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October 18, 2021

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Without a transformative domestic social package, we will be handing the authoritarians all the ammo they need to take this thing to violence.

Social media caught us all off-guard. We are now learning just how deeply it is affecting our species. We are churning through our mythologies at breakneck speed, with no governors (in both senses of the word) to be seen. Especially here in the US, any tentative respect for leadership has been broken - the “truth” is up for grabs. This is healthy, but the weaning will be as chaotic as all adolescence is.

It would be a hell of lot easier with a functioning social compact that didn’t use anxiety as its rocket fuel.

We have (had?) a shot at a softer transition, some relaxation, except for two venal senators, and the not-so-small fact that history doesn’t seem to do transition well, if at all...

I fear that what will pass will be sufficiently watered-down to block as many immediately visible benefits as possible, in service of the re-taking of the two houses next year. Manchin and Sinema, you fools.

I know Biden wants the whole package - his FDR comment was real and fuck the right for trying to ridicule that. We are certainly going to see what Biden is made of at the end of it all. If nothing else, I stand silent before someone who willingly burns themselves in such service.

I said “take this thing to violence,” not some kind of authoritarian take-over. History frowns on transitions, but it is especially unkind to despotism. People only take so much.

Remember the TV series F Troop? The Democrats are F Troop. Remember the TV series Gilligan's Island? The Democrats are Gilligan.

Fear not the blood thirsty Republican party.

We have F Troop and Gilligan manning the walls of our Fort Democracy.

Hi Michael, great to hear from you.

Rogue, I believe this comes under "Lost Opportunities" which sadly shows we have become quite adept at losing opportunities.

Announced today: Phoenix office of Heat Resource and Mitigation????????

I am reminded of the Healthy Forest Restoration plan of 2003. I kid you not because you can look it up. After two decades, the Healthy Forest program is not only still stuck at step ONE, the program has been put on hold indefinitely. Why? Because it is still stuck on step one.

We would be delusional to expect the heat program to accomplish anything more than the forest plan did.

As I transition out of AZ to CO, my only goal after that is to convince my granddaughter to follow me to CO for her future safety and happiness.

She wants to be a teacher.

A teacher in AZ????

I have faith that AZ will drive her out. I hope with minimal bruises to her spirit.

AZRebel soon to be CORebel

The police need to be reformed.
Poverty breeds crime.
Statues need to come down.
Too few leftists in a pretend liberal Democrat Party.

This are just nibbles at the fringes of the externalities that will envelope the globe as it is now too late to take the proper bites out of them. The billionaires and their millionaire minions and the temporarily embarrassed wanna be's win (but know not what they do).

In the final analysis Trump will go down in history as the knucklehead who stumbled his way through the destruction of two corrupt political parties. Parties who have become so corrupt their corruption is attacking the few remaining healthy cells in their body politic.

Trumps new Republican mantra, "We'll show them, don't vote". The MAGA Morons will buy that strategy hook, line and sinker. I love it.

This is a good discussion and while there are many valid reasons to be distressed, I choose to be optimistic. Many of my neighbors are now alert to the false choices that our political parties and corporate owned media have shaped.

The world needs more militant centrists and this decade will require courage from all of us to speak the truth - that bad and dishonest actors (Gosar / Biggs / Fann / Ward etc) are not worthy of attention or respect. We can isolate them from ordinary society and let them loudly fill their echo chamber with nonsense and lies. Arizona has seen this before with the John Birch movements in the 60s.

At the same time, we must voice support for those that embrace the truth even when we don't agree with them on all fronts - such as the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors & even County Recorder Richer deserve respect for their courage. Even the Governor despite his many shortcomings - deserves some respect for speaking the truth regarding the elections.

Now the larger issues are real - while I don't think any of the founders ever imagined the power of capital and its corporations to distort our system. The two-party system and many of the woke fights and false choices they propose are useful to a system that enables excess profiteering by capital and its enablers.

Unfortunately thanks to Citizens United - we have capital run amok and the best example in Arizona are those at Pinnacle West for the past decade who corrupted the system and personally profited (Don Brandt / Jessica Pachecho - new appointee to the Board of Regents). New leadership is helpful but more is required and again these individuals are not welcome and should never be recognized as anything but profiteering (no more community awards etc).

This decade, like periods before it,is about a new alignment of interests, and in the best case we will see a new social contract emerge - with many of the elements contained in with Human Infrastructure Bill currently being debated. If we are going to give abundant tax credits to companies we must also do something on an inflation adjusted basis to support every day families and working people.

However - while the debate is shaped it is worthwhile to recognize that our adversaries are real - and are using social media to destabilize our nation.

We need to look for new election models that recreate the middle. Andrew Yang and many are discussing this and it is timely to consider what we can do to move this agenda forward in Arizona and to identify who opposes such reform. In my view, we should no longer be paying for elections of private organizations (GOP / DEMS) when they oppose any competition or change that will not benefit them. Election reform must not just be about access to the ballot, redistricting but enabling the freedom of choice our Democracy was designed to provide.

I would welcome a post that considers how reform can start in Arizona and suggest this as useful context.

https://freakonomics.com/podcast/americas-duopoly-rebroadcast/

My despair about politics has gone from merely being "world weary" to out-and-out alienation. I sense a deep denial on the left just how tenuous our position is. We're not only going to lose in the coming election cycles, democracy itself is failing before our eyes. The shameless Republicans know what they're doing and it feels like America's next big moment will be to usher in a would-be strongman ala Vladimir Putin. The irony here is that the right's fetish about decentralizing power (see: federalism) will likely prevent Trump and his successors from capitalizing on this moment.

Secession is now being openly discussed but it's mostly theoretical speculation. Economically we're still one nation. What's different is that the foundation of political power is no longer predicated on the bedrock of a shared identity. We're not Sweden (and even Sweden isn't the Sweden of 50 years ago). What this means is increasing dysfunction with no means to tackle major issues or exert global influence. American power is entering what is likely to be a permanent eclipse.

I've been struggling to understand what it is that has brought about this unhappy state of being. Bear with me as I think through this problem in this space. Our shared reality is a compound of opposing energies like yin and yang, or masculine and feminine. What America is going through today is a fundamental split between its necessary if opposing dualities. Democrats tend to be the party of feminine energy - think how important compassion and kindness are to us - while Republicans are the more masculine party of order and control. One side emphasizes social justice while the other side sneers at our celebration of victim categories.

This intrapsychic disunion between the masculine and feminine began to emerge strongly in the 1990s with the rise of cable news (see: Fox) and figures like Newt Gingrich. We stopped arguing within the boundaries of a shared reality and increasingly in the attic space of a sharply divided national identity. Both sides accepted this emerging reality unconsciously but the evidence was everywhere we looked. The left began to venture into arcane theories hatched in academia (e.g, critical race theory) while the right hunkered down in a swamp of conspiracy theories and outright paranoia. It was no accident that the right manifested this new hyper-reality with terrorism from people like Timothy McVeigh and Eric Rudolph. Militias and survivalists became increasingly concentrated in the right's rural strongholds. The left, in the meantime, began creating new ideological redoubts in cities and college towns. Portland is one of the premier geographic locales for this new epistemological dreamscape of sanctimonious "wokeness".

The election of an extraordinary symbol of the new America, Barack Obama, seemed to confirm for many of us the Judis and Tuxiera thesis of an "emerging Democratic majority". But Obama was a careful centrist who reassured an anxious nation while distancing himself from the identitarian zealotry on the left. In 2016, Hillary Clinton carefully followed in his political footsteps except that her persona exuded the certitude of ballbusting feminists. Her fate will presage the disaster of a Kamala Harris candidacy in 2024.

Ultimately, what the left is attempting is a reordering of human nature. People, however, are anxious about utopianism for good reason (see: the 20th century). The new social reality on the Left Coast is a bracing reminder that human nature is only so flexible. We can playact at being sophisticated wokesters but it's mostly fakery. It's why a hallmark of the identitarian left is censorship and shaming. We are, I believe, at a critical juncture in our political experiment where we either appeal to the broad center or crash on the shoals of our delusional goodness. That Trump came perilously close to winning reelection last year should remind us that our brave new world is limited by the very nature we're trying to escape. We will not be so lucky next time.

LMAO.

I must say that your description of the agenda of the Dem's "far left" seems a little childish, Jon. The progressive wing wants nice things for America, but inane "analysis" certainly will mask that, won't it?

