Fourth Wave Of Pandemic Was Preventable!

My dad’s brother in Wisconsin was impacted his whole life by contracting polio. My mom, who grew up as a youngster in Arkansas, spoke of the dread families would experience when bouts of disease would spread through a community. Protecting children and loved ones was the obvious priority, but without preventive measures, such as vaccines, there was only so much that could be done.

So when I read the news reports of people refusing to accept science and advice from medical professionals about the COVID-19 vaccine I think of those who knew what it was like to truly have no options to fight certain viruses. I think of those in the family who have shared their stories long before this pandemic struck. As a lover of history, I think about the diseases which impacted those who resided in the White House.

Diphtheria claimed the lives of children from Presidents Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, and Grover Cleveland. Garfield also lost a child to pertussis. The story of Franklin Delano Roosevelt being diagnosed with polio at age 39 is well known. Lincoln became ill with smallpox a few days before delivering the Gettysburg Address. George Washington had bad luck for sure, contracting diphtheria, malaria, and smallpox, all during his teenage years.

But I also am aware of the ones who knew, over 200 years ago, that personal responsibility for the greater good mattered.

In his younger years, John Adams conducted a lot of business in Boston. During the 1760s, a smallpox epidemic broke out and he did not want to risk infection so he was intentionally inoculated with smallpox. That was a very common practice at the time. Called variolation, the virus was taken from a pustule of one person and inoculated into another.

His rationale for being brave was the process of inoculation was “preferable to living in fear of the disease.”

Today Adams’ logic is lost on a whole segment of the nation. So we must ask a most obvious question of those chuckleheads in our nation who refuse logic and science.

The unvaccinated are making for a very bad situation in a burned-out healthcare system. Is it proper if those unvaccinated who refused the shots then demand urgent expensive emergency room care? It is a hard burden on our nation, on both our health and economic fronts. 

Meanwhile, in 2021, from Springfield Missouri, comes this story.

Springfield is beginning to face shutdowns and quarantines again.

Alarid said one of the recovery homes his church manages experienced a Covid outbreak in recent weeks, requiring residents to quarantine. On Tuesday, the church had to cancel its Festival of Hope for the second year in a row, after holding it for the previous nine years. On Wednesday, Alarid said a fundraising banquet for the recovery home that was scheduled in two weeks will now take place online, instead of in person as planned.

These choices, along with his decision to get vaccinated and follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance in his church, has led to pushback from members within the congregation. Some people have left the church, and he said he’s heard theories ranging from the vaccine containing alien blood to it being “the mark of the beast.”

The level of absurdity among our citizenry can be found in countless news articles.

Most Americans who haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19 say they are unlikely to get the shots and doubt they would work against the aggressive delta variant despite evidence they do, according to a new poll that underscores the challenges facing public health officials amid soaring infections in some states.

Among American adults who have not yet received a vaccine, 35% say they probably will not, and 45% say they definitely will not, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Just 3% say they definitely will get the shots, though another 16% say they probably will.

What’s more, 64% of unvaccinated Americans have little to no confidence the shots are effective against variants — including the delta variant that officials say is responsible for 83% of new cases in the U.S. — despite evidence that they offer strong protection. In contrast, 86% of those who have already been vaccinated have at least some confidence that the vaccines will work.


Working in a nursing home became one of the “most dangerous jobs” in America in 2020, according to an analysis of work-related deaths by Scientific American.

Yet seven months after the first vaccines became available to medical professionals, only 59% of staff at the nation’s nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are fully or partially vaccinated — with eight states reporting an average rate of less than half, according to CMS data updated last week.

Hey Ron Johnson, Bipartisanship Is A Grand Way To Govern

When it comes to Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson there is really only one certainty we can say about the man. Without knowing what topic he will land on, we can be assured that what he says will challenge facts.

That is what took place this week when he undermined the act of bipartisanship on national television.

During a Fox News interview Ron Johnson once again came out against bipartisan infrastructure efforts that would positively impact communities across Wisconsin. However, Johnson didn’t stop at criticizing the bipartisan infrastructure efforts; he came out swinging against the very idea of working in a bipartisan manner saying, “I always warn people [to] beware of bipartisanship.”

