New TPC Podcast!
Here’s a new one for you guys. I cover everything related to North Carolina’s governor fully reopening the state with no mask mandate and no capacity restrictions. I have questions. Lots of them.
The transcript is below, for those of you who still prefer to read. Forgive the typos and style, which is very different from my typical blog format.
NC Gov. Roy Cooper Is a ‘Fear Pandemic’ Superspreader
Hey guys . . . Steve Baker, TPC, here. Wow . . . What a weekend we’ve had. It all kicked off here in North Carolina with our Dear Leader, CoronaGrupperfuhrer Cooper’s announcement that he was lifting the statewide mask mandate, AND removing ALL capacity restrictions on ALL types of venues. Bars, restaurants, entertainment and sports facilities. Everything.
Considering his heavy-handed, tyrannical approach over the course of the pandemic, this was not just a welcome, long-overdue event, but quite unexpected . . . and I have a lot of questions. Especially about why, and why NOW. I’ll get to those questions and analysis in a a few minutes, but let’s first review the circumstances leading up to Governor Cooper’s announcement on Friday.
Actually, about 18 states announced they’d be rescinding mask and lockdown orders in the coming weeks. This was all in response to the CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky’s announcement last week. Here’s exactly what she said:
“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing. If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.’’
Obviously, her’s was not a blanket reversal of previous CDC guidelines, as it came with the expected caveat:
“Anyone who is fully vaccinated . . . “
Basically, what she said was . . . we, the unvaccinated, are still S.O.L. How the country, the states, and private businesses plan to administrate these vaccine protocols remains to be seen. There is as yet no NATIONAL vaccine passport, even though many businesses and universities already have announced they will prohibit the great unwashed . . . or, unvaccinated . . . from admission or participation in normal life, others will be reopening to some level of normalcy on nothing more than the “honor system.”
I suppose this means UNTIL they have a way of monitoring, tracking, and validating vaccine compliance amongst their customers, employees, and students. Or, will this whole passport concept simply go away as the country surges forward toward normalcy again . . . and cases, hospitalizations, and death rates continue to fall?
As I said . . . I have questions. Lots of them. And I also made some interesting observations over the weekend as I travelled to Virginia for a show with one of my bands on Saturday . . . which I will get to, shortly.
Meanwhile, New Jersey and Hawaii joined a few of other states saying they’re not ready to relax requirements for their citizens, saying it will be several more weeks before they’ll even consider the latest CDC relaxation of guidelines.
Hawaii’s Governor, David Ige, (“E-GAY”) said: “We are unable to determine who is vaccinated and who is not vaccinated. The best mitigation measure is for everyone to wear a mask.”
In other words . . . they’re working on that passport, “show me your papers” thingy down there in Hawaii. I’m glad I got that state off my bucket list over 30 years ago.
(As a quick aside . . . I’ve visited every US state except for Alaska. Anyone out there ready to host a TPC Meet-Up in Alaska? I’m thinking something along the lines of part meet-up and part Kodiak hunting trip. That’s another of my life-long bucket list items . . . I’ve always dreamed of facing a Kodiak bear with nothing more than a handgun. Might be one of those things to keep LAST on my bucket list — for obvious reasons. You can add your comments about that little measure of insanity, below.)
Back to the news . . . Trader Joe’s, Walmart and Costco have announced they will NOT require customers who are FULLY VACCINATED to wear a mask, but none of these retailers will require any kind of proof of vaccination. I guess we’re at least temporarily on the “honor system.” Other retailers, like Starbucks, Target, CVS and Kroger, are keeping their mask requirements in place for the time being.
Some of these announcements made me laugh, as I’ve not worn a mask inside a single grocery store since the begin of this mess. Our local chain grocer, Harris Teeter, which is owned by Kroger, has never stopped me from entering without a mask — on dozens of occasions — and no one has ever given me one second of grief for being bare-faced. I even went to a Harris Teeter yesterday — and while 95% of the shoppers were STILL wearing their masks of servitude — the store’s staff couldn’t have been more friendly and accommodating. The butcher greeted me as friendly as he could possibly be, helped me with my meat selections, and then wished me a great evening. Just as they always have treated me and my small acts of civil disobedience over the past 14 months.
In fact . . . in hindsight . . . I’d say Harris Teeter’s staff has been MORE friendly, and MORE accommodating to me these past 14 months than in any of the previous decades in which I’ve shopped there. I actually think that response to me — and other’s like me — was a company policy. I’ve experienced the same at Walmart, Sam’s Club, Publix, and most other stores that allowed me entrance without a mask — despite their stated requirements and door signs. At those stores that have denied me entrance, I simply turned and left without complaint or comment.
Their store. Their right. I simply took my money elsewhere.
Last year, Costco announced their national mask requirement even before our governor’s statewide mandate, so I never tested them. Last May — exactly a year ago — I allowed my Costco membership to expire. I may actually go back, now. There are quite a few items they carry that I have missed over the last year.
Unfortunately, several businesses are now making moves to require their workforce to be vaccinated. Delta Air Lines announced on Friday that NEW employees who join the company will be required to be vaccinated for COVID-19. Current employees of Delta will not be required, but what jobs they can work might be limited — especially those working international flights where there countries will surely have mandatory vaccination requirements.
Back in January of this year, United Airlines CEO, Scott Kirby, said he thought ALL companies should make vaccines mandatory for employees, He said:
“I think the right thing to do is for United Airlines, and for other companies, to require the vaccines and to make them mandatory. I don’t think United will get away with and can realistically be the only company that requires vaccines and makes them mandatory. We need some others. We need some others to show leadership.”
Masks are still required in airplanes, buses, and trains, nationwide. No timelines are yet even mentioned on when that might be rescinded.
So . . . to my first question . . . it doesn’t appear this passport idea is simply going to go away. We’ll see.
Saturday morning was my first opportunity to publicly observe how North Carolina’s citizens would respond to Governor Cooper’s announcement. Before heading to the location where my band would meet to load up our van and trailer for the trip to Virginia Beach, my son — you plays bass guitar in this band — wanted to make a stop at Starbucks. This particular location had no drive-thru service. I asked him if he thought they’d require us to wear masks. He said, “Let’s find out.”
I opened the door to the Starbucks, sans mask, and immediately saw two young women with their faces uncovered. Wow. We entered, and no one said a word to us. They greeted us as normal human beings and took our orders without any problems. This, despite the fact Starbucks, nationally, has not rescinded their corporate masking policy.
The music store where we meet and load-up for our band road trips shares a parking lot with an Ace Hardware store. We arrived an hour before the scheduled departure, so I had the opportunity to observe all the customers entering the hardware store. 100% of those getting out of their cars either already had a mask on, or donned them in the walk toward the store’s doorway. 100%! Interestingly, over half of those entering the store were older people — and most assuredly have had the vaccine. I’ve no idea what Ace Hardware’s corporate policy is, but no one seemed willing to test the Governor’s mask rescission. The programming and the fear factor remains high among that demographic.
On the journey to Virginia, we made an inordinate number of stops to top off the gasoline in the van, wherever we found stations or truck stops that had fuel. As you’re probably aware, North Carolina was the hardest hit by the Colonial Pipeline ransomeware hack — with more than 75% of our stations out of fuel this past week — so we weren’t leaving anything to chance. At those stops, I witnessed large scale mask wearing . . . yet, more than the usual number of unmasked customers. A small glimmer of hope.
When we arrived at the beach resort area known as Sandbridge — a community outside VA Beach — we were playing at a private home under a tented area right on the beach front. This particular gig was originally scheduled last year, on May 8th. It was to be the 50th birthday party for the buyer’s wife. Fortunately, they decided to rebook one year later for her 51st birthday celebration. This show was with my “yacht rock” band, Captain & The Keels . . . and these people came ready to PARTY!
120 guests . . . catered affair . . . open bar . . . all the women wearing Captain’s hats and nautical attire, and not a mask in sight. It was glorious. There was lots of pent up demand to let loose. And boy, did they ever. It was wild. Women were coming up onstage and taking the mics out of our hands and singing to the top of their lungs — drunk and off key.
This is something I’d never allow in normal times, and we were scared to death that our instruments would get knocked over and trampled, but there was no controlling the exuberance of the partygoers, so I just went with the flow and revelry, and a great time was had by all. Including us. It was already a good-paying gig, and the buyer was additionally generous in his gratuity to the band members.
As musicians who had our life livelihoods literally taken from us 14 months ago, it was was quite gratifying to have a portion of that life back.
I got home at 5 o’clock Sunday morning — only slightly worse for the wear — but damn, it felt good.
So . . . I said I have questions about Governor Cooper’s sudden and unexpected order to lift capacity restrictions and revoke his mask mandate . . .
Our governor had previously made the pronouncement that he would not loosen those restrictions until 2/3rds of the state’s citizens were FULLY vaccinated. As of Saturday, May 15th, the state’s vaccination progress reporting agency updated the data to reveal that only 41% of the state had been PARTIALLY vaccinated, and only 33% FULLY vaccinated. Why would the governor break with his original intention when North Carolina has yet only achieved HALF his stated goal?
Well . . . Warning. Conspiracy theory ahead! (Ha!)
I simply don’t trust this man, and I have been very vocal — publicly so — in my criticisms of his handling of the pandemic, from the very beginning. He is a petty demigod. A leftist progressive to the core of his being.
In full disclosure, my daughter and governor Cooper’s daughter were roommates during their first year at UNC-Chapel Hill, and had been close friends in high school. Even though my daughter is ONE OF US . . . very libertarian . . . and was even the president of the Young Americans for Liberty chapter there at UNC . . . she was always a bit dismayed at my harsh, PUBLIC criticisms of her friend’s father. Oh well. I never let up on Cooper, even initiating the hashtag #CoronaGruppenfuhrerCooper early in his lockdowns, and was very active in calling him out directly on his social media threads throughout the pandemic.
My initial thought after his announcement on Friday was quite conspiratorial. I wondered if he wasn’t lifting these restrictions early in hopes that there might be a surge in cases and hospitalizations — affording him the excuse for reinstitution of lockdowns and mask mandate extensions. Maybe hoping for some later permanent implementation of his executive orders — or at the very least an excuse for the possible SEASONAL requirements as mentioned last week by Dr. Fauci and other healthcare bureaucrats.
That’s about as distrusting of his motives and conspiratorial as I can be . . . but knowing him as I do, my mind went there. Yet, for the first time in a year, even Cooper and his chief medical advisor held their press conference without the dog and pony show of removing and replacing masks back on their faces each time they exchanged places at the lectern.
Fact is, it could be no more complicated than the fact Cooper and other progressive governors have been embarrassed by the statistical virus-related successes of red state governors in Florida, Texas, and elsewhere — and the roaring back of those economies after leading the nation in lifting lockdown measures.
There’s also the fact that news of mounting inflation rates, slower than expected growth in employment rates, the gas shortages and long lines, a spike in violent crime and murder rates — all making everyone old enough to remember the Carter days of the late 70s — it would politically make sense — in the form of “bread and circuses — to offer the rather convenient distraction of opening the state back up.
On the other hand — and my next question — is the political future and inclinations of Governor Cooper. He’s a political animal — not a public servant — and still young enough to make a run at the presidency after completing his current term as governor of North Carolina. He surely must have those ambitions, and sees the possibility of having to be compared to someone like DeSantis in such a future match-up. He obviously must first get through the Democratic primaries, and also wants to get ahead of the other blue state governors with similar ambitions. Longer, and more permanent lockdowns, and their consequences, would not look good on his resume if he chooses to enter the Democratic presidential primary fray.
