Tag Archives: HIV/AIDS

The coronavirus and its metaphors

The baby boomer doomer (a.k.a. the baby boomer remover) is kind of pretty, isn’t it? Kind of like a Christmas tree ornament…

I remember the hysteria when HIV/AIDS first emerged in the 1980s. There were calls to quarantine gay men, even though HIV is not at all spread through casual contact — I remember the wholly unfounded hysteria that perhaps HIV was quite easily spread — and, of course, there were the innumerable pronouncements that AIDS was God’s punishment. (“AIDS kills fags dead,” one slogan put it succinctly.)

Because we gay men were — and still are — considered to be expendable, of course the Reagan regime dragged its feet on doing anything about HIV. The “right” people (if we can even call them people) were dying, after all.

So now comes along a new virus, one that curiously takes out primarily older people. According to data from China, where the new coronavirus first hit, the death rate for the virus breaks down by age group thusly:

The chart is astounding. It suggests that newborns to those aged 9 have a zero percent chance of dying from the new coronavirus, and the death rate goes up with each age group. My age group (the 50s) is 1.3 percent. Of course you don’t want to be part of the 1.3 percent, but that’s still a pretty low death rate for a plague.

As soon as you are in your 60s, however, the death rate is approaching 4 percent, and in your 70s, you’re looking at 8 percent — and approaching 15 percent for those 80 and older.

No wonder they’re calling the coronavirus the “baby boomer doomer” and the “baby boomer remover.”

Not that the herd couldn’t use some culling, and not that I would be torn up if a huge chunk of the baby boomers were offed, but the psychosocial dynamics of a plague sure are interesting.

Because this plague is killing baby boomers, we’re seeing much swifter governmental action, of course; we must save every precious baby-boomer ass, right?

But if HIV/AIDS felt like “justice” to the right wing and to other homophobes (such as the Joe Biden voters of today…), well, the coronavirus seems to me, at least in its initial stage, to perhaps offer some poetic justice.

I mean, the cruise is the bright, shining example of baby boomer over-privilege: The baby boomers’ parents passed their wealth down to their baby-boomer offspring, and today, the baby boomers are passing “their” wealth down to the likes of cruise-line companies. (To be fair, they’re also putting the nation’s wealth into McMansions, recreational vehicles, world travel, unnecessary home improvement, bright shiny new cars, time shares, golf, fine dining, expensive wines, etc.)

Boomers ostentatiously spend the nation’s wealth on cruises, on which they expect to be treated like royalty. They are to be catered to exhaustively by wage slaves who aren’t paid anything even like a living wage — and woe to those wage slaves who don’t smile the entire time of their servitude.

I listened to a recent local NPR interview of a baby-boomer-sounding woman who was on the infected Grand Princess cruise liner stopped first in the San Francisco Bay and then redirected to Oakland, and its passengers quarantined at Travis Air Force Base in Northern California.

The whiny, impossible-to-placate baby boomer acted like she was Yelping Travis Air Force Base as though it were just an extension of her fucking cruise experience. Clearly, the entire world is supposed to be designed (just like a cruise liner!) to cater to the whim and whimsy of every single fucking baby boomer; it’s their world, and the rest of us are here only to serve them.

In the baby boomers’ world, you’re either a feudal overlord (a baby boomer) or a serf (everyone else).

So: While I usually don’t wish people pain and suffering, given all that I have experienced and observed in my Generation-X lifetime, including, as a gay man, seeing how my fellow gay men were treated (and not treated) during the AIDS crisis, and including how I have been under the baby boomers’ thumbs for my entire fucking life, am I going to shed a tear for the baby boomers (and those older) felled by the coronavirus? No, not really, unless one of the vanishingly few good older people, such as Bernie Sanders, were to be taken out by the virus.

Coronavirus, as plagues go, is pretty tame. The flu pandemic of 1918 to 1920 killed anywhere from 20 million to 50 million people worldwide, with a death rate of 10 percent to 20 percent, and, very much unlike the new coronavirus, most of its victims were young adults.

That said, should we read into plagues? That is, should we see “signs” in them, including which portions of the population the plagues take and the plagues’ body counts?

