“U” For “Unvaccinated” IS The New “Scarlet Letter”

In the month since I first published this post (then it was “Should Be The New Scarlet Letter” vs “IS”), the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant has become its own little pandemic here in America — among the belligerently unvaccinated.

Remember Hester Prynne? In Nathanial Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter”, Hester is forced by her intensely religious Puritan community to wear a scarlet letter “A” as punishment for having committed adultery. To the sin-hating Puritans, adultery wasn’t just deeply sinful, it was virtually unforgivable.

Jump forward several hundred years to now. America has made peace with all sorts of sins. Even the Arthur Dimmesdale’s of the world — in the person of religionista, pastor, former Liberty University president and super proud cocksman Jerry Falwell, Jr — have come out from hiding. Jerry Junior isn’t just unashamed of his adultery, he’s openly boastful about it!

Jerry Falwell Jr., president of the Christian and conservative Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., posted this photo on social media Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020, with the caption: “More vacation shots. Lots of good friends visited us on the yacht. I promise that’s just black water in my glass. It was a prop only.”

That expression on Jerry-Junior’s face? It’s shouting “Hey, see the smile on this young lady’s face? I put it there!”

These days, we’re more likely to force someone to wear a scarlet “A” because they’re a raging Asshole. Which brings us to anti-vaxxers — another “scarlet A”. Were it not for anti-vaxxers and their relentless spew of bullshit into the info stream, America would have gotten atop the coronavirus already. We probably wouldn’t be talking about “booster shots” because we would have achieved herd immunity within our borders. All that excess production would have already gone into making vaccine for the rest of the world — and, perhaps, that would have spared us the Delta and Mu variants and everything before and in between. Our economy would be more settled, its improvements more sustainable and reliable. And, instead of still dying in droves, Americans would be helping to restore our image across the globe as the main engine of the world’s recovery.

Too bad about the “forces of darkness” within our midst.

Pathogens are by far the most potent weapon on the planet. Throughout human history, pathogens have relentlessly culled the human herd without us even fully understanding how they were doing it to us. The native population of North America wasn’t conquered by European guns or steal. European pathogens did all the hard work. The guns and steel were there for the mop up operation.

Let’s be crystal clear: anti-vaxx sentiment is based on zero science and a clear misunderstanding of how people need to approach science. Because anti-vaxx sentiment doesn’t need science to undergird its call to action, it can recommend anything. It can advocate for utter bullshit because nothing is there to check its work — and point to how bullshitty it is.

Hester Prynne’s community had nothing whatsoever to fear from Hester. Adultery was not going to spread like a virus (although, to be fair — though it wasn’t their intention — if adultery didn’t spread like a virus, venereal diseases, crabs and pubic lice sure did including syphilis — the one potent pathogen the New World sent back to the Old). Perhaps in the Puritans’ worst nightmares, adultery had the potential to do what pathogens can. There’s a big difference between nightmares and reality though. And Colonial Americans weren’t strangers to the harm pathogens could do. George Washington — following the science of the time — had the Continental Army vaccinated against smallpox. We’ve known what pathogens do and how and why for a couple hundred years now. We KNOW how to protect ourselves from them; that should be the basis for OUR “morality”. Sex as the basis is simply too complicated and hypocrites are everywhere.

Hester is a strange mix of sexually liberated woman and mousey good-girl gone wrong. Anti-vaxxers are zombies. The pathogen has already eaten their brains and now is using the anti-vaxxers as their ride while they come for the rest of us. That’s why we NEED to make every single anti-vaxxer wear that “U” they seem so proud of right there on their person. Let’s tattoo it across their foreheads — it won’t be the ugliest tat on any of their bodies.

President Biden led the way, making vaccinations mandatory for federal employees and the military. Even big corporations appreciated on a granular level how devastating the pandemic’s been to their bottom line. Our consumer economy depends almost entirely on people buying things. Poor people can’t buy anything and rich people — they pretty much have everything they need. They’re not the market products and their manufacturers rely on for long term health. That’d be the middle class. America succeeds best when its middle class is healthy and thriving. That, really, is the whole point of Joe Biden’s progressive agenda. It ain’t “socialism”, it’s a robust middle class driving a socialized capitalism that understands it MUST have limits because integrity matters. And so does having a habitable planet with a habitable environment.

It ain’t vaccinated people stalling the economy — preventing people from getting back to work and their lives back to normal — it’s the unvaccinated. Money is everyone’s bottom line. You threaten our wallets and pocketbooks long enough and you will get our attention. That is the massive pile of shit anti-vaxxers (and, in turn the Republican Party for thinking it could ride the anti-vaxx movement to permanent political power) stepped in. And, if your bullshit threatens our kids?

“U” for “Unvaccinated” IS our new Scarlet Letter.

I bet they’ll not only wear their Scarlet Letters, I bet they’ll compete with each other to make THEIR scarlet “U” bigger than everyone else’s. What point is there in being just “full of shit” when you can be the “fullest” of shit?

Just like Hester was stigmatized, so too should every “U” wearing anti-vaxxer. That U should be why they can’t get hired, get get loans, can’t get service at a restaurant and can’t get former (now vaccinated) friends to return their calls. Pariah-hood is almost too good form them.

I’m torn about what to think of the “former” anti-vaxxer putting his new-found faith in modern medicine on social media as he dies painfully from the very disease he boastfully claimed couldn’t hurt him. America has a strange history of willful ignorance. The “Know Nothings” were an actual political movement starting in the 1850’s. They were anti-Catholic, anti-Irish, anti-immigration, populist and xenophobic. They were neutral on slavery (which makes them pro-slavery by default). Their answer to any question was simply “I know nothing”. Though the movement died within a few years, the sentiment zombied on.

Maybe that’s what the Scarlet “U” actually signifies: the zombification of a third of America. They’re not just unvaccinated; some part of them is “undead”. Oh, great — another “U”.

