“We’ve ascribed far too much human authority over the virus.”
“The UAE’s rulers have long used propaganda campaigns to hide their horrible human rights crimes, and CNN appears to be playing a role in supporting this dictatorship’s PR agenda.” — Sunjeev Bery, Executive Director at Freedom Forward. CNN is the “official broadcaster” of an upcoming United Arab Emirates state-run, six-month “expo,” the purpose of which seems to be to burnish the UAE’s global image. But ambiguity about CNN’s role in covering the Expo, a track record of producing sponsored content for Dubai, and publication of a slew of articles profiling Dubai and promoting tourism in the emirate raise ethical and legal questions. The network’s refusal to answer basic inquiries about its PR work for Dubai, along with its shadowy deals with regimes around the world for years, poses a challenge for efforts to distinguish independently produced journalism from state-sponsored content promoting a sanitized image of an undemocratic, despotic UAE regime in Dubai, and it highlights a key point: Corporate media outlets consistently provide the least transparency while demanding it of others.
“Keep in mind, Dr. Fauci—the man lecturing you on your responsibility to protect others—is responsible for circumventing the ban on gain-of-function research that would likely have prevented the Covid pandemic if he had respected it. He breached the very contract he now invokes.” — Bret Weinstein, former professor of biology at Evergreen State College and host of the DarkHorse podcast, after Dr. Fauci expounded on making decisions for the greater good of society.
“If our government handed out dunce caps with ‘follow the science’ embroidered on them, a double-digit percentage of the population would start wearing them (maybe even on bicycles) and look askance at people who don’t.” — Maxwell Meyer of The Stanford Review. Meyer recently conducted a kind of empirical study on a phenomenon he’d noticed at Stanford University, where 99% of the campus is vaccinated: Students riding bicycles are more likely to be wearing a mask (41%) than a helmet (17%). As Meyer notes, his findings are instructive in understanding the social dynamics that have emerged from the pandemic now that it’s been politicized, as seemingly intelligent people have adopted bizarre, pointless habits to comport with new expectations about how to “stay safe” — like wearing masks outdoors on a 99% vaccinated campus — while continuing in much more risky behaviors. It is indisputably true that riding a bike without a helmet is a much greater risk to a vaccinated twenty-something than COVID-19. It is also indisputably true that, for many people, wearing a mask is a form of virtue signaling.
“But it’s a very high-level shtick. [Al Sharpton] refined it to perfection, and he’s out Jesse Jacksoning Jesse Jackson in the twenty-first century while the clock keeps ticking on poor Black people, and the demagoguery that spews out of him is almost completely unrelated to the actual material needs of this population.” — Glenn Loury, the first African American tenured professor of economics in the history of Harvard University.
“The only thing I trusted is that he was a Marine, and that my daughter would be safe.” — The father of the wailing baby seen in widely-circulated photos and videos being handed over a barbed wire fence to an American soldier at the Kabul airport. Hameed, who was only identified by his first name for security reasons after working as a linguist and cultural adviser with U.S. military officials, was inside the perimeter of Hamid Karzai International Airport when he spotted his wife and newborn amid the mass of people trying to flee Afghanistan. Afraid that the baby would be hurt as the Taliban used flashbangs and water cannons on the crowd, Hameed asked a nearby Marine for help. The family, including mom Sadia and 8-week-old Liya, happily lives with relatives in Arizona now.
“Also we will have vaccines that they will last at least a year, and I think the most likely scenario is annual vaccination, but we don’t know really, we need to wait and see the data.” — Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. Pfizer will make an estimated $33.5 billion in vaccine revenue this year. Also of note: Moderna, a company that had never brought a product to market before, received a license from the government to produce a liability-free vaccine and one year later has reached a valuation of $100 billion.
