By Marc Cooper
July 30, 2021
Our two pandemics – COVID 19 and the massive Trumplican mis/disinformation campaign-- have now merged into one deadly plague that is ripping through the land.
Some 90 million eligible Americans are still avoiding vaccination a full six months after the jabs have become available, leading to a quintupling of infections over the last three weeks, a resurgent death toll and new rounds of mask impositions, partial shutdowns and a clamor for mandates to be instituted.
Look at one of the myriad infection cluster maps now and find that ALL of the concentrated outbreaks, some of horrific proportions (see Missouri), track absolutely perfectly with areas that voted in 2020 for Donald Trump.
More than 80% of Democratic adults are vaccinated. Only about 50% of Republicans. And that’s an average.
In some southern states, the epicenter of Trump Country, vaccination rates run as low as 30% or less and that’s where the hospitals are once again overflowing with those being mowed down by Delta. Joe Biden has called this mounting fourth wave “the pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
More precisely, this is a wholly man-made, wholly manufactured, wholly preventable deadly wave that owes directly to the refusal to vaccinate, aided and abetted by nearly 18 months of propaganda downplaying the virus, undermining the vaccine, mocking public health measures, equating masks with Nazi yellow stars, calling for the jailing of Dr. Fauci, pushing hare-brained theories that the vax carries microchips or magnets and that this whole pandemic was somehow staged or capitalized upon so that a hidden elite can better control the masses.
In other words, this is The MAGA Pandemic. This is where the Big Lie folds neatly into Deadly Anti-Vax Conspiracy Theories and the result are projections that we will soon be up again to a 1000 deaths per day, that national steps backward could go on into the winter, and that in the most backward parts of America, and I use that word deliberately, defined as centers of rural, conservative and evangelical concentration, the pandemic could linger for several more years.
No sane politician – except maybe the Governor of Alabama whose mental state I cannot attest to-- would ever publicly blame the voters for anything. That is prima facia politically suicidal.
Well, I am not a politician.
Still, I am not going to trash the voters or, more specifically, that portion of the voters who refuse to vaccinate.
But if I did speak up and if I did say what I really think, this is more or less what bubbles up:
Ok. Remember, this is what I would say only if asked what I really think.
Emotion, even informed emotion, is not a good basis for public policy. I am sure that a whole lot of people in government have the same view I outlined above, but politically, I’m not sure it is...um...a viable option.
That said, while I think Biden’s speech pleading with people on Thursday morn was a good one he is still being too deferential to these imbeciles. I understand his panic and his desperation. But asking states to reward these scoffs with $100 per shot is the wrong route. And the wrong moral message.
Positive reinforcement has not worked and will not work going forward. The $100 will make no difference, especially among the MAGATS. Even the sudden turn of Republicans like McConnell, Scalise and Sean Hannity now encouraging the vax will fall on deaf ears. The MAGATS have shown tremendous discipline in breaking with, shouting down and shunning any Republican who departs from the official line of sedition and denialism and the calls to vaccinate will be met with the same defiance – no matter their source.
Biden needs to move more forcefully toward negative incentives. Hey, Macron did it with one stroke of the pen. There were protests afterward, but so what?
The MAGATS have been protesting against anti-COVID measures since the initial lockdown. Who gives a damn if they protest any action Biden might now take? But the president himself, true to character, seems somewhat limited by fear of becoming too ham-handed.
Why such a slow process to get to where we know this is going with the US military? Just order the mandate today.
The same with final approval of the vaccines by the FDA. Yeah, yeah, Biden has vowed to not interfere with independent agencies. Biden, please interfere with the FDA so we can remove from the tab;e the bogus MAGA claim of the vaccines being “experimental.”
Biden must also urge if not mandate that school districts “require” not only masks, but vaccines for those over 12. And a twin mandate for those under 12 when their vaccine will be approved, probably in September or October.
