Mind The Gap

First, we had that boat that was stuck in the Suez Canal.

And now, we have London’s Tower Bridge, which is currently stuck in the open position.

Everything feels like a metaphor nowadays.

With Tower Bridge, it’s the hydraulics and I imagine it won’t take as long to lower it as it did to dig out that boat. I can only guess what the traffic in London is like right now, though.

My main emotion when I look at that picture of Tower Bridge is one of nostalgia. Before the Pandemic, I used to visit London at least twice a year. But, with the lockdowns, it’s been over two years since I was last over there. I miss my UK family. I miss the city. Mostly, I miss traveling.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to visit London soon. It’s been too long.

How Do We Get More People Vaccinated?

It’s easy and very tempting to poke fun at the Texas Democrats who fled Austin for Washington D.C., took selfies of themselves flying maskless on a private plane (in direct contradiction to TSA guidelines), and who were then hit by an outbreak of the Coronavirus. Actually, when you consider that Gene Wu is among them, it becomes impossible not to make fun of them.

And yet, it’s easy to miss the bigger picture. Yes, the Texas Democrats are smugly off-putting and strangely proud of stalling out whatever momentum the Democratic Party had in Texas. Yes, Gene Wu is a second-rate version of Eric Swalwell. Yes, they were all vaccinated but, at last count, five of them still ended up testing positive for the Coronavirus. And yes, Kamala Harris had to go to Walter Reade after meeting with these idiots. It’s easy to laugh but, as of now, none of the five confirmed cases appear to be serious. The symptoms have been described as mild.

In other words, the vaccine appears to be doing what it’s supposed to be doing. The vaccine has never been a guarantee against getting the Coronavirus. It’s always been acknowledged that some people would still contract COVID even after getting the shot. Instead, the role of the vaccine is to make it less likely that you’ll fall seriously or fatally ill as a result of getting COVID. The fact of the matter is that we’ll probably never be rid of COVID-19. Much like the flu, it may just be a part of everyday life now. But, by getting vaccinated, we can be much better prepared to deal with it in case we do get ill.

While I do agree that it does seem strange that one relatively small caucus of legislators would have that many breakthrough infections, it also appears that the vaccine does work.

So, how do we get more people to take the vaccine? How do we deal with vaxx hesitancy? I think that Twitter user @theageofshoddy has the right idea.

Too much of the current vaccine messaging is made up of government officials saying things like, “If you get vaccinated, we might let you do some things.” That’s an approach that people in Washington love because it makes them feel important but it’s not going to resonate with a lot of people outside of the D.C. bubble. People are already doing things. Offering to allow people to do things that they’re already doing just proves that people in D.C. have massively overestimated their influence.

The other approach that I frequently see is the commentator or the celebrity who says, “Get vaccinated or you’re a terrible person who is selfish and wants to kill people.” Lecturing people is never the right approach, especially when the lecturing is being done by a media and a political class that has continually proved itself to be hypocritical and unwilling to live by the rules that it sets for everyone else.

If someone is already hesitant about the vaccine, their mind is not going to be changed by our mummified president pointing at the camera and struggling to put indignant words together into a coherent sentence. And celebrities aren’t going to change anyone’s mind either. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve see the John Legend “This is our shot” commercial but, as expensive as it obviously was to produce, it doesn’t appear to have moved the needle one way or another. When your idea of effective outreach is to have Sean Penn interview Dr. Fauci for a primetime special, it’s clear that you don’t know how to reach anyone outside of your circle.

Get Biden out of it. Get the celebrities out of it. Let the community take care of itself. The vaccines are a good thing. Let people learn that from those that they know and trust. True, that may not be as emotionally satisfying to some as giving orders or passing judgment or indulging in their own authoritarian impulses but it may also be the only way to get people to take the shot.

Taking It To D.C.

Three of the Texas Democrats who fled Austin for D.C. and who have been styling themselves as “freedom fighters,” have tested positive for COVID. They all say that they were fully vaccinated and most of the government officials that they’ve met with in D.C. are probably vaccinated as well so I doubt this is going to lead to an outbreak or anything but still, one can only imagine the media reaction if a bunch of Republican state legislators fled their state and were then discovered to be have the Corona.

