The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

How Standard Media Skews Public Understanding

I recently had a long conversation with a fellow Canadian about current events, especially Covid and the economy. He read a lot of newspapers: he’s well informed by normal standards.

But over the course of the conversation I realized he was terribly informed.

For Covid, he was convinced both that China had only controlled Covid thru very long lockdowns and that they were lying about results. In particular, he remembered Shanghai well, but didn’t realize Shanghai was an exception. Most Chinese cities have locked down much less over the course of Covid than we have.

When I mentioned that other countries had much lower rates than us, he dismissed that as well. He thought travel bans and quarantines were completely pointless, when they have worked very well for those countries which implemented them. Western Australia’s travel ban kept Covid low there for ages, and New Zealand had a wave almost immediately after as they released restrictions.

He believed that not doing zero-Covid style policies was better for the economy and that China’s economy was in free fall. It has issues, to be sure, but it also has a 2% inflation rate, among other advantages.

He was convinced governments could not just find money to support people in lockdowns, believing money comes from taxes (it doesn’t, most money is created of thin air, this is something the MMT people are right about.)

He believed that vaccines are the most effective anti-Covid measure. They aren’t: China has worse vaccines than us and much better performance, and Covid variants have optimized for vaccine and natural immunity evasion. BA.5 in particular laughs at immunity, whether natural or vaccine.

In general he felt that the economy must be prioritized, and that is done best by keeping it open at all times. There was no acknowledgment of long Covid as a factor, or of the fact that each infection increases the odds of long term health damage to victims.

There was a sense of hopelessness about Covid being international, and that it would just keep going forever as a result, without knowledge of us restricting vaccines for much of the world, not doing travel bans or quarantine properly and not supporting other countries to do the right things (not that we are ourselves.)

He wouldn’t acknowledge that if shutdowns are to be done, they should be done at the point where numbers start going into exponential growth, even though there aren’t a lot of cases then, instead of waiting for hospital ICUs to be overwhelmed, and that by doing so we’d actually have shorter lockdowns and a lot less deaths and disabled and sick people.

This isn’t a badly read guy; he knew about the things the media has covered at length.

And this is the problem with propaganda; it creates a world view among its victims that is simply incorrect, and if you don’t actually know what’s going on  you can’t make good decisions or support good decision at the political level.

What I see is that the West, in most cases, is creating circumstances where 15-20%, or more, of our population will wind up disabled in some way. Repeated Covid infections are going to gut us: our society cannot run with that many people with long term health damage.

But the media’s coverage has been of the “what we’re doing is the best way and everyone else is doing it badly.” It’s not that there aren’t exceptions, but that’s the general tone and message, along with a huge push for vaccines at the cost of other measures like masking, quarantines, travel bans, and proper indoor ventilation which actually, in some combination, work better.

One could call this “learned helplessness.” My conversation partner was convinced that everything reasonable had been tried, that zero-Covid policies hadn’t worked where tried and that doing them was tyrannical, bad for the economy and worse than what we had done.

Nothing could be done, so Covid would remain chronic, with wave after wave.

In a sense he’s right, except that so far we have refused to do what works, so Covid will keep going.



How To Think Clearly About Political and Social Issues


The Debt Trap That Helped Take Down Sri Lanka Was Not Chinese


  1. marku52

    Small correction “money people” = “many people”

    OTTT, entirely correct. At his point, I am almost convinced that the lack of response is really a Davos set plan to “reduce the surplus population”
    After all, today’s conspiracy theory is a “reasonable hypothesis” 6 month later–remember “lab leak”?

  2. Stirling S Newberry

    The news media is different from the 1960s and 1970s. There were still cover-ups back then but there was a point where the media said “this is too much.” The line, however, lose it was, has been rolled back.

    I spend a great deal of time hearing from inside China. There are definite problems there and the people I hear from admit it. But it is a very different set than what the media reports on from the outside. It even has a name: the singular of data is not anecdote. A good example is Shanghai’s Shutdown in the face of COVID. To us, on the outside, Shanghai is a major nexus point and holds our attention. But in the grand scheme of China, it occupies a more nuanced place.

    Remember, when you are watching anything ask who is making it and why do they want to get this point of view out?

