It’s a time warp! The Infinite Thread is back!


I’m consolidating things. I’m fusing the Open Thread (which died in 2020) and the Political Madness thread, which has been going strong all this time, thanks to the stewardship of Lynna, into one unholy amalgam of anything goes. Almost anything goes, that is. I’m hoping Lynna will continue to inject regular antidotes to the political madness, but also it’ll be a place where all the random odd thoughts and question and socializing can go on.

This would be the 20th iteration of the political madness thread, I think, so fill this up and we’ll go on to Infinite Thread XXI.

Oh, also: The Endless Thread has been maintained on Affinity. This is not a replacement for that lovely thread!

Comments

  1. KG says

    UK Tories following the Republifascist playbook: photo IDs to “solve” a non-existent problem of voter fraud, and legislating for a government minister to have the power to issue orders to the currently independent Electoral Commission. They are also putting their cronies in powerful media positions, at the BBC and the communications regulator OfCom, bullying museums and universities to toe the Tory line in the culture wars they are prosecuting, pushing through new and oppressive legislation on demonstrations, official secrets and judicial review of the legality of government actions…

  2. blf says

    Pinal County [Arizona] Supervisors Vote To Reject $3.4 Million COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Grant (audio) (quoted in full):

    Last week, the Pinal County Board of Supervisors rejected a $3.4 million federal grant aimed at improving vaccine equity.

    The board voted 3–2 against accepting the grant money from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

    One board member cited the creation of a “vaccine equity coordinator” position, which is required to collect the grant, as a reason to vote against receiving the funds.

    A representative from Pinal County Public Health says the grant would be used to educate and provide vaccinations to underserved populations within the county, including rural communities without easy access to vaccines.

    Less than half of Pinal County’s population has been fully vaccinated, lagging behind both the state and national rates.

    There’s four(?) First Nations communities in the county. I don’t know to what extent they are affected by this absurdity.

  3. blf says

    Mars helicopter Ingenuity successfully completed its 13th flight. Data and images are still being downloaded. This flight was lower and slower than the 12th, but intended to again image the same interesting ridge features of South Séítah region, from a somewhat different angle, altitude, and position. I believe part of the intent is try and combine the new images with those from the previous flight to produce an even better stereoscopic (albeit not 360°) view of what has the scientists intrigued.

    Nasa / JPL has also officially extended Ingenuity’s mission “indefinitely” (the original(?) mission extension was to have ended about now-ish, if my memory is correct).

  4. blf says

    Teh thug’s next tactic, Three near-identical Boris Vishnevskys on St Petersburg election ballot:

    […]
    Russian opposition politicians are used to finding spoiler candidates with identical surnames running against them in order to confuse voters at the polls. Now it appears that the impersonators are changing their faces as well.

    That’s what Boris Vishnevsky, a senior member of the liberal Yabloko party, is facing in his district in St Petersburg before municipal elections later this month.

    Vishnevsky already knew that two of his opponents had changed their names so that they were also called Boris Vishnevsky, an update on the common tactic of nominating a “double” to split the vote and deliver victory to another candidate.

    But when a district voting poster was revealed on Sunday, it showed something far more shocking: three nearly indistinguishable Boris Vishnevskys, all balding, greying, and sporting matching goatees. As a Facebook friend of Vishnevsky’s pointed out, the simplest way to spot the real Vishnevsky is that he was the only one who bothered to wear a tie.

    […]

    Vishnevsky’s opponents had grown their beards and moustaches for the photographs and may have also submitted photoshopped images to the electoral commission, Vishnevsky said. It also appears that at least one of the candidates had either shaved his head or digitally altered his hairline for the photograph.

    “I have never seen anything like it,” said Vishnevsky. Earlier, he called the “doppelgänger” tactics “political fraud”.

    At least one of Vishnevsky’s opponents, who until recently was named Viktor Bykov, is believed to have changed his appearance considerably for the photographs. In an official photograph used on a St Petersburg government website, Bykov had a full head of hair and looked years younger than the photograph submitted to the electoral commission.

    […]

    Less is known about the other opponent, who was previously named Alexei Shmelev and was reported to be a sales manager at a St Petersburg company. Neither of Vishnevsky’s opponents have campaigned publicly or had any public appearances. Until this week, it was unclear how they even looked, and it still is not entirely clear.

    Vishnevsky said he didn’t know the men’s motivations in running against him but said: “I don’t think they agreed to embarrass themselves like this for free.”

    [… T]he campaign against Vishnevsky stands out because his opponents legally changed their names (although the candidates still have different patronymics — middle names that are usually assigned to Russian children according to the name of one’s father), because there are two doubles rather than just one, and, of course, because the men had engaged in political cosplay to derail the vote.

    “Every time there are elections we say these are the dirtiest elections there have ever been,” said Vishnevsky, when asked about how this campaign compared to the past. “I’m sure we’ll say the same at the next elections, too.”

    Image at the link. As per the above excerpt, the original Vishnevsky is the one wearing a tie.

  5. says

    Millions in U.S. lose jobless benefits as federal aid expires, thrusting families and economy onto uncertain path.

    Washington Post link

    More than 7 million out-of-work people across the United States are set to lose all of their jobless benefits this week as three federal programs expire on Monday, in what several experts described as one of the largest and most abrupt ends to government aid in U.S. history.

    Too much. Too big a change happening all at once. Not good.

    In addition to the more than 7 million people who will lose all their benefits, nearly 3 million more people will lose a $300 weekly boost to their state unemployment benefits.

    The cessation of this jobless aid, first put in place by Congress nearly 18 months ago, could upend the lives of millions of Americans still struggling to find work at a time when the pandemic’s delta variant is wreaking fresh havoc across a number of states. It could also lead to a sharp pullback in spending, particularly in certain areas of the country, impacting a wide range of restaurants and other businesses that rely on consumer dollars.

    “I don’t understand how anyone in Washington cannot know normal people, their friends, families, cousins who are going through this,” said Kathleen Fox, a producer in New York whose past work has been recognized with a prestigious Peabody Award but who has struggled to find work after the pandemic upended her industry. […]

    President Biden said in June that it “makes sense” for one of the programs, which boosted unemployment checks by $300 each week, to lapse in September, but senior aides have also called on states to reallocate other money in a way that would continue offering some support. No states appear inclined to take action, though, leading to this week’s sudden cutoff.

    Now there is heightened anxiety […] that pulling so many people off government support so abruptly could push millions of people into poverty and cut off access to food or nutrition for people caught on the wrong side of this uneven economy. The jobless rate has fallen and the stock market is near record levels, but many Americans have found themselves unable to recover from the pandemic’s devastating blow.

    […] some 7.5 million people will be cut off from aid on the programs’ expiration date. “If past periods have been an indicator, many will be caught in a spiral that will lead to a downward quality of life.” [chart available at the link]

    The programs initially boosted jobless benefits by $600 a week before Congress lowered the amount to $300 a week. They also expanded the pool of workers eligible for government aid and increased the number of weeks workers could draw on unemployment insurance. But this assistance has also emerged as a divisive flash point in a political debate over whether government assistance discourages people from returning to work.

    Republicans and numerous business groups have argued the extra benefits were contributing to a labor shortage and slowing the economic recovery, alleging it had become too lucrative for people to stay home rather than get a job. They have called for investigations of fraud in the programs, alleging hundreds of billions of dollars in unemployment aid may have been stolen.

    […] “It just feels like being discarded,” said Fox, who was set to see her new projects premiere at major festivals in 2020 before the coronavirus devastated those plans. Now, she applies for around three jobs per day, including ones where she would make far less money than in her last full-time position at an advertising agency, all to no avail. If she is unable to find a job after losing her benefits, she faces the prospect of being forced to sell her apartment.

    […] Over the summer, 26 states announced they would end these benefits early, providing a glimpse of what millions of other Americans will now face. Since then, economists have studied data on job gains and spending to see how local economies have reacted to the withdrawal of benefits amid a pandemic, and to determine whether the extra aid was holding back job growth.

    Their conclusions are ominous: one study found that for every eight workers who lost benefits, just one managed to find a new job, and found a dramatic reduction in spending, suggesting the people who lost benefits were left in a precarious financial situation.

    […] When they designed the aid package last year, lawmakers created a new type of unemployment aid called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which covers workers who normally wouldn’t qualify for unemployment insurance, such as gig workers, caretakers and the self-employed. Those workers tend to be younger and lower-income than those who received benefits from standard unemployment insurance, […] The expiration of that program this week means these workers — who make up about 40 percent of all UI claims during the pandemic — will no longer be eligible for any unemployment insurance programs.

    […] It is still unclear whether businesses struggling with labor shortages will find it easier to hire workers in the coming weeks, even as the benefits end. Argosy Cruises, a company offering boat tours in the Seattle area, had a pre-pandemic head count of around 250 people, before it was forced to lay off 85 percent of its staff in August 2020, said chief operating officer Molly Schlobohm. The company gradually relaunched in April, and hiring has been “incredibly challenging,” she said, despite wage increases and signing bonuses.

    […] “I don’t really think that the extended unemployment benefits are the sole reason for the labor shortage,” she said. “I’m seeing and hearing from candidates and employees that affordable, quality child care is more of an issue,” she said, along with affordable housing in the Seattle area.

    […] Workers still depending on the benefits described numerous obstacles to finding work, including industries that had not fully staffed back up to pre-pandemic levels and fear of contracting the delta variant.

    Bailey, 51, has a bachelor’s degree from Smith College and a master’s degree from Howard University. She is a Black woman — a demographic that faced an unemployment rate of 8.6 percent in August, significantly higher than the comparable national rate of 5.1 percent. […] She is fully vaccinated, but fears a breakthrough infection and would prefer to work from home.

    “I’m not afraid of death,” Bailey said. “I’m more afraid of long covid,” she added, referring to the prospect of weeks or even months of lingering illness after being infected by the virus.

  6. says

    Panjshir Valley, last resistance holdout in Afghanistan, falls to the Taliban

    Washington Post link

    The Taliban on Monday seized Panjshir province, a restive mountain region that was the final holdout of resistance forces in the country, cementing the group’s total control over Afghanistan a week after U.S. forces departed the country.

    Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement that the Islamist group had “completely conquered” the Panjshir Valley. “Our last efforts for establishing peace and security in the country have given results,” he said.

    A senior official of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, confirmed that the Taliban had taken over. “Yes, Panjshir has fallen. Taliban took control of government offices. Taliban fighters entered into the governor’s house,” the person said.

    […] But on Twitter, the NRF said its forces remained “in all strategic positions across the valley to continue the fight” and that the “Taliban’s claim of occupying Panjshir is false.” And in a video recorded on Friday, Saleh said reports at the time that he had fled the country were “totally baseless,” although he added that the situation was “difficult.”

  7. says

    Southern Republicans Cannot Be Trusted With Public Health

    New York Times link to an article written by Margaret Renki.

    For those of you keeping score at home, here is where things stand in the 2021 National Calamities Sweeps, Southern Division:

    In the ever-expanding Climate-Augmented Natural Disasters event, results cannot yet be tallied. Tennessee and North Carolina are both digging out from catastrophic flooding, while parts of Louisiana were flattened by Hurricane Ida, and most of New Orleans remains without electricity. Ida’s remnants also brought even more rain to areas of the South and beyond that were already dangerously waterlogged.

    In the Utter Failure to Understand What “Pro-Life” Really Means tournament, normally a very close battle in the red states, Texas is currently uncontested: Its leaders just made it easier to carry a gun and harder to end an unwanted pregnancy in the same week.

    Finally, in the Colossally Botched Medical Emergency competition, it’s neck and neck across the region as Republican governors double down on efforts to block mask and vaccine mandates, along with every other pandemic-mitigation attempt made by people who are not allergic to science.

    Every single one of these disasters is, at its heart, a public health emergency. And in every case our leaders have responded with disinterest and disinformation at best. In many cases they have worsened the emergency in every way imaginable.

    […]Tennessee’s governor, Bill Lee, actually signed this state’s new permitless-carry bill in a ceremonial event at a gun factory. […]

    Freedom from death is surely at the top of anybody’s priority list. […]

    Nevertheless, Rand Paul, the senator from Kentucky, is more interested in investigating the Covid-treatment benefits of a horse dewormer — despite warnings about its dangers from the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Medical Association — than in getting his constituents vaccinated.

    For a few days last week, Tennessee had the highest Covid case rate — including the highest case rate for children — in the country. By Friday, South Carolina had taken the lead in overall cases, and Tennessee had dropped to second place, giving them the highest case rates per capita in the world, according to Eric Topol, the founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute.

    Hospitalizations for both adults and children in Tennessee have surpassed their previous pandemic record. School systems across the state keep shutting down because of outbreaks, using the few inclement-weather days already built into the school calendar because Mr. Lee [Tennessee’s governor, Bill Lee] has not authorized days off for Covid outbreaks. Nor has he allowed school systems to pivot to online learning.

    And yet, despite these indisputable indicators of failed public policy, Mr. Lee has no intention of reversing course. Most Southern Republicans don’t, either, and that’s why Southerners will continue to die unnecessary deaths — if not from Covid, then from natural disasters, or self-administered abortions, or gun violence, or any number of other preventable tragedies.

    Whether you believe in climate change or not, living without access to electricity and safe drinking water is a public health emergency. Whether you need an abortion or not, living where it is difficult or impossible to obtain one is a public health emergency because clinics that provide abortions also provide crucial preventive care like mammograms and cervical cancer screening — services that will no longer be offered when those clinics close. Having more people carrying more guns into more public places is clearly a hair-on-fire public health emergency.

    […] heroes are working to get their communities vaccinated, to defend mask mandates in schools, to protect the environment, to increase access to health care, and to reform a hopelessly broken criminal justice system, just for starters. […] But every step of the way they are fighting against their own elected officials to accomplish anything. And it is long past time to recognize that some matters are too important to be entrusted to state governments anymore.

    If there is anything this pandemic has taught us, it’s that public health is not a local matter. When hospitals in the red-state countryside close, their patients arrive in blue-city hospitals, taking up beds and lifesaving equipment and putting health care workers at risk. When people in the red states aren’t vaccinated, the virus continues to evolve, creating variants that pose a health risk to people everywhere else.

    We don’t trust red-state governments to set baseline environmental-protection standards. That’s a responsibility of the federal government because air and water do not observe state borders. In the same way and for the same reasons, we can no longer trust Republican governors and legislatures to protect public health.

    […] We need to take health and public safety out of the hands of Republicans because this is not a game, no matter how often the people running things down here may behave as though it is. There are no winners in the National Calamities tournament of 2021. Here in the South, especially, there are only losers.

  8. says

    AG Garland: DOJ Will ‘Provide Support’ For Abortion Clinics ‘Under Attack’

    […] Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday said that the Justice Department will work with law enforcement to ensure the safety of abortion clinics, following the Supreme Court’s decision to allow Texas’ ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy stand.

    “While the Justice Department urgently explores all options to challenge Texas SB8 in order to protect the constitutional rights of women and other persons, including access to an abortion, we will continue to protect those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services pursuant to our criminal and civil enforcement of the FACE Act,” Garland said in a press release.

    Garland noted that the FACE Act, which was signed into law in 1994, already criminalizes the act of blocking access to an abortion clinic.

    “The FACE Act prohibits the use or threat of force and physical obstruction that injures, intimidates, or interferes with a person seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services. It also prohibits intentional property damage of a facility providing reproductive health services,” Garland said. “The department has consistently obtained criminal and civil remedies for violations of the FACE Act since it was signed into law in 1994, and it will continue to do so now.”

    Garland said that the DOJ is ready to “provide support” from federal law enforcement when an abortion clinic or reproductive health center is “under attack.”

    “We have reached out to U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and FBI field offices in Texas and across the country to discuss our enforcement authorities,” Garland said.

  9. says

    A brief dispatch from the rural COVID front line

    Well, it’s official. Things at my little rural hospital, and in my office practice, are every bit as bad as they were back in December/January. Every bed in our ICU is full; we’re averaging at least one COVID death per day. Every floor bed is full. We are now boarding patients in the ER again because there’s nowhere to put them. One of the large waiting rooms is a de-facto COVID holding area for people waiting to get into the ER.

    Yesterday morning I spent an hour on the phone calling patients to inform them their COVID test was positive, and what they need to do. More phone calls all night from terrified people.

    I got called in this morning about 6:30 am because one of my COVID patients in the ICU developed a dangerous rapid heart rhythm. Got things slowed down a bit but he’s not out of the woods, and his respiratory status is still dire. And there are six more patients just like him in the ICU.

    We are seeing breakthrough infections; one of the ICU patients was fully vaccinated; but the overwhelming majority of folks getting sick have not been vaccinated.

    Our Northern Appalachian county has yet to crack the 60% mark for fully vaccinated status for adults. The next county over is stuck at 48%. So there really isn’t any reason for optimism right now. Things are going to get worse before (if?) they get better.

    Every single day in my office practice I try to persuade folks to get vaccinated. A few more accept every day. And every day I get swaggering, ignorant push-back from Trump supporters spouting the latest lies from Tucker Carlson, the latest racist rant that it’s all because of those immigrants from Mexico.

    One of my partners has had enough. He started here the same month I did back in the 1980s, but he’s done. He is retiring. I can’t blame him. Fortunately we have hired a new young doc to fill the gap; she’s had a trial by fire, caring for COVID patients as a senior resident while pregnant.

    I can’t say enough about the nurses at our little hospital. Their shifts are brutal, spending 12 hours in full protective garb caring for desperately ill and terrified COVID patients. I have eyes and hands on the patients every day, but they’re wading into the fire for hours at a time.

    My thoughts about the Republican neofascists who have brought us to this point with their vile lies about vaccines, their despicable sabotage of basic infection control measures, their de-funding of public health for a generation….are too dark to voice. I’m an atheist and a humanist; but this is one of those times when the belief in an afterlife might be comforting. I so want to believe there will be some kind of justice for the people who enabled this plague killing my patients.

    That’s a powerful conclusion.

  10. says

    Twitter thread:

    People demand simple, cookie-cutter answers to problems from anarchists and abolitionists because simple, cookie-cutter “answers” is the comfort the state has always offered. Even if those “answers” are just organized violence that compounds the problems they claim to address.
    Perhaps stop to ask yourself if submitting to an order that offers one crisp, simple answer to incredibly complex, nuanced, and often irrevocably *contextual* problems isn’t a major part of what makes how we address harm under the current system so violent and ineffective?
    Additionally, those simple “answers” are not and have never been effective in addressing harm. The State says “we’ll throw anyone who’s poor and who we think (or at least can convince the public to think) committed a crime into a hole to rot and preform slave labor” and folks will hold that up as a standard all other solutions must meet because… it’s easy.

    More at the link and some decent comments, too.

  11. snarkrates says

    LykeX, Mencken said it better: “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”

  12. KG says

    LykeX@11,
    The best of the comments in response was this one (apar from the misues of the word “redress”:

    This is just a verbose way of saying that anarchists have no redress for any of the questions or critiques raised against their system(s) so they pretend that everyone else assumes a reductive position of how to order and structure society.

  13. tomh says

    Metro News:
    Poll: Fewer than half of West Virginians believe legitimacy of 2020 presidential election
    By Brad McElhinny / September 6, 2021

    Fewer than half of West Virginians believe the 2020 presidential election was legitimate and accurate.

    That’s according to the latest MetroNews West Virginia Poll, which surveyed 400 registered voters August 20-25.

    Forty-four percent of respondents said the election result was determined legitimately.

    Forty-three percent said the result was the result of voting fraud and election rigging.

    And 14 percent said they aren’t sure.
    […]

    A Monmouth Poll from June showed that 32 percent of Americans continue to believe Joe Biden’s 2020 victory was because of voter fraud. Between 60 and 70 percent of Republicans nationally believe Biden won because of voter fraud, according to polling over a period of months….

    Fourteen percent of the American public said they will never accept Biden as president, according to the Monmouth Poll.

