Maskholes like Jim Desmond want us dead

'Maskhole' Jim Desmond holds court at covid war criminal event/KUSI screenshot

I’ve reached the breaking point on the ideological crusade built around self-victimization over attempts to slow or stem the coronavirus.

Yes, I’m a high risk individual, but that’s not the reason why I’m ranting today. I’m just one part of a much bigger picture, namely the portion of the population certain politicians think is expendable in the name of profit.

The nation is in the middle of a serious health crisis, while politicians and media outlets are doing their best to undermine public understanding. Yet the only real solution to this adversity involves doing the things that will protect the vulnerable in society.

If the government can’t set standards for behavior based on science during a pandemic, why have government at all? 

San Diegans are being forced to endure a continuing stream of misinformation and distortions about COVID-19 fostered by people like County Supervisor Jim Desmond. (Yes, I know Desmond sometimes dons a mask, but his advocacy will lead to the same consequences as those who don’t.)

Not having much government is the maskholes’ wet dream, in case you haven’t read the small print.

You’ll have to read all the way down to the last paragraphs of the Union-Tribune’s coverage of Monday’s pity party staged in from the County Administration Building.

Here’s the money quote from El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells (whose city has COVID-19 infection rate more than twice that of countywide numbers) right before a clue of about the ideological underpinnings of the latest rally:

  • “It’s time for the government to stop trying to criminalize people who just want to keep their businesses open, send their kids to school, protect the constitution of the United States,” Wells said.
  • The rally had some political overtones. As people gathered in front of the San Diego County Administration building, some people set up canopies and sold “Trump 2020″ and “Make American Great Again” hats and shirts. Others set up stands to collect signatures to recall California Governor Gavin Newsom.

KUSI’s coverage of the event included an appearance from the owner of Phil’s Barbeque whose association with right wing causes ranging from Carl DeMaio campaigns to opposing a more realistic minimum wage is no secret.

Still, if you’re an average viewer who doesn’t follow local politics, these arguments about “opening up” might seem to make sense.

Let me make the case for why these arguments are designed to drive an ideological agenda.

First of all, science. When restaurants and bars were wide open they were a major driver of new infections. Limitations on operations designed to minimize danger to employees and patrons have worked, and ironically their success is now being touted as a reason why these sorts of businesses shouldn’t face further restrictions as the rate of infections soars.

Secondly, maskholes. You know who I’m referring to, namely individuals who continue to flout their ignorance by refusing to wear a mask in public. If their self-centeredness and lack of empathy isn’t an indicator of your basic screw-the-liberals type of Republican, I don’t know what is. Somehow, a proven method of protecting people from a known danger is an assault on their “freedom.” And then there’s the theatrics; the videos of forced confrontations with employees who don’t make the rules, but are expected to give up their livelihood in deference to these “freedom fighters.”

Thirdly, the worldwide assortment of factions opposing public health measures. Every one of these groups in Europe are associated with far-right groups, whose lack of interest in personal liberties is a historical fact. Here in the U.S., many of these maskholes are led by militias. I doubt the individuals calling in death threats to San Diego County health officials are pining for freedom. I could go on, but the fact is these anti-health protests are simply a right wing noise machine.

FYI- Mask wearing, even with limited social distancing, can reduce COVID-19 infection rates by almost two-thirds. And here are 21 more arguments for mask wearing, including (ta-da!) improving the economy.

Finally, their arguments about what would happen if they got their way are bogus. Let’s say Supe Desmond and his cohorts won their arguments, based on the premise that they’re trying to save small businesses.

Guess what? The demand for those businesses isn’t going to be there. Even the “sensible” changes being discussed will reduce the capacity of indoor experiences. And the timing of this latest round of protests couldn’t be worse. The vast majority of citizens actually believe the warnings issued by the government, even if they’re fatigued by the consequences.

As was true with past pandemics, the onset of colder weather creates conditions for surge in infections. The country blew past 11 million reported virus cases on Sunday, adding 1 million of those in just the past week. The daily average of new cases is up by 80% in just two weeks. More than 69,000 people were in hospitals with COVID-19 on Saturday; more than 1,100 deaths are being reported each day on average.