  3. Ché Pasa

    Clearly what’s been happening is not accidental. I won’t go so far as to assert it’s a carefully worked out plan for a Covid catastrophe, because that’s not how our Overlords think or work. They rationalize the failures as an experiment… “Let’s see what happens if… Let’s find out how far we can push the rabble, how much abuse they will accept this time, where the fractures are, what’s the breaking point…” And then adapt, come what may.

    It was obvious almost from the outset what the Covid policy was: Let ‘er rip among the lesser people; adapt to the result come what may. Enforce spread of the virus. Make people believe that it’s not that bad, masking is worse, we’re all going to die some time, so get on with it.

    The Great and Glorious are protected by layers of intervention that the rubes do not have access to. Those few who wound up on death’s door — BJ, Trump, Bolsonaro among them — were all saved by the miracles of modern medicine which proved to their minds that this thing is survivable as long as you have access to the appropriate medicine which ordinary people largely don’t. Good enough. Let them die, let them linger. It doesn’t matter. They don’t matter.

    That’s been policy in much of the West since practically Day One.

    That’s not an accident. It was pre-planned. What the results would be weren’t.

    So. The propaganda has been absurd, but most of us aren’t taught to think it through, so most of us don’t know — and as Ian suggests, can’t be convinced that another way was possible, and it would have been successful in curbing Covid.

    We live with the results. Or not.

  4. Hickory

    Stifling – what issues do you see China having? I keep hearing about the usual – population, import dependency for energy, and of course the debt bubble has been about to explode for 10+ years. Curious your thoughts.

  5. Mark H

    Regarding the response to COVID, there was a study done by The Lancet (a leading medical journal.) They studied a large number of countries, and rated their response, not just on what the government was saying, but what they actually did.

    The simplified version of their findings is that the countries with the most effective responses did multiple things, and did multiple things well. Furthermore, there wasn’t any one thing that was specifically necessary, as long as the government did multiple things, and made sure they were doing them well.

    Between the federal and provincial governments we can say that governments in Canada did do multiple things; but other than the Atlantic provinces, the various governments did just about everything poorly. And that’s why Canada scored as middling-to-poor, in terms of infection and death rates.

    This brings up two important points about the “closing the border” debate in Canada.

    First, there was the hypocrisy of those making a stink about the airports, while completely ignoring the huge volume of traffic across the Canada-US border. In particular, the Conservatives, who made a huge stink about closing the border, would absolutely never have stopped business related traffic across the Canada-US border, even if they were in power.

    Keep in mind too, that the US had one of the worst per capita infection and death rates, but let’s ignore that border crossing, and make a stink about the airports.

    Regardless of whether other countries made closing the border a part of their response, this was never going to be something that Canada would “do well,” even under a Conservative federal government.

    Additionally, it’s also clear that the Conservatives, at least in the early phase, were pushing the border narrative in order to justify not taking other measures. Remember Doug Ford’s press conference at an airport, being Trudeau to shut down the airports? Political theater, at it’s worst.

    I would like to think that the Trudeau government was at least aware of the aforementioned study in The Lancet. At the very least, it would be with Theresa Tam’s professional responsibility to keep up with this kind of stuff. Yet, despite all the flack Trudeau took, even over stuff that was actually a provincial responsibility, the Trudeau government never mentioned this study, not even once, as far as I am aware.

    Another thing that the study found, which we also needed to hear from the government, but didn’t, was the fact that the countries with the best response to COVID also suffered the least economic harm. Turns out that letting a deadly contagious run free isn’t good for the economy, either.

    That whole debate about “balancing” our COVID response against the economy? Complete bullshit.

    Of the various things the federal government did poorly, with regard to COVID, was a long string of communication failures, beyond just what I’ve mentioned here.

    Lastly, on the subject of vaccination; it’s true that vaccination is not the be-all-and-end-all, but given that both federal and provincial governments have given up on everything else, it’s all we got left.

    Go get vaxxed.

  6. Willy

    When I was a kid we had Walter Cronkite. Whenever he said, “And that’s the way it is”, you knew damned well that’s the way it was. Today we have corporate media, most of which are ads for products few of us actually need. If you’ve chosen MSNBC, you’ll be tempted to buy various specialty drugs so you can go outside and fly kites, do tai chi, or some other happy liberal activity you’re supposed to be doing with your other-race partner and stress-free kids. On Fox it’ll be American flag catheters with bible verses on them. The hard part for me is getting younger folks to understand that just because big media, these days, always has a corporate slant disguised as political activism, doesn’t mean that facebook or 4chan is going to be as credible for news as our once Most Trusted Man In America. Getting them to find the right skeptical balance has been hard for me. Seems too many of em would rather pick some implausible conspiracy theory side and hate on me for thinking anything different.

