Voting during the 19th Amendment’s centennial wasn’t supposed to be this way
“The moment was supposed to be a bright spot in an otherwise chaotic and uncertain year,” wrote Errin Haines, The 19th’s editor-at-large. “Instead, it would leave me feeling that chaos and uncertainty more acutely than ever.”
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As the pandemic rages and voter enthusiasm is at a record high, Americans are being urged to make a plan to cast their ballot in the most consequential election many of us will ever live through.
My plan was to vote early, something I did frequently in my native Georgia before moving to Philadelphia five years ago. Because of the pandemic, Pennsylvania allowed voting before Election Day for the first time this year.
On Monday, I emerged exhausted, demoralized and enraged after four hours of standing in line.
How, in the city where the Constitution was written and signed, where we celebrate the founding principles of democracy, is this happening? I was angry not for myself, but on behalf of the Philadelphians who could be disenfranchised this election. I am someone who had four hours to stand in line; there are too many who live in this city who do not.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
I wondered how many people passed by, saw the line, and kept walking or driving.”
A conversation with Masha Gessen on how to prevent “autocratic breakthrough,” why Russiagate was a “crutch” for the left, and what really happened in that New Yorker election s(t)imulation Zoom
A reelected Donald Trump, abetted by a 6-3 Supreme Court, is truly a terrifying prospect — very possibly the end of the American republic in any real sense. But we are not there yet. Where we are, in fact, is in the liminal space where it is still possible to achieve a different future.
This looming election may well be the last exit before autocracy.
That was one of the things I carried away from my conversation with the brilliant Masha Gessen, whose wisdom I’m so happy to be sharing with you today. This era has revealed its share of charlatans and criminals and fools. But it has also revealed genuine heroes — including intellectual ones. One of mine is Masha.
Masha is a journalist and writer and thinker who spent the first part of their career in Russia, writing about science, democracy, autocracy, and disease. Then they made a home in America, where it turned out that some understanding of science, democracy, autocracy, and disease would prove very handy.
Masha was made for this moment. To be clear, given their interests, you actually never want to be living in a time and place that Masha was made for, but here we are.
The question is what happens next. If he, God willing, wins, I think that in some ways Biden can be a transformative president, because I think that there’s a grand ambition there, that’s become very clear, to invest in infrastructure, to create a new welfare state, to bring the country together in some really, I think, beautiful ways.
What gives me hope is distinct from the question of whether I’m optimistic. I can be incredibly pessimistic, but hope is a necessity of survival and a moral imperative. I hope because I have to, because a better future is possible. The foundational requirement for it is hope.
I use the word autocracy intentionally, instead of authoritarianism, for two reasons. One is because I’ve spent so much of my life writing about totalitarianism that, in that context, authoritarianism is something distinct from totalitarianism. Authoritarianism is a kind of regime in which basically the ruler wants people to go home and tend to their private lives while they run the country. So nothing is political under authoritarianism; everything becomes private. Politics as such disappears.
Under totalitarianism, it’s the opposite. The totalitarian leader wants people out in the public square at all times, demonstrating their support for him. Under totalitarianism, nothing is private; everything is political. It’s the private that disappears.
So let’s stick with autocracy. Where are we in the autocratic arc? I hope we’re at the stage of the autocratic attempt. If there’s a spectacular failure of this election, not a failure as in Donald Trump wins, but a failure as in, he doesn’t leave office because he can abuse the courts, abuse the power of the courts and secure being able not to leave office that way, because he can create enough chaos to throw election results into enough doubt that he doesn’t leave office — if there is an actual engineered failure of the election, then we have already passed the point of no return, the point of autocratic breakthrough. So I don’t actually know the answer. I very much hope that we’re at the point of an autocratic attempt, and that attempt will be reversed because we vote him out of office.
The borough’s proposal for a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
The 28th Amendment — a proposal
Whereas the government of the United States should represent all of the people of the United States equally,
ction 1. The Electoral College shall be abolished and the President selected by popular vote; Senate membership shall be reallocated to reflect more accurately the distribution of the national population, with a minimum of one seat per state; Election Day shall be a national holiday; elections shall be publicly financed. All citizens of the United States, including those living in its territories and the District of Columbia, shall have the same electoral rights and representation as residents of a State; all citizens of voting age shall have the unencumbered right to vote in federal, state, and local elections. Congress shall have the power and obligation to enforce these provisions by appropriate legislation.
Section 2. In recognition of the inherent dignity of all persons, Congress shall have the power and obligation to enact appropriate legislation to secure all rights guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including the right to education, healthcare, housing, employment, food security, and a clean and healthy environment.