One can calculate a couple scenarios as to why Johnson repeatedly wades into rhetorical swamps. He is either playing to a base of the Republican Party for an election in 2022, or he is finished with elected office and simply intends to say anything that comes to mind.

What can not be disputed, however, is the fact-less terrain on which he wishes to position himself. While we surely desire to have our top elected officials from the state be wedded to history and logic that is not what we are witnessing. As one who always likes to have the nation see the best exhibited by our state, such moments as this one troubles me.

The streets in my Madison neighborhood are named for the signers of the Constitution.  When friends visit we go for a walk and given my interests a few quick stories are offered about the men who made history in 1787. Much of the document they created was based on compromise. For instance, William (Paterson Street) wanted a unicameral legislature, but the great compromise of creating a two-body congressional model allowed for the ultimate success of their larger document.

In so doing they did not think that such bending was a weakness but fully understood the greater good to be gained with mutual concessions. That is how the whole of our history has been conducted. Though Johnson was not elected in 1996 he surely heard of the welfare reform measure where Republicans achieved work requirements and Democrats placed education dollars and child care funding into the final bill.

No one got all they wanted. But that is is precisely what compromise is. It is the art of governing.

Whether we voted for Johnson, or not, it becomes central to his mission, once sworn into office, to work at representing the will of the people. I do not hear or read that the ‘folks back home’ are clamoring for more of the harsh rhetoric or the digging of an ever-deeper chasm between the parties. Rather it is most clear from letters to the editor and conversations on Wisconsin Public Radio that state residents want the rhetorical sniping to end and progress to be made on issues of the day.

Though the news reports several weeks ago all pointed to the fact both parties reached an agreement at making Juneteenth a federal holiday, and some even commented on how pleased people were over that mutual agreement, it also underscores what is wrong with congress.

Such legislative moments should not be so rare they merit headline attention. Compromise and governing should be the norm, not the exception. That mindset should be the way our elected officials act when conducting themselves on the national stage.

And so it goes.

Space Travel Takes A Most Important Step, Thank You Jeff Bezos

What a grand day in our nation. Jeff Bezos did what he said he would do. He went into space in a short journey of 65 miles in a spacecraft that was built by his company.

For history buffs and lovers of space this was a mighty fine date to have this happen.

On July 20, 1969, two American astronauts landed on the moon and became the first humans to walk on the lunar surface.

This morning a rocket, while not really resembling the ones which launched my childhood heroes into space, still produced that deep sense of awe within me. Today’s rocket and capsule were called New Shepard after Alan Shepard, the first American in space. The connection of the dreamers of today with those who helped pave our original thrust into space is a sign of respect. But also a grounded determination to make great strides likes those brave men who climbed on top of rockets of flame in the 1960s.

We have all heard the constant carping and backbiting about Bezos and his company, Blue Origin. We have heard the litany of reasons that we should scorn the man for being rich, or using his money to exert ourselves into space with a commercial edge. While I have read and listened to such commentary for a long time, I simply disagree. After all, I was reading as a teenager the reasons why space program dollars should have been used for a list of other purposes. Such arguments were wrong then, as they are today.

Human nature is to explore, to learn, to know.

I applaud the decades-long effort of Bezos to reach upward and out and into space. I am confident his work will be a real stepping-stone to advancing our further exploration of space. As a boy who lived the pretend life of an astronaut in 1969, and watching over the decades since as satellites and rovers expand our reach I can say with enthusiasm how thrilled I am today.

I am filled with pride in our nation for producing a private citizen like Bezos, who was schooled to know that unlimited dreams can come true. I also feel deep optimism this is but another step in our desire to be space-bound. What happened today will engage others and drive our curious nature further to better know and understand the heavens.

The same lift of spirit and imagination over the space program that impacted me as a boy (thanks to Walter Cronkite’s narration) surely has struck many a kid today who watched in homes around the country as New Shepard made a dandy performance. That infusion of hope and wonder is priceless for the country.

We are all winners today. Even if some can not acknowledge it.

And so it goes.

