Friday, April 03, 2020

Please Follow Me Here to My New Site - Same Point of View, Same Writing

So, it's tough to start a new blog site. I have been trying to get away from here and from the whole Anonymous Is A Woman identity. Actually, very few people even remember it, except for a few diehards. Apparently, though, there are more diehards than I realized. My new site gets maybe one or two views a day.

This site gets about 80 views. Inexplicably, it has always gotten at least 50 a day even though it's been dormant since 2010, with a brief revival in 2014-2015.  I guess there are still people who come by to see what Anonymous Is A Woman has to say, even if she hasn't said it in five years. Apparently, hope springs eternal.

My dilemma is this: do I just give in to the inevitable and come back to this site and work to build it back up to what it was in its heyday? After all, 50 to 80 views when you haven't said anything in five  years isn't chump change.

Or do I plug away, trying to get people to go to my newer site, Karen Duncan. Or do I just cross post to both?

I am going to take the chance of giving you all a new link to my current site. It's still me and I still have something to say. And I am still the same AIAW I always was. Promise.

So please GO HERE

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Shortages, Supply Chains, and Coronavirus

The governors of Virginia and Maryland and the mayor of the District have issued a stay at home order, punishable by a fine and even jail time. The order goes to June 10 in Virginia. It allows us to to buy groceries, visit doctors, take a walk or get exercise, as long as we are in groups of less than ten. The point is to keep us out of crowds and out of harm's way while the pandemic rages on.

 Most people support the action. Everybody is scared now as the rate of infection and the death rate climb. The reality is settling in and the complaints about loss of freedom and government overstepping, are diminishing. There are still some diehards, but the news is sobering. Nothing focuses the mind quite so well as danger.

Besides the outright and justifiable fear of the Covid-19 virus, there's a secondary underlying palpable anxiety about the shortages of essential goods. Consumers confront stark empty shelves in sold out grocery stores. We are being confronted with shortages of everyday items we normally take for granted.

Frozen vegetables, canned goods, meats, fresh produce, milk, bread, toilet paper, disinfectants and hand sanitizer. Even flour for baking cakes and bread. At first, some of those shortages were funny and quickly became the object of jokes. After all, who in the DC Metro area hasn't experienced the panic buying of bread, milk, and toilet paper at the mere mention of a snow flurry? One long ago weather person even joked on air, "Call me whimsical but I always have toilet paper and milk at home."

Of course, in the first couple of weeks, I expected the panic buying and even hoarding. Since I'm one of those "whimsical" people who had more than a week's supplies because I shop regularly, I wasn't too worried about running low. I'd be fine for a couple of weeks - maybe three. By then, everybody will have bought what they need, the panic will subside, and how much toilet paper and Lysol wipes can a family of two or three in a suburban townhouse hoard, anyway? Where would they store it? We don't have large farmhouses or even McMansions in our neighborhood. Eventually, I figured, my neighbors would run out of room and realize the sky is not falling, just like they always do.

This time is different.

The shortages go on and on. Finding everything you need in one shopping trip is impossible. At a time when people are desperate to limit their exposure to a dangerous virus, shopping trips are taking longer and are sometimes more frequent simply because of the necessity of making multiple trips to multiple stores to find supplies. 

Business is brisk in online shopping too. People who would never before have considered delivery of their groceries are eagerly trying Peapod, Safeway, Instacart, Shipt, and other delivery services. The results have been mixed at best. 

Newspaper pundits in the Sunday sections have started predicting the ways the coronavirus would change how America lives. One of those predictions has been that the use of telework would increase as employers discover their workers are just as productive from home and expensive office space is not necessary. Another prediction was that as more and more Americans went online for their shopping, they would like its convenience, which would lead to even fewer brick and mortar stores. I don't think that's going to happen.

In what could have been their big opportunity to capture a grateful market, let's just say that for most delivery services, this has not been their shining hour. It's been impossible to get delivery service. Like all resources, it's severely strained. Every time I've tried to place any order with Giant's Peapod or Safeway's service, I can't even find a delivery date. People have told me the earliest date they can get is two weeks out, and sometimes a month away. Sometimes, you come up completely empty handed with no available dates and a message to try back later.

Besides not having delivery dates available, they don't have the most needed goods in stock. Stores like Walmart, CVS, and Target are limiting supplies to one package per customer and only selling scarce goods in their stores. You just have to be lucky to get there when what you need is available and hope for the best.  Dan and I have not seen any brand of wipes in a store for three weeks and they are either out of stock or not being sold online. For now, they seem impossible to get. 

