Monday, August 30, 2021

Right-Wing Anti Vaccine Death Scorecard Episode 3, or Here I Thought I'd Be Blogging About TV and Cats and Yeah...Hurricanes

 Yesterday was the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and New Orleans "celebrated" in its own unique way by getting clobbered by yet another Category 4 hurricane, this one with the diner waitress name of "Ida." I'd say I don't know how people live there, except that I have a cousin who does (thankfully, he and his family evacuated and their home is still standing), and they have cool things there like funky people and Mardi Gras house floats in a pandemic and I'm told they have great food (though I've never been there yet) and of course they have my beloved Villalobos Rescue Center, which has a facility in New Orleans itself and another in Assumption Parish, which I believe had the eye pass if not over, then very close.  Villalobos could really use donations since they are not filming their TV show.

 Ida is making its way across Middle Trumpekistan before brushing the Italian-American Diaspora of Northern New Jersey and then making its way out to sea or expiring, whichever comes first. Of course, those great anti-government, Trump-lovin' good Christian denizens of Trumpekistan will be the first to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and rebuild their own Little House on the Flood Plain with their bare hands, thereby living up to the same bullshit American mythology that they demand of others.

Yeah. Right. And I am Marie of Rumania.

Meanwhile, the carnage continues as macho Men Without Masks continue to drop like flies, including, of course, talk show hosts, which makes me wonder how the QAnon nutballs haven't gotten around to blaming the Clintons or George Soros yet. The latest one of these is a guy named Marc Bernier, who went so far as to refer to himself as "Mr. Anti-Vax" and insisting that government advocacy of COVID-19 vaccines for the benefit of public health was JUST LIKE Nazi Germany. I'm telling you, these guys would have been the FIRST ones ratting out their Jewish neighbors in the REAL Nazi Germany. Mr. Bernier has joined his compatriots Phil Valentine and Dick Farrel in wherever hatemongers go to await the form of their reincarnation. We can only hope it's something like garden slug, which would at least be appropriate.

Slugs for Salt! | In the Dark

Then there's Robert David Steele, a former CIA officer and QAnon dupe who prided himself on being the first to call COVID-19 a hoax and insisted that Trump would be reinstated, has died of COVID-19  A friend of his insisted that "Steele’s doctors hooked him up to a ventilator only to make Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, look bad."

I have to wonder if we are going to turn into a nation of widows before this is all over. Yes, there are women dying from COVID, but the preponderance of right-wing anti-mask, anti-vaxx, Trumpazoids who are dying seem to be men. Is this resistance just part of the Great American Male Tantrum that has been going on this country since a black man was inaugurated as president on January 20, 2008 and has never really stopped? Or are these all men with underlying health issues like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and such, exacerbated by rage, who have stubbornly refused to ever see a doctor and when COVID hit, they paid the price?  

Meanwhile, one of the angriest of angry men, young Madison Cawthorn, who the people of North Carolina's 11th district in a fit of madness decided was fit to serve in Congress, is taking his frustrations about his own questionable manhood out by advocating another January 6 insurrection, highlighted by breaking out those jailed for the first one out of jail. This is the fantasy of incel gamers, not something that one used to expect from a sitting Congressman, but Mr. Cawthorn is all about clicks, outrage and attention (what he calls "comms") instead of, say, actual legislating, which may be why Nancy Pelosi is letting him throw his tantrum and ignoring him. The jury is still out on whether this is wise, though perhaps betting on an uneducated boy with anger management issues who once beat the crap out of a dead tree to prove himself a tough guy focusing on saying outrageous things instead of, you know, Congressionmanning,  is ultimately far less dangerous. I'm not so sure. Enough people in hippie Asheville found his story "inspiring" despite press before the 2020 election revealing his pattern of lying about pretty much everything about himself being available.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Right-Wing Anti Vaccine Death Scorecard Episode 2, or What's It Going To Take To Make These People Wake Up?

 Today's scorecard starts with Lexington, Kentucky pastor Tim Parsons, who died after his church had advised parishioners not to worry about COVID because "God is in Control."  

As someone who does not believe in the Great White Alpha Male In The Sky Who Micromanages Individual Lives and Grants Wishes like a Bottle Genie, this kind of thing makes me nuts. I've never had patience with this, and I started having less after Mr. Brilliant was diagnosed with bladder cancer in March 2013 and I was plowing through online communities looking for other people for him to talk with and every time someone would go into remission, it would be because "God is good."  I always wondered how that made the people feel whose cancer didn't respond to treatment or who had a recurrence. I see it in the moyamoya groups now, where successful cerebrovascular bypass is credited to God and the skilled neurosurgeon who DRILLED INTO THEIR SKULL is ,what, chopped liver? 

This morning I watched this lovely video of how The Neurosurgeon Formerly Known At The Old Place As Dr. Chess Club saved a baby from a DIFFERENT congenital brain disorder, and if the parents had credited God instead of the good doctor, I think my head might have exploded.

