May I Quote You?

As regular readers have probably noticed, the subject-matter with which I engage here is generally prompted by something I’ve read or seen. I do try very hard not to rely on lengthy quotations in these daily blogs–instead, I try to distill the message being conveyed, and to add my own observations/analyses/pontifications.

But sometimes I encounter writing that absolutely begs to be quoted, an argument framed  so perfectly that an attempt to rephrase would be less effective. That’s the case with this essay from The Week, titled “The Republican Pandemic Response Is Breaking My Brain,” by Ryan Cooper. So with your indulgence, I will share more quotes than usual, beginning with his sub-head “Give me horse paste or give me death?”

Cooper began with a recitation of what sentient Americans know: despite the availability of an effective vaccine, the pandemic is getting much worse, especially in several states governed by Republicans.

At the same time, conservative elites are doing their level best to spread the virus as much as possible, even as COVID-19 is killing conservatives by the thousands. It’s willful, malign negligence on a mind-boggling scale…

Yet Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is still in a ferocious dispute with his state’s school districts about mask mandates, as his state’s pediatric ICU beds are swamped. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently issued an (almost certainly unconstitutional) order banning any institution receiving public funds from requiring vaccines. South Dakota recently held the Sturgis motorcycle rally again with the furious support of Gov. Kristi Noem — despite the fact that the state is trailing in vaccination and last year the rally created a pandemic charnel house. Unsurprisingly, cases there are once again shooting through the roof.

Cooper writes that the story currently breaking his brain is the “recent plague of conservatives poisoning themselves with veterinary deworming paste.”

As Jef Rouner explains at Houston Press, the formula is simple and lucrative: raise fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the vaccines with complicated but false arguments that are hard for a layman to untangle, launder extreme claims by interviewing total lunatics, all while recommending unproven miracle remedies the shadowy Big Pharma conspiracy is supposedly suppressing. Then when you get in trouble for spreading antivaccine lies during a global pandemic, scream that you’re being “censored” to get more attention, and watch the subscription numbers jump.

Cooper goes through the reasons sane people would not consume a deworming paste (somehow, he omits noting the inconsistency of “curing” a disease these people insist is a hoax) and points out that deworming paste is “flying off the shelves, some doctor in Arkansas is giving it to prisoners, and calls to poison control centers are skyrocketing across the South. Facebook groups are full of stories of poisoned people suffering severe diarrhea and expelling “rope worms,” which turn out to be almost certainly shreds of intestinal lining.”


The horse paste saga is a perfect window into the conservative mindset that is currently the biggest force fueling the pandemic. The core behavior here is muleheaded, selfish spitefulness, adhered to even at great personal risk. “Freedom” for movement conservatives is entirely one-directional: They get to spray virus fog whenever and wherever they want, and they also get to force you or your kids to not wear a mask.

Because that behavior is so monstrous, there is a large incentive to make up comforting lies about how the pandemic is exaggerated or fake, or the vaccines don’t work — much facilitated by the fact that consuming right-wing media for very long tends to turn your brain into horse paste. Some right-wing voices pushing this line actually believe it, as shown by the lamented dead above. But others are just cynical — Abbott recently came down with COVID, but it turns out he had not only been vaccinated but also had already gotten a booster shot, and was getting daily tests, so had a very mild case.

Finally, because the financial engine of the conservative media complex is tricking gullible retired people into buying brain pills and reverse mortgages, conservatives are easy pickings for cynical and/or deluded grifters hawking snake oil remedies when they do contract COVID after coughing into each other’s face at the Cheesecake Factory to own the libs.

Yet another wave of completely pointless death seems to be motivating a lot of people to finally get vaccinated — but thus far the procrastinators, not the ideological, hard core antivaxxers. Even when Donald Trump tried to argue for the vaccine at a rally in Alabama recently, he was booed. It seems the pandemic will keep burning out of control until just about every conservative vaccine refusenik has gotten COVID. Another few months ought to do it.

We need a cure for crazy. Probably not a vaccine…


  1. Sadly, what we are seeing is natural selection.
    Even if Carlson and Limbaugh and Bannon and the Useful Idiot 45 are not Manchurian Candidates working for Putin, they could not have been more effective in destroying America.