This brings me to a question. Why the extreme shortages of things whose availability we used to take for granted? 

I can certainly understand a severe shortage of ventilators in hospitals. Ventilators are expensive and are not used commonly. They are essentially emergency equipment for relatively rare crisis situations, not frequently used medical devices. Given their expense, most hospitals only have a few available at any given time. Nobody planned for a pandemic on this scale. Nobody expected to run out of them. Nobody could.

But shortages of surgical masks and other disposable protective gear? The last time I was in an ER those were plentiful, given to any patient suspected of having a flu. You could buy a box of surgical masks in a supermarket or drugstore without even thinking about it. And now even hospitals can't get them for medical staff. That's insane.

For most routine stuff, I can indeed understand a temporary shortage in the early days of panic buying and hoarding, before retailers realized demand had shot up and before suppliers started ramping up. But with modern technology to track sales and inventory, they should already be figuring out the sharp increase in demand? And after three weeks of the public buying more than they could possibly use in more than a week or two, why is it still so hard for stores to be restocked?

What I am asking here is whether there is something wrong at a more basic level with our supply chain?

How much of the shortages are caused by how little of our consumer goods are manufactured in the U.S.? How much of the delay in getting more supplies is caused by the fact that they have to be imported and we are competing on an international market for goods produced far away from us at a time when an international supply chain has been disrupted by crisis?

I'm not a conspiracy theorist and I don't think there is a deliberate plan to block our access to consumer goods we need. Indeed, the entire rest of the world is experiencing the same panic buying, hoarding behavior, severe shortages and supply chain disruptions as we are. I know this.

But I am wondering whether we are paying a steep price now for having outsourced and off shored so much of our manufacturing capacity? We are basically competing with other countries in crisis for the same still limited supplies on an international market with less control over ramping up production. If more of our consumer goods were made at home, we could solve a couple of problems caused by the pandemic. First, many of the out of work employees from the hospitality and retail industries currently closed down would be able to find jobs in manufacturing as those companies expanded to meet the rising, albeit temporary, demand. And with more goods flowing into our stores, the panic could ease. As it is now, every day of shortages simply produces more panic buying and more hoarding. I don't know when we will find our way out of that vicious cycle. But I'm pretty sure now that it won't be any time soon.

It seems fear of the virus itself and accompanying anxiety about shortages and deprivation are our new normal at least for several more months. 

Monday, March 30, 2020

Some Housekkeeping

I decided to restart blogging more because we are living through what is going to be a historic time, going through a life altering pandemic the likes of which has not been seen since the Pandemic of 1918. That is still the pandemic that gives epidemiologists and public health officials nightmares. It's the standard that all other epidemics and pandemics get compared to.

But with Covid-19, a new nightmare was born. Historians, doctors and researchers, and even novelists will look back on these times and these struggles of ordinary people to get a sense of what went on. In the past, historians and writers have used personal journals as source material for understanding the times and people of given eras. They have gleaned valuable information about how ordinary people coped, what they thought, what they did to get by, what they thought, and most importantly what they felt.

This period will be no different. Some people are keeping personal journals. Others have returned to online journals - weblogs, or for short, blogs. As a former blogger, I thought I was done with the long form blog. For politics, social media like Facebook and Twitter allow me to reach many more people than my blog ever did. And they are less time consuming. You can share an opinion in 50 or 150 words or less. You could just share a link to somebody else's opinions or factual articles. You could have a life beyond living in your basement churning out articles and posts.

But I'm homebound now, self quarantining, practicing social distancing, and obeying Virginia Governor Ralph Northam's just issued order to stay in. It's a great idea. I'm perfectly happy to hole up and protect myself as much as humanly possible.

So, I've resumed my blogging, not about politics, though that will probably creep in, but something more personal, reflective, and hopefully more creative.

Meanwhile I realized there was a problem with doing it here. I wrote my few posts on the blog I already had. But I want to separate myself from my old identity, Anonymous Is A Woman,

I had a lot of fun with it back in the mid 2000s, from 2005 to 2010. But too much time has passed under the bridge. I am writing this as Karen Duncan, not as AIAW. So, I set up a new site. I am directing anybody who stumbles onto this site to look over there. It's still on Blogger because that's the easiest site on which to produce content. I don't want to fiddle around with designing a website and coding, Let somebody who likes that stuff do it. I just want to write. Anyway, here's my new home on Blogger. Best of all, it's got my real name as part of the address.