  7. bruce wilder

    I follow the war in Ukraine, reading the New York Times daily. Overall, their coverage — particularly their featured and interpretative summary pieces — are relentless and seemingly shameless propaganda for the official Ukraine version. Reporters do slip in facts in contradiction of the script, buried deep and kept brief, but that is exceptional. Kagan (ISW) maps are used frequently to track military progress.

    I would venture that the most effective thing mainstream media does is by way of omission: they give no platform to figures with strong, informed views and good, skeptical, morally acute judgment. There are marginalized, self-appointed people on social media, where they must promote themselves. The information ecosystem is made more dysfunctional by this “division of labor” between the relatively resource-abundant and secure mainstream and the precarious, scattered hobbyists.

  8. different clue


    I have long thought that there is no “as if” about it. The Western governments’ careful and deliberate fostering and anti-containment of the covid pandemic is designed to stealth-kill hundreds of millions of people over time and slowly enough to maintain a threadbare veneer of plausible deniability. But the toll in death and even more in long-term disability has become visible enough that the deniability lacks plausibility in the minds of a small but growing minority of people.

    ( New Zealand for a while and Western Australia for a while were exceptions to this Western Mass-Democide policy. I imagine New Zealand has been tortured into compliant surrender with the “kill millions” Prime Directive. I am not sure why Western Australia surrendered to the Covid Zombie central Australian government.)

    Are the governments The Enemy? Or are the governments ” in class enemy hands”?
    Those are two different theories suggesting two different approaches. People who believe one or the other should feel free to base their actions on the theory they believe, because they will do their best work based on what they believe. And Darwin will decide who is right.

    Meanwhile, people who by now reject mainstream covidogenic advice will be able to spot eachother by defiantly wearing masks in public. And the more they know, the better quality masks they will wear. And they may be psychologically ready to accept other pro-survival information and spread it among themselves. And if they can keep themselves and eachother covid-free or at least covid-low, their next longer-term mission will be how to survive the Long Hard Times which societies full of covid invalids will cause.

    There is a lot of good survival and true-epidemiological/etiological information over at Naked Capitalism, but it is drowned in the millions of words. People with infinite time and infinite patience might well sift through the millions of words at Naked Capitalism to bring the tens of thousands of high value survival words over here to the relevant threads at Ian Welsh. Naked Capitalism will never do any of that themselves because they do not see themselves as a searchable repository of Survivalist Information. They see themselves as an embryonic business seeking to attract as many eyeballs as possible by emitting the maximum number of millions of sticky velcro words words words. And we who seek to rescue valuable knowledge and information from the everflowing mudslide of words over at Naked Capitalism will just have to pick our way through the mud and rocks and boulders as best as we can while hunting for buried information to rescue.

    And here is the next pandemic to begin watching out for right now. Monkeypox. Gebreyesus and his minions at WHO are deliberately conspiring to do everything they can do to turn the monkeypox epidemic into an unstoppable Pandemic, deliberately and on purpose, through such cynical means as pronouncing it to be ” not a Pandemic” in public as long as they can, to keep societies compacent and disinformed long enough to give Monkeypox the head start it needs to become the next permanent Pandemic.
    Gebreyesus reminds me of Science Officer Robot Ash from the first movie in the Alien series.

    But eye wood knifer caul fur and ill eagle ting lack der ass assignation oofda purr sun choost mansioned.

  9. Ian Welsh

    It’s anecdote, but there was a commenter here who claimed to have been knowledgeable of the internal Trudeau Covid deliberations in the first year of the plague. He said that they really were flamingly incompetent, more than malign.

  10. Ché Pasa

    Have to push back a bit on Willy’s nostalgic rosy view of media back in the day.

    It was not better. And when Walter Concrete (as some of us called he) claimed “and that’s the way it is” (or was, he had a number of shows on CBS) he was… putting out… propaganda. His other shows included “The 20th Century” and “You Are There,” both of which fictionalized history to inculcate an often false version of the “way it was” to satisfy sponsors and corporate overseers. No television news was independent.

    News media was different back in the day — there was little or no news on weekends or between Memorial and Labor Day except fluff — and the propaganda was presented without hysterics, but it wasn’t better.