No, probably, we should not, and there probably is no greater meaning in pandemics — no moral meaning, anyway — but it sure is fun to interpret them, as it were.

For instance, I kind of like to think of the coronavirus as like the earth trying to shake off the parasitic baby boomers in a global act of karmic justice. But that very well might be much more my own private fantasy than anything like fact, which I recognize. (Surely those who proclaimed that “AIDS kills fags dead” didn’t doubt whether or not that stance — that gay men have deserved to die of AIDS, probably as a death sentence handed down by An Angry God Himself — has been anything like factual.)

All of that said, even though I’m not in one of the highest risk groups for death from the coronavirus, I’m still at 1.3 percent.

Ironically, just Friday morning I had a routine check-up with my doctor. I felt fine. My vital signs were normal, including my temperature, and the doctor examined my throat and ear canals and apparently found nothing out of the ordinary.

But just later Friday, I started to develop an upper respiratory infection, which I’d avoided all of this past winter until now. I’m experiencing a lot of mucous production, nasal congestion, a bit of a headache and now, a mildly sore throat and an occasional cough. It’s annoying, but not severely debilitating.

Is it the coronavirus?

I’m guessing that it’s not, that it’s one or more of a myriad of other pathogens, viral or bacterial, that cause upper respiratory infections, the vast majority of which my body will conquer on its own, but even if it is the coronavirus, a death rate of 1.3 percent isn’t high.

Besides, as a Generation X’er, I’m used to life not being like I’m on a perpetual cruise. Entirely unlike the over-privileged and overly comfortable baby boomers, I can handle some pain and suffering — and even death, if it comes to that.

Ironically, the boomers, quite unintentionally, over the course of my entire lifetime have prepared me to face the worst while they avoid — like the plague… — even the least amount of trouble, inconvenience or unpleasantness.

P.S. Seriously, though, the coronavirus exposes how incredibly fucking stupid the masses are, hoarding such bullshit like hand sanitizer, bleach, rubbing alcohol and even toilet paper.

The ignorant masses excel at seeing risk where it does not exist and at not seeing risk where it does exist. And accordingly, they take actions that they don’t need to take and fail to take actions that they do need to take.

P.P.S. The title of this blog piece, if you didn’t catch it, is a riff on the late Susan Sontag’s book AIDS and Its Metaphors. (Sometimes something just comes into my mind like that…)

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Radio silence from Bernie’s campaign thus far today, but I never shut up

Updated below

File:Democratic Party presidential primaries results, 2016.svg

Wikipedia graphic

This is how the map of the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primary battle looks today, after the primary elections in five states yesterday: like a fungus taking over most of the nation, turning what’s alive and green into what’s dead and golden-yellow. (The green states are those that Bernie Sanders has won, and the golden-yellow states are the states that Billary Clinton has won/“won.”) This rather dismal map is why, I surmise, Bernie’s campaign has been in radio silence, at least in term of its e-mails to its supporters, overnight and thus far today.

Given how Michigan’s primary-election polling right up to election day there eight days ago was showing Billary Clinton winning the state by around 20 percent (Bernie won it by 1.5 percent), I’d figured that Bernie Sanders would sweep the other “Rust Belt” states yesterday.

Illinois, Missouri and Ohio polling all had Billary ahead of Bernie by no more than single digits right up to yesterday’s voting, so, using Michigan as the test case, I’d figured that Bernie probably would win all three of those states, even if only by a rather small margin in one or all three of them.

I had chalked up Michigan’s polling snafu to something like pollsters’ bias for Billary and/or polling techniques that undercounted Bernie’s support and overcounted Billary’s, such as by not contacting enough respondents who have cell phones and no land lines.

I truly believed that this polling error in Michigan, dubbed by the political polling geeks as the biggest polling error in a primary election in modern political history, most likely would apply to the states surrounding Michigan also; Bernie would win at least two of the five states that were contested yesterday — probably three states, but two at the very minimum.

Instead, he fairly hands down lost four of them (Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and Ohio, although Illinois was within 2 percentage points) and he probably lost Missouri, too, by only a fraction of 1 percent. (I’ve yet to see Missouri definitively called.)