I will be playing around with design a bit. So the look may change as I go on. But here's where I live now

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Early Spring

I am not really built for times that require bravery. I have struggled with fears, phobias, and high anxiety most of my life, no doubt some inherited from my mother and other family members. Indeed, I firmly believe lettuce kills.

Don’t believe me? Just google food borne illnesses, especially Romaine lettuce.

Times like these, where we have all been ordered to self-quarantine, lockdown, and shelter in place, could easily turn me into an agoraphobic. I fight it by taking long walks every day. We live in strange times when simply leaving one’s house feels like an act of bravery.
One of the things that has struck me is how beautiful all the blooming trees have been this spring. Even before this covid-19 virus took over our lives, waking consciousness, dreams, and nightmares, when it was just a blip on the radar with newspaper reports out of China, I was struck by how particularly lovely this time of year has been.

We had a mild winter that segued into an early spring. There are years when the tulip magnolias in Lafayette Park bloom for a couple of days and then a blast of icy air kills them off, leaving shriveled, brown, frostbitten blossoms. This year, though, they seemed indestructible and bloomed everywhere. Cherry trees blossomed along the Tidal Basin, seemingly lasting forever. No unexpected frosts, no violent wind storms to rip away their blossoms and leave the ground looking like it had been littered by delicate pink and white confetti. I can’t help thinking, this year these fragile blossoms have become a symbol of resilience.

Here in Virginia, they were every bit as resilient and stunning, making the daily commute into DC pleasurable, even as everybody's fears began to slowly mount. Then, of course, last week, we were ordered out of our office building and the lovely morning and evening rides home ceased.

I am blessed by how many flowering trees we have in Burke Center, forsythia, cherry blossom, pear trees, eventually dogwoods will bloom. So, I force myself outside. The other day, though, there were so many other people out on a warm sunny day. The usual groups of teenagers, the joggers, some with their dogs trotting along, and senior citizens like me out taking walks. All trying for some normalcy. But I confess, it was a little scary out there – a little too peopley – as we’d pass, some of us would eye each other warily, some stepping a bit farther away – just how far is the recommended six-foot distance anyway?

One woman passed me and she was wearing a mask. I admit it scared me. Was she just trying to protect herself? Was she already infected?  I had to pass her; there was no way back home if I didn’t. Or I could make a jackass out of myself by turning around and going back in the other direction. Just then, she stepped off the sidewalk onto a side path and motioned me to go. I gave her a thumbs up. Then I stopped and put my palms together and gave her a full bow of gratitude. She burst out laughing.

It made my day. It's true what psychologists say about the calming power of a fellow human being and a cherry tree. Even for somebody scared of lettuce.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Life in the Time of Coronavirus March 23, 2020

Mark this date down: March 16, 2020.

That’s the day everything changed. It’s the day the AFL-CIO gave Dan and me the word we were locked out of the building. We got notice Sunday night. We would be allowed in for a half hour on Monday to get whatever we needed to work remotely for an unknown period. That was the day the coronavirus sucker punched us in the gut.

All I had time to do was set up online banking so I could deposit incoming checks. We would continue to pay bills by writing out checks – still old school about some things. I didn’t have time to get QuickBooks online, which I had been toying with doing and unfortunately thought I had more time to actually do. We expected to be shut down, just not so swiftly.

After the shutdown Dan and I spent the rest of the week dealing with shopping in the time of Covid-19 and coping with the results of our neighbors’ panic buying, hoarding, and the empty shelves it caused at all the supermarkets. We managed to cobble together enough food and supplies by going from store to store, which kind of defeats the goal of sheltering in place and avoiding crowds. But we were careful to keep our distance, not dawdle in stores, and stay home as much as possible except for true essentials.

Toilet paper is high on my list of essentials. We weren’t out. But we were ready to buy our normal package, which I do when we are about half way through one package. I replace things before I run completely out, a good habit it turned out, because we spent the better part of a week and a half looking for TP and facing empty shelves. All paper goods and cleaning supplies were scarce.

Giant finally got a supply one morning, and one woman bought out the entire aisle, every brand and every package size. An entire large grocery cart loaded up with toilet paper. Most other stores were limiting customers to two packages. But Giant, as a policy, was refusing to do so. I had a go around with them on their Facebook page and posted about it on Next Door. I wasn’t too worried, though, because with Amazon Prime, I was confident I had a backup plan.


Every Amazon vendor I tried was sold out and didn’t know when they’d have it restocked. Finally, I found some available on Walmart’s site. They weren’t price gouging. It was a name brand, and they promised to deliver a twelve-pack in two days. I bought it at midnight on Thursday. Desperate times.