8-Year-Old: “It Was My Second Shooting”

There comes a time in life when it seems nothing can possibly take you aback, stun, or hit way down deep when watching the news. After the past number of years that is certainly how I feel when reading the newspaper or watching the news. But the words from an 8-year-old girl on the CBS News Monday night did what I thought no longer possible.

It made me cringe.

And then remark, “she is just a child!”

Faris Nunn was sitting at the third baseline with her parents and younger brother watching the Nationals play baseball in our nation’s Capital. In that all-American setting, shots blasted the Saturday night serenity. It was after the chaos had settled that she was met by reporters and stated what happened, and how she felt.

“I saw people looking that way. And I didn’t know what was going on until I heard someone say get out, so I just started going under the seat,” Nunn said.

When asked how she was feeling through all of that, she said: “It was my second shooting. So I was kind of prepared … because I always am expecting something to happen.”

The gut-wrenching ease and honesty which Nunn spoke to reporters should unnerve us all.

Too many adults sit back and allow for gun violence to continue in this nation—crimes that are impacting the time young people are to be enjoying childhood. By not calling elected officials, gathering with other like-minded citizens, and demanding gun control measures be enacted we undermine the time young people should have for childhood.

Nunn and all her fellow children should never need to be ” expecting something to happen”. Other than perhaps an ice-cream truck selling a cold delight on a summer day.

I have been dulled, like many others in this land, to the daily news accounts of gun violence. The sincerity of the words from Nunn, however, makes me most aware as to why we must not lose our way in the demands for gun control laws.

And so it goes.

Cap Times “State Debate” Headline About Dane County Fair Fights

Woke up this morning to find that my thoughts about the fights at the Dane County Fair this weekend made for a headline. State Debate is a weekday feature at the Capital Times. I am always humbled when what I write makes for a link on their site.

Gregory Humphrey’s Tribute To Bill Anderson Makes Top Of Country Legend’s Website

Super pleased to find out tonight that my blog post this weekend on Bill Anderson made top billing on his website.

The country music legend celebrated 60 years on the Grand Ole Opry Saturday night. I wrote how I sang his songs as a boy while using the picnic table as a stage back home. And how my Aunt Evie, who lived next door, smiled about those ‘shows’ decades after the last one was performed.

Over time I have expressed how it felt when this little space on the intent highway has such a moment. Such as when the family of Porter Wagoner commented on my words following his passing, or the same type of interaction following the death of famed WSM announcer Grant Turner. In fact, my words about Turner are linked at the Tennessee Radio Hall Of Fame.

Tonight, I can say the picture below from Bill Anderson’s website tickles me completely and means more than money. After all, this has been a six-decade journey with smiles and memories still being made.

Tale Of Two Americas: Vaccinated Blue Counties, Unvaccinated Red Counties

There was no way this weekend to miss the most pressing story in the nation. Be it newspapers, radio news, or evening broadcasts on the major networks it was blatantly clear our nation is facing a test of reason and logic vs. conspiracy theories and selfishness. As COVID cases rise and a tenacious variant takes hold there is a severe contrast between that part of the nation understanding why it is vital to be vaccinated and the other part that remains adrift from reality.

While much of the nation tiptoes toward normalcy, the coronavirus is again swamping hospitals in places like Mountain Home, a city of fewer than 13,000 people not far from the Missouri border. A principal reason, health officials say, is the emergence of the new, far more contagious variant called Delta, which now accounts for more than half of new infections in the United States.

In Baxter County, where the hospital is, fewer than a third of residents are fully vaccinated — below both the state and the national averages. Even fewer people are protected in surrounding counties that the hospital serves.

“It’s absolutely flooded,” said Dr. Rebecca Martin, a pulmonologist, as she made the rounds of 2 West one morning last week.

In the first half of June, the hospital averaged only one or two Covid-19 patients a day. On Thursday, 22 of the unit’s 32 beds were filled with coronavirus patients. Five more were in intensive care. In a single week, the number of Covid patients had jumped by one-third.

How a vaccine can be viewed as political is hard to fathom. But there are ways to show that such links can be made between how a county voted in 2020 for president, and how the vaccination rates have developed this year.

In Tennessee, Donald Trump won 61% of the vote, and this weekend the state had only 43% of their residents with even the first vaccine dose.