And San Diego continues to see record numbers of new infections. It will be nine months at best before widespread distribution of a vaccine allows a relaxation of standards.

Besides the possibility of overwhelming our healthcare system, the reality of which has led even mask-averse Iowa to impose minimal standards, the dangers of COVID-19 go beyond death.

While research on the long-term effects of the disease is scarce, it’s obvious that a significant part of the population reporting illness from the coronavirus aren’t just feeling poorly for a few days and then bouncing back to normal.

Here’s a very sciency explanation from the Journal of the American Medical Association:

  •  In a telephone survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention among a random sample of 292 adults (≥18 years) who had a positive outpatient test result for SARS-CoV-2 by reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction, 35% of 274 symptomatic respondents reported not having returned to their usual state of health 2 weeks or more after testing, including 26% among those aged 18-34 years (n = 85), 32% among those aged 35-49 years (n = 96), and 47% among those aged 50 years or older (n = 89).4 Older than 50 years and the presence of 3 or more chronic medical conditions were associated with not returning to usual health within 14 to 21 days after receiving a positive test result. Notwithstanding, 1 in 5 individuals aged 18-34 years without chronic medical conditions had not yet achieved baseline health when interviewed at a median of 16 days from the testing date. 

It is possible to balance the needs of businesses with controlling the economy. It’s just that doing so would require right wingers to actually care about the broader population, and, I don’t know, maybe even compromise on an aid package that didn’t put corporations first.

Example, Elizabeth Warren requests investigation into relief funds, via NBC News:

  • Warren, who has been publicly skeptical about the Trump administration’s oversight efforts, made her request in a letter to Brian Miller, President Donald Trump’s former White House counsel who was appointed to oversee more than $2 trillion of already-allocated federal funding for pandemic relief.
  • In her letter, Warren cites a report by the public interest organization Public Citizen that found clients of more than 40 lobbyists with ties to the president have received more than $10 billion of relief grants, loans and bonds from the federal government, according to government lobbying disclosure records and other information.
  • NBC News reported in April that firms with ties to the president received at least $100 million in small business loans under the Paycheck Protection Program.

It should be no surprise to anybody that racism plays a big role in why Congress can’t cough up more aid. We wouldn’t be having this conversation if Sen. Majority Mitch McConnell cared about anything more than the unemployment rate for white males. Or if the Cult of Trump realized that the stock market isn’t the same as the economy.

Here’s an excerpt from MarketPlace’s Kai Ryssdal interview with economist Gbenga Ajilore

  • if you look at the numbers, you look at what happened in April, when we had the peak of unemployment, general unemployment was at 14.7%, white men had an unemployment rate of 12.4%. That’s when we saw the CARES Act. That’s when we saw all the other things and [the Paycheck Protection Program] and a lot of spending to help out this economy. 
  • Since then, the unemployment rate for white men has dropped down now to 5.8%. And so, you can look at these policymakers say, oh, well, things are looking good. But if you look at it for other groups, so for example, black men are at 11.5%. So black men have a similar unemployment rate that white men had in April. 
  • And then you also even look at what’s happening with women. Women last month, 865,000 dropped out of the labor force, but they’re not even counted in unemployment and they only got half that back. 
  • So, looking at those numbers, it’s a big struggle, a struggle for the economy as a whole. But if you look only at white men with a 5.8% unemployment rate, then you could say, oh, we only need a skinny bill. But white men are not the economy. Everybody’s the economy, and we have to focus on that.


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Doug Porter was active in the early days of the alternative press in San Diego, contributing to the OB Liberator, the print version of the OB Rag, the San Diego Door, and the San Diego Street Journal. He went on to have a 35-year career in the Hospitality business and decided to go back into raising hell when he retired. He’s won numerous awards for his columns from the Society of Professional Journalists in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Doug is a cancer survivor (sans vocal chords) and lives in North Park.

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