  2. Like I’ve said, if I didn’t have a conscience to live with, there is plenty of money to be made off the gullible fools. Even Trump stated how gullible they were, and they still don’t care.

    DeSantis is still withholding money from school districts that refuse his mandate NOT to mask even though the court ruled against him. He knows the appeals court will rule in his favor since Koch’s have been packing the courts in their states with Federalist Society judges. It’s how they’ve further protected themselves from the will of the people. You may win against an elected judge, but the next levels are owned by them.

    I am convinced they are doing the same thing with our election systems. It won’t matter what happens at the polls.

    Until the press becomes free and the politicians become uncorrupted, it’s going to get uglier and uglier.

    There is a big chunk heading right off the cliff…

  3. Something has to be leaking through? The cognitive dissonance has to be ringing like a bell for people that believe all of the lies.

    There has to be a special place in hell for somebody like Abbott that pushes lies that are killing people just for political gain.

    In a plague of guns, can reasonably avoid being shot by staying away from high risk areas, but in a real plague, staying away from COVID is harder. I am angry that my life has changed so much because the new right wing litmus test is the freedom to sabotage American public health.

  4. The news from here in sunny southwest Florida is that Governor DeMented has decided to ignore the court ruling that said he didn’t have the authority under the FL Constitution to stop mask mandates in counties. He’s decided to start with Broward (spelled Democratic) County by ordering state funds be withheld from the schools there.

    Meanwhile we get subjected to more and more total nonsense from anti-masker, anti-vaxxer, and anti-children conservatives as they bring bull horns and threats to anyone who is anti-them. Let’s pray that the next variant of COVID will impact the vocal chords first. I wonder if they ever listen to what they say.

  5. They are providing the cure for us, I guess. Hopefully it will burn out before it mutates again.

  6. Here’s some reading material to counter your argument. As much as people want to make it a red state / blue state issue, it’s NOT!
    All 20 people that comment on your daily “analysis” might find it hard to understand, but the some of us just read for amusement. The liberal bubble is exploding daily.

  7. “Both of these orders last week were issued in the dead of night. Their opinions were truncated, light on the details of their legal reasoning, and unsigned. Vote counts were not issued showing how each justice decided. And despite the enormous legal and human impact that the decisions inflicted, they were the product of rushed, abbreviated proceedings. The court did not receive full briefs on these matters, heard no oral arguments and overrode the normal sequence of appellate proceedings to issue their orders.

    Welcome to the “shadow docket”, the so-called emergency proceedings that now constitute the majority of the supreme court’s business. Minimally argued, rarely justified and decided without transparency, shadow docket orders were once a tool the court used to dispense with unremarkable and legally unambiguous matters.”

  8. Here’s something to amuse you and your ignorant and heartless friends, Becky. Two elderly neighbors of mine, one with end stage cancer and the other with end stage dementia, could not get admitted to the hospital over the weekend because all the beds were taken up by Covid cases.
    Shame on everyone who thinks this pandemic is not affecting more people than those who get the virus.

  9. The article cited by Becky uses a chart that does not differentiate between pre vaccine deaths and post vaccine deaths.
    Rush Limbaugh would be so proud.

  10. Theresa,
    I only read Sheila’s blog for amusement.
    Real news is quite sobering – just ask the families of 13 soldiers killed in Afghanistan due to a heinous act of incompetence and weakness.

  11. Becky, take your own advice and ask the families of 3,500 coalition soldiers who died in Afghanistan or the families of the over 20,000 injured Americans from that “war” due to three presidents each displaying in his own way incompetence and weakness. Only the current president had the courage and honesty to call it what it was and put an end to it.

  12. Oh Theresa, still making excuses for the demented and incompetent. The withdraw did not have to happen this way…. And the country was left in shambles to the taliban to terrorize woman, children and anyone not complying with strict Sharia law. Now they can proceed with their “Death to America” agenda.
    The liberals OWN this disaster and blood is on Joe’s hands.
    Go back to wringing your hands about covid and climate change. The results from the 2022 mid-terms will tell the true story of how Americans feel about ole Joe and the gang.
    I’m signing off for awhile- I’ve helped the comment count WAY too much today.

