There’s No Vaccine for Stupidity

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Trump gives himself an A+ and a 10/10 for his handling of the coronavirus crisis.  Not everyone agrees.

W.J. Astore

A few thoughts generated by these coronaviral times:

Perhaps in a year, we’ll have an effective vaccine against COVID-19.  But developing a vaccine against stupidity will remain elusive.

Perhaps we should redefine COVID-19 as a terrorist outfit, thereby unleashing unlimited funding from Congress to combat it.

People are stunned by this pandemic and the changes driven by it.  We’ve been knocked out of our routines and perhaps our complacency.  At least some of us are now open to new ideas.  Which is precisely why our government is rushing in with old ideas, doubling down on trickle down, telling us to remain in place, not only physically, which is necessary, but mentally.  Look at the parade of old ideas trumpeted by the president.  And for that matter Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and the Democratic establishment.  Trump and Biden are literally tired old men, not in age alone, but more importantly in how they view the world.  There’s nothing fresh or original about them.  Nothing.  Whereas Bernie Sanders is fighting for health care for all, better pay for workers, and a system that puts people first instead of profits.

The courage and selflessness of doctors, nurses, first responders, and indeed all those who are risking exposure to the virus to help others has truly been inspirational.  We’re hearing a lot from the media about our doctors, nurses, etc. being “heroes,” which is encouraging.  Far too often in the U.S., and for too long, the concept of “hero” was linked to military service, with all troops being celebrated as “hometown heroes.”  Athletes, too, were called heroes for hitting homeruns or throwing touchdowns.  Our coronaviral moment is reminding us about the true nature of heroes.  As I wrote a decade ago:

Here, then, is what I mean by “hero”: someone who behaves selflessly, usually at considerable personal risk and sacrifice, to comfort or empower others and to make the world a better place.  Heroes, of course, come in all sizes, shapes, ages, and colors, most of them looking nothing like John Wayne or John Rambo or GI Joe (or Jane).

“Hero,” sadly, is now used far too cavalierly.  Sportscasters, for example, routinely refer to highly paid jocks who hit walk-off home runs or score game-winning touchdowns as heroes.  Even though I come from a family of firefighters (and one police officer), the most heroic person I’ve ever known was neither a firefighter nor a cop nor a jock: She was my mother, a homemaker who raised five kids and endured without complaint the ravages of cancer in the 1970s, with its then crude chemotherapy regimen, its painful cobalt treatments, the collateral damage of loss of hair, vitality, and lucidity.  In refusing to rail against her fate or to take her pain out on others, she set an example of selfless courage and heroism I’ll never forget.

Perhaps it takes a crisis like this for us to recognize the “ordinary” heroes among us, the ones who aren’t “top guns” flying warplanes, the ones who aren’t throwing footballs for multi-million-dollar salaries.

Remember when Trump said: “I could stand In the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters”?  This moment is proving him right.  He has colossally mismanaged this crisis, yet his followers still place their faith in him.  For his followers, Trump is the ultimate Teflon president.  Nothing sticks to him.  Eat your heart out, Ronald Reagan!

Finally, as a pandemic rages, the Trump administration is warning of a possible sneak attack by Iran even as it deploys ships and air assets in the drug war, specifically against Venezuela.  Echoing the words of Mehdi Hasan, a journalist at The Intercept, what kind of maniac does this?  But maybe it’s not mania; after all, Iran and Venezuela have something in common: huge reserves of oil, and regimes that resist the USA.  Once again, old thinking prevails, old scores must be settled, even as a new world order takes shape because of this pandemic.

Of course, Trump has never put America first.  He’s always put himself first.  He’s given himself an A+ and a 10 out of 10 for his leadership in facing this crisis.  Sad to say, his followers believe him.  Remember when I said there’s no vaccine for stupidity?

19 thoughts on “There’s No Vaccine for Stupidity

  1. This is just a minor point to augment an otherwise worthy perspective: the terrorists are capitalism and its advocates in the U. S. government, and their masters of profit in the psychopathic world of finance and environmental pillage-for-profit. The pandemic is really, as the honorable Astore has noted, an abject lack of compassion and clear thinking by those criminals minds we’ve allowed to destroy life and the living. We make the necessary changes for the better now, in this moment in human history, or we move on to extinction.

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  2. The fundamental issue for the USA, it seems to me, is that far too many of our fellow citizens never learned to think critically, analytically, for themselves. This has been touched on numerous times on this blog site, yes? They are all too gullible and susceptible to a demagogue who offers the simplest “explanations” for our national problems: “THOSE PEOPLE are to blame!!” “Those people” may vary from time to time, but Trump amped up his 2016 campaign by vilifying Mexicans, the very folks who provide the back-breaking labor that keeps food flowing to our tables. And millions cheered this ugly xenophobia and cast their votes for the real estate charlatan spouting those grossly insulting words. Public figures like Rush Limbaugh clearly helped pave the way for the Trump presidency. “Those people” include Muslims all over the world, as the War on Islam Trump inherited continues, Venezuelans, Cubans and Nicaraguans (is Daniel Ortega even still in office?), Russians and Chinese. And now come new direct threats against Iran. Millions of our fellow citizens here in Moron Nation–I first applied this phrase to our country when it elected Reagan in 1980–will cheer when American bombs and missiles are next launched against any of these targets. And the same morons will cheer Trump on as he conjures up new attacks on what’s left of our “social safety net.” They can’t be bothered to realize that they themselves will be victimized by new policies. Because thinking, you see, is too damned much of an effort!!