Our News Media Keeps Getting It Wrong

It was foolishness to think our news media would step out from under the shadow of their terrible Trump years performance and spend the Biden years reminding themselves what journalism is. Alas, they’re still convinced that “both sides do it”. It’s painful and ironic that the White House Press Corps saved all their skepticism — which journalists should have on their tool belt — to spend on Joe Biden when they used virtually none during the Trump years. In fact, our journalistic and chattering classes allowed their cynicism to flower and flourish instead. They bought into and promulgated the idea that Donald Trump 1) was the new “normal” for presidents and “presidenting”, 2) that all his visible corruption, his non-stop lying about literally everything were all acceptable cos “normal”, 3) that the Democrats were acting just as politically in resisting Trump’s attempts to dismantle our democracy as Trump was in dismantling our democracy (against the majority’s will!), 4) that Trump’s hold over the Republican Party was all because of Trump’s rabid base and 5) that some other explanation other than TREASON explained Trump’s bizarrely obsequious behavior toward Vladimir Putin and Russia. Our news media — with a few exceptions — STILL can’t get Trump right because they refuse to extrapolate based on a ton of consistent evidence that screams who Donald Trump is and what exactly he’s doing to America and why.

It was inevitable that our news media would get Joe Biden wrong because they still can’t get Trump right.

This is the work product of “both sides do it” brand journalism. It holds “neutrality” as the journalist’s ultimate creed. The Truth? It’s not for a journalist to say — even if the Truth screams from their own reporting. The thinking (such as it is) goes that the moment a journalist openly sides with the Truth (versus siding with bullshit), they will be seen to be “taking sides”. Since (in America) one side consistently makes shit up because they favor feelings over facts, it would appear that journalists keep taking the “other side’s side” — the side that prefers facts over feelings: the Democrats. Ironically, that’s exactly what our news media’s doing — and thankfully so — when they trumpet the science of vaccination over anti-vaxxing ooga-booga. The “side” pushing vaccination is the Democrats; the side pushing anti-vaxx bullshit for entirely political purposes is the GOP. Can we agree? Both sides aren’t doing the same thing.

Both sides do NOT “do it”.

The Republican Party — as a whole — is openly attempting to toss out the results of election 2020 — or, they’re trying to throw out the Donald Trump part. For the record, none of those Republicans screaming that Trump was cheated on HIS part of their ballots while none of the successful Republican candidates was cheated on THEIR part of the Trump voter’s ballot. This is not bullshit for bullshit’s sake. It’s bullshit for sedition’s sake. For insurrection’s sake.

For treason’s sake. What our poor, pathetic news media absolutely gets wrong is what this whole goddamned story is about: treason. Hey, look — I know that’s a big leap for professional news media to make. But, stone cold fact, amongst the realm of possible answers to “what’s really going on here?”, that is one of the possibilities. I can’t recall a single talking head segment involving journalists where — as they listed the possible explanations for Trump’s consistent obsequiousness toward Putin — “And, one of the explanations could be that Putin has compromised Trump — and therefore ‘owns’ him which would present a massive national security problem”. But, then, that SHOULD have been one of the explanations on the table — that Putin owned Trump because the news media itself REPORTED THAT VERY STORY!

True Fact! The Washington Post reported on May 17, 2017 about a recorded conversation their reporter Adam Entous himself heard. The conversation was a year old — from June 2016. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walks into a room of GOP leadership in Washington, DC and says out loud (it was recorded!) “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump!” When that gets a bit of nervous laughter, McCarthy asserts “Swear to God!”

Now, while some in the room laughed nervously (and what was THAT about?), no one is recorded jumping up and saying “Whaaaaaat? Kevin, dude — are you sure about that? I mean, what the hell put THAT idea into your head?” Instead, then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan corrals any inclination to do the right thing and call the FBI. As the Washington Post put it: “Ryan instructed his Republican lieutenants to keep the conversation private, saying: ‘No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here’.”

So — a month before the GOP nominated Trump to be their candidate for President of the United States, they KNEW and discussed the fact that their candidate was compromised by a hostile foreign power who some of them knew for a fact was at cyber war with us. Cyber war IS war. Anyone who thinks “war” must involve bombs and bullets to be an official war is going to lose every war they ever fight going forwards. Russia spent pennies to put Donald Trump in the White House. More irony: we broke the Soviet Union in large part by making them fear “star wars”. They couldn’t afford to compete with us — even if it was all a chimera anyway. Putin — a man devoted to the idea of Old Russia becoming a player (third world country though it is) — got the last laugh by destroying American democracy and doing it with the couple of rubles in his pocket.

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Patriotism pouring from the mouths of traitors is treason on steroids. Donald Trump preaching patriotism — with Putin’s hand up his ass — demands more than our news media has delivered. Especially when that fact should be part of the architecture already!

Among its copious other fatal flaws, “both sides do it” brand journalism insists on NOT aggregating any of the stories it reports. Each instance of Trumpian corruption is seen as a news item unto itself, completely unconnected to all the other remarkably similar news items floating nearby. In our news media’s defense, they represent a very white corporate culture that, just walking in the door, accepts a ton of white collar corruption and institutional racism, bigotry and misogyny as “normal”. Their assumption that the playing field is level doesn’t make it level. It isn’t and never has been. Not even remotely. That’s how all those sexual assault and rape stories concerning Trump never add up to what it should add up to — the portrait of a privileged, white serial rapist. Our culture — still dominated by men — doesn’t want us to have an easy time prosecuting men for inappropriate, offensive and even outright criminal male behavior. Where sexual assault is concerned, male culture wants (us) to blame the sexually assaulted instead of them: “they made me do it.”

Imagine if our news media practiced basic storytelling technique and not only “added information” with their daily reporting but used that newly added info foundationally — not as extraneous detail maybe worth noting, maybe not, but as Core Truth that one must have firmly in mind in order to understand what’s happening NOW. If that had been the case, We The People would never have shrugged off Trump’s history of assaulting women the way our news media did. With Trump’s REPORTED history of racism, our news media would have incorporated that racism INTO their understanding of Trump each time they wrote about him. Result? They would NEVER have asked Trump if he was racist (which is stupid anyway because it’s not up to a racist to say if they’re racist, it’s up to the racist’s victim!) because they’d have KNOWN he was racist for a fact and would have reported Trump’s racism differently — as Trump continuing his racist behavior.

