Quote of the Day: Fallen from the Pedestal

 

“Time makes heroes but dissolves celebrities.” — Daniel J. Boorstin

During the beginning of the pandemic, I was seriously worried.  Things were not going well, and a lot of the Democrats seemed to be more interested in virtue signaling than disease control.  As someone trained in public health, I know that epidemics need to be managed aggressively.  Contrary to what many people say, you can stop a virus from spreading with proper quarantine and infection control practices.  Trump was taking decisive action on border control  (similar measures of containment have been used throughout history), but he needed a trusted advisor who knew about fighting disease.  Then we saw the nightmare in Italy, and people really wanted to avoid it.

Enter Dr. Anthony Fauci.  A trained microbiologist, who seemed to know what he was doing.  My boss, who I respect greatly, had nothing but good things to say about the man.  He seemed like a consummate professional, wanting to achieve one last victory over disease before he retired.  He actually seemed to avoid going behind Trump’s back or undermining him, which made me respect him.  If I was working on a public health crisis for Obama, Biden, or whatever Democrat, I would either work with him, or resign.  That’s the role of a public health expert. 

I was not alone.  Many of my colleagues and friends were reassured by Fauci.  He was now a nationwide celebrity.  But cracks were starting to appear.  I was not troubled by the reversal on masks.  In fact, I took to wearing a mask just fine.  (My positions were recorded in posts I made at the time) What bothered me was the lack of pushback on excessive lockdown measures or nursing home practices.  You do not need to be a public health professional or doctor or scientist to know that keeping vulnerable seniors away from infected people is a smart move.  Furthermore, it seemed odd that there would be a full-court press against the lab leak theory.  Totalitarian countries are not known for their safety records, and we have to make a point to maintain containment and protection in our laboratories.  I had actually asked my boss if there was any discussion of the lab leak theory in the biosafety community, way back in April or May last year.

The BLM riots were pretty much the breaking point.  Either large outdoor gatherings are safe, or they are not.  The cause does not matter.  Fauci was safe, Trump would have had his back if he condemned large outdoor gatherings, but he did not.  Our public health establishment chose wokeness and hypocrisy, and lost the trust of many Americans.  Fauci also became a celebrity, an icon.  He was making pronouncements without much judgment – to be honest, it was as if he was trying to be like Trump.  The contradictory pronouncements torched his credibility.  Trump said whatever he thought, but earned credibility through actions.  Fauci just made it seem as though he was giving random opinions, not considered scientific judgment.

They say in DC that the coverup is worse than the crime, and Fauci’s attempt at covering up his role in supporting research in Wuhan and gain of function research generally should have face charges for lying under oath.  The really disturbing question to me is whether the gain of function research actually produced any valuable data for the pandemic response.  After all, the whole point is to make the Wuhan Coronavirus before it shows up in nature, so we can stop it more easily.  One of the chief criteria for evaluating GoF studies is scientific merit.  I saw a different type of GoF study get shot down in committee at my institution over scientific merit and crazy risks.  (When your expert virologist says “this should not be allowed to exist”, that’s a bad sign…)   The American people are waiting to hear what the benefits of GoF studies were in this crisis.

The recent release of the Fauci emails has fully kicked him from the pedestal.  He knew that asymptomatic spread (the whole justification for masks) was negligible, yet pushed masking.  He worked closely with China, and coordinated to stop discussion of the lab leak theory.  He was working on a biopic film on his life during the worst part of the pandemic, and had a book ready to roll, since he obviously had plenty of time to write a book.  The man is a disgrace to the scientific community and to all public health history, merely a bureaucrat in a lab coat.   In short, Fauci had the chance to either be a hero or a mere celebrity.

He chose… poorly.

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  1. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Well done, Omega! I especially liked your comments that related to your own expertise and experience in the field. Thanks!

    • #1
  2. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    OmegaPaladin: The man is a disgrace to the scientific community and to all public health history, merely a bureaucrat in a lab coat.