The young democrats in the House who compose the "far left" strike me as youngsters with actual ideals who find themselves in the middle of a group of corrupt, jaded, greedy, did I say corrupt, old democrats who want to stay at the public trough until they die.

The wealth these "public servants" rack up during their time of "public service" is astounding.

The youngsters want to fix the situation, but they won't succeed. Too bad.

I'm not sure there is a way to describe a childish agenda that isn't childish. Democrats are more like kindergarten schoolyard kids than any sort of deliberative, pragmatic body. The squabbling is incessant, and the inability to separate woke dreams of utopia from real, doable possibilities is maddening to watch. As they always do following success, they will screw up the next election.

I despise woke sh--heads far more than most but some perspective is in order. Woke ideology is politically irrelevant and does not pose a systemic threat. Ranting idiots don't pose a threat to anyone without a level of astroturf backing that woke brigade lacks.

The only short-term existential threat to American society is the Republican Party's rejection of democratic self-governance and transition into a party of autocratic fascism supported by paramilitary violence.

The side-threat to American society is the utter failure of the Democratic Party, its backers, and the media to recognize the modern GOP for what it is.

The end game sees the US emulate Russia (a largely non-violent autocracy), Belarus (a violent autocracy), or Rwanda (where reactionaries launched a genocide against their opponents).

This isn't the kind of story that has a happy ending.

Every past and present operative of the DNC is screaming on every media platform, "THE RNC IS ON WAR STATUS. THEY ARE OUT FOR BLOOD. ACTUAL BLOOD. THEY WILL TEAR DOWN THE DEMOCRACY IN ORDER TO REGAIN POWER FOREVER"

The Dems in the house and senate are hearing these messages.

What they are also hearing are the whispered promises and threats from their true masters, K Street.

When you try to analyze the actions of a senator like Sinema, not only can you not tell which way she is leaning on issues, you can't be sure she is even from this planet. I so look forward to her being a one term senator.

Who wins, Main street or K Street??

It's a toss, Reb. There will be a tilt, however. Quisling centrists quiver and rail for a reason.

On Nov. 2nd, we shall hold our bi-annual Revolution. No point worrying until the results are certified.

The media keeps talking about the inevitability of the GOP taking back the house or the senate, since HISTORY SAYS IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN THIS WAY.

Don't the talking heads realize we are in uncharted territory in this country. We are in a blender where we've thrown in a mix of a dumbed down populace, a sprinkling of the 1918 pandemic, a pinch of civil war talk and finally two corrupt parties that have imploded into their rotten cores.

I'm banking on the following trends to keep the spineless trumpsters on the sidelines:

1. Trump's new "don't vote edict".
2. Covid killing off trump anti-vaxers.
3. Republicans leaving the party and registering Independent. Democrats are leaving their party too. Goes to show you, there are still some functioning brains out there.
4. Independents and suburban women getting fed up with Republican craziness.

Side note: If Darwin were alive today, he would look at the world's covid response versus the 1918 pandemic and announce a new finding. Dodo birds and humans don't evolve, for some reason. Further study is required.

Speaking to the concerns in the above column, I can relate with the with the pessimism permeating it, and some of the corresponding messages that followed.
Politically, the Republicans are in lockstep opposition, but why not challenge Manchin and Sinema to accept a 2 trillion dollar deal? Put the ball in their court, and force them to move instead of being comfortably camped. Those two have judged that are politically insulated should their more Progressive cohorts prove equally obstinate, but a 2 trillion bill isn’t a loss, it’s a compromise. Isn’t that politics? Not all compromises are made with the other side. When you have the advantage of the “big tent” they can be made within the family.
I can’t sympathize with the ideas of Cascadia, Jefferson, or the fanciful wish to cleave Tucson and the Gadsen Purchase from Arizona. We have tried forced partition before, and that was settled in blood, even though the Founders settled it first Constitutionally.
The Large Standing Army of the US is one of the pillars of the Pax Americana. There would be be no relatively stable world order and it’s accrued benefits without it. The cost of maintaining a military required to maintain it, and the consequences of that cost are fair game for debate. In my opinion, the cost is valid, but realize that retrenchment may prove necessary. I only ask that we remember that America doesn’t end at California’s or Florida’s beaches.
Fears of the political inclinations of the members of our military may be founded on an individual level, but the force as a whole is following President Biden’s wishes. Get out of Afghanistan? They accomplished it in the directed timeframe, whatever their personal opinions might about that might be . As they have for every President before.
Some above have stated that they feel alienated. I do too. I am an Anti Trump Republican who was also disgusted with Russell Pearce, Andrew Thomas, Joe Arpaio , and Kris Kobach. I have witnessed the leadership of the AZ GOP degrade every year since I moved back to Arizona in 2002, with few exceptions. Kelli Ward is the worst of them all, which takes Randy Pullen of the hook by a notch. All she has done is lose races. And my parties endless pursuit of election fraud windmills and restricting voting access is beyond my comprehension. Those ploys will bear bitter fruit. I realize my baseline political views are to the right of most folks in this community. I am a Republican because of the examples of Lincoln, Grant, TR, Fiorello LaGurdia,Nelson Rockefeller, Everett Dirksen, and Tom McCall from my new adopted state. That said , I too share your concern and love for Phoenix specifically, and the Union , generally.

@AzRebel, I'm not sure which side I'd want to be on in the Main Street vs. K Street (or Wall Street) divide.

I find it hard to play devil's advocate for K/Wall Street types and try to look for some redeeming qualities among a class with decidedly dark personality qualities.

As a class, they tend to be self-aware of their role in society and the judgment they experience and cope by not giving a shit. Lobbyists and financiers know what they're getting into, they bought their tickets and took the ride and wouldn't want it any other way.

Yet the Main Street ideal of small business folks and tightly rooted community has its dark side, too, and sentimentality tends to paper it over.

The reality of the idealized Main Street revealed itself in all of its ugliness in the form of the Tea Party movement. Remember them? Teabaggery was the battle cry of Main Street.

It's a new fashion for a centuries-old ideology called producerism. This Tablet article advocates for it, so it gives you an idea of who the heroes are in this system.

https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/producerist-manifesto

Producerists are the true middle class -- what we call middle class in America is what sociologists term a cohort -- in that they resent the outsize economic, political and cultural power of national and global elites who are atop them. However, they are equally as resentful of people who are supported by their wealth -- workers and civil servants, who they derisively refer to as bureaucrats.

Michael Lind gave producerists the name of "local notables." https://www.salon.com/2013/10/06/tea_party_radicalism_is_misunderstood_meet_the_newest_right/

These are people who aspire to be elites, but just on a smaller scale. They'd much rather drive their own luxury cars to survey the realms they lord over, rather than rely on airplanes and a staff of delegates.

I'll try to express my thoughts about the Tea Party, but excuse me if I bounce around like a pinball.

As an Independent, when the Tea Party showed up I was entertained and amused.

Don't tread on me - OK, I can understand that sentiment. I don't like being tread upon.

Keep our damn government hands off my social security checks - OK, say what?

The Tea Partiers appeared mostly white, old, cranky, blue collar, no college degrees among the group, gun owners, PU trucks. The kind of folks I hang with except I can't cotton to their way of expressing themselves when it comes to firearms.

You show me someone walking around town with an AR-15 Locked and loaded, WITH THEIR FINGER ON THE TRIGGER, and I'll show you someone who has watched way too many hollywood movies for their own good.

I won't even get into the penis size, living in mom's basement and very low bandwidth in the old cranium.

The Tea Party non longer exists. It was long ago co-opted by kooks and trumpers.

The local chapter has meetings with armed guards at the door. Really? The uprising is occurring Tuesday night in Payson, AZ?

Bottom line, in 150 years in AZ, nobody has use for the village idiot who misuses firearms out in public.

Lot's of folks got lead poisoning doing that.

Told you I would be all over the board.

Runen the Tea Party has been around for hundreds of years. Just lowered the membership requirements.

Cal, the three year old little girl next door calls me Runen. I'm OK with her calling me that because she is way, way, way cuter than you. Lacking that level of cuteness, I'll ask that you refer to me as Ruben in the future.

It's Havana syndrome.

