I think the Biden Administration's attitude toward these mandates is "Hold me back!" i.e., like a batter who gets hit by a pitch and doesn't want to charge the mound and fight the pitcher, but knows he's going to look bad if he doesn't. So he stands at the plate and yells until the catcher comes out and grabs him. In this case, the pitcher is those opposing the mandates, and the catcher is the judge. Biden would love to support the mandate, but darn if that Trump-appointed judge isn't standing in her way!

The administration seems to think this is the best of both worlds -- they look like they're standing up for protections and "Science" while the restrictions people hate go away. But I think it will make them look bad on both counts.


There was a post from Bob Watcher lamenting people not masking at Safeway because "Shopping


is def not in my "If I get Covid from this, it would've been worth the risk" category" https://twitter.com/Bob_Wachter/status/1515854877733232642?cxt=HHwWhICp5dv-sokqAAAA (I'll ignore the questionable validity of extrapolating the positivity rate among those who got tested to those in Safeway).

But if someone met their future spouse while shopping at Safeway, maybe it would be. Or even ran into an old friend. A masked activity is an activity where nothing special will happen. Maybe for Dr. Watcher, who's married and lives with his family, that doesn't matter so much. But it might for the rest of us.

If Dr. Watcher wants to wear an N95 everywhere, he can go for it. But the rest of us are entitled to make our own calculations.

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Have always appreciated your rational takes on COVID, especially allowing reasonable people to make reasonable decisions.

You point it out perfectly that the Biden's admin approach makes no sense. Why not request a stay if this is an emergency? Either this admin loves being unpopular or truly believes it must defer to the CDC.

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The maxim that "hard cases make bad law" is not well applied here. There was nothing really hard about the case: the statute clearly authorizes the CDC to make these kinds of regulations; no one is particularly burdened by the regulation; whether it is a good idea to impose this particular regulation at this particular time is not the courts' problem and could reasonably be left to politics. Instead, to resolve this case, the judge held that imposing a masking regulation is literally beyond the CDC's statutory power in any pandemic no matter what the circumstances because it does not count as a "sanitation" measure within the meaning of the statute. Phenomenally stupid and harmful.

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Not to get too controversial but what's your ideal choice of vermouth for a Manhattan? My go to is Carpano Antica though I like to mix it up when at a good bar. Dolin is pretty great for an airport.

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One of the worst reasons for forever masking is the "variants" panic. Basically if you believe in the theory of evolution we're going to have variants forever, because viruses evolve. So unless you're a creationist, "let's wait until we aren't facing a scary variant" makes no sense whatsoever as a reason to extend any of these NPIs.

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Of the very #online self-described covid-serious-takers, I would wager one million billion internet dollars that:

If you asked them if climate change (for example) is an *existential* threat, they would enthusiastically nod their heads with nary a second thought.

Anyhoo, I couldn't cosign footnote #2 more enthusiastically. The public health establishment (and, to a lesser extent, this administration) picked this battle. They didn't have to. I hope it was worth it to them; it wasn't worth it to me, and thank God the administration can now just whistle away from this bridge and drop a match. Whether it was worth a 1% or 20% chance in 2024, you can't say it was worth it any longer.

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I see Josh commented on the dumb poll showing 56% of people want the mandate to remain. Besides the likelihood that the poll is bad, I guarantee you that those 56% don’t actually ride public transit. Possibly don’t even fly much. A lot of my liberal friends are apoplectic over this decision and almost none of them use transit. But they firmly believe those people who do should be masking up. Grrrr.

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In defense of James Fallow asking for the Pilots' manager, the pilot was speaking in a professional capacity, it's appropriate to appeal to his corporate overlords if he's out of line. I think in a context where pilots are distinctly right of center and their customers thanks to educational polarization tend to be left of center, airlines would be smart to find a way to tell their pilots to leave politics at home.

Critically, Alaska pilots are also unionized, high demand employees, so the conversation is actually "hey, don't do that" rather than "we're firing you because that's easy and PR is hard."

