What we owe anti-vaxxers in a life-threatening pandemic

See updates through December 18, 2021, at end of post.

A while ago, Nancy Gibbs penned an op-ed for the Washington Post arguing that medical providers should continue to provide even scarce intensive care to people who have refused the COVID-19 vaccine because—this is a slippery slope argument—many of us do things we shouldn’t or fail to do things we should. Once we exclude one group, people who have refused vaccines meant to control a life-threatening pandemic, where, really, do we draw the line? What, for example, about people who fail to quit cigarette smoking?[1] Read more

  1. [1]Nancy Gibbs, “Do the unvaccinated deserve scarce ICU beds?” Washington Post, September 1, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/09/01/do-unvaccinated-deserve-scarce-icu-beds/

On profanity

See updates through October 11, 2021, at end of post.

Something that has mystified me for quite a long time is that some folks insist on censoring other people’s speech.

I can certainly understand, with the b-word (rhyming with rich) and the n-word, how some words transgress a boundary into hate speech and these I agree should be avoided. But when folks object to other words, I have to wonder why they insist on controlling people’s utterances. There isn’t a “good,” as in justifying, answer to this question. Read more

The final refusal

See update for September 24, 2021, at end of post.

If you’ve been confused by the decision after decision after decision that seems to plague the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration process on COVID-19 vaccine boosters,[1] well, me too. Read more

  1. [1]Stephanie Armour and Jared S. Hopkins, “Biden Administration Likely to Approve Covid-19 Boosters at Six Months,” Wall Street Journal, August 25, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/biden-administration-plans-covid-19-vaccine-boosters-at-six-months-instead-of-eight-11629919356; Jared S. Hopkins and Felicia Schwartz, “FDA Clears Covid-19 Booster Shots From Pfizer for High-Risk People,” Wall Street Journal, September 22, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/fda-clears-covid-19-booster-shots-from-pfizer-for-high-risk-people-11632354542; Carolyn Y. Johnson, Laurie McGinley, and Joel Achenbach, “FDA panel endorses coronavirus boosters for older adults and those at risk of serious illness,” Washington Post, September 17, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/09/17/covid-booster-shots-fda-recommendation/; Sharon LaFraniere, “U.S. to Advise Boosters for Most Americans 8 Months After Vaccination,” New York Times, August 16, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/16/us/vaccination-booster-shots.html; Lauran Neergaard and Mike Stobbe, “CDC panel recommends Pfizer booster shots for seniors, declines them for healthcare workers,” Los Angeles Times, September 23, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2021-09-23/us-covid-booster-shots; Tyler Pager and Laurie McGinley, “Top federal health officials warn that booster shots initially may be limited to Pfizer recipients,” Washington Post, September 3, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/09/03/booster-shot-delay-pfizer-first/; Lena H. Sun and Laurie McGinley, “Pfizer booster now available to older Americans and those at higher-risk, including on the job, as CDC chief partly overrules panel,” Washington Post, September 24, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/09/23/covid-booster-shots-cdc/; Leana S. Wen, “The CDC should let Americans decide for themselves if their risk warrants getting a booster shot,” Washington Post, September 21, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/09/21/fda-limits-booster-shots-at-risk-americans/; Robbie Whelan, “Doctors Left to Decide Who Gets Extra Covid-19 Vaccines Amid Booster Debate,” Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/doctors-left-to-decide-who-gets-extra-covid-19-vaccines-amid-booster-debate-11632130200

If you seek justice, don’t blame the U.S. Senate Parliamentarian

See updates through November 6, 2021, at end of post.

I have previously argued on numerous grounds that justice does not reduce to law.[1] This conflict arises again with U.S. Senate Parliamentarian’s ruling that a pathway to citizenship for unauthorized migrants cannot be included[2] in a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package whose prospects for passage anyway remain very much in doubt.[3] Read more