Imagine if our news media had read their own (respected) reporting. Imagine if reporters other than the Washington Post’s Adam Entous either read or (heavens!) LISTENED TO what actual Republicans said out loud about Trump behaving treasonously — especially in retrospect — and then questioned those very Republicans about what they said! The one time the news media questioned McCarthy about his own blatant co-conspiracy to commit treason and obstruct justice, his answer was “I was joking”.

Instead of beginning their reporting about McCarthy (who STILL refuses to acknowledge that Joe Biden’s the president) by framing him as a traitor (or even as someone whose motives are deeply, DEEPLY suspect because he KNEW Putin paid Trump), our news media is more likely to report McCarthy as a guy who likes a good joke.

Oy!

It’s little wonder that, per usual, when Democrats are in power, the American news media suddenly relocates its skepticism. There’s nothing wrong with that except that their skepticism lacks all context. To them, Donald Trump is just a former president still hungering for political power (rather than a traitor terrified of being tried for treason), the Republican Party (despite openly lying about voter fraud and pretty much everything else) are honest actors, and the choice between continuing as a democratic republic (what the overwhelming majority of Americans want) and becoming an authoritarian shithole is a fifty-fifty toss up proposition. Our news media has it in its head that Joe Biden was handed a ship of state sailing smartly along thanks to Skipper Donald.

But, Skipper Donald had deliberately set about scuttling the Ship Of State — to deliberately harm Biden’s ability to govern America but also to prosecute Trump. If you don’t get that? You don’t get this story. You certainly aren’t reporting it — and America’s news media still isn’t. Their version of Trump isn’t the Trump in our faces. Their version of every obstructive, treasonous Republican isn’t the GOP actively assaulting our whole way of life. The most painful irony of all might be that our news media bought into Kellyanne Conway’s “alternative facts”.

There are no “alternative facts”. There’s Truth and there’s bullshit. Alternative facts aren’t “facts” in any way, shape or form. They’re bullshit. And the fact that our news media didn’t immediately stop talking to Kellyanne shouted volumes. It no longer mattered if they were reporting alternative facts to their news audience because (since “both sides do it”, alternative facts were now officially as good as facts

Being neutral, it’s not up to our news media to discern fact from alternative fact. That’s up to their news audience apparently.

“U” For “Unvaccinated” Is About To Become The New “Scarlet Letter”

Remember Hester Prynne? In Nathanial Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter”, Hester is forced by her intensely religious Puritan community to wear a scarlet letter “A” as punishment for having committed adultery. To the sin-hating Puritans, adultery wasn’t just deeply sinful , it was virtually unforgivable. Jump forward several hundred years to now. America has made peace with what we used to call “sin”. In fact, we’ve gotten damned good at “sinning”. Even the Arthur Dimmesdale’s (he’s the town preacher who’s knocked up Hester) have openly thrown in their lot with greed and lust and gluttony. What is a proud cocksman like Jerry Falwell, Jr if not a prideful version of Arthur Dimmesdale? Jerry Junior isn’t just unashamed of his adultery, he’s openly boastful about it!

Jerry Falwell Jr., president of the Christian and conservative Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., posted this photo on social media Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020, with the caption: “More vacation shots. Lots of good friends visited us on the yacht. I promise that’s just black water in my glass. It was a prop only.”

That expression on Jerry-Junior’s face? It’s shouting “Hey, see the smile on this young lady’s face? I put it there!”

These days, we’re more likely to force someone to wear a scarlet “A” because they’re a raging asshole. Which brings us to anti-vaxxers — another “scarlet A”. Were it not for anti-vaxxers and their relentless spew of bullshit into the info stream, America would have gotten atop the coronavirus already. Though it would still be raging in most of the rest of the world, we would have achieved the herd immunity needed to get our lives and our economy headed back to a new kind of normal. There would have been bumps along that road too. Witness Israel and New Zealand and Australia — places that have fought the coronavirus as intelligently as people can.

Pathogens are by far the most potent weapon on the planet. Throughout human history, pathogens have relentlessly culled the human herd without us even fully understanding how they were doing it to us. The native population of North America wasn’t conquered by European guns or steal. European pathogens did all the hard work. The guns and steel were there for the mop up operation.

Let’s be crystal clear: anti-vaxx sentiment is based on zero science and a clear misunderstanding of how people need to approach science. Because anti-vax sentiment doesn’t need science to undergird its call to action, it can recommend anything. It can advocate for utter bullshit because nothing is there to check its work — and point to how bullshitty it is.

Hester Prynne’s community had nothing whatsoever to fear from Hester. Adultery was not going to spread like a virus though, ironically, the madness behind such close-minded religious thinking did spread with viral intensity Perhaps in the Puritans’ worst nightmares, adultery had the potential to do what pathogens can. There’s a big difference between nightmares and reality though. And Colonial Americans weren’t strangers to the harm pathogens could do — even if they weren’t clear that the harm in question was being caused by such a thing as a “pathogen”. But, we, on the other hand, DO know that pathogens exist. We DO know what pathogens do and how and why. We KNOW how to protect ourselves from them; that should be the basis for OUR “morality”.

Hester is a strange mix of sexually liberated woman and mousey good-girl gone wrong. Anti-vaxxers are zombies. The pathogen has already eaten their brains and now is using the anti-vaxxers as their ride while they come for the rest of us. That’s why we NEED to make every single anti-vaxxer wear that “U” they seem so proud of right there on their person. “U” for “Unvaccinated” must become our new Scarlet Letter.

The good news? It’s already happening. France and Italy have already begun culling the unvaccinated from the rest of us. Can’t prove YOU were vaccinated? You can’t eat in restaurants or attend any group entertainments like soccer matches or concerts. In a way, an unvaccinated person’s LACK of a “V” (for “vaccinated”) is the new scarlet letter. But, hey — like I said — the unvaxxed don’t see their unvaccinated status the way Hester saw her adulteress status. I bet they’ll not only wear their Scarlet Letters, I bet they’ll compete with each other to make THEIR scarlet “U” bigger than everyone else’s.

What point is there in being just “full of shit” when you can be the “fullest” of shit?