I am rather conflicted as to what sort of mandate, or “vaccine requirement” Biden might be able to impose nationwide. He’s probably right to leave it to the private sector who is looking to be quite aggressive in imposing vax mandates on both employees and customers. The administration, however, should be readily prepared to act with decrees if the private sector push stalls or fails.
No question the MAGAT refuseniks have triggered quite a negative response in public opinion as the Fourth Wave continues to mount. You can bet that the reluctant turnaround among elected Republicans now supporting vaccination owes more to alarming private polling than it does to any attack of conscience. It’s hardly just me that’s sick of this crap. So are a great majority of Americans.
Note to readers:
I want to once again stress that the big issue here is not the person of Donald Trump.. Trump is as much a construction of his followers as he is their oracle. Same with the Republican Party. It is following the MAGATS, not leading them. Trump was merely clever enough to take stock of the regrets, complaints, suspicions, superstitions, disorientation and despair that had been building among millions of Americans for decades and spin it to his benefit. If not him, it would have eventually been someone else, as it still might be the case in the near future.
The political ground for Trump was well-tilled and wonderfully prepared long before him by Reagan and Bush who popularized greed and arrogance and was further assisted by a line of Democratic presidents who studiously avoided serving the true the interest of their most fervent voters in order to curry favor with a new powerful technological and global financial network.
What we face today is the culmination of that 50-year process that has produced a massive anti-democratic, non-rational, semi-insurgent movement on our doorstep. Trumpism was a startingly effective accelerant for this movement and if we do not take it seriously, if we let complacency reign, if we do not oppose it with effective counter-politics (which we have not to date), we run the risk of being consumed by it.
I leave you with these strikingly prescient words from the late Carl Sagan who penned this almost 30 years ago as a reminder of just how endemic this Know-nothing force has become:
“I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness... The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.”― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
If Sagan only knew how prophetic his words would become. ++
Sunday, August 1, 2021
Monday, July 26, 2021
It has been a very challenging few weeks. I decided to take comfort in this thought from the great and eloquent Vala Afshar to remind myself of all that I am blessed. I pulled some #RandomThoughts on Iran along with other thoughts as I look forward to the ongoing engagement at hand:
You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. -Mae West
When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.
It’s interesting how infrequently money comes up in Meditations. Here was a guy who had incredible wealth, whose predecessors obsessed over it and found it to be a source of both pleasure and conflict, and yet in his private meditations, it hardly comes up at all.
In his actions, we see Marcus was conscious of money, but primarily as a means to an end not as an end to itself. He was more interested in what it could do for other people. He declined gifts and inheritances. He gave liberally to the poor. He sold off palace furnishings at Rome’s lowest point.
But perhaps these attitudes are related. Because Marcus did not think particularly highly of money, he was comfortable in his ability to be generous. At one point, he told the Senate that he did not regard himself in possession of any of his wealth. It belongs to the people, he said, even the house I live in is not mine.
There can be virtue in frugality. Cleanthes seemed to be an incredibly hard worker—a manual laborer, no less—who spent little of what he earned. But frugality and diligence with money can also be a vice. It makes finances loom large in our lives, makes us throw good time after bad (after all, it’s not enough just to earn money, then we have to manage it and make it grow). We can come to identify with the fruits of our labor and our success, which makes it hard to spend (even on necessary things), hard to be generous, hard to share.
Money isn’t rare. There is nothing precious about precious stones. It is all incredibly common. Most of the people who have it are not impressive, most of the great fortunes are, in fact, the opposite of great. The way to think about money is as a tool, and what did the Stoics use their tools for? To do good. To get better. To make the world better.
We can do the same
Sunday, July 4, 2021
It is Independence Day here in the United States. I was working away gearing up for the new week of commitments, finalize planning in support of the Daily Outsider along with other projects as my mind yet again drifted away towards Iran as I saw the overnight developments. The two images I note above captures how a Grand Canyon continues to persist as a new "clique" takes power in Iran in a few weeks.