101921
Lost Opportunities
Good column Jon, and great Carl Muecke illustration.
We are Monsters with “atomic breath”.
This column brought forth comments from the philosophical giants. Consequently, since I couldn’t think of anything astounding I wandered into the desert and checked in with Campfire Charlie and his dog Professor Hound. Hound said his “education included how to piss on a campfire while standing on three legs.” His point, The US has three major branches that are currently standing on only one leg each and unable to come together as a connected body to accomplish anything more than dribbling down a leg.
Dog laid down by the fire and his faithful companion, Campfire Charlie, took a hit of melange and got down to some plain speaking. “If you think the planets 5000 powerful companies and a few billionaires are going to let the Democratic party be ran by them there Socialistic commie bastards, think again. Then when you toss in the different crazy religious factions that know their God is on their side. You get blood. As the planet warms there will be tears in the “Raining down Fire” not “Tears in the Rain.”
“People only take so much.” True but it will have a different outcome than the old guillotining of Past Kings and Queens.
Speaking of Kings and Queens, did someone mention Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, for President? Joe’s great grandkids will possibly hate him. Has Sinema gone back to smoking that ground up Missouri River white lizard weed that helped start one of the planets 4200 religions? Is there a deal?
Campfire Charlie’s looking forward to Dune as he finds solitude among the sand from which we sprung. As the sun set in the Great Sonoran desert, Professor Hound Dog got up and put out the mesquite wood campfire creating an aroma that keeps the coyotes at a distance thru the night.
Time for me to turn in and dream of palling around with Duncan Idaho. “May the Force be with you.”
Pessimistic cal

For Soleri:
"dueling certitudes: Contradictory predictions made with alternative assumptions"

More population insanity:
See Jon's Front pages on
Howard Hughes and Vermaland housing plans.
On the road to LA!!!

And glad to see Petro didn't deconstruct.

The latest political joke out of DC.

Merrick Garland walked into a bar.

The bar closed before he could decide what to order.

No joke.

Well written column! I can certainly agree, as anyone with eyes open today will, that the division in our country is close to a crisis point. If there is one thing that unites members of the right and the left, it's the certitude that the other side winning power would be a calamity for the country! We are growing so far apart we can't even understand how the opposite party thinks.

The opening paragraph in an excellent case in point. Rogue blithely dismisses what are extremely important and watertight issues to a very large segment of the population struggling with vaccine decisions. You can disagree with people, but to say none of the objections hold water is just dismissive and ignorant.

It also seems politically wishful and naive to pin vaccine hesitancy, resistance, etc. to Donald Trump (since of course everything has to be about Trump, according to both Democrats and Trump. Another point of unity!) President Trump is extremely proud of his vaccine accomplishment and frequently tells people to get it. He has not been outspoken at all in fighting mandates or validating concerns people have about the vaccines. This is creating a schism between Trump and probably at least half his supporters, and if a Trump candidacy is in the offing, could prove to be a real problem for him if he doesn't get back in touch with the people who got him elected in 2016. Desantis in FL has been quietly becoming a hero to that part of the party over the last year and a half and Trump could find himself on the outs with the party so many observers want to call "his" party.

I would be glad to get into the weeds about the vaccines, etc. with anyone who is interested. I will simply say for now that the pandemic (and the many aspects of our response to it) should have and could have been a unifying event for our country but has become perhaps the most divisive event ever. All the partisan and philosophical differences we have were brought to bear on it and now each side is living in completely separate fact universes.

Where one side sees a clear path out of the pandemic with universally applied NPIs and vaccines, the other side sees largely futile virtue signals and a growing body of evidence that we cannot jab our way out of the virus's path. Where one side says anything we can make people do is worth it if it saves lives, the other side questions how many lives anything we've been doing has saved and if it's worth throwing out the civil liberties we are going to still need after this pandemic has passed.

Liberals used to be champions of civil rights and the rights of the little guy against the coercive power of the government and big business. Conservatives used to be business rights above all. Now the roles are kind of reversed. The right wants laws to protect individuals and the left is loving them some Big Pharma, emergency power dictates and government/business mandates for all. What a strange time we are living in!

No genie in the bathroom?
No 12 inch man playing the piano.

My genie comment was in response to Garland walks into a bar

@AzRebel,

The Tea Partiers appeared mostly white, old, cranky,

    blue collar, no college degrees among the group,
gun owners, PU trucks. The kind of folks I hang with except I can't cotton to their way of expressing themselves when it comes to firearms.

The underlined part is incorrect. Demographic profiles of Tea Partiers show that the modal 'bagger is substantially wealthier than the general population, and slightly wealthier than the modal Republican voter. Most have a bachelor's or postgraduate degree.

The Michael Lind article I linked to has the details. Anthony DiMaggio, who wrote two books chronicling the Tea Party, finds a very similar demographic composition -- a white petit bourgeoisie who are disproportionately wealthier, better educated and more evangelical relative to the US as a whole.

The underlined part that I was quoting from AzRebel was meant to be "blue collar, no college degrees among the group."

@Jon7190, beware of a fallacy that many in the mainstream media are making that is contributing to the complication of achieving mass vaccination: the continuum fallacy (aka "the fallacy of gray").

https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Continuum_fallacy

Much reporting on COVID-19 -- the virus itself, government handling, vaccines, etc. -- is problematic because of journalism itself. American journalism starts from the premise of Two Frames, Counterposed.

COVID-19 is not an issue that is meant to be split into two camps of opposing views. This leads to false balance -- where each side believes it can have a valid claim to power (as in politics), morality (should laws be rooted in religious principles or secular custom), wealth (raise taxes or leave them alone) or facts. The last one is relevant to our discussion.

The novel coronavirus is unlike anything the world has ever experienced. However, certain scientific fields (medicine, virology, biology) were not flying blind the way much of the world (who lack the subject matter knowledge) had been.

The behavior and traits of this particular virus are unique and unusual, but those who have knowledge of viruses could make educated guesses about what can come next. Usually, these endeavors are lab-based under controlled conditions. However, these theories had to be developed under "battlefield conditions." So claims had to be evaluated in real time and disseminated and acted upon quickly.

Of course this leads to mistakes. When the pandemic dies down, the most salient failures will stick out as reminders of what not to do next time.

But who knows this other than scientists?

That's the thing.

This was a matter of scientific inquiry but it was framed as yet another issue that could be sundered and placed in appropriate oppositional buckets.

The problem with the press, and the audience in general, presented COVID-19 matters as though coming down on one side or another is a coin flip.

This is one issue where society needed the closest thing to absolute certainty, but no. We wanted a culture war and we got one. The only real winner was the coronavirus itself, which found itself the perfect host in a nation that allowed itself to be a breeding sump.

I must note, though, that we give most Americans too little credit. There is a political consensus, among both political parties and all races, that gets obscured in the cacophony. Americans largely get it right: Majorities in both parties support the vaccine effort. Support for vaccine mandates shrinks but solid majorities support those, too. In both cases, the majority of Democrats was larger than Republicans. For surveys that offered independent as a political alignment, they were somewhere in between but the majority in support was closer to the Democrats than the GOP (i.e., a survey might find 72% Democrats in favor, 66% of independents and 52% of GOP -- there's a 6-point gap between Dems-indy but a 14-point gap between GOP-indy). This isn't meant to be an exact survey, since so many are available, but all show this prevailing trend.

There's more polarization over the health vs. economy issue -- lock down businesses until the pandemic subsides or keep businesses open and let people assess their own risks. Democrats tend to favor lockdowns, Republicans favor keeping things open and independents are in the middle but lean GOP on the matter.

Polling (particularly in California, Texas and Florida) showed that residents of each respective state favored their elected officials' approach.

Gavin Newsom faced blowback in the form of a recall vote that gathered steam during a nasty COVID-19 surge in California from Thanksgiving to New Year's, with his ouster being framed as his poor handling of the pandemic and him attending a political gathering at the tony French Laundry restaurant as reasons to vote him out. Last month's recall failed spectacularly, in part because each Republican hopeful vowed to eliminate restrictions. Polling afterward said the easing of restrictions was a No. 1 or 2 reason for voting against the recall.