Both France and Italy are, currently, facing pushback from the unvaxxed. Riots erupted in Paris yesterday. As the unvaccinated get sick and become a smaller and smaller minority, their ignorant way of thinking will achieve true pariah-hood. They will deserve it.

Pathogens really don’t care what magical thinking motivates any human to NOT protect themselves from the pathogen. Their existence is simple: they need us. Their entire purpose is to get inside us and reproduce. That it kills us is beside the point. Before we expire, the pathogen will have used us to infect countless other humans — replacing their silent scarlet “U” (for “unvaxxed”) with a whole other kind of marker: a headstone.

“U” For “Unvaccinated” Is About To Become The New “Scarlet Letter”

Remember Hester Prynne? In Nathanial Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter”, Hester is forced by her intensely religious Puritan community to wear a scarlet letter “A” at all times as punishment for having committed adultery. To the sin-hating Puritans, adultery wasn’t just deeply sinful , it was virtually unforgivable. Jump forward several hundred years to now. America has made peace with what we used to call “sin”. Even the Arthur Dimmesdale’s (he’s the town preacher who knocked up Hester) have openly thrown in their lot with greed and lust. What is a proud cocksman like Jerry Falwell, Jr if not a prideful version of Arthur Dimmesdale, no longer ashamed of his adultery (takes two to tango, right?), but, rather, boastful about it —

Jerry Falwell Jr., president of the Christian and conservative Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., posted this photo on social media Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020, with the caption: “More vacation shots. Lots of good friends visited us on the yacht. I promise that’s just black water in my glass. It was a prop only.”

These days, we’re more inclined to force someone to wear a scarlet “A” because they’re a raging asshole. Which brings me to anti-vaxxers — another “scarlet A”. Were it not for anti-vaxxers and their relentless spew of out-and-out bullshit into the information stream, America would have gotten atop the coronavirus already. Though it would still be raging in most of the rest of the world, we’d have achieved the herd immunity needed to truly get our lives and our economy firmly headed back to a new kind of normal. Let’s be crystal clear here: anti-vaxx sentiment is based on zero science and a clear misunderstanding of how people need to approach science. Because it doesn’t need science to undergird its recommendations, it can recommend anything. It can say anything because nothing is there to check its work.

Hester Prynne’s community had nothing whatsoever to fear from Hester. Adultery was not going to spread like a virus — though, ironically, the madness behind such close-minded religious thinking did. Perhaps in their worst nightmares, adultery had the potential to do what a pathogen can. There’s a big difference between nightmares and reality though. And Colonial Americans weren’t strangers to the harm pathogens could do — even if they weren’t entirely clear that the harm in question was being caused by such a thing as a “pathogen”. But, we DO know pathogens exist. We DO know what pathogens do and how and why. We KNOW how to protect ourselves from them — that should be the basis for OUR “morality”. We KNOW how to keep our communities safe from things that we perceive would destroy them.

Hester is a strange mix of sexually liberated woman and mousey good-girl gone wrong. Anti-vaxxers are zombies. The pathogen has already eaten their brains and now is using the anti-vaxxers as their ride while they come for the rest of us. That’s why we NEED to make every single anti-vaxxer wear that “U” they seem so proud of right there on their person. “U” for “Unvaccinated” must become our new Scarlet Letter.

The good news? It’s already happening. France and Italy have already begun culling the unvaccinated from the rest of us. Can’t prove YOU were vaccinated? You can’t eat in restaurants or attend any group entertainments like soccer matches or concerts. In a way, an unvaccinated person’s LACK of a “V” (for “vaccinated”) is the new scarlet letter. But, hey — like I said — the unvaxxed don’t see their unvaccinated status the way Hester saw her adulteress status. I bet they’ll not only wear their Scarlet Letters, I bet they’ll compete with each other to make THEIR scarlet “U” bigger than everyone else’s.

What point is there in being just “full of shit” when you can be the “fullest” of shit?

Both France and Italy are, currently, facing pushback from the unvaxxed. Riots erupted in Paris yesterday. As the unvaccinated get sick and become a smaller and smaller minority, their ignorant way of thinking will achieve true pariah-hood. They will deserve it.

Pathogens really don’t care what magical thinking motivates any human to NOT protect themselves from the pathogen. Their existence is simple: they need us. Their entire purpose is to get inside us and reproduce. That it kills us is beside the point. Before we expire, we’ll likely infect countless other humans — exactly like the pathogen wants us to do. But then, if they had their way, in time every pathogen would replace the antivaxxers scarlet “U” with a headstone.

Imagine Hating “The Other” So Much You’d Infect Your Own Children To Prove How Much You Hate

You can’t blame humans for being tribal. We’re social creatures. Tribalism is a survival technique hardwired into our genome. We will more likely thrive if those around us thrive. Or because those around us are thriving. More importantly — from a purely animal point of view — our genome wants our children to thrive in order to carry our personal genes forward. Life doesn’t get any more purposeful than that. In theory then, each and every one of us is programmed to do whatever it takes to give our children the best possible chance to have the best possible future. If the The Weather Channel suddenly forecast localized hellfire from above and recommended staying indoors until the freakish storm cell blew over, pretty much everyone would make damned sure their children weren’t outside playing. That is unless you hated your children.

Or hated someone else so much you’d toss your own kids onto the flames just to keep that hate fed.

That is how much the right wing in America hates everyone else. That’s the white, Christian male part of America plus their camp followers. Make no mistake. This is about a handful of wealthy, white Christian men protecting their political hegemony using the tribal-based fear of their underlings.

In a sense, one can “understand” the Republican Party (now fully exposed for the corrupt treason weasels they are) resorting to The Big Lie to manhandle power back from the People. Every single anti-voting law every single Republican has drafted is one hundred percent about either limiting who can vote or whose votes will be counted. Democracy, alas, poses an existential threat to the Republican Party just as progress poses an existential threat to conservatism. If Republicans could win elections on the strength of their ideas, they’d be doing it. By the same token — if Republicans thought all those impoverished people streaming northward toward our southern border were reliable Republican voters, they’d offer to limo them not only past the customs line but right to an employment office where they’d be handed both a well-paying job and an American passport.

