9/19 Weekly Update Skip to content

9/19 Weekly Update

12 min read

Notes from Bruce

Hello! Hope your week went well, and that you are staying safe in the midst of this latest surge of the virus. And speaking of staying safe:  Even though the lege decided to play hot potato with the idea of masking up, it's been good to see most of our school districts still requiring masks for everyone.

I've got a few notes to share:

  • I've added a widget to the site that shows the most-read stories for the past two weeks. (The list below is just for one week.) So, when you visit the site, you might want to scan that most-read list to make sure you haven't missed a story that others found interesting.
  • Ghost, the platform we are now using, has just added the ability to have more than one paid level (membership tiers, in other words). For those of you on the free plan, would having something less expensive than the current $9 membership be attractive to you -- enough to get you to become a paying member? Obviously, it would have less perks than the current paid membership, but more than the free plan. If you have thoughts about that, please share them with me at Bruce@ForwardKY.com.
  • And, for those of you who are already paying members, I'm including in our weekly update our stats for the past week, so you can see what your investment is producing.

OK, enough stuff from me. On to the newsletter!


Most-read story this week

“Eventually they‘re going to shut this carnival down.”

After talking with members of the far-right-wing, conspiratorialist, Red-baiting John Birch Society, the Cold War version of today’s Covidiots, Kentucky Republican Sen. John Sherman Cooper concluded that they “don’t know anything about history” and evidently “never read anything at all.”

So here’s a short history quiz for Covidiots – whose ranks include latter-day Birchers. (Of late, the Birchers have been podcasting against "Covid 19 mania.") The society claims "ratcheting up pressure to strip away additional liberties from those who choose not to get inoculated ... is a classic Communist tactic of dividing the people to distract them from what is really going on."

Question 1. Who said heads of households should make their children get vaccinated promptly or suffer harsh punishment.

A. Xi Jinping, ruler of communist China
B. Kim Jong-un, ruler of communist North Korea
C. Andy Beshear
D. None of the above

Question 2. What famous commander forced all of his men to get vaccinated? (The guy is revered in his country as the ultimate freedom fighter.)

A. Soviet Marshal Georgi Zhukov
B. Al-Qaeda founder Osama Ben Laden
C. KGB founder Felix Dzerzhinsky
D. None of the above

If you answered “D” to both questions, go to the head of the class. The correct answer to both was George Washington.

“The roots of U.S. vaccine mandates predate both the U.S. and vaccines,” Maggie Astor recently wrote in The New York Times. “… In January 1777, George Washington mandated inoculations for the soldiers under his command in the Continental Army, writing that if smallpox were to break out, ‘we should have more to dread from it, than from the Sword of the Enemy.’ Notably, it was in large part the soldiers’ desires that overcame his resistance to a mandate.”

She quoted Central Michigan University historian Andrew Wehrman, an authority on the politics of medicine in early America: “There’s no record that I have seen — and I’ve looked — of any soldier turning it down, protesting it.”

Added Astor: “Buoyed by the success of the mandate, Washington wrote to his brother in June 1777 that he was upset by a Virginia law restricting inoculations. ‘I would rather move for a Law to compell the Masters of Families to inoculate every Child born within a certain limitted time under severe Penalties,’ he wrote.”

In the 1960s, Kentucky's Cooper, a moderate, fought to help keep the Birchers out of the Republican party. The Birchers hung around and, like Covidiots, they're mainstream in today's Trump GOP. (Some websites define a "Covidiot" as “a person who acts like an irresponsible idiot during the COVID-19 pandemic, ignoring common sense, decency, science, and professional advice leading to the further spread of the virus and needless deaths of thousands.”)

Birchers and Covidiots are prime examples of what historian Richard Hofstadter called “the paranoid style in American politics."

In their heyday, the Birchers blathered that the country was overrun with home grown Reds secretly conspiring with Moscow to deliver America to the Soviets. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was “a dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy,” according to the society.

The wackiest Covidiots say COVID shots will make you magnetic and/or will shoot a microchip into your body so that the Democratic “Deep State” — including President Joe Biden and presumably Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear — can spy on you.

