Beyond the void (Cuomo's future)

Plus: Vaccine misinformation has taken deep root, can it be fixed?

“And sometimes a politician's problems are truly that simple.” — Jake Tapper.

To get the flavor of how long Andrew Cuomo has been what my mother would have called a mumser (or even a putz), read Tapper’s piece in Salon from 2002. The operative phrase: “the regrettable fact for Cuomo was that to a sizable number of voters he seemed like an a***ole.”

I am reminded of the David Allen Coe song (NSFW) where the lyrics pose a question related to inherent personality traits versus “did you work it your whole life?” Cuomo should be able to answer the question definitively. The fact that it took a wave of Mad Men-esque grabby, kissy escapades to finally do him in is beside the point. Cuomo needed to fall from his own repulsive pride.

Now he is cast into the void, from which there is no escape. In ancient Rome, Andrew Cuomo would be dead from a few hundred stab wounds administered by those whose faces he stomped in a decades-long career of face-stomping. But is there really no escape from the void?

This is the latest tweet from Bill Cosby. He’s barely out of prison a month and aggressively protecting his “legacy.”

O.J. Simpson, who was not accused of sexual abuse, but did sort-of admit killing his ex-wife, is here urging you to get your vaccination.

Al Franken has nearly a million followers on Twitter, and is promoting his successful podcast, which listeners rate 4.7 of 5 stars.

It seems that many who were cast into the void are doing quite well (Harvey Weinstein, deservedly excepted). Thankfully, Kevin Spacey hasn’t tweeted since the day before Christmas, 2020. In fact, Spacey seems to only tweet once a year, on the day before Christmas, so we can look forward to ignoring him this year. But one day, even he may return from the void.

Back in the day, as they say, powerful people like Ted Kennedy could emerge from void-summoning scandals unscathed, but today, the prideful and powerful must pass through the void to the other side of it.

Let me remind you, as I’ve stated many times before, that Napoleon returned from his first exile on Elba to once again rule France. Santa Anna became dictator of Mexico one more time after suffering a humiliating capture by Sam Houston and returned to his homeland in disgrace. Both of them died in bed.

Benedict Arnold received a pension from the British government (though not as large as he was promised, but then again he didn’t really deliver either) and lived in London for a while before retiring to New Brunswick. He died consumed with gout and declining health in 1801, avoiding the noose that George Washington prepared for him.

There is life beyond the void. Ask “the former guy” who will certainly enjoy the $75 million he has raised in his Save America leadership PAC, which he cannot use to run for president, but can put in his own pocket. Cuomo and the Earl of Mar-a-Lago have much in common, and in fact seem to get along well. They’ll have plenty of time to contemplate their future escapades.

Of course, the former governor can still tweet, while the other former guy can’t.

I predict that we haven’t seen the last of Andrew Cuomo. In fact, I think he’ll do quite well beyond the void. If this were a Marvel series, he might even qualify as a Loki variant.

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Can vaccine misinformation and hesitancy be fixed?

Georgia is stuck at under 40 percent vaccinated, despite hospitals filled to capacity. COVID-19 is surging back in a new, more virulent variant, that is thankfully not killing the largely vaccinated older generation, but it hitting the unvaccinated younger people very hard. It’s also causing the number of “breakthrough” cases of vaccinated people getting COVID-19 to max out. The purpose of herd immunity is to eradicate a virus by denying it hosts and vectors to spread. Without it, we can only depend on the inherent immunity conferred by vaccines, and no vaccine is 100 percent effective.

But even people who are not self-described anti-vaxxers are hesitant to get the vaccine, or to give it to their teenage kids. This article in the Boston Globe highlights deeply embedded misconceptions and misinformation that is preventing people from getting the vaccine.

“There’s so much misinformation floating around, and people hang onto one thing that resonates with them, whether it’s reproductive side effects or that it could affect kid’s hearts,” [Dr. Robyn Riseberg, the founder of Boston Community Pediatrics] said. “If you give people the opportunity to ask questions and to have a conversation with a trusted provider like their pediatrician, people often feel differently by the end of our conversation.”

Are doctors supposed to become one-on-one evangelists for vaccination? The issue comes down to trust. Few people are going to trust President Biden’s door-to-door vaccine sales force, when people knock at a door and say “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” Parents are not going to trust doctors they don’t know well, and many people are skeptical of the motives of drug companies, never mind the government.

It’s not easy to convince a parent that the vaccines won’t cause sterility (a nightmare), or heart problems when so much misinformation and anti-vax propaganda out there. The stupid part is that the more social media and other news sources suppress the misinformation, the more it looks like there’s a conspiracy to keep secrets from the public. Then the misinformation takes on an almost gnostic character: “they don’t want us to know.”

Every mistake, every misstatement, every flip-flop or change in policy is taken to be evidence of some nefarious conspiracy to get people to take a flawed vaccine, that was rushed to the public. (It was rushed! Remember Operation Warp Speed? It was rushed for a reason.)

It seems like the misinformation may be embedded so deeply that people are going to wait to make their decision.

In that case, I’m going full counter intuitive. Stop all the suppression. Let everything out in the open. People are going to make their own decisions. Let the misinformation, the crazy conspiracies, and the truth compete for ears and eyes. Playing whack-a-mole with the wacky conspiracies only makes them seem more plausible. Airing them out in the light will expose their source, and their idiocy.

Maybe there are some good treatments for COVID-19 besides the conventional vaccines and masks. Why cover that up? Maybe there are some limited cases where the vaccines have made people very sick. Why bury that?

People can make their own decisions. Erring on the side of “you’re stupid and we know better” only drives them away from doing the right thing. It’s better to err on the side of “here’s everything, you decide.” We’re past the point of trying to stomp out misinformation. Now we need to let people see the consequences and decide.

That might not be a popular viewpoint, but it’s the truth.

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