The whole point of gerrymandering is to deny the majority their rightful voice and their rightful choices about public policy. It’s minority rule on the hoof. And the whole point of denying the majority its voice is because you’re afraid of the majority, of what the majority might do. Like, thrive, for instance. The conservative perspective cynically assumes that if someone not of their tribe thrives, as a result, someone of their tribe will fail to thrive as a result. They can’t imagine a tide that lifts all boats. All they can imagine is a tsunami that only their boats can even tolerate. Screw everyone else.

There’s a moment in the film “The Usual Suspects” where — as the legend of Kaiser Soze is being related — we learn just how much of a stone cold criminal he is. Though a rival gang boss held his wife and children hostage, Soze would not bend and used his family’s brutal murder to motivate his even more brutal takedown of the whole rival gang. Screw me? No — screw you, pal. Screw you to death.

The same yahoo’s who can’t abide being told they must wear a mask to enter someone else’s business have never EVER said a word about signs that read —

Perhaps if we retooled those signs this way, they’d shut up —

Those same yahoo’s don’t have a problem when their public schools won’t let their kids matriculate unless their kids are vaccinated against certain highly communicable, very dangerous diseases. They have no problem when the jobs they apply for have certain prerequisites. They have no problem demanding the people they hire have certain prerequisites in their pocket (and in their experience database). Yet, suddenly, when politics come into play, nothing else matters except having their way. Even their own life experience — things they saw and heard — can be denied if the end result isn’t to their liking.

No, January 6 was not in any way, shape or form, some “normal tourist visit”.

To assert that is to actively decide “I will deny reality” because my political ends demand it”. Vaccine denialism is no different. President Biden succeeding at lifting the pandemic’s hold is political poison to the GOP. But, it’s not merely about taking back power for the sake of doing it. The Republicans know that should they NOT take power back — and permanently — the terrible truth about what the Republicans did because Donald Trump and Russia compelled them to will not only get revealed but be the basis for terrible, terrible punishments. The majority of Americans, Republicans rightly fear, will become incredibly angry at them. Angry enough to insist they all get put away in federal prison forever.

Refusal to get vaccinated goes even further down this rabbit hole because it’s not just the Republicans themselves that the Republicans are putting at risk, it’s their own families, their own children. But, that is how deeply Republicans hate and hate the rest of us. They don’t honestly fear the vaccine. They’ve been vaccinated countless times before. They don’t fear getting Covid 19 because they believe in magic and believe magic (that their genome is so superior that pathogens that infect others won’t hurt them) will protect them either from the virus or from the virus visiting its worst upon them.

That “magic” is pure racism.

It would be bad enough if this Republican insanity threatened only their tribe — which, right now, that’s what it’s doing. Republican refusal to mask or get vaccinated is why the pandemic is raging again where the political map is red (or like here in Southern California where lack of any kind of travel restrictions make us a giant collecting pool for who knows how many unvaccinated peoples’ virus loads on top of the viral loads already festering in the red parts of LA County). When Republicans use “science” as the basis for their nonsense, they’re not using science, they’re using the word “science” cynically (in the same way they cynically use the words “election security”).

Republicans are a doomsday cult on a doomsday mission. When they hitched their wagon to Trump, they knowingly hitched their wagon to Russia, too (current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy famously told a roomful of GOP leaders a month before the GOP nominated Trump in 2016 that “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump, swear to God!”) Around that same time, don’t forget, Mitch McConnell told President Obama at a Gang Of Eight meeting (where Obama wanted them to sign off on his telling America that Russia was actively working to tilt the election to Trump) that if he did that, he, McConnell would insist that Obama was politicizing the intelligence. Get it? The Republicans did NOT want America to know THAT Russia had influence over Trump or HOW MUCH influence Putin had over Trump. Instead, they let a photo do their talking…

It was hard enough imagining that Republicans hated the rest of us so much that they sold us out to Vladimir Putin. It’s even harder to imagine that the Republicans hated us so much that they sold out their children — just to deny the reality the rest of us live in. They really are saying — out loud — “Y’all can love your children enough to keep em alive! We ‘love’ ours so much, we’ll kill em instead of living in a world where YOU have any sort of political power” over them.

That’s a hell of a lot of hate.

Teams v Mobs

Successful teams do historic things. So do mobs. While both rely on the “groupiness” of their effort, the team needs clear organization and a process; everyone needs to know and do their part. Teamwork rewards everyone who puts in the work to help the team succeed. Even the greatest of great ideas require teamwork in order to move from the abstract to the real. And, ask any athlete — even the ones who play individual sports — if they really accomplished greatness entirely on their own. No, they’ll tell you, they didn’t. Others had to sacrifice in order for them to realize their greatness. That’s not a bad thing. It’s how greatness happens — even spontaneously.

Mobs also can happen spontaneously except their energy doesn’t go in the same direction that a team’s does. Whoever’s calling out the mob — or directing their efforts once the mob has formed — THAT’S the mob’s “organizing principle”. The mob isn’t working as a team, it’s working as a cynical chaos machine at someone’s behest. Sometimes however, mobs can be organized so that they behave like mobs while not exactly looking like mobs. The January 6 insurrectionists looked like a mob but they weren’t the mob’s organizing principle. As we’re learning, the January 6 insurrection wasn’t spontaneous. Not even remotely. People (some inside the White House) planned it and planned for it. Then they directed the mob where they wanted it to spend its rage.

What Joe Biden pulled off — becoming the POTUS — required a lot of teamwork. Overcoming Trumpism required (and still requires) teamwork. Everyone had to put their personal comforts aside and make the group their priority even if it meant standing in nine for hours to vote — in the midst of a pandemic — and despite the weather. I don’t recall seeing Republicans standing in line for hours. That’s because most Republicans didn’t have to. Their precincts had enough voting machines and enough volunteers to handle any situation. Hmmmmm… Sounds like teamwork of a kind, doesn’t it? But this was a “team” working at the behest of corruption at the top. People working for a crime boss can be remarkably efficient. Their efforts don’t benefit the larger “we” however. They only benefit a handful of people — a “me”.