Still, there are some basic facts that are beyond politics that all humans must do, and these are non-negotiable:
1. Vaccines are safe and effective. They are not absolutely effective, they have side effects that are known about since testing, and for people who cannot receive it, the choice should be made with the counsel of a medical professional.
2. People who get the vaccine can still catch COVID-19. Again, no surprise and this was revealed in clinical testing. The vaccine does dramatically decrease the severity of infection as well as death.
3. Masks work. This was an instance where experts initially got it wrong and corrected themselves early on, as they looked at data from Asia and listened to Asian doctors about why mask use is prevalent during flu season. Masks don't protect the wearer so much as the community, but as it turns out, the more people wear masks the more safe everyone turns out to be. If two unmasked people came in contact, the chance of COVID transmission is 50%. If the same people were masked, transmission risk reduces to just 1%.

Jon7190 – I'll ask again, did you or did you not get vaccinated with regard to Covid-19? If so, why? If not, why not? I'm trying to get a handle on your thought processes as they (thought processes) relate to you on that most personal level.

I opted for vaccination because that's what science and uncertainty theory (probabilities) suggested would be the most favorable outcome for me.

Bob, nearly 3/4ths of Republicans believe the election was stolen from Trump, despite no credible evidence to the contrary. Good luck trying to have a rational, fact-based discussion.

You fellows are certainly having good time talking to each other. Are there any women out there following this? Here's my take: How about establishing time limits for media coverage. Twenty-four hours of coverage and capitalism got us where we are today.

Redhead

@DoggieCombover, my galaxy-brain take: Just stop having discussions.

PS: When you see stats like yours showing that Republicans believe a view that stands athwart reality, like the election being stolen, here's some context.

The Republicans are losing supporters. You're seeing the effects of erosion of the denominator. Republicans who believe Trump lost fair and square are leaving the party, leaving behind more extremists representing a smaller base.

They're not winning the war on persuasion. Their base would grow, or you'd see similar trends from Democrats and independents. On this issue, independents are in between again, but are closer to the Democrats in believing the election results are fair and square.

Redhead,
Not a boys only club, but we rarely get girls to play with us.

Cal brought a girl to a coffee gathering once and it took us almost a year to get over it.

BOB, excellent comments. Thank you.
Really liked this:
"COVID-19 is not an issue that is meant to be split into two camps of opposing views. This leads to false balance."

Dear friend Stephanie, and fellow red head
not so hard on the boys here. There are girls that read and post. After all its not true what some say about men.
"Men don't read!"

Better here than in a bar with a genie that's hard of hearing.

I have a link that, I should warn to many readers here, is going to be on the nose.

Do you find yourself worried about the creeping threat of critical race theory, wokeness, identity politics, or the rise of an illiberal overly educated left?

In his substack newsletter, Michael Hobbes illustrates in detail it's a moral panic confected by the rightwing to misdirect from their creeping authoritarianism.

https://michaelhobbes.substack.com/p/moral-panic-journalism?r=ag5pd&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web&utm_source=

A new moral panic follows a classic pattern, and how journalism ends up pollinating it.

Hobbes is important reading because he not only argues his viewpoint with substance, which older liberals like, but he also reminds you that you need to take your eyes off of substance for a bit and consider the tropes.

Bob Dug
thanks interesting article

Sixth amendment, "right to a speedy trial"

Besides the defendant, I propose society at large deserves a speedy trial.

With that said:

Year 2081, Kyle Rittenhouse is granted the OK to bring his grandchildren to the jury selection for his trial.

Year 2050, the parents who drown their kids in the Tonto Creek help celebrate the 20th anniversary of the building of the bridge to prevent parents from drowning their children. Their trial is set to begin in 2051.

Year 2040, Steve Bannon died today. He'll never know if DOJ decided to file charges against him.

JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED

Delay justice and you empower lawbreakers to expand their horizon, the scope of their lawlessness and the severity of their lawlessness.

Several months ago we should have had the most egregious participants in the January 6 coup attempt lined up against a wall and shot.

It was a coup after all, for God's sake.

Or has the definition of a coup changed.

Just my humble opinion.

Follow up thought before some of you wake up from fainting.

If an empire can casually execute a family of twelve with a drone strike because the empire was feeling cranky and embarrassed, and that empire can’t deliver swift justice to insurrections who tried to overthrow it, that is an empire on life support.

"Custer Died for Your Sins"

@AzRebel: that empire can’t deliver swift justice to insurrections who tried to overthrow it, that is an empire on life support

The empire is working as intended. The fact that the insurrectionists were white, Christian and Republican got kid-glove treatment for an act of war is not a bug but a feature.

Remember, the Republican Party and likely collaborators within law enforcement and the Justice Department gave and continue to give cover to the insurrectionists.

Now that political leaders have endorsed and embraced the actions, the means and the ends of the mob, they identify with the anxiety and ressentiment of a descendant white majority.

A magawaffen.

Who would have thunk that Manchin was a trojan whore for the republicans?? (yes, the spelling is correct)

I've had difficulty erasing, from my mind, the photo of protestors alongside Manchin's yacht in West Virginia.

A yacht in West Virginia??

cal, Amen.

Bobson, Wow, just wow.

Bobson Dugnutt said,
"The Empire is working as intended."
I'll check in with Hari Seldon and get back to you about that.

Times sure have changed.

I started out as a young republican who wore a Nixon styrofoam hat to a Humphrey's rally at the Las Vegas airport. We were chanting "dump the hump, dump the hump". A group of old democratic ladies came by and beat us (gently) with Humphrey's signs and pushed us out of the crowd. They made sure we were OK as they sent us on our way, telling us to be good boys and behave.

Now at the other end of life, I am a "dump the trump" kind of guy. I wouldn't dare chant that here without being fully armed.

Times have changed.

@AzRebel, you're describing a typical Saturday afternoon in downtown Portland.

It's one of those "this is horrible but in 2021 here we are" moments. The closest thing we can come to hope is that the Antifa vs. Proud Boys/Patriot Prayer skirmishes don't become larger or draw in adventurers from out of the area. Oh, and let them keep fighting.

There is something worse than having society's dead enders fighting it out. You don't want either side to "win."

Once one side wins, disorganized violence evolves to become organized.

Anyone here recall being out on the street in the Sixties?
Kent state anyone?
SDS or the Black Panthers? (I met some)
The Mayor Daley Chicago Convention?
How about students in 68 burning down the Fench Stock Market? (Stephanie)?
Bobson you taking pictures and chatting with these kids that think Adbusters Magazine is the future?
These youths don't scare me as much as the insane followers of mythical beings intent on creating religious nations.
But then the last time i stayed awake one night was when one of my former indigenous spouses said,
"some people need killing."
She didnt mention who she thought should be killed.

Ole cop philosophy:
Slow roll to a fight call
Book the winner
Danno

Runen are you suggesting
Manchiran
Manchin

Oops
ITS Manchurian
And
Ruben not Runen

Ruben (AZ rebel) regarding your email and this column. Of course you and i are old and offensive and not up to date and up too snuff (you still got that ole snuff box). Because of the posting geniuses here, i have spent at least 30 mintues looking up words in comments posted here.
Sorry your physical condition cant make a club coffee in Phoenix. But i want to ask if i can invite my friend Stephanie?
If not maybe she and Bruce and i can catch you in Black Flag Payson?

Bob and iaed, I apologize I didn't end up with much time to write today. I am working on a reply, which should go up during the day Friday.

Jon7190 is the voice of reason in this group.

Bob,
I actually agree with much of what you say up until your conclusions. I definitely buy into the "battlefield conditions" analogy, and as I have thought about it as a "fog of war" situation. The early days of the pandemic were pretty uncertain and few took serious issue with "15 days to flatten the curve". Science is often unsettled and it has to get data before it can follow data. Where I started getting uncomfortable was when narratives got locked in very early, after which no one was allowed to question the narrative.

There were new dogmatic truths and it became more like religion than science. Science is skepticism and a relentless quest for proof. We weren't allowed to be skeptical: there was one approved set of facts and there was no amount of data that could prevail against those approved facts. (e.g. droplet vs airborne re: masks, or early treatment studies) All else was misinformation, which must be suppressed and the heretics excommunicated. This has only gotten worse with time. The approved narrative was one side and if you questioned it, you were automatically seen to be on the other side. Science shouldn't be about "sides", that's the realm of politics and culture, but they all got mixed together here.