The scientific method is the most powerful invention humans have ever created. It’s not just for people in white coats and in labs. The scientific method has changed what we wear, what we eat, the health of our families, the way we earn a living–the world as we know it is a result of a simple process of hypothesis, testing and explanation.
Unfortunately, school and other systems in our world focus on just one or two of the elements necessary to do it well.
- Know the rules, maxims and outcomes that came before. Do the reading, score well on the test.
- Understand the thinking behind these rules, so you can dive deeper and either change the rules or expand on them.
- Do tests that others haven’t thought of or that people don’t think will work. Intentionally create falsifiable hypotheses, knowing that you might be wrong, and then go test them.
- Publish your results so that others can examine your work and improve it. Show your work. Invite correction and improvement.
- Explain what you did clearly so that it becomes part of the canon, so it can be used by others, until it’s replaced by something even more useful.
There are very few contentious arguments in our world today that couldn’t be more quickly resolved if all involved were willing to act in good faith and work their way through the steps together.
Because if you seek to lead or to change minds, if you’re working for better, then you’re a scientist.
The U.S. confirmed at least 83,010 coronavirus cases on Friday, the country’s highest daily total since the pandemic started, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.
Friday, October 23rd, 2020
- wear a mask
- wash your hands
- watch your space
Please. We must. So many people are going to die, as well as long-term health issues, like strokes, heart attacks, other vascular related issues. A hospital in Twin Falls, Idaho, is no longer accepting children, and COVID patients are being flows to Boise, Portland, and Seattle.
It. Is. Not. Political.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg “knew the power of example—that if you live your own life according to your principles, others will follow,” writes her former clerk, Ryan Y. Park, Solicitor General of North Carolina.
My Friend and Boss, Ruth Bader Ginsburg
“A big deal in the revival of local news: Nonprofit Mountain State Spotlight
Dr. David Bohm:
“Dialogue is really aimed at going into the whole thought process and changing the way the thought process occurs collectively. We haven’t really paid much attention to thought as a process. We have engaged in thoughts, but we have only paid attention to the content, not to the process.
It is proposed that a form of free dialogue may well be one of the most effective ways of investigating the crisis which faces society, and indeed the whole of human nature and consciousness today. Moreover, it may turn out that such a form of free exchange of ideas and information is of fundamental relevance for transforming culture and freeing it of destructive misinformation, so that creativity can be liberated.”
The first lesson I learned is that we have to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Only talking to people who agree with us, it’s not going to get us to the solution. We have to be willing to enter other people’s space. Because quite often, the enemy has the power to change the problem that we’re trying to solve.
The world’s smallest and biggest problems, they won’t be solved by beating down our enemies but by finding these win-win pathways together. It does require us to let go of that idea of us versus them and realize there’s only one us, all of us, against an unjust system. And it is difficult, and messy, and uncomfortable.
The arc and the arch.
They sound similar, but they’re not.
An arc, like an arch, is bent. The strength comes from that bend.
But the arc doesn’t have to be supported at both ends, and the arc is more flexible. The arc can take us to parts unknown, yet it has a trajectory.
An arch, on the other hand, is a solid structure. It’s a bridge that others have already walked over.
Our life is filled with both. We’re trained on arches, encouraged to seek them out.
But an arc, which comes from “arrow,” is the rare ability to take flight and to go further than you or others expected.
HOW TO HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH YOUR POLITICAL OPPONENTS
This story is from Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Hochschild.
‘For this book, the professor emerita of sociology immersed herself in the American political right wing. Over the course of five years, she regularly stayed in ultraconservative “Bayou Country” in Louisiana. She herself comes from lefter than left Berkeley, California. She couldn’t have left her bubble any further behind.
‘When left-wing sociologist Arlie Hochschild went to live in a right-wing stronghold in the American South, she was entering “enemy” territory.
But, by listening to the people there – instead of arguing against them – she distilled a clear picture: right-wing Trump supporters felt like victims of a society that had left them behind.
In an era where debate has descended into a televised shouting match, it’s easy to feel like you’re at war with people who disagree with you.
But Hochschild learned that by laying down our arms and trying to understand, even empathise with, our political opponents, we can learn how to have constructive political conversations.’
‘Having a heart-to-heart conversation with an ideological opponent can feel uncomfortable – unsafe even. But sociologist Arlie Hochschild proves that it pays off. She immersed herself in a conservative stronghold in the Southern United States for five years and wrote a book about it.’
