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TomCADem's Journal
TomCADem's Journal
May 31, 2020

Malcolm X's "The Ballot or the Bullet" Still Resonates in Today's Political Climate

The year's of Republican efforts aimed a voter suppression along with their celebration of police brutality brings to mind the words of Malcolm X. This is why Democrats need to make voter access a key issue in their platform, particularly as Republicans oppose efforts to ensure that voters can vote by mail in the midst of a pandemic.


Malcolm X, née Little, delivered this speech twice in 1964, first in Cleveland and then again days later in Detroit. One month earlier, he had left the Nation of Islam, which discouraged its members from working alongside civil-rights activists. America was being governed by Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson, who took office following the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy and was running for office touting the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which, along with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, would eventually give Black people unburdened access to the vote after a brutal, decades-long fight. Black Americans faced widespread political disenfranchisement and outright violence in their demand for voting rights. Just six months before Malcolm delivered his speech, four little Black girls were bombed to death in the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.

Black activists believed that the segregationist governor of Alabama, George Wallace, deserved some blame for the little girls’ deaths, as just one week before the bombing he told a New York Times reporter that the country needed “a few first-class funerals” suggesting that was the solution to stopping integration. At the time of Malcolm’s speech, George Wallace was running against Lyndon Johnson in the Democratic primary.

Malcolm’s speech conveyed the pain and rage the Black community was feeling, pairing it with an urgent warning that escalated the community's demand for enfranchisement. It wasn't just a request for justice; it was a call for revolution. “This is why I say it's the ballot or the bullet. It's liberty or it's death. It's freedom for everybody or freedom for nobody…. A revolution is bloody, but America is in a unique position. She's the only country in history in the position actually to become involved in a bloodless revolution…. All she's got to do is give the Black man in this country everything that's due him. Everything.”

In his speech, Malcolm continually stressed the importance of the 1964 election as the future of the Civil Rights Act hung in the balance between President Johnson, who eventually won the Democratic nomination, and Barry Goldwater, the Republican presidential candidate who opposed the legislation. For Black folks, the 2020 election is just as critical of a year as 1964 was, as preventing the reelection of Donald Trump and his continued dismantling of facets of that very same Civil Rights Act takes center stage.

May 5, 2020

Simulating an epidemic (The Underlying Math Behind The Models)

This video provides a nice visual explanation of the math behind the models and shows how data is used to estimate the spread of diseases, as well as how different preventative measures are factored into such models.

May 1, 2020

Should Republicans Be Sanctioned for Doubling Down on China's Failures?

There is a great deal of irony with Republicans threatening a series of sanctions against China based on its three week delay in identifying COVID-19 as a possible new disease on December 31st and declaring a widely publicized lockdown in Wuhan on January 23rd. Three weeks.


Based on this three week delay, you have Republicans clamoring for punishing China for this delay and minimizing the threat of COVID-19. Okay, lets go with this. Presumably by January 23rd at the latest, the Trump administration was aware that the entire Wuhan province had been placed in quarantine. Heck, on January 27th, Joe Biden saw the risk of a pandemic and wrote an editorial describing this risk:


The possibility of a pandemic is a challenge Donald Trump is unqualified to handle as president. I remember how Trump sought to stoke fear and stigma during the 2014 Ebola epidemic. He called President Barack Obama a “dope” and “incompetent” and railed against the evidence-based response our administration put in place — which quelled the crisis and saved hundreds of thousands of lives — in favor of reactionary travel bans that would only have made things worse. He advocated abandoning exposed and infected American citizens rather than bringing them home for treatment.

Trump’s demonstrated failures of judgment and his repeated rejection of science make him the worst possible person to lead our country through a global health challenge.

The outbreak of a new coronavirus, which has already infected more than 2,700 people and killed over 80 in China, will get worse before it gets better. Cases have been confirmed in a dozen countries, with at least five in the United States. There will likely be more.

Yet, aside from a few travel bans with broad exceptions for returning Americans, the Trump administration did nothing to prepare and minimized the threat with Trump saying that it would just go away. Indeed, it is not until March 13, three months after the emergence of COVID-19, that Trump declares a National Emergency nearly a week after Italy had to declare a nationwide lockdown.

Finally, even as other developed countries have been able to implement widespread testing, Republicans are now clamoring to re-open the U.S. even as death rates continue to escalate in parts of the country and the number of deaths grows past 60,000.

So, if China should get serious sanctions for three weeks, shouldn't Trump and Republicans get sanctions for three months of delays, denials and cover-ups?
May 1, 2020

TIME: Why You Still Can't Get a Vaccine for HIV

It is interesting that the Trump administration is loudly announcing that they will be manufacturing a yet to be developed COVID-19 vaccine in January 2021. Heck, while they are at it, why not announced a preventative vaccine for HIV in January 2021, as well?


Though scientists have been able to create vaccines for other viruses, developing a vaccine for HIV has been especially challenging. (In lieu of one, doctors mostly use preventative drugs like Truvada to help prevent contraction of the virus in uninfected people who are at high risk.)

But a vaccine could significantly taper infections worldwide. “Even a moderately effective vaccine would significantly decrease the burden of HIV disease over time,” said Fauci in a statement.

So why are HIV vaccines so elusive?

HIV behaves unlike most other viruses in some important ways. Usually, when a person is infected with a virus, their immune system creates antibodies that target the bug. That’s usually the starting point for researchers, who work to develop drugs that can imitate that process (but without causing the recipient to develop a full blown reaction to the virus). What’s tricky about HIV, however, is that when a person is infected with the virus, that same process of developing antibodies isn’t triggered.

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