I'll briefly address your conclusions. Getting into the specifics gets real complicated real fast. I'll try to keep it simple and provide some links for anyone who wants to get deeper.
1. & 2. Vaccines are safe and effective. They do seem to be pretty effective at decreasing infection and illness for a few months, after which they drop off rapidly and during which time you can still catch and spread the virus. That is not very controversial. What is more controversial is that since it minimizes symptoms, vaccinated people may be more likely to spread the virus without knowing they are infected, ironically being more of a danger to the unvaccinated, those whose shots were >6 mo. ago and who now have minimal protection, and those with generally poor immune systems. There is also the open question of is the mass vaccination campaign in the middle of a pandemic driving viral evolution to more virulent strains. Data from around the world (which is better quality than U.S. in some places) and in the U.S. indicate that cases, hospitalizations and deaths are subject to big spikes even in very heavily vaxxed populations.

I would call the vaccines safeish. Most people tolerate them well in the short term (all we know about at this time). Even the manufacturers acknowledge some teeny tiny risk of serious side effects, what we don't know is how prevalent they are. We have VAERS. We have a heck of a lot of anecdotes. We also have indications that the VAERS numbers significantly (and perhaps massively) under-represent the actual number of deaths and serious adverse events, as they historically have. And we have the narrative conditions I described above, where even experts aren't supposed to publicly discuss any data that goes against the ABSOLUTELY INDISPUTABLE FACT they are safe and effective.

Your position is not clear. Are you saying people should discuss with their doctor and decide whether to get the shot, or that everyone should be mandated to get it and only those who can't have it medically should talk to their doctors?

3. Masks work. It sure seems like they should! There was pretty broad consensus among experts prior to about March 2020 that masks were not very effective in controlling viral respiratory disease. That changed quickly, and not because the science did or a few calls to Asia cleared things up. I won't speculate too much here on why but certainly it had a lot to do with the need of public authorities to do something visible in this scary situation. Since about April 2020, data has been accumulating in how effective masks have been in controlling spread. Virtually all the data says that masks don't seem to do much of anything to control numbers, which ebb and flow by region seemingly completely independent of local masking mandates and compliance. I know it’s counterintuitive. There may be a lab study that says that when two people are masked their chance of transmission drops from 50% to 1%, but if that held true in the real world, wouldn't we see a clear pattern of 50% drops wherever masks are widely used? At least a 25% drop? How about 10%? Sadly, there is no clear pattern.

It's hard to prove masks don't work, and also hard to prove they do. Even the biggest studies purporting to show they work such as in Bangladesh are actually pretty weak. There are also COVID-era studies that show they don't work and they are not cost free, especially for children.

The best way of thinking of it I've heard is this: Let's say a COVID infectious person is shedding 1 million virus particles (hypothetically because numbers are always very large in talking about viruses) and let's grant that his mask is holding back 50%, so he is only spreading 500k particles, but it only takes the person in his general vicinity inhaling 10k to get infected. It's like the old analogy of hiding from a shotgun blast behind a chain link fence.

Now some homework:

I would invite everybody to watch this video and, if you find this Physician's Assistant credible, can you honestly say you are comfortable that the medical establishment is doing due diligence on the risks and benefits of the vaccines?

Joe Rogan did an interview with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, which is a masterclass on how to have a substantive, civil discussion between two opposing view points. It's a three hour in depth yet entertaining session (watch it on 1.5x speed!) with at least two hours on vaccines and I came away thinking they still had so much they could have talked about.

There are a number of independent journalists and data analysts who have been doing yeoman's work during the pandemic looking deeply into issues and data the mainstream media will not cover, some of whom I linked to above. Many are on Substack: Mathew Crawford, eugyppius, Jordan Schachtel, IM, Dr RollerGator PhD, Aaron Siri, el gato malo (my personal favorite even if he can't use capitals) and of course, Alex Berenson. Yes some use pennames, but if you had a job would you feel comfortable putting your name on widely distributed free-thinking COVID commentary that might ruffle important feathers? Judge them on the merits of their research and writing, not their lack of mainstream publication. You can disagree with them, but you can't read them seriously and still dismiss the concerns of millions of people as blithely as Rogue did in the article.

iaed,
Yes, you asked in the previous post and I will now try to describe my thinking and how it has evolved. I was eligible for the vaccine in December but didn't want to jump right into it. In early 2020, the virus was scary because it is a novel virus and we didn't know initially how contagious and virulent it was. Over the next several months we got a better handle on its nature and who was most at risk. At 49, I was healthy, regularly exercised, on target BMI, taking vitamins (C, D, zinc for antiviral purposes), I hardly ever get sick so I know my immune system works well and I had a plan for getting early treatment. I felt comfortable that my risk of serious illness was low.

While the virus was novel, so was the vaccine. It was a never-before-approved type of gene-based medicine for which the usual lengthy FDA testing process was massively shortcutted. Let's just say that "warp-speed" is not the most confidence-inspiring idea for a brand new type of medication. Given that my risk of COVID death was a small fraction of 1 percent and serious illness not much higher, and the potential short term side effects of the shot were barely known and the medium and long term effects unknown and (still today) unknowable, I was not comfortable immediately jumping into it. Also, the way all aspects of the pandemic had been handled by public health authorities, politicians, media, etc., I didn't have a lot of confidence unquestioningly doing what they recommended. Best to wait and get the lay of the land. There is also the fetal cell line issue, which is actually a pretty big deal to me.

As months passed and more information about the real world experiences with the medication came out, I became more comfortable with not taking it. Unfortunately, the same forces at work to enforce narrative have been applied even more to vaccine issues. From our unifying patience-wearing-thin President down to every level, the political pressure to support, promote, mandate and not let anything slow down the vaccines is immense. It is not an environment where judicious, fact-based analysis on the positives and negatives of a brand new medication can happen.

Continuing:

I I would feel better trusting our public health authorities on the vaccine if:
1. They would acknowledge the value of natural immunity. It is beyond ridiculous that having survived the infection is not considered an alternative to getting the shot. There is plentiful evidence that acquired immunity is strong and durable and superior to the vaccines even at the peak of their short-lived protection. There is no solid evidence that vaccine on top of natural immunity is superior to natural immunity alone.

2. They would acknowledge that there is any risk involved with taking the vaccines. Most people do alright after taking the vaccines, but much like the coronavirus disease itself, a small amount of people unpredictably have a terrible reaction to it. Like I said above, it is still to be determined exactly how small that amount is. I do not trust our health authorities to do an honest assessment of that in the current environment(see previous post). Previous vaccine campaigns have been stopped for numbers lower than even the officially acknowledged ones in this case.

3. Public health authorities hadn't spent the last year and a half suppressing viable potential early treatments. It's a deep topic we can get into more if anyone is interested. I'll just say that as someone in the healthcare field, this aspect of our response upsets me more than any other. It is the biggest betrayal of the public ever by the medical establishment, in my opinion.

After a year and a half of encounters with symptomatic COVID patients, plus generally trying to live my regular life as normally as possible under the circumstances, that virus finally got me in September. I had about 4 days of mild symptoms, was basically fine in a week. I did take HCQ/AZM, but honestly can't be sure how much of a difference that made. If I was hesitant to get the vaccine before, I am adamant against it now. Unlike some, I take this virus very seriously, but the personal risk/benefit assessment for me doesn't say get the shot, nor is it clear that my getting it would benefit anyone else.

It is very American of us that we believe that through a massive moonshot style effort, billions and billions of dollars spent and harnessing the latest high technology, we can conquer this natural (and almost certainly unnaturally enhanced) viral foe. This may not be as easy as getting to the moon, though. Looking to the third world might be wiser. More on that later if anyone wants to discuss.


Jon,

It was proposed that you are "a voice of reason" on this blog.

I was willing to consider that proposal. Then I saw you suggesting we view a three hour video of Joe Rogan. Then I saw your comment about that fetal cell issue.

*BUZZER SOUND*

Sorry bud, disqualified.

You are a smooth talker, there is no doubt about that. But, there is a Q on your forehead and what flows from that smooth delivery is pure bullshit.

Jim Jones could sure have used you as an assistant pastor.

Bud? Disqualified? Jim Jones? Q?

What a shame that you launched this dismissive response to a cogent and well-written opinion piece from Jon7190.

It’s sad to me that people can be so glib and downright silly in response to remarks and opinions they don’t agree with. What happened to restraint, quiet thoughtfulness and respect? At least Jon7190 takes the high road.

Good girl Susan.
Never go to war without a backup.

At 82 i have had so many shots i can't recall them all. I did physically get Measles, Chickenpox and the Mumps. Regarding shots, i have had many and at nine my arms were so tough that nurses in Iowa doctors offices bent needles on my arms. Back then, big needles!