It's infuriating because this belief in a micromanaging deity protecting the anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers from COVID because they pray, or go to the right church, is not just causing unnecessary deaths, but these people see their pastors, their kids' teachers, and the owner of the local convenience store die, and yet they still somehow think their deity doesn't want them to wear a mask. I just don't get it.

Then we have this rocket scientist, Georgia police captain Joe Manning, who died this week at age 57, leaving behind a wife, three children, eight grandchildren, and a Facebook page full of anti-vaccine messages and advocacy of Ivermectin as a COVID treatment.

Why are these people so UNwilling to try to prevent COVID, but so eager to try whatever snake oil QAnon kooks and right-wing talk show hosts can cook up? Distrust in the medical establishment is nothing new; the growth of the anti-vaccine movement has been occurring for at least a decade and a half, with high-profile anti-vaxxers such as Robert Kennedy Jr. and possible future Jeopardy host and "nerve supplement" snake oil pitchperson Mayim Bialik disseminating erroneous information from a since-discredited study about vaccines and autism. Then there's the Great Conspiracy (TM) to keep "natural cancer cures" -- plants you can grow at home -- away from us in the name of Big Pharma Money, never explaining how pharma is keeping plants anyone can grow away from us. 

Yes, some drugs have adverse effects, and some cancer treatments don't work,, or don't work for all kinds of cancer, and occasionally there is data manipulation and big drug scandals like DES and thalidomide (the latter of which has demonstrated effectiveness in some forms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma) and Baycol. And yes, the active ingredient in the statin drug lovastatin (monacolin K) comes from red yeast rice, which meant that all red yeast rice supplements sold in the US have this removed. BUT....when was the last time you saw someone with a new case of polio? Never, right? Especially if you are under 40. You know why? Vaccines.

And now we move onto our third tragedy of the day in the person of Caleb Wallace. Wallace has been hospitalized with COVID-19 since early August after self-medicating with vitamin C, zinc, an inhaler, and -- wait for it -- Ivermectin. According to his wife on the family's GoFundMe page, he will be moved to comfort care tomorrow. If this is anything like the comfort care Mr. Brilliant had, it will involve removal of the ventilator and what's called palliative sedation -- enough fentanyl to allow the person to let go painlessly. 

This one punches me in the gut because I've been in Jessica Wallace's situation (only I wasn't eight months pregnant the way she is), and it's awful.  Caleb Wallace may be an archetypal Trumpazoid:

In addition to the rally, Caleb organized "The San Angelo Freedom Defenders," a group "to educate and empower citizens to make informed choices concerning local, statewide, and national policy and to encourage them to actively participate in their duty to secure God-given and constitutionally protected rights," as stated on the group's Facebook page.

...but his wife is not. I can't fault her for not nagging him to change his mind, because men will dig in their heels the more you nag them. Or perhaps she tried and took the path of least resistance. In the latest update on the GoFundMe page, she says "I prayed he’d come out of this with a new perspective and more appreciation for life. " 

How do you grieve for someone who put erroneous beliefs, politics and fealty to a carnival barker over being there for his wife and kids? I am not about to judge a woman with three small children and another one on the way who has hospital bills piling up, a husband for whom she has had to make "the decision," who has to deal with the vitriol of people venting their frustration about anti-vaxxers and who has to resort to crowdfunding to keep her head above water -- especially one who ISN'T an anti-vaccine anti-masker. I'll be thinking of her tomorrow because I do know what it's like.

What's it going to take? When is this madness of horse dewormers and bleach drinking and other assorted fuckery hawked by people with no expertise going to stop? When is self-destruction going to be decoupled from the idea of "freedom"? I already know the answer, and it's "never." Because when we didn't care enough about 20 dead children in Newtown, Connecticut to do something sensible about guns because people like the guys now dying of COVID in the name of "freedom" are so terrified of a Black Planet that they have to pack an AR-15 to go to Walmart, that's when we should have realized that in the United States of America, "Christian conservatism" is a death cult.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Right-Wing Anti Vaccine Death Scorecard Episode 1, or Sure, What The Hell, Let's Do This

 Two weeks ago I pondered how much compassion we should have for those who chose to refuse COVID vaccination  for political reasons and then became seriously ill. Since I mentioned Tennessee right-wing talk show host Phil Valentine, a particularly vile breed of climate change-denying, faux-deficit-hawk, Hillary-hatin', and yes, vaccine-avoidin' hatemonger in that post, I should now mention that he will never be able to become the most "pro-vaccine person who ever lived" because he died yesterday after being on a ventilator, his lungs destroyed from COVID Delta, for two weeks.

In December 2020, he wrote on his blog (not going to link to it; you can find it yourself:

How's that America workin' for ya now, Phil? How'd that "personal health assessment" go?

Then on Thursday, a South Carolina legislator with the It Doesn't Get Any More Southern Than This name of Presley Stutts has died after six days on a ventilator. Before he was put on the ventilator, he was tweeting Big Lie and COVID conspiracy theories right down to the bitter end.

Here he is calling vaccination an "ungodly initiative" in June:


And this racist hatemongering from July 23: