Let’s not look at the 20th Anniversary of 9/11 too much  through rose-colored glasses

Saturday was the 20th anniversary of 9/11. As appropriate, there were a lot of heartfelt tributes, and remembrances, and stories about couples who were marrying where both had lost a parent on 9/11. There were beautiful stories about the children of New York firefighters lost in the collapse of the towers who are now firefighters themselves.

It was the recollection of a long time ago, a time when the country did actually come together, and everyone was a New Yorker, and the Yankees would have won the world series but for the Arizona Diamondbacks having both Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling in their rotation.

Now we’re a nation that can’t even agree on wearing masks, getting vaccinated, and whether Joe Biden actually won the election. We couldn’t even get a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6th insurrection.

Before we view as the time after 9/11 with rosy glasses, we should acknowledge that in many respects our government’s response to 9/11 was terrible:

  1. We invaded Afghanistan and then stayed there for 20 years, leaving only a 12 days before the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Our expectation that we could create a stable democracy there was just a fantasy.
  2. We invaded Iraq based on the claim that Saddam Hussein’s regime had “weapons of mass destruction,” which, of course, they did not.
  3. We detained inmates at Guantanamo Bay, and then we tortured them. In the process we threw out everything we claimed to believe in about our own exceptionalism. A few of the inmates there have still not been tried, in part because of the legal complications resulting from having been tortured.
  4. Anti-Muslim prejudice and profiling grew substantially, as did hate crimes directed against Muslims.
  5. We passed the Patriot Act, which was a complete legal overreach into our private lives, and led to things like the NSA creating vast surveillance programs where they tracked the telephone and email activities of vast quantities of American citizens.

The thing that personally disappointed me the most was how quickly we resorted to torturing our detainees. I thought one of the things that made us different is that we didn’t do things like that. But clearly we do. At least, we did.

So let’s be realistic and not just remember the heroism of the day. There are a lot of incorrect things that happened as the result of the 9/11 attacks.

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The Texas Fetal Heartbeat Abortion Law is a legal calamity in the extreme

The more I read about the Taliban Texas anti-abortion law (Senate Bill 8), the more it becomes clear that this a legal clusterfvck of gigantic proportions that may come back to bite its proponents in a big way. This is a truly bizarre piece of legislation that is too cute for its own good by half. It tramples on all kinds of constitutionally protected rights in novel and brazen ways. There are so many issues here that it is, frankly, difficult to fit them all into one article. But we will try.

Civil vs Criminal Enforcement

So, the first thing to take note of is that the proponents hope to prevent people challenging the law by taking the enforcement of this legislation out of the hands of Texas law enforcement — its District Attorneys and the Attorney General — and handing it to private citizens. 

What normally happens in these kind of cases is that the Attorney General or the various District Attorneys are required to enforce any restrictions on abortion. For example, in the legendary case of Roe v. Wade, the defendant was Henry Wade, the District Attorney of Dallas County, who was tasked with enforcing Texas abortion law in his county. But no more. Until one of those private citizens tries to sue a woman or an abortion provider, there is no one who can be named as a defendant in a challenge to the law’s constitutionality.

The Comparison with East Germany

A number of comparisons have been made between this law and the old German Democratic Republic, famous for having its citizens inform on each other in an intricate web of mutual betrayal. But the key to their “informant society” was that the informants were all allowed to hide (that is, until the collapse of the East German Republic and the eventual opening of the security files, to the great embarrassment of many citizens).

In Texas however,, the citizen zealots will have to expose themselves. Many will simply “drop a dime” on a neighbor, friend or loved one, but to prove a legal case, they will have to be called as witnesses and disclose what they know.

Awkward!

There may be lots of false accusations and issues that are difficult to prove, and people are going to be really fired up with each other and just about ready to murder each other, which won’t be hard to do because Texas also liberalized its gun laws to allow people to carry guns without a license.

Who will actually File Suit?

I’m not sure that many individual citizens are going to want to file suit themselves to collect their $10,000. They would have to hire an attorney and come into court as the actual plaintiffs, and there would be lots of reasons that wouldn’t really work in practice.

What is more likely is that they would just drop a dime, and hope that somebody else does the prosecuting. And somebody else will do the prosecuting for sure. There are groups like the Texas Alliance for Life which are likely to hire teams of attorneys and go after abortion providers, seeing if they can bankrupt them with multiple $10,000 judgments. 