Not everyone agrees with this approach, Hochschild said during a 2016 interview with Ezra Klein. It can feel as though you’re surrendering, laying down your weapons and walking over to the enemy. But, she says:
Whether it’s about corona, climate or benefits, let’s carry out these diplomatic missions more often. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with each other, but at least you’re making a genuine attempt to understand the other person.’
With the White House in the background, 20,000 chairs, each representing 10 Americans killed by the novel coronavirus, are lined up Sunday on the Ellipse for the first National Covid-19 Remembrance. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)
Monday night, October 5th.
U.S. Coronavirus Cases: 7,679,644
It’s the right inside the wrong.
Yale University Library~Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library
‘The career of James Langston Hughes (1902-1967), a central figure during the Harlem Renaissance, spanned five decades. He wrote poetry, short stories, plays, newspaper columns, children’s books, and pictorial histories. He also edited several volumes of prose and fiction by African-American and African writers. Through his writing and through his extensive travels and lecture tours he came into direct contact with an amazing array of writers, artists, activists, and performers of the twentieth century. The Langston Hughes Papers span the years 1862-1980. A view of the life and work of the poet and American literary icon as seen through personal snapshots, pages of manuscripts, printed items, sheet music, and ephemera documenting his wide travels and public appearances.’
The Langston Hughes Papers are the single most-consulted archive among the Beinecke Library’s extensive holdings.
He continues his trajectory to burn our institutions. Why do people named not come forward and confirm his destruction? Without compassion, empathy, sympathy, or love, he must have sold his soul long ago.
Voice of America, now Stars & Stripes. His and his father’s disdain for the military, not the Pentagon, but the service members, continues.
Stars and Stripes traces its origins to Bloomfield, Missouri, in November 1861, when troops under the future president Ulysses S Grant took over the printing press of a Confederate sympathiser.
It has traditionally provided news free of government censorship, often critical of military and civilian commanders, and is delivered daily to troops around the world, even on frontlines.
Voice of America
Massachusetts [D] Senator Elizabeth Warren called it corruption. In a tweet, she said: “Steve Bannon’s buddy Michael Pack should understand that Voice of America’s programming is supposed to support freedom and democracy around the world.”
How Trump’s obsessions with media and loyalty coalesced in a battle for Voice of America
The swift purge of former appointees has increased the worry among Democrats and press freedom advocates that the Trump administration is attempting to gain control over an independent but federally funded media organization with among the largest audiences in the world. On its own, the Voice of America delivers television and radio programs to 236.6 million people — and in some countries dominated by state media, it is the only free and unshackled news source.
“If those in charge of our society – politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves.”
Propaganda presents one view of an issue as if it were an absolute truth.
The Russo Brothers:
“He inspired an entire generation to stand up and be king. Honor him by emulating him…show kindness and love to others. Share your talents in ways that impact. Always strive to be a light in the darkness.”
President Barack Obama:
“To be young, gifted, and Black; to use that power to give them heroes to look up to; to do it all while in pain–what a use of his years.”
At the 2019 Screen Actors Guild Awards, “Black Panther” won best ensemble, electrifying the room. Before an auditorium full of actors, Chadwick Boseman stepped to the microphone. He quoted Nina Simone: “To be young, gifted and black,” and put the moment in context.
“We know what it’s like to be told there isn’t a screen for you to be featured on, a stage for you to be featured on. … We know what’s like to be beneath and not above. And that is what we went to work with every day,” said Boseman. “We knew that we could create a world that exemplified a world we wanted to see. We knew that we had something to give.”
Chadwick Boseman speaking at his alma mater, Howard University, to the class of 2018:
“Sometimes you need to get knocked down before you can really figure out what your fight is and how you need to fight it. Whatever you choose for a career path, remember, the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose. When I dared to challenge the system that would relegate us to victims and stereotypes with no clear historical backgrounds, no hopes or talents, when I questioned that method of portrayal, a different path opened up for me, the path to my destiny.”
‘Live amongst people in such a manner that if you die they weep over you and if you are alive they crave for your company.’
-Ali ibn Abu Talib
DNC in the summer of 1960.
From her book The Moral Basis of Democracy [1940/2016]:
“Therefore, as their elders leave the stage, it remains for youth to find a way to face the domestic situation, to meet the conditions which confront their country in its relationship with the other countries of the world” (p. 43).
The democratic theory of government and of life in a democracy opposes one-man rule, and holds to the belief that the individual controls his government through active participation in the process of political democratic government, but bows to the ill of the majority, free expressed” (italics mine) (p.7).
Hillary Clinton won the election by 2,864,974 votes. A handful of Electoral College members voted against the popular vote to put a man, wholly unqualified, into the presidency.
