Has America Given Up? Talking Covid Insanity and National Divorce with Jesse Kelly
Last week, I thought about the many times we’d spoken in 2020, at the height of lockdowns and Covid insanity, anticipating a “no more” moment. It never came. What does that mean for us?
My friend Jesse Kelly is one of the smartest voices in talk radio and media. Like the late, wonderful Norm MacDonald, Jesse doesn’t wear his intellect on his sleeve or ever talk down to his audience—but he’s brilliant nonetheless.
Somehow, on Twitter—where he is a true virtuoso of forthrightness and pithy, based commentary—he manages to get away with saying true things that others dare not say, and has a way of provoking just the right amount of outrage. Every time, he does this from a position of strength: like Norm’s jokes, not a word is wasted or easily torn from context; everything that makes the lefties’ hair stand on end is exactly the way Jesse perfectly crafted it.
I also can’t think of anything really substantial we disagree about—outside of music, of course, in which realm he has no taste whatsoever. Yes, there are a decent amount of friends with whom you rarely disagree—but there are others with whom you share nearly identical concerns and reactions, and in real-time. Jesse is one of those guys.
Last week, I thought about the many times we’d spoken in 2020, at the height of lockdowns and Covid insanity; we were always anticipating a “no more” moment, when the American people would simply refuse to follow the arbitrary and increasingly absurd guidelines from tyrannical governors, the federal government, and its petty bureaucrats. We were wrong.
This week I appeared on both radio and video with Jesse, talking about this and other things. I thought you might enjoy the clips and transcripts.
Well, joining me now is a guy who's been on the show quite a bit. He's on my radio show quite a bit. One of the sharper minds out there for what's happening, where we are, where we're going. Dave Reaboi. I hate doing the thing where I look at America and say, “I'm disappointed in you, man.” It feels kind of judgmental. I don't know, but Dave, I really genuinely am. The truth is, I thought America would push back on lockdowns and COVID madness day one because, “we're America, the land of the free, baby.” No, Dave America loves it.
Yeah. We've been talking about this for a couple years now. I mean, since all this nonsense started and as we've said, many times, we thought this would all come to an end pretty quick. I mean, how do you possibly shut down the US economy? How do you possibly force people into masks and vaccines over a long period of time without anybody revolting? Or without anybody really caring? Some people say, “I can just stay home. I can get my direct deposit. I can sit and watch Netflix on my free time. I can get UberEats or GrubHub to deliver me food. And then we're good to go.”
And [that hypocrisy] translates now into the kinds of bizarre spectacles we see all the time, like the Met Gala. You've got a bunch of rich people with no masks, but all the help is required to wear a mask at all times. Talk about, talk about creating nonsense barriers between people—obviously not based on any medical science whatsoever. And yet here we are, and it seems the people are just fine with it.
They are fine with it, Dave; they're cheering it on. I mean, when Biden handed out his famous mandate to the businesses, obviously I lost my mind. You lost your mind. Ridiculous. He really doesn't have the authority—but even if he did have the authority, it's not the right thing to do. But Dave, we have multiple polls now; it's not like it's only one. We have multiple polls now showing this is 60% of America; 60% of America thinks the vaccine mandates are outstanding. Dave, what am I supposed to do? I'm the minority now. I don't recognize my countrymen.
Yeah, I feel the same way. As we've said for many, many years now, at the end of the day, there's one direction that all this is going in. And when we talk about things like national divorce, it's not like we woke up one morning and said, “you know what? I think, you know, I think this car is working. I'm going to dismantle it right now.” No, it’s a recognition that things are not working. We’re actually splitting off in two—actually, we already have. We have split off into two very, very different opposite directions.
When I go to a restaurant today and, and I am approached by a waiter or a waitress with a mask on, and they read me the specials, I say to them, “you're not going to read me the special until you take off your mask.” Many people don't care that there's this new dividing line between “the help” and everyone else.
But I do think that regionally, there are differences between places like Florida and Texas and blue states. For example, New Yorkers are not complaining about the vaccine passports in New York City, which is bonkers. It's something that I wouldn't understand. I mean, I lived in Texas; I live in Florida now. There's no way that stuff would fly here.
No, it wouldn't. And that's what forced me about it, Dave. I mean, they have to show a passport on their phone, or they’re not allowed to come in and dine with others. They're not allowed to go in and see a concert. They're not. And I know they're big city liberals, but they’re Americans. They just said, “oh, okay.” And I see people on the right cheering it on: “it's not that bad; it's not a big deal.” When it comes to the right, are they weak? Are they stupid? Are they just cowardly? How can the right thing that we have a vaccinated versus unvaccinated battle right now, instead of tyranny and oppression?