I had had enough of foraging from store to store to no avail. I wanted Dan and me safe at home. It arrived Saturday afternoon. With that, we pretty much had the essential supplies we needed. Unfortunately, though, it had set my mind in panic mode, and I haven’t gotten myself out of it yet.

I have read most of the online tales, the horror stories of young people in their 40s who got terrible cases. This is a really ugly virus at its worst. Early on the narrative got around that it affected older people far harder than young people, so a bunch of college kids cavorted on spring break on Florida beaches, New Orleans bars, and California trendy spots. Until governors began shutting them down.

Someday, scientists are going to have to figure out how this virus really works and why it hits some so much harder than others in unexpected ways. 

It turned out that some people in their 40s or younger got slammed, ending up on ventilators and even dying, while some seniors who supposedly were in the high risk groups turned out to be asymptomatic. The Washington Post carried a couple of stories about some of the first Covid-19 victims, seniors in their 60s who were on the Diamond Princess cruise ship. They were in dock, quarantined and then sent to hospitals when they tested positive. One man of 68 even wrote an article for the Washington Post Weekend Outlook section titled, “I Have Corona Virus and It’s Not That Bad.” He said he felt sick but had felt worse a few years ago with a bad case of bronchitis. One of his friends, a 65 year old woman, tested positive but never showed symptoms. She was confined to the same hospital, where she spent her quarantine doing Pilates and dancing to 80s rock music alone in her room. Meanwhile, her husband, who was a survivor of two transplants and was on immunosuppressant drugs, also tested positive yet showed no symptoms.

That’s not how it’s supposed to happen. They were the high risk population. So, why did a 44- year old marathoner in New York and a fit 40 year old elsewhere post on Twitter from hospital rooms, one with an oxygen mask, another dangerously ill and later moved to a ventilator (his mother updated his Twitter account when he became too ill to do it himself)?

I should add, some of the passengers from the Diamond Princess did not fare as well as those three lucky 60-something passengers I just mentioned did. A husband and wife in their 80s both died. So did five other more elderly passengers (in their 70s and 80s). But there are probably a lot of asymptomatic people of all ages able to spread this. And a lot of people of all ages who will get dangerously sick. And nobody really has a clue who will be hit hard and why.

Welcome to the end of the world as we know it. More tomorrow.


(Here are some follow up stories to what I just posted.)

Friday, May 29, 2015

Opposition to the FTA is Not About Secrecy: It's About History and Broken Promises

The Senate passed Trade Promotion Authority, TPA, last week on Friday night, with 48 Republicans and 14 Democrats handing President Obama a victory for fast track authority to negotiate the Trans Pacific Partnership, TPP. If the fast track authority is approved in Congress, TPP will be brought to a vote later this year with Congress only allowed a straight up and down vote, with no amendments allowed. It will only require a simple majority vote. No danger of a fillibuster to block it. Both Virginia's senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, voted for it. Both were always for it. They did not require any last minute arm twisting.

The TPA legislation now heads to the House where it will face an even tougher battle. Support for the bill is weaker among House Democrats there, and it has robust opposition from some conservative Republicans too. House majority leader, John Boehner, may not have the votes from his Republican caucus to pass the TPA without Democratic support, and he could fall short. Two Northern Virginia Democratic representatives support the legislation, Don Beyer and Gerry Connolly. Right now, it appears that Bobby Scott opposes it.

I think the Virginia senators and congressmen who support this are wrong. So are the media defenders of it such as the Washington Post, which has always favored all free trade agreements going back to the original 1993 NAFTA legislation. But one of the silliest Washington Post defenses of TPA and TPP came from columnist Ruth Marcus.

In her Washington Post column on May 19,  she claimed that opponents of the TPP objected mainly to its secrecy and she called that objection a bogus argument. The Post's editorial board then doubled down on opponents' objection to bill's secrecy in this full-throated defense of free trade authority.

The Washington Post and its columnist, Ruth Marcus might have a small point. At least they would if secrecy was the main objection. But it isn't. The real objection at the heart of the opposition is history. I will get back to that point in a minute, but it certainly doesn't help the free traders' case to drape an opaque and clandestine cloak around the deal. Secrecy does, after all, limit the discussion and prevent a full and fair airing of the problems with this trade deal. And that's where history comes in.