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    1. I strongly agree with your above comment greglaxer. As I’ve mentioned before, in a way, I can’t really even put the blame on Trump because at the end of the day, he didn’t elect himself, some 47 or 48% of the voters did that (obviously with an assist from the electoral college). And it wasn’t like he had mounted a clever ruse and then changed his tune once he got in the White House (other than becoming more militaristic when he took office, undoubtedly due to ‘peer pressure’ / ‘deep state’ / or whatever term one prefers) — he was outrageously boorish and simplistic from the beginning, and had even switched political parties in the past. As author Matt Taibbi so aptly describes it in his critique of current MSM “Hate, Inc”, Trump is simply using the persona of a WWE professional ‘wrestler’, with the comically exaggerated, grandiose statements with only random correlation to the truth.
      Like yourself and many others of our age-group (70+ yrs), I too trace this change back to a change in the US zeitgeist in the late 1970’s, culminating in the election of Ronald Reagan. The problems in this country (and world-wide) are almost all ‘structurally embedded’ as opposed to ‘personal’ — even in this country, electing a relatively progressive candidate like Sanders as POTUS would probably just result in a stalemate (at best), UNLESS there was an accompanying progressive Congress. There is 40-odd years of right-wing/libertarian law to be overcome and I for-one highly doubt that the change will come from within the existing political parties unless there are traumatic episodes in our country, like this pandemic, a major economic downturn, a ‘hot’ war (heaven forbid) or similar.

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      1. I was watching George Carlin this AM, from 1996, I think, and he said this: “If you have selfish, ignorant citizens you’re going to get selfish, ignorant leaders.”

        He, of course, was right.

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        1. George Carlin was right about 99% of the time in his observations on how we live in the modern age. Woulda made an awesome POTUS!! I mean, we’ve got a clown in the White House now, but 99% of the time he’s NOT funny in the least!

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          1. Yesterday he said that people want to go out to ball parks and breathe fresh air. That was pretty funny.

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      2. Eddie S — Oh, believe me, the “Greater Depression” is here! After the events of 9/11 we were encouraged to “go out and shop.” People, and they’re in the millions already, will have a hard time shopping with no paycheck (especially if they’d previously maxed out credit cards). We are truly in uncharted waters! But there are precious few in the US with anything like revolutionary consciousness. Without this consciousness and an ORGANIZED revolutionary party, there will be no revolution. There may well be “civil unrest,” but not with a true class-consciousness. This is one reason Trump hankers for a return to business as usual, to try to avoid this unrest. But who knows how many smaller businesses will never recover from this shock, and “normalcy” is not even on our radar screen at this point.

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  3. A helpful exploration of emerging reality, but as I’m well beyond the verge of elder status, I must protest, establishment stupidity is nothing to do with age! It’s always been about class interest, class rule! Was it Tulsi Gabbard who said “It’s all abut the Benjamins”?

    In my view, the same goes for the endless resource wars. Mother History placed the U.S. in the role of leader of the capitalist world after it’s amazing investment and profiteering spree of WW2. (Hence the M.I.C. and securitans as the new High Church.) The “American Dream” turns out to be rather wet, of selfish acquisition beyond need. This new religion for “of the west” spread like a virus. It’s Vatican was Wall St. It’s Mecca, egotistical vulgarity, and its crusade has been the ridicule of science, of understanding, of human social values. But this process against nature had to come unstuck. Probably, in an unexpected way. When we stop critical thinking, we have no resource to interpret the motion of the world.

    The big front in the war on science has been the ridiculing of the dialectical concept of the motion of all things. A retreat into routine dogmatic blindness. That Materialist Dialectics as a scientific method of discernment has been proven over and over – in Particle Physics, Biology, Virology, the science of thought itself: Scientific Philosophy; this counts for nothing when measured by rulers against the bottom line. In fact, truth quickly becomes an obstacle to sequestration. Even when the bottom line consists of fictitious capital devoid of any real value, and stretches to breaking point a systemic approach, now going through the motions since August 15th, 1971.

    Behind all the mayhem is a simple fact. The for-profit business mode of ordering human social affairs has failed. It convulses in a turmoil of hubris and murder. And it’s high priests are powerless because their aim of fixing it – of going back to a mythical golden age – cannot be achieved.

    Covid-19 is not just wreaking havoc among human society. It also renders present human social organisation impotent. We are living through a new revolution in human affairs. The table is turning. If I may misquote the wonderful author of “The Go-Between”, L P Hartley, and coin a new phrase:

    “The future is a foreign country; we must learn to do things differently there”.