I have been looking and finally found two very simple yet profound tweets that explain the true realities in Iran right now--it is sad and tragic how a country that was bound to be in the First Tier of Countries has sunk so low that its' passport is now 189 in the World, 50 million (according to the regime's own officials) are expected to be Environmental Refugees, how over 150,000 of the best and brightest have left as regime officials peddle self-sufficiency in Vaccines (even though less than 10% of the population has been vaccinated) and as this persists:
"We have no water to drink. Please help us"— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) July 3, 2021
This is what poverty, deprivation, and being neglected looks like.
Listen to the helpless cries of this girl from Sistan Balouchestan, Iran's poorest province.
The Islamic Republic of Iran doesn't care about these people. pic.twitter.com/KAecY3b4de
برای واکسن به ارمنستان بروید، برای ویزا به ابوظبی، برای امتحان تافل به گرجستان، برای کنسرت به آنتالیا، برای خوردن مشروب به استانبول، برای تجربه دریا به دبی، برای تجربه آزادی… برای زندگی نرمال باید از مرز رد شد. از سایه جمهوری اسلامی دور شد.— Sharareh Azizi شراره عزیزی (@sharareh_azizi) July 4, 2021
Sunday, June 27, 2021
Sunday, June 20, 2021
Today is Fathers' Day in the United States. I extend Fathers' Day wishes to all my brother Fathers' who do all that they can to make a difference. As I was reflecting on this day and the continued calamity that has befallen Iran today--especially in the aftermath of the election, I decided to release this tribute courtesy the great folks at Farhang Foundation as they paid tribute to a great Iranian, Parviz Kardan who passed away recently. May his soul rest in peace and grant solace to his wife and daughter--as he will live on in the immense body of work he produced and the almost 60 years he was with Iranians:
Thursday, June 17, 2021
What was the ultimate legacy of the Islamic Republic was noted below as the Leader spoke for the third time in a few weeks to basically beg the people to vote as everything is pretty much set:
— Mike Pouraryan (@mikepouraryan) June 13, 2021
Monday, June 14, 2021
Tuesday, June 8, 2021
یغما گلرویی - شعر رهایی/ همایون شجریان و سهراب پورناظری - تصنیف While Out & About With some brief midweek #RandomThoughts :
Monday, June 7, 2021
Monday, May 31, 2021
It has been quite a month and quite a quarter in many respects. After a stint in Community Service for Covid, I was back tending to on-going commitments at the Daily Outsider as I also worked away on working (I hope) to finish off my Doctorate in Public Administration along with commitments at CalGuard, I also worked on assessing my Personal Artifacts Collection & Personal Library.
At the height of his powers, King Pyrrhus was killed by a roof tile, thrown by an old woman, as he conquered another city. In 1967, Harold Holt, the prime minister of Australia, went out for a swim in the ocean and simply never came back.
We like to think that power, that fame, that greatness, that money can protect us from the whims of fate, but of course it can’t. We lost Kobe Bryant to a helicopter crash. Stevie Ray Vaughn too. John Lennon was killed by a deranged twerp. John F. Kennedy by one too.
All the accomplishments, all the wonderful contributions to humanity, all the years they had left to live and gifts left to give—suddenly gone, cut off before their time. All the ambition, all the mountains they had their sights on climbing? Gone.
It was Juvenal who said that the whole world had not seemed big enough to contain Alexander the Great. Then suddenly, in an instant, a coffin was sufficient. No matter how big we are, we can get cut down to size. We will get cut down to size. It’s not a matter of if, only when.
That’s why we say to ourselves, several times a day, memento mori. That’s why we study history. That’s why we read these texts. To remind ourselves of that inescapable fact that our ego wants to constantly ignore—that we are fragile humans. Whether we are an emperor like Marcus Aurelius or a slave like Epictetus, we are at the mercy of forces we cannot predict, let alone control.
We are mortal. We don’t have forever. We are not invincible.