    (And if I’ve misconstrued Willy’s POV, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.)

    Yes. He was. All television news was suffused with propaganda — both government and corporate. There were way more newspapers and magazines that there are now, but their news was almost all from the same sources (AP/UPI) and that which they came up with themselves was edited to a fare thee well to reflect the publisher’s/advertisers’/owner’s preferences. There were only three television networks (later four with the addition of PBS). There was no cable TV at all. Radio was almost all AM, and radio talk was dominated by religious nuts and right-wing crazies.

    There were far fewer alternative sources of news. Those that there were tended to be hard to find, limited in scope, and were often subjected to official and unofficial harassment and worse.


  11. different clue

    I am prepared to believe that the internal Trudeau Covid deliberations could indeed be flamingly incompetent.

    I am not prepared to believe that about the DC FedRegime or other major Western governments. And I am esPECially not prepared to believe that about deliberate malignant covid accelerationists like CDC, WHO, Fauci, etc. etc. etc.

  12. Trinity

    Honest question, how does one discern incompetence from malignancy? Pandemics have been around for awhile, we had some relatively recent ones (SARS, HIV) so how to respond is well known. One of the things I remember from early in 2020 was Trump throwing out Obama’s plans, which if I remember correctly he had updated for the Ebola crisis that was eventually contained.

    Also wanted to add that greed is the basis for everything they do, and owning enormous amounts of money is to also have enormous amounts of power. We also know that having an extreme amount of money changes people, not for the good. No matter how much they have now, it’s not enough. It’s a sickness where the only thing they care about is amassing even more. That’s what we are seeing happen before our eyes, enough is never enough for them. It’s a sickness that underlies a lot of what we are seeing.

  13. anon

    Your friend sounds like most of the educated liberals I know these days. They are just as in denial as conservatives other than believing more in vaccine efficacy. Some of the sanest people I know have stopped wearing masks and I see this illogic with commentators that I generally respect and agree with, such as Jimmy Dore and the Breaking Points hosts. None of them have covered the effects of long Covid. Most people I know don’t even consider long Covid. They think it’s like the cold or flu now so why wear a mask? I predict I’ll have to wear a mask for the rest of my life because both our leaders and the majority of Americans (and I guess Canadians) have resigned themselves to living with chronic Covid forever.

  14. Chiron

    I immediately assume the opposite of any opinion the major media is trying to sell me.

  15. anon

    I just came across this article. This is our future for tens of millions of people. So desperate for a cure that they will travel abroad for blood washing.

  16. bruce wilder

    Compare and contrast this OP with the previous one: “How to think clearly . . . ”

    Propaganda — with its calculated use of disinformation, misinformation and often no information — is designed to derail any possibility of clear thinking. Clever phrasing and liberal use of empty abstractions and speculative story-telling can lead to people believing as fact things that never were even explicitly asserted.

    Ideally, I imagine we would want independent journalists to critically interrogate what they were told, to investigate, to corroborate. The incentives for an advertising-supported journalism on a shoestring, written by highly articulate people on a deadline are not good to begin with. Cultivate “sources” by paying for “access”by carrying water for this powerful person or that.

    Official sources of authoritative, reliable information have to be put to ruins at the outset, as they were in the U.S. The CDC has done a conspicuously bad job gathering and publishing objective data — and exploited the excuse of 50-state health departments to come up with nonsense like “community levels” — and color codes borrowed from the happy days of terrorist alerts. Remember Johns Hopkins throwing up a data site in a few a days and the CDC years later still cannot do as well. Remember that woman in Florida that the governor went after with hammer and tong. All so the rest of us could read very unhelpful speculation about the “real” case rates, the “real” death rates — 3x? 6x?

    And, that’s all before the professional propagandists get started with selling “the narrative”. I think the powers that be latched onto vaccine passports and vaccine mandates (despite a very weak rationale that such policies could be effective) precisely because they knew such policies would be politically provocative and devisive. (incompetent or malign — that particular choice looks malign to me)

  17. bruce wilder

    Trinity: “Pandemics have been around for awhile, we had some relatively recent ones (SARS, HIV) so how to respond is well known.”