The most important reason for opposition to the TPA is that many of President Obama's and other proponents' promises for the TPP and Fast Track Authority sound suspiciously familiar. Everybody heard exactly the same assurances about NAFTA and CAFTA years ago.  Here is what we were told back in the 90s and early 2000s about those trade deals and then what really happened.

In 1993, the Clinton administration promised that NAFTA would create 200,000 new export-related jobs by 1995, according to this 2004 Economic Policy Institute report. According to Public Citizen, the administration also promised farmers they would export their way to wealth. The Bush administration similarly promised CAFTA would deliver 170,000 new jobs in  the early 2000s.

Instead, we lost 700,000 jobs due to NAFTA alone, according the Economic Policy Institute.

Promised new markets never materialized for either farmers or domestically manufactured goods. In fact, only one new market was ever created: a robust labor market overseas as jobs fled from the U.S. in search of low wage workers and less regulation. 

Meanwhile, the only thing that has increased is the U.S. trade deficit. Before NAFTA in 1993, we actually had a modest trade surplus of $1.6  billion with Mexico, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Now as of 2012, our trade deficit with them has reached $181 million, according to Public Citizen. And that trade deficit is expected to grow even if we do not enact new trade legislation. That's because of our strong dollar. Due to international monetary conditions, including the weak Euro, our dollar has strengthened, making our exports more expensive. That is not good for our economy and makes any trade deal now dangerous.

So instead of trade surpluses, new markets and good jobs, what we have seen for U.S workers is a race to the bottom. Displaced factory workers lost jobs that are never coming back. The export of so many U.S. jobs has wiped out whole industries and devastated the lives of the displaced workers. And it has destroyed their towns, as this article from the Washington Post shows in heartbreaking detail.

Some of the more honest supporters of free trade have acknowledged that NAFTA and other trade deals have not lived up to their promises for America's economy or its workers. So they drag out a different argument: even though free trade agreements have not met their original expectations in the U.S., at least they have improved the lives of impoverished workers from developing nations. Based on the experience in Mexico, though, NAFTA certainly has not even done that.

In fact, the NAFTA years saw a wave of illegal immigration as Mexicans preferred to risk their lives to come to the U.S. in search of our minimum wage jobs because they were more profitable and had better working conditions than the Mexican maquiladoras, which paid low wages, flouted health and safety rule, suppressed the right to organize a union, and generally provided abysmal working conditions. Immigrants are still coming here, despite recession and wage stagnation, because the jobs pay more, and they can both live in the U.S. and send money home. That should tell you something about how NAFTA’s promise has not even materialized to help those overseas.

But one unintended consequence of the trade deals is that American workers who fell into the low paying service sector must now compete for those jobs with illegal immigrants who often work off the books and are ineligible for benefits. No wonder there is still so much slack in our labor force and wages have stagnated for the average American.

Previous trade agreements did not deliver on their promises. They did not usher in prosperity for American workers. They did nothing to improve the lives of foreign workers, and they did not open markets for U.S. exports. Indeed, NAFTA and CAFTA contributed to the growing wage inequality and soft labor market at home without improving the wages of overseas workers And to add insult to injury, they substantially increased our trade deficit, which is never a good thing for any country’s economy.

Opposition to still another trade deal has nothing to do with its secrecy. It has everything to do with its history. The secrecy objection is a red herring. All it does is highlight the fact that those who support TPP have tired arguments, failed policy, and no credible response to the very legitimate question: how will this trade agreement be different this time? Without an answer to that and transparency, this trade deal should not be enacted. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

True Justice for Natasha McKenna and Fairfax County

Yesterday on Facebook, some of my friends and I were discussing the tragic death of Natasha McKenna while she was in custody at the Fairfax County jail. The Fairfax jail guards had placed the mentally ill McKenna in restraints and tasered her numerous times while trying to extract her from her jail cell and transfer her to Alexandria. Subsequently, McKenna died at Fairfax Hospital after she stopped breathing and her heart stopped.

The Fairfax County Police Department has been investigating this death. In numerous editorials (and here), the Washington Post urged the Fairfax Sheriff, Stacey Kincaid, to provide a full explanation of what happened without stalling or brushing any facts under the rug. I certainly agree with that.

Some of my Facebook friends, however, took that to mean that Sheriff Kincaid should immediately go before the public to answer all questions and clear everything up yesterday. Indeed, some were muttering about primaries and getting rid of her. The undercurrent is that the Sheriff’s Department clearly did wrong, and heads should roll, including hers.

The problem is that is unfair and is a rush to judgment by people who do not know all the facts but are buying into a sometimes all too true narrative about police abuse of authority and police brutality. And we need to admit how often that is the case.

