I've started to see social media posts from people who are now explaining that their company gave them a deadline to get vaccinated or leave, and that they've chosen to leave. Most say this sadly, but also with pride -- one of them, for example, noting that his decision was not from any high-minded principle, but just his "natural stubbornness," and in the end, he just didn't want to "be stupid."
Of course, just as it was his personal choice to not get a shot, it was also his personal choice to quit. He was given an option, not pressure. But then, pretty much all of life is a personal choice. And in this case, he chose "being stubborn." Which, he's right, is not particularly high-minded. In making his personal choice out of stubbornness, however, he also confused social responsibility with "being stupid." Which I'd suggest speaks loudly to his standards.
On the other hand, a few weeks ago Delta Airlines told workers that those who were unvaccinated would be having their health insurance raised by $200 a month, since the program's costs were rising as a result of those not being vaccinated getting sick. Within the first two weeks, 4,000 employees (which is 20% of the unvaccinated workforce) already got vaccinated -- and none quit. So, that was their personal choice and social responsibility.
I am sure that there are some valid reasons people may have for not getting the vaccine -- actual medical issues, or deep, lifelong religious convictions, or profound fear, perhaps. That's one thing. But as much as those quitting their jobs want to seem like they're making a great individual stand, I think there are very few high-minded reasons for quitting rather than getting vaccinated. Not because personal choice can't be high-minded -- it absolutely can be. But because in a worldwide pandemic of an infectious virus, from which 4,652,874 people have already died, that has mutated even more deadly and will mutate further, potentially rendering current vaccines ineffective, ignoring social responsibility removes almost any claim to nobility.
Social responsibility is not a touchy-feeling, feel-good, kumbaya thing to sing about around the campfire. It's what everyone takes on the moment you step outside your home into the world. If one doesn't want to take on that social responsibility, that's fine, but then you're pretty much obligated to stay in your home or live in the forest alone or on a deserted island.
Yes, people have every right to make another of their unending, daily personal choices and in doing so, ignore their social responsibility to the world around them. But you don't get to think that just because you are ignoring your social responsibility it therefore doesn't exist -- nor in making that personal choice do you get to think that you might not be causing harm to others to whom, as a member of the society you have entered, you owe that responsibility.
Some matters of social responsibility are minor, and if we ignore them in exchange for our personal choice, the consequences are insignificant to the world around you. A worldwide pandemic with 226 million cases so far of deadly infection is not one of them.
In not wanting to "be stupid," you most probably are not only the very definition, but also selfish and potentially a killer.
The new "whistleblower" website is now up in Texas here for people to drop their anonymous tips about suspected people giving abortions. It turns out that a lot of people are indeed overwhelming the site, though not necessarily the kind of tips being asked for. Apparently, memes of "Shrek" are very popular.
This is the form.
They also ask if you're a public official, but you get the idea.
I thought I'd help out, too.
There's a limit to how much help they'll accept, though, since all the boxes have limits on how much you can type in them. The Zip box, for instance, only allows for five characters. Only the first two questions really permit extensive text and explanation, and the second isn't much.
Still, this was my attempt to participate --
> How do you think the law has been violated?
That is not a good question. You shouldn't be asking how I or anyone "thinks" the law has been violated. That's just a silly guessing game. What you what to know, I assume, is how one is absolutely 100% certain that the law has, in fact, been broken. Because we're talking about breaking the law, right?! So, how one "thinks" about a law is meaningless. What you want is incontrovertible evidence, right? But that's not what you're asking, so I don't get what you're doing??? And it seems neither do you.
> How did you obtain this evidence?
Now, see, that's the problem I was talking about! Here you're asking about evidence, but before you just wanted to know what I think. What I think is that you're clueless about what you're doing. Make up your mind!
> Clinic or Doctor this evidence relates to
Wouldn't it be a hoot if I said "Seuss" or "Kissinger" or "Scholl"?
A small town doesn’t count?
Hey, this is a Texas-only law!
Isn't city & state enough??
Mississippi now has highest COVID per capita rate in the country. And how is the Magnolia State taking it all? Well, according to their Republican governor Tate Reeves, as he told an audience in Tennessee (a cynic might suggest that Reeves felt it safer to be in a state other than his own…), southerners are “a little less scared” of the coronavirus because of their religious faith.
No, I’m serious.
Gov. Reeves actually said, "When you believe in Eternal Life -- that living on this earth is but a blip on the screen then you don't have to be so scared of things," And then he added, just to be safe perhaps that he didn’t come across like a total lunatic,: "God also tells us to take necessary precautions."
Yes. Necessary precautions. Like vaccines and masks. And listening to doctors. And listening to experts. Necessary precautions like that.
By the way, left out of the Most Reverend Gov. Reeves sermon on Eternal Life and not being scared of the coronavirus is any mention of his Gulf Coast Mississippi faithful not being scared of Hurricane Ida. No doubt, though, he’s telling them that what with Eternal Life and that blip-on-Earth thing, it’s okay to not worry about the 160 MPH winds and storms and just go on as if it’s business as usual. Though, of course,, take those...well, necessary precautions.
Other necessary precautions that many people take, apparently because God thinks they’re good ideas –
Heavy winter coats.
Child safety seats.
Guard rails on bridges
Hepatitis A and B vaccines
Because, and this is just a guess, God doesn’t want people just relying on Him to protect them about everything, but having personal responsibility and social responsibility. So that people know not to jump off a skyscraper and think they’ll be fine because they have “religious faith.” Or not get out of a moving car on the highway and think they’ll be fine because they believe in God. That’s why God created “necessary precautions.”
And why God created doctors. And created vaccines.
But no, Tate Reeves – and remember, this is the elected Republican governor of the State of Mississippi, sworn to protect the people of his state. This is not your local pastor giving his flock the annual Easter sermon (though how many of those have we already seen die of COVID-19 after telling their parishioners not to take “necessary precautions” because if they believe in God, they’ll be safe) – the governor of Mississippi is saying that the people of his state are less afraid of the coronavirus because they have “religious faith.” Telling the people of his state that life on earth is just a “blip” – so, hey, why not take that leap off the building and enjoy the exhilaration of it until you hit the ground because it’s all just part of Eternal Life.
Mississippi has the highest COVID-19 per capita rate in the country. I’m going to make another pure guess that people in his state are a whole lot more scared that Gov. Reeves (R-MS) thinks. And if not, probably a whole lot more stupid.
Seriously, and this can’t be repeated enough, this is the Mississippi governor saying you’ll be safe from an infectious disease causing a worldwide pandemic if you only have religious faith.
This reminds me of the parable.
A man is in his house when a police car drives by and tells him that a flood is coming and he should take cover. The man says he believes in God and so he’ll be safe because God will protect him.
Later, the flood swells the area so deeply that it fills the streets, and a neighbor paddles by in a canoe. The neighbors says that the flood is rising, come in his canoe. But the man says he believes in God and so he’ll be safe because God will protect him.
The water gets so high that it’s filling his house, and the man has to get on his roof. A helicopter flies overhead and drops a rope. The pilot calls out that the flood is out of control, grab the rope, and they’ll fly off to shelter. However, the man says he believes in God and so he’ll be safe because God will protect him.
Eventually, the flood rises so much that the man drowns. When he’s in heaven, he goes to God and says, “God, I believe in you. I told everyone you would protect me. Why did you let me drown??” And God said, “I sent you a police car, a canoe and a helicopter. Why didn’t you get in any of them?!!”
The Very Reverand Tate Reeves, governor of Mississippi says he and the minions of his state have total faith in God protecting them because they believe in God and Eternal Life. What he and they are missing is that God has sent them doctors and vaccines and masks.
Why didn’t they all use any of those gifts from God??!
And just to show the whimsy of life – Eternal or otherwise -- it’s not Tate Reeves (with the highest per capita infection rate in the country as he relies on faith), but rather Gov. Gavin Newsom of California -- whose state is the only one in the union where infections are decreasing over the past 14 days -- who is the facing a recall election.
It turns out that God does indeed work in mysterious way. Though at the same time, He also tells us to take necessary precautions.
Like about the blip you elect governor.
On this week’s Al Franken podcast, his guests are Laurie Garrett and Andy Slavitt to discuss “Where we are NOW on COVID-19.” As Al puts it, “The Pulitzer-Winner (Garrett) and Biden Covid Advisor (Slavitt) take a deep dive.”