“NIH (National Institutes of Health) has a public responsibility to be fully transparent on why it gave funding to the EcoHealth Alliance, whether it considered the potential of a possible accidental leak of dangerous bat viruses, and the ethics of approving the study.” — Lawrence Gostin, a professor at Georgetown University’s school of law and director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law. A progress report detailing controversial U.S.-funded research into bat coronaviruses in China by Peter Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance was filed more than two years after it was due and long after the corresponding grant had concluded, according to documents obtained by The Intercept through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Scientists consulted by The Intercept described the late date as highly unusual (the NIH sends out automatic reminders ahead of key due dates and makes the distribution of new funding contingent upon receipt of the previous years’ annual reports) and said it merited an explanation, as it raises questions about whether information in an earlier draft of the report had been altered — or omitted — amid controversy over the EcoHealth Alliance’s work in Wuhan. The report in question described the group’s work from June 2017 to May 2018, which involved creating new viruses using different parts of existing bat coronaviruses and inserting them into humanized mice at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The work was overseen by the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is headed by Anthony Fauci.
“The decision to have children has always struck me as an essentially selfish one: You choose, out of a desire for fulfillment or self-betterment or boredom or peer pressure, to bring a human into this world. It has never seemed more selfish than today.” — Emily Holleman in New York Magazine’s “Giving Birth in the End Times.”
“Democrat Tammy Duckworth slammed for getting tax break on her Illinois home.” — A Fox News headline that falsely suggested Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) shirked on paying property tax on her Illinois home. Duckworth, who served in the U.S. Army in the Iraq War, lost both her legs and some mobility in her right arm when her helicopter was shot down in 2004 by Iraqi insurgents. In addition to benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, like the VA Home Loan, some veterans are eligible for exemptions when it comes to paying for their homes. In other words, Duckworth is using a benefit that she and other veterans qualify for.
“The only people it doesn’t happen to are the people who have Secret Service standing around them. So, it’s part of the process.” — President Joe Biden, after “activists” followed Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema into a bathroom and continued to film/berate her while she entered and exited a stall. Sinema and fellow Senator Joe Manchin have drawn the ire of Democrats for their refusal to back the party’s $3.5 trillion spending bill.
“In our experience, Blue Origin’s culture sits on a foundation that ignores the plight of our planet, turns a blind eye to sexism, is not sufficiently attuned to safety concerns, and silences those who seek to correct wrongs.” — Alexandra Abrams, the former head of employee communications at Blue Origin (founded by former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos), in an essay signed by 20 present and past employees at the company alleging a sexist and unsafe work culture.
“Think about that. You could give it to everyone in a household, or everyone in a school. Then we’re talking about a return to, maybe, normal life.” — Dr. Elizabeth Duke, a Fred Hutch research associate, regarding a daily pill to treat COVID-19 that could be only months away. Antivirals are already essential treatments for other viral infections, including hepatitis C and HIV. One of the best known is Tamiflu, the widely prescribed pill that can shorten the duration of influenza and reduce the risk of hospitalization if given quickly.
“The increase of purchasing was most likely linked to the emergence of COVID-19 in Hubei Province in 2019. We assess with high confidence that the pandemic began much earlier than China informed the [World Health Organization] about COVID-19.” — Internet 2.0, an Australia-based cyber security company composed of former intelligence agency officials from the U.S., U.K., and other countries. According to a recent report, purchases of polymerase chain reaction tests (used to detect the presence of a particular genetic sequence in a sample) in China’s Hubei Province surged months before the first official reports of a novel coronavirus case there, which strongly suggests an awareness of a new disease spreading in and around Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province. Orders doubled from universities, jumped fivefold from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and surged tenfold from animal testing bureaus. The report casts further doubt on China’s official line about the origins of the virus.
“Michigan was home to the first mile of paved road, and now we’re paving the way for the roads of tomorrow with innovative infrastructure that will support the economy and the environment.” — Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. To help Michigan reach its goal of carbon neutrality, the state will construct the nation’s first “wireless electric vehicle charging road” — a one-mile stretch in the Metro Detroit area. A wireless EV road works like this: As a car drives over it, the vehicle’s battery is charged by pads or coils built under the surface of the street using magnetic induction. Experts have doubts about the feasibility of such a project, however. For one thing, making new cars compatible with a wireless charging road would tack on thousands of dollars to the cost of a vehicle, and current EVs wouldn’t be able to use it without ramifications. It’s also estimated that only 7-10 miles of charge would be added. Then there’s the fact that due to weather, Michigan is notorious for its potholes, and the wireless transmission systems buried down in the road would be damaged after just a few years. Nevertheless, $1.9 million has been allocated for the project.
