☕️ Coffee & Covid ☙ Wednesday, June 1, 2022 ☙ SLEEPWALKING 🦠
It’s Mask-A-Palooza at C&C, with three new masking stories; pediatric overdoses; Yellen's mistake; and a narrative-shattering opinion piece in the New York Times questions The War.
Good morning, C&C, and Happy Wednesday! May is now tucked away into the archives and we’re headed off into June’s adventure. Your very first June 2022 roundup includes: it’s Mask-A-Palooza at C&C, with three masking stories—a new Lancet study torpedoes the CDC’s garbage pro-mask “study;” the New York Times asks why mandates don’t work; but Joe Biden fights to keep the CDC’s travel mandate; pediatric overdoses are up; Yellen is down; and a narrative-shattering opinion piece in the New York Times questions The War.
🗞*COVID NEWS AND COMMENTARY* 🗞
🔬 The CDC should be ashamed, yet sadly it has no shame. A new May 25th study published in the Lancet debunking the CDC is titled “Revisiting Pediatric COVID-19 Cases in Counties With and Without School Mask Requirements—United States, July 1—October 20 2021.”
The study’s two researchers looked at a December 2021 CDC “study” that had crunched data from six schools during a short cherry-picked period of time and found, guess what, masks DO work, in the most amazing and compelling ways. The type of study the CDC did is called an “observational” study, and is considered much less reliable than the gold standard of randomized controlled trials.
Anyway, researchers Ambarish Chandra and Tracy Beth Høeg took the CDC’s data and they EXPANDED IT. They added lots more schools and looked at a much larger time bracket. I’ll give you one guess what they found. Their conclusion:
Replicating the CDC study shows similar results; however, incorporating a larger sample and longer period showed NO SIGNIFICANT RELATIONSHIP between mask mandates and case rates. … We failed to establish a relationship between school masking and pediatric cases using the same methods [with] a larger, more nationally diverse population over a longer interval.
I’ll stick the link below in case you’re in one of the unfortunate jurisdictions considering re-masking kids; here’s ANOTHER study to send them. But my favorite part was the final line in their conclusion: “Our study demonstrates that observational studies of interventions with small to moderate effect sizes are prone to bias caused by selection and omitted variables.”
Hahahahaha! They just said studies like the CDC’s are “prone to selection bias!” In other words, they’re accusing the CDC of cherry-picking the data to support the desired outcome, which is exactly what we all know is what happened, but we’ve all been forced to walk around pretending like the CDC is a legitimate source of scientific information instead of a political theater of the absurd.
The Lancet is one of the top journals in the world. Link: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4118566.
😷 Facts are hard to argue with, but corporate media is trying out a new narrative spin on masking. Yesterday, the New York Times ran a timely story headlined, “Why Masks Work, but Mandates Haven’t.” How about that? You CAN have your cake and eat it too.
The Times’ sub-headline asks the question as though it’s the first time anyone ever thought of this before: “Why haven’t Covid mask mandates made much difference?” Why?? So let’s see what the New York Times’ cherry-picked experts came up with.
Setting the table, the Times calls masks a PARADOX: “Dr. Shira Doron, an epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center, [said] ‘It is simultaneously true that masks work and mask mandates do not work.’” Got that? Got both conflicting ideas in your head at the same time? Paging George Orwell.
The article points to three examples of bad facts for masking:
1) In U.S. cities where mask use was common, Covid spread at a similar rate as in mask-resistant cities.
2) Mask mandates in schools seem to have done little to reduce the spread.
3) Hong Kong, despite almost universal mask-wearing, recently endured one of the world’s worst Covid outbreaks.
See? THEY KNOW.
Here’s what the paper came up with to resolve the paradox: “The Covid virus is so contagious that it can spread during brief times when people take off their masks, even when a mandate is in place.” In other words, it’s OUR fault, not masks, since humans need to remove the masks for gross biological functions like eating and drinking.