Politico right now gives these results from yesterday’s Democratic Party presidential primary elections:

  • Florida (99.9 percent reporting): Billary 64.5 percent, Bernie 33.3 percent
  • Illinois (98.8 percent reporting): Billary 50.5 percent, Bernie 48.7 percent
  • Missouri (99.9 percent reporting): Billary 49.6 percent, Bernie 49.4 percent
  • North Carolina (100 percent reporting): Billary 54.6 percent, Bernie 40.8 percent
  • Ohio (100 percent reporting): Billary 56.5 percent, Bernie 42.7 percent

Where to begin?

So note that with the exception of Florida, Bernie garnered somewhere between 40.8 percent and 49.4 percent of the votes that were cast yesterday. A sizeable chunk of the voters in four of the five states that voted yesterday wanted someone other than Billary Clinton to represent them in November.

I don’t think that, based upon the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primary and caucus results thus far, we accurately can call Billary an overwhelmingly beloved candidate, except in the South. (I mean, the South…)

Bernie Sanders the frumpy (small-“d”!) democratic socialist with that hair never was supposed to do even this well.

Billary Clinton has had the Democratic establishment blindly obediently behind her from Day One, including her bosom buddy Debbie Wasserman Schultz as head of the national party, making all of the presidential-race decisions (including keeping the anti-democratic system of the “super-delegates,” who are expected to fall in line with the party establishment, and tightly controlling the debate schedule), as well as disproportionately favorable media coverage (Google it — Billary has been covered much more than Bernie has been covered, but of course The Grand Spectacle that is Der Fuehrer Donald has trumped both of them in terms of media coverage, which is not shocking, given the nexus among our corporately owned and controlled “news” media and the corporatocracy/kleptocracy that is our “democracy” and Der Fuehrer Trump — yes, we are skipping along the yellow brick road to The Fantastical Land of Fascism).

Anyway, the Bernie Sanders campaign normally sends out a billion e-mails a day (seriously, at least three or four a day, even five or six, I do believe, on some days, especially since the primary elections and caucuses began), but I’ve yet to receive a single e-mail from the campaign since last night’s devastation.

Again, Bernie got a lot of votes last night, and delegates, too (it helps Bernie that all 50 states on the Democratic side allocate the number of pledged delegates proportionally, that there are no winner-takes-all states in the Dem presidential primary), but again, it’s the perception and the spin that matter, and our “news” media, which have only our commoners’ best interests at heart, of course, aren’t going to report that “Populist Bernie Sanders, for an outsider, sure garnered an impressive amount of votes and delegates yesterday.” No, they’re reporting that Billary Clinton Won All Five States in a Devastating Blowout!, even though the difference in Missouri right now stands at 0.2 percent.

There is no room for nuance in the United States of America, so even 0.2 percent is a part of A yuuuuuge win!

So I’m guessing that the reason for the radio silence from the Bernie Sanders campaign today (at least overnight and thus far this morning) is that they’re still assessing what message they can and should put out there after Bernie didn’t win even two states yesterday. (I’m guessing that Billary will maintain her razor-thin lead in Missouri [I heard on NPR talk of a possible recount of the state], meaning that history will record that Bernie won no state yesterday.)

Maybe Bernie is even taking a time-out to consider whether or not he is going to continue his campaign. I’ll still support him if he does, but the path to the nomination for him at this point looks grim to impossible.

What I know for sure is that I can’t support Billary Clinton.

No, it’s not that I’m being obstinate or a sore loser. And no, Billarybots, it’s not that I’m a misogynist, fuck you (and your toxic, blind and stupid identity politics) very much.

I had very much wanted progressive U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren to run, but she did not.

When Warren talks about standing up for us commoners, her record supports that; she is quite credible. The exact opposite is true of Billary. Bernie was the most progressive and most viable candidate who did run, and thus I have supported him.

(According to your “logic” and sense of “justice,” Billarybots, I should have supported the McCain-Palin ticket in 2008 because Sarah Palin is a woman.)

Billary Clinton just doesn’t do it for me. Aside from how much her demeanor, dripping with insincerity and cold calculation, turns me off, I cannot get past her pathetic pathological lying for personal political gain, which we saw in the 2008 cycle and have seen in this cycle, especially recently, when Bernie peaked and she felt desperate, and I know way too much about her past of pretending to care so very, very much about the disadvantaged and downtrodden but then taking millions and millions of dollars from the bad actors who are harming all of us.

