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Try Trolling

It seems Michelle’s husband has upset the Republicans again. (I know. Yawn.) It’s a twofer. First, over the weekend, the administration swapped five Taliban prisoners for our only POW in Afghanistan, a soldier held captive for five years.

I was about to write that the screeching from the right wing over this prisoner exchange is shameful, but it’s really just more proof that they have no shame. (Especially you, John fucking McCain. It’s bad enough to have to listen to all the chicken hawks of the 82nd Chairborne, but you damn well know better.) This man was an American soldier at war — granted, it was dubya’s dubious War on Terra, but still, we bring our soldiers home from war. Period. It’s part of who we are as a country. It’s quite possible this soldier deserted his post to wander off into Afghanistan on an adventure. That doesn’t matter. If you go to war for this country, you come home. Maybe broken or missing limbs, maybe in a box or in chains, but you come home. It doesn’t matter if you are a hero or a shithead.

I used to be able to say another part of who we are as a country is that we don’t torture prisoners or lock people up without a trial and throw away the key, but that was before Guantanamo. Michelle’s husband campaigned on closing it down, but he has been rebuffed at every turn by cowards in our Congress. The fact that we removed five prisoners from this cancer on our nation in the process of reclaiming a lost soldier is, for me, a win-win.

Speaking of our cowardly Congress, the second thing the administration did to get the right wing’s panties in a bunch was announce we would recognize and work with the new Palestinian unity government.

On Monday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas swore in a new government that is made up of technocrats backed by Hamas and the rival Fatah political faction. Hours later, Secretary of State John Kerry called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to relay U.S. willingness to work with the new leaders.

I would have paid good money to listen in on that conversation. I bet Netanyahu’s blood pressure was so high you could hear his head creaking. Based on an interview I heard this morning with the Israeli Ambassador, it looks like Israel is pissed. Good. Netanyahu has made it plain on more than one occasion that he neither likes nor respects our president. I hope this is Michelle’s husband’s way of telling him to stick it.

In fact, I hope these last few days are the beginning of a trend for this administration. I would like to see Michelle’s husband govern like a man who doesn’t have to face another election and doesn’t give two shits if he hurts the feelings of all those teabaggers who already hate him. I want him to see if he can smoke the bearings on the right-wing outrage machine.

We Are Doomed

I ran across this article a while back and found it truly frightening. I just read it again and it still gives me chills. The title alone — Imagining the Post-Antibiotic Future — gives me pause. Antibiotics have been around for my entire life. When I was 16, I had what I and my parents thought was a bad cold. It was during Christmas break from school, so I was just staying in bed, toughing it out and waiting to get better. It didn’t get better. It got much worse. I wound up in the emergency room on Christmas day with what turned out to be strep throat.

It was the sickest I have ever been. I went into that hospital feeling like I was dying. Just a few hours later, after a shot of penicillin in the ass and some pills to take home, I was feeling almost normal. My memories of that day — going from extreme sickness and fear to relative health so quickly — are still vivid 35 years later.

Without those antibiotics, I probably would have died. At 16. From a sore throat. The World Health Organization estimates that antimicrobials add 20 years to the average lifespan. It is difficult to imagine a world without them. But it appears that is where we are headed. The bugs are winning, becoming resistant to each new antibiotic faster than the last. And the drug companies are giving up.

With antibiotics losing usefulness so quickly — and thus not making back the estimated $1 billion per drug it costs to create them — the pharmaceutical industry lost enthusiasm for making more.

It’s your free market at work.  There is a lot more profit to be made from drugs that people take for years instead of a few days. Sure, government could step in and provide some incentive for research, but that’s socialism, and would make the teabaggers cry.

It’s not just a matter of stocking up on hand sanitizer and living a cautious, clean life. The list of medical procedures that would have to be radically altered or even eliminated is daunting. Things like transplants and cancer treatment:

Many treatments require suppressing the immune system, to help destroy cancer or to keep a transplanted organ viable. That suppression makes people unusually vulnerable to infection. Antibiotics reduce the threat; without them, chemotherapy or radiation treatment would be as dangerous as the cancers they seek to cure.

And burn treatment:

And severe burns are hugely susceptible to infection. Burn units would have a very, very difficult task keeping people alive.

All sorts of what are now considered routine surgeries like biopsies, Caesarean births and artificial joint replacements may become life-or-death decisions.

Before antibiotics, five women died out of every 1,000 who gave birth. One out of nine people who got a skin infection died, even from something as simple as a scrape or an insect bite. Three out of ten people who contracted pneumonia died from it. Ear infections caused deafness; sore throats were followed by heart failure. In a post-antibiotic era, would you mess around with power tools? Let your kid climb a tree? Have another child?

Good questions, but as is my wont, I try to look for a silver lining. In this case, I think we may not have to worry about the Social Security funding shortage.