Getting vaccinated demands that every one of us think of ourselves as part of a team. Getting vaxxed makes us better teammates because we won’t get sick (or anywhere near as sick as if we didn’t get vaxxed). We won’t transmit the virus, should we get it, to others. Not getting sick, we won’t tax the health care system. We’ll give the economy a chance to get better faster. The team that is We The People will get back to something like “normal” sooner. NOT getting vaxxed has all the opposite effects. Unless your immune system is compromised, there is no excuse not to do what the team demands. There are only crap excuses for selfish behavior.

The Delta Variant is now raging through all the unvaccinated parts of America — except for Nevada, all red states. This time, young people are landing in over-taxed hospitals. Some are dying. It’s tragedy heaped upon tragedy and it’s all preventable. I just saw a clip on MSNBC. A reporter asks a high school students in Arkansas — one of the few getting vaccinated at the vaccination event set up at their high school — why THEY are getting the stick while most of their classmates aren’t.

Turns out, most of those kids getting vaxxed in this now anti-vax red state are athletes. And the reason they’re all getting it? TEAMWORK. If anyone on their team gets sick, the whole team will have to sit down. One member’s fate is everyone’s fate.

Ironically, even when they rely on teamwork, Republicans view teamwork as something for suckers. Criminals, of necessity, need to be able to turn on their co-conspirators at the drop of an indictment. In several recent interviews, Donald Trump’s niece Mary Trump has stated that her cousin Ivanka will probably flip before Allen Weisselberg, Trumpco’s money man, does. That either would “flip” shouts volumes. That Ivanka would flip — that bellows at the top of its lungs. These people don’t even see a “team” where it should be most firmly entrenched — in their own family.

Oh, the irony… as “team-like” as organized criminals can be, we call them “the mob”. And as every good cop can tell you, it takes significant teamwork to bring down a mob.

How Our DNA Echoes Across Time

For better or worse, we see our parents in our own faces. Or our grandparents in our children.

It’s proof the theory of genetics is on to something. We’re aware of the physical attributes that pass to us from previous generations. Why, they’re as plain as the noses on our faces. Other things pass down to us also. Less apparent but, often, more significant. Genetic diseases like Tay Sachs or sickle cell anemia pass silently from Jewish generation to Jewish generation and Black generation to Black generation. But, other subtle things pass down to us, too. Good things. Being the father of two young adults, I can see both my DNA’s past and I can glimpse into its future. We’ve learned that our DNA is more malleable than first thought. Data says that traumatic experiences like the Holocaust actually changes the experience-survivor’s DNA. So, experience (and the “memory” of it) can ride along from generation to generation. It turns out, ideas can, too. I am bearing witness in real time to an “idea” that stated itself plainly in one generation and — without being stated — has carried itself down through four succeeding generations virtually intact. It’s like a game of “telephone” where the message arrived unscathed.

For reference, I’m 62. Born in 1959. My father was born in 1929. I couldn’t tell you what year his father or mother were born for various reasons but I can tell you where. In the case of my father’s maternal grandfather (his mother’s father), Havis Cohen came from Vilnius, Lithuania sometime during the Great Migration in the 1890’s. I don’t know what Havis did for a living. I know he had a wife and three children. One became my grandmother Elinor, the mother of my father Jerel. After Havis and his family arrived, everyone hurried to become official Americans. There wasn’t much point to being here if you weren’t a citizen; my tribe learned that quickly.

But, while everyone around Havis became “American” as quickly as possible, Havis demurred. He was happy to be in America, but he was in no hurry to BE an American. As I can’t ask Havis directly WHY he didn’t want to become an American like the rest of his family, I’ll have to deduce it more from what my DNA tells me. Havis’ explanation was “I’m a citizen of the world”. Spoken like a true socialist which, I suspect, he was. Havis had three children — my grandmother Elinor, my aunt Jean and their brother Herman. Herman was a lawyer but never made much money because his passion was defending poor people. Herman also never married though he had a female “friend” from time to time. I suspect Herman was gay and the female friend was a beard. I know Herman was in fact a socialist because my father, who adored the man, told me he was.

As I said, my father adored his socialist uncle Herman. I think of it as a “genetic predisposition”.

My father was a general surgeon. He grew up in an upper middle class Jewish household in an upper middle class Jewish neighborhood in West Philly in the 1930’s. His father Simon was a dermatologist (Elinor did well for herself). Simon was a genuinely happy man without an ounce of ambition as far as I know. Elinor ruled their roost. Any ideas that became core values in that family came from her. Quick side note about my father’s family. Polio was a scourge when my dad was a kid. The search was on for a vaccine; the Salk vaccine was still a ways away. One of my grandparents’ social circle had created a vaccine and was testing it. Fearing polio more than the unknown, my grandmother insisted my father and his brother Horace get that vaccine. The live virus inside the vaccine their social friend was using gave both my father and his brother polio. In the current environment, that might sound like a cry against vaccines; it is not. My father went on to become a physician who religiously vaccinated himself and had his children vaccinated.

The idea of vaccination stands. That particular vaccine shouldn’t have. We need to differentiate.

Despite the cruel twist of fate that GAVE him a terrible disease (rather than him just “catching it” from someone else like most people did), my dad never displayed an ounce of anger or resentment toward what happened. Make no mistake: polio caused him physical pain every day of his life. When post-polio syndrome struck later in life, it ratcheted up the pain quotient exponentially. He didn’t keep the pain a secret, but he didn’t roll in it either. It just “was”. Like the polio that caused it, pain did not define my dad. I believe this, too, was Havis’ spirit. In my dad’s case, it saved his sanity.

Havis, it seems, has informed almost every blog post I’ve written here. I have never been happy sitting inside the box. Frankly, I’m not good at it. If the world does something one way, that makes me suspicious. Sure, sure — there might be a good reason, but, what if there was another, BETTER way — that required a bit of imagination and daring but would pay off massively.