  14. says

    Bits and pieces of news, as summarized by Steve Benen:

    In case Arizona’s election “audit” weren’t already ridiculous enough, the Arizona Republic reported that GOP state senators have now hired “an election conspiracy theorist and anti-vaccine activist to conduct its review of voter signatures on mail-in ballot envelopes in Maricopa County.” What could possibly go wrong.
    —————
    With time running out in California’s gubernatorial recall election, conservative talk-show host Larry Elder, the top Republican candidate, vowed to replace Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein with a Republican if given the opportunity. “[T]hat would be an earthquake in Washington, D.C.,” Elder boasted late last week.
    ———————–
    Vice President Kamala Harris will be in California tomorrow, hoping to rally support for incumbent Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. President Joe Biden is now expected to make the same trip early next week. Election Day is a week from today.
    ———————-
    Pro Publica published a striking report late last week, documenting the extent to which local Republican activists, loyal to Donald Trump, have adopted Stephen Bannon’s “precinct strategy” and begun filling key rolls in becoming poll workers, election inspectors, and GOP officials.
    ——————
    Donald Trump criticized Nikki Haley last week, telling Vanity Fair, “Well, every time she criticizes me, she uncriticizes me about 15 minutes later.” I’m skeptical that “uncriticizes” is a word, but putting that aside, this is one of the more accurate things the former president has said in a while.

    Link

  15. says

    Anti-Abortion Snitching Site Keeps Getting Wrecked

    Sad!

    “Prolifewhistleblower.com,” a website run by Texas Right to Life aimed at collecting information on those suspected of helping to provide abortions, has been taken offline yet again.

    Texas Right to Life helped usher in the state’s Draconian new anti-abortion law that not only bans abortion after six weeks, but also essentially puts a $10,000 bounty on anyone who assists with providing access to abortions, including rideshare drivers.

    Their “whistleblower” website got kicked offline by Epik, a site hosting provider, on Saturday for violating the platform’s terms of service.

    Another hosting provider, GoDaddy, had already given the website the boot last week.

    Before all that, TikTokers spammed the website’s form with bogus “information.”

    One TikToker even created a special script to make it even easier to flood the website. [video available at the link]

    […] A spokesperson for Texas Right To Life said the spammers “worship at the altar of child sacrifice.”

  16. says

    No masks? Check. No vaccines? Check. No remote classes? Check. Public education ended? In progress

    Across the country, school boards—and school board members—have found themselves at the center of a firestorm. In a matter of months, meetings that would ordinarily have been sparsely attended have become full to overflowing. Boards that in a normal year might spend nights balancing the need to replace tattered textbooks against an always-too-tight budget have found themselves being screamed at over protests around a “critical race theory” that seemed to change definitions from one outraged speaker to the next. Even more, they’ve found themselves threatened, in every sense of that word, over efforts to simply do their best to protect the children placed in their care.

    There are two simple steps that schools can take to protect both students and staff against a virus that is still burning through communities across the nation: requiring that everyone wear masks, and requiring both staff and older students to be vaccinated. Those actions provide the very minimum level of discomfort while providing the best chance to not just keep children safe, but keep schools operating. Since governors and legislators in multiple states have made it more difficult to conduct any sort of distance learning, those already urgent goals have been given even greater weight.

    Then those school boards found themselves deluged by people screaming a mantra that somehow, in some unexplained way, equated masks with stripping away freedom and vaccination with Nazis. Meetings didn’t just become raucous, they became violent. Dangerous. Board members found themselves facing off with white supremacist militias, and with people whose anger followed them into the parking lot and back to their homes.

    But if the people behind these verbal and physical attacks seemed unfamiliar to board members, it’s because they are. Not only are these meetings being crammed with people who have no students or stake in local districts, they’re following scripts for creating disruption and fear that were crafted on a national level. Because this isn’t just about blocking masks, it’s about using this moment to destroy public education.

    […] As the New Hampshire Union Leader reported in July, board members have now found that rather than local parents, their meetings are being driven by members of white supremacist militias like the Proud Boys. Those militia members didn’t show up to talk about the lunch room budget, they came making claims about “Marxism.”

    […] three men attempted to zip tie and kidnap the principal of a Tucson, Arizona, high school. The incident came when the son of one of the men was asked to quarantine after being exposed to a known case of COVID-19. Two of the three men did not have children in the school—they just came for the violence.

    […] what’s happening in school board meetings isn’t a spontaneous movement of local parents concerned over the nonexistent threat posed by masks, it’s a coordinated attack by right-wing “think tanks” and media that have been coordinating this assault for months, driving home messages that masks are signs of oppression, not tools in blocking the spread of disease. Those messages make it clear that those coming to make threats don’t have to be a parent, and that if they don’t know what to say, they will be told.

    The message being spread to the right about masks is that they are useless, dangerous, “virtue signaling,” and a symbol of submission to unreasoning authority. But what’s going on at school board meetings, even those where masks become the subject of violent threats, isn’t really about masks. It’s more about this: Shutting down public schools and making it impossible for public education to operate.

    As the Texas Tribune reports, at least 45 school districts in Texas have been “forced to temporarily stop offering in-person classes as a result of COVID-19 cases.” Those shut downs came after over 20,000 Texas students tested positive for COVID-19 in the first two weeks of the school year.

    The same thing is happening in Florida, where the Florida Phoenix reports districts in five counties “drowning” in cases of COVID-19. With just six out of 67 districts reporting, 28,000 students and school staff were in quarantine after testing positive or being exposed to COVID-19. The result was a cascade of schools being forced to close as children became ill and there were insufficient staff and teachers to conduct classes.

    […] rules that allowed expanded distance education over the 2019-2020 school year have now ended. Boca News [Florida] reported as the start of the school year approached that it meant “distance learning is not an option when school begins.” Schools are required to conduct in-person learning. Texas also failed to provide any funding for remote learning, leaving students—even those with immune disorders placing them at high risk—with few options but to face COVID-laden classrooms.

    Those decisions were backed up by executive orders in both Texas and Florida that forbade school districts from requiring that either students or staff wear masks. Florida followed an executive order with legislation that requires that schools conduct in-person education except in the case of hurricane emergencies. That same bill also gives DeSantis the power to “invalidate” any local emergency order—so no matter how bad things become in a school district, DeSantis can order that in-person instruction continue. […]

    […] Conservative groups, including white supremacist militias, are bringing in people to disrupt local school board meetings and to generate fear among board members. […] The goal is to overwhelm these meetings, making ordinary school business impossible to conduct, as well as making board members fearful about staying in their positions.

    […] Conservative states are blocking schools from requiring vaccination of staff or older students for COVID-19, even though such vaccinations are a routine requirement against a whole host of other diseases […]

    Conservative states are requiring that schools conduct in-person classes, no matter how bad things get, and denying funding for remote learning. That’s being backed up with new legislation that strips cities and counties from exercising authority they always had in the past.

    That doesn’t look like conservatives being concerned about masks. It doesn’t look like conservatives being upset about vaccines. What it looks like is conservatives seizing this moment to assault school boards and make the operation of public schools difficult, if not impossible. […] The whole of public education will emerge battered and diminished.

    […] It’s about Republicans seeing a road to a goal they’ve wanted for decades—even if that road is paved with sick children.

  17. says

    Poll shows growing U.S. support for public vaccine requirements

    To hear many Republican politicians tell it, there’s broad public opposition to vaccine requirements. The latest polling report from Gallup tells a different story.

    Majorities of Americans now favor requiring people to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination to travel by airplane, stay in a hotel, attend events with large crowds, dine in a restaurant and go to their office or work site.

    Gallup specifically asked respondents, “Would you favor or oppose businesses requiring people to show proof of coronavirus/Covid-19 vaccination in order to do the following over the next several months?” The findings included:

    53 percent support requiring proof of vaccination to eat at a restaurant.

    53 percent support requiring proof of vaccination to stay in a hotel.

    56 percent support requiring proof of vaccination to go to work at an office or work site.

    58 percent support requiring proof of vaccination to attend events with large crowds.

    61 percent support requiring proof of vaccination to travel by airplane.

    The results are notable in their own right, but just as important is the shift in public attitudes over time: In nearly every category, the percentage of Americans expressing support for vaccine requirements has increased since the spring. […]

    Indeed, in some instances, public attitudes have flipped. In April, for example, Gallup found that a narrow majority opposed vaccine requirements to stay in a hotel, and now those numbers are reversed. Similarly, in April, 60 percent were against businesses requiring proof of vaccination before allowing people to eat at a restaurant, and now a narrow majority has the opposite position.

    To be sure, Gallup’s findings don’t point to overwhelming majorities. What’s more, there are predictable divisions over partisanship and vaccination status.

    But the fact remains that for months, more than a few Republican leaders have insisted that the public opposes vaccine requirements. “Vaccine passports,” despite their anodyne history, somehow became an ugly slur in conservative circles.

    The latest independent polling, however, suggests policymakers who want to side with the American mainstream should endorse more vaccine requirements, not fewer.

  18. says

    Update on job growth in the USA, and on reactions to the statistics:

    After robust job growth in the early summer, expectations were high that August’s totals would show continued momentum. That’s not quite what happened: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported late last week that the economy added 235,000 jobs in August, far short of projections.

    Under normal circumstances, if the U.S. economy were to add 235,000 new jobs in a month, it’d be considered great news, but the current circumstances are anything but normal: The economy is still digging itself out of the hole it fell into last year as the pandemic took its toll. August’s job numbers weren’t terrible on their own, but it was a small step in the right direction when Americans wanted a big step.

    To be sure, there was no great mystery behind the disappointing data: The Delta variant of the coronavirus […] very likely contributed to August’s tepid growth. We’ve known for a year and a half that there’s a direct connection between the pandemic and the economy, and Friday’s report was a timely reminder.

    At least, that’s how the job numbers were seen in reality. Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel issued a statement late last week pushing a very different kind of argument:

    The latest jobs report is a huge miss and shows Joe Biden continues to squander the economic recovery he inherited. Because of Biden’s failed policies and reckless spending, there are fewer jobs and rising prices for everything from gas to groceries.

