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Some Covid Links

Barry Brownstein explains that unity is not obtained by coercion. A slice:

The vaccine mandate is causing shortages of health professionals. To cope, the governor of New York has ordered new graduates from medical and nursing schools be permitted to practice without the required post-graduate training, such as medical internships. Does [Dr. David] Galinsky wonder how unseasoned, inexperienced nurses will learn with fewer senior nurses to help guide them through the perils of those early years? Worse, in New York State, the idea of deploying the National Guard as healthcare providers was trotted out. Are citizens in New York State better served by doctors and nurses fired for their lack of unity around mandates?

You, like me, had probably never heard of Galinsky, but his mindset—that unity requires that all follow the same medical path—is shared by many.

Martin Kulldorff tweets:

After pointing out that pandemic restrictions are the worst assault on the poor and working class since segregation and the Vietnam War, I was never invited back on @democracynow

Bridget Phetasy’s anger is righteous (and right). (HT Martin Kulldorff) Here’s her conclusion:

The discourse in the media makes it sound like these criticisms are aimed at the right-wing anti-vaxxer population—and that might be true on a countrywide level—but the numbers tell the truest story about who will be most disproportionately affected by draconian mandates. In L.A. County, only 54% of the Black population and 62% of the “Latinx” population have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Despite all the resources the city ostensibly devotes to equity and inclusion, it’s clear that these minority populations will be most affected by the mandates. If Black lives matter to you so much, shouldn’t you care that Black people will be excluded from restaurants and movie theaters and nail salons?

From my perspective, this is state-sanctioned discrimination, and the righteous moralizing from the pajama class is the highest form of limousine liberal hypocrisy. Aiming uncharitable and derisive rhetoric at the very people you have been screaming should have a seat at the table is a tone-deaf disgrace. It seems like in Los Angeles County, the signs calling essential workers heroes really mean “if you do what we say.”

Aaron Kheriaty explores the CDC’s reasons for ignoring natural immunity. A slice:

Public health officials worry that acknowledging natural immunity will amount to admitting the failure of their prior policies, which were implemented to slow or halt the spread of the virus. The two most basic numbers in immunology are incidence and prevalence: the former designates the rate of new cases over a given period of time, whereas the latter designates the rate of overall cases for a given period of time.

David Livermore sensibly argues that “we should ask the modellers to prove their models can accurately predict the future before following their advice again.”

Dr. Raghib Ali explains that “calls for more restrictions are all too often based on a flawed understanding of what is really happening.” A slice:

The last myth is that “going early and going hard” with restrictions is always better than waiting. Again, given what happened in July and September [in Britain] when a huge surge was predicted by many, that would have been the wrong advice. Cases actually fell significantly.

The University of Virginia’s Matthew Crawford decries “the new public health despotism.” Three slices:

After a year and a half of this, going along with it starts to become habitual. If you defy the mask order, and are challenged by somebody doing their job as instructed, chances are you’re going to back down and comply, which is worse than if you had complied to begin with. Even if you strongly suspect fear of the virus has been stoked out of proportion to serve bureaucratic and political interests, or as an artefact of the scaremongering business model of media, you may subtly adjust your view of the reality of Covid to bring it more into line with your actual behaviour. You can reduce the dissonance­ that way. The alternative is to be confronted every day with fresh examples of your own slavishness.

In the Hobbesian formula, the Leviathan relies upon fear to suppress pride. It is pride that makes men difficult to govern. It may be illuminating to view our Covid moment through this lens and consider how small moments of humiliation may be put in the service of a long-standing political project, or find their meaning and normative force in it.

Specifically, to play one’s part in Covid theatre, as in security theatre at the airport, is to suffer the unique humiliation of a rational being who submits to moments of social control that he knows to be founded upon untruths. That these are expressed in the language of science is especially grating.


The Columbia law professor Philip Hamburger writes about the administrative state. It consists of a vast array of executive agencies that empower themselves to place people under binding obligations without recourse to legislation, sidestepping the Constitution’s separation of powers. In theory, only Congress can make laws. Its members are subject to the democratic process, so they must persuade their constituents, and one another. But as the administrative state has metastasised, supplanting the lawmaking power of the legislature, unelected bureaucrats increasingly set the contours of modern life with little accountability. They stake their legitimacy on claims of expertise rather than alignment with popular preferences. This trajectory began a century ago in the Progressive era, and took large strides forward during the New Deal and Great Society.

Hamburger puts this in historical context with other forms of unaccountable power, such as the notorious Star chamber of James I: “Ever tempted to exert more power with less effort, rulers are rarely content to govern merely through the law, and in their restless desire to escape its pathways, many of them try to work through other mechanisms.”


The absurdities of COVID theatre could be taken as a tacit recognition of this state of affairs, much as security theater pointed to a new political accommodation after 9/11. In this accommodation, we have accepted the impossibility of grounding our practices in reality. We submit to ossified bureaucracies such as the TSA that have become self-protective interest groups. They can expand but never contract, and we must pretend reality is such as to justify their existence. Covid is likely to do for public health what 9/11 did for the security state. Going through an airport, we still take off our shoes – because twenty years ago, some clown tried to light his shoe on fire. We submit to being irradiated and groped, often as not. One tries to put out of mind facts such as this: in independent audits of airport security, about 80-90% of weapons pass through undetected. The microwave machine presents an imposing image of science that helps us bury such knowledge. We have a duty to carry out an ascetic introspection, searching out any remaining tendencies toward rational pride and regard for the truth, submitting them to analysis. Similarly, the irrationality of the Covid rules we comply with has perhaps become their main point. In complying, we enact the new terms of citizenship.

Covid tyranny in Austria is akin to some horror scene in 1984.

David Long sees clearly Australia’s authoritarian Covidocracy. Two slices:

But who can forget the most annoying event of all; those endless, useless, self-preening individual press conferences of our beloved Prime Minister, the state premiers (read Andrews, Berijeklian, McGowan and Palaszczuk) with and without their chief medical officers, appearing daily on a television station near you, to tell us the good news (for them) — there were X new cases today so we shall continue to imprison you for your own good – and the bad news (for us) that there were X new cases today so there will be another lockdown with social distancing, mask-wearing and limits on numbers at your funeral, just you and the man who lights the fire. 

Another annoying aspect of this pandemic, has been the servile reporters who, having done no research on the science of the virus or the defects in the same, were obliged to ask, when they asked anything, leading questions such as, “Do you think more people will die if they do not wear masks?” and, “What do you have to say to the idiots who won’t socially distance?”


What we thought was an eighteen-month pandamic catastrophe was actually an eighteen-month pandamic publicity bonanza for the governments: free front-page headlines, free television advertising every day and night of the week and with no critical journalistic comment, no opposition, while protected from difficult questions by a scientific shield impervious to even superman’s vision.