“…it remains for youth to find a way to face” this assault on the majoritive. If you register and VOTE, you will give the democratic process back to the American people.
Please. Vote. And find five friends to register. We need you. This country needs you.
NOVEMBER 3, 2020
‘The tragedy of nations is perhaps this: that even the best rulers use up a piece of their people’s future.’ –Rilke
A Call for Reparations: How America Might Narrow the Racial Wealth Gap
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones on the racial wealth gap — and why she believes it’s time for reparations. Her new piece published in New York Times magazine.
The killing of George Floyd has ignited protests and inspired conversations — and changes — across the globe. But New York Times Magazine writer Nikole Hannah-Jones says more needs to be done to address America’s racial wealth gap.
“Very few Americans have created all of their wealth on their own; it’s passed down through generations and then built upon,” Hannah-Jones says. “Black Americans never really had a chance to do that.”
Hannah-Jones traces the wealth gap to slavery, and the fact that enslaved people were not allowed to own property. She notes that the legalized segregation and racial terrorism that followed slavery exacerbated the problem and “prevented generation after generation of Black Americans from acquiring the type of wealth or foothold in the economy that allows you to live a life that is much more typical of white Americans.”
Hannah-Jones won a Pulitzer Prize for creating the 1619 project at The New York Times, which tracks the legacy of slavery. Her latest article for the Times Magazine, What is Owed, makes the case for economic reparations for Black Americans.
Very few Americans have created all of their wealth on their own; it’s passed down through generations and then built upon. Black Americans never really had a chance to do that.
There are stories of mass starvation of Black people after they had been freed, having to leave the plantation and find shelter in burned out buildings, trying to forage for food in burned-out fields. It was a devastating period for Black people. This country decided that it was going to do nothing, that it owed these people nothing.
“If you want to bring in different perspectives, you’ll have a different culture & different environment that will lead you to make different decisions.”
James Bennet, recently resigned opinion editor for the NYTimes, representing collective White privilege patriarchy…father, Douglas Bennet, former NPR Director/Wesleyan University president and part of both the Carter & Clinton administrations, and brother, Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator and former U.S. Presidential candidate. -dayle
A copy of the December 23, 2018, edition of the New York Times.Robert Alexander/Getty Images
America is changing, and so is the media
The media has gone through painful periods of change before. But this time is different
There have always been boundaries around acceptable discourse, and the media has always been involved, in a complex and often unacknowledged way, in both enforcing and contesting them. In 1986, the media historian Daniel Hallin argued that journalists treat ideas as belonging to three spheres, each of which is governed by different rules of coverage. There’s the “sphere of consensus,” in which agreement is assumed. There’s the “sphere of deviance,” in which a view is considered universally repugnant, and it need not be entertained. And then, in the middle, is the “sphere of legitimate controversy,” wherein journalists are expected to cover all sides, and op-ed pages to represent all points of view.
The media’s week of reckoning
Last week, the New York Times op-ed section solicited and published an article by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) arguing that the US military should be deployed to “restore order to our streets.” The piece set off an internal revolt at the Times, with staffers coordinating pushback across Twitter, and led to the resignation of James Bennet, the editor of the op-ed section, and the reassignment of Jim Dao, the deputy editor.
That same week, Stan Wischnowski, the top editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, resigned after publishing an article by the paper’s architecture critic titled “Buildings Matter, Too.” David Boardman, the chair of the board that controls the Inquirer, said Wischnowski had done “remarkable” work but “leaves behind some decades-old, deep-seated and vitally important issues around diversity, equity and inclusion, issues that were not of his creation but that will likely benefit from a fresh approach.”
One interpretation of these events, favored by frustrated conservatives, is that a generation of young, woke journalists want to see the media remade along activist lines, while an older generation believes it must cover the news without fear and favor, and reflect, at the very least, the full range of views held by those in power.
“The New York Times motto is ‘all the news that’s fit to print,’” wrote the Times’s Bari Weiss. “One group emphasizes the word ‘all.’ The other, the word ‘fit.’”
Another interpretation is that the range of acceptable views isn’t narrowing so much as it’s shifting. Two decades ago, an article like Cotton’s could easily be published, an essay arguing for abolishing prisons or police would languish in the submissions pile, and a slogan like “Black Lives Matter” would be controversial. Today, Black Lives Matter is in the sphere of consensus, abolishing prisons is in legitimate controversy, and there’s a fight to move Cotton’s proposal to deploy troops against US citizens into deviance. The idea space is just as large as it’s been in the past — perhaps larger — but it is in flux, and the fight to define its boundaries is more visible.