Billary says whatever she perceives is the most politically advantageous thing to say in the  moment, and in the United States of Amnesia, it works.

To give one example that’s near and dear to me, she didn’t support same-sex marriage (publicly, at least) until March 18, 2013, for fuck’s sake, just a little more than two years before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 26, 2015, that to deny same-sex marriage anywhere within the nation is to violate the U.S. Constitution.

Billary is hardly significantly ahead of the curve, and what we need in a president or other leader is someone who is significantly ahead of the curve.

A leader helps make change, a leader nudges the herd in the right direction (even if to do so is politically risky); a leader doesn’t jump on board only once it’s clear that the herd already is going in a certain, different direction.

And a leader doesn’t flip-flop, because the truth doesn’t flip-flop; it remains fixed. Politifact says of Billary, “Clinton came out in support of same-sex marriage in [March] 2013 after more than a decade of opposing it.”

And Billary’s latest act was proclaiming on television how great Nancy Reagan and her husband were on raising HIV/AIDS awareness in the 1980s, when the fact is that Ronald Reagan didn’t give a speech on the topic until May 1987, after more than 25,000 Americans, most of them gay men, already had died in the plague.

Billary is more like the Reagans than an actual Democrat — she always comes to the game quite late, after others who are far more brave and hard-working than she ever will be already have done all of the hardest work, and then pretends that she was on board with the right side the whole time. That’s not leadership. That’s craven opportunism.

Billary’s bullshit works, however, with millions of people — to a large degree she has the LGBT community in her pantsuit pocket because its politically and historically ignorant members actually buy her bullshit (ditto for the black community and other groups of historically oppressed individuals whose majorities support Billary); she says the right things, and that’s enough for the low-information voter.

This chicken, for one, won’t support Colonel Sanders, no matter how much sweet talk he spews forth or how much he tells me that the guy who owns Chick-fil-A is even worse than he is.

So in a Bernie-free/post-Bernie presidential campaign season, I’d pay attention to the news of the ongoing political race, but would I feel that I have a real stake in it? No. Neither Billary Clinton nor whoever the Repugnican Tea Party candidate will be (Donald Trump, most likely, but perhaps Ted Cruz) has my best interests at heart, and I’m quite clear on that fact.

Without Bernie in the race, I don’t have a horse that I can bring myself to root for.

That said, I still think that I would rather that Bernie not win the party’s presidential nomination than to go on to the general election in November and lose by a considerable margin (not that he would; I’m just speaking of such a big loss in a hypothetical sense). Because such a big loss would put Bernie, in the conventional “wisdom,” into the category of George McGovern, Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis (the presidential candidate who was unelectable because he was too far too the left) and thus probably would shut out progressivism within the Democratic Party for some time to come. (Progressivism already has been shut out from the party since the Clintonistas took over the party in the 1990s.)

What might actually help progressivism the most in the long term, actually, would be for Billary Clinton to go on to the November general election and then lose.

That should be, at long last, the stake in the hearts of the “Democrats” who sold out the party to big-money interests long ago, at least as far back in the 1990s (but actually really starting in the mid-1980s), when Bill Clinton and his wife and the right-wing, now-defunct-thank-Goddess “Democratic” “Leadership” Council coldly calculated that the best way to beat the Repugnicans was to become just like the Repugnicans.

Again for the record: I don’t relish a President Trump and of course I never would vote for someone like he. Don’t get me wrong. (But my best guess is that President Trump would be impeached and removed from office before he actually could destroy the planet in World War III.)

But a President Trump might, ironically, at long last save the Democratic Party from itself and return it to its progressive roots. Der Fuehrer Donald’s election just might make the Democrats realize how incredibly fucking stupid they were by picking Billary over Bernie.

(After all, in the match-up polling right now, Billary beats Trump by 6.3 percent, whereas Bernie beats Trump by 10 percent. Further, in the match-up polling right now Ted Cruz actually beats Billary by almost 1 percent, whereas Bernie beats Cruz by almost 10 percent.

And more Americans of all political persuasions like Bernie more than they dislike him by double digits, whereas recent polls show that anywhere from 6 percent to 21 percent more Americans of all political persuasions dislike Billary than like her.)