Did the polio thing around 56. In 62 as an Air Force Medic i got in a line at Lackland and rumor had it that the loaded "shot" gun had 19 immunizations in one blast. I have had my Modernas.
So far no noticable effects.

As an Air Force medic and in Arizona medical facilities i spent many hours wearing a mask. I enjoy wearing them today in places where ugly macho dudes go nutty wanting to rip it off your face. Their body language speaks loudly. Particularly when they have on sleeveless T-Shirts with 19" biceps with lots of ink.
Whatever happen to the sailor tatto, "Love Mom".
Consequently i buy masks with symbols that up their stress levels.

I could care less about Jon7190's personal decesions about his personal health. May he achieve singularity.

Whats fucking sad is how this one plague of many since we crawled out of the swamp has become a political war zone.

What i do find interesting about Jon7190's posts. There is never a subject with which he cant find at least one fault.

So Jon7190 did Socrates make the right decision?

@Rogue Columnist, do Jon7190 and Susan have unique IP addresses?

"HIGH ROADS"
Thats where the "moral superior" lounge.
That excludes this dude
"What (really) matters is how well you walk through the fires."
My low road dude
Chuck Bukowski

Bobson dugnutt
A Carl Jung archetype thought?

The question today is
"Am i arguing with a machine"

Probably no more women get involved in this discussion because they have better things to do. I'm stepping in now only to add a "different" voice.
I learned to read by reading newspapers. And have always up until about six months ago followed news. And I quit, cold turkey. Certain decisions seem so obvious and I can no longer follow all the (to me) dumb discussions on why roads, bridges, airports are not being maintained. .
The only reason I continue to read Jon's Rogue is because it is a long-time habit but I don't think we have ever had a discussion such as this one.

I remember the summer, as a kid, when we couldn't go swimming because of very serious polio. And how glad we were when the vaccine came out.
If you want to have a survey on what 94 year old women think, here's mine.
Is it going to matter that we don't fix our roads, if we don't take care of the planet. Priority # one with me.
We don't need to fix the roads if there are not going to be people driving cars. From the figures I see, lot of people won't be around due to certain disregard for care.
I have had two Pfizer and booster, flu, pneumonia, shingles, small pox and a few others when traveling. Measles, chicken pox, mumps required for children to go to school. What better way to fight little bugs we can't see but can harm people greatly?!
I wear a mask when within six feet of others.
I can not understand why some people don't believe the results of elections.
And I would like to get past the mistakes of former President and get a middle class again.
Almost forgot -- I was a Republican, by birth, in Indiana. When I came to Phoenix over 50 years ago I switched to Democrat. I voted according to person. I hope that vote by mail will not be taken away from me. If that happens, my walker and I will be leading the protest parade.
It's been fun, folks. 'nite Mariam

Bobson, you should get together with Stephanie. She is trying to sell her Condo in Portland.

Good Column and Great Comments. I mean it. I go to most message boards and its written yelling and screaming degenerating into calling everyone Nazis, Commies and/or sexual deviants. I really wish these articles and commentaries could be shown to a wider audience.

So here's my comment. It's always easy to make the pessimistic case. I remember that from college in the late 1970s. A Professor of mine in European history stated that. And he was right. You can always point to wars (literal and political), partisan conflict, plagues and disease, economic problems and inequality, etc. And clearly there is a lot going on to support the pessimistic case for the future of the US and the world. But somehow, despite everything, I think we will move forward in fits and starts and come out ok. I remember writing my finals essay in the class sometime in my senior year, with Iran and Afghanistan (big issues in 1979-80) and everything that went with it, and predicting that there would be no war between the US and the Soviet Union and that ultimately the conflict would end with a peaceful resolution. After I wrote it, I was surprised that the cynic in me was able to actually express such optimism. But guess what, the Cold War ended way better than expected, and at the end of the day, I'm going to come out on the side of optimism, even if I don't have the specific evidence to support it.

Good post Mariam.
I have all five of your books.
And your the only person I know that lived in The Ho.
Westward Hotel

Rich, my pal Chuck Bowden was an optimist. Suggest his stuff.

So i secured a couple of 19 crimes Cali red bottles of wine and shuffled out to Campfire Charlies desert throw down. Professor Hound Dog was chewing on a bone of moral nihilism. The professor thinks Camus was right about nihilism and the absurdity of human existence but wrong in searching for meaning. Existence has no more meaning that a race between a rabbit and a hare. The colossal structures of ants and humans are simply structures of absurdity doomed to collapse. Earth's "living" species is a random accident in a infinite galaxy of planets. I would suggest that while i come to this blog for entertainment, it is absurd to come here with serious intent to prove you are, RIGHT. Right about anything!

@Jon7190, you did warn us that you were going to post a response to me (for the record: I was Bob, but the full handle got cut off in the ID box) and iaed.

You certainly had a lot to say. And hoo boy do I mean a lot. And for someone from today's post-Trump rightwing, I guess you should be acknowledged for your nice-guy tone and an effort to use correct spelling, complete sentences and appropriate punctuation.

Your ideas are a tsunami of logical fallacies, bad-faith reasoning and arguments from sources heavy on motivated reasoning but woefully short on credibility.

I knew I was up for trouble with your opening paragraph, but it was this sentence where I just stopped reading and reached the point of no return.

"There were new dogmatic truths and it became more like religion than science."

It was bad enough the first time and I'm sorry to everyone else that has to read this again.

Jon, I see the game you're playing. I'm not going to play your stupid game and I don't want to win stupid prizes.

You are flipping frames. It is lazy. It is asinine. It is a bad faith argument.

Everyone here will have a generally understood frame (just a basic mental association) of what is science and what is religion. Like: I could say two words -- chemistry, and church -- and we could easily sort which of the terms are connected.

Jon, what you've done is to demand that we associate the terms to how you wish they are understood -- the opposite of how we would customarily link them -- and apropos of nothing falsely equate them.

I'm not going to engage with this reasoning, and this is a red flag that the rest of what you wrote will be a freefall into a fever swamp of fatuity.

I'm also going to stop the conversation right here. One of the ironies of communicating in the digital age is that the longer a dispute carries on, the side offering the worse arguments can "win" by pollinating bad ideas the longer they can keep the conversation going.

Bobson, well szid.
I note i left the tortoise out of the race to absurdity.

Somewhere my comment about arguing with a machine got dropped?

Rich, Thank you for your optimism. I need it.
Cal, I hope you have SIX of my books, not five, the latest being "The Stories of the Hotel Westward Ho." Available on Amazon.
Everybody: It's a wonderful life when we are free to write the way we feel. I am hoping it doesn't change. Mariam

Mariam, thank you for putting to rest the accusation that only guys engage here. Sometimes I think it would be good for me to turn off all news. I actually tried after Jan 6, but I just couldn’t do it for long.

Susan (no we are not the same person), thank you for the kind words.

AZRebel, I have my doubts that you were truly willing to consider the proposal that I am the voice of reason. Thanks for reading the whole thing, at least!

Cal, I don’t really do much philosophy, I just know I believe in the Socratic Method.

Rich, I actually have thought along those lines for a long time. If things have been so bad for so long, how the heck are we still here and actually doing pretty well? I’m afraid the last year and a half has pretty well broke me, though, and I have a hard time keeping an optimistic frame of mind. At some point, our foolishness is going to catch up to us. Hard. But maybe not, right? America has been amazingly resilient.

Bobsun, not Bob, right we’ve had exchanges before. I’m not trying to step on anybody’s theological toes. I think there is a good case to be made that the way science is often used today in public life resembles religious thinking more than the free-thinking and disinterested hypothesis testing of real science.

Admittedly, using the term religion is intentionally polemical. I’m sorry you feel that way and would rather write a long comment about not wanting to engage rather than tell me specifics of how my ideas are logical fallacies and bad-faith reasoning and arguments. One thing I like about discussing medicine/science, unlike religion, is that it is well out of the realm of relativity. There is endless disagreement, but everyone agrees that there is one objective truth to diagnosis and treatment, it’s just a matter of doing enough research and testing and interpreting it to find out what that truth is.