Today, vaccination requirements are routine for members of the armed forces. School kids in all 50 states must be vaccinated against a variety of diseases, Astor pointed out.

Even so, a slew of Republican politicians — some in the Kentucky legislature — and right-wing pundits rant that vaccine mandates are un-American and unprecedented. “In reality, they are a time-honored American tradition,” Astor wrote. “But to be fair, so is public fury over them.”

Murray State University historian Brian Clardy remembers getting vaccinated as a kid growing up in South Fulton, Tenn. “The idea that we’ve never had mandatory vaccinations is pure fiction,” he said, echoing Astor.

He says it’s ironic, but not surprising, that the most ardent anti-vaxxers are the most faithful Trump cultists. “Weren’t these vaccines developed under ‘Operation Warp Speed’ when he was president? Aren’t Trump and his whole family vaccinated?”

"You would think that President Trump would be eager to remind [Americans] that the vaccines were developed on his watch then with the support of Operation Warp speed," radio host Michael Smerconish said on a recent broadcast. "But relative to how much time he spends complaining about the 2020 results he hardly ever mentions it, and when he does it's usually to complain about not getting enough credit."

Smerconish noted that Trump recently sent out a tweetmail bragging on his administration for doing a "great job" against the pandemic. "But he refuses to take the next logical step, which would be to encourage his followers to protect themselves. I think he doesn't want to risk alienating the vaccine hesitant who support him by encouraging them to get a jab. Meanwhile, the unvaccinated needlessly suffer the most severe consequences of the virus."

Clardy said politicians who pander to anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers “are playing a dangerous game with our lives in the commonwealth and around the country. More hospitals are filling up with COVID patients, more ICUs are running out of space, more people are getting intubated, and more people are dying.”

Added Clardy: “It’s like to them the Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, and the Scientific Revolution never happened.”

While masking and vaccination mandates triggered a right-wing backlash, Clardy wonders if a counter-backlash is quietly building among Americans who trust science and understand that the deadliest pandemic in a decade won’t abate until significantly larger numbers of people get vaccinated and mask up when appropriate.

Maybe feeling some heat from voters, some GOP governors and other party bigwigs are changing their tune and calling on people to get vaccinated. "After nearly a year and a half of telling their constituents that it’s their constitutional right to ignore coronavirus guidelines and public health restrictions, it seems to be dawning on leaders in the Republican Party that letting a deadly and very infectious disease run rampant through their states and localities — not to mention the rest of the country — is actually a terrible idea," wrote Nathalie Baptiste in a Mother Jones story headlined "The Obscene Hypocrisy of Republicans Blaming Everyone But Themselves: The COVID Edition."

An overwhelming majority of Americans are sick of being held hostage by an ignorant, belligerent, anti-science minority. And that loudmouth minority are about to find out what the majority really thinks of them.

Click to tweet

Suggested Joan Walsh in The Nation: "You can ascribe the new GOP approach—'vaccines good, mandates and masks still bad'— to their purported love of freedom (for themselves, mostly), or their attempt to keep the support of their base, which is literally dying because Republicans politicized the fight against Covid from the beginning. It may also be that they realize that vaccinated folks are getting fed up, Josh Marshall notes — and the majority of vaccinated folks are in their 40s through their 60s, in red states and blue, and are by far the most likely to vote."

Writing in Daily Kos, Bob Johnson warned: "An overwhelming majority of Americans are sick of being held hostage by an ignorant, belligerent, anti-science minority. And that loudmouth minority — the people screaming, unmasked, at school board meetings and threatening school board members, school administrators and teachers, the jerks refusing to wear masks where masks are required, the morons who think not getting vaccinated is 'owning the libs' — are about to find out what the majority really thinks of them."

Nearly 60 percent of Americans favor mask and vaccine requirements for K-12 students and their teachers, says a new poll from the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Clardy said he personally knows Republicans who have been vaccinated and are masking. “A lot of them don’t like what they are seeing in their party. But they’re afraid to say it out loud because of the backlash. But eventually they are going to pipe up and shut this carnival down.”