    […] There’s a Democratic president, so it stands to reason that his Republican detractors will make every effort to blame him in response to disappointing news.

    But what I find amazing is the selectivity of the GOP arguments.

    In May, when job totals fell short of expectations, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy insisted that President Biden’s economic policies had “stalled our recovery.” Around the same time, Republican Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana argued that the White House’s agenda was sending the economy into a “tailspin.”

    The rhetoric appeared pretty foolish soon after, when the economy added over 2 million jobs across June and July, at which point Republicans literally found themselves at a loss for words.

    […] In June and July, [Republicans said] robust job growth wasn’t worth paying any attention to. And in August, Biden’s “failed policies” — the ones that Republicans conveniently overlooked in the early summer — were once again to blame for a subpar jobs report.

    This obviously doesn’t work. […] if the president’s economic policies are so awful, how does the RNC and its allies explain what happened in June and July?

    Link

  19. says

    Brazilian Authorities Question Jason Miller After CPAC Event In Brasilia

    Trump adviser Jason Miller claims he was questioned by authorities Tuesday as he prepared to board a flight to leave Brazil’s capitol.

    Miller said that he has attended the “CPAC Brasil Conference” in Brasilia before authorities questioned him for three hours, according to a statement obtained by TPM. CPAC Brazil bills itself as “The biggest conservative event in the world in Brazil.”

    “We were not accused of any wrongdoing, and told only that they ‘wanted to talk,’” the statement reads. “We informed them that we had nothing to say and were eventually released to fly back to the United States.”

    It’s not clear which authorities conducted the questioning or what the subject of the investigation was.

    GETTR, the right-wing social network which, per Miller, received funding from Chinese Billionaire Guo Wengui’s family foundation, issued the statement on Miller’s behalf. The CPAC Brasil 2021 website lists GETTR and Parler, another right-wing social network, as sponsors of the event.

    CPAC Brasil said on a website for the event that Miller was set to speak at the gathering, and listed other MAGA notables like Donald Trump Jr. and Rep. Mark E. Green (R-TN) as attending.

    Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a close ally of former President Trump who was planning to hold a Stop the Steal-style rally on Tuesday, the country’s independence day, faces re-election in October 2022. That’s reportedly led to Bolsonaro officials seeking help from Trumpworld in their effort to stay in power.

    Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo traveled to the United States last month, where he met with Trump and received a signed MAGA hat from the former president. […]

    On Aug. 11, Eduardo Bolsonaro, a Brazilian parliamentarian, attended MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s South Dakota symposium on wacked-out theories of cyber fraud in the 2020 election.

    Bolsonaro gave Lindell the MAGA hat.

    Reports from Brazilian media have suggested that prosecutors in the country have eyed the younger Bolsonaro’s planning for the 2022 election in the country, including his ties to former Trump campaign chair Steve Bannon. […]

  20. says

    Abbott signs Texas elections bill, Democrats file suit

    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Tuesday signed a sweeping overhaul of his state’s election procedures after months of delay caused by Democrats […] (Democrats sought to block the bill they say will disenfranchise voters.)

    […] The legislature approved the bill last week and Abbott signed the measure in Tyler, accompanied by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) and Sen. Bryan Hughes (R), the lead Senate sponsor of the measure.

    “Election integrity is now law in the state of Texas,” Abbott said.

    Yeah. That’s the opposite of “election integrity.” Republicans are known for naming legislation with misleading titles.

    The measure bars round-the-clock polling stations and places new restrictions on drive-thru voting and voting by mail. It will give more authority to partisan poll watchers who can observe an election, and it increases the requirements for identification voters must show when they cast a ballot.

    The bill will also prevent elections officials from distributing vote-by-mail applications to voters who have not specifically requested them […] It requires the Secretary of State’s office to check voter rolls every month in an effort to identify non-citizens who have improperly registered to vote. [Oh, FFS!]

    […] “One thing that all Texas can agree and that is that we must have trust and confidence in our elections,” Abbott said Tuesday, adding the bill “ensures that every eligible voter will have the opportunity to vote.” [Utter bullshit.]

    […] The ink from Abbott’s pen had not yet dried when a prominent Democratic election lawyer announced plans to sue the state to block the law from taking effect.

    The lawyer, Marc Elias, said his team had sued on behalf of four Texas organizations: two Hispanic advocacy groups, a retiree organization and the state’s largest teacher’s union. The lawsuit will challenge the law under the First and Fourteenth amendments to the Constitution, and under two sections of the Voting Rights Act.

    Hooray! Good for Marc Elias.

    “Year after year, Texas has one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the country, yet Republicans in the state remain intent on limiting access to the ballot box, particularly for voters of color,” Elias said in an email. “After Texas Democrats blocked the passage of past iterations fo the bill in the regular legislative session and the first special session, Republicans finally achieved their goal of enacting a law, Senate Bill 1, that limits almost every method of voting in the state.”

    Many of the provisions in the new law are aimed squarely at Harris County, Texas’s largest and the home of Houston. Harris County election officials infuriated state Republicans by holding polls open around the clock during early voting, and by encouraging voters to cast ballots from their cars at drive-thru stations.

    Harris County officials planned to send absentee ballot applications to every registered voter, though the Texas Supreme Court blocked the plan in the months before Election Day.

    Putting one sort of good thing in the bill, (expanded voting hours for 12 days right before election day), does not make up for the extremely bad measures in the bill. The early voting hours give Republicans a talking point that is misleading when you look at the overall effect of the bill, which is to disenfranchise voters.

  21. says

    Wonkette:

    Insurrection-friendly rightwingers are planning a “Justice for J6″ event on September 18, a week after the 20th anniversary of 9/11. […] January 6 […] a violent mob stormed the US Capitol at the behest of Donald Trump, who is still at large and still somehow a serious contender in the 2024 presidential race.

    The pro-coup rally will take place at the scene of the original crime, the Capitol grounds, and support the jailed insurrection suspects. Repulsively, the rally will supposedly honor the victims of 9/11, another dark day for America. We’re not sure you can simultaneously support and oppose terrorist attacks, but “J6″ is probably an overall “we don’t like brown people” rally so that might track.

    So far, hundreds of Trump’s supporters have been arrested for breaking into the Capitol on January 6 and, in many cases, later bragging about it on social media like morons. A growing rightwing narrative has emerged that these criminal suspects are actually “political prisoners,” because apparently breaking and entering and aggravated assault are partisan issues. White supremacist personality Tucker Carlson and even some Republican members of Congress, who are not any more reputable, have promoted this lunacy. […]

    “The big problem is, we don’t actually know where all the political prisoners are,” continued Cawthorn [Rep. Madison Cawthorn from North Carolina ]. “So if we were to actually be able to go and try and bust them out — and let me tell you, the reason why they’re taking these political prisoners is because they’re trying to make an example,” he said, cutting himself off.

    Yikes! Republicans in 2019 claimed Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was radical because she thought we should address the climate crisis that would later flood her city. Cawthorn has only served in Congress for a few months but that’s usually long enough to know that busting domestic terror suspects out of prison is illegal. This is why you shouldn’t skip orientation. […]

    The Washington Post reports:

    Braynard’s [Trump’s former campaign operative Matt Braynard] followers believe many of the more than 570 people who have been charged with federal crimes in the attack were nonviolent and “reasonably believed they had permission” to enter the Capitol, according to a Jan. 29 letter Braynard sent to the Department of Justice and FBI. Braynard’s letter demands prosecutors drop all charges.

    Of course Trump’s former campaign operatives are involved. All the best people.

    The Big Lie is inherently reality refuting, but anyone who believes the January 6 attack was nonviolent probably also consumes horse paste over the counter. You can’t reasonably believe you have permission to enter a building where you’re climbing through broken windows and cops are ordering you to stand down. [video available at the link]

    Not to keep abusing Godwin, but the Big Lie has metastasized into a homegrown “stab-in-the-back myth.” The Nazis grotesquely claimed that Germany didn’t actually lose World War I but instead the nation was betrayed by a weak, disloyal citizenry and, of course, Jews. This lie became the “official history” of the 1920s as the Nazis accused the previous government of betraying the German people in order to seize power. This is not a roadmap to peace but Republicans are nonetheless following it to the letter.

    Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe said Monday that law enforcement should take the possibility of further violence at the “Justice for J6″ rally “very seriously.”

    “In fact, they should take it more seriously than they took the same sort of intelligence that they likely saw on January 5,” McCabe, a CNN contributor, told CNN’s Poppy Harlow on “Erin Burnett OutFront.”

    A disproportionate number of former and active-duty law enforcement were on the wrong side of the January 6 mob, so law enforcement clearly does take the Big Lie seriously. They’re just more pro-coup than we’d prefer.

    The “political prisoners” are arguably small fish. The problem is that the ringleaders behind the insurrection and attempted coup, which is ongoing, went unpunished. The big fish need to fry or otherwise January 6 is destined to repeat itself.

    Link

  22. says

    Proud Boys Try To Storm Vancouver, WA High School Over Mask Mandate

    Friday, anti-mask protesters with ties to the extremist group the Proud Boys tried to escort a student who refused to comply with public health guidelines into Skyview High School in Vancouver, Washington. Patriot Prayer and other far-right groups had falsely claimed online that the student would face arrest if she entered the school without a mask. (She’d probably just be asked to leave or put on a mask, just like with any routine enforcement of a dress code.)

    The student’s mother, Megan Gabriel, had requested that her daughter, an incoming freshman, be able to opt out of the mask requirement because she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. […] The school denied the request, because you’d end up with half the students not wearing masks, which would put everyone at risk. Inevitably, there was an anti-mask protest outside the school, with parents of other Skyview students holding signs and demanding the student receive a medical exemption from cloth facial coverings.

    One of the assholes prayed over the young girl, asking their fascist God to “raise up the hedge of protection around her,” and urged men in the community to follow her example. This is a child, so we won’t share the video of him putting his grubby hands all over her. Suffice to say, the whole scene was more triggering than wearing a mask. [Other protest video is available at the link.]