I am frustrated by the way public debate around the pandemic has been suppressed and discouraged, but that’s not the main event. I am more interested in finding the true effects of these vaccines, whether our current approach of getting near-100% uptake on them is the best one, and whether we have to give up long established principles of medical ethics and civil liberties (including free speech) to have an effective strategy for getting past the pandemic. I think the lack of debate is hindering our finding the answers.

I can fairly be criticized for being long-winded. But dammit, these topics are complex and doing them justice and explaining one’s position clearly requires a good amount of prose. It’s why the Rogan podcast can go 3 hours on one topic and only scratch the surface on some ideas.


An optimist is a person who is fortunate enough that all is well within a six foot circle around the spot in which they are standing. In addition, that person has the ability to ignore everything else going on in the rest of the world outside that six foot circle. I envy that person. I’ve only ever known one person who fits that description.

Over the course of two decades we have debated on this blog:

Urban sprawl. Less is better. We got mucho more.

Term limits. Records are set regularly by Congress persons serving into their nineties. Many being elected after WW II.

Campaign finance. Citizens United - end of story.

Campaign time limits. Campaign’s now start at 12:01 am the day after the just completed election.

Defense spending. We hint for less. Spending for defense/ intelligence now exceeds 1,000,000,000,000 per year.

Climate, COVID, population. You get the picture.

Optimistic? Maybe inside your circle. Outside your circle, you just ain’t paying attention. I don’t hold it against you. I wish I were you.

Saying there is room for debate about the virus is like the new right wing trend saying it is OK to look at and teach the holocaust from all points of view.

Remember the movie Independence Day?

The President asked the alien, "What do you want from us?"

The alien said, "DIE"

The Jews asked the same question of the Nazis. They got the same answer.

You "debate" folks ask the same question to the virus. Same answer.

That sure isn't my idea of a debate.

I appreciate the comments, especially those that try to add value.

On vaccinations, I come back to the reality that the deniers are Trumpists. It's not about religion. Not about science. Not about "freedom" amidst a public health emergency. It's about fealty to Trump's cult.

A number of issues have moved beyond the debate stage.
What Germany did in WWII is fact.
What Europeans did and the US continues to do to the Americas is Genocidal fact.
Plagues have been factual since life occurred on planet earth. And will continue.
Also not for debate: should Ruben move to Colorado?

For debate. Are there "Gods?" Pick your god from the 4500 mythical concepts.
For debate: are humans consciously/unconsciously suicidal?

Bobson, I just finished reading your link to Michael Hobbes' piece, which primarily serves as a tour du monde for his self-vouching authority. The clue here is that he has no apparent reservations at all with the woke left's mania for moral certitude, let alone his own. This is a fairly obvious problem because free speech needs to be as close as possible to an absolute value for us. It can't just be an excuse to pontificate freely while bashing the critics of this new quasi-religious movement. Let me state this bluntly: belief is almost always bullshit, and Hobbes is apparently blind to his own.

I also want to state what should be obvious: Trump, his supporters, and the right's propaganda apparatus pose a much more dire threat to democracy than anybody on the left. Let me also state that I appreciate your deft takedown of Jon7190, whose civility is a mere fig leaf on a body of inanely decontextualized arguments. I wanted to believe he could be reasoned with. He can't.

I live in Portland, which as I'm always stating in this space, has become a hotbed of the woke sensibility. Prior to 2020, I was mostly unaware how deep this belief system had gotten. When I moved here in 2013, the city was a delight, quirky yet functional. Today, it's a dystopia of trash, graffiti, and boarded-up windows. Downtown is largely lost, and Portland's famous urban energy feels as if it has been gang raped. If it recovers, it will likely take many years. I am no longer confident that this can even happen.

The problem, once again, is belief posing as certitude, that ideology can ever be an accurate guide to reality. In the aftermath of the George Floyd killing, Portland anarchists went on a months-long crime spree of vandalism, violence, and intimidation. Not once during this epic mayhem did Portland's political class mount anything more than a muted and feeble response. The reason is that the anarchists wrapped themselves in the mantle of Black Lives Matter, so an outrage that happened in Minneapolis became for us a catharsis without closure. That it was insane to destroy a city for something that happened 2000 miles away never even surfaced. Instead, the wokesters and political class imposed a No Talk rule that permeates the ozone with an Orwellian denialism. We - meaning white people - are all guilty of systemic racism! We must purge ourselves of this toxin by defunding the police! They are vectors of white supremacy as are all their defenders! Hundreds of cops resigned, and the anarchism in the streets became virtual public policy.

I mention all this to remind you that ideas can be freighted with moral consequence, that what we reflexively excuse can come back to haunt us when we least expect it. The woke hysteria is one of those ideas that is like a brain-eating prion: it kills your very ability to rationally assess the damage it's doing. Portland is not alone - Seattle and other Left Coast cities are afflicted as well. So is the Democratic Party as a whole whose intelligentsia increasingly feels like the faculty lounge at an Ivy League university. No, this isn't Mao's China, but it has the capacity to destroy both the party and the liberal tradition. Minimizing its danger might make you feel smart and hip, but it will eventually render you a eunuch incapable of defending what must be our core ethical and intellectual standards. Hobbes is a sophist frantically pretending none of it is real. I'm telling you it is both real and an existential threat to our survival as a liberal polity.

@Cal Lash, humans are consciously suicidal if you mean clinically.

Suicide generally isn't a spontaneous act, though there are exceptions like after a crime has been committed and the authorities are closing in.

An emergent view of suicide is the ideation-action continuum or framework.

The taking of one's own life follows a drawn-out pattern of
1. Identification. The person is aware of a state of emotional pain or misery.
2. Calculation. The person begins to entertain the notion of ending their life versus choosing to live, factoring in what their role is in the world. This exacerbates the mood state they identify.
3. Regulation. This becomes the point where suicidal intention is directed outward. A person will test to see if others offer positive feedback (sympathy, empathy, attachment) or negative feedback (ridicule, scolding, shunning, threat). Positive feedback can greatly reduce the risk of suicide.
4. Rehearsal. The feedback a person receives confirms their intention to take their own life and they engage in behaviors or rituals ahead of their demise. They start giving away possessions, they confess deeply held feelings, they'll write a letter, or record their final thoughts to a general audience in the form of a suicide note, blog post or video.

This is also the time the person decides on an agent, the method by which they will take their life. The method of death is also meant as a message of the mood state of the victim. A violent agent like a gun, blade or impact (jumping or throwing themself in front of a speeding vehicle) reveals anger or resentment. An agent such as poisoning (drug or sleeping pill overdose) or asphyxiation reveals depression or regret, because the victim wants to be aware of their end of life.
5. Action. The victim carries out the action.

Excellent summation, Soleri. Here's what I've written about Seattle (which I was pleasantly surprised a woke newspaper would print):

https://www.seattletimes.com/business/downtown-seattles-troubles-go-beyond-the-pandemic/

https://www.seattletimes.com/business/a-new-focus-at-seattles-chamber-faces-an-old-roadblock-at-the-city-council/


A wonderfil tonic for all our souls: West Side Story is coming.


Rogue,thank you.

I wanted to bring up a couple of other things in my comment but I was running out of space to keep it coherent.

The first concerns those "experiencing homelessness", which for our woke hysterics means virtuous victims of greedy landlords, neoliberal corporatists, capitalism, and the criminal justice system. In other words, anything that might impose any standards of personal responsibility. The net result of this belief system is a radically reduced quality of life for the people of Portland who must endure rampant theft, drug use, mountains of garbage, and frightening behavior. We are then instructed by the wokesters and political class that none of this is the fault of the homeless. Indeed, we're at fault for stigmatizing them! Here's a link to a great essay in Atlantic Monthly about one of the main drivers for this crisis: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2021/11/the-new-meth/620174/

The second is the power of inane verbiage posing as sweet compassion: "social justice". Apparently, this can be achieved by never holding anyone personally responsible for anything. Rather, we must tax ourselves to the point where "equity" is the only acceptable outcome. Different people might have different definitions, however, so there is no set standard as how this can be achieved. This in turns means we must continue guilt-tripping one another until "equity" is realized anyway, which, given the human saga, is never. The quest for equity can never sleep! We who are morally superior must be always be alert to the depravity of those not as wonderful as we are. Get your placards ready.

Want to know when my sympathy factor for the "homeless" went to zero.

When the company I worked for insured an operation in the SF bay area whose business was to offer daily rental of puppies and cute dogs to folks who then used the puppies to enhance the "homeless' look of the panhandlers taking money from the soft hearted rubes in the Bay area.