Holmes County in Ohio is where Trump won 83% of the vote, This weekend only 15% of the people there had one dose of the vaccine.

Waushara County in Wisconsin has only a 35% vaccination rate. The county is so Republican and easily led astray from facts, that the county has become a source for news stories. In the 2020 presidential election, the County voted 66% for Donald Trump. Now by almost the same percentage, the county refuses to be vaccinated. He refused to recognize the severity of the virus and undermined efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus such as encouraging the use of masks.

One of the main factors driving differences in COVID-19 vaccination rates across the country is partisanship. Our surveys consistently find that Democrats are much more likely to report having been vaccinated than Republicans, and Republicans are much more likely to say that they definitely do not want to get vaccinated.  In May, just as vaccine supply was starting to outstrip demand, we examined average vaccination rates by county and found that rates were lower in counties that voted for Trump in the 2020 Presidential election compared to those that voted for Biden. Now, two months later, we find that not only does this remain the case, the gap has grown.

There are more than medical concerns when pondering these statistics. What new business would want to establish themselves in a county with a population that is not able to understand the necessity of being vaccinated against COVID or have any more regard for the larger community? What does it say about a region where facts and common-sense are not being used by people for their own well-being? Is that a place where any serious business operation would want to set up shop?

Personally, I find the people refusing the vaccine, and in so doing harming the larger community, both in terms of health and economics, to be selfish and truly stupid. To know they are acting in such a repulsive fashion due to their allegiance to the most moronic person to ever sit in the Oval Office underscores why the majority of the nation thinks of them as we do.

And so it goes.

Dane County Fair Atmosphere Ruined By Brawling Youth

For many people, 2020 was a long and frustrating year. The COVID-19 pandemic altered lives, shut down businesses, and caused the cancelations of almost everything that was fun to do. That included the always enjoyable Dane County Fair.

So there was a reason for everyone to broadly smile when passing the Aliant Energy Center to see the massive Ferris Wheel assembled and lighted with flashing and rotating colors. A real slice of how summer should feel was again so visible from the fairgrounds. Once again vaccinated people could feel a sense of normalcy, laugh, and enjoy a corn dog (OK, you really need two!) while seeking out the exhibition hall where area kids displayed their talents.

So it was very truly sad and dispiriting to wake up Saturday morning and learn that about 100 youth brawled in the parking lot that required deputies to step in and respond. Then it was even rougher to hear that both city and town of Madison police were called in for assistance. Multiple physical and verbal altercations started at 7 P.M. between a crowd of minors who gathered in the parking lot. At 9:30 P.M. deputies and fair security began to break up a large crowd of more than 50 people.

The outrageous behavior forced fair officials to move up its closing time for its last two nights and mandated minors be accompanied by adults.

What in the heck is wrong with these brawling chuckleheads? They must surely have understood the needed restrictions over the past year, but then felt the sense of relaxation which comes with society now being able to open up. So to then act in such a low-brow fashion and ruin the atmosphere for all is simply despicable.

I am always interested in the backstory to events so as to better understand how a person gets to the point where they make headlines in the newspaper.  Or on the radio Saturday morning.

I cheer for the national spelling champs and love to read how they prepare for the challenge of spelling words that befuddle even the smartest of adults.   I applaud the person who makes news for finishing college and getting a degree while overcoming health issues. Searching for this type of story is what I did when working in radio news broadcasting, and now what I do when trying to figure out where society is headed.

But I also pay attention when people make for awful headlines. When someone commits a terrible crime it is discovered the one arrested dropped out of high school in their sophomore year. Or how a gun was used in a crime by a teenager who housed the weapon in their parent’s home.

Or how so many who thought fighting in a parking lot at a fair, after a deadly pandemic, was in any way appropriate.

If I were a parent to a young person who acted in such an inexcusable manner there would be a very long conversation at home. And then consequences that would make the recent quarantine seem like a holiday.

Parents really do need to up their game. The lack of parenting is becoming more obvious all the time.

The stilled Ferris Wheel, way too early on Saturday night, with their colorful lights turned off, is proof of what is wrong.

And so it goes.