  13. Becky I briefly read the article and then noted that the journalist has Vermont as a red state. It is not. It’s a blue state. Really? The state of Sen. Bernie Sanders is red? I don’t think so. This makes the assertions questionable. But, of course, everyone can manipulate data be they a left or right media site. As a retired RN, I feel it is my ethical duty to wear a mask. I got the vaccine for the same reason. Every nurse should ask “What would Florence Nightingale tell me to do?” She was all about sanitation and infection control.

    It’s so simple. Do we revere life or not? I am so saddened by how the masks and vaccines have become politicized. We need a macho ad that simply says “Mask up and roll up your sleeves for a vaccine!”

  14. Becky must have been vaccinated before the horse paste cure was offered to the public. Her recommended post used one and two syllable words geared to the Trump followers level of reading comprehension and; like Trump himself, saying nothing of value. If she finds today’s blog a source of amusement, she will be in hysterics when we begin getting reports of the numbers of school children infected with Covid and as we wait for test results on their classmates currently in quarantine after having been directly exposed.

    The families of those 13 members of our military who were killed during the evacuation in Afghanistan are all aware they were acting to carry out Trump’s personal pact with the Taliban.

  15. If Patrick Henry were alive and present with us in these discussions, would his famous retort: “Give me liberty or give me death” have the same meaning in the context of explaining the basis for why people resist mandates designed to protect others and their own children from the fatal outcome of COVID-19 and variants now mutating ?

  16. its been awhile, greetings to the masses, ive been working on your highway infrastructure, and busy..ive come up with a new bumper sticker

    finest purveyors of

    this years labor day BBq for the locals and people i work with
    50 racks of smoked ribs,and briskets,w, con on cob, sunday noon..byob

  17. Well said, Sheila. Sad state of affairs with just about everything these days. Like Robin, I too am so saddened by how the masks and vaccines have become politicised. Let’s see how far people like Becky get by ignoring all the safety and health rules (& laws), especially when driving a vehicle. Unfortunately, as with those who don’t wear protective masks, they are not the only ones who get hurt or die when these rules are ignored. Agree with Teresa Bowers regarding the pull-out from Afghanistan: “ Only the current president had the courage and honesty to call it what it was and put an end to it.”

  18. Becky, “National Review?” really! Might as well have been written by Carlson, or Limbaugh. William Buckley Jr.? The man who gave conservatives the courage to put their Invectin out front?
    Trump did a phenomenal job of negotiating with the Taliban, cutting out the Afghan gov’t, which the RNC was proud to display on its web-site…until the fact that cutting out the afghan gov’t clearly became the reason the Afghan army realized that no-one had their back, and melted away.
    Whoever is telling you that Biden blew it, was weak, or whatever, is GASLIGHTING you! They know that you, and so many others are so ripe for it.

    The news from here, in rainy west central Florida, is that a fellow who was apparently suffering from heat-stroke, last Wednesday, was removed from our club-house by a team of paramedics, as one would hope would be the case. Half an hour later, he was returned to the club-house, because despite there being more than one hospital here, there were NO beds available in the area.
    Becky, do you nonstop for red lights,or move over when an ambulance, with siren screaming, approaches you? The Libertarian concepts of Ayn Rand, are pure garbage, and Rand Paul proves it every day. I know, he’s probably one of your heroes.

  19. Becky; after all of you previous insulting comments, I have no idea why you would single me out for that beautiful complement. There is no one I would or could be prouder of to have much in common with than President Joe Biden. I do thank you you.

  20. Oh gosh, I’m late to the party again and I missed all the broo-hah from ‘Becky’
    As always, anything from the National Review is suspect, just as anything from The Washington Examiner or Reason Media would be.
    I, too, was amazed how the editing dept of that publication missed the designation of Vermont as a red state.
    Additionally it’s hard to take the author of this piece seriously when he uses the term ‘partison or witchcraft’ in his description of the coverage of the virus.
    At any rate, the point is responsible people care enough about others to follow the rules for a safe society and not selfishly do whatever they want.
    As I told an anti-vaxxer ( church going, evangelical) recently, What part of “Love One Another’ do you not understand?