“Those are political decisions,” says Charles Whitaker, dean of the Medill School of Journalism. “They are absolutely governed by politics — either our desire to highlight certain political views or not highlight them, or to create this impression that we’re just a marketplace of ideas.”
The media is changing because the world is changing
- First, business models built around secure local advertising monopolies collapsed into the all-against-all war for national, even global, attention that defines digital media.
- Second, the nationalization of news has changed the nature of the audience. The local business model was predicated on dominating coverage of a certain place; the national business model is about securing the loyalties of a certain kind of person.
- Third, America is in a moment of rapid demographic and generational change. Millennials are now the largest generation, and they are far more diverse and liberal than the generations that preceded them.
- Fourth, the rise of social media empowered not just the audience but, crucially, individual journalists, who now have the capacity to question their employer publicly, and alchemize staff and public discontent into a public crisis that publishers can’t ignore.
The media prefers to change in private. Now it’s changing in public.
The news media likes to pretend that it simply holds up a mirror to America as it is. We don’t want to be seen as actors crafting the political debate, agents who make decisions that shape the boundaries of the national discourse. We are, of course. We always have been.
“When you think in terms of these three spheres — sphere of consensus, of legitimate debate, and of deviancy — a new way of describing the role for journalism emerges, which is: They police what goes in which sphere,” says Jay Rosen, who teaches journalism at NYU. “That’s an ideological action they never took responsibility for, never really admitted they did, never had a language for talking about.”
“Organizations that have embraced the mantra that they need to diversify have not as quickly realized that diversifying means they have to be a fundamentally different place,” says Jelani Cobb, the Ira A. Lipman professor at the Columbia Journalism School and a staff writer at the New Yorker. “If you want to bring in different perspectives, you’ll have a different culture and different environment that will lead you to make different decisions.”
The Unspoken Privilege of Being White
For a long time, I naively hoped that racism was a thing of the past. Those of us who are white have a very hard time seeing that we constantly receive special treatment [because of social systems built to prioritize people with white skin]. This systemic “white privilege” makes it harder for us to recognize the experiences of people of color as valid and real when they speak of racial profiling, police brutality, discrimination in the workplace, continued segregation in schools, lack of access to housing, and on and on. This is not the experience of most white people, so how can it be true? Now, we are being shown how limited our vision is.
Because we have never been on the other side, we largely do not recognize the structural access we enjoy, the trust we think we deserve, the assumption that we always belong and do not have to earn our belonging. All this we take for granted as normal. Only the outsider can spot these attitudes in us.
[And we are quick to dismiss what is apparent to our neighbors who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color [BIPOC] from their lived experience.]
Of course, we all belong. There is no issue of more or less in the eyes of an Infinite God. Yet the ego believes the lie that there isn’t enough to go around and that for me to succeed or win, someone else must lose. And so we’ve greedily supported systems and governments that work to our own advantage at the expense of others, most often people of color or any highly visible difference. The advancement of the white person was too often at the cost of other people not advancing at all. A minor history course should make that rather clear.
I would have never seen my own white privilege if I had not been forced outside of my dominant white culture by travel, by working in the jail, by hearing stories from counselees and, frankly, by making a complete fool of myself in so many social settings—most of which I had the freedom to avoid!
Power [and privilege] never surrenders without a fight. If your entire life has been to live unquestioned in your position of power—a power that was culturally given to you, but you think you earned—there is almost no way you will give it up without major failure, suffering, humiliation, or defeat. As long as we really want to be on top and would take advantage of any privilege or short cut to get us there, we will never experience true “liberty, equality, fraternity” (revolutionary ideals that endure as mottos for France and Haiti).
If God operates as me, God operates as “thee” too, and the playing field is utterly leveled forever. Like Jesus, Francis, Clare, and many other humble mystics, we then rush down instead of up. In the act of letting go and choosing to become servants, community can at last be possible. The illusory state of privilege just gets in the way of neighboring and basic human friendship.
-Fr. Richard Rohr, Center for Action & Contemplation
100 ways you can take action against racism right now
If you’re looking to get involved outside of organizing in person, we’ve rounded up a list of ways you can take action from home, including ideas specific to demanding justice for Floyd and addressing racism in general.
[Also showing on Netflix.]
Previously unseen footage is shaped into a fresh and timely retelling of the 1992 Rodney King trial — and the verdict that sparked civil unrest–the acquittal of four police officers for beating a black motorist saw several days of protests, violence and looting in Los Angeles. Gives back story to the Watts Rebellion of 1965 in South-Central Los Angeles. Directed by T.J. Martin and Daniel Lindsay.