God bless the ingenuity capitalism.

Soleri, you’ll find this distressing but I liked everything in your comments (except for the part about me).

Bobson Dugnutt.
In my nearly 82 years i cant count the times i have heard
" I'd rather die than .....
Many times it was about the appearance of some act and the impression it would leave.
Like,
I'd rather die from Covid than take a vaccine.
Conscious ignorance or unconscious suicide?

Bobson, "The Empire is working as intended "
I checked with Hari Seldon's
PR person,Caitlin. She advised the EMPIRE isn't getting "any less tyrannical.
Just better at Press Relations."
Why lace up your combat boots when you can
Drone a problem

City Dark Corners was an excellent read. The writing style flowed nicely and with less staccato than Rogue’s earlier novels. The historical setting tied nicely to my walking those streets and buildings many times starting in the early eighties. Some remnants of 1930s Phoenix still remained into the eighties.

Thank you for your latest novel.

@Rogue Columnist, if a woke newspaper published your column, that makes you a woke columnist. Taint by association. :)

I read your columns. They're great reporting by a great veteran business journalist. You've accurately reported on the events, places and people of the Seattle business and political communities in all of its gritty reality.

Your editors cleared it. Your newspaper published it. So what's the problem?

Is your newspaper being protested for publishing you? Are woke journalists demanding you be fired? Have you been dressed down by HR and forced to take sensitivity training or white fragility seminars? Seattle Times journalists are unionized. Does your union have your back?

Has having an opinion become the new buy a Harley-Davidson and ride helmetless or the buy a sports car and take the switchback at high speed? That's how we're signaling pointless risk-taking during midlife crises now? That's how low we've set the bar for ourselves?

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I find so-called wokeness (tip: people who fit this disparaging remark never refer to themselves as woke, just as white young adults who live in cities never refer to themselves as hipsters now or yuppies decades ago) deeply flawed and see it as a political and cultural dead end. That is also the best part about it. We won't need to expend effort to stop them because this is a phase we as a nation and culture will grow out of. We did with jazz. We did with beatniks and hippies.

Generation X were told we were slackers who listened to heavy metal/grunge/hip-hop and will never amount to anything. And they were right! Other than making and consuming aggressively anti-social music, me and my 1960s-1980s age cohort ended up cynicism-poisoned ne'er-do-wells. :)

Millennials and Gen Z are of working and breeding age and are the people accomplishing what we could never be. If the Pew surveys are anything to go by, they are the most open, tolerant and conscientious age cohort we've ever produced. Our roles now are to make them our life insurance and living trust beneficiaries to leave the world in the hands of the better people we never turned out to be. :)

Not you, too, soleri. Not again.

I'm growing weary. You know the expression "Somebody is wrong on the internet?" It's like that, but on the internet and in real life. Your posts are well-thought-out and always fascinating to read, even when I disagree with you.

My weariness, and this being the internet, today I will just cherry-pick a few sentences my steel man wearing a Roman Reigns T-shirt will finish off.

I just finished reading your link to Michael Hobbes' piece, which primarily serves as a tour du monde for his self-vouching authority.

Michael Hobbes describes himself as a journalist, podcaster and animator.

His bylines appear in Huffpost, Foreign Policy, New Republic and Slate. He doesn't do lightweight fluff, either. He's tackled topics like economic development in the developing world. He co-hosted a popular podcast, "You're Wrong About." Synopsis: Retelling the stories of people and events that were miscast in the public imagination.

Here's a sample article, since you're back on homelessness: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/homeless-utah-end-america-salt-lake-city_n_5cd1cac0e4b04e275d511aba?guccounter=1
"Why America Can't Solve Homelessness: As the face of homelessness changes, politicians cling to limited policy ideas and quick fixes."

He's earned his flex.

This is a fairly obvious problem because free speech needs to be as close as possible to an absolute value for us.

The endangered free-speech canard is as realistic as the fantasy that a vast conspiracy of imaginary Satan-worshippers, Democrats and reptile people lead an imaginary pedophilia ring with a harem of imaginary children.

There is no credible threat on the right to free speech.

The web comic XKCD is perhaps most famous for comic 1357, aka the Free Speech one. It's probably the single greatest explainer of free speech in existence.

https://m.xkcd.com/1357/

In sum, free speech:
1. Does not give you the right to a platform.
2. Does not give you the right to an audience. Listening is a courtesy, not an obligation.
3. Is not an alibi against consequences.
4. Allows for opponents to advocate for denial of a platform, denial of an audience or a plea for consequences. (IOW, boycotts and lawsuits against libel and slander are fair play even though the intent is to impede free speech.)
5. Does not give you the right to be a part of an audience or entry into a conversation if you're not wanted in it.
6. Gives you the right to remain silent. Just because you have a right doesn't mean you should use it. And you should never be compelled to speak against your will.

You can impose these six constraints, as Americans do by law and cultural custom ... and you still have free speech.

Absolute free speech is free speech with impunity. Soleri, you've now put yourself in the position of defending that Russian trolls and bots enhance a conversation, and bad-faith content (lies, fake news, disinformation) is legitimate by virtue of its performance.

Next is a big chunk of your standard Modal American Cishet White Male bugaboos with the usual targets punched down upon and of course the groups not in any position to push back. It is what it is.

The problem, once again, is belief posing as certitude, that ideology can ever be an accurate guide to reality.

Free speech allowed for a body of ideas that ascribes reality and all its discontents as the consequence of power relations.

And much of it is theorized and argued by people with vaginas, melanin and discontent with assigned gender and sexuality.

The tension is about the who, not the what. And that's the point.

I mention all this to remind you that ideas can be freighted with moral consequence, that what we reflexively excuse can come back to haunt us when we least expect it.

I wholeheartedly embrace this. You had me right until ...

The woke hysteria

You lost the plot.

I see the argument you did not make.

You chose "woke," and by its subtext all of the outgroups its targets, and you ignored Donald Trump, the Republican Party, and the Jan. 6 insurrection.

I'm white. I understand fully well that X-idpol represents a threat to my privileges and status.

I, however, would have followed up with Trump, the GOP or the maga kakistarians because reality has taught me that your first sentence is heavily on the minds of the wokes of today, just as it was for the civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, the suffragettes of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the abolitionists before and during the Civil War. And I'm not a self-hating honky. Let's give credit where it's due to the deeply flawed revolutionaries.

Trump, the Republicans, and the magas aren't fraught by moral consequence, unless it's their consequence you yearn.

OT but important:

Devastated to learn of the sudden death of my dear friend Grant Woods.

This isn’t merely a loss for Arizona but for the entire nation. He epitomized honor, integrity, patriotism — country before party. We will not see his like again.

Deepest condolences for his family.

A great loss.

Compared to him, the Arizona political characters left behind show how much the state has fallen.

A great loss.

Grant Woods was a Good Republican.
He reminded me of
General Dwight (IKE) Eisenhower.
And Republican US attorney Paul Charlton.
Over the years i knew and worked with a number of Woods investigators.
Woods portrait in the Arizona State office building always reminded me of Napoleon.
A great loss at 67 to Arizona. A state currently dominated by insanity.

Bobson Dugnutt
I hope Soleri and Jon understood
what you wrote.
Way beyond my 98 IQ
Can you get those two responses down to maybe a short paragraph? With small words.

The planet yesterday and today.
"that no man has a wholly undiseased mind; that in one way or another all men are mad."
From Mark Twains, The Memorable Assassin

Revisiting Jon's opening sentence = this is where we are. Yes, there are those of us who will not consent to committing suicide. The Fauci vax is akin to Russian Roulette. If you have already put the gun to your head, too bad for you. . you're a goner. . if not this year, next, but soon. As I said months ago, bye.

The same scientific community that has been developing and refining successful and effective vaccines for over sixty years has now decided to develop a vaccine that we kill you. What changed? Oh yes, the advent of Fox News and Fox News viewers. Your decision is suicidal, not the other way around. Anti-Vaxers are dying not the other way around. Try turning the channel for once.

So all the vaccinated people in the Trump family, at Fox News, and in the Republican Party, will be dead "soon"?

Wow! Talk about a win-win!

"Tis a consummation devoutly to be wish'd."

Breaking: FOX news is begging
"Stop the Suffering and get Vaccinated."

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