  21. What gets me in all of this is that I have not read much on why the GOP — until perhaps more recently — have done their best to kill Americans with COVID vaccine denials. Then it came to me recently after reading a lot more about ‘end-of-the-world’ as we know it, that there may be an answer to be found there. It is arguable that for a number of reasons including global warming that we may see extinction of life on our planet in our lifetimes. Yeah…not a nice thought but it’s a real possibility. Could Republican leadership be ahead of the game here — seeking to protect themselves and allies as much as possible from the coming cataclysm while screwing the rest of the world (America included)? Thoughts?

  22. Anthony,
    When I was attending a local evangelical church, there was so much talk ‘end times’ talk it was scary. As a back-slidden Catholic, I was surprised because I grew up with only one mention of Jesus’s return in the Gospels and it wasn’t dwelled on by the parish priest.
    Rather it was dicussed as what God expected up to do with our talents in His Kingdom.
    While the Church was frightening enough (think mortal sin and purgatory), at least they were focused on when Jesus DID come back, He’d better find you working with others and not sitting on a hilltop staring at the sky!
    Far too many Republicans are guilty of doing exactly what you suggest- cowardly living their lives hoping to hurry things along so THEY don’t have to suffer.
    Climate change? Who cares?
    Pandemic? Ppfft!
    Just take me home Lord, so I don’t have to hurt like those poor schmucks over there!

  23. Ah JoAnn, I wondered how you would respond to Becky – you did not disappoint! Gotta give credit though. Becky is willing to wade amongst all us “liberals” in her attempts to educate us regarding the “patriotic” (meaning conservative) side of the universe. Of course, anyone using the National Review as a source of truth laden facts, well, you know. Equally interesting is her support of the RW narrative, all the while touting her “vaccination” credentials. Bit of a conundrum there. I say, let her rant. We do need exposure to the other side in our attempts to understand the non understandable. Cheers!

  24. Anthony, I do harbor the thought that we may well see the end of life soon, maybe not in my already old age, though my “plan” is to stick around for another 20 years, but certainly before the end of the century. There are indications that we have blown past that “Tipping Point,” that’s for another discussion, but think of the blow-outs on the Yamal Peninsula, some years ago. However, I do not think that the GQP folks are thinking along the lines you suggest. Rather, I think, they are just sooo very caught up in their fear of loosing their ill gotten dominance. To concretize their bigoted, elitist hold on power, they would, it clearly appears, sacrifice people and Democracy itself.

  25. From NYT…. WASHINGTON — Of the flood of misinformation, conspiracy theories and falsehoods seeding the internet on the coronavirus, one common thread stands out: President Trump.

    That is the conclusion of researchers at Cornell University who analyzed 38 million articles about the pandemic in English-language media around the world. Mentions of Mr. Trump made up nearly 38 percent of the overall “misinformation conversation,” making the president the largest driver of the “infodemic” — falsehoods involving the pandemic.

    The study, to be released Thursday, is the first comprehensive examination of coronavirus misinformation in traditional and online media.

  26. Becky’s not the first magat to be vaccinated against truth and reality. Haven’t been here for awhile and with this live wire around, I won’t likely be back for awhile.

  27. From NYT… WASHINGTON — Of the flood of misinformation, conspiracy theories and falsehoods seeding the internet on the coronavirus, one common thread stands out: President Trump.

    That is the conclusion of researchers at Cornell University who analyzed 38 million articles about the pandemic in English-language media around the world. Mentions of Mr. Trump made up nearly 38 percent of the overall “misinformation conversation,” making the president the largest driver of the “infodemic” — falsehoods involving the pandemic.

    The study, to be released Thursday, is the first comprehensive examination of coronavirus misinformation in traditional and online media.

  28. If you use a MAC computer, in the Safari browser, go to the National Review article, click View (top bar) and Show Reader. You’ll get this:

    The Bitter Truth: There’s Still No Rhyme or Reason to COVID-19

    Charles C. W. Cooke August 30, 2021 1:52 PM

    The stats defy the spin: This pandemic does not hinge on whether the governor is a Democrat or Republican, whether restrictions are tight or loose. It does not care.

    Two presidents. Fifty states. One-hundred-and-ninety-five countries. A multitude of different approaches. And still, there’s no rhyme or reason to this pandemic.

