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Lingering stench 

We're emerging from the pandemic, the economy is rebounding, our president speaks in complete and cogent sentences—things are looking up, right? Well, not for conservatives, who seems unable to let go of vaccination conspiracies and false claims of voter fraud.

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On May 4, during the SLO County Board of Supervisors meeting, independent "journalist" the SLO County Observer was riding the bus and saw a protest on the corners of Monterey and Santa Rosa and decided to stop and see what the fuss was about.

"What's your grievance?" he asked a woman holding a sign that read "Tommy GONE."

"Dominion Machines have a Verizon SIM card in 'em, and it can be set for anything. You have a SIM card, you have a Verizon card, and you can tap right into the machine. Nobody knows it. Tommy didn't know it."

"Who's Tommy?" the SLO Observer asked.

"Tommy Gong. He's the Clerk-Recorder. He's the one in charge of all this," the protester said.

"Is that local?" the SLO Observer asked.

Huh? You've never heard of Tommy Gong? Independent journalism indeed.

Meanwhile in the meeting, 170 phone calls poured in, many prerecorded, to leave public comments about an item on the agenda—Public Health Director Penny Borenstein's update about the county's efforts to combat COVID-19. Most of the calls complained about the "vaccination passport" the county allegedly plans to enact ... except it doesn't and isn't and never was.

"Vaccines are the beginning of the end of our right to control our bodies," several callers parroted. "We know it won't stop with one COVID injection."

Yeah, pretty soon they'll demand your children get polio; diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP); measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR); and hepatitis B vaccines to enter kindergarten!

"We don't live in a tyrannicalsociety where we have to do something because the government tells us to," said another caller who probably refuses to get a driver's license or pay taxes.

Listening to the stream of calls filled with falsehoods, conspiracy theories, and anti-vaxxer rhetoric gobbled up the lion's share of the meeting, which was supposed to discuss, among other things, in-person vs. mail-in voting. Conservatives across the country are calling for voter ID requirements, in-person-only balloting, no early voting, and hand-counting of ballots, which have nothing to do with voter suppression of people of color, right? Right?

Meanwhile, back outside, the protester handed the SLO County Observer a piece of paper with what she believes are the facts of her case against Dominion Voting Machines: Six states are being audited, in New Hampshire the machines shorted Republicans 300 votes, another machine "flipped" 6,000 Trump votes to Biden "in another small county," three Republicans were shorted "6 percent exactly by the machines."

It was all the talking points of the national conservative effort to sow seeds of distrust in our voting system, which court after court and study after study has deemed virtually free of election fraud.

The SLO Observer then crossed the street toward the County Government Center, his camera streaming live to YouTube.

"Who are you with?" asked a female protester.

"I'm an observer," the SLO County Observer replied.

The exchange was repeated, and then she demanded, "What's your name?"

"I'm by myself. I'm an observer."

"So what are you going to do with this video?"

"I'm not too sure yet. I just wanted to see what was going on. Can you tell me what's going on?"

"No."

"No?"

"Not until you identify yourself."

One might be forgiven for asking, what's the point of a protest if you're not going to explain what you're protesting?

Finally, a woman in a floral blouse and wide-brimmed hat stepped forward and said, "Is it not obvious what's going on?"

"No. I see signs, and I just wanted to get an idea of what's going on. Voter fraud?"

"Item 25," a man shouted out.

"Yes, item 25 on there and items 16, which is the health," floral blouse woman said incoherently as she unfurled another sign that read, "No VaCCiNE PassPort." "They have it every single board meeting. No vaccines. No vaccine passport. It's against the Constitution, and trash the voting machines because we don't have fair and honest elections. You can't be sure because these are hackable."

Yes, machines are hackable ... when they're connected to the Internet, but SLO County's system is not, so it can't be hacked. Of course, as the floral blouse woman said, "Watch HBO's documentary Kill Chain." It will absolutely trigger the conspiracy theory center of your brain.

Back inside the Board of Supes meeting, the conservative majority—John Peschong, Lynn Compton, and Debbie Arnold—bulldozed the liberal minority and voted to roll back the successful election model used during the November 2020 election, which helped spur record voter turnout, to bring back the old model. One day of in-person voting and sending mail-in ballots only to those who have gone out of their way to ask for them. And they're considering asking the state to require IDs for in-person voting—did someone say voter suppression? Someone attending the meeting accused Tommy Gong of belonging to the Chinese Communist Party.

Who do these people think they're kidding? Oh yeah. The small crowd gathered outside who are sure vaccines are bad and voting is riddled with fraud because Trump lost. There were no masks among the protesters. Δ

The Shredder is fully vaccinated. Send conspiracies to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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