My son’s about to graduate from UC Santa Cruz, a poli-sci major with a minor in a thing called “History Of Consciousness”. Tristan’s high school friends from the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles were a pretty outside-the-box group but even they couldn’t grasp what my son’s major was. Yet, my son just told us, with graduation approaching, that he loved his college experience and believe he found the perfect balance between partying and studying. He also found himself at Santa Cruz. Found his purpose.

Needless to say, my son won’t be dropping from college into any sort of 9-5 world. Even if that world was as prevalent now as it was when I graduated from college in 1981, Tristan wouldn’t be joining it — as I didn’t. As I couldn’t have and he (because of me and our genes) can’t.

Over the course of my working life, I’ve held a few “real jobs” on a temp basis. Knowing I was only visiting the 9-to-5 world and not moving in permanently saved my sanity. But, I loved visiting it. It’s like how I feel about weather. One of the great advantages to living in LA is that we only marginally have seasons. I mean, we DO. February and August are nothing alike. But it doesn’t snow here except very, VERY rarely. I could (in theory — which means traffic permitting) ski in the morning and surf in the very same afternoon. I can drive to seasons like I can drive to “entertainment”.

I had kids relatively late in life compared to most of my contemporaries and schoolmates. I have the luxury of added perspective. As I stare at that photo of Havis, I can’t help wondering which of the ideas floating around behind his eyes now float around behind mine. And which float behind my son’s and daughter’s.

In “War Of The Worlds”, A Pathogen Saved Us From Martians — Just Like A Pathogen Will Save Us From Donald J. Trump

It’s not hyperbole — Donald Trump is a democracy-destroying monster utterly resistant to normal reason and legal logic. In HG Wells’ “War Of The Worlds”, Martians take over Earth, easily crushing our feeble human armies. What saves our bacon in the end? Pathogens. Germs. Not even fancy ones. The monsters’ bodies succumb to the same ordinary Earth germs our immune systems handle with ease. Oh, what a delicious irony: Covid-19 is serving the same exact function right here, right now. Except the unstoppable monster this pathogen is saving us from is Donald J. Trump.

It’s weird how unstoppable Trump has been. His ability to avoid responsibility for a lifetime of criminal behavior is, well, otherworldly.

But then, so’s his monstrous destructiveness.

Trump the Monster has laid waste to our faith in the election process. He’s gobbled up money and trampled on rights like Godzilla trampling Tokyo. He’s incinerated our reputation abroad and, with a swing of his bloated orange tail, sent the rule of law flying.

Unlike in Wells’ story though, OUR news media has been slow to respond as this particular monster emerged from his pod. In Trump’s case, he rode down a gold escalator and roared how Mexicans are rapists and, if you’re famous, you can do anything to women — including grab their pussies — because “they’ll let ya”. Whereas our news media should have shot that right down — and kept firing until the monster was dead — instead they put down their weapons and followed the monster to the next part of town he wanted to destroy. Then watched him do it.

In a sense, our press is the equivalent of the Wells story’s military: our last line of defense was defenseless. Good thing we have coronavirus to save us.

Trick question: what kind of an idiot thinks he can “negotiate” with a pathogen? Anti-vaxxers and Trumpanistas all think they can outrun something they can’t even see.

As Donald Trump proved, no, ya can’t.

Donald Trump brought his Covid-19 infection upon himself. While he truly deserves whatever the pathogen does to him — having made himself (and so many other Americans) completely vulnerable to it — we need Trump to survive. We don’t need him to feel good at the end of the day, we just need him alive.

Donald Trump must absolutely face the music. He needs to be fully compis mentis while we fully investigate him (which we absolutely will), indict him (for ALL his crimes), try him, convict him, sentence him and punish him. Hell, I’d even vote for shocking the bastard back to life each time he flatlines. If we could keep Trump alive for a hundred years — just so we can keep him miserable and in prison — we should do it. It’s no less than he deserves.

According to one news source, Trump wondered aloud yesterday, Friday, before they transported him to Walter Reed if he was going to go out the same way his friend Stan Chera did — dying because of Covid-19. That’s not a guy experiencing “mild symptoms”.

That’s a man suddenly facing his own mortality.

How To Put This Nicely… “Hey, Everyone — Life As We Know It Just Changed COMPLETELY — For Real”

Think of how hard it was to convince the world that Donald Trump was elected POTUS because Russia interceded in our election on his behalf. Think of how hard it was just to get “serious people” to view any Russian involvement in Trump’s election as a possibility. Hell — there are STILL lots of “fair-minded people” who insist it’s impossible to change an election’s outcome EVEN IF TONS OF PROOF shouts that the outcome doesn’t actually reflect how We The People actually voted.

The idea of a treasonous POTUS is monstrous. It’s hard to wrap one’s mind around. It’s too far outside our concept of “normal” for us to process it as possible. That doesn’t mean it’s not possible.

I bet an HOUR before the first plane hit the Twin Towers that most Americans would have said that wasn’t possible. I bet the residents of Pearl Harbor — as they slept soundly in their beds the morning of December 7, 1941 — would have said it was impossible for their Sunday to be ruined by a surprise attack by Japan.

And yet…

World War II changed the course of human events. One way or another, it touched every human life. This will do the same thing.

Countries don’t shut down out of ordinary fear. This isn’t a political conversation, it’s a biological one. As good as we’ve gotten at dealing with pathogens, pathogens still have it over us. Even the pathogens we have wiped out might not stay wiped out because anti-vaxxers connect dots that simply do not connect. Pathogens like polio and measles don’t give a shit why a human DOESN’T protect themselves from them. To a pathogen, we’re meat. They need us to be. Viruses, for instance, lacking DNA, use our cells like cheap-assed sex motels in order to reproduce.

If anti-vaxxers could SEE the pathogens, perhaps they’d feel differently. If all those young people refusing to “buy in” to the seriousness of Covid-19’s threat could themselves experience the virus’s worst effects (or watch a loved one struggle for breath, their lung function compromised by the virus), maybe THEN they’d get it. Live how we used to live and lots of us could not just die but suffer long-term effects that THEMSELVES change our lives going forwards.