“We’ve ascribed far too much human authority over the virus.” — Michael Osterholm, an infectious-disease expert at the University of Minnesota.
For the record, I’m vaccinated. I did not want to get vaccinated. But I did so because I currently reside in downtown Los Angeles, which is basically the forward operating base for the Vaccine Stasi, where structuring one’s life around the prevention of a “breakthrough” case post-vaccination is a niche cultural hobby for upper-middle-class and elite left-wing neurotics, and where being unvaccinated is tantamount to murder.
I like to think I’m pretty informed about the vaccines and the pandemic in general. I seriously probably read 20x as much about this crap than the average person does since I’m sort of a wannabe intellectual. So, prior to being vaccinated I felt confident that my chances of dying from COVID-19 were miniscule, and that the unknown long-term risks of a vaccine that had undergone an undeniably rushed development were more worrisome for someone in my demographic. Indeed, during the course of the entire pandemic, the total number of people in my age group who have died of COVID-19, in a country of over 330 million people, is 3,739. You know how many people in my age group have died of pneumonia (just standard pneumonia, nothing else) during the same timeframe? 3,522.
I have never been, nor am I now, “pro” or “anti” vaccine. I am, however, pro choice, and I’m staunchly opposed to the government forcing people to get vaccinated, and even more staunchly opposed to the masses of hyperventilating, hyper-moralizing pro-vaccine hysterics who’ve taken it upon themselves to demonize, condemn, and shame those who aren’t comfortable getting vaccinated.
The pandemic is beyond politicized now. And it is indisputable that liberal discourse has promulgated the view that the unvaccinated are all a bunch of mouth-breathing troglodytes. On September 16, CNN host Don Lemon maligned those who have chosen not to get vaccinated as “stupid,” “selfish,” filled with “ignorance,” and “not acting on logic, reason and science.” He then issued this fiat: “It’s time to start shaming them or leave them behind.” Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel suggested the unvaccinated should be de-prioritized for health care in hospitals, while Howard Stern recently lambasted the unvaccinated as “imbeciles” and “nut jobs” and argued they should be denied health care and left to die.
These displays of pathetic scorn are, well, pathetic. Because the reality is that there are many, many people among the unvaccinated who are not anti-vax or anti-science but rather anti-letting the government divide society through propaganda and borderline unethical psychological tactics. I was one of them, and though I’m now vaccinated, I still am one of them. There are cogent reasons why those with different circumstances and risk factors (age, health, prior COVID status, etc.) might assess their own risks differently and reach another conclusion. But the liberal consensus remains unchanged: Choosing to remain unvaccinated is the by-product of stupidity or ignorance.
What pisses me off most is the incoherence underpinning the moral panics that the mainstream media and its head-bobbing ideologues continue to revel in. As I’ve mentioned before, if you’re vaccinated, you are more likely to die from a lightning strike than COVID-19. So then why does it matter to the vaccinated if the unvaccinated want to remain unvaccinated!? The CDC itself has said (more like admitted, really) that while vaccinated people may be less likely than the unvaccinated to contract COVID-19, they can spread it “as readily” as the unvaccinated given that they “carry just as much virus in the nose and throat as unvaccinated people.”
When Biden announced his vaccine mandate, he literally said:
I want to emphasize that the vaccines provide very strong protection from severe illness from COVID-19. . . . The world’s leading scientists confirm that if you are fully vaccinated, your risk of severe illness from COVID-19 is very low. In fact, based on available data from the summer, only one of out of every 160,000 fully vaccinated Americans was hospitalized for COVID per day. These are the facts.
The bottom line: We’re going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated co-workers. We’re going to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by increasing the share of the workforce that is vaccinated in businesses all across America.
So, COVID-19 poses a very low risk to the vaccinated, but the vaccine mandate is necessary to protect the vaccinated from the unvaccinated. In what universe does that make any sense? How is any of this not about control and subjugation and cultural dominance? It’s pure tribalism; it’s about punishing others — them, the out group, the heretics — for not falling in line, for not adhering to the established dogma and accepted narrative, for not genuflecting to the absolutist ideology of prevailing liberal politics.