    I have heard this meme a lot: “the playbook has been written and is well-known.” And, on the evidence of the COVID-19 experience, I don’t think this stuff is well-known especially among those given official responsibility as “experts” and “professionals” for leading a response. For one thing, effective response requires finding out the particular epidemiology and mechanisms of contagion very fast — otherwise, everything you do is ritual and theatre. You can say, “quarantine (duh)” but effective measures centering on isolating the contagious require groking a lot of detail particular to the contagion. We should have been making some intelligent guesses based on early experience with those cruise ships, but apparently no one with official responsibility is a good guesser, because airborne transmission was strongly resisted right down to the present. Test and trace requires devising and executing a testing regime with a fast turnaround; the CDC with a budget in the billions could not do that, sorry. The officials who focused from the first moment on preserving emergency room capacity and latched onto rapidly transferring COVID patients to nursing homes to recuperate clearly did not grasp the basics of making a quarantine work, anymore than those who were sent home to “isolate” in the bosom of their families and on their own recognizance.

    Another way to look at this is that, yes, in some ways, responding to an emergent pandemic is something public health professionals ought to prepare for, but actually executing effective policies in a particular case, requires rapid education and training of a far larger population and this process was an abject failure. So, we are back to the topic at hand: public understanding and what shapes it.

  18. VietnamVet

    The coronavirus pandemic debacle, the European natural gas calamity, and the endless wars are pages out of the same script; profiteering at the expense of human life.

    The “ancien regime” came back into power with the triumph of the Western Empire in the 1990s with all of the old-time haughtiness, grand fortunes, and incompetence; but, without “noblesse oblige”. The ruling Elite, “the Insiders”, are encased in a bubble and impervious to reality gratifying their vices.

    The striking reality is that Russia and NATO are the same. They are Oligarchies. The current rulers simply cannot see the extremely disastrous outcome of the proxy world war unless an Armistice is signed as soon as possible and a DMZ is built to separate the nations. A nuclear holocaust is guaranteed if Poland or Crimea are invaded. Or, a worker revolution could intervene first (i.e. Sri Lanka).

    Neither side acknowledges that like the American Civil War and WWI, the Ukraine Russia War is industrial slaughter. NATO and Russia have not mobilized. There is not the manpower, close air support, tanks, personnel carriers, and rolling artillery for maneuver warfare to break through the defenses in depth entrenched in Ukraine to defeat the opponent like in the past; for example, the Allies breaking out of Normandy to liberate Paris in three months or the USA taking Baghdad in three weeks.

    Winter is coming.

  19. Willy

    Well Che, if Walter Concrete was polled as “the most trusted man in America” during the time of the Fairness Doctrine, reporting smack dab during the height of the New Deal years, with personal quotes suggesting an anti-war mindset (unproductive wars, as in Vietnam), progressivism, open mindedness, with some freedom-loving thrown in… and that’s the very best America could ever do for a mainstream media reporter/anchor, then we are truly fucked. My thinking is that a very large percentage of any population are non-skeptical zombies who need their most trusted news source.

    My point was that in America media is a business, and one that is whatever the corporate sponsors need it to be. In the USSR it got to be more of a state-directed propaganda. Plus there’s far too many squirrely types out there who seem to know this but aren’t rational enough to ignore what should be obvious nuttery on stuff like facebook and 4chan.

    But then, I once considered Lou Dobbs to be the most trusted business news man in America. For all I know if Cronkite was still alive, Lou and Wally would be co-hosting a “news” podcast so nutty they’d be giving facebook and 4chan a run for their money.

  20. anon y'mouse

    i personally feel they resisted (resist? persist in resisting?) airborne spread because they did not want the public to panic.

    i’ve seen doctors do this directly in front of me, when a miscommunication in a medical office lead to the doctor believing i had active tuberculosis (i had latent tuberculosis and was being treated with medications for that which are the same as those they treat active TB with, he saw the medication and flipped and almost bolted out of the room without giving me an examination). even doctors do not want to deal with airborne contagious diseases, and they do know better. doctors who have spoken about it said that their colleagues were content to virtually close their offices rather than treat people because they didn’t want to catch it. imagine that attitude going widescale—society probably would have collapsed because everyone here would have said “screw this! i’m going home right now and eat beans from my pantry”. instead, people thronged to stores to buy out toilet paper and a few ERs were overrrun. that’s all the people in charge cared about—limiting panic.