One never wants to laugh at anyone else’s misfortune, especially when it comes to a health matter. At the same time, Gene Wu is such a prick and the Texas Democrats themselves are so proud of their stupid stunt that it’s hard not to.

Still, I wish them all a speedy recovery.

Have You Ever Noticed?

This has been getting a lot of play on twitter today.

Have you ever noticed that the biggest assholes in government are always the czars? That’s because most of policy czars are people who the president wanted to be appoint to an official post but, because they’re all almost uniformly assholes, it was realized that they would never be able to get Senate confirmation. So, they became czars. Most of them don’t have any real power but they do get to go on the morning shows and pretend to be experts.

What I know is that my family sacrificed. My friends sacrificed. Jobs were lost. Businesses were closed. People stood by helplessly as their loved ones died alone. You want to talk about COVID and how the American people responded? You need to talk about the people who suffered and who did what they were told to do and who were constantly scolded by the media and who watched as the rich and powerful continually skirted the restrictions that they insisted everyone else had to follow. You need to talk about the people who went through this and somehow did it all without losing their minds. A lot was demanded of the American people over the past year and a half and the majority of them did the best that they could and they’re still hurting as a result. Would a little gratitude be out of order? Maybe give the scolding a rest and just say, “Thank you, we know it’s been hard?”

So many of the people who are still scolding Americans for “not sacrificing enough” are the people who haven’t really had to sacrifice anything.

Who Trusts The Media?

This is is from FiveThirtyEight and it reveals what everyone already knew. Republicans don’t trust the media at all. Democrats do trust the media, though I think that number will go down as the Biden administration continues to stumble forward. The truly interesting number is that only 36% of independents have a “great deal” or “fair amount of trust” in the media.

The media, of course, has no one to blame for this but themselves. Even as I sit here writing this, 60 Minutes is getting called out for deceptively editing a story about the vaccine rollout in Florida. At a press conference, the reporter from 60 Minutes more or less accused DeSantis of giving Publix preferential treatment because Publix donated to his campaign. (Publix is one of the biggest stores in Florida and, like most corporations, it donated to both Republicans and Democrats in 2018.)

Below is transcript of the conversation. Everything in bold was edited out when the story aired on 60 Minutes last night:

It’s hard not to get the feeling that DeSantis is being targeted because he’s currently the prohibitive favorite to receive the Republican presidential nomination in 2024 and also because much of the media seems to be determined to prove that red states like Florida and Texas have screwed up their handling of the pandemic just as much as Andrew Cuomo did in New York. That’s not the type of behavior that’s going to restore trust in the media.

The truth is that we need to be able to have faith in our media. One reason why this pandemic has been so much harder on people than many of the other crises this country has been through is because no one knows who to trust. Both the media and the government have proven themselves far too quick to lie to promote a narrative and protect their own power. As a result, the people have no one to whom they can look without skepticism. The people feel like no one is on their side and that leaves them open to being manipulated by every demagogue with a national platform.

America has been on a dangerous path for a while. I’m not sure how much longer we can continue to walk down it.

A Short Review of Biden’s Speech

Biden’s speech last night was strange.  At the time, it seemed to be just another Joe Biden word salad but it’s left with me with a bitter aftertaste.  I think a lot of us were either so amazed or so relieved that Biden’s still able to read a teleprompter that we initially overlooked the scolding tone of the speech.  And yet this morning, it’s the scolding that most of us are remembering.

“Do what we say or we’ll bring back restrictions,” is not a great message.  It doesn’t make me want to follow “the rules.”  Telling me that I have to listen to Dr. Fauci doesn’t cover up how inconsistent Fauci has sometimes been.  Promising people that they can maybe have a barbecue on the 4th of July doesn’t work when most of us know that we can have a barbecue anytime we want.

If I was a White House advisor, I’d suggest losing the scolding tone and just promise people that they can get back to their lives after taking the vaccine.  Emphasize restrictions going away, not the possibility of them coming back.  Stop acting personally offended just because people are understandably frustrated by everything that’s going on, that’s what someone who actually possessed empathy would do.  Gloom is not what we need right now.  You have to give the people hope.  It’s hard to do that when your messenger is an elderly man who often seems to be in a state of confusion.  If there’s ever been a time when America needs young, energetic, and optimistic leadership, it’s now.