    Vaccines help a great deal. That much we know. Beyond that, though, the coverage of the virus has mostly been partisanship and witchcraft. Here, current as of today, is the per-state death chart per 100,000 people in the United States:

    Top Articles Read More The Problem with Our Mournerin Chief
    Confusing, isn’t it? Try as you might, you will not find a plausible way of blaming this on that party or region or policy that you hate.

    A few days ago, the New York Times ran an excellent piece on the terrible spike in Florida. “Even a state that made a major push for vaccinations . . . can be crushed by the Delta variant,” the paper observed, while noting that “Florida ranks 21st among states and Washington, D.C., in giving people of all ages at least one shot.” Indeed, the Times noted, nobody is quite sure why this is happening. “Exactly why the state has been so hard-hit,” it concluded, “remains an elusive question” — not least because “other states with comparable vaccine coverage have a small fraction of Florida’s hospitalization rate.”

    Many of the Times’s readers were frightfully upset by this blunt assessment of the facts. On Twitter, MSNBC’s Kyle Griffin put his fingers in his ears and screamed, “This is not true.” “And,” he added, “you know it. Do better.” Soledad O’Brien, meanwhile, went so far as to describe the piece as “journalistic malpractice.” What a strange, neat little world some people have made for themselves.

    What Griffin, O’Brien, and others wanted the Times to say was that Red States Are Bad and Blue States Are Good — or, perhaps, as Paul Krugman argued over the weekend, that the North Is Good and the South Is Bad, Just Like During the Civil War. But this simply isn’t correct. If it were, what could possibly account for the death-rate pairings of New York and Mississippi? Of Alabama and Connecticut? Of Michigan and Arkansas? Of Texas and Delaware? Of Idaho and Colorado? For months, many in the press have banged on and on and on about Florida’s governor and then been shocked to learn that, even after a terrible spike — a spike that, mercifully, is beginning to fade — Florida’s record remains better than those of New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Michigan, and Illinois; that the number of children who have died in Florida (per capita) is not only exactly in line with the national average, but around five times lower than D.C.’s number, and just over half of New York’s; that, far from lagging behind, Florida’s vaccination rate is above the national average; and that, despite having a disproportionately old population, Florida sits in the bottom half for deaths among senior citizens. The state of Louisiana, which seems to get hit around the same time as Florida each time there is a wave of COVID-19 infections, currently boasts many policies that Florida does not — among them, an ongoing indoor mask mandate that applies even to the vaccinated, a statewide school-mask mandate for all students over the age of five, and, in the city of New Orleans, a system of vaccine passports. Despite this, Louisiana’s death rate is the fourth worst in the nation, while Florida — which has a much older population (as of 2020, Florida has the largest senior population in the union; Louisiana’s is 42nd) — sits in 20th place. What gives?

    Last night, ABC News reported that there is bad news coming out of Oregon — yes, the same Oregon that’s home to Governor Kate Brown, she of the innovative outdoor mask mandate for the vaccinated. “The death toll from COVID-19,” the outfit noted, “is climbing so rapidly in Oregon in some counties that the state has organized delivery of one refrigerated truck to hold the bodies and is sending a second one.” What, within our Good/Bad dichotomy, can have caused this, one must wonder? Has Governor Brown not frowned enough? Have Oregonians failed to burn a sufficient number of dead radio hosts in effigy? Does the state’s health director sport a bad haircut? Or could it be, perhaps, that this is a terrible virus, that it prompts unpredictable results, and that our present political hysteria is as poor a frame for understanding what is happening in New Jersey and Oregon as it is for understanding what is happening in Texas and Alaska?

    Israel, which has done everything that the loudest critics on the Left wanted America to do, is nevertheless stuck in the throes of a devastating surge. Israel has instituted repeated and draconian lockdowns (enforced by drone, no less); it has used nationwide mask mandates; it has vaccinated everyone early — and even added booster shots into the mix; and it has even instituted a system of vaccine passports. And, right now? Well, it’s getting crushed. Per NPR, despite becoming “the first country on Earth to fully vaccinate a majority of its citizens against COVID-19,” it now “has one of the world’s highest daily infection rates. . . . Nearly one in every 150 people in Israel today has the virus.” I wonder: Is Israel a Red State or a Blue State?