But “all too often” and “too frequently” are not the same as “always”.  So, I argued back that before jumping to conclusions, people ought to take a deep breath and wait for the investigation to be completed. Of course, given the track record of the Fairfax County Police Department, and their own history of stonewalling cases, I can well understand the impatience and frustration. However, it is not fair to conflate this case with that of John Geer, who was shot by a Fairfax police officer. It took 18 months before Fairfax County released any information, including the name of the officer who fired the shot. Plus, the county police department only released that information after a judge ordered it.

In contrast, the McKenna investigation has been going on for under three months, aPost, other media, and those of us following this case have begun raising legitimate questions about how this was handled. There is nothing unreasonable about the questions. But what is unreasonable is the rush to judgment before the investigation is finished. Again, we are not talking about the 18 month long stonewall that occurred with John Geer. We are talking less than three months -- the medical examiner just released the autopsy results today.
nd the medical examiner’s office just released the autopsy results. According to the Washington Post, the cause of death was “excited delirium". As the Post editorial points out, none of the medical literature, nor various medical societies, list excited delirium as an actual medical diagnosis. Only medical examiners use the terms, usually for those in police custody who have died due to stun gun use.

I don’t expect Sheriff Kincaid to go before the public until after the completed investigation gives her a fuller picture of the situation, Nevertheless, the Washington 
Before I go further, I want to address the big gorilla in the room: we need to have a serious discussion about how we treat the mentally ill. There are deeper, more serious questions about why this woman, who we know suffered from schizophrenia, was even in police custody rather than under treatment in a secure medical facility. That, however, is a different topic, for a different day.  It is one I will return to in the future.

But for now, we need to deal with how any prisoner is treated while in custody. Right now, Baltimore is being torn apart by riots over that very issue. And while Fairfax is a long way from Baltimore’s mean streets, the issue is no less important here. You measure a society’s decency by how it treats its most powerless members. Likewise, you judge an institution by how well it handles its most difficult situations.

And the situation here was that a severely mentally ill woman, who was already shackled to a special chair, was stunned four times to control her agitation. Tasering is a technique that works by inflicting electric shock and pain. So, the very first question is why were they in effect punishing a severely mentally ill person to bring her into compliance?  Another very troubling element is the following stated policy: “once we begin an extraction, we do not stop it.”

Infliction of pain and refusal to back down are all elements of a mindset that is about controlling an unruly prisoner by showing that person who is boss. It is about maintaining discipline and asserting control. And in the case of an unruly prisoner who is not mentally ill, but just rowdy, it might be perfectly appropriate to assert such authority (though I have my doubts about use of a Taser ever). But it is anything but proper treatment of somebody who is severely mentally impaired and not in their sound mind. Indeed, absent the threat of harm to the guard or self-harm to the prisoner, withdrawing and giving her a timeout to calm down might have been exactly the right course to take. Without a compelling reason, there is no excuse to continue an extraction is such a case. Treating her like a patient, not a prisoner, might have been exactly what was needed.

Further, if you know you have an impossible to control inmate, why was there no attempt to medicate her? If an inmate had an infection or other physical illness, would a doctor not have prescribed an antibiotic, a painkiller? Why wasn’t a doctor available to provide sedatives, anti-psychotics, or other medication to control her mental symptoms?

We should be asking the following questions: what is the policy for handling extractions of unruly inmates; was that policy followed in this case; how, if at all, did guards deviate from that policy; and was the policy, itself, flawed? Does the Sheriff’s Office need to revise its policies? Do the guards need better training and more oversight? Use of stun guns was temporarily suspended, but will their use resume? Why? What disciplinary action will the six guard face and why? What exactly needs to change to make sure this does not happen again?

These questions can’t be answered without knowing the all the facts. Investigators now have some of the facts, including the actual cause of death. Now they have to put all that together and present the total picture to the Sheriff, who must then review it against policy and decide what needs to change, what improvement in training and oversight of her staff needs to be implemented, what disciplinary action needs to be taken, and what needs to be done to keep this from happening again. Sheriff Kincaid needs time to review all the facts and provide a satisfactory statement going forward.

It is not unreasonable for the investigation to take time. And three or four months is not an unreasonable time frame for that to happen. That is not stonewalling, that is being thorough. But it should not take 18 months, or even six months. The old adage, “justice delayed is justice denied,” is just as true in this case as in any other. And justice should not be denied to Natasha McKenna’s family. But real justice needs real answers and that does take time to do right.