    The protesters carried signs stating “Masking kids=abuse” and “Medical choice: Your body, your choice.” That last one is especially galling to see rightwingers proclaim right now. Reportedly, some of the protesters yelled slurs at female students, who were also children. Several of the protesters wore the Proud Boys’ yellow and black gang colors.

    The school’s security guards, who used to have a decent gig before the mass shootings and fascist uprisings, prevented the protesters from entering, but the disturbance was serious enough that Vancouver Public Schools put Skyview High, along with nearby Alki Middle School and Chinook Elementary, on lockdown.

    […] Gabriel claims she isn’t anti-mask or anti-vaccine. She said she wears a mask when indoors and her son wears a mask at school. But she insists that masks triggers panic attacks in her daughter. […] What’s happened lately is that almost half the nation wants to suddenly claim they have a pre-existing medical or religious reason for wantonly spreading COVID-19. School officials can’t rubber stamp these exemptions or schools will shut down again.

    […] Children are adaptable and could easily make it through this school year safely if their parents behaved like grownups, but we’re afraid this is just the start of a disturbing trend. Someone’s going to get seriously hurt.

  23. says

    Last week, your beloved Wonkette received a very serious letter accusing us of ALL THE LIBELSLANDER.

    Remember the CARES Act PPP loans for “small businesses” that ended up going to major corporations and Trump sycophants who gave lots of speech money to various Republican assholes?

    Well, back in April of 2020, Doktor Zoom wrote this lovely piece about how hotel mogul and Trump donor Monty Bennett was the largest recipient of funds from CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Plan, getting $96 million for his business empire from the Small Business Administration. Oh, and he did this while laying off 95 percent of his staff. […]

    Monty was, apparently, VERY UPSET that we wrote true, mean things about him. SO upset, in fact, that, 16 months after Dok’s post, he decided to have Holland & Knight partner Stephen Rasch (aka expensive big-firm lawyer) send us a letter, accusing us of defiling his good name. And our Editrix, Rebecca, asked me, a First Amendment attorney in recovery, to respond.

    I think I love you

    Dear Messrs Bennett and Rasch:
    Is it okay if I call you Monty and Steve? I’m gonna call you Monty and Steve. Before we move on, I would just like to take a moment to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for this beautiful, beautiful gift. I also have a question.

    You presumably came to our website at least once, to read all of the mean, true things you complain about in your letter. So you should have at least some concept of Wonkette’s tone.

    Even without doing a cursory google to see how we might respond to letters such as this, did the words “Streisand Effect” really never once come to mind?

    But, again, thank you. Truly. Last week was a very hard week and I was in great need of a little comic relief. And a defamation accusation containing such gems as the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of “sleazy” was exactly what I needed.

    You may not know this about me, Monty and Steve. But responding to these kinds of threats and lawsuits is actually one of my favorite things.

    So what are you so afraid of?

    From your letter, it appears Monty is upset that we were mean to him. While that’s sad for Monty, I recommend he start his quest for redemption by acting like a decent human being, not threatening mommyblogs with bullshit lawsuits.

    But let’s not speak only in generalizations. Let’s get into the specifics of your letter. […]

    The article states that Mr. Bennett “exploit[ed] the ‘small’ business loan program” and that his actions were “sleazy as fuck.” According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “sleazy” is defined to mean “sordid, corrupt, or immoral.”

    I prefer Merriam-Webster, personally, but you do you. I’m a little sad you didn’t also give us a definition of “as fuck” to accompany it, though.

    As I once helpfully pointed out to one Mr. Bob Murray, you can’t sue someone for telling you to eat shit, and you can’t sue someone for calling you “sleazy.” That’s called an opinion, and it is protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution. […] truth is an absolute defense to a claim of defamation. Unfortunately, I do not have any artwork to use here, but I do really enjoy the part of your letter where you tell us that our reporting was correct, but defamatory nonetheless.

    The PPP loans obtained by hotel properties within Ashford’s portfolio were obtained lawfully and in a manner contemplated by provisions of the CARES Act. The article acknowledges the legality of the loan applications but falsely implies that there was some corruption in the loan application process.

    Defamatory implications! And we apparently did a lot of them!

    The article falsely implies that there was some deception in the loan application process.

    Just to clarify: We implied no such corruption in the loan application process, and we implied no deception in the loan application process. Former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, though, got very GRR MAD that large huge HUGE corporations such as yours were taking advantage of it […] And indeed, you were eventually shamed into returning the money, because it was not the intent of the program, even if it was allowed! Is that our fault? […]

    I find it truly fascinating that the letter you sent us refers to Monty’s business empire as “the Ashford portfolio,” but you would like to make sure we affirmatively note that companies named things like “Ashford, Inc.” and “Ashford Hospitality Trust, Inc.” are, technically, separately and legally distinct entities. (Separate and legally distinct entities that are all run by Monty, here, but we are sure that, too, is just a coincidence.) So, sure, WE RETRACT AND ARE HEARTILY SORRY. We good?

    Oh! And it appears we were supposed to predict that, at some point after our post was published, Monty would be publicly shamed into returning the PPP loan money and rehiring some people?

    Further, Ashford subsequently returned all of the PPP loan funds and rehired many furloughed employees.

    Can I get your psychic’s number? It sounds like you might have a good one. And I am definitely very sure this was all out of the goodness of Monty’s heart and had nothing to do with the slew of stories about what a piece of garbage he is. (I’m sorry. That was mean to garbage.)

    You are also perturbed that we wrote about how Monty “had to console himself with some great big bonuses, plus huge dividends from his preferred stock” while laying off almost all of his staff. But we clearly never should have said such a thing, since, as you point out in your letter, “Mr. Bennett’s dividends from Ashford, Inc. were decreased as a result of the pandemic.” […] We really should have noted that Monty became slightly less filthy rich as a result of the pandemic and paid himself a measly $950,000 salary and $2.3 million bonus last year. He paid himself LESS “bonus” — generally considered to be appropriate compensation when a corporation is doing well, not “suffer[ing] enormous financial losses” as you, yourself, describe it — while laying people off and taking PPP loans. Congratulations, Monty. You’re a prince.

    As for your threat of punitive damages … for publishing true things … about a matter of public concern … Well, I have a question for you, Steve. Did you miss First Amendment day in law school? Or are you just so afraid of losing your ultra-rich client that you’ll put your name on anything?

    Like all truly great defamation threats, your letter also includes one of my favorite tropes: not just a retraction demand, but a demand to say … some random other shit.

    My clients further demand that Wonkette affirmatively state the truth about Mr. Bennett and Ashford, which is that they acted lawfully and ethically in obtaining PPP loans after having suffered enormous financial losses during the pandemic, that none of the PPP loan funds were retained by Ashford portfolio properties, and that Mr. Bennett’s compensation decreased as a result of the pandemic.

    Since Monty is known to pay conservative outlets to be nice to him, I guess it tracks that he thinks he can just bully or pay everyone off. But “ethically”?! SERIOUSLY?! (“After The Times presented evidence that [Bennett] directly ordered articles [contrary to Bennett’s spokeswoman’s flat denial], lawyers representing [the rightwing “news” publisher Brian] Timpone sent The Times a cease and desist letter, demanding that it not publish the information.” It’s what’s called “the kicker”: a vividly outrageous scene to end your story on a WTF note. And Timpone’s lawyers apparently didn’t threaten to SLAPP the New York By God Times about anything in the Times’s extremely damning story — other than their client’s relationship with Monty Bennett.)

    Oh, Monty and Steve. You know what? I’m going to put this in a way you might understand. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “ethical” as “conforming to accepted standards of conduct.” So we respectfully decline.

    Thanks but no thanks

    Thank you again for your correspondence dated August 25, 2021.

    Despite our disagreements, I’d like to acknowledge that I very much appreciate a comment at the end of the letter, where you say you “trust” that we “understand the seriousness of this matter.”

    We do understand the seriousness of this matter. We absolutely do. We know all too well about the scourge of frivolous litigation clogging our courts that seeks to do nothing more than stifle free speech. People who use the American legal system to silence others just because they don’t like what they say are abhorrent and should be ashamed of themselves. This is an epidemic among the mega-rich and rightwing politicians, and it must be stopped.

    As for your demand that we “retract and/or correct” some of the very BESMIRCH STATEMENTS we published about Monty, I believe we gave it the appropriate level of seriousness.

    Oh, and is this the right place for a reminder that your proposed lawsuit would involve digging into Monty’s reputation? Since he’s claiming we damaged it with our besmirches? That does sound fun for me, but maybe not so much for you. (And how is that SEC investigation going, by the way?)

    Anyway, guys, I appreciate you. I do. But I think you could both really benefit from a primer on defamation law and the First Amendment. May I suggest taking a look at this legal brief written by a very smart lady with the initials JLC?

    Again, thank you for your letter. I mean that.

    It really SLAPPs!

    XOXO,

    Jamie

    https://www.wonkette.com/monty-bennett-v-wonkette

  24. says

    What the Sturgis rally shows us about the delta variant.

    Washington Post link to an article by Ashish K. Jha.

    South Dakota has high population immunity — and still saw a huge covid surge in August.

    The annual Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota is America’s largest bike rally, a 10-day blowout, with attendance this year exceeding 250,000. It was also a serious pandemic stress test. By bringing together hundreds of thousands of people, Sturgis helps answer a simple yet critically important question: Are we at a point in the pandemic where we can safely stage big-crowd events?

    If there were a place where this could have happened, it should have been Sturgis. The best data suggests that at least 75 percent of the entire South Dakota population has some degree of immunity against the virus: About half of South Dakotans have immunity because they’ve been infected by covid-19, and about half of the population has been vaccinated — some of whom have already had covid-19 when they got their shot, so there is some overlap between these two groups. South Dakota, despite its middling vaccination rates, probably has among the highest levels of population immunity in the nation, driven largely by horrifying winter outbreaks.

