ugly?  

10) You can rob banks or stores or little old ladies without being identified.

11) It neutralizes most recognition software, so flipping the bird at the local judge is much less dangerous. Although double masking might be safer.

12) It takes away a lot of the pain of looking in the mirror first thing in the morning.

Reasons to never, ever wear a mask:

1) You can really help spread Covid 19, not just to Pinko-Nazi-Socialist-Libs, but everyone…your neighbors, your kids, their teachers, friends, parents, grandparents, grandkids, restaurant workers, gig workers, … Oh! and healthcare workers, police, firefighters…really everyone! 

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Finally! A Hurricane Named After Me!

“Hurricane Henri!” It has a great ring, doesn’t it? Well, except they misspelled my name by one letter. “Henri” instead of “Henry”.  They must have picked up on my ”Je ne sais qua”, as my French poodle, describes it. 

Or it may be the National Hurricane Center’s attempt at sophistication. You can never tell with government types.

And here’s a cool point: “Hurricane Henry” is headed to Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New York. These were among my favorite stomping grounds as a kid. I lived in two out of four and was educated in two out of four…sort of. If it weren’t for spell-check I’d still have a problem including Connecticut and Massachusetts. 

I know, this sounds a little self-centered, but isn’t it better than reading about Afghanistan, Climate Change, T-Rump or  Covidiots?

Speaking of Governor DeSantis, I’ve spent a lot of time in Florida over the past few years, especially during the pandemic. My Pennsylvania friends were thankful for the sudden quiet. My Florida friends…well, they’ve been looking forward to the end of the pandemic.

The last hurricane I remember hitting New England was not that big a deal, certainly nothing like Florida hurricanes. It may not have even been a real hurricane – maybe it was just a really big Nor’easter. But it sure felt like a hurricane to a 15 year old.

Despite being told to stay inside, (or maybe because of it) a friend and I decided to go outside during the height of it. We were soaked within three yards of the door. About ten yards later we noticed lots of things flying past us, including a few pieces of slate the size of serving plates, pried by the wind from the roof of the building we had exited. They flew just over our heads and imbedded themselves into a tree about thirty feet away. We stopped, looked at the tree, looked back at the roof, and ran back into the building. Whatever the record was for the 13 yard dash, we broke it.

A few years ago I moved to Florida as a “snowbird”. It seemed logical for retirees from the north. Who wants to kick snow off your shoes when you can kick sand with your toes?

“Snowbirds” stay in Florida for the winter and then go back north during the summer months, when 88 degrees is a cold front.  

Florida has hurricanes. Not “maybe” hurricanes, not once-in-100- years hurricanes, but scary hurricanes…at least to wimpy Northerners. Real Floridians, like my neighbor, Cowboy Susan, do not fear Florida hurricanes. 

I don’t either. You know why? They don’t have slate roofs in Florida.  

Cowboy Susan tells me that real  Floridians just wait those out for a few days and then, when the hurricanes leave – along with electricity – they have big, neighborhood barbeques to use up all the food before it goes bad… and the beer before it gets too warm. She says it’s really fun. Of course, because I’m a “snowbird”, I can only take her word for it. 

Which is why I’m so happy to have a hurricane named after me. It’s a clear case of gaining fame – talking the talk – without having to walk the walk. 

Kind of like being an armchair quarterback…Hey! Turn on the TV!  It’s football season again!

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CRT: The Difference Between Stupid and Smart

The idea behind Critical Race Theory (CRT) is to learn the effect of race on the larger contours of our society, areas like law, education, housing, jobs. Originally it was studied by graduate level academics. More recently it’s been introduced at the college level. The consensus is that race has effected the country since before Jefferson wrote “all men are created equal”. 

Even more recently it’s been discussed as a course at high school level. 

Which has triggered anguished outcries from one particular race, Whites, and one particular group, Conservatives. Their complaint: it would involve teaching White kids to feel ashamed about the color of their skin. 

(Wait. White kids? No irony there.)

This isn’t the first theory that has divided people along intellectual lines.

Long ago there was a great division over the shape of the Earth. All the smart people knew it was flat because, “Look at the horizon, stupid! It’s flat!”  Those who thought otherwise were ridiculed by their version of late night comedians. Then along came the Greeks, Romans, and Columbus. He definitively proved all those smart people stupid. Which made them smart, after all.

In the spring 1692, some young girls in Salem, Mass. claimed to be possessed by the Devil and accused some local women of witchcraft. The idea divided the town like a new cult. Starting with Bridget Bishop, nineteen women were hanged . 150 more were accused of witchcraft but not convicted. By September, they learned better and hysteria abated, apologies were made, and women were no longer killed – at least for being witches.    

Sometimes it’s funny how stupid we can be before we get smart.

In 1909, California started forcibly sterilizing people with physical disabilities, psychiatric disorders, and other conditions that made them inferior human beings. Over seven decades they sterilized  20,000 people. It was part of Eugenics, a set of beliefs that go back to Plato designed to improve the human race – Darwin’s “Survival of the Fittest” on steroids. It spread around the US, killing over 60,000 people, not to mention Hitler’s Germany, and only God knows how many other places around the world. Now that’s divisive. 

It took a World War and nearly 100 years, but eventually we got smart.

Sometimes it’s not funny how stupid we can be before we get smart.

Take race, for example. Most people acknowledge that human beings are essentially similar biologically. Medical schools don’t teach one set of procedures for black bodies, another for brown bodies, still another for white bodies, and so on. Hearts are similar. Legs, arms, brains – all similar. Yet, in this country at least, minorities – blacks and browns – are always in the majority on poverty lists, crime lists, education lists, health lists, housing lists… 

Curious isn’t it? How 25% of the country could make up that large a portion of the under-privileged, unsuccessful, under-performing? It would be interesting to learn why, wouldn’t it? And maybe, just maybe, do something about it. 

Or we could just make some stupid excuse and continue the stupidity.

Like refusing a vaccine that can literally save lives, thousands of them. Stupid. Divisive. Deadly.

Since the beginning of time, we’ve all been stupid about one thing or another – not because we were born stupid, but because we didn’t know – until we learned better. 

The difference between stupid and smart: learning. 

(If you like this, pass it on. If you don't, pass it on anyway. Why should you suffer alone?)