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nemo37 said:

I haven't posted on this site for a while, though I check-in here regularly. But I honestly have to provide my view point which counters that of the OP. But before I begin, I will say that I am sorry for OP due to the pressures that the current situation is placing on his/her life. I do agree that it is a trying situation, for some more than others. With that said though, I will start my critique.

First of all, I will talk about my views regarding mask mandates. I do not understand how requiring the public to wear masks is an over-reach. It is similar to the expectations to wear at least some level of clothing (shirt, underwear, etc), when we are out in public. Certainly, even in the pre-pandemic days, if you walked in most public spaces without basic levels of garments you would be charged in most placed. I would argue that the requirement to wear a mask during a pandemic makes more sense than the rule to not be naked outside in a regular situation. Masks (when used correctly) can help reduce the spread of the virus. This has more of an effect on normality than you would think. Let's for example say a new variant is circulating, by taking measures to reduce/slow the transmissibility of that variant, hospitals will not suddenly become overwhelmed with an influx patients that will result in human and material shortages (even a variant like omicron, which is milder, can have a devastating impact on healthcare resources because it is more transmissible and will result in a large number of hospitalizations happening at one time if left unchecked). Similarly, when you look at the supply chain, implementing no measures to contain the virus means that individuals working at a certain workplace with one another will infect one another at the same time which will disrupt that workplace and potentially add additional stress on the supply chain. Just wearing a mask and following other basic guidelines to reduce transmissibility does more to sustain a level of normality.

First of all, great to see you back! It has been quite a while since I've seen a new post from ya. And also, I appreciate your sensitivity (I do indeed struggle with mental illness) and your being more civil than I was in my original post. I'll try and reciprocate. Since you've neatly itemized your arguments, I'll respond to them individually.

The first case you make here is that it's not unreasonable for people to be expected to mask in public during a pandemic. It's a simple enough argument. Too simple to match the reality of the point in time. I would argue that you're not taking into account the evolution of both the virus itself over time or the evolution of the tools we have available to combat it at our disposable over time either. Your mindset here seems frozen in the world of 2020 when we didn't have vaccines. Matter-of-factly, my motivations for getting vaccinated in the first place were two-fold. One motivation was, of course, to do my part to minimize the spread; the responsible thing. The other motivation, which was just as compelling to me, was to be able to go forward with life in a way that was reasonably safe without having to mask in public anymore. During the early days of the Biden Administration last year, that seemed to align with the direction things were indeed moving in: most people got vaccinated, virus cases collapsed, and the masking requirements went away, including at my workplace. For two months. I'd characterize that brief interlude as the happiest two months I've experienced in the last decade. Now that was for a number of reasons of which the lifting of remaining Covid restrictions was only one part and which also included factors like my deepening relationship with my at-the-time girlfriend and my sweet $1,400 check from the Covid relief bill the same administration had also recently passed that made it possible for me to actually pay my bills on time for a while and even enjoy some rare frills on top of it -- literally the best thing that's ever happened to me financially -- but it was a big factor for me psychologically. The onset of the virus and the lockdown period were both genuinely traumatizing experiences for me for reasons I don't have time to go into here and to me, and I think to lots of people who had similar experiences, masks aren't just a piece of fabric on your face, they're a symbol of an era and a constant reminder of those traumatic experiences. Not having to wear them anymore made it so much easier to start psychologically moving forward with my life and feeling I'd say dozens of times better. Then compulsory masking came back in response to the delta wave late last summer. That I would say for me was a very negative turning point in my mental health (and in my relationship to the Biden Administration).