    That’s what makes Sturgis an important test. If it had gone off without big spikes in covid cases, it would have provided strong evidence that this level of population immunity — around 75 percent — would allow us to get back to the way we did things in 2019. But unfortunately, that’s not what happened. In the weeks since the rally began in early August, infection numbers have shot up more than 600 percent in South Dakota. We can expect to see big increases in other states, too, since bikers returned home from the event. Last year, after Sturgis, we saw massive outbreaks across the Dakotas, Wyoming, Indiana, even Nevada. Much of the region was aflame because of Sturgis, probably causing thousands of deaths.

    […] we can look to other examples where high levels of vaccinations or other tools helped prevent a lot of illness and death.

    The first example is what happened in Provincetown, Mass., over the July 4 weekend. Provincetown unfortunately also led to a spike in cases — but the infection numbers peaked quickly, dwindled and were gone three weeks later. There were very few hospitalizations and no deaths. Why? Because most of the people in Provincetown were vaccinated. That may be an indicator that population immunity from vaccinations is better and more protective than immunity from infections.

    Consider also this summer’s Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago. All those attending were required to provide proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test. Anyone unvaccinated was required to wear masks throughout, even though the festival was outdoors. And those attending were asked to accept a “Lollapalooza Fan Health Pledge” promising they had not tested positive or been exposed to covid within two weeks or experienced any covid symptoms within 48 hours. The result? Of the hundreds of thousands of fans who attended the festival, only a few hundred have subsequently tested positive — and it is unclear whether any of them were infected at Lollapalooza.

    Eighteen months into the pandemic, we’ve learned that outdoor gatherings are reasonably safe — it’s the indoor activities that invariably follow that are deadly. At Sturgis, it is unlikely that the outdoor bike rallies were a problem. Most of the spread likely happened in the evenings, when people crowded into bars and restaurants, most unvaccinated, all unmasked. Large gatherings that work on keeping indoor spaces safe through vaccinations, masking, ventilation and other techniques can keep the entire gathering safer.

    Over the past year, every time we have tried to defy the virus by scorning precautions, the virus has won, and people have suffered and died: significant outbreaks, a lot of hospitalizations, too many deaths. […]

    The simple interpretation of the large outbreak after Sturgis is that big gatherings are just not possible during a pandemic. But that is the wrong lesson. It’s important for Americans to find ways to come together. So we should ask how we can make gatherings safer.

    Here, the pandemic playbook is straightforward: Ensure you have a highly vaccinated population. Verify people’s vaccination status. Require rapid and frequent testing, especially for the unvaccinated. Improve indoor air quality, and use masking intermittently when needed.

    None of these are difficult to achieve. And none of them should be particularly inconvenient. If we do all that, we can safely get back to the things we love and the events that bring us together, like music festivals, concerts and motorcycle rallies.

  25. says

    Taliban Names Top Government Officials as Protests Roil Afghan Capital

    New York Times link

    The Taliban, who promised an inclusive leadership, drew from its own ranks to fill key government positions. For the second time in less than a week, protests that included hundreds of women were crushed.

    The Taliban announced their choices for several acting cabinet positions on Tuesday, but while they held off on formally announcing a permanent government for Afghanistan, they did offer one surprise.

    Contrary to expectations, the mullah who had led the Taliban negotiations with the United States over its military withdrawal did not get the top post at the council of ministers. Instead, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was named as the acting deputy leader of the council. That makes him functionally deputy prime minister.

    The No. 1 at the council job went to Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, a founding member of the Taliban who served as foreign minister and deputy prime minister in the group’s first government in the 90s.

    Sirajuddin Haqqani, a deputy leader of the Taliban insurgency and the leader of the terrorist-listed Haqqani Network, was named as acting minister of the interior. And Mawlawi Muhammad Yaqoob, who is the oldest son of the Taliban’s founding leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, was named acting defense minister.

    Running a government will most likely prove more daunting than toppling one.

    To succeed, the Taliban will need to secure desperately needed aid, which has been frozen by the United States and other nations. Foreign governments and lenders are waiting to see the fate of the opposition and if rights for women and ethnic and religious minorities will be respected.

    Without that money, the government faces worsening challenges, including humanitarian and economic crises that have forced Afghans to flee. Basic services like electricity are under threat, and the United Nations warned that food aid would run out by the end of the month for hundreds of thousands of Afghans.

    The Taliban, notorious for their brutality when they ran Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, has pledged that this time they will put together a more inclusive government, possibly including some non-Taliban figures in informal advisory roles.

    But none of that has materialized yet, and people with knowledge of the Taliban’s deliberations said that the real decision making was an entirely internal process.

  26. says

    OMG. Texas governor bizarrely vows to ‘eliminate rape’ in barely coherent defense of abortion ban

    On Tuesday, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law created by right-wing think tank fascists making voting considerably harder in the second most populated state of the Union. […]

    During the press question and answer that took place after the signing, Abbott was asked about the draconian abortion laws his state is putting into practice. Specifically, a reporter asked about victims of sexual assault who may not want to carry a pregnancy that was traumatically forced upon them. The issue of sexual assault has been a long understood problem of the true morality of right-wing forced birther logic. Abbott, who has yet to have a meaningful answer to anything in the history of anything, decided he had the perfect word salad answer. No more rape!

    “It doesn’t require that at all, because obviously it provides at least six weeks for a person to be able to get an abortion. So for one it doesn’t provide that [sic]. That said, however, let’s make something very clear: rape is a crime and Texas will work tirelessly to make sure we eliminate all rapists from the streets of Texas by aggressively going after and arresting them and prosecuting them. And getting them off the streets. So goal number one in the state of Texas is to eliminate rape, so that no woman, no person, will be a victim of rape.”

    The only thing in that bogus bit of incoherence that was true was the assertion that “rape is a crime.” […] Considering Abbott and the rest of the forced-birther movement has the kind of track record of serial sexual assault that only a rapist could believe in; and the people taking away women’s reproductive rights believe in a handful of scrolls-turned-into-bound-books that themselves report rapes from thousands of years ago, it’s quite a bit of hubris on the governor’s part to believe he can do what his God could not. But whatever! He isn’t even trying to make sense anymore.

    […] Texas still has well over 2,000 rape kits that have not yet been tested. Abbott himself has vetoed bills that would protect children from child sex trafficking (which includes a lot of sexual assault). While most of what transpires in the clip below is just an arrogant and ill-equipped politician trying to not answer a real question, the frightening part of this all is that Abbott—along with the rest of his Grand Old Party—may simply decide that the best way to get rid of all of these uncomfortable truths is just to eliminate “rape” altogether—as in the concept of it being a thing that even happens.

    The very real answer here is that right-wing evangelists, forced birthers, Abbott just don’t believe in rape. The trauma and results of rape are immaterial to the conservative movement. Like everything that so-called conservative Christians believe, if you go through the motions and do the least amount possible, pray and confess when needed, you can hack your way into heaven. What happens to the victims of rape or what happens to the unwanted child that is forced to birth doesn’t matter. You checked off one of your get-into-heaven-for-free game cards.

    The collective cult-clapping behind him is the great giveaway that the governor isn’t offering up anything of substance.

    Video is available at the link.

  27. says

    After months of coaxing students with thousands of dollars in prizes — everything from gift cards to sports tickets to free parking — colleges are starting to punish the unvaccinated.

    […] Now, as millions move back to campus, hundreds of schools are mandating vaccines and penalizing students who resist without a medical or religious reason.

    Quinnipiac University students who aren’t vaccinated will be fined up to $200 per week and lose access to the campus’ Wi-Fi until they get the shot. The University of Virginia booted more than 200 unvaccinated people from its rolls before the semester began. And Rutgers University, the first university in the U.S. to mandate vaccination for students, is threatening to disconnect email access and deny campus housing for students who don’t comply. Some colleges used similar tactics last year to get students to follow testing procedures.

    The hard mandates, which put colleges on the front line of the nation’s newest culture war, could help decide when the latest resurgence of the virus subsides — and when the next one arrives.

    Schools, risking conservative backlash, see the aggressive vaccines policies as a critical component of America’s effort to halt the progress of the virus. The institutions are uniquely situated to deal with the least vaccinated groups: young people.

    […] The Delta variant and low vaccination rates have fueled a summer surge of Covid-19 infections in young people, causing some college leaders to worry about needing another online-only semester. The incentives they’ve offered students to line up for a shot have helped boost vaccine rates at some institutions. But in many places, they aren’t enough.

    Teens and 20-something adults have some of the lowest vaccination rates among eligible populations, likely making them a larger factor in spreading the virus. About 60 percent of people ages 18-24 have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, compared to about 95 percent of people 65-74, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    At The Ohio State University, the current vaccination rate of more than 70 percent was not enough to avoid a mandate. School officials are aiming for close to 90 percent.

    “Requiring the vaccine was the right thing to do,” said Benjamin Johnson, a spokesperson for the university. “This isn’t particularly new for us … We have mandated a number of different vaccines for students for years.”

    All Ohio State students, faculty and staff must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 15. Students who do not comply and do not have an approved exemption will not be eligible for in-person classes or on-campus housing in the spring, and their email and other electronic resources may be taken by the university.

    Some states — such as Florida, Texas and Arizona — have laws banning vaccine mandates, leaving colleges with incentives as their only lever to affect vaccination rates.

    In the absence of a mandate and with about 60 percent of students on the main campus vaccinated, Stetson University in Central Florida is relying on incentives to boost vaccination rates.

    They’re offering a chance to win a year’s tuition, $1,000 in cash and dozens of other prizes. Once a certain percentage of students are vaccinated, school officials have promised to loosen rules around large gatherings. University leaders keep compiling ideas — now with 70 in a spreadsheet — hoping each one will push more students to get vaccinated.

    […] Though far fewer students than officials hoped are vaccinated, Stetson’s incentives have caused more people on campus to report their vaccination status. In the two weeks after the incentives were announced in July, nearly 200 percent more students and employees reported their vaccination status compared to the two weeks before the incentives announcement. […]

    Link

  28. says

    Possible CA Governor Larry Elder Is Slavery Apologist Who’ll Replace Dianne Feinstein With Stephen Miller

    […] if incumbent [California] Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom is successfully recalled, the likely replacement is Republican Larry Elder, who is all kinds of terrible.