    Tell us how you really feel. 😆

    • #2
  3. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    This isn’t going to end well for the United States. We are going to be condemned by the whole world, and then they will send us the bill for damages.

    • #3
  4. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    I’m sorry I can only give this post one like.  And the quote is absolutely perfect for the situation, and so true.

    ***

    This is the Quote of the Day. June’s sign-up sheet is here, and the days are going fast.  Get ’em while they’re hot!

    If you’re new at this game, it’s a easy way to get your feet wet and start a conversation; if you’re an old-timer, you already know the ropes.  Either way, please sign up to speak up.

    Another ongoing project to encourage new voices is our Group Writing Project. June’s theme is “Journeys.”  If you’d like to weigh in, please sign up for Group Writing too!

    • #4
  5. The Scarecrow Thatcher
    The Scarecrow
    @TheScarecrow

    MarciN (View Comment):

    This isn’t going to end well for the United States. We are going to be condemned by the whole world, and then they will send us the bill for damages.

    Why the US? Not China??

    • #5
  6. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    The Scarecrow (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    This isn’t going to end well for the United States. We are going to be condemned by the whole world, and then they will send us the bill for damages.

    Why the US? Not China??

    Because the US is stupid enough to pay, while the Chinese will tell the world to pound sand.

    • #6
  7. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    In a previous era, when newspapers and congress were run by grownups, the flip-flops and sheer uselessness of Fauci would have led to his ouster.  Instead, because in our cartoon universe, he represents #Science and thus opposed to evil Trumpism, we must pretend he is a gifted leader and not a career bureaucrat whose 50 years of developing internal political skills makes him uniquely unsuited to dealing with a real crisis of any kind.  

    The entire federal public health bureaucracy brought nothing to the table except spin and BS.  When masks became a policy option (rather than admit there was nothing viable in the toolkit) the FDA had to be pushed out of the way to permit rapid domestic production and again when vaccine production was being done by the private sector.  The CDC issued magical thinking guidance on the once mocked “social distancing” and complete nonsense about mask effectiveness.

    We harmed children, we ruined businesses and careers, created an ongoing mental health crisis, damaged confidence in government while ballooning the deficit.  And we will experience other substantive harms to health and life that will unfold for years.  And it is not clear that we saved even one life while doing all this. 

    In sum, COVID-19 increased the death rate for persons over 78 years old by 12.8% while otherwise just being a really nasty flu for anyone else who caught it and became symptomatic.

    The expected superspreader events (Antifa, BLM, the Sturgis bike rally, Thanksgiving ) were all duds.  The bug spread and receded on its own terms and even when these patterns became glaringly obvious, the “experts” at all levels of government continued to pretend that we must continue or even double down on useless costly gestures just so they could blame non-cooperation by the masses if cases increase or take credit when the bug finally left.

    But they will expect to be thanked for guiding us through this crisis.  There will be plaques, dinners, and lots of grin-and-grin photos full of people who screwed us.

    • #7
  8. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    To me (no particular medical or public health knowledge) Dr. Fauci initially seemed like a reasonable expert providing advice. He said he was looking at the issue solely from an infectious disease perspective, and acknowledged that he didn’t understand “collateral” consequences of the recommendations he made from that infectious disease perspective, collateral consequences like mental health, treatment of other medical issues like cancer and heart disease, economics, unemployment, children’s education, etc. But then people started ascribing to him authority beyond his expertise, and he didn’t resist it. He then embraced the additional authority by making pronouncements without acknowledging the limitations of his expertise. For me, the big error for Dr. Fauci personally was appearing in that fashion magazine cover shoot, and the big error for “public health experts” in general was their endorsement of the BLM riots with simultaneous condemnation of anti-lockdown protests. 