But setting up a website where Texan evangelists can drop a dime isn’t as easy as it sounds. In fact, there was already a website — www.prolifewhistleblower.com — that had been established by Texas Right to Life, which was itself quickly attacked by trolls and overwhelmed with fake reports from TikTok and Reddit users, causing GoDaddy to bounce the website for violating its terms of service.

Oops.

One can expect probably any public website asking people to turn each other in to suffer a similar fate.

Problems of Proof

Next, just consider the problems related to proving that someone had an abortion. Imagine, you call someone to the stand and say:

  • You had an abortion.
  • No I didn’t. I had a miscarriage. (Prove me wrong.)

Or of proving when someone became pregnant:

  • You became pregnant on August 21st.
  • No I didn’t. I became pregnant on September 2nd. (Prove me wrong.)

Proof here — because these are civil and not criminal cases — is by the 51% “preponderance of the evidence” standard and not the 90% “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” standard. But still, it can be hard for someone to know when they got pregnant, how is a stranger going to be able to prove when you got pregnant. Just think about it.

First Amendment issues

The Texas anti-abortion law is so broad, that among other things, it imperils anyone who “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion . . . regardless of whether the person knew or should have known that the abortion would be performed or induced in violation of this subchapter.” 

In addition it creates liability for anyone who “intends to engage in the conduct described by Subdivision (1) or (2).”

This is like the Thought Police.

How do you prove that someone “intends” to engage in an abortion. And how do you make that a crime (or technically, a civil penalty)?

That seems to be a flagrant violation of the First Amendment, which, after all, establishes that the government “shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech.”

Federal Civil Rights issues

Then there are civil rights issues, such as those involving 42 USC §1983, which prohibits denying somebody of their civil rights under “color of state law.” Until Roe v. Wade is overturned, there is still a constitutional right to an abortion. If a civil vigilante seeks to keep you from having an abortion by using a state law, isn’t that a violation of §1983?

It could be.

And if it is, there are serious penalties associated with violating §1983. 

There are other civil rights statutes that could potentially be infringed by the application of the Texas fetal heartbeat bill.  For example, noted constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe has suggested that the Department of Justice could use 18 U.S. Code § 241, which makes it a crime for “two or more persons” to agree to “oppress, threaten, or intimidate” anyone “in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States,” to go after anyone seeking to enforce the Texas bounty provisions.

This question is well above my pay-grade, but clearly something both the Department of Justice, and eventually the Supreme Court, should look at.

Right to Counsel issues

The law has two very peculiar provisions which (1) allow the award of court costs and attorney’s fees to the plaintiffs if they prevail, but (2) specifically prohibit the award of court costs and attorney’s fees to the defendants, if they prevail against their accusers.

That is (to the best of my knowledge) unprecedented in American law.

The practical effect of this is to incentivize false accusations on the part of plaintiffs, with no penalty for these false accusations, and to make it exceedingly difficult for defendants to hire counsel to defend themselves.  (In practice, it’s likely that there will be funds created that defendants will be able to access to defend themselves, as this is such an extremely polarizing issue.)

That kind of imbalance implicates both “equal protection” and “right to counsel” issues. 

The Opiods Comparison

A lot of things have changed since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, and one of them is the easy availability of opioids, which have fueled the opioids crisis over the last decade. The opioids crisis proves — at a minimum — that it’s not that hard to create a thriving industry in illegal narcotics that the authorities have a hard time reigning in.

Enter the RU486 “morning after” pill.

One of the many ways that people could get around Texas’ super-strict abortion laws will be — I imagine — a quasi-legal industry of pills that will allow women to get and use the morning after pill to avoid the whole abortion question altogether. That way you don’t have to wait for a “fetal heartbeat,” you take a pill “just in case.” (The morning after having sex there is no way to know whether an egg was fertilized and no way to prove whether anything was aborted.)

Already there are groups like the Amsterdam-based AidAccess that prescribe pills to people in the United States, with pharmacies in India filling the prescriptions. Texas and their pro-life evangelists are just begging other groups and organizations all around the world to circumvent their retrogressive abortion restrictions.

The Shadow Docket

Finally, there is the question of the Supreme Court’s “shadow docket,” which has been highlighted by this act as well. The “shadow docket” is, briefly, the docket of “emergency” cases where the Supreme Court can issue orders relative to ongoing litigation — often to prevent some injustice from going forward — before a case is fully briefed and formally heard.