    Elder, however, is a full-fledged MAGA asshole who might otherwise struggle to win statewide in an actual “purple” swing state, let alone one that rejected Donald Trump’s sorry ass by 30 points (twice!).

    It’s unclear why Democrats didn’t remove the undemocratic recall mechanism, which is like the random lever in a mad scientist’s laboratory that blows up everything. No good comes from keeping that around. For instance, a whopping 26 percent of likely voters in a recent poll support Elder, but that’s good enough for governor’s work if a clear majority don’t vote to keep Newsom.

    Elder feels confident enough about his chances that he boasted to conservative radio host Mark Levin about how he planned to replace Senator Dianne Feinstein with a Republican so Mitch McConnell could (officially) become majority leader again. […]

    Elder’s a horrible person, but on the upside, a Black man can’t just yell at Feinstein and make her go away. Believe me, I tried after she bear hugged Lindsey Graham during Amy Coney Barrett’s drive-through Supreme Court confirmation. However, Feinstein is 88 years old and, well, do I really have to explain human mortality to you people? Don’t accuse me of ageism just because I recognize that our elected officials aren’t Time Lords. If Elder wins the recall election and Feinstein dies or is otherwise unable to serve through 2024, then she’s regenerating into Stephen Miller. Yes, there is a non-zero chance that Elder would appoint that shit goblin to the Senate.

    Elder was once Miller’s mentor, which is embarrassing for everyone involved. Elder is more or less Black but he doesn’t care much for Black people. He had a mutual self-loathing session last weekend with Candace Owens where they defended slavery. Owens, who’s about as smart as rotten cabbage, claimed the United States was one of the first countries to ban the slave trade, when any reasonably educated cabbage knows that the US was one of the last countries to manage that impressive moral feat. […]

    Elder managed to out-gross Owens when he suggested that enslavers were owed compensation for their human rights violations.

    “When people talk about reparations, do they really want to have that conversation? Like it or not, slavery was legal,” Elder said. “Their legal property was taken away from them after the Civil War, so you could make an argument that the people that are owed reparations are not only just Black people but also the people whose ‘property’ was taken away after the end of the Civil War.”

    […] First place, abortion is legal and Elder, who’s predictably anti-choice, doesn’t think women should receive reparations for the loss of their bodily autonomy. Also, when you wage war against the US government, you usually don’t get to keep your shit. When Benjamin Franklin said at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately,” he was acknowledging that if the colonists lost the Revolution, [the Brits weren’t] going to reimburse them for their war expenses. Their asses would get executed.

    Oh, and enslavers did receive reparations, because America. Forget the 40 acres, though, freed Black people didn’t even get their mules.

    Elder admitted back in 2011 on his radio show that he’d been twice accused of sexual harassment.

    In one instance, Elder recounted that, while he worked in private practice as an attorney in the 1980s, his employee accused him of hitting on her. Elder then defended himself by implying the woman was too unattractive for him to sexually harass.

    “This woman who tried to break the contract, not to compete and then accused me of hitting on her,” Elder said in one episode. “That’s how, that’s how she put it. If you had seen her, you would know that the picture would be a complete defense. I’m just saying.”

    The scumbag doesn’t understand how sexual harassment works. However, Trump said something similarly gross when accused of sexual assault. I didn’t know he was just using the patented Larry Elder defense.

    This is just a brief peek at the hell that awaits us if Elder replaces Newsom. However, if there’s any positive to the Texas abortion ban, Democratic voters are enraged and perhaps more appreciative of what’s at stake if a minority of voters make a rightwing zealot the governor of California.

    If you live in California, vote NO. This is not a drill nor a joke. This is the nation’s future.

    A video snippet of Larry Elder speaking is available at the link.

  29. says

    Mexico decriminalizes abortion, a dramatic step in world’s second-biggest Catholic country.

    Washington Post link

    Mexico’s supreme court voted unanimously on Tuesday to decriminalize abortion, a striking step in a country with one of the world’s largest Catholic populations and a move that contrasts sharply with tighter restrictions introduced across the border in Texas.

    Eight of the 11 supreme court judges had expressed support for decriminalization in arguments that began Monday, making the decision virtually inevitable.

    The vote comes as a powerful women’s movement is transforming Mexico, where female politicians now make up half of Congress. While abortion remains illegal in most of Latin America, there has been a surge in demonstrations demanding more rights for women, particularly focused on rising violence.

    “This will not only have an impact in Mexico; it will set the agenda for the entire Latin American region,” said Melissa Ayala, coordinator of litigation for the Mexican feminist organization GIRE. She called the ruling “a historic moment for feminists and activists” who have pressed for women’s rights for years in Mexico’s state legislatures, health ministries and law schools. […]

  30. blf says

    Lynna@18 quotes (regarding a poll in the States):

    53 percent support requiring proof of vaccination to eat at a restaurant.
    53 percent support requiring proof of vaccination to stay in a hotel.
    56 percent support requiring proof of vaccination to go to work at an office or work site.
    58 percent support requiring proof of vaccination to attend events with large crowds.
    61 percent support requiring proof of vaccination to travel by airplane.

    Here in France, there there has been the Health Pass (paper or app) proving full-vaccination, recent negative test, presumed immunity, etc., since early-August. It covers essentially all of the above (not sure about hotel stays, and does not cover all work / office, with the exception of medical and (long-distance?) transport staff). Despite a dwindling rabble of goosestepping loons every Saturday, it’s very popular, with (last I recall) somewhere around 67% supporting the measure. It’s certainly become quite routine (locally, at least) with people presenting their pass upon entering the restaurant, bar, or café or when the server approaches — the servers’s rarely (or so it seems) have to ask anymore. One notably good thing about the Health Pass, which I’ve flagged before, is it applies both indoors and outdoors (at restaurants, etc.). The current fully-vaccinated rate is almost 80% (of those eligible, i.e., over 12), according to the track-and-trace app (which is also the app version of the Health Pass); the Health Pass was introduced to increase the vaccination rate (then in the 40%’s with rate of jabs falling), an explanation made explicit at the time by President Macron.

  31. blf says

    This could be interesting (for me, at least), SNCF set to lose bid for regional French railway line for first time ever (possibly paywalled, thelocal’s edits in {curly braces}):

    […]
    Officials in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur appear set to award the regional rail service between Marseille and Nice to the Transdev transport group for 10 years when the tender goes to its final vote on October 29th. [That is the local rail services which run via my village, hence my interest… –blf]

    If the vote goes as planned, it will be the first internal regional rail service in France that will not be operated by SNCF.

    “SNCF Voyageurs {which includes TGV, TER [current operators], Intercités and Transilien} wishes Transdev every success, in the interest of passengers and the development of rail transport in the region,” SNCF said in a press release, acknowledging the impending loss of the contract.

    […]

    Transdev — which already operates successful bus, coach and rail operations — has promised that regional rail traffic on the Marseille–Nice line will double from seven daily services to 14 by 2025. [Not quite sure where that “current-7” comes from, a quick checking using the ticketing app shows there are many many more than that, albeit there are a few notable “dry spots” with no trains for over an hour — but not all of the trains do the full Marseille–Nice distance… –blf]

    […]

    TER routes are France’s local trains, running slower services to small towns, in contrast to the high-speed TGV network which links up the cities.

    [… Compaints from some unions, albeit providing no reasons or details…]

  32. blf says

    Idaho enacts ‘crisis standards of care’ protocol to battle worsening Covid:

    […]
    Idaho public health leaders have activated “crisis standards of care” allowing health are rationing for the state’s northern hospitals because there are more coronavirus patients than the institutions can handle.

    The Idaho department of health and welfare […] publicly announced it in a statement on Tuesday morning […].

    The move came as the state’s confirmed coronavirus cases rocketed in recent weeks. Idaho has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the US [somewhere around 40% according to some quick searching –blf …]

    The designation includes 10 hospitals and healthcare systems in the Idaho panhandle and in north-central Idaho. The agency said its goal is to extend care to as many patients as possible and to save as many lives as possible.

    “Crisis standards of care is a last resort. It means we have exhausted our resources to the point that our healthcare systems are unable to provide the treatment and care we expect,” the Idaho department of health and welfare director, Dave Jeppesen, said in a statement.

    He added: “This is a decision I was fervently hoping to avoid. The best tools we have to turn this around is for more people to get vaccinated and to wear masks indoors and in outdoor crowded public places. Please choose to get vaccinated as soon as possible — it is your very best protection against being hospitalized from Covid-19.”

    The move allows hospitals to allot scarce resources like intensive care unit rooms to patients most likely to survive and make other dramatic changes to the way they treat patients. Other patients will still receive care, but they may be placed in hospital classrooms or conference rooms rather than traditional hospital rooms or go without some life-saving medical equipment.

    At Kootenai Health — the largest hospital in northern Idaho — some patients are waiting for long periods for beds to open up in the full intensive care unit, said Robert Scoggins, the chief of staff. Inside the ICU, one critical care nurse might be supervising up to six patients with the help of two other non-critical care nurses. That’s a big departure from the usual one ICU nurse for one ICU patient ratio, he said.

    [… similar stories…]

    The unfolding crush of patients to Idaho hospitals has been anticipated with dread by the state’s heathcare providers. Medical experts have said that Idaho, which has a population of around 1.8 millions, could have as many as 30,000 new coronavirus cases a week by mid-September if the current rate of infections lasts.

    The designation will remain in effect until there are enough resources — including staffing, hospital beds and equipment or a drop in the number of patients — to provide normal levels of treatment to all.

    More than 500 people were hospitalized statewide with Covid-19 on 1 September and more than a third of them were in intensive care unit beds. [In all of France, there were “only” 200 new ICU cases yesterday — roughly the same as Idaho, but out of a population of around 67 millions, almost 40 times larger, with almost 80% (of the eligible population) fully-vaccinated –blf]

    […]

    When the pandemic first came to Idaho at the start of 2020, [thug alleged-“Governor” Brad] Little ordered a partial shutdown of the state — ordering some businesses to temporarily close or shift to takeout-style services, banning some large gatherings and asking residents to stay home as much as possible.