I understood the seriousness of the delta strain, considering that it was not only more contagious than the preceding alpha one, but also deadlier as well: truly the worst of both worlds. Politically speaking, my response to this development was to become a champion of vaccine mandates, which I viewed as a less onerous and constant life invasion than compulsory masking and a way back out of that regime, and also back out of the fresh wave of lockdowns that got imposed in some parts of the country. I've never understood anti-vaccine sentiment. I was okay with lockdowns at first when the science around masking was unclear because I didn't know what else could be done to slow the spread. Once the science around masking became clear, I supported that as an alternative to lockdowns. Once vaccines became available, I supported those as an alternative to compulsory masking. That's been the evolution of my thinking on appropriate Covid response measures over time. Omicron has thrown a monkey wrench into all of that by being both milder on a per capita basis than previous strains and also more inevitable by way of its ability to evade the vaccines that most people have taken. There was nothing we could do to stop it. It was functionally as if most people were unvaccinated once omicron hit. In a way though, I take it as good news. In contrast to previous waves, the omicron surge lasted only a few weeks rather than a few months and is leaving behind extremely high levels of immunity that could potentially last for years rather than months like our vaccines do. This kind of development is often how pandemics end: they become weaker over time because vaccines stop the more severe, deadlier varieties, allowing only weaker variants to spread. Then those peak and the situation stabilizes from there. That's what I feel like is happening right now. It's possible that a more contagious strain yet may emerge, but unlikely, most epidemiologists seem to believe, because viruses have limits too in terms of their transmissibility, and even if one does emerge it'll likely be a less severe variety even than omicron. In other words, we are almost certainly at the tail end of the pandemic phase of this thing. Cases and hospitalization rates fall pretty dramatically by the day now. I feel it's plenty safe to start phasing out Covid restrictions at this time, especially for those of us who've already been boosted (and for whom, as such, masking provides only marginal additional protection at best). I'd like to believe that politicians are responding to that reality in lifting restrictions suddenly in this wave all in one week last week, but it's hard for me to be that naive in consideration of political developments like the Freedom Convoy blocking access to that bridge to Detroit from exactly the start of the week.

Okay, so that's where I stand on the public health stuff. So the second thing you address here is impact of the virus on the economy. You contend that the virus spread hampers goods production and distribution, thereby causing the price inflation that we're seeing today, and therefore Covid restrictions are the fastest path out of this predicament available. Most liberals take that position, but events have proven it to be mostly a myth. When the virus spread is especially acute, it does indeed cause delays and problems and sometimes those are very visible, like all the flight cancellations that occurred in late December and early January because there weren't enough healthy pilots and flight attendants. Even in the case of that example though, you'll notice that the Biden Administration's response was to have the CDC reduce its recommended quarantine time for those who test positive so that airline workers could get back on the job more quickly after recovering from Covid. The reality is that businesses have chased after states and localities with fewer Covid restrictions, and to which end areas that lifted restrictions earlier have experienced a faster economic rebound than others.

EDIT: For some of the larger moral concerns I have with the continuation of Covid restrictions at this point, see my response to some of JWeinCom's comments back on page 5.

nemo37 said:

Now let's talk about the Freedom Convoy. As a Canadian, I can certainly say that I do not support that movement. I certainly do not speak for everyone else, but neither do they. Pandemic mandates in Canada is a very polarizing topic, and there are strong opinions on both sides (with support for both sides roughly polling in at around 50%-50%); these "for the people" or "populist" movements are not representative of a clear majority view. It is important to point out that opinion regarding these protests are split even among those in the trucking industry itself. I do believe that their right to peaceful protest ought to be respected. However, they do not have the right to block roads, block access to emergency services, honk horns in residential neighbourhoods, harass people choosing to follow health protocols, etc. In addition, there have been bad actors among some of these protestors who have displayed hate filled symbols, they are certainly not the majority but they are clinging onto these protests to spread their political agenda. This is not unusual for any protest movement, as the far-left and far-right will cling onto movements where they might find sympathetic recruits for their causes. Certainly based on much polling, the group that has broadly latched themselves onto this particular movement (and again they are not the majority, but they are there; similar to how aspects of the far-left latched itself onto, say, BLM protests). It is important to point out those protesting with confederate flags, swatikas, Trump signs because they are there for reasons beyond protesting mandates, again they are not the majority but their attempts to hijack these protests should certainly be highlighted. I will also add that those blocking bridges are doing more harm to your goal of returning to normal, as that will further disrupt the supply chain (more so than not having a small minority of truckers not cross the border). I will say the benefit of the protest is to show the government that there are those that are not in favour of these measures, whose lives have been disrupted, and that perhaps a more moderate road needs to be plotted as we live with this virus; and while I do not support the bulk message of what these protesters want, I do believe that the government should be put on notice about these matters.