  • In the past this procedure has often been used to put a hold on federal executions while there were still questions that had not been fully litigated.
  • More recently it had been used to allow churches to continue to hold worship sessions even during the Covid pandemic when state public health regulations had banned large in-person gatherings.

This time, the Supreme Court failed to block in the implementation of this Texas law — see Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson — despite the many constitutional questions raised by the Texas law. Even Chief Justice John Roberts — a conservative but also an institutionalist — sided with the liberals on the basis that there are so many questions that needed to be examined here, in particular whether the state of Texas could avoid responsibility for the enforcement of this statute by outsourcing the responsibility to vigilante citizens. (Read the entire text here.)

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Why do people want to use Ivermectin but not FDA-approved vaccines?

I have a friend on Facebook who has been promoting Ivermectin for months. She is not, in  my experience, a right winger, a Trump supporter, or a crazy person. Maybe a fan of alternative medicine, but that’s about it.

Maybe a month ago, she sent me a link to an article from the Mountain  Home Magazine (reaching parts of Pennsylvania and the Finger Lakes in New York) entitled “The Drug that Cracked Covid.”  The article included a long profile of Dr. Pierre Kory, a critical care physician who, at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, became a fierce advocate of off-label uses of existing drugs. One of those drugs is Ivermectin.

Ivermectin is medication used to treat parasite infections in both humans and animals. It is the “horse dewormer” of so many recent memes.

Although not particularly dangerous in small doses, Ivermectin is contra-indicated in large doses, where it can cause issues with neurotoxicity, including depression of the central nervous system, and potentially even coma and death. There is, of course, no reason that a medicine that treats parasite infections should be useful against a highly transmissible respiratory-based viral infection. But I’ll leave that argument to the scientists.

Ivermectin joins a long list of miracle cures for Covid-19 including:

  • Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine (Donald Trump’s favorite drug)
  • Certain vitamins, including Vitamin D
  • Chinese herbal remedies
  • Common cold and flu treatment like aspirin and antihistamines
  • Cow dung and urine (in parts of India)
  • 2-Deoxy-D-glucose
  • Silver
  • Mustard oil
  • Spiritual healing

What is interesting about all this is the degree to which people want to use medications other than those recommended by the scientists and experts: namely vaccines.

I’ve previously discussed Andew Wakefield and his false connection between childhood vaccines and autism. But why the hostility to vaccines in general?

While the Covid-19 vaccines can cause a day or two of discomfort, they cause almost no other problems, and we now have the data for many of the approximately 5 billion humans who have received at least one dose of a vaccine, and the approximate 2 billion humans who have now been fully vaccinated. 

If the vaccines caused major problems, we would know that by now.

And still, the number of people who are vaccine-hesitant is extraordinary, as is the number of people who would rather take a “horse dewormer” than just take an effing vaccine.

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I’m tired of arguing with Vaccine-skeptics. Do we argue about whether Drunk Driving is Wrong? The answer is No.

I’ve been reading some articles lately about how one might be able to persuade vaccine-skeptics and anti-maskers that it really would be better it they were to change their positions to come into tune with public health guidelines.

Screw that, I say.

Do we try to convince drivers that it’s not a good idea to drive drunk? No. We arrest them and put them in jail.

In Massachusetts we have “social host liability,” for crying out loud, where you can be held legally liable if you host a party and one of your guests gets drunk, drives home, and causes an accident on the way.

The scientific evidence for vaccines are overwhelming. If fact, unlike Jesus Christ, these vaccines really are a miracle!

The scientific evidence for masking the unvaccinated is overwhelming. (The evidence for masking the vaccinated is more ambiguous.)

Let’s stop arguing with these people. Make new rules:

  • If you want to be a state or federal employee, get the vaccine.
  • If you want to be a health care worker, get the vaccine.
  • If you want to work in a job that has regular customer contact, get the vaccine.
  • If you want to eat in a restaurant, get the vaccine.
  • If you want to go see a movie or a show, get the vaccine.
  • If you want to go into a ballpark, get the vaccine.
  • If you want to go on a cruise, get the vaccine.
  • If you want to fly to another country, get the vaccine.

If you don’t want to get the vaccine, then kiss your job goodbye.

If you don’t want to get the vaccine, then kiss goodbye the opportunity for eating out, for recreating, for vacationing, or for traveling.

If you don’t want to get the vaccine, then at least mask up.