    Much as they would hate to hear this, it remains the case that the most vitriolic voices in our COVID debates are little more than glammed-up conspiracy theorists — the sort of narrow, monomaniacal, quackish people who, in an era not that far removed from our own, would have been selling leeches by the ton. The journalist David Aaronovitch argues that such people tend to fall back on their ideas because the volatility and complexity of the real world is simply too scary for them handle. It is much easier to believe that George W. Bush ordered 9/11 than to accept that America is vulnerable and life is unpredictable, because if George W. Bush ordered 9/11 you can prevent it from happening again by imprisoning him; whereas if 19 guys with box cutters carried out 9/11, it could probably happen again. So it is with COVID-19. It is much easier to believe that, if we put the people you like in charge of everything and make them say the right words on TV, the worst pandemic in a century will bend to their will than it is to accept that human beings are alarmingly susceptible to chaos.

    The uncomfortable truth is that, beyond developing, encouraging, and providing inoculation, there’s not much that any government can do to guarantee success — and, even when it does what it can, a lot of people are going to resist for reasons bad and good. In their transparent attempts to draw attention from President Biden’s disastrous performance in Afghanistan, certain pundits have begun shouting loudly that we should be paying more attention to the 1,000 or so COVID-19 deaths we’re seeing here in America each day. Well, okay then; let’s do that. While running for president, Joe Biden said he’d “shut down the virus.” It’s been seven months since he took over, and, after a lull, we are now back in crisis. The obvious question, then, is: Why is Biden failing so badly?

    And here’s the thing: If that’s an unfair question because it’s a little more “complicated” than that for Biden, then it’s an unfair question because it’s also a little more complicated than that for Phil Murphy, for Ron DeSantis, for Gretchen Whitmer, for Greg Abbott, and for everyone else who has had the misfortune to become a talisman during this terrible time. Given how polarized we are at present, one can easily comprehend why, in its early days, so many political obsessives thought it might be efficacious to use the pandemic as a stick. But now? Eighteen months in? It’s beyond time for them to shut the hell up.

    End of article. Fair use reproduction.

  29. Bravo Ormond! I highly respect anyone with the temerity to display the whole article. Whether you agree or not, you’re probably the only one to actually read the whole thing. We know JoAnn didn’t because she missed the 3 and 4 syllable words she claimed were nonexistent ???.
    Good night – signing off from my farm in
    northern Indiana – surrounded by the majesty of God’s creation.
    “Holy holy holy is the Lord God almighty. The whole earth is filled with his glory!!”

  30. Just for the record:
    1) I read the article
    2) As a scientist, it doesn’t pass muster
    3) As a scientist, I can tell you that “state-wide” numbers over the entirety of the epidemic are fairly meaningless
    4) Forget everything I said – one shouldn’t feed the trolls (I wondered why there were so many comments today) – I could give a lecture on SARS-CoV-2 from first principles – but it would bore everyone

    Bad rumor for the day – DeSantis will declare May 8 to be a state-wide day of mourning in Florida. DeSantis believes in life, especially for infectious organisms, so he will mourn the virucide of the Variola virus that caused smallpox, declared extinct on May 8, 1980 — due to vaccinations.

  31. From Carl Newman’s Twitter feed:

    Texas: where a virus has reproductive rights and a woman does not

  32. For the record, not a single red state guv took the pandemic seriously until it was too late to save hundreds of thousands of souls.

  33. COVID is curing some of the craziness. The unvaccinated are dying from it. Many more are getting sick from it, but unlike measles and mumps, one’s COVID immunity is not lifelong. The antibodies die off. Some COVID suffers have become re-infected as soon as 4 months after initial infection. Others take longer. So even if all of us had suffered COVID infection, “herd immunity” would disappear within a year.

    All kids who enter school must get various vaccines. THAT’s how we’ve stamped out measles, polio, whooping cough, diptheria, and more, making America safer for our entire population.

    If we are all going to need COVID boosters every year, I fear the irresponsible among us will cause COVID to be ever with us. Among the staples in my pantry, I’m keeping a mask supply on hand.

  34. Well a few more pandemics like this and all of the GOP fascists will be gone and we can get on with life, assuming there is any planet left

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