I think they're all of the above. I think they're weak. I think they're stupid. But the way that that manifests itself most troublingly is how they have a tendency to completely accept whatever mainstream narrative and fact pattern comes out of the mainstream media. They don't even necessarily have to take every single fact as true—but if the media starts shouting, “hey, this thing is the scariest virus that's ever come down the line, and it's going to kill millions of people!”—then a lot of conservatives—especially what we call the ‘very online’ conservatives who work in conservative media, who get paid for their opinions (which is almost a kind of scandalous thing in itself)—they follow the herd of the Washington Post and the New York Times and CNN and ABC News, down the line.
They're living in a world that is created by folks who are the enemies of freedom. And once you accept their fundamental premises, their narratives and fact patterns, you're left with the slippery slope. You’ll accept a little diminishment of liberty because, you know, “this virus is so scary and it's going to kill millions of people. It's the least I can do.” Pretty soon, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 paces down, you're talking about serious violations and infringements on your liberty.
Again, I mean, I'm with you; I didn't think we would get here, but this has been the most sobering thing in the world to watch.
It has been, and I'm so glad you put it that way. It has been the most sobering thing in the world to watch. It has been the most revealing moment of my lifetime, and I just don't know how to quite process it—but I don't want to be doom and gloom about it. But it does not feel like federally, this thing is even close to salvageable. It seems like everything just must focus on the local. Now, that's all we have. All we have is Florida. You know, all we have is Texas or Alabama, or pick your red state. It doesn't seem like there's anything beyond that. These states are salvageable. Am I out of line there?
I don't think so. I mean, I thought for a long time that we’ve got several things going on at once that that make the federal situation kind of untenable. The big one is the growth of the administrative state over the last century, which has been the progressive project. It was, specifically, to remove power from local authorities and give it to “experts” who work for the civil service in DC—which is where the most consequential decisions are made.
Why aren’t AOC, Ilhan Omar, and some of these other Members of Congress, real legislators in the old sense? These people are actually social media stars. Well, they're social media stars only because they have nothing else to do; there’s no other job description at this point. At most, what they’re doing is voting up and down on continuing budget resolutions—where the budgets are defined by the agencies themselves, as they’re asking for more money. It's a self-licking ice cream cone. And as you said, the only solution is local.
Which one of those two do you think is hotter? Ilhan Omar or AOC?
I think AOC is hotter.
A lot of people know me as the national divorce guy. I've talked so much about the national divorce, but Dave Reaboi was talking about it before I was talking about it. Dave, I'm not under the delusion that tomorrow we're going to sit down as adults and agree to go our separate ways as a nation and have an arbitrator in there. And we'll divvy up California and Florida. I'm not an idiot; I realize that that's not happening. But is something similar happening naturally, because of how many people want to live free or want to live under tyranny? Isn't it just naturally occurring?
Yes. I agree with you that it's not going to happen tomorrow. I think it's over the immediate horizon. But, to be honest with you, it's not all that far off; all the fundamentals in this situation are on the side of a crackup of some kind—and that's even before you get into some of the economic instability that that the country faces, which is considerable.
But look: we hate one another. We have very different, totally contradictory ideas about how one should be governed. We have different ideas about the nature of the good and of justice. Eventually this stuff manifests in different ways. It doesn't tomorrow or the day after, but that's the trend. I think what we're doing is very important: we're alerting Americans to the massive cleavages in ideology that exist in the United States now. And, and the fact is, these cannot be bridged; one or the other really has to give.
Dave, speaking of cleavage and ideologies: one very clearly controls all of the cultural institutions right now. However, the other—the one you and I subscribe to—is not a tiny, tiny minority; it's not like there's 10% of us. It's, it's 30, 40%, at a minimum. I've never seen that kind of dynamic in a nation before with, with the history that I've read. Am I missing one? Is there a historical precedent for this?
I don't know. I'm not that good of a student of history to know if this is a thing that has many precedents. I don't think it has many presidents. The central dynamic of what's going on here is, you've got the ruling elite ideology that exists primarily for the purpose of taking vengeance on and destroying the rest of us. They have their particular vision of life and they're going to stamp that vision of life on everyone in America, by hook or by crook. Either by convincing people through the educational system or the media, or by making people fear for their lives and their livelihoods through fear of being canceled and committing offenses against the modern politically correct script.
On the Turntable
My old friend Josh Trevino (who is a LRN subscriber) recently hipped me to the amazing Natalia Lafourcade, a Mexican singer who’s made some brilliant records celebrating the diverse musical traditions of her native country. Everything I heard was wonderful. The idea her mezmerizing video, “Tú sí sabes quererme,” has over 260 MILLION views is nothing short of life-affirming.
The concert in 2018 at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles is impeccable.
This was great. I know people who are basically begging for vaccine passports, etc. saying the United States is backwards compared to Europe. It’s really mind-boggling.