If you don’t want to do any of these things, then sit at home and complain about vaccine-fascism on the Internet. But stay out of the rest of our lives, because you’re as irresponsible as a drunk driver, and we’re tired of arguing with you.

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All the so-called experts on Afghanistan should just sit down and shut up.

Now that the Afghani government has collapsed like a house of cards, and the Taliban are firmly in control, I hear various “experts” being interviewed on the radio or on television about what happened.

All these experts should just sit the fuck down and just shut the fuck up.

The experts could not have been more wrong about Afghanistan. It’s not just that they know nothing, they know less than nothing. Almost everything they’ve been telling us for the last 20 years has been completely wrong. And this is not a partisan issue: both Democrats (Barack Obama) and Republicans (George W. Bush and Donald Trump) have been on the wrong side of this issue. And, to give Trump some credit, he was the first President who recognized that this was an unwinnable war.

Of course, Trump completely botched the negotiations with the Taliban, by announcing his withdrawal dates way ahead of time. When Biden inherited the situation he decided to go ahead and continue the evacuation of the American military from Afghanistan. We were supposed to have until the end of August to get our people out, but the complete collapse of the Afghan military caught us by surprise.

Is this Biden’s fault? I have no idea.

The Republicans, of course, want to lay the blame for all this on Biden, even though it was there guy, #45, who initiated the whole thing.

Geesh, imagine the Republicans being hypocrites about this. It’s so different compared to how they’ve been about everything else for the last four years.

I do think that this question — why did we waste more than $2 trillion dollars and 6294 American lives over 20 years to prop up a country that had no interest in propping up itself — would benefit from a “9/11” style commission, to really get some clarity about how we could have gotten this so completely wrong.

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It Doesn’t Matter how much longer we stay in Afghanistan, they will never be “safe” from the Taliban

Is it a total bummer that the Taliban are soon going to take over most, if not all of Afghanistan?

Sure it is.

But here’s the thing: it’s their country. The Taliban are Afghanis. It’s their own civil war.

I grieve, like everybody else, for the young women who won’t get an education now, the interpreters who cooperated with the Americans who will be hunted down now, the intellectuals who will be silenced now.

But this is a country that no one can control. The Soviet Union was there for nine years, and they couldn’t get the country under control. We’ve been there for 19 years. How much longer are we supposed to stay?

The place is never going to be “safe” from the Taliban. We can’t protect them forever, so they will have to protect themselves.

This is one are where, remarkably enough, both Joe Biden and Donald Trump essentially agree.

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A few disparate Thoughts on the Olympics

I’ve been pretty clear that I thought it was a mistake to hold the Olympics now in the midst of a resurging Pandemic, but hold them they did. NBC didn’t quite get what it wanted, as the ratings are apparently down quite a bit, and I’ll wait to hear how much money Tokyo lost without any foreign tourists (or even Japanese ticket-buyers). But they managed to get it done.

Simone Biles

Probably the biggest story coming out of the Olympics is Simone Biles and all the events she withdrew from after getting a case of the “twisties” and having to prioritize her mental health. How much pressure there was on Biles can be seen by the number of commercials that featured her in the last month. At least she should clean up financially, regardless of how many events she withdraws from.

I remember asking myself why Biles even wanted to come to these Olympics. She’s 24 now — which is ancient for an Olympic gymnast — and she already cleaned up at the 2016 Olympics, where she won six medals, four of which were gold, including the gold for the all-around best gymnast. In her career she has won 19 gold medals, including the Olympics and World Championships.

What did she have left to prove?

We are so obsessed, here in the United States, with being #1 at everything. Michael Phelps, between Athens (2004), Beijing (2008), London (2012) and Rio de Janeiro (2016) won an insane 23 gold medals, including 28 medals overall. That’s more medals than most countries have won — for example, Ecuador (2 gold, 3 overall), Israel (1 gold, 11 overall) or Algeria (5 gold, 17 overall). It’s more than even some very big countries, like Nigeria (3 gold, 25 overall) or even India (9 gold, 29 overall), with its estimated population of 1.35 billion inhabitants.

Biles joins Naomi Osaka in getting us to look at the mental health of athletes, an issue that is long overdue. She’s already the greatest gymnast of all time, she really had nothing left to prove.

Russian Olympic Committee

The Russians brought a team this year that could not officially compete under the Russian flag. That’s because the Russians have been engaging in rather flagrant doping for years. In fact, systematic doping by the Russians has resulted in more than 200 Russian athletes caught doping at the Olympic games, with 43 medals having been stripped from Russian competitors (which is more than 30% of the global total). In 2019 the World Anti-Doping Agency banned Russia from all major sporting events including the Olympic Games for four years. That ban was later reduced to two years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

So now the Russians can compete — with a few exceptions for individual athletes who were found to have violated doping rules more recently — but only under the banner of the “Russian Olympic Committee,” and only by hearing a snippet from Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1.

So what?

The Russians are still competing and still counting up their medals.  They still racked up 71 medals, including 20 gold, which is third after the United States and China.

I don’t know what the proper sanction is for Russia’s state-sponsored doping program. I just know that this — making their athletes listen to Tchaikovsky and not allowing them to march behind their flag — doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. The previous champion for Olympic doping was, of course, the old East German state, many of whose female athletes looked like they had been feeding on cow hormones. But I don’t think the current sanctions are going to discourage the Russians much.

(NPR has a very interesting article on how the Olympic medal table explains the world.)

Sports that don’t need to be in the Olympics

There are several sports that really don’t need to be in the Olympics because they get plenty of attention on their own.  The three at the top of that list for me would include:

  1. Tennis, which has four highly publicized “Grand Slam” championships every year.
  2. Golf, which has four highly publicized “Major Championships” championships every year.
  3. Men’s soccer, which has the World Cup, the European Championships, the Copa America, and world tournaments for Under-17, Under-18, Under-19 and Under-21 players. (Women’s soccer also has a World Cup and several other tournaments, but is a more arguable case.)

There are other sports that have major international championships, including baseball, basketball, rugby, and ice hockey in the winter olympics. 

The sports I want to see are the ones that you never see but every four years:  table tennis, archery, skeet shooting, team handball, volleyball, badminton, kayaking, fencing, judo, rowing, sport climbing, diving, trampoline, water polo, and yes, even swimming. 

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I’m completely losing patience with Climate-Deniers, Anti-Vaxxers, and People who still believe the Big Lie

I’ve been doing a slow burn that is turning into an unmodulated rage when it comes to three categories of people:

  • Climate deniers
  • Anti-vaxxers
  • People still believing the Big Lie

Taking them in order.

Climate deniers

For the second year in a row, the western United States is basically one gigantic forest fire. The fires have been so intense this year, that smoke from the fires have made it all the way out to the East Coast, to New York and Boston, and we are having air quality warnings urging us not to exercise outdoors.

At the same time, on the East Coast we are being inundated with rain like never before, causing massive amounts of floods. In my home city of Worcester, we broke the record for rainfall in the month of July on July 20th, or less than two-thirds of the way through the month.

In Germany and Belgium, and in China, and in India, and in Sri Lanka, and in Eastern Australia, there have been unprecedented floods as the result of unnatural amounts of rainfall.

Climate change isn’t “coming,” it’s already among us. And yet, we have huge numbers of idiots still denying that climate change is either dangerous or man-made.

If these idiots want to deny science, they should get off the Internet and give back their computers, tablets and cell phones, because none of these things work without science.

Anti-vaxxers

Earlier in 2020 a miracle happened: scientists developed not just one, but more than a dozen vaccines worldwide, including vaccines based on messenger RNA (which had never successfully been developed before). If you talked to anybody last year who had expertise in the development of vaccines — as I managed to do — those people were probably tamping down your expectations about how quickly these vaccines could be developed and how effective they would be.

Well, scientists around the world, many working in coordination, exceeded just about everyone’s expectations.

And that should have been the beginning of the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, at least here in the United States, if people had actually committed to taking the vaccine.  

Joe Biden wanted to deliver us our “independence from Covid” by July 4th, and we could have gotten there with a little bit of cooperation.

Instead, we now have the delta variant, the reimposition of mask mandates, and people begging for the vaccine as they are being intubated when it finally dawns on them that the pandemic is not a hoax.

Fuck these people. 

Fuck people like Phil Valentine — a Tennessee radio host who is now singing a different song after having been infected with Covid — for all the damage he already did mocking people who were getting themselves vaccinated before the virus finally came for him. 

Okay, maybe don’t fuck him, he can actually help. But he certainly deserves the time he’s spent in the hospital and the discomfort he’s endured.

The Big Lie

And finally, the big lie. Newsflash: Trump did not win the 2020 election, and he’s not getting reinstated in August.