I love this exchange with Gov. J.B. Pritizker of Illinois and a radio host for radio station WIND in Chicago, which is a talk-radio Fox affiliate. The host, Amy Jacobson, has been critical about the state's mask mandate, and so tries to make an issue of it with the governor, though asked in a roundabout, somewhat surreptitious way as a supposed well-meaning question about the concerns of parents..
"There were protests out here this morning and parents were crying, screaming," she says to Gov. Pritzker.. "As governor, you should try and calm people's nerves maybe...because there are low-risk groups." Because, yes, telling a governor what he should do at a press conference is always a great, objective idea. It's at that point the his press secretary Jordan Abudayyeh cuts Jacobson off and ends the press conference.
Actually, Abudayyeh's exchange with Jacobson are pretty good on their own. You can't make them out all that clearly on the video, but it begins with the press secretary --
"Amy, as a supposed reporter, you should probably stop the misinformation. We are done here, thank you. Do you know how you stop schools from being closed? You stop complaining about mask-wearing."
"Send me some studies," Jacobson snaps back.
To which Abudayyeh replies -- "It's called Google,"
The event appears over (hey, that's a pretty good curtain line. Or as they say in acting class, "...annnd -- scene"), but it's at that point that Gov. Pritzker decides he does have something to say. What stands out is not only his bluntness, but that as he gives his answer, Jacobson starts talking over him and arguing -- as if this was a discussion on her radio show. When, rather, it's a press conference where you ask a question and listen to the answer for what you just asked. If you have a follow-up, fine, ask it when the answer is finished. But what's so good about Pritzker here is that he doesn't let her interrupt but keeps going with his answer.
How WIND has changed. Once upon a time, when I was a kid back in Chicago, WIND was a nice, low-key, very middle-of-the road pop music station, more adult contemporary, bordering on playing oldies. No more, obvously.
By the way, what I like, too, is that the video of Gov. Pritzker pointedly telling off the "Fox" radio host was posted by a competitor, WICS, which is an ABC affiliate out of Springfield.
[Meaningless Bonus Fun Fact: long ago, I went to summer camp with one of the Pritzker clan, which largely own the Hyatt Hotel chain, among many other things. Actually, I wasn't officially a camper yet, but instead was the Doctor's Son when my dad helped out there for a couple of weeks over several summers. So, I was 10 years old at the time. Because I was going to be a real, full-time camper the next year, it was thought I should spend time with the youngest cabin in camp, where no doubt the Pritzker family had sent their child to do early research on basic overnight accommodations. This story should add a great deal of perspective to the video below, despite the fact that J.B. Pritzker did not go to Camp Nebagamon. ]
And it's neck-and-neck here in California whether Gov. Newsom should be recalled, supposedly because of his handling of the pandemic.
But really, of course, because Republicans don't like (again) that they lost and are trying to convince others of a fantasy.
This map is the remarkable reality.
A month ago, I wrote here about how those on the far-right trying to use "Personal Choice!" as their fake-excuse cry to freedom was utterly empty because pretty much everything was Personal Choice. It's Personal Choice, I wrote, whether or not to jump off a building. And Personal Choice whether or not to cross a busy street in the middle of traffic. It's Personal Choice to wear a seat belt, even though it's the law. You don't have to, you can break the law, it's Personal Choice. Just like it's Personal Choice to follow the admonition on a restaurant that says "No shoes. No shirt. No service." But just because you're making a Personal Choice, I wrote, doesn't mean you're making a good one.
James Akers took mere words and put it to action.
Akers is a father who went to the local school board meeting in his Dripping Springs Independent School District. Dripping Springs is in Texas, where thanks to anti-vaccination and anti-mask policies of Gov. Greg Abbott and the self-styled “freedom-loving” Personal Choice would-be cowboys have helped the state’s infection level spike problematically. It’s likely that the school board there hasn’t has a parent address them quite like James Akers did the other day.
It started out normally, as Mr. Akers took his turn at the microphone.
"I do not like the government, or any other entity, telling me what to do," he told the school board members. "But sometimes I've got to push the envelope a little bit. And I've decided I'm not just going to talk about it, I'm going to walk the walk."