    • #8
  9. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    In a previous era, when newspapers and congress were run by grownups, the flip-flops and sheer uselessness of Fauci would have led to his ouster.  Instead, because in our cartoon universe, he represents #Science and thus opposed to evil Trumpism, we must pretend he is a gifted leader and not a career bureaucrat whose 50 years of developing internal political skills makes him uniquely unsuited to dealing with a real crisis of any kind.  

    I’m not really sure that Fauci would have been exposed in a previous universe, but I completely agree with the second half of this theory.

    I always thought (and said here a few times) that he was a little weasel, and that he was entirely too jovial about the idea of locking down and subjugating millions of his fellow citizens. And I’m as appalled as the OP that he didn’t focus on the real threat to the elderly and the immunocompromised, and that the horrific nursing home travesty/tragedy unfolded on his watch. 

    I am disinclined, in general terms, to “pounce” on what may be initially described as a flip-flops over the course of a long haul in which we continue to learn new things as we go.  But Fauci’s backtracking and dissembling, and his patent insincerity lost me quite early on.

    And then I found out that he’d been fictionalized into the erotic hero of a 1991 best seller by former D.C. doyenne Sally Quinn.

    It was around this time that Quinn first encountered the real-life Fauci, at a Washington function where the two were paired as dinner partners. With his tie askew and from behind enormous glasses, Fauci left an impression of earnest brilliance, enough to inspire the main character of Quinn’s upcoming novel.

    “I just fell in love with him,” Quinn told me recently, recalling their evening together. “Usually those dinners, you make polite conversation, and that’s it. But we had this intense conversation, personal conversation. I though, ‘Wow, this guy is amazing.’”

    Quinn was then working on a sequel to her previous novel, “Regrets Only,” and seeking inspiration for the romantic opposite for one of her main characters, the former First Lady. “What kind of person would she be in love with? It would not be somebody from a great family or with a lot of money. But it would be somebody who was really brilliant, and compassionate, and kind, and decent, and honest. All of those things—and sexy.”

    “He just exuded charisma,” she added. “All the things that she would have fallen in love with.”

    Somehow, that single discovery encapsulated both everything I needed to know, and nothing I needed to know, about Anthony Fauci.

    Crimenutely.

     

    • #9
  10. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    When they didn’t have testing in place and bureaucratized the development of testing was a crucial moment.

    • #10
  11. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    The Scarecrow (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    This isn’t going to end well for the United States. We are going to be condemned by the whole world, and then they will send us the bill for damages.

    Why the US? Not China??

    My fear is that if it begins to look like that lab was working on our projects, the world will blame us for the pandemic. 

    • #11
  12. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    MarciN (View Comment):

    The Scarecrow (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    This isn’t going to end well for the United States. We are going to be condemned by the whole world, and then they will send us the bill for damages.

    Why the US? Not China??

    My fear is that if it begins to look like that lab was working on our projects, the world will blame us for the pandemic.

    My hope is that the American voters blame us and take appropriate action.

    • #12
  13. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Hang On (View Comment):

    When they didn’t have testing in place and bureaucratized the development of testing was a crucial moment.

    I think testing turned out to be overrated.  Tracking was useless given (a) the long incubation period (b) the incidence of asymptomatic transmission and (c) the frequency of false positives.  Testing helps only if you can isolate the infected in some timely way. All we did was get inflated case numbers that the pandema-stasi used to terrify the masses.  The only stats that mattered were hospitalizations and deaths.  We did not have any treatments worth a damn in the early going anyway.  

    • #13
  14. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Isn’t the significance of the gain-of-function experiments authorized by Fauci that those experiments led to the development of the SARS 2 covid-19 virus?

    • #14
  15. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    The Scarecrow (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    This isn’t going to end well for the United States. We are going to be condemned by the whole world, and then they will send us the bill for damages.

    Why the US? Not China??

    My fear is that if it begins to look like that lab was working on our projects, the world will blame us for the pandemic.

    My hope is that the American voters blame us and take appropriate action.