    they determined that it was airborne right away, but because “the flu” is also airborne and kills only the sickly, it was probably a bargain they were willing to accept to mislead the entire public rather than have everyone panicking. and some of these electeds even said so outright (“it will reduce the pension rolls!”). they are fine with killing the old and the sick, and as long as they can pretend those are the only people affected, they will allow it to run free. when “real” people get sick now (from the illness OR the shots), i see people around me try to explain away their illness as “pre-existing condition”. and in this society, pre-existing condition is a coded language for “brought it upon themselves through bad habits”. that belief has been long inculcated into public minds by the privatized “health” system we have here which allows people to be underinsured and undercared for medically and with systemic food and lifestyle issues wrought by capitalism that individuals just have to be “disciplined” enough to cure for themselves. we’ve been content with Social Murder for a long, long time here.

    the measures they did take, which the “freedom” idiots overhype as they were never full scale and lacked any sense about them and were overall ineffective, gave the game away in certain areas. colleges were supposedly locking down their students into their dorms over holidays and disallowing partying. they knew groups of people drinking and cavorting would spread the thing, and even though the public policy was “get vaxxed (or else lose your place) and wear masks, maybe”, it is apparent that those who instituted the college holiday partying rules knew what the real game was and were trying to prevent deaths on their heads that they had to explain to livid parents, and a bump in their infection rate being highly visible. granted, this did nothing for those students who lived off campus or went home for the holidays, but as long as the college didn’t have people dying on their watch (for which angry parents might sue), they had plausible deniability. a lot of the lack of measures were to essentially stave off liability and inject plausible deniability: “you didn’t catch it here, or can’t prove that you did. you probably caught it in line at the grocery store or anywhere else for all anyone knows.” that is why a track/trace/test regime was never going to be instituted. the business class as a whole did not want to have to answer for it, and guess who owns those businesses and who pays all of these politicians?

    everywhere you look, those who were informed made sure to have plausible deniability. i used to work in property management and had independently taken real estate law from a practicing lawyer. he said something once which is highly illuminating: if you have a hazard on your property and you put up a sign about it, that is letting the judge know you knew about it and failed to fix it. that means you’re liable when someone does the opposite of what the sign says and kills or injures themselves. better that you either fix it, or don’t put up a sign letting the world know you knew about a hazard that killed someone. plausible deniability is gone with the sign.

    better to fail to acknowledge airborne, because then someone might have to actually do something. this way, no one has to do anything and they can conveniently claim they aren’t forcing you to come into what should essentially be considered a “sick building” to work or attend classes.

  21. Ché Pasa

    Covid response in most of the West has been a failure, not because the public health professionals didn’t know what to do — they did — but because they did not resist political and economic pressure to do something else instead. This is an epic failure of the public health system that is not being corrected.

    At every step of the way, public health protocols were fought by politicians and their sponsors and were abandoned more or less quickly. A faction of the media was and is an eager and willing participant. “Public health” simply gave up. The public health system has no power of enforcement absent political support and determination. It didn’t exist in most of the West and it still doesn’t.

    This is not the first time it’s happened, and not the first time Fauci has been involved in a catastrophic public health failure. It was clear what was going to happen from almost the outset of the pandemic. Millions are dead and disabled. And if the course of monkey pox is any indication, it’s going to happen again. This is policy. Get used to it.

    Fight it? What can you do about it? You personally as an individual? If you’re rich you can bunker down (or not) and expect the finest treatments if you catch the disease of the moment. If you’re not, tough luck, sucker.

    That’s the reality regardless of your political persuasion. Your choice is to go along with the cull and try to avoid the Reaper. That’s it. There is nothing else. There’s been almost no political will to do what’s necessary to protect the population. The institutions that might have done it were long hollowed out, and with the advent of Covid, collapsed.

    Eventually, we might be able to start over and do it right, but we’re nowhere near that point now.

  22. Ché Pasa

    As a side note: my Trumpist cousins in California — who refused vaccines and mocked wearing masks and such — got Covid earlier this year. They’re in their seventies, and not in the best of health to begin with, and — no surprise — they have not recovered fully. Likely, they won’t. Last I heard, they were going to try to move again to be closer to their children in the Sierra foothills. Someone to look after them.

    They’re wealthy enough to feel entitled to immunity the way so many of their class do, but they found out they weren’t immune, and when they tried to get treatment, they found out there was a long line of sufferers in worse shape in front of them. They’re still furious they didn’t receive prompt and effective treatment. And that, worse, their underlying conditions were allowed to get out of control, compounding their suffering.