We can’t permit the murder of people because of the color of their skin. Institutional racism is real, it’s often invisible, and it’s pernicious.
And White Supremacy is a loaded term precisely because the systems and their terrible effects are very real, widespread and run deep.
The benefit of the doubt is powerful indeed, and that benefit has helped me and people like me for generations. I’m ashamed of how we got here, and want to more powerfully contribute and model how we can get better, together.
It doesn’t matter how many blog posts about justice I write, or how clear I try to be about the power of diversity in our organizations. Not if I’m leaving doubt about the scale and enormity of the suffering that people feel, not just themselves, but for their parents before them and for the kids that will follow them.
It’s easier to look away and to decide that this is a problem for someone else. It’s actually a problem for all of us. And problems have solutions and problems are uncomfortable.
Justice Felix Frankfurter congratulates Chief Justice Earl Warren on Brown v. Board of Education, today 1954: “This is a day that will live in glory.”
-Michael Beschloss, historian
“Make sure she’s praised as a hero, because she was. She’s a casualty just as much as anyone else who has died.”
Top E.R. Doctor Who Treated Virus Patients Dies by Suicide
“She tried to do her job, and it killed her,” said the father of Dr. Lorna M. Breen, who worked at a Manhattan hospital hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak.
A top emergency room doctor at a Manhattan hospital that treated many coronavirus patients died by suicide on Sunday, her father and the police said.
Dr. Lorna M. Breen, the medical director of the emergency department at NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital, died in Charlottesville, Va., where she was staying with family, her father said in an interview.
Tyler Hawn, a spokesman for the Charlottesville Police Department, said in an email that officers on Sunday responded to a call seeking medical assistance.
“The victim was taken to U.V.A. Hospital for treatment, but later succumbed to self-inflicted injuries,” Mr. Hawn said.
Dr. Breen’s father, Dr. Philip C. Breen, said she had described devastating scenes of the toll the coronavirus took on patients.
“She tried to do her job, and it killed her,” he said.
The elder Dr. Breen said his daughter had contracted the coronavirus but had gone back to work after recuperating for about a week and a half. The hospital sent her home again, before her family intervened to bring her to Charlottesville, he said.
Dr. Breen, 49, did not have a history of mental illness, her father said. But he said that when he last spoke with her, she seemed detached, and he could tell something was wrong. She had described to him an onslaught of patients who were dying before they could even be taken out of ambulances.
“She was truly in the trenches of the front line,” he said.
He added: “Make sure she’s praised as a hero, because she was. She’s a casualty just as much as anyone else who has died.”
In a statement, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia used that language to describe her. “Dr. Breen is a hero who brought the highest ideals of medicine to the challenging front lines of the emergency department,” the statement said. “Our focus today is to provide support to her family, friends and colleagues as they cope with this news during what is already an extraordinarily difficult time.”
Aside from work, Dr. Breen filled her time with friends, hobbies and sports, friends said. She was an avid member of a New York ski club and traveled regularly out west to ski and snowboard. She was also a deeply religious Christian who volunteered at a home for older people once a week, friends said. Once a year, she threw a large party on the roof deck of her Manhattan home.
She was very close with her sisters and mother, who lived in Virginia.
One colleague said he had spent dozens of hours talking to Dr. Breen not only about medicine but about their lives and the hobbies she enjoyed, which also included salsa dancing. She was a lively presence, outgoing and extroverted, at work events, the colleague said.
NewYork-Presbyterian Allen is a 200-bed hospital at the northern tip of Manhattan that at times had as many as 170 patients with Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. As of April 7, there had been 59 patient deaths at the hospital, according to an internal document.
Dr. Lawrence A. Melniker, the vice chair for quality care at the NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, said that Dr. Breen was a well-respected and well-liked doctor in the NewYork-Presbyterian system, a network of hospitals that includes the Columbia University Irving Medical Center and the Weill Cornell Medical Center.
“You don’t get to a position like that at Allen without being very talented,” he said.
Dr. Melniker said the coronavirus had presented unusual mental health challenges for emergency physicians throughout New York, the epicenter of the crisis in the United States.
Doctors are accustomed to responding to all sorts of grisly tragedies, he said. But rarely do they have to worry about getting sick themselves, or about infecting their colleagues, friends and family members.
And rarely do they have to treat their own co-workers.
Another colleague said that Dr. Breen was always looking out for others, making sure her doctors had protective equipment or whatever else they needed. Even when she was home recovering from Covid-19, she texted her co-workers to check in and see how they were doing, the colleague said.
