Monday, April 20, 2020

Libertarianism? No. Rational Thinking? Yes. (Reason is not Treason!)

It scares me how people are willing to go along with things and not question them.  It scares me even more how the mob has ganged up on people on Facebook - without bothering to investigate things.  It scares me yet further when questioning the government is considered an act of treason.  It scares me the most that this happened in a matter of days, not years!

A reader warns me that I risk becoming libertarian.  Hardly the case.  I am only pointing out why people feel the way they do and how Democrats are shooting themselves in the foot by trying to play "Mr. Opposite" with Donald Trump.  You can't just take the opposite position of everything he does and be the anti-Trump or the Bizarro-world Trump.   Once a great while, he is right about something, and if you knee-jerk take the opposite position, you look stupid.

If New York City wants to "lock down" forever, the rest of the United States could care less - people would quickly realize how we could get along without New York City.  In this age of telecommuting, why are people paying the highest rents in the world to be "close in"?

But New Yorkers and other city dwellers might want to reconsider positions on locking down the rest of the country.   You know, those "flyover States" which provide all the vegetables, meat, dairy, and toilet paper that city folks seem to be short of (but oddly enough are well-stocked here in Georgia). 

I am also pointing out that the media is mischaracterizing these demonstrations as being "against social distancing" when they are in fact against arbitrary rules enacted by governors.   For example, in Pennsylvania, closing liquor stores.   I am sure the Philly mob had a hand in that, and is right now running bootleg from the mountains of Carolina.  Ahhh!  The good old days!

Is this virus politicized?  By both sides.  In "Red States" the gun stores are considered "essential businesses" but abortion clinics are not.   In Blue States, Marijuana dispensaries are essential, but gun stores are closed.  It is laughable.   There is no real science or medicine behind these government actions - they are all politically motivated. The biggest motivation is to be seen as "doing something."  And thus it is hard to take the pronouncements of any government official seriously, as they are ALL politicizing this, left and right.

For example, on our island the golf courses are open (even the putt-putt) but you have to walk the course.  Why?   Really no reason.  It takes a few minutes to wipe down a golf cart with Chlorox spray.   But it does allow the golf course to say they "did something" and therefore golfing is safe.  Thank God for rational thinking!

The same is true everywhere else.  The Home Depot limited the number of people going into the store - but folks were still in the aisles with no masks on.  Perhaps they should have required masks - and sold them at the door.  (They were handing out free waters, but I wasn't putting my hand in that virus incubator ice chest on a dare!).   Again symbolic gestures, meaning little or nothing.

Some of these "measures" are a little frightening, stupid, wasteful, and useless at the same time.  The Governor of Florida (a Republican, go figure) roadblocked two of the three Interstate highways coming into the State.  This resulted in huge traffic jams and some pretty good wrecks.  If you came across I-10 or I-95 with out-of-State tags, you were pulled over, handed a pamphlet, and lectured about the virus.  "The virus?  No, never heard about it!  Do tell! I'm all ears!"

If you drove down I-75 from Alana, you weren't stopped.  Ditto for local roads such as Route 17.  And those stopped on the main highways were told to self-quarantine for 14 days, but there was, of course, no enforcement mechanism to track these people down and check on them.  It was little more than handing out pamphlets.  I just hope no one got killed in an auto wreck because of these huge backups on the busiest highways in the State of Florida.   I would be surprised if no one was.

It is just stupid, stupid, stupid.  And a little frightening that the Governor would knee-jerk set up a roadblock and checkpoint as though this were Fallujah, not Jacksonville - although some claim there are similarities.

The bullshit heartwarming memes about "We're all in this together?"  Fuck that.   No one is "in this together" and if you don't believe this, look at the decimated toilet paper aisle at your local grocery store - or the line around the block at the local gun shop.  Piggy, piggy, people hoarding things unnecessarily and depriving their fellow man of these things for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

That's your heartwarming fellow man, right there.  Checking restrooms to make sure they are locked, and taking pictures of families walking the street and then posting them on Facebook with alarmist headlines about how four people who share a bathroom should be practicing "social distancing" from each other when taking a walk.  Worse yet are the folks who say you should never leave home for any reason.  Agoraphobics are having a field day.

And the gun nuts?  What does it say to you when people line up to buy guns?   That we're all in this together?  Hell, no!  It says, "I don't trust my fellow man, who might try to steal my toilet paper hoard, and I just can't wait to shoot him in the head, as I have been practicing for this day for a decade, playing Zombie Killer XXIV on Playstation!"

No offense, but people SUCK.  They really do.  You do.  I do.  We all do.  And no, we are not "all in this together" we are all alone by ourselves, hoping "the other guy" doesn't give us the virus, and FUCK EVERYONE ELSE, even if it means their financial ruin.

The worst part, in my mind, is that the media has abandoned all pretense of impartiality.  Perhaps the Washington Post and the New York Times feel they have to counterweight the far-right reporting of Fox News.  Perhaps.  But what this presents to the reader is a merry-go-round of extremist views.