    I feel sympathy for their plight. If we’d had a functioning public health system that was able to thwart political sabotage, it’s more than likely this wouldn’t have happened, but as we know, we don’t have that kind of system. Far from it.

  23. someofparts

    Well, this seems to fit here. It is a breakdown of the propaganda measures undertaken to destabilize Ukraine. Provides links that show how widespread the effort has been and, I suppose, remains.

    I think calculated propaganda dissemination has escalated exponentially in the last couple of decades or so. Besides what we can observe domestically or learn about overseas, I suspect there is much much more. Which I think would explain the astounding widespread perfidy of public figures in the West.

  24. different clue

    . . . ” Covid response in most of the West has been a failure, not because the public health professionals didn’t know what to do — they did — but because they did not resist political and economic pressure to do something else instead. This is an epic failure of the public health system that is not being corrected. ”

    Really? An epic failure? I think the Western response has been an epic success, because the real agenda of the Western leadership has been to spread covid everywhere to everyone, over and over and over again, on purpose. In order to kill as many people as possible over the next few decades and make it look like an accident.
    The more millions of people the Western leadership is able to kill over the next few decades, the more epic a success they will consider their covid response to have been.

    Why is the Western Leadership so furious raging hateful against China for its successful-by-comparison covid containment so far? Because the visible contrast and comparison threatens to give the real Western Leadership away.

    If 200 million Americans suddenly realized all-at-once that the DC FedRegime goal is to kill millions of them, would they have a sudden Pearl Harbor moment? Would they spontaneously up-rise and seek to mass-exterminate their covid-accelerationist Rulership so as to get it out of the way so as to conquer for themselves the permission to finally control covid? Are the Leadership Classes beginning to worry about that?

    Lets consider the facts and the truth about who/what we are dealing with here.
    ” Epic failure”? Oh, please. . . .

  25. GlassHammer

    One of the many things I learned from the 2008 financial crisis is that multiple actors across multiple institutions (all with varying degrees of power) can all make the same bad long term bet if…. the right set of short term incentives are in place.

    Additionally I learned that no guiding hand is required to set most of short term incentives (sure something needs to set the thing in motion but the subsequent build up of further short term incentives needs no guiding hand) and no guidance is needed to double down on the bad long term bets (the participants will do that all on their own).

    So yeah the short term incentives to downplay the Pandemic will eventually cease and the long term losses will be realized but until then not much can be done.

  26. Anon

    The Media has one job one job only: to keep the public diverted and provide cover for our planet’s ruling elites as they destroy the natural world and murder those in the global south who stand in the way of resource extraction.

  27. Mark Pontin

    anony’mouse’ “better to fail to acknowledge airborne, because then someone might have to actually do something. ‘

    This was fairly obviously the thinking of the ‘authorities,’ and should be hardly worth discussion among perceptive people. But there’s another factor at play, as Ian’s post addresses.

    Before we get to it, just to be clear, the science that fomites have little to no effect has been around since 2020 and is fairly conclusive. In laboratory conditions in a hospital, they literally tagged every surface with COVID and still the single infection was by airborne means: –

    ‘Low risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission by fomites in real-life conditions’

    There’ve been plenty more papers since. But still there are large masses of people ritualistically washing their hands and devoutly professing their belief in this stuff, while refusing to carry on any kind of mask regime.

    As an experiment, try telling some of these people their beliefs are lies and nonsense, and showing them the scientific papers. What will almost certainly happen is that they will become very angry at you and shout denials. Besides human stupidity, there are two related reasons for this, of course: human laziness and human cowardice.

    Laziness, because — to be reductive– reading even a scientific paper’s abstract and thinking about it is more work than blindly accepting some titbit of nonsense from the media, and is too much work for them.

    Cowardice, because (a) ritualistically washing their hands allows them to believe they’re in control of the situation in a way they can’t if they acknowledge that transmission is almost entirely airborne. Likewise, (b) were they to acknowledge the ‘authorities’ are utterly untrustworthy, that’s an even scarier thought for them.

    We — meaning here, the people posting on Ian’s forum — spend a lot of time pointing out about the obvious truth, which is that current ‘elites’ in the West are in some mixture incompetent scum and/or psychopaths or malignant narcissists.

