Ray Kamada guest writes. Ray is a retired atmospheric physicist from NOAA/DoD, and is now mostly involved in climate change and renewable energy studies.
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Ever notice how some folks don’t suffer any mental discomfort, aka cognitive dissonance, from holding conflicting beliefs? What I mean is - pretzel logic just doesn’t bother them.
How can people who wave Confederate flags claim they’re patriots?
Or, how can people insist Blue Lives Matter, yet think that two dead United States Capitol cops, plus another 140 stomped by a Trump-loving mob, is somehow OK?
Or, how can Trump not be impeachable because he’s no longer president, yet still be the real president because he didn’t really lose? Conversely, if he’s still the only legitimate president, then how can he not be impeachable?
Or finally, how can one be “all in” for natural herd immunity, yet insist on one’s right to be a breeding ground for ever-new strains of COVID-19 that will bypass herd immunity?
Allow me to elaborate.
A) How can people, while waving Confederate flags or sporting other secessionist regalia, claim they’re American “patriots”?
This one seems self-explanatory, but maybe not. And that’s my basic point - why is there no disconnect? Do they think the former Confederate States are the real, yet secessionist, America? For example, it’s been said that Sarah and Todd Palin are forerunners of today’s Republicans. Yet, for seven years, Todd belonged to Alaska’s Independence (secessionist) Party. However, Alaska didn’t exist during the Confederacy. So maybe it’s based on something else… whiteness? Being anti-government? Or perhaps such people wish to emulate banana republics and failed states by adding a few words to our nation’s founding phrases, such as…
“We are a nation of (scoff and out) laws.”
“Taxation (even with over-) representation is tyranny.”
“America, the land of the free (from accountability).”
Then again, unlike the mob that stormed the Capitol Building a month ago, at least Todd didn’t chant for the VP to be hanged, even if his name is Mike, not Sarah.
B) Speaking of which, how can people think 140 Capitol Police getting stomped by a right-wing mob is no big deal, yet still claim that Blue Lives Matter?
This one seems more like superficial convenience, as in “Blue Lives Matter”—but only when they take our side. If someone has a more credibly nuanced view of it, go ahead and bring it. Meanwhile, we note that Fox News chose to cut away to other issues, rather than cover the state funeral of Officer Brian Sicknick, the Capitol Police cop who died of head injuries suffered during the attempted coup, insurrection, storming, or whatever you choose to call it.
And as a directly related subject:
C) How can Congressional representatives credibly claim that Trump can’t be impeached for inciting the above insurrection because he no longer “holds the office,” yet somehow also claim that he’s the real president because he didn’t actually lose? Sounds contradictory and perhaps moot, but can one even “hold the office” without being “in office”?
The answer to that is YES! That is, Congress was forced to impeach and convict Federal District Court Judge Harry E. Claiborne, due to that very distinction between “holding office” and being “in office” because rather than sit on the bench, Harry was sitting in a jail cell.
That is, according to his wikipedia entry. “When Claiborne entered prison on March 16, 1986 for tax evasion, he intended to return to the bench two years later and therefore did not resign his judiciary post. As a result, he continued to receive his salary of $78,700 a year. This brought considerable controversy and pressure on some in Congress to remove him. However, the United States Constitution allowed only one method for removing a federal judge – impeachment.”
While Trump is clearly not “in office,” if his supporters believe he is actually the real president, then they must also believe he still “holds the office,” and, if so, he’s impeachable. You can’t have it both ways.
Though you can always try, as in…
D) How can one be “all in” for natural herd immunity, yet insist on being a breeding ground for ever-new strains of COVID-19 that will bypass that herd immunity?
This one calls for some detail. Unlike the “COVID-is-a-hoax”-ers, the “herd immunity” mongers concede that the pandemic is an actual problem. But their sub-claim is that COVID is scarcely more serious than seasonal flu. Thus, their real issue is mostly that it’s tanking the economy, due to a politically inspired over-reaction. This view was strongly endorsed by the Trump White House; and physician David L. Katz, on the nominally left-leaning Bill Maher Show; as well as Stanford University epidemiologist, John Ioannidis. So, let’s review their sub-claims against the following, quite remarkable finding.
CDC statistics, from October through January of this winter, show that there were more than 350k confirmed COVID hospitalizations and 200k confirmed COVID deaths. Meanwhile, U.S. deaths due to flu were averaging about 24k per year. Yet, this winter we’ve seen only 142 flu hospitalizations and less than ten deaths, a phenomenal drop!
From this, we can infer that COVID is clearly far more serious than flu. It also seems the COVID mitigation measures, in place this winter, have also limited the poorly transmitted flu at least as effectively as the far more contagious COVID. After all, R0, the basic reproduction number (number of people each carrier is likely to infect under unmitigated conditions) has a median value for flu of around 1.28 and fatality rate of around 0.1%. By contrast, the currently dominant D614G strain of COVID-19 has an R0 of maybe 2.5 to 4.0, with a median fatality rate of around 0.6%. (11, 12, 13) However, R0 values for the new UK, South African, and Brazilian strains are likely higher. For example, the UK strain has been tracked long enough to suggest that it’s about 29% more lethal and 70% more contagious. (14, 15, 16) Thus, one of these new variants is bound to displace DG614 as the dominant strain.
Which underscores the ugly irony of item D): By avoiding vacccination, those who advocate for natural “herd immunity,” may ensure we never reach it.
Take for example Manaus, Brazil, a city of two million, where more than three of every four residents test positive. Yet, Manaus is suddenly surging with new COVID cases, perhaps because the immunity conferred by exposure to the old strain doesn’t extend to the new strain that’s raging there now. And therein lies the rub. As long as there’s a sizable, un-immunized population, the virus will keep mutating within it to more virulent strains. And that feature may extend to the already vaccinated. That is, some of our initial vaccines don’t seem as effective against the newer UK and South African strains.
Thus, a large pool of unvaccinateds poses the unwelcome prospect that herd immunity, natural or not, may be out of reach. If so, we’ll require at least yearly booster shots, to deal with ever-mutating, new strains of COVID, like the flu, except far deadlier.
So, pretzel logic sans cognitive dissonance may be amusing, but when it degrades the lives, safety, security, and democracy that we cherish, there’s really no substitute for facts, logic and solid reasoning.