    That would be fine if it ended that way. I hope it does. I don’t care what happens to Fauci. I am really worried about international sanctions against the United States and reparations bills being sent our way from every country in the world. I’ve seen Fauci being accused of genocide and of being responsible for “millions of deaths,” even here on calm Ricochet occasionally. That was before the gain-of-function research came to light.

    I have read many times on right-leaning commentary websites over the past eighteen months that this pandemic was “an act of war” on the part of China–that’s serious language, and it seems to me that it will be turned on us.

    China has been trying to pin this on us since it started.

     

    • #15
  16. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    Testing helps only if you can isolate the infected in some timely way.

    It helped us on Cape Cod enormously over the past year. It enabled us to contain outbreaks. 

    I think the testing was a good and helpful thing. 

    • #16
  17. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    OmegaPaladin: The recent release of the Fauci emails

     Hasn’t heard about this. Will look, though. 

    • #17
  18. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    The Scarecrow (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    This isn’t going to end well for the United States. We are going to be condemned by the whole world, and then they will send us the bill for damages.

    Why the US? Not China??

    My fear is that if it begins to look like that lab was working on our projects, the world will blame us for the pandemic.

    My hope is that the American voters blame us and take appropriate action.

    That would be fine if it ends that way. I hope it does. I don’t care what happens to Fauci. I am really worried about international sanctions against the United States and reparations bills being sent our way from every country in the world.

    The number of times I’ve seen this pandemic described as “an act of war” on the part of China–that’s serious language, and it seems to me that it will be turned on us.

    China has been trying to pin this on us since it started.

     

    Your focus here on America’s misbehavior is concentrated on Covid-19 and the world pandemic. Donald Trump went in the Office of the President largely on a premise that there was a number of things going on internationally with America’s cooperative involvement and we witnessed an overwhelming effort to stifle all Trump initiative. After Biden was shown to have facilitated underhanded and personally profiting dealings with Ukraine and China, he was nominated and allegedly elected POTUS where all can be cloaked in legitimacy. We are in deep kimchi.

    • #18
  19. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    Testing helps only if you can isolate the infected in some timely way.

    It helped us on Cape Cod enormously over the past year. It enabled us to contain outbreaks.

    I think the testing was a good and helpful thing.

    I would love to see the data on that.  At a glance, Barnstable County does not look all that different from the rest of MA.

    • #19
  20. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    Testing helps only if you can isolate the infected in some timely way.

    It helped us on Cape Cod enormously over the past year. It enabled us to contain outbreaks.

    I think the testing was a good and helpful thing.

    I would love to see the data on that. At a glance, Barnstable County does not look all that different from the rest of MA.

    I haven’t looked at those charts. That’s interesting.

    I follow the new-case numbers in my town, and in my town (Yarmouth), it has been very obvious that the testing-and-quarantining strategy is effective. The numbers have gone up to 10 or 15, and those are people in quarantine for about ten days. The numbers stay exactly the same for ten days or so, and then they float down. To me, that is evidence that quarantining people who have tested positive keeps the virus from spreading.

    Keeping sick people at home has always been effective in the schools my kids attended. When someone got conjunctivitis, which my pediatrician said was the most communicable disease known to man, :-), they would send the kid home until the local pediatrician cleared that kid for reentry. :-) That worked. The entire school did not get conjunctivitis. :-) It’s the same principle.

    • #20
  21. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    OmegaPaladin: The American people are waiting to hear what the benefits of GoF studies were in this crisis.

    Actually, I doubt most Americans have any idea what “Gain of Function” means, if they’ve even heard the term.

    • #21
  22. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    Testing helps only if you can isolate the infected in some timely way.

    It helped us on Cape Cod enormously over the past year. It enabled us to contain outbreaks.

    I think the testing was a good and helpful thing.

    I would love to see the data on that. At a glance, Barnstable County does not look all that different from the rest of MA.