    What we don’t spend a lot of time addressing is the obvious and more discomforting fact that those elites’ incompetence and psychopathic malice is enabled by — a mirror of — the stupidity, laziness, and cowardice of the average (Western) human. (As G. Carlin once commented: ‘It’s not a mystery where American politicians come from. They come from us, the American people.) And to be clear, if you did try to educate the average Western human, they’d get very angry, to the extent that if you kept on trying to do it they’d physically attack you — even kill you.

    If you think I’m wrong, try it.

    So if we’re honest, we’re left with a dilemma. It’s hard not to have contempt for the average human, except holding someone — and especially the vast mass of humans — in contempt is almost entirely non-productive. The solution for this dilemma, of course, is the same as the solution for holding monkeys or dogs in contempt for their shortcomings, and that’s not to bother caring about monkeys’ and dogs’ shortcomings.

    Likewise, short of wide-scale genetic engineering, the average human being is not going to change. Our ‘elites’ — scum as they are, and I’ve a letter from Joe Lieberman praising an article I wrote when I was a journalist, had one-on-one breakfast with N. Gingrich, been to Washington hearings, etcetera, and I assure you that many are utter human vermin — are a reflection of the populace. (They certainly are in the US.)

    At some point one has to acknowledge that reality and make some kind of peace with it.

  28. Art

    Yaa … sure. Quarantine. That’ll work.

    Because your average American is pretty much like your average Chinese: Complaint, accepting, willing to passively and obediently observe restrictions and follow rules.

    And, of course, the Chinese society, with its layers of community, provincial, and national social control. Including several layers of police, and right on up to the huge army, res4rves, and militia … all willing and able to lend a hand to encourage the enthusiastically compliant citizenry ‘do the right thing’ with a smile, nod, and helping hand.

    I’ve been accosted for just wearing a mask. Thought I was going to throw down right there in the Wally-World parking lot. Fisticuffs in the discount store parking lot … that’s class.

    Locking down a city block, apartment complex, or town for ten days at a time shouldn’t be any trouble at all. Americans, as a people, love regimentation and random restrictions imposed from on high.

  29. Ian Welsh

    People were mostly compliant at the start, they stayed compliant in China because the policies worked. Anyone who thinks the Chinese population isn’t willing to protest is rather wrong.

  30. js

    So formites and airborne. What are the risks of picking up food at say a salad bar? Assume one is masked at the salad bar of course, but the food is out there, unmasked people are around, breathing, getting food from the salad bar etc.. What are the chances of their exhalations landing on food and posing any threat when one eats it?

  31. different clue

    @Mark Pontin,

    Are the current politicians and other leaders an accurate reflection of the populace? Back when the populace elected or tried to elect people like Kennedy and Kennedy, was it a better populace? Or was the populace trying on purpose to cast a false reflection of itself? Were that part of the populace who followed Dr. Martin Luther King’s leadership deliberately casting a false reflection of themselves to fool themselves, eachother and any onlookers? Or were they a better populace?

    If they were a better populace, what made their descendants not-better anymore?

    And if the Nazi Paperclipper Deep State stands ready to assassinate every Kennedy, X, King, Kennedy, Wellstone, and hundreds of other less famous people who try to arise as the populace tries to move them into positions of power beneficial to the populace, then the scum vermin leaders who survive and are elevated are not a reflection of the populace. They are a reflection of the Nazi Paperclipper Deep State which selects them and elevates them.

    It is more comforting to blame the populace than to admit you share a country with a whole cadre of Nazi Paperclipper Deep State elites and their secret armies of trained assassins, image assassins, etc. Because if you admitted that fact, then you couldn’t take refuge in Carlin’s too-cool-for-school performative cynicism. You would have to think about whether some kind of rebellion movement to conquer enough power to exterminate thousands and thousands ( every last one of them) of the Nazi Paperclippes, the KKKKs ( Kennedy King Kennedy Killers) and the social classmembers themselves which they serve, work for and protect.

    Or if that is too dangerous and self-sacrificingly futile, then a cultural resistance and rejection movement designed to eat away at the foundations of the current political economy and make it all collapse into its own footprint . . . to make America ungovernable and unprofitable. To cave in the coal mine with all the owners trapped inside with us in hopes that we can then find them all and exterminate them all amid the rubble and rockfalls.

    More comforting to say the Gingriches and Clintons and Obamas that the System Lords groom , advance and protect are just reflections of the American public. More comforting to say that Papa Doc and the TonTon Macoutes were just reflections of the Haitian public who deserved it all anyway. Etc. etc.

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