“Even though masks work, getting millions of people to wear them, and wear them consistently and properly, is a far greater challenge,” one of the Times’ handpicked experts complained.
But don’t worry, they’re not advocating for using even stricter mandates. At least, not yet. The Times admitted strict mask mandates are “not sustainable for years on end. Masks hinder communication, fog glasses and can be uncomfortable. There is a reason that children and airline passengers have broken out in applause when told they can take off their masks.”
Haha, “children and airline passengers.” See what they did there?
Anyway, the Times rued the fact that masking has become so politicized, dang it. “Democrats are more likely to wear masks than Republicans, and Democrats who identify as ‘very liberal’ are more likely to support mandates.” Because liberalism is about MAKING people do stuff. I’m not sure it started out that way, but conservatives always warned about slip-and-slide liberal paternalism gone wild. I guess this is what it looks like.
At the end of the day, the Times thinks people should wear masks if they want to: “Anybody who wants to wear a snug, high-quality mask can do so and will be less likely to contract covid. … ‘One-way masking is how we have always used them,’” another expert explained.
“One-way masking,” the remarkable new way to live forever.
😷 Notwithstanding all the science and facts showing mask mandates don’t work, to the point that even the New York Times agrees, CNN ran a story yesterday headlined, “CDC Defends Its Authority to Issue Transportation Mask Mandate in Brief Arguing for Reversal of Ruling That Blocked It.”
Setting aside for a moment the clever way CNN headlined it, the real story is that yesterday, the Biden Administration’s DOJ appealed the Florida judge’s stay of the CDC’s nearly-universally-hated airplane mask mandate. The brief relies heavily on the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the CMS mandate, arguing somewhat logically that if CMS can issue a vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, then the CDC should have authority to issue a mask mandate for travelers, too.
Getting back to the headline, CNN must have realized that the travel mask mandate is a dead loser, so it framed the CDC’s appeal as a defense of “its authority” rather than as an attempt to restore the mask mandate. It pointed out that the DOJ hasn’t asked for any kind of emergency stay on the Florida court’s ruling, which it could have. So you can relax, this is just about the CDC preserving its FUTURE ability to use mask mandates if it needs to.
You trust the CDC, don’t you? It’s the gold standard.
📈 Pediatric drug and alcohol-related deaths nearly doubled in 2020 and 2021. That’s kids under 17. Think about that. The experts did this.
🤥 CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen about her comments last year when she said she didn’t think inflation was going to be a problem. “I was wrong,” Yellen admitted.
I’m old enough to remember when a treasury secretary who failed this badly would’ve been replaced in about ten seconds. Oh well. I’m going to have to dust off my copy of “The Peter Principle.”
🚀 *THE MINORITY REPORT* 🚀
🚀 The New York Times might just be coming around to our point of view. Yesterday, it published a guest essay titled, “The War in Ukraine May Be Impossible to Stop. And the U.S. Deserves Much of the Blame.”
Shut your mouth! My goodness! Don’t you know that you can’t question The War?
The essay begins by noting, correctly, that at bottom the conflict is Russia’s fault for sending its troops into Ukraine. But then it explains, “the United States has helped turn this tragic, local and ambiguous conflict into a potential world conflagration. By misunderstanding the war’s logic … the West, led by the Biden administration, is giving the conflict a momentum that may be impossible to stop.”
Notice that the author called it an “ambiguous conflict.” Like, it might not be as black-and-white as Ukraine Narrative 1.0 would have you believe. That’s a new idea for corporate media.
He then succinctly described the setup to war: In 2014, the US backed an uprising in Ukraine installing a new regime hostile to Russia and replacing the existing Russia-friendly government. Russia responded at that time by annexing the Russian-speaking Crimean peninsula, which most of Europe accepted due to Russia’s historic ties to the area.