There's actually not much here that I disagree with. I mainly just disagree with your argument against the civil disobedience of blocking traffic. I mean yeah, of course it's not legal to do that, to which end you're seeing arrests now, but civil disobedience, especially that causes economic pain, has proven the most effective tack here; the thing that has gotten the swiftest policy concessions, and I don't just mean in Canada, but here Stateside as well. The disruption to normal life caused by the Convoy pales in comparison to that which has been caused by Covid restrictions and has proven effective at accelerating the end thereof in more than just one country. The truth is that if you want to make an omelet, you have to be willing to break some eggs. If you're not willing to do anything controversial, you prolly ain't gonna change much.

That said, I would add some more details here, like the fact that more than 80% of Canadians and Quebecers have already gotten at least two vaccine shots; a fact that, combined with the roughly 50-50 nature of people's positions on the Convoy, implies that most Convoy supporters themselves are already vaxxed, not fanatical loons who've always opposed restrictions because they're selfish and place little value on other people's lives. I'd also point out that the surveys reveal that the difference of opinion on the Convoy in Canada and Quebec breaks down primarily along age and class lines, with substantial majorities of both younger and poorer people landing in the supportive column. Those are the people statistically most exposed to the virus; the most likely to work public-facing jobs and so forth. Restrictions on those people's lives, by contrast, are favored mostly by more affluent people who lead a safer, less public-facing existence. That's the picture that's emerging here.

Speaking of that demographic breakdown, the survey data also implies that liberal and left wing parties in Canada and Quebec have reason to be concerned about the ongoing loyalty of their supporters, as 44% of Bloc voters and 43% of New Democrats (Canada's major left wing party) are Convoy supporters. Those numbers are large enough to be politically perilous if they continue to be ignored by party leaders. It's really just the governing Liberal Party who's members are overwhelmingly against the Convoy.

nemo37 said:

One point I will mention that is a bit confusing. You have stated that you are against "open borders" (it should be noted that the US does not have an open borders policy, just two parties posing about one being tougher or slightly more lax; but that is separate discussion), which indicates that there should be a level of respect for another country's rules. Yet you are supporting a movement whose goal is to have truckers cross into another country and not follow their rules (which happens to be vaccine mandates). Similarly, this is a movement that is getting significant funding from outside (lots of money is coming in from the US), which is certainly not in keeping with maintaining sovereignty.

You're conflating issues here. I'm very much in favor of the natural internationalism of the working class. I'm also not against immigration.

But you're definitely wrong if you're suggesting that the situation on the U.S. southern border is currently reasonable and well in-hand because not only is it not, but the fact that it's not currently polls as the leading issue of concern among the residents of my border state of Texas and the main reason why our once-unpopular governor Greg Abbott is currently polling 11 points ahead of his top Democratic challenger, Beto O'Rourke, and why Biden fares significantly worse here still at present. It's the main problem for the Democrats' hopes of turning this state blue in the near future. Border policy has long been, in fact, the issue on which the current presidential administration is least popular. It's the Biden Administration's single worst issue. Illegal border crossings are currently at their highest levels in decades.