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I've been flying again since September of last year, and even back then I noticed extremely lax (i.e., no) enforcement of mask rules in airports or on planes. Two months ago I was on a flight where a couple across the aisle from me kept their masks off and talked and laughed obnoxiously the entire flight and no single person said a word to them, not even the attendants. Even within the airport where I live (Kansas City) there were regularly a lot of people walking around without masks at all last fall, or down around their chins, and literally no one was enforcing it, including the security guards these people were walking past.

I feel so ambivalent about all of it. I hate masks, and I am more than happy to discard them. I never wear them anymore unless it is required where I am shopping, or I am asked to, in which case I will willingly but not happily put it on. In local businesses where it is suggested but not required I will generally follow the lead of the employees: If they are wearing them, I will; if they're not, I won't. I get furious in airports at people not wearing them, but that has more to do with my rule-following ethos than anything else. As long as it is required, I feel like everyone should do it, and people that don't are just entitled assholes who clearly think rules don't apply to them. What makes you above the law, huh??

Incidentally, I am a psychologist, and one of my clients works as a gate agent for an airline and has basically told me no part of their job is as stressful as mask enforcement. At one point my client called in sick to work for an entire week because they were so stressed out and sick of dealing with aggressive and boorish behavior around masks. For people like them, I guess I'm glad the mandates are lifted. I feel like a lot of people just trying to do their jobs were put in impossible positions by uncaring corporations and the sociopathic and cruel public. I do worry intensely about the future of this country.

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I cautiously welcome the (apparent) lifting of the mask mandates and most of the other restrictions.

I'm "cautious" because my risk profile is very low and I want to at least be mindful that others feel much more vulnerable than I do. That said, I realize the restrictions often (usually?) didn't work, or don't work anymore or aren't necessary any more, given the current situation or what we now know about the virus.

But I know too many people who very sincerely believe they or someone they live with are at risk. They may be mistaken, or in some cases their circumstances may be exceptional, or in other cases they may be doing the quasi moralizing "respect covid" without fully being aware they're doing it. But on balance, I think they're sincere. I don't think we should necessarily build public policy out of that sincere feeling, but I don't want to be glib about their concerns even as I endorse ending (most) restrictions. (To be clear, I'm not accusing Josh or anyone here of being glib. I'm just personally chary of that.)

I will say I'm one of those who loved going back to the office and putting an end to working from home. Of course, that also means I was one of the lucky few people who were able to keep their jobs and work remotely while my workplace shut down. Many, many others didn't have those advantages. But in a way that's hard to explain (especially to people who hate going to the office), it felt liberating to return to the workplace. It's an exaggeration to say I'm misty-eyed thinking about it, but at least in a figurative sense, I am.

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I’m writing from a London-to-Paris train. No one in either city wears a mask anywhere inside or out. But on this train armed guards walk the corridor to enforce the mask mandate, which you can skirt by slowly eating grapes or sipping water. Some world man.

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I think we need a follow-up, Josh.

"Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Wednesday in an interview with Chris Wallace of CNN+ that the appeal was important not only to preserve the mask requirement but also “to ensure the C.D.C.’s authority and ability to put in mandates in the future remains intact.”"


Maybe an article titled "Why does the Biden administration seem dead-set on eroding public trust in its authority and decision-making?"

Seriously though, I legit don't understand their logic here. It's literally the "be as bad at politics as possible" playbook the Democratic party has been reading from for years. Time to maybe throw that out?

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It appears to me many of these same points could be made about other topics/issues that ultras on both ends tend to get worked up about.

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I agree with you that every person should be making their own decisions about behavior.

Some of us have our own personal reasons for avoiding crowded indoor places and masking when we can't. That does not mean we are scolds about people who take a different path.

I hope you are aren't scoffing at or scolding those of us who are more cautious than you are. We might be older or immunocompromised or in frequent contact with people we love who are vulnerable.

Respect should flow both ways.

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Apr 20, 2022·edited Apr 20, 2022

Josh I think you’re mainly right but wrong on Fallows. His point was it’s not the pilots place to make political announcements, they’re just supposed to fly the plane.

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“ I’ll always remember where I was when the airline mask mandate was lifted”. Is 💯 Josh. ❤️🌴🍸✈️

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