And so he did.
"At work they make me wear this jacket," he said. “I hate it.” And to show how much he hated it, Akers took off his jacket.
"They make me wear this shirt and tie," he said. Adding, "I hate it." And so, he took off his tie. And then his jacket.
And he continued telling the board how much he hated wearing a lot of the clothes he was obligated to wear, but that the requirement to wear them were put on him by others than himself and his family. And all the while, as he explained this, he took off more clothes. Though he didn’t have many other clothes to take off, other than his shoes and his pants. But they went, too. And he stripped down to his underwear.
"It's simple protocol, people,” Akers went on. “We follow certain rules. We follow certain rules for a very good reason.”
School board president Barbara Stroud asked him to please put his clothes back on, but Akers wasn’t ready to yet, since he had his point to make in words.
"I have every right to drive as fast as I want to," he said. (It’s a Personal Choice, after all…) But he doesn’t. Because he wanted to show that we have rules in society for safety – and wearing masks is no different than any of those safety rules.
As you might imagine, James Akers’ presentation got a mixed response from those in attendance at the meeting, with a mixture of cheers and boos. But he made his point, and then put his pants back on.
I merely made the point. James Akers walked the walk.
I don’t have video of his full presentation. But happily, I do have the end of it. And the Texas news story that covered it. Though “covered” might be the wrong word to use here…
Yesterday, the FDA announced full approval of the Pfizer vaccine. And like clockwork, "Fox News" did a story about how "critics" are wondering if this approval, done in "record time" was rushed.
Now, never mind that they didn't say who any of these "critics" actually are who ware supposedly saying this. And never mind that there's a good likelihood that the "critics" are "Fox News" itself. But the approval process is generally about 6-10 months (it can be longer), and this took eight months. So, that's smack in the middle of normal. Further, the FDA made clear that there were no shortcuts taken in the study and that they only thing that sped the process faster is that the research was moved to the head of the line and done first, because other approvals that were waiting. So if it was at all faster, that's the reason. It just got bumped up to be looked at before everything else because...well, there was a worldwide pandemic and it was an actual emergency.
But of course, what makes this "Fox News" story about "critics" and whether eight months of study by the FDA was enough all the more eye-rolling pathetic is that this is the same "Fox News" that has been pushing the drug ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment. You might have heard about this -- ivermectin is actually a drug that's meant for de-worming horses and cows! So, yeah, the FDA "rushed" its approval of eight months, but take that horse de-wormer drug we're telling you about.
And by the way, for all the people who actually took it and got very sick, it transcends pathetic that they wouldn't take a vaccine that 300 million people had gotten shots with, that the CDC emergency-approved and that the FDA had emergency-approved, as well , but they'd happily take a horse de-wormer that no has approved.
And how repugnant that “Fox News” pushes it and not the actual vaccination.
How bad did it get? The FDA itself put out a tweet about not taking ivermectin. And it should go down in history. I heard a host on MSNBC reference the tweet, and I assumed they were paraphrasing it like a joke to emphasize the point, since what he said was so weird and funny. But no, that was what really was the FDA actually tweeted!!
Yes, that was the real tweet that the FD-freaking-A felt compelled to put out. "You are not a horse. You are not a cow."
And "Seriously, y'all. Stop it" is the topper. Yes, they did give the medical explanation underneath, but the headline was the point -- no medical debate necessary.
And they even included in a photo of a veterinarian treating a horse.
And then contrasted it with a medical physician -- wearing a mask -- treating a human being. Wearing a mask.
You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y'all. Stop it.
That pretty much describes today's Republican Party.
Am I being hyperbolic? Well, okay, ye... well, no, change that, no, I'm not. Between thinking Trump won, the pandemic is a hoax, Democrats eat babies, the Chinese put wood chips in our election ballots, Italian satellites changed our election ballots, Jewish lasers started the wild fires, and believing conspiracies headed by a totally anonymous source and oh-so much more -- and yes, you know that ALL of these are real beliefs held by a sold segment of today's Republican Party -- I think it actually is a reasonable description of today's GOP that the FDA has to put out a tweet that says:
"You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y'all. Stop it."
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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