Saturday, August 07, 2021


The billionaires who fund the Republican Party are worried that the post-pandemic boom they anticipated might be slipping away as a result of the Delta variant; either that or they fear that, for once, the public might hold Republican politicians accountable for their actions, blaming them for rising COVID case levels, hospitalizations, and deaths. That can't be allowed to happen! The midterms are coming up! "Own the libs -- don't get vaxxed" seems to be working well as a base motivator, but if there's a backlash, the plutocracy might never get the GOP wave election it craves.

And so some right-wing politicians and commentators are now doing what their paymasters want by encouraging vaccination, after months of valorizing the refusers. But how do you make a 180 like that plausible?

Future Arkansas governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders did it in a recent op-ed by attacking President Biden, Anthony Fauci, and The New York Times while praising Donald Trump. And now we have the Manhattan Institute's Heather Mac Donald, taking a break from her usual work of denying that police racism exists and blaming Black people for everything bad that happens to them, to tell readers of the World edition of The Spectator that rejecting vaccines is bad -- in fact, it's so bad that it reminds her of the way those evil disinformationist liberals talk!
Until recently, progressive elites had cornered the market in COVID irrationality. They shut down society to prevent one particular threat to human health, oblivious to the costs of that shutdown on the rest of human flourishing. They used a zero-tolerance approach to COVID risk, arguing that if lockdowns prevented just one death from COVID, as New York governor Andrew Cuomo insisted early on, the destruction of social and economic capital would be worth it. They inflated the toll that COVID was allegedly taking on human life, counting hospital admissions and deaths with COVID as hospital admissions and deaths from COVID. They hyped case counts as tantamount to death counts and refused to compare COVID deaths with other sources of human mortality.
Also, libs are the real vaccine denialists!
Progressive safetyism reached its reductio ab absurdum when COVID vaccines appeared on the scene. European and American authorities halted vaccine campaigns upon the discovery of a small number of blood clots among the vaccinated and an even smaller number of blood-clot related deaths.
Every country resumed mass vaccination as quickly as possible, with the enthusiastic encouragement of the authorities, but to Mac Donald, this is the quintessence of anti-vaccine irrationality.

Oh, and it's bad when liberals talk about the Delta variant and infections among the vaccinated.
Now the progressive elites are caught again between two tempting sources of hysteria, like a donkey caught between two bales of hay: should they flog the threat from the allegedly dread Delta variant, or from breakthrough infections among the vaccinated? Focusing on the first threat should diminish the significance of the second, as the lesser of two evils. But the virus hysterics are having it both ways, in order to rekindle peak COVID terror.
I'm pretty sure we're seeing more breakthrough infections than we expected precisely because Delta is more contagious and transmissible than previous versions of the virus. But Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith fellow at the Manhattan Institute and I'm just some schmuck blogger, so who am I to argue?

All this is meant as a setup for Mac Donald's thesis: that anti-vaxx right-wingers are almost as irrational as evil liberals.
When Donald Trump was in the White House, conservatives lauded Operation Warp Speed. They viewed Pfizer’s decision not to seek emergency authorization for its COVID vaccine until after the November 2020 election as an attempt to deny Trump a much-needed and deserved boost at the ballot box. Liberals, meanwhile, from Kamala Harris to Andrew Cuomo, expressed skepticism about the safety of a Trump-overseen vaccine. Now that Joe Biden is president, the conservative outer fringes are portraying COVID vaccines as bioweapons designed by ‘globalist psychopaths’, while liberals are decrying vaccine hesitancy as a pathology of right-wingers, ignoring the even higher rate of skepticism among blacks.
This is Heather Mac Donald, so everything is Black people's fault, of course. But polls showed that vaccine skepticism was much higher among Republicans than Democrats last year, when Trump was still president; even though he'd touted Operation Warp Speed, once the vaccines were approved for use, everyone knew which party was more enthusiastic about them.

The anti-vaxxers on the right weren't an "outer fringe." They were mainstream Republicans.

Now, here's Mac Donald's best argument -- best because it's almost true.
The media and the numerous Democratic interest groups will never stop hyping COVID case counts as a way to keep society in lockdown or its next best alternatives: universal masking and crippling social distancing rules. If the last year and a half has taught anything, it is that no amount of rational argument can counter the siren song of fear. The only way to defeat the case count racket and return human life to some semblance of normalcy is to eliminate rising case counts entirely. Vaccines are a proven way of doing so, whose risks at this point pale in comparison with the destructiveness of COVID hysteria. Conservatives should be promoting their use....
Pick your way through the liberal-bashing talk of a conspiracy to inflate case counts and you come to an accurate statement: The best way to decrease the risk of this virus is vaccination.

It's good that she's saying this, but will her approach work? Let me sum up what she's written:
Liberals are evil. Liberals are evil. Liberals are evil. Liberals are evil. Liberals are evil. Liberals are evil. Liberals are evil. Liberals are evil. You should get vaccinated. Liberals are evil. Liberals are evil. Liberals are evil.
And her specific focus on the idea that liberals have been inflating case counts for sinister reasons (libs crave social control! they love masks and lockdowns!) thoroughly undermines her advocacy for the vaccines. If COVID isn't as dangerous as the numbers say it is, who needs a vaccine?

All of Mac Donald's readers know that it's liberals who are promoting vaccination. They're not going to buy this. They're certain that they're owning us quite effectively by not getting vaxxed. They're not about to believe someone who tells them they can own us by changing their minds.

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