COVID-19; What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

April 21, 2020

With the president in the process of convincing the forty-three percent of Americans who believe every word he says (did he really have the audacity to state during Monday’s press briefing that “I cannot tell a lie”), that it is time to put America back to work, urging governors to rescind their stay-at-home orders, one must remember what happened during the 1918-1920 pandemic.

After the initial wave of the so-called Spanish Flu, which was originally thought to be only a very serious case of the common flu, it was the second wave, attributed to massive troop movements during the later stages of World War I, which resulted in most of the estimated 50 million deaths worldwide, including 675,000 Americans.

Medical experts say the key to getting the nation up and running is extensive testing, yet so far we have tested only slightly more than one percent of the population. Clinical testing of the numerous COVID-19 test kits on the market show false-positives and false-negatives are at least fifteen percent. One expert stated that due to high worldwide demand for testing, we could run out of the chemicals needed to process the tests in three weeks. Then, there is the scenario of what happens when a person accurately tests negative one week, yet becomes infected the next?

With a president who seemingly is more concerned with his re-election campaign than the welfare of this nation’s citizens, are we doomed to prove truthful the old maxim that those who fail to learn from history are destined to repeat it?

Steven H. Spring
Earth

COVID-19: Who Could Have Ever Imagined Such A Disaster?

March 29, 2020

Having learned two very important pieces of information regarding the COVID-19 virus pandemic since my post last week, that further supports my argument that this administration is the most ill-prepared and least capable of containing the coronavirus that is devastating many parts of the nation and planet, I must update my rant.

From January through August 2019, this administration conducted a military-style exercise with the objective being to determine the nation’s readiness to handle a pandemic caused by a viral infection. Led by the Department Of Health And Human Services, involving at least twelve federal agencies (among them the Pentagon and the NSC) and twelve states, the exercise was carried out over four phases. Crimson Contagion, the name of both the exercise and hypothetical virus, began in China, just like COVID-19.

Sadly, the results of this exercise are eerily similar to what is being reported daily by the media, among them lack of vital medical equipment and supplies, ranging from medications and N95 respirators to ventilators, soon became a major problem. The end results were nearly eight million Americans hospitalized and half a million dead.

Another interesting fact is that this nation has something called the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), an emergency inventory agency, part of the Center Of Disease Control And Prevention (CDC). The $8 billion secretive inventory is stored in warehouses strategically located throughout the country, and contains everything from pharmaceuticals and medical supplies to three different types of ventilators (Covidien LP10, Vyaire LTV1200 & Zoll). We are told that four thousand ventilators have been shipped to New York from the Stockpile, but that’s it? All day and all night, medical personal around the country are on television begging for medical supplies, especially N95 respirators, face shields and gowns.

Four-star admiral Brett Giroir of the U.S. Public Health Service Corps, while also serving as Assistant Secretary Of Health and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, has said New York has everything it needs to fight the virus. However, New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s daily plea for more than the four thousand ventilators that are said to be on the way suggests otherwise. I have a personal stake in this as my daughter is a nurse, however, these brave people are putting their lives, and their families as well, on the line and America, the richest country in the world cannot provide them something as simple and cheap as N95 respirators?

Until Friday, this administration kept saying there is no need to enact the Defense Production Act Of 1950, which gives a president the right to force corporations to start manufacturing needed supplies, that Big Business has taken it upon themselves to do so. The president changed his mind Friday, when he announced that he is requiring General Motors to start producing ventilators. Judging by his comments toward GM CEO Mary Barra, not to mention there are ten US companies that manufacture ventilators, this seems more an action of spite, than one of necessity, especially since GM has to retool one of its factories before beginning production. Three American companies are in the top ten in the world in manufacturing ventilators, #1 Becton Dickinson, #7 General Electric Healthcare and #9 ResMed.

According to the SNS’s official web-site, their mission statement is “Organized for scalable response to a variety of public health threats, the repository contains enough supplies to respond to multiple large-scale emergencies simultaneously.” Judging by the constant begging for medical supplies, the Strategic National Stockpile is failing dreadfully at its mission. The SNS seemingly cannot provide enough supplies in the event of a single large-scale emergency, let alone multiple ones simultaneously.

Some people might say you should never criticize a president at a time of disaster, however, when I hear this president say no one could ever imagine a pandemic such as COVID-19 coming to America, as he did during this past Thursday’s press briefing (one of the items the Obama administration warned the incoming administration about seven days before transfer of power was a viral pandemic), not to mention the other lies being told every single day, it is my duty to speak up.

As the father of a nurse, it is my moral obligation to speak truth to power.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

 

Note: the following is my original post;

March 21, 2020

As an American, I find this administration’s preparedness and response to the COVID-19 pandemic appalling. As the father of a daughter who is a nurse, I find this nation’s lack of basic medical Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), such as face masks and shields disgusting.

How is it that China built two mobile hospitals (a total of sixteen hundred beds) in ten days, and yet we cannot provide enough N95 face masks or virus tests, telling medical personnel that they should use bandanas to cover their mouth and nose, only weeks into the virus coming ashore? Or that, in a pinch re-use their PPEs. How is this possible?

Why is it that this administration had nearly three months’ notice of the pending viral attack, but it seems more and more likely that it is the most ill-prepared (pardon the pun) and least capable of containing it? Maybe we should create some sort of government agency to handle such extreme circumstances. Oh wait, we did. However, this administration shut down the National Security Council’s Global-Health-Security unit (created by the Obama administration) and slashed Center For Disease Control And Prevention funding.

However, lets not place all blame on this administration. Does the health care industry, which is the most profitable industry in America, accept some responsibility as well. I’ve long said the health care industry should not be for-profit. My accounting degree from OSU reminds me that inventory cost money, not only the initial cost, but to store it as well. Just ask the Detroit auto industry, which found out the hard way. The Japanese standard is the just-in-time (JIT) method, eliminating costly inventory. This is evidenced by all the Japanese factories located throughout central Ohio in outlaying villages and towns, supplying Honda of America up in Marysville. This method works great when all is well, however when you throw a pandemic into the supply chain, problems arise, as we are desperately finding out.

America, and especially this administration, likes to pride itself with constant boasting of being the greatest nation of all-time, yet cannot provide paper face masks or cotton swabs to conduct testing. This is disgraceful.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

COVID-19

March 22, 2020

As an American, I find this administration’s preparedness and response to the COVID-19 pandemic appalling. As the father of a daughter who is a nurse, I find this nation’s lack of basic medical Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), such as face masks and shields disgusting.

How is it that China built two mobile hospitals (a total of sixteen hundred beds) in ten days, and yet we cannot provide enough N95 face masks or virus tests, telling medical personnel that they should use bandanas to cover their mouth and nose, only weeks into the virus coming ashore? Or that, in a pinch re-use their PPEs. How is this possible?

Why is it that this administration had nearly three months’ notice of the pending viral attack, but it seems more and more likely that it is the most ill-prepared (pardon the pun) and least capable of containing it? Maybe we should create some sort of government agency to handle such extreme circumstances. Oh wait, we did. However, this administration shut down the National Security Council’s Global-Health-Security unit (created by the Obama administration) and slashed Center For Disease Control And Prevention funding.

However, lets not place all blame on this administration. Does the health care industry, which is the most profitable industry in America, accept some responsibility as well. I’ve long said the health care industry should not be for-profit. My accounting degree from OSU reminds me that inventory cost money, not only the initial cost, but to store it as well. Just ask the Detroit auto industry, which found out the hard way. The Japanese standard is the just-in-time (JIT) method, eliminating costly inventory. This is evidenced by all the Japanese factories located throughout central Ohio in outlaying villages and towns, supplying Honda of America up in Marysville. This method works great when all is well, however when you throw a pandemic into the supply chain, problems arise, as we are desperately finding out.

America, and especially this administration, likes to pride itself with constant boasting of being the greatest nation of all-time, yet cannot provide paper face masks or cotton swabs to conduct testing. This is disgraceful.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Why The Iowa Caucus Needs To Be Impeached

February 6, 2020

How is it possible, that in the biggest election in maybe this nation’s history, in a state where candidates have basically lived for the past year, all Americans rely on something called a caucus to elect their president? With its first-in-the-nation electoral contest, Iowans have a huge influence over every other state, even more so considering their rank in population and diversity (31st and 45th, respectfully). Four years ago, the candidate to whom I would have voted for, was no longer in the race by the time Ohio held its primary.

Granted, a caucus whereby citizens gather to discuss politics is probably democracy’s most romantic act of loyalty, but why does Iowa’s caucus involve what many pundits are calling a “complicated formula?” Why is there a need of a formula to count votes and issue delegates? Even more confusing was that Iowa was to release three sets of numbers, for some un-gawdly reason.

How is it possible that Iowa, after installing new software to determine each citizen’s vote, not run a complete mock caucus, testing the entire system months ago? Especially given their influential first-in-the-nation status in such a monumental election. This is the third straight caucus in which Iowa has had problems. Serious issues were raised in 2012 about the outcome of Mitt Romney vs. Rick Santorum, while in 2016, doubts were raised about the result between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Two straight problems explain the need for new software.

Not only does Iowa have a huge sway over who we elect as president, the complicated formula used to distribute delegates was designed to give Iowa’s rural communities an undue influence over their urban counterparts. This is exactly why the Electoral College was established. Just because you win the Iowa caucus, does not mean you will win the nomination (the odds are pretty good for Democrats, not so for Republicans), however what these formulas (as apposed to actual votes) do is to give a huge influence to the most rural parts of one of the most rural states in the country. That isn’t democracy.

It’s time for a national primary.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Let’s Go To Yet One More War

September 18, 2019

Why is it, that an administration that ran on a promise to get us out, and keep us out of all these unnecessary wars, is now hell-bent on attacking Iran, whom it claimed is responsible for the recent drone and missile attack on a Saudi Arabia oil processing plant and oil field? The administration determined Iran was responsible within a matter of hours, and yet Virginia freshman Representative Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA operative, stated there is no way to ascertain who is responsible in such a short period of time.

Other experts have said that the president and vice-president boasting like Clint Eastwood and John Wayne that America is “locked and loaded” is the last thing our fearless (or is it careless?) leaders should have said. Especially if they are actually preparing an attack. If nothing more than schoolyard braggadocio, such talk could lead to all-out war in the powder-keg that is the Middle East, with threats escalating and neither country wanting to appear weak by backing down.

America wasn’t attacked, Saudi Arabia was. The kingdom is America’s biggest buyer of military armaments, let them handle their own affairs. We are still engaged in the two longest wars in our history, with no end in sight in either, not to mention we are periodically bombing five other countries (Libya, Niger, Somalia, Syria and Yemen). Northern Yemen’s Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility for the attack, as part of their ongoing war with the kingdom, which began in early 2015 when Saudi Arabia, backed by America, launched its military campaign against the Yemen insurgency. We do not need to get involved in something that potentially could make all these other conflicts look like child’s play.

When you consider the CIA concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi less than a year ago, a fact denied by the president, and that the president and his son-in-law has deep financial ties with the kingdom (so much so that bin Salman boasts that Jared Kushner is “in his pocket”) something just doesn’t smell right.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

How Once Great Thou Art (apologies to Carl Boberg)

August 19, 2019

Listening to news last week that another once great American city has a critical water problem, my first thought was how many more cities are facing similar problems, that being century old water mains? This time it’s Newark, New Jersey. Flint, Michigan’s water is still unfit to drink or bathe, five years after residents were first warned of the danger.

I’m no engineer, so I leave it to experts regarding America’s infrastructure, and the news hasn’t been good for years. Every four years, the American Society Of Civil Engineers issues its “Infrastructure Report Card,” and the results, on a sunny day, are horrific. The Society’s 2017 report gave America an overall grade of D+ on our entire infrastructure system.

Though there is one bright spot, with our rail system earning a B, and three others (bridges, ports and solid waste) earning C+, all other categories rate very poorly. Energy, hazardous waste, parks & recreation and wastewater all earn D+, while aviation, dams, drinking water, inland waterways, levees, roads, schools and transit grade a D.

The Engineers also gave an estimate for the “Cost to Improve” our infrastructure over the next ten years as $4.59 trillion. If that’s the cost to improve our entire infrastructure, what’s it gonna take to fix it, let alone turn it into world-class? We are America, after all.

However, like all great empires, America has reached the stage where it spends all its valuable resources protecting the far reaches of its kingdom, all the while it is collapsing from within.

Steven H. Spring
Earth

Build That Barrier!!!

February 18, 2019

Before devotees of President Trump get too giddy with excitement over Friday’s Rose Garden announcement that he will declare a “national emergency” along our southern border, and confiscate precious funding from other departments to build that wall. Or, is it finish that wall? In reality, it’s building a very small section of it. $3.6 billion will come from the Military Construction Fund, 2.5 billion will come from the Pentagon Drug Prevention Program and 600 million will come from Treasury’s Drug Forfeiture Fund. Several Democrats have already announced they will take the declaration to court.

During the presidential campaign, devotees were promised the greatest wall of all-time (hard to beat that little wall China built), and will end up with maybe two hundred and thirty-four miles of some sort of “barrier.” The president even admitted during his press conference that this isn’t an emergency by opining “I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it faster, I want to get it done faster, that’s all.” If there actually was a crisis at the border, why didn’t Republicans take action the past two years, when they controlled every aspect of the federal government? Even more ironic, the president immediately flew down to Mar-a-Lago for a weekend of golfing, despite the looming national crisis.

Never mind there is no national emergency along the southern border (not only are immigration rates at historic low levels, but there are more illegals leaving the country than entering it). Never mind that most illegals enter the country via airports, than sneaking across the desert border. Nor are drugs smuggled into the country on the thighs of immigrants, they are smuggled in mass quantities via vehicles through border crossings (ninety percent of drugs enter via official ports of entry). Last, but not least, there is no statistical evidence that terrorists enter through the desert either, as the president claims. Doing so, only strokes the fear of terrorism. This is nothing more than fear mongering.

Forgetting all that, what Republicans need to remember is that one day soon (as soon as November 3, 2020?), Democrats will take back the White House, and start declaring their own national emergencies. How about a national emergency over climate change? Or sensible, national gun laws? Or a huge increase in income tax rates on the nation’s wealthy elite? Or better yet, how about a real national emergency regarding our entire rapidly deteriorating infrastructure system? Or health care?

I have a great idea, let’s make Mexico pay for that wall. I don’t understand why no one has thought of this before!

Steven H. Spring
Earth