And often these articles are bullshit on their face.   For example, a recent POLITCO story headlines that Trump is no longer "hyping" (their words) a Corona Virus drug.   The gist of the article is that since Trump hasn't mentioned this in a few days, he must have changed his mind about it.   Slow news day?  It is not a news article, it is an opinion piece - and a thin one at that.  It has gotten to the point where when I am reading an article, I have to scroll up to read the source, to put it in context.  Fox News?  The Hill?  The Post?  The NYT?   Each has their bias, and often not even into the first paragraph, you can sort out what they are selling.

Credentialism has also reared its ugly head.  That and surveys and statistics.  "Survey says: People like lockdown and want months more of it!"   Mr. Credential guy says we need to do X and so we have to, because he's really smart.  I guess so.  How many patients has he treated?  None.

Science is not a religion.  It is not based on beliefs or credentials.   If the Pope says that Gay Marriage is a sin, well, that's the last word on that (if you're Catholic, that is).  In religion, credentials matter.  In science, it is evidence that matters.   Smart people are wrong all the time - that is the nature of the scientific method - theory, experiment, collect data, adjust the theory.  Science is never done and no answer is ever 100% "right" but actually up for discussion all of the time.

But to question an "answer" science provides, of course, you have to present more science, not beliefs or credentialism.  So no, you global warming doubters don't get a pass here - mere belief or quoting someone with credentials doesn't negate actual data and theories.   And yet, global warming, like all science, is a theory.  But a theory backed up by a helluva lot of data, whereas the opponents have nothing but belief.

The hard data on this virus is hard to come by - so far.  A year from now, a decade from now, we will know a lot more.   Yet a lot of people are pushing ideas as though they are facts - or casting doubt on other ideas based merely on speculation, or quotations from "famous guy" - and there are plenty of famous guys to quote out there.   And of course, the media never sets out to write a story with a conclusion in mind, and then get the quotes to fit the narrative.  No, never that!

But to say a drug doesn't work - that hasn't been given a try - is stupid.  And to say this just to thwart Trump is even more idiotic.  To threaten doctors, nurses, and pharmacists for trying such a drug is downright criminal.   Let doctors do their job, without politically-based threats.  If the drugs being tested (and there are several, not just the one Trump initially "hyped") are shown not to work, that is science.   Shouting down an idea because of who is supporting it, is just political garbage.

You have to read this letter. It is frightening how authoritarian it is - not only threatening doctors with losing their license, but threatening pharmacists and nurses if they don't turn in the offending doctors.  When did Michigan turn into Stalinist Russia?  Why are people claiming Governor Gretchen is some sort of hero?   Why is this being politicized as a Left versus Right thing?   Viruses don't have politcal parties - nor due potential cures.

THERE IS HOPE, and the virus is fading away as we speak.  It isn't too early to talk about the next step.  And we do have to take the next step eventually.  And what works for New York City doesn't necessarily work for rural Montana - or for that matter, rural Michigan or Pennsylvania.

Will those who had the virus be immune?  Maybe, maybe not.  If not, I would have thought we would see some re-infected people by now - hundreds, if not thousands of them.  We'll see.   Will any of these drugs (including anti-virals) work?  Maybe.  Outlawing their use isn't taking any sort of rational action, it is just political grandstanding.

The sad thing is, a year from now, or a decade from now, we will understand what actually happened. But like with Columbine, 9/11, and Katrina, we will not be interested in the corrections and retractions, but instead perpetuate the myths and misunderstandings of the era.

It was over 100 years ago that the Spanish flu hit America, and only now are we really finding out what happened in that era - as much of the information, and indeed, even the name of the disease, were based on wartime censorship and propaganda - which the population willingly went along with, even as they buried their dead.

It is not treason to have hope!   And it is not treasonous to question arbitrary actions by government officials. Banning drugs? Roadblock checkpoints?  Closing liquor stores?  Tracking people by cell phone?  All arbitrary, unnecessary, ineffective, and in some instances, making things worse.  Yet the Governors doing these things are being lauded as heroes and people are mindlessly following these steps and shouting down anyone who dares question the efficacy or logic of them.

That last thing is what really scares me.  I ain't skeered of a virus.   My fellow man scares me to death, though.

P.S. - I am willing to believe Governor Cuomo about anything, if he is willing to go on camera, put his hand on a Bible, and swear on his Mother's grave that his family is not involved, connected with, affiliated with,or otherwise engaged with organized crime.  As a good Catholic, he knows he would be immediately struck down by lightning if he did such a thing.   There is a reason his Dad didn't want to run for President.  A lot of bad "family" laundry would be hung out to dry.

Sadly, Cuomo and deBlazio (among others, Gretchen!) are taking a page from the Giuliani playbook, and hoping that being a virus hero will catapult their political careers.  After seeing what a vampire Giuliani turned out to be, I am not sure this is a good thing.  Catapulting yourself to national fame on the back of a national crises or tragedy is just shameful.  Again, politicizing a virus.  And they're all doing it, too!  Trump, most of all.