  1. [1]David Benfell, “Juries and injustice: The fools call me in again,” Not Housebroken, April 28, 2015, https://disunitedstates.org/2015/04/27/juries-and-injustice-the-fools-call-me-in-again/
  2. [2]Jennifer Haberkorn, “Senate parliamentarian won’t allow citizenship pathway for immigrants in Democrats’ spending bill,” Los Angeles Times, September 19, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-09-19/parliamentarian-decision-on-pathway-to-citizenship
  3. [3]Jonathan Chait, “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Is Probably Doomed, Alas,” New York, June 25, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/06/is-the-bipartisan-infrastructure-deal-going-to-pass-biden-republicans-democrats.html; Jonathan Chait, “Joe Manchin Has Put Biden’s Presidency in Mortal Danger,” New York, September 2, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/09/joe-manchin-pause-biden-presidency-failed-danger-congress-democrats.html; Jonathan Chait, “Kyrsten Sinema Threatens to Kill Her Own Infrastructure Bill,” New York, September 20, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/09/kyrsten-sinema-threatens-infrastructure-bill-biden-build-back-better.html; Mike DeBonis, “Schumer, a leader more liked than feared, faces test of whether he can deliver the ‘big and bold’ agenda he’s promised,” Washington Post, July 29, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/infrastructure-schumer-senate/2021/07/29/8575551e-efaf-11eb-81d2-ffae0f931b8f_story.html; Mike DeBonis, “Joe Manchin gets all the attention. But Kyrsten Sinema could be an even bigger obstacle for Democrats’ spending plans,” Washington Post, September 15, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/sinema-reconciliation-manchin/2021/09/15/8c583f96-162d-11ec-9589-31ac3173c2e5_story.html; Andrew Duehren, “CBO Estimates Infrastructure Bill Would Add $256 Billion to Deficits,” Wall Street Journal, August 5, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/cbo-estimates-infrastructure-bill-would-add-256-billion-to-deficits-11628196739; Lee Fang, “Mystery Group Promoting Infrastructure Privatization Boosted By Toll Road Lobbyists,” Intercept, July 23, 2021, https://theintercept.com/2021/07/23/infrastructure-privatization-toll-roads/; Sarah Ferris and Heather Caygle, “House Dem moderates lay out battle lines as Pelosi stands firm,” Politico, August 11, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/08/11/house-democrats-moderates-infrastructure-spending-503917; Clare Foran and Ali Zaslav, “Senate Democrats approve $3.5 trillion budget resolution in key step toward passing major economic package without GOP votes,” CNN, August 11, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/08/11/politics/senate-approves-budget-resolution/index.html; Oriana Gonzalez, “Sanders insists Dems’ spending package remain at $3.5 trillion,” Axios, September 8, 2021, https://www.axios.com/sanders-manchin-spending-package-35-trillion-536a9c7f-6dd1-450a-8d65-c6dd986cc86e.html; Eric Levitz, “5 Reasons Biden Got His Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal,” New York, July 30, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/07/5-reasons-biden-got-his-bipartisan-infrastructure-deal.html; German Lopez, “What’s in the new infrastructure bill — and why it’s a big deal,” Vox, July 29, 2021, https://www.vox.com/22598883/infrastructure-deal-bipartisan-bill-biden-manchin; Ryan Lizza et al., “A warning sign for Democrats on climate policy,” Politico, August 11, 2021, https://www.politico.com/newsletters/playbook/2021/08/11/a-warning-sign-for-democrats-on-climate-policy-493936; Hans Nichols, “Manchin backs as little as $1 trillion of Biden’s $3.5 trillion plan,” Axios, September 8, 2021, https://www.axios.com/scoop-manchin-backs-as-little-as-1-trillion-of-bidens-35-trillion-plan-91d079e0-84a7-4f8f-94d4-212827a61339.html; Rick Perlstein, “When America Had a Moral Panic Over Inflation,” New York, September 2, 2021, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/09/the-1970s-when-america-had-a-moral-panic-over-inflation.html; Kristina Peterson and Lindsay Wise, “Democrats’ $3.5 Trillion Budget Framework Exposes Party Tensions,” Wall Street Journal, August 11, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/democrats-3-5-trillion-budget-framework-exposes-party-tensions-11628704569; Tony Romm, “Sens. Manchin and Sanders square off as Democrats clash over $3.5 trillion economic package,” Washington Post, September 12, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2021/09/12/manchin-sanders-reconciliation/; Alex Shephard, “Chuck Schumer Is Done Waiting on Republicans,” New Republic, July 21, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/163014/chuck-schumer-done-waiting-republicans; Alex Shephard, “Biden Gets His Bipartisan Victory. Now the Hard Part,” New Republic, August 10, 2021, https://newrepublic.com/article/163228/senate-passes-infrastructure-bill-reconciliation-next; Paul Waldman, “Kyrsten Sinema needs to show us what she believes in,” Washington Post, September 20, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/09/20/kyrsten-sinema-needs-show-us-what-she-believes/; Sarah D. Wire and Meena Venkataramanan, “House OKs resolution allowing $3.5-trillion social spending bill to advance,” Los Angeles Times, August 24, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-08-24/house-senate-infrastructure-bill-moderates

What is the State of Jefferson?

See update for October 3, 2021, at end of post.

I’ve been a little slow getting to this but the proposed state of Jefferson is being mentioned in the context of the failed attempt to recall California Governor Gavin Newsom.[1] Probably a few folks are wondering what the fuck a state of Jefferson is. Read more

  1. [1]Hailey Branson-Potts, “In red California, anger over recall blowout. ‘The Democratic Party is the New York Yankees,’” Los Angeles Times, September 17, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-09-18/rural-red-california-recall-election; Ryan Sabalow, “Newsom lost big in California’s conservative State of Jefferson. It barely mattered,” Sacramento Bee, September 15, 2021, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/article254263153.html

California omens and Washington gridlock

See update for October 11, 2021, at end of post.

I have been mostly silent about the recall campaign against Governor Gavin Newsom in California. California became a state too much enamored with artificial idiocy[1] and money[2] for me. I am no longer a California resident and Californians are no longer my people, so, to some degree, it’s really no longer my business. Read more

  1. [1]David Benfell, “Our new Satan: artificial idiocy and big data mining,” Not Housebroken, April 5, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/01/13/our-new-satan-artificial-idiocy-and-big-data-mining/
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Farewell, California, I’ll miss you and I won’t miss you,” Not Housebroken, April 9, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/04/09/farewell-california-ill-miss-you-and-i-wont-miss-you/

20/20 hindsight on 9/11

See update for September 13, 2021, at end of post.

I needed my sleep.

But my neighbor, a friend from the Star Trek fan club chapter we were both members of, was banging on my door. “You have to see this,” he yelled.

It was September 11, 2001, and the scene on his television set (I didn’t have one) was of smoke rising out of a World Trade Center building. CNN would become notorious for endlessly showing again and again video footage taken of planes crashing into the towers. Read more

On ‘nature versus nurture’

I have noted, for a while now, a strong bias among social scientists in the “nature versus nurture” question in favor of nurture, that is, that traits can largely be attributed to one’s social environment, especially as a child. The most obvious counterexample is sexual orientation; many gays and lesbians insist strongly that they were “born that way.” I think people whose gender identities do not accord with their biological sexual characteristics would make a similar claim. Read more