If President Trump doesn’t cause World War III and inadvertently saves the Democratic Party, then I’d say that his presidency would have been worth it.

Update (Wednesday, March 16, 2016, 10:50 a.m. Pacific Time): OK, so finally an e-mail from the Bernie campaign, which I received at 10:36 a.m. It reads:

When we started our campaign 10 months ago, Robert, I don’t think you could find a single person who would believe you if you said Bernie Sanders would win nine states by this point in the campaign.

Last night we beat all the polls in almost every state. We earned a significant number of delegates, and are on track for the nomination. Here’s why:

What you will not hear from the political and media establishment is that, based on the primary and caucus schedule for the rest of the race, this is the high water mark for the Clinton campaign. Starting today, the map now shifts dramatically in our favor.

Arizona, Idaho and Utah are up next Tuesday. Alaska, Hawaii and Washington state caucus the Saturday after. Then it’s Wisconsin’s turn to vote.

That means we have an extremely good chance to win nearly every state that votes in the next month. If we continue to stand together, we’re just getting started for our political revolution….

No one said a political revolution would be easy. We are up against a billionaire class and super-PACs that are determined to see us lose.

The fact remains that Hillary Clinton’s lead will never be as large as it is right now. From here on out we keep chipping away until we take the lead. But that can only happen if we keep fighting, and that’s why your $3 contribution to our campaign is so important.

The whole country will be watching to see how we respond in this moment. Let’s send a message that millions of Americans are just as ready to fight for an economy that works for everyone as we were when this campaign started 10 months ago.

In solidarity,

Bernie Sanders

I’m glad that Bernie is still in it. I’m perfectly fine with him remaining in the race until he or Billary has clinched the necessary number of delegates to win the nomination. If nothing else, if Billary were to be unchallenged from the left from now to the convention, I think that she’d revert right back to her center-right bullshit, figuring that she already had everything wrapped up and so that it were safe to do so.

(No, I don’t believe, even for a nanosecond, that, as some have stupidly asserted, Bernie is permanently moving Billary to the left. Just her rhetoric has shifted leftward — temporarily. [It was just in September that she publicly proclaimed herself to be a moderate and a centrist.] She remains a dyed-in-the-wool [you know, her sheep’s clothing] Repugnican Lite/Democrat in name only.)

All of that said, yesterday’s election results were a considerable blow to Bernie’s campaign, with not a single state yet called for him. Again, in the end it all comes down to the numbers of delegates, but perception in politics is everything. The perception that you’re losing can make you lose and the perception that you’re winning can make you win.

After his stunning losses yesterday, or at least after the perception of them, I feel much less confident about Bernie’s chances today than I did yesterday.

But given the coming shit show, with a fascist leading the Repugnican Tea Party presidential field and a fascist lite leading the Democratic Party presidential field, from the ashes just might emerge a new, truly reformed, actually progressive Democratic Party.

Update (Wednesday, March 16, 2016, 8:00 p.m. Pacific Time): U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, who is running to replace Marco Rubio for the U.S. Senate for Florida (Rubio gave up his Senate seat to run for the presidency — d’oh!), recently wrote a pretty good piece for The Huffington Post.

In his piece he maintains that there is

…the second Democratic presidential primary: Democratic Presidential Primary 2.0. It runs from March 16 through June 7. It includes none of the “Old South” states, because they all will have already voted. It includes all of the Pacific states, and all of the “Mountain” states except Colorado and Nevada (which already voted). The biggest prizes are California (545 delegates), New York (291) and Pennsylvania (210).

Democratic presidential primary 2.0 elects a total of 2,033 pledged delegates. If Bernie Sanders wins those races (and delegates) by the same 60-40 margin that he has amassed in primaries and caucuses outside the “Old South” to date, then that will give him an advantage of 407 pledged delegates. That is more — far more — than the current Clinton margin of 223. [Note: Grayson wrote his piece before yesterday’s elections. Billary now has 314 more pledged delegates than Bernie has.]

Almost 700 pledged delegates are chosen on June 7 alone. It seems unlikely that either candidate will accumulate a margin of 700 pledged delegates before then. So this one may come down to the wire.

Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a wild ride.

Again, I’m all for Bernie Sanders going until either he or Billary has hit the magic number of necessary delegates (2,383). There is no reason for him to stop before that has happened.

As I type this sentence, Billary has 1,139 pledged (earned in primary elections and caucuses) delegates and Bernie has 825. Including the “super-delegates,” who may change their minds as to which candidate to support, Billary has 1,606 delegates in all, and Bernie has 851.

If Billary wants the nomination, she needs to earn all 2,383 necessary delegates, in my book. There is no reason for Bernie to walk away now, and I’m in it for him as long as he is in it.

And, of course, as many have pointed out, including the man himself (many times), it’s not about Bernie; it’s about the cause of progressivism, which will continue, regardless of the outcome of the 2016 Democratic Party presidential primary race.

P.S. In a recent Democratic presidential candidate “town hall” (I haven’t watched the “town halls,” but I have watched all of the Dem debates), Bernie Sanders stated that he decided to run as a Democratic candidate instead of as an independent because it’s too difficult to run for the presidency as an independent.

This was nothing new — Bernie had said it before — but it was spun by the pro-Billary media as Bernie “using” (even “hijacking”) the Democratic Party to get to the White House.

Bitches, please.

Bernie Sanders never abandoned the Democratic Party; quite the contrary: the Democratic Party abandoned us progressives, long ago.

The Democratic Party has shriveled and calcified into a pro-corporate, pro-plutocratic shell of its former self, “led” by self-serving assholes (like the Clintons and yes, Barack Obama, too) who have claimed that the traditional Democratic values were lacking and defective and that the Democrats should be more like the Repugnicans — fuck that “opposition party” bullshit! Gotta join ’em to beat em!

All that this has done is to demoralize the party’s traditional base, who with each passing year find it harder and harder to support “Democratic” candidates. They just can’t work up the enthusiasm, and many if not most of them can’t put their finger on why, but many if not most of them still more or less remain loyal to the label, the brand name, anyway, even though it never does them any good, even though their lives never improve.

This pathetic, deteriorating condition can last for only so long; Billary has been hoping that it lasts at least long enough to put her over-privileged baby-boomer ass into the White House. (The baby boomer’s credo is “Get mine [and yours, too!] and get out.”)

Bernie Sanders has done much more for the moribund party than the party ever has done for him; he has injected some life into it. If it weren’t for Bernie, we’d have only Billary; we’d have no cause for hope or enthusiasm in this presidential election cycle whatsofuckingever.

That so many “Democrats” would claim that the progressive Bernie Sanders isn’t one of them demonstrates how far the party has fallen. Bernie should be a corporate whore just like Billary Clinton is, you see; then he would be a “good” “Democrat”!

The Billarybots celebrate Bernie’s demise at their own peril; once the enthusiasm that he has generated is gone, how well would the woefully charismatically challenged Billary fare in November? How many voters could she get to the polls to vote for her? (No, the anti-Trump vote probably wouldn’t be enough for her; the anti-George-W.-Bush vote wasn’t good enough for John Kerry in 2004. That and the voters are, I think, pretty fucking exhausted from being able to cast only anti-votes in this sick and fucking twisted system that we call “democracy.”)

And no, as Salon.com’s Andrew O’Hehir has just written and as I have written, we “Bernie bros” will not go to the dark side and vote for Donald Fucking Trump. That’s a false accusation fully meant to shame us into voting for Billary against our conscience.

But we don’t have to vote for Billary Clinton.

We can vote for someone else — I very well might vote for the Green Party presidential candidate if Billary is the Democratic Party presidential candidate — or we can not vote for president at all. We can and we may do as our conscience dictates, no matter what the Billarybots, who are unencumbered by a conscience, think about it or think about us.

And as Bernie garners the independent vote a lot better than does Billary (more info on that fact at this link, too), how well could she do in a general presidential election, the results of which which the independent voters (not just the minority of voters who are Democratic Party hacks) determine these days?

I sure didn’t predict yesterday’s election results well at all, but you probably can take this prediction to the bank: This Billary Bubble — in which Dem Party hacks stupidly believe that the nation as a whole likes Billary Clinton as much as they do — is going to pop.

Spectacularly.

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