[If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources. Here’s what you can do when a loved one is severely depressed.]
Benjamin Weiser and Joseph Goldstein contributed reporting.
Our dear Gaia has mandated pause, a collective time-out, giving opportunity for us to re-consider what is possible. Planetary operations and behaviors are conducive to shifts now. Together, we can accomplish so much, in spite of ruthless and dangerous national and global leadership. We the people, sans greed, power and patriarchy. ‘Everything old is new again.’ What if we did things differently? -dayle
Defend the Post Office, Defend Black Workers
The United States Postal Service is a crucial institution for black workers in America. That’s why Bernie Sanders’s strong support for defending and expanding the USPS is a key racial justice issue.
For the average black worker, the postal service represents a stable, decent-paying career that is hard to find elsewhere. Today the average salary of a USPS employee is $55,000, and 21 percent of USPS employees are black. The history of black postal workers demonstrates the critical importance of government employment and a robust public sector for the advancement of black people in this country.
Saving and expanding the public sector will be a key fight for racial justice in the 2020 presidential race. Bernie Sanders, with his call for postal banking and robust government programs, is the only candidate offering a real plan to revive the postal service and the futures of black public-sector workers.
As Sanders puts it, “Post offices exist in almost every community in our country. There are more than 31,000 retail post offices in this country. An important way to provide decent banking opportunities for low-income communities is to allow the U.S. Postal Service to engage in basic banking services.” And beyond increasing revenue and employment for the USPS, this measure would eliminate the prevalence of payday loan centers that prey on poor communities of color.
The story of black workers in the post office begins with the legal end of slavery and the soldiers who fought for that freedom. As early as 1861, federal employment was opened up for black workers. In December 1864, Senator Charles Sumner passed a bill banning discrimination in postal employment. Though not always enforced, this protection was critical for enabling black workers to establish a foothold in a relatively stable and secure occupation.
A common theme throughout black history has been the importance of an activist federal government for advancing fundamental interests. Postal workers utilized executive orders in particular to improve their situation in the 1960s. This activism and the resulting legislation created a home for black women workers in the post office as well.
Among the few highlights in John F. Kennedy’s lackluster record on civil rights are his executive orders related to federal employment. Executive Order 10925 was issued in March 1961 and banned discrimination by employers and unions in federal contract work, followed by Executive Order 10988, which provided limited collective bargaining rights for federal employee unions that didn’t practice racial discrimination. These orders came after intense lobbying pressure from NAPE and the Negro American Labor Council.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 was a key factor in helping black women find work in the post office in large numbers.
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN Postmaster General
July 26, 1775 to November 1776
Franklin’s postal career began in 1737 when the British Crown Post appointed him postmaster of Philadelphia. In Franklin’s day, newspaper printers often served as postmasters, which helped them to gather and distribute news. More important, postmasters decided which newspapers could travel free in the mail – or if they could travel by mail at all. Philadelphia’s previous postmaster, who printed a rival newspaper, had barred Franklin’s Gazette from the mails.
He encouraged postmasters to establish the penny post, a British idea he had implemented while postmaster of Philadelphia, whereby letters not called for at the Post Office were delivered for a penny. He also ordered postmasters to print in newspapers the names of people who had letters waiting for them. Remembering his own experiences as a printer and postmaster, Franklin abolished the practice of letting postmasters decide which newspapers could travel through the mail and mandated delivery of all newspapers for a small fee. Thanks in part to Franklin’s efforts, the British Crown Post in North America registered its first profit in 1760.
William Howard Taft
27th President of the United States
Inaugural address, March 4, 1909 [excerpt]
The incoming Congress should promptly fulfill the promise of the Republicanplatform and pass a proper postal savings bank bill. It will not be unwiseor excessive paternalism. The promise to repay by the Government will furnishan inducement to savings deposits which private enterprise can not supplyand at such a low rate of interest as not to withdraw custom from existingbanks. It will substantially increase the funds available for investmentas capital in useful enterprises. It will furnish absolute security whichmakes the proposed scheme of government guaranty of deposits so alluring,without its pernicious results.
The negroes are now Americans. Their ancestors came here years ago againsttheir will, and this is their only country and their only flag. They haveshown themselves anxious to live for it and to die for it. Encounteringthe race feeling against them, subjected at times to cruel injustice growingout of it, they may well have our profound sympathy and aid in the strugglethey are making. We are charged with the sacred duty of making their path as smooth and easy as we can. Any recognition of their distinguished men, any appointment to office from among their number, is properly taken as an encouragement and an appreciation of their progress, and this just policy should be pursued when suitable occasion offers.