    I haven’t looked at those charts. That’s interesting.

    I follow the new-case numbers in my town, and in my town (Yarmouth), it has been very obvious that the testing-and-quarantining strategy is effective. The numbers have gone up to 10 or 15, and those are people in quarantine for about ten days. The numbers stay exactly the same for ten days or so, and then they float down. To me, that is evidence that quarantining people who have tested positive keeps the virus from spreading.

    Keeping sick people at home has always been effective in the schools my kids attended. When someone got conjunctivitis, which my pediatrician said was the most communicable disease known to man, :-), they would send the kid home until the local pediatrician cleared that kid for reentry. :-) That worked. The entire school did not get conjunctivitis. :-) It’s the same principle.

    I wonder. 

    This bug is incredibly contagious and really hard to trace.  I would need to see whether changes in your case numbers depart from the larger pattern. If decreases follow the same larger state/region trend, then crediting an NPI is more like a post hoc propter hoc error than a policy success. 

    South Korea thought they had it whipped after the initial outbreak.  They have tracking tools we don’t–like instant government access to cell phone data to see who was near whom and when.  But they still had bigger spreads later (though, like every other Asian nation, with a much lower per capita infection incidence).

    Barnstable County appears to have a higher rate of fatality per infection rate than the US as a whole but I attribute that to the fact the NY, NJ, CT and MA got to go first with COVID and thus had no benefit of the improved treatment options (e.g., ivermectin) that emerged later.  

    An asymptomatic person is likely infectious for only a couple of days and not shedding anywhere near the number of viruses as does a fully sick person.  By the time that asymptomatic person is tested, he/she has likely already shed all the COVID they are gonna so isolating that person is a complete waste of time.  If somebody is actually sick, the test seems like more of a confirmation of what we already know, and again, probably a tad late.  Yarmouth is testing at a rate of 3 per 100,000 with 1% positive.  I don’t see how that level of data collection is of any use with respect to crafting a quarantine/isolation strategy.

    Sorry to be such a downer but I do love numbers when looking at policy choices and I hate to see good people wasted.

    • #22
  23. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    Barnstable County appears to have a higher rate of fatality per infection rate than the US as a whole but I attribute that to the fact the NY, NJ, CT and MA got to go first with COVID and thus had no benefit of the improved treatment options (e.g., ivermectin) that emerged later.  

    The Barnstable County numbers went up dramatically with the introduction of Brazilian variant last winter. We have a large Brazilian population in Hyannis that reacted to the variant with unfortunate consequences. Travel bans aside, there was a lot of back-and-forth between Brazil and Hyannis. However, the vaccines appear to be effective against it, and those numbers have been coming down significantly.

    I too would like to do a postmortem on the course of the virus on Cape Cod versus the Boston metropolitan and New York metropolitan areas. It would fascinating. 

    We’re kind of petri dish in a Diamond Princess way. :-) It would be really interesting. 

    • #23
  24. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    An asymptomatic person is likely infectious for only a couple of days and not shedding anywhere near the number of viruses as does a fully sick person.

    What I think the numbers in Massachusetts demonstrate noticeably is that it is symptomatic people who are the most contagious and actually spreading the disease. I say that because the vaccines were rolled out to the over-65 set–that is, those with T-cell challenges and those most likely to develop overt symptoms–and the decline in case numbers was staggering to watch.

    Or are we looking simply at the extremely fast spread of acquired (through light exposure) immunity. The superspreader event of the Boston biotech conference would suggest that, as would the release of the college kids in one fell swoop in April 2020. There was a major national uptick in the first case; there was no uptick a short time later with the release of the college kids.

    It makes me wonder if vaccine programs need to target vulnerable populations only. So, for example, during the 2017 and 2018 H1N1 pandemic, if we had targeted just young people–those who were never exposed to the H1N1 in the preceding decades–would that have been sufficient to stop pandemics in their tracks? It would keep us from vaccinating people who don’t need it, which would be good since there is some risk from anything we do to the human body. It would be great to just vaccinate people who were really vulnerable.