Here are a couple articles that provide what I consider to be a reasonable and nuanced perspective on the current situation at the U.S. southern border: Here's Pew Research's data analysis. And here's National Public Radio's summary of the situation. One especially noteworthy excerpt I would highlight here though would be the words of Brandon Judd, president of the union that represents Border Patrol agents:


"I've never seen it as bad as what it is right now," said Brandon Judd, president of the union that represents Border Patrol agents. Agents spend hours handling paperwork for migrants who are allowed into the country to ask for asylum, Judd said in an interview. And that's distracting them from trying to stop smugglers from bringing drugs and other contraband into the U.S.

"We just don't have the manpower and resources to do what we need to do to both detect and apprehend everything that's crossing the border," he said.

What that sounds like to me is ramifications to the end of the previous administration's Stay in Mexico policy. The theory I used to hear from liberals on the matter was that the sudden resultant surge was just the consequence of pent up need from the Trump years that suddenly had access thanks to the new administration and that that unnatural surplus of demand for access to the U.S. would shortly subside. And yet here we are.

nemo37 said:

I also question how you can hate all news media but Fox News. In essence, you are choosing the right-wing mainstream media because they are likely saying things that you want to hear, while ignoring centrist or left-wing mainstream outlets (and I certainly do not believe that there is a apolitical news outlet).

MSNBC was my overall preferred news outlet during the Trump years. Guess part of me just finds the sharpest critiques of the people in power to be the most compelling.

As it pertains to this moment in time though, the issue is that the way the press writ large has responded to this largely working class political action with smug, moralizing scorn and demonization has just been very clarifying as to what they actually think of people like me in the final analysis. Fox News coverage of the Convoy has been by far the most honest. They provide all kinds of footage and interviews and a clear picture of the situation on the ground that, while stilted, is much more complete and believable overall than the other coverage. I actually find it pathetic that Fox is now the source I turn to the most often for something at least adjacent to the honest truth about this and most other news. I have traditionally garnered my info from a variety of sources, with Fox being an especially rare choice that came off as especially deceitful. Not anymore.

On another level, it's also a matter of the topics that are covered by the different cable news networks on a given evening. When I watch Tucker or Hannity, they've got lots of topics to talk about that seem pertinent to my life. When I change the channel to CNN or some other rival news source, it's most often topics like the death of Bob Saget or how we need to start sending aid to Afghanistan apparently without regard to who controls the country and therefore the flow of its finances. NBC grade questions for the current administration are in the vein of "Why aren't there enough Covid tests out there?" and other half-hearted concerns that are neatly compatible with a left wing worldview. They're not serious, and sometimes more offensive to me than anything I hear from Tucker Carlson. It just seems like most of the press bends over backward to coddle, shield, and defend this administration. And I think that perception many people have is why the whole "Let's Go Brandon!" thing has caught on as a slogan; because it concentrates that perception, alluding to a cartoonishly pathetic example. I mean one can understand why, given the last administration's dangerously hostile relationship to the press, endorsing violence against journalists who questioned him (which was...a lot) and so forth...but still. It really does seem like there's a press overreaction to the Trump era that has led them overall to a highly partisan place in favor of the Democrats, of which the prime time CNN anchoring career of Chris Cuomo, brother of disgraced New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, has symbolically epitomized in my mind. They used to market themselves as the politically neutral network.

The fact is that you can't understand the current political reality of the United States -- why Biden and the Democrats are polling so terribly heading into this midterm election year -- without watching Fox News. If you get your info exclusively from other television news sources, you'll never figure it out. If you're just too good to ever consume any right wing media then you're too good for the working class because lots of them do so.

nemo37 said:

I will also question your return to "normality", because you are mentioning things that are extending beyond pandemic mandates. Your return to normality includes ending the call on the left to "defunding the police and ending bail". People who are making these calls are doing so because of an increasingly over militarized police which is unreasonably harsh on everyone but particularly harsh on certain minority communities; certainly the solution will not be end policing, and most agree on that, but reforms will be necessary. As a supporter of a so-called freedom convoy, do their complaints not matter? Similarly, bail reform is being called for because it results in coercive and unbalanced punitive measures on those that are less well off. Do their freedoms to a blind justice system not matter? It seems your return to normality involves sweeping the issues these groups have with their freedom under the rug.