    And we had better start quickly if we are to survive. Things must change. And we must learn how to make those changes. The rejection of science in favour of stupidity and greed has had historic consequences.

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    1. If “realdemocracyinireland” will permit, I will attempt to refine those comments somewhat. I would say that the war on Science is in the service of the merciless exploitation of a planet’s resources, what Nature provided us (the base, or starting point, of all wealth) plus human labor power. The latter Marx identified as the real source of Capitalist profit–the value added to the raw materials by human skills. It should not have taken that much damned common sense to grasp that humans could only dump just so much toxic crap into the air, water and soil before serious health consequences would blow back in our faces. But, as Twain pointed out, Man believes he is “the Creator’s pet” and all will be forgiven. One of Marx/Engels’s (sorry if I’m “losing” some readers at this point!) interpretations/modifications of Hegel’s dialectics was the concept of transformation of quantity into quality and vice versa: you dump enough toxins into the environment and you suffer a major deterioration in the quality of life!! It’s too soon to know–and unless the Chinese allow an international scientific investigation, we may never find out–if global warming helped empower this virus to transfer to humans.But it is a scientific reality that only minor changes in average temperatures can trigger significant changes in the local biological environment. This is just one of the many “inconvenient truths” that the Ruling Class does not care to acknowledge.

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  4. We should have had a real investigation of 9/11 (and the JFK assassination for that matter). I believe this virus is the same thing, an intentional act to bring more power and money to Washington. My belief doesn’t make me right, but it should be investigated.

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    1. Some “leaders” (pretty well at the dictator phase now) in other nations are setting dandy examples for Trump to emulate in imposing draconian measures (Hungary in particular at the moment) behind the mask of addressing the pandemic. And then there’s the Trumpian bozo in Brasil who, last I heard, was still denying there’s anything like a crisis! Looks like we need a global revolution to restore at least a semblance of sanity to this Earth of ours!

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  5. “The courage and selflessness of doctors, nurses, first responders, and indeed all those who are risking exposure to the virus to help others has truly been inspirational. We’re hearing a lot from the media about our doctors, nurses, etc. being “heroes,” which is encouraging.”
    It is unfortunate and sad that it has taken a Pandemic for people to realise what this group of people face day in and day out. Visit any city or county hopsital/ER…. shortage of staff who are overworked, lack of materials, lack of beds for acute patients because of patients with gun shot wounds ( endemic violence ), drug overdose etc. And, they do not want to be heroes…. they just want to do the BEST they can for their patients without having to cut corners.

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  6. Have to echo your thoughts on everyday heroes, Mr. Astore. Time to celebrate the cleaning people, the delivery drivers, the grocery store clerks. I am in Healthcare, and while the work of Doctors and Nurses is admirable, it is not heroic. They are extremely well paid, and go into their roles knowing the risks. They are more akin to mercenaries in this war. The real heroes are doing it for minimum wage (similar to the military).

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  7. Some of us here including myself have wondered and pondered why those in the High Command of civilian or the military hierarchy do not speak out.

    I will not pretend to know all the details concerning Capt. Brett Crozier being relieved of his command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt. We know he wrote a letter that escaped out into cyber space concerning the safety of his crew concerning Corona.

    The reason he was relieved is Capt. Crozier showed “extremely poor judgment”. We do not know if Capt. Crozier attempted to go through the chain of command prior to his letter that escaped. At the Washington Post, columnist Max Boot wrote a piece entitled, “The only official fired over the virus? A captain who tried to protect his crew.”

    Military law expert Gary Solis—also a Marine Corps veteran and West Point adjunct professor of law—tells Quartz that Crozier broke no law in the code of military justice and won’t face legal consequences, but adds that he’s likely destroyed his career. “Right or wrong, he wasn’t relieved for trying to save lives. It’s that he exercised poor judgment in a public way. That’s it for him. He’s never going to see a good duty station again—he’s just screwed.”

    A video circulating online of him leaving the Roosevelt to cheers from his sailors.
    ========================================================================
    Crozier is relieved of command, this stands in sharp contrast to aftermath of 9/11, when no one to my knowledge in the High Command of the Civilian, or Intelligence worlds was cashiered. Bush the Younger’s Iraq War 2 likewise had no negative fallout, when the reasons for starting Iraq War 2 were discovered to be Bogus.

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    1. You see, this is the luxury of being an official in the machinery of the only “superpower” on the planet: the most inconceivable blunders can be overlooked–provided you stay on Godfather Trump’s good side. Kiss Godfather’s ring, or else. As for the events of 9/11, there were intel warnings of something to come, even mention of aircraft specifically. But the POTUS who struggled to read “My Pet Goat” aloud to Florida schoolchildren that fateful morning couldn’t be bothered to read the reports. Is there even a George W. Bush Presidential Memorial Library?? If so, I’m sure I had a big belly-laugh when the announcement came out, but details elude me now.

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