Social distancing isn’t an affect. It’s the one tool in our collective belt to stop coronavirus from spreading. We can’t help ourselves in any meaningful way until we STOP the virus from infecting new people and vectoring off into the unknown. We can’t do that until we’re monitoring ourselves relentlessly just so we know who has it and who doesn’t. Being as that won’t happen any time soon, all that’s left to us is personal isolation.

This may be the hardest thing for Americans to adapt to — thinking of the group — though it’s there in our makeup. We need to put down the ludicrous notion of the “rugged individual”. He doesn’t really exist anyway. In a pandemic? He’s utterly useless. He alone can’t fix anything — and he never could. Chances are it’s HIS selfishness that’s helping spread the virus far and wide.

Unless you KNOW for a fact that you’re virus free, you need to assume that you’re infected and could infect others. We are obligated to each other to do everything possible to NOT infect each other — to NOT be the cause of them getting sick or worse.

Doing the right thing is easy when the choices are easy. Not abusing a puppy because it’s horribly wrong is an easy moral choice to make. Knowing your neighbor and friend is abusing a puppy — and someone needs to intercede — THAT’S when doing the right thing gets hard. And real.

The fact is we don’t know what happens next because no one’s been here before. We don’t know how much this will impact the world’s economy because the circumstances that got us here have never happened before. The Spanish Flu was bad but, in 1918, people still couldn’t travel around the world like they do now — spreading a pathogen far and wide without even knowing it. Kinda like what probably happened last night in Chicago’s O’Hare and Dallas’s Love Field when all those Americans returning from Europe (cos of possible coronavirus exposure) were subjected to hours of waiting in packed lines while waiting (after they’d got their bags) to be “screened” for coronavirus.

Stupid doesn’t get more stupid than that.

https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/coronavirus-airport-screening-sunday/index.html

We will — in the coming weeks — look back on certain interactions that we used to take for granted (like shaking hands) with a start. Whoa — touching another person’s hand like that — never again! The longer the coronavirus endures, the longer a safer alternative to hand-shaking will have to set in and become the new norm.

We have no idea how long countries will be down. We don’t know if a summer reprieve will lead to an even more ferocious second wave in the fall (like the Spanish flu did). If our outcome is anything like Italy’s? There’s a huge shock coming our way.

The PTSD alone will cause us troubles.

The quicker we adapt and self-isolate when necessary while socially-distancing ourselves as “ordinary behavior”, the quicker we’ll all get our “ordinary lives back”. The truth is, we may never get our “ordinary lives” back.

The quicker we adapt to that fact, the better.

Is It A “Stupid Question” To Ask “What’s Up With America’s Love Affair With Stupid”?

Not A Revelation: Stupid plays very well in America. I don’t mean we like to laugh at stupid people (everyone loves laughing at stupid people except the stupid people themselves), I mean we we like it when stupid people laugh at us.

We must like it; we keep setting ourselves up for it to happen

American politics has an actual history of stupid people proudly proclaiming how stupid they are — the whole point being how stupid they are. The “Know Nothing” movement was an actual thing started by a bunch of nativists in 1855. When it started, “I know nothing” was the intended response to any and all questions (especially as they pertained to the group’s rabid anti-Catholic xenophobia).

Know-nothingism touched something deep in American racism.

Later on, Dixiecrats — State’s rights Democrats (modern Republicans) — took up the Know-Nothing banner and waved it proudly. Racists like Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms extended the subjects about which they “knew nothing” to pretty much everything. Republicans turned “knowing-nothingism” into a battering ram of legislative ignorance, bad faith and racist claptrap.

Jump cut to today. It’s the “know nothing” attitude — the I don’t give a crap about the facts, I only care about what I want — at the core of a rip tide of anti-abortion legislation. It’s not a love of science seizing the nation, it’s a love of scientific ignorance. Feelings over Facts. Foolishness over everything else.

We are letting stupidity — and stupid people — dictate not only policy but “morality”. Stupid people have stupid morality. Even if well-meaning, stupid people unloosing their stupid upon the world never works out well for the world. Do anti-vaxxers think pathogens like measles and polio give a shit what they think?

Could the Right To Life movement be more blatantly stupid (in addition to dishonest, hypocritical and misogynistic)? You can’t sell stupid with facts. You can only “sell it” (cram it down the Nation’s unwilling throat) by saying it louder and longer. That’s always stupidity’s goal — to outlast you. It’s the only weapon on its tool belt after all…

What is Donald Trump if not Stupidity on Steroids?

Every pronouncement he built his reputation and base on was based on stupidity — and relied on other peoples’ stupidity to take off. It relied on the American news media’s willingness to spread that stupid like fertilizer. And, boy, did they! What makes Donald Trump’s lies so painful isn’t that they’re lies, it’s that they’re so damned STUPID. He must think WE’RE stupid when he says them.

That Donald Trump is STILL president makes the case that, indeed, we ARE stupid. We’re so stupid we’ll let our own rules trip us up — while we try to stop from stupidly going down the road to chaos, corruption and authoritarianism.

Worse than our love affair with stupid however, is America’s almost palpable hatred for smart people. The word “elite” really means “educated”… or “articulate”… or “thoughtful”. In other words, “not stupid”. Republicans love calling Democrats and Progressives “elite” — by which they mean “not stupid”.

Back in the 1950’s the Democrats twice put Adlai Stevenson up to run against Dwight Eisenhower. It was a thankless task — running against the War Hero who’d just won the Second World War in most Americans’ eyes. What Republicans relied on however — to beat down Stevenson — was his intelligence. Republicans called Stevenson “egghead” because his being well-read, well-informed and capable of critical thinking apparently made him less of a public servant to their way of “thinking”.

Oh, irony… poor, irony.

Where does that come from, I wonder, America’s virulent — persistent — anti-intellectualism? I don’t think it’s a coincidence that so many religions have been created here. A religion is a fantastical answer to a practical question — why are we here? But, whereas a science-thinking person starts to answer it by establishing first what they can prove with facts, a religionista doesn’t bother with facts (because facts can only confuse them or screw them up).

A religionista’s answer (to anything) doesn’t have to have a basis in reality.

I’m biased, I guess. That sounds painfully stupid. Never mind asking what could possibly go wrong, I want to know what could possibly go right?