    […]

    Little reopened the state in stages over a period of several months and has not reimposed restrictions limiting gatherings. Businesses are mostly operating as normal [sic (killing your customers is not normal) …]

  33. blf says

    Follow-up to Lynna@27, AOC on Texas governor’s ‘disgusting’ abortion remarks: ‘He is not familiar with a female body’ (Grauniad’s edits in {curly braces}):

    […] New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have decried Greg Abbott’s “deep ignorance” after the Texas governor inaccurately defended his state’s new anti-abortion law, saying that it does not require victims of rape and incest to carry pregnancies to term because it provides ample time for a person to get an abortion.

    The law, which took effect on 1 September, is the most extreme anti-abortion measure in the US and essentially bans most abortions, offering no exceptions for rape or incest.

    Asked by a reporter on Tuesday why he would “force a rape or incest to carry a pregnancy to term,” Abbott denied that was the case, saying the law doesn’t require that at all because, obviously, it provides at least six weeks for a person to be able to get an abortion.

    Ocasio-Cortez called Abbott’s remarks “disgusting,” adding: “I do know that he is not familiar with a female or menstruating person’s body because if he {was}, he would know you don’t have six weeks.”

    Cortez went on to explain the basic biology surrounding pregnancies, and that many pregnancies are often undetected at six weeks. She said: “In case no one has informed him before in his life, six weeks pregnant means two weeks late on your period. And two weeks late on your period, for any person with a menstrual cycle, can happen if you’re stressed, if your diet changes, or for really no reason at all. So you don’t have six weeks.”

    Cortez added: “He speaks from such a place of deep ignorance, and it’s not just ignorance. It’s ignorance that’s hurting people.”

    […]

    While defending the radical new law and its lack of exemptions for victims of sexual violence, the governor also vowed to purge the state of all rape and sexual assault.

    Abbott said: Rape is a crime and Texas will work tirelessly to make sure that we eliminate all rapists from the streets of Texas by aggressively going out and arresting them and prosecuting them and getting off the streets.

    In 2019, the Texas Department of Public Safety reported more than 14,650 cases of rape, constituting nearly a quarter of all violent crimes across the state. Fewer than 3,900 people were arrested for rape and other sexual offenses. [And it’s extremely likely many cases of rape, etc., are never reported, another point AOC raised (see linked-to article) –blf]

    Ocasio-Cortez fired back at Abbott’s comments about eradicating rapists, saying: “The majority of people who are raped or are sexually assaulted are assaulted by someone that they know. These aren’t just predators that are walking around the streets at night.”

    […]

    Texas state representative Gene Wu mocked Abbott’s answers, tweeting, “Governor Abbott had a solution to end all rape and he sat on it until now? Does it involve a horse dewormer?” […]

  34. says

    Orrin Heatlie, the Republican who’s served as the lead proponent of recalling Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom [California’s Governor], has been sidelined with the coronavirus. Heatlie is unvaccinated.

  35. says

    Upcoming super spreader events being planned by Trump: Trump’s political action committee yesterday announced upcoming rallies in Georgia on Sept. 25 and Iowa on Oct. 9. Both states will host key 2022 races and Iowa will hold the first presidential nominating contest in 2024.

  36. blf says

    LAPD [Los Angles gestapo] officers told to collect social media data on every civilian they stop:

    […]
    The Los Angeles police department (LAPD) has directed its officers to collect the social media information of every civilian they interview, including individuals who are not arrested or accused of a crime, according to records shared with the Guardian.

    Copies of the “field interview cards” that police complete when they question civilians reveal that LAPD officers are instructed to record a civilian’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media accounts, alongside basic biographical information. An internal memo further shows that the police chief, Michel Moore, told employees that it was critical to collect the data for use in investigations, arrests, and prosecutions, and warned that supervisors would review cards to ensure they were complete.

    The documents, which were obtained by the not-for-profit organization the Brennan Center for Justice, have raised concerns about civil liberties and the potential for mass surveillance of civilians without justification.

    […]

    The Brennan Center conducted a review of 40 other police agencies in the US and was unable to find another department that required social media collection on interview cards (though many have not publicly disclosed copies of the cards). The organization also obtained records about the LAPD’s social media surveillance technologies, which have raised questions about the monitoring of activist groups including Black Lives Matter.

    […] Last October, prosecutors filed criminal charges against three officers in the LAPD’s metro division, accusing them of using the cards to falsely label civilians as gang members after stopping them. That unit also has a history of stopping Black drivers at disproportionately high rates, and according to the LA Times, has more frequently filled out cards for Black and Latino residents they stopped.

    Meanwhile, more than half of the civilians stopped by metro officers and documented in the cards were not arrested or cited, the Times reported. The fact that a department under scrutiny for racial profiling was also engaged in broad scale social media account collection is troubling, said [deputy director at the Brennan Center, Rachel] Levinson-Waldman.

    […]

    “This is like stop and frisk,” [Hamid Khan of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition] said, of the use of field interview cards. “And this is happening with the clear goal of surveillance.” The LAPD, he noted, has allowed officers to pose undercover to investigate groups, meaning officers can create fake social media accounts to infiltrate groups.

    Dr Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter LA, said she had long suspected the LAPD conducted “targeted tracking” of specific groups or individual accounts, but was surprised to learn of the default collection of this information in everyday encounters. She fears this could be part of “a massive surveillance operation”.

    […]

    The copies of the cards obtained by the Brennan Center also revealed that police are instructed to ask civilians for their social security numbers and are advised to tell interviewees that it must be provided under federal law. Kathleen Kim, a Loyola law professor and immigrants’ rights expert, who previously served on the LA police commission, said she was not aware of any law requiring individuals to disclose social security numbers to local police.

    There’s an image of a card at the link. The SSN section is what really raised my eyebrows, since it purports the information must be provided (if asked for), unlike the social media details. What it asserts (my transcription) is […] Authority for requiring this information [SSN] is based on field interview procedures operational prior to January 1, 1975, which is basically gobbledygook.

    And she said she was shocked to learn about the social security section on the cards, noting that it was “so antithetical to the department’s own policies” and clearly violated the spirit of sanctuary laws, which are supposed to prevent officers from asking civilians their immigration status. The LAPD had previously taken steps to ensure it was not requesting place of birth information to improve trust with undocumented communities, she said.

    […]

    The Brennan Center obtained LAPD documents related to Geofeedia, a private social media monitoring firm that partners with law enforcement and has previously marketed itself as a tool to monitor BLM protests.

    One internal document, which is undated but appeared to be several years old, listed the “keywords” and hashtags that the LAPD appeared to be monitoring through Geofeedia — and they were almost exclusively related to Black Lives Matter and similar leftist protests. It included #BLMLA, #SayHerName, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, #fuckdonaldtrump and the names of people killed by LA police that prompted major protests.

    The list did not include any hashtags for rightwing demonstrations and far-right movements, which have grown increasingly violent in recent years in the region.

    [… other examples…]

    The Brennan Center’s records further revealed the LAPD is now seeking to use technology from a new company, Media Sonar, which also tracks social media for police. In the 2021 budget, the LAPD allotted $73,000 to purchase Media Sonar software to help the department address a potential threat or incident before its occurrence [That’s not necessarily a bad idea, but is way too prone to abuse and misinterpretation, hence the eejit quotes –blf].

    The extent of the LAPD’s Media Sonar use is unclear, but the company’s communications with the LAPD have raised questions. In one message, the firm said its services can be used to stay on-top of drug / gang / weapon slang keywords and hashtags. Levinson-Waldman said she feared the company or police would misinterpret “slang” or lack proper context on local groups and language, and she noted research showing that online threats made by gang-affiliated youth largely don’t escalate to violence.

    […] The firm also said it could provide a full digital snapshot of an individual’s online presence including all related personas and connections.

    The messages from Media Sonar suggested that the department needed significant safeguards to ensure that keywords didn’t disparately target marginalized communities and checks to ensure the data was accurate, Levinson-Waldman said. [Candidate for understatement of the year! –blf]

    Records show that the LAPD has requested federal funding for Media Sonar for terrorism prevention, but some advocates are concerned it would be used for protests. […]

  37. says

    Sigh.

    […] In California’s gubernatorial recall election, all of the recent polling suggests incumbent Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom will hold onto his job — which is causing some Republicans to recycle their rhetoric from last fall in the hopes of undermining public confidence in the integrity of our election system.

    Trump, for example, said last night that the California race is “probably rigged.” Several Fox News personalities are similarly touting baseless conspiracy theories about the recall election, as are rank-and-file GOP voters in the Golden State.

    Just to the east in Nevada, the Associated Press published this report this morning.

    More than 14 months before the midterm elections, the Republican frontrunner in Nevada’s U.S. Senate race is raising fears of voter fraud and talking about preemptively mounting legal challenges — a sign that the election denialism that marked the last cycle may carry over into the next. Adam Laxalt, who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, is aiming to unseat Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and thus swing power to Republicans in the now-evenly split chamber.

    “With me at the top of the ticket, we’re going to be able to get everybody at the table and come up with a full plan, do our best to try to secure this election, get as many observers as we can, and file lawsuits early, if there are lawsuits we can file to try to tighten up the election,” Laxalt said on a conservative talk show two weeks ago.

    The calendar adds important context: Nevada’s U.S. Senate primary election is still nine months away. The state’s general election is 14 months away.

    And yet, the likely Republican Party nominee in one of the nation’s most competitive 2022 Senate contests is already raising baseless concerns about election integrity and making plans to “file lawsuits early.”

    We don’t need a crystal ball to know what Laxalt and candidates like him will say if they don’t like the results of next year’s elections.

    What matters here is not just conspiracy theories, pointless litigation, and partisan whining about voters’ verdicts. Rather, the far more unsettling concern is the establishment of a new normal in Republican politics — one in which the only election results many in the GOP consider legitimate are the ones in which Democratic candidates lose.

    Link

    Gavin Newsom’s main Republican opponent in California, Larry Elder, urged his supporters to report “anything suspicious” in the recall vote. That’s right, he now thinks he is going to lose, so he is prepping everyone to think that his loss should be blamed of voting irregularities.

    “The 2