The current conflict is rooted in a November 10, 2021 agreement, wherein the US and Ukraine signed a “charter on strategic partnership” calling for Ukraine to join NATO, condemning “ongoing Russian aggression” and affirming an “unwavering commitment” to restoring Crimea into Ukraine. Not surprisingly, Russia saw as the final capstone on a long-planned hostile strategic effort, because since 2018, NATO has been arming Ukraine “to the teeth” with U.S.-built Javelin antitank missiles, Czech artillery, Turkish Bayraktar drones, and lots of other NATO-interoperable weaponry.
That US-Ukraine charter caused Russia to legitimately fear that NATO was about to help Ukraine invade the Crimea. It’s not just me or the author saying it. The agreement “convinced Russia that it must attack or be attacked,” wrote Henri Guaino, a former top adviser to Nicolas Sarkozy, in Le Figaro this month. “It is the ineluctable process of 1914 in all its terrifying purity.”
What the political advisor meant by referring to the terrifyingly pure ineluctable process of 1914 was that the world — led by the catastrophically bad decisions of Joe Biden and the U.S. — was “sleepwalking into war” with Russia, borrowing a famous historic metaphor describing the catalysts of World War I.
Three months later, Russia was massing troops on the border preparing for war with Ukraine. Thanks, NATO. And if Ukraine was already prepping for war with Russia, to take back the Crimean peninsula, then the country looks a lot less like an innocent victim of a devilish surprise attack and a lot more like someone who knew exactly what it was getting into.
Like me, the Times’ guest essayist is skeptical of U.S. claims that we are just giving Ukraine a little remote support. “It is easy to cross the line from waging a proxy war to waging a secret war,” the article somberly noted. Calling U.S. claims of just providing material aid to Ukraine a “fiction,” the article noted that “the United States has provided intelligence used to kill Russian generals. It obtained targeting information that helped to sink the Russian Black Sea missile cruiser the Moskva, an incident in which about 40 seamen were killed.”
World wars have been started for fewer casualties. World War I began with the assassination of a single arch-duke.
Then the author made what I think is his key argument: if giving war-torn Ukraine bigger and bigger weapons ultimately fails to dissuade Russia, then those bigger weapons will instead just lead to a bigger and bigger conflict. It’s a huge gamble for Ukraine and for the entire world.
Desperate Ukrainians are understandably yearning for more effective and more dangerous weapons to use against Russia. But escalation could easily backfire, turning their previously peaceful country into a continuous conflagration where the world’s most modern and destructive military tools are tested on Ukraine’s people and property as well as the Russian invaders, playing chicken with Russia to either quit the field or respond with even stronger and more destructive countermeasures.
Live by the sword, die by the sword. It has always been so.
The author also noted, as have we, the calamitous effect of Biden’s moronic mumblings about taking out Putin or trying him for war crimes. “The charge is so serious that, once leveled, it discourages restraint; after all, a leader who commits one atrocity is no less a war criminal than one who commits a thousand. The effect, intended or not, is to foreclose any recourse to peace negotiations.”
Former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger seems to agree, issuing a characteristically understated warning last week that “Negotiations need to begin in the next two months before it creates upheavals and tensions that will not be easily overcome.”
Sadly, neither Biden nor Ukraine seem inclined to take that advice. After his Afghanistan disaster, Biden politically cannot afford to lose. And President Zelensky warned citizens this month that the bloodiest days of the war are yet to come. So get ready.
The Times isn’t taking any official position by publishing this guest opinion essay, but it has ended the corporate media embargo on war criticism, which means SOMETHING. Is the Times’ decision to publish this essay a trial balloon for the administration to pivot on the war? Or possibly some gentle pushback from other powerful liberal constituencies who aren’t quite ready for World War III? Did the Deep State flex its muscle in service of world stability? Something else?
I’m not betting on sanity from the Biden Administration, but you never know. One can hope. In any case, this is good news: an intelligent and nuanced take on the war finally clawed its way into the heart of corporate media.
Have a wonderful Wednesday! I’ll see you back tomorrow with more C&C.
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