There's a leap of logic here. You go from my critiques of the progressive movement's disastrous soft-on-crime policy prescriptions that are leading to major spikes in violent crime across the country to the conclusion that I'm against criminal justice reform itself. That's just not the case. There's absolutely no question in my mind that our current system has shielded racist cops from justice and frankly targeted non-white people for imprisonment in a disproportionate and criminally unfair way that has to be stopped, to which end I do actually consider myself a critical supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement and favor serious reforms ranging from abolishing qualified immunity for police officers to ending incarceration for drug possession and a number of other changes in-between. I also support reparations (including in the form of direct payments) for this nation's long era of slavery and subsequent Jim Crow quasi-feudal repression of black Americans in particular. Maybe I come off as callous toward the cause of racial justice sometimes anymore, but I do in fact care.

Matter-of-factly, I don't understand why progressives so often view concerns about social violence and the need of our society to address drug addiction and sex trafficking as attacks on non-white people, considering that there's no one more concerned about those things than non-white people. The question of whether one feels there should be more or fewer cops on the streets, for example, is one that I find breaks down primarily along class lines, with wealthier white people who live in safer areas being the most apt to favor fewer and poorer black people who live in more dangerous neighborhoods landing solidly in favor of more. If we define reductions in law enforcement itself as the goal here, the result is just going to keep being more dead black and brown bodies like it is right now and I don't see how that outcome exactly epitomizes the idea that black lives matter to us as a society. Does it really matter, in the final analysis, if the perpetrator is a cop or not? And if so, why?

nemo37 said:

Finally, Biden's polling numbers have very little to do with the freedom convoy or a particular direction your country wants to go in regarding mandates. Certainly those that supported him but were also in favour of mandates being lifted are likely going to disapprove, but that is just one group with grievances. I think a major issue is the tribal nature of politics in the US, which has resulted in deep polarizations. There are those that voted for moderation, and they might believe Biden has now gone too far to the left. There are those that voted for FDR-like New Deal presidency that are now disappointed. I frankly don't think you can get a President that will poll in the same manner as the earlier ones in the post-WWII period (barring slight jumps that they might experience right after an elections, ie the honeymoon phase, and during the early parts of a national emergency; and even there I expect the jumps to be less pronounced due to hardened polarization).

I definitely disagree with the contention that President Biden's current unpopularity was just inevitable. Relative to the analogous point in their respective terms, Biden is currently the second or third-least popular president we've had in the last century, and the absolute least popular Democratic president we've had in that span of time. The end of the honeymoon period that accompanies the start of most new administrations is pretty inevitable, but this grade of failure definitely isn't.

Don't get me wrong, I don't fault Biden for everything that's currently wrong with this country, but he is the Commander-in-Chief presiding over it after all; not exactly powerless to affect anything. To me, the main problem with Biden isn't ideological in nature, it's his attitude. Biden comes off to me as a lazy, entitled president of general inaction. One sees that attitude reflected in his foreign policies, his border policies, his economic and monetary policies, his disinterest in the crime wave we've seen tick up pretty steadily in recent years, in his general lack of press conferences and public events, his routine whining about the few and generally mild criticisms he gets from the press (not even talking about Fox here), in his insistence on running for re-election despite this spectacular job he's done so far and the fact that less than 30% of Americans want him to...etc. He feels that his long years of experience in Washington entitle him to the White House and to the unconditional and unquestioning respect and admiration of all. That's how he comes across to me, and that attitude is precisely the core problem with his presidency, I think. People tend to expect something other than apathy from their presidents. If you don't care about the issues, why run for such an office in the first place? Why are you president if you simply don't care? The perception that you cared is the whole reason you got elected in the first place!

Last edited by Jaicee - on 17 February 2022