Here’s a bold prediction from yours truly: A decade or so from now, or perhaps (and hopefully) even sooner, we’ll look back on COVID-19 and realize that the response was worse than the pandemic itself.
Yes, I’m aware that over 700,000 Americans have died. Are you aware that every year approximately 659,000 Americans die from heart disease? Or that 78% of people hospitalized for COVID-19 are overweight or obese, and lockdowns have caused Americans to gain an average of two pounds per month, reducing their daily steps by 27% and thereby increasing the likelihood of adverse COVID-19 outcomes; that 95% of COVID-19 deaths have an average of four underlying health conditions and the CDC’s death count includes “deaths involving unintentional and intentional injury”; that as a result of testing children hospitalized for unrelated conditions, the number of pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations has been exaggerated by at least 40%; that overdoses from synthetic opioids increased by 38.4% last year; and that ERs saw a 31% increase in adolescent mental health visits?
I could go on and on. History will judge us harshly, and rightly so, for dispensing with the same rational cost-benefit analysis framework we apply, and have always applied, to every other aspect of daily life.
It should not be difficult to understand why declaring an emergency with no limiting principle or criteria for returning to normal invites abuse, and why our democratic norms might prove insufficient for the task of repealing restrictive measures in an effort to return to said normalcy. Nor should it be hard to grasp why, in a country as polarized as ours, a governing bureaucracy that has abrogated new powers will continue to use those powers as a self-justifying ploy, regardless of whether or not those powers are still necessary. But there are far too many people who’re either unwilling or simply incapable of applying anything other than a narrow lens to a world that demands perspective.
1.1%: Percentage of Tesla shares that are now being shorted, the lowest since the carmaker went public in 2010. This means that the amount of money being bet against Tesla, relative to the value of the company, is at an all-time low. It’s a massive change since up to 20% of Tesla’s entire float was shorted at some point last year — when it was the most shorted stock on the market — but the short percentage steadily fell over the last 12 months. The latest drop happens as Tesla has managed to consistently increase deliveries every quarter this year and just reported its delivery numbers for Q3 2021 on Saturday — confirming a new delivery record of 241,300 electric vehicles, a total of 102,000 more vehicles than the same quarter last year. It’s the most Tesla has ever sold in a quarter (for some added perspective, the company sold 367,500 in all of 2019).
35%: Drop in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases in the U.S. since Sept. 1.
$18,630,000,000: Minimum amount spent by U.S. businesses on corporate “swag” last year.
51%: The proportion of Americans who approve of Biden’s requirement that most workers get the COVID-19 vaccine or undergo regular testing. Approval is mostly split down party lines — 77 percent of Democrats approve of the mandate while 62 percent of Republicans disapprove.
5: The number of midwestern governors who are collaborating to develop a charging network for electric vehicles. Governors of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin have all signed the bipartisan plan, called the Regional Electric Vehicle (REV) Midwest Coalition.
86%: Percentage of Americans who say their personality has changed over the course of the pandemic.
99: Number of the 100 cities most vulnerable to climate change that are in Asia (37 in China and 43 in India).
2: Days it took before a statue of George Floyd in New York City’s Union Square was vandalized, after it was first unveiled as part of an exhibition that also features busts of Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Breonna Taylor.
40: Newly anointed billionaires since the pandemic began, thanks to the provisioning of COVID-19 vaccines, personal protective equipment, and testing kits.
76%: The share of Americans 12 and over who have received at least one vaccine shot.
175: Pounds of black walnuts that a squirrel hid under the hood of a man’s Chevrolet Avalanche while he was away on a four-day trip. The insurance salesman spent seven hours removing parts to get to the nuts, which filled seven five-gallon buckets, but doesn’t think he got to all of them.
38%: President Biden’s approval rating — the lowest to date — according to a Quinnipiac University national poll of adults released Wednesday, Oct. 6. Biden received negative scores in the double digits on all but one key issue. Notable takeaways: Among independents, Biden’s approval rating is 32 percent, with 60 percent disapproving of the job he’s doing; he’s nine points underwater among Hispanics, six points underwater among women, and he’s polling at only 66% among African-Americans; and an astounding 67% disapprove of the administration’s handling of immigration issues and the southern border, with Biden underwater on immigration amongst Hispanics by 46 points, 23-69.