“We cannot allow Donald Trump to use this horrific pandemic as an opportunity to bankrupt and privatize the Postal Service,” Sanders tweeted earlier this month. “Now, more than ever, we need a strong and vibrant postal system to deliver mail 6-days a week. Congress must act now to save it.”
“The situation is absolutely dire,” Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), told New York magazine in an interview last week.
The USPS has been hit hard by the sharp decline in mail volume caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The Postal Service also remains shackled by a congressional mandate requiring the agency to prefund its retirees’ health benefits through the year 2056.
“The post office will likely run out of money sometime between July and September of this year,” said Dimondstein. “If they run out of money, then the people lose the service.”
‘The workers are part of a workforce deemed “essential” during the coronavirus crisis, meaning that — like grocery store workers, firefighters, garbage collectors and more — they still have to show up to work every day, even as large swaths of the country have closed stores and schools, and companies have mandated employees work from home.’
Senator Bernie Sanders conducts a news conference on July 5, 2011.
“If the goal of the Postal Service is to make as much money as possible,” Sanders told The Nation, “tens of millions of people, particularly low-income people and people in rural areas, will see a decline in or doing away with basic mail services.”
First among the Vermont senator’s proposals is an end to the USPS’sburdensome pre-funding mandate, which requires it to prepay decades of retiree health benefits. This unique requirement, which costs the USPS billions every year, was imposed by Congress in 2006, when mail volumes were historically high, but after the recession it became impossible to make the payments.
Since 2006 the agency has been barred from offering new products and services: At present, it cannot notarize documents, wrap presents, or ship alcoholic beverages. Sanders argues that Congress should allow the agency to do all these things and more, even suggesting it could expand into digital services and “offer a non-commercial version of Gmail.”
These proposals may sound surprising, but experts say they enjoy broad support among Postal Service stakeholders, and that the USPS would probably offer many of them if it could.
“Bernie may seem like a radical on some issues, but on the post office, he’s just plain common sense,” said Steve Hutkins, an NYU professor who runs the website Save the Post Office. Hutkins says most of Sanders’s proposals have been endorsed by the unions and the major mailers.
“Today, while more than 600,000 postal workers in the U.S. are putting their lives on the line delivering mail and packages, the institution itself is at risk of going bankrupt as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
The USPS is expected to lose about 50% of its revenue due to a loss of mail volume during the pandemic. And what most people do not know is that the USPS does not run on taxpayer dollars — it relies completely on revenue created by postage and postal services.
With such a significant drop in revenue, the USPS will be unable to carry out its work.
If we can bail out large corporations, we can damn well help the Postal Service — the most popular government agency in America — from going bankrupt because of this horrific pandemic.
That is why I am asking you today:
Unlike privatized delivery services, the Postal Service is required by law to deliver all mail and packages to everyone nationwide, regardless of where they live. And each year it is responsible for delivering 1.2 billion packages of medicine to those who need it.
How will people get their prescription drugs and, once they become available, their coronavirus test kits? How will we allow people to vote by mail in an election that is facing unprecedented hurdles to getting voters out to the polls? How will these things be possible if we do not have a fully functioning Postal Service?
Without relief or intervention, the United States Postal Service will not be able to sustain itself for the long term, which means it will not be able to deliver mail and packages to 160 million addresses all over the country.
That is why we must do everything we can to protect the Postal Service, which is at serious risk as a result of the economic crisis created by the coronavirus pandemic.”
-Sen. Bernie Sanders, (D) Vermont
Neil from Kids Safety Resource asked that I share their information on Dayle’s Community Cafe to help encourage our kids’ well being during COVID. ~dayle
- Advice directly from a board-certified pediatrician, Dr. R. Allan Stanford MD, FAAP
- When and how to take your kids to the doctor during this time
- Health safety precautions to use at home for you and your kids
- How to explain this pandemic to your kids
- Advice for pregnant women
Doctors are taking great strides to make sure that your family and kids are healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. We reached out to a pediatrician to find out what he’s telling his patients and what safety measures his office (and others) are taking to keep children and families safe and the risk of infection low.
Died: April 18, 1955, in Princeton, New Jersey
“I think 99 times and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence, and the truth comes to me.”
“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”
The day after COVID protests in Michigan, Idaho, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, California, and Virginia:‘Amazing and depressing how much of politicized American individualism (on guns, on vaccines, now on COVID mitigation) is childish acting out, adults throwing tantrums when parental figures try to discourage or stop them from doing unwise things.’-Kurt Anderson, author of the book, How America Went Haywire