This Week's Stories

We need a Wall of Shame for the recently-ended special session
Whose pictures would go on our Wall of Shame? All those leges who voted to put our children’s lives at risk.
Want to help push clean energy? Here’s how.
A local group is sponsoring a conference where YOU can learn how to push more clean energy in Louisville and across the state.
It’s all over but the shouting
My father used this expression whenever there appeared some situation that appeared insolvable. However, unbeknownst to you and I at the moment, there may be a solution in the future.
Fact Check: Contrary to video’s claim, masks are effective at reducing the spread of COVID-19
Dr. Julie Swann, Distinguished Professor and Department Head at NC State University, debunks the claim that face masks can’t block viruses such as COVID-19.
How do we teach KY history if we can’t talk about race?
We are required in Social Studies to include Kentucky connections to units we teach. It has left me wondering how we will teach several important events, places, and people from Kentucky if we are not able to discuss race as a historical factor.
“Eventually they‘re going to shut this carnival down.”
An overwhelming majority of Americans are sick of being held hostage by an ignorant, belligerent, anti-science minority. And that loudmouth minority are about to find out what the majority really thinks of them.
A cowardly act: Republicans sacrifice our children on the altar of ignorance and petulance
In an act combining cowardice, petulance, and ignorance, the Republican members of the General Assembly abandoned their responsibilities as elected officials and passed the buck for our children’s safety to anyone else willing to take it.
Reflecting on the special session with Morgan McGarvey and Joni Jenkins
In this week’s podcast, we talk with Senator Morgan McGarvey and Representative Joni Jenkins about the just-completed special session – the good, the bad, and the ugly – and what the ban on state-instituted masks is going to mean for local school districts and the health of our state.
More than 90% of U.S. employers surveyed require or encourage COVID-19 vaccinations
A comprehensive business survey conducted by Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions found that 93% of the 1,143 U.S. employers surveyed in August currently require or encourage employee vaccinations.
Yes, they are a “bunch of partisan hacks”
War is peace, freedom is slavery, and the Supreme Court is a dispassionate nonpartisan branch of government free of bias — this is the Orwellian fable that Justice Amy Coney Barrett is now asking Americans to believe.
Stivers attacks Beshear in presser; KDP and others respond
Senate President Robert Stivers held a press conference today in which he attacked both Governor Beshear and his administration. The KDP issued a response.
KY Open Govt Coalition sues Fish & Wildlife
“Our action follows AG Cameron’s decisions that discussions of public business by public officials on private devices and accounts are not subject to the Open Records Act because they are not ‘possessed’ by the public agencies the officials serve,” said coalition Director Scott Horn.
Here’s what’s in the new voting rights bill
This week, Senate Democrats unveiled a new voting rights bill that trims down and adjusts what was previously proposed in the For the People Act, which was passed by the House in March. This post provides a detailed summary of what’s in the proposed bill.
Josh Douglas: Disbar Trump’s lawyers who tried to steal the election
Dr. Josh Douglas of UK’s law school weighs in on the Trump lawyers, and concludes they should be disbarred.
Here’s what’s in the new voting rights bill (part 2)
Yesterday, we shared a list of the provisions in the first section of the Freedom to Vote Act. Today, we’re sharing the second section.
A response to those who say they “did their own reseach”
If you call out someone on their obvious use of debunked claims, and they say “I did my own research; you do yours!” then here is a meme you can send them in response.
Here’s what’s in the new voting rights bill (part 3)
The past two days, we have shared a list of the provisions in the new Freedom to Vote Act. Today, we’re finishing up with the third section.

The Transparency Section

We're including this simply so you can see how the work is going. Putting it last so those people who don't care about it don't have to scroll through it. 😉


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Bruce Maples

Bruce Maples has been involved in politics and activism since 2004, when he became active in the Kerry Kentucky movement. (Read the rest of his bio on the Bruce Maples Bio page in the bottom nav bar.)

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All results from Tuesday’s primary

All results from Tuesday’s primary

Here’s a list of all the results from Kentucky’s 2024 primary election that were reported on the Board of Elections site. These include federal, state legislative, and some judges and county attorneys.

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