This is about one thing and one thing only: the supercalifragilistic ego of one unreconstructed malignant narcissist, Donald Trump, who just cannot accept that he lost to a “sleepy” guy who once was a stutterer.

There is no “policy” involved here, no greater truth that his supporters are seeking to reveal. It’s one guy, so out of touch with reality, that he just cannot deal with the fact that he lost.

Loser!

Now, the Republicans are taking advantage of the moment to enact laws designed to produce voter suppression, but that’s just a strategy of convenience. Needless to say, the same Republicans who claim there was voter fraud in the Presidential election make no claims of voter fraud based on the very same ballots on which they were elected.

Hypocrites!

And somehow, we’re supposed to “make nice” with these people because their feelings have been hurt by critical race theory, a theory taught in law school, and which almost no regular Republicans understand.

Fuck these people.

They’ve been hating on us for decades because we’ve asked them to pay women the same as men, to accept gay marriages, or not to use racial epithets. They are so invested in the culture wars. They think that we will fold in the face of their intransigence, but they may find that they’ve finally pushed us too far.

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Second-generation Germans know what it is like to be on the wrong side of History

I know what it’s like to be on the wrong side of history, an experience that my Trump-supporting conspiracy-theorizing friends may eventually understand.

I’m a “second generation” German. And no one likes the Germans.

So, just to point out the obvious, no one “both sides” the Holocaust. Nobody believes that there were “good people” among the extermination camp guards, just as there were obviously many good people among the Holocaust victims.

One of the things you have to try to understand as a “second generation” German is how your people, the people you love and grew up with, could be involved with something as incomprehensible as the Holocaust. The second generation has done a lot of soul searching, trying to understand what happened and how to make sure it never happens again. It’s also made us, I dare say, suspicious of authority and especially sensitive to propaganda.

Anti-German prejudice is still alive today, 76 years after the end of World War II. It’s demonstrated in things like the British public booing the German National Anthem during the UEFA European Championship at Wembley, when the English and Germans played a soccer match.

Now, believing Trump’s Big Lie and supporting the insurrectionists is obviously not like supporting the Holocaust. But it’s still on the wrong side of history. And at some point many of the people who support Trump and his Big Lie will be hugely embarrassed by the degree to which they’ve been had by the Great Conman, but more importantly, their friends and loved ones may be hugely embarrassed by the degree to which they ended up on the wrong side of history.

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You can thank Andrew Wakefied for being the Anti-Borlaug and one of the principal drivers of Vaccine-Hesitancy

Norman Borlaug is sometimes credited as “the man who fed the world.” An American agronomist, Borlaug developed semi-dwarf, high-yield, disease-resistant wheat varieties which were introduced to Mexico, Pakistan, and India. Borlaug has been estimated to have saved “over a billion people worldwide” from starvation. Not surprisingly, he was feted with a lot of prizes, including the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.

At the opposite end of the spectrum we could put Andrew Wakefield, a British physician and researcher who was one of the principal perpetrators in the Lancet autism fraud, a 1998 study that falsely claimed a link between the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and autism. Ever since then a significant number of people have believed that there is a connection between various vaccines and autism, which is false. The initial study was retracted and it was later found that Wakefield and his colleagues had faked some of the data.

That, of course, has not prevented celebrities like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (who should know better) and Jenny McCarthy (who knows almost no science to begin with) to continue to promote conspiracy theories relative to vaccines and autism.

The autism fraud isn’t necessarily the progenitor of vaccine hesitancy — which has existed to some degree since vaccines were invented — but it has boosted vaccine hesitancy enormously. And that has, of course, contributed to the current hesitancy by millions of people to take one of the Covid-19 vaccines. RFK Jr., in particular, was complicit in promoting a film that targeted black Americans with false anti-vaccine information.

At this point, with many Americans properly vaccinated, Covid-19 is becoming “a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” Honestly, I wouldn’t even care — if Trump supporters and anti-vaxxers want to kill themselves in a global act of Darwin awardism, that’s up to them — except that their oppositional behavior is keeping Covid-19 alive. We’re now in the surge of the Delta variant, the fourth major mutation of the original Covid-19 infection.

Jesus Fucking Christ!  Most of these people also consider themselves to be Christians, to complete the circle of irony.

In any case, you can thank Andrew Wakefield — who is still alive and still causing trouble — for being the anti-Borlaug and one of the principal contributors to today’s rise of vaccine-hesitancy.

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