    The other question that remains on my mind is that pesky and universal 18-month lifespan for pandemics. What the heck is 18 months? Twelve months makes sense in terms coursing through the four weather seasons. But what is 18 months? It’s just a big question for me.

    Was it the vaccines in Massachusetts that seemed to put an end to the epidemic here? Or was it that we hit the 18-month mark? Both happened at the same time.

    So many questions.

    • #24
  25. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    Sorry to be such a downer but I do love numbers when looking at policy choices and I hate to see good people wasted.

    I love numbers too, but wow, I’ve kind of stopped looking at them very much because they have been so politically corrupted. 

    I trust my local board of health on new-case numbers. That’s about it these days. 

    When this first started, the numbers were interesting because I trusted them to some extent, as puzzling as they often were. But now I wonder about the accuracy of all of them. 

    • #25
  26. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I spent a year praying for a vaccine. Now I pray that Fauci was not responsible for this pandemic–not because I am overly concerned that he will lose his job, credibility, status, and global respect but because I can’t even begin to imagine the consequences for the United States if it turns out that the gain-of-function experiments that he exported to Wuhan were to blame for this.

    • #26
  27. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    MarciN (View Comment):

    I spent a year praying for a vaccine. Now I pray that Fauci was not responsible for this pandemic–not because I am overly concerned that he will lose his job, credibility, status, and global respect but because I can’t even begin to imagine the consequences for the United States if it turns out that the gain-of-function experiments that he exported to Wuhan is to blame for this.

    It could still be argued that the research would have been okay if not for careless Chinese labs.  Whether the US could be blamed for knowing they weren’t reliable and doing it anyway, is a separate question.

    • #27
  28. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    kedavis (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    I spent a year praying for a vaccine. Now I pray that Fauci was not responsible for this pandemic–not because I am overly concerned that he will lose his job, credibility, status, and global respect but because I can’t even begin to imagine the consequences for the United States if it turns out that the gain-of-function experiments that he exported to Wuhan is to blame for this.

    It could still be argued that the research would have been okay if not for careless Chinese labs. Whether the US could be blamed for knowing they weren’t reliable and doing it anyway, is a separate question.

    That’s exactly what will happen. 

    If OmegaPaladin could see that we would not be having this problem if we were talking about labs in the United States or France or even India, why would anyone think the rest of the world would not say the same thing? Especially if they can send us the bill for damages. 

    • #28
  29. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher
    Goldwaterwoman
    @goldwaterwoman

    OmegaPaladin:

    The man is a disgrace to the scientific community and to all public health history, merely a bureaucrat in a lab coat.   In short, Fauci had the chance to either be a hero or a mere celebrity.

    He chose… poorly.

    This makes me really sad since he was such a likeable character on TV and seemed to be so trustworthy. We followed him blindly only to learn we were misled by the establishment one more time. Sigh.

    • #29
  30. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    MarciN (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):

    I spent a year praying for a vaccine. Now I pray that Fauci was not responsible for this pandemic–not because I am overly concerned that he will lose his job, credibility, status, and global respect but because I can’t even begin to imagine the consequences for the United States if it turns out that the gain-of-function experiments that he exported to Wuhan is to blame for this.

    It could still be argued that the research would have been okay if not for careless Chinese labs. Whether the US could be blamed for knowing they weren’t reliable and doing it anyway, is a separate question.

    That’s exactly what will happen.

    If OmegaPaladin could see that we would not be having this problem if we were talking about labs in the United States or France or even India, why would anyone think the rest of the world would not say the same thing? Especially if they can send us the bill for damages.

    If the US saying Chinese labs are unsafe is racist, how can the rest of the world blame us for using Chinese labs?  Let them stop calling us racist, first.

    • #30