Yesterday afternoon I posed some of those thoughts and conjectures to my co-author of our upcoming Scamdemic book. He had a different take altogether. One I’d not considered . . . mainly because I’m not a hockey fan.
As it happens, the Carolina Hurricanes won home ice advantage through the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Edmund pointed out to me that Governor Cooper could be very embarrassed by arenas in Florida and Tennessee having fans fill their arenas, and while seeing only 25% capacity on television here in Raleigh.
That said, the NHL apparently still has a 50% capacity restriction on league matches, but 50% vs. 25% is a huge difference. Here at Raleigh’s PNC arena, that’s the difference of about 7,500 to 8,000 additional tickets that could be sold. Edmund also wonders if Tom Dundon, the majority owner of the Hurricanes, didn’t contact Cooper and tell him to open up the damn arena in time for the Cup playoffs. Dundon, being a Texas-based, conservative gazillionaire.
I don’t think it’s that simple — and questioned whether Dundon would have that kind of stroke with Cooper — but Edmund conceded it could be an “all the above” of both my questions and his theory . . . especially since Dundon could threaten to move the Canes out of state in three years, if Cooper didn’t loosen up.
Anyway . . . as I said . . . I don’t trust Cooper, in any capacity . . . so, we’ll see where this all goes. For the sake of North Carolina’s small business owners — myself and Edmund, included — I hope this is a permanent move to reopen and normalize our lives and our economy.
I’m still waiting for that first contract addendum, where at one of our local venues in which my band is schedule to perform, we will be required to show proof of each band member’s COVID vaccination in order to do the show. You know . . . as a private business and state managed, cooperative initiative.
Interestingly, after Cooper’s press conference on Friday, the COVID Karen’s are losing their minds on his social media accounts. Many of his most ardent supporters are screaming bloody murder, thinking Cooper has opened too early!
“We haven’t reached herd immunity, yet!” they exclaim.
These, the same people who a year ago were arguing that there was no such thing as herd immunity. Remember that? Some even believe the mask mandate needs to be permanent. Others are DEMANDING a vaccine passport mandate must be in place before returning to full capacity or removal of the indoor mask requirement.
Just yesterday, CNN published another of their “keep the fear going” headlines:
“For the sake of children, keep wearing your mask,” it said. For the children . . . the one group who are statistically more at risk of just about EVERYTHING else they might do during a given day, than they are from COVID-19. An article based on a flat-out lie, and one that completely ignores the true science and data.
The fear is great with these people, and Governor Cooper was a major SUPER SPREADER of this pervasive “fear pandemic.” So successful was he and his administration at brainwashing the public — through his weekly press conferences — that people needed to cower at home, go out only for essential goods or medical attention, and wear those masks under every circumstance, indoors and out, that his fear-mongering has now circled back to bite him in the ass amongst his own base. At least I can take amused comfort in that.
One of the most severe, long term costs of these past 14 months is in fact the FEAR MINDSET that grips so many of our friends, neighbors, and family members. We read the stories, everyday, of young families refusing grandparents the right to see their grandchildren unless they are vaccinated — and vice versa. This new fear culture is set in for the long haul, and there is much more advantage for central planners yet to mine from that fear as we move out of COVID panic to the already declared next phase of The Great Reset in scaring everyone to death with the doom and gloom of impeding climate chaos.
With COVID, there never was an existential threat. With a survival rate now measured by all world authorities of 99.8%, this was only ever about MANUFACTURED fear. By the time we’d “flattened the curve,” there was already enough data and revealed science behind this virus’s threat to know WHO was most at risk and how to mitigate THEIR risk without shutting the world down. But, bureaucrats saw the open door and took it as far as they could.
My own FEAR is that this was a nothing more than practice run for what’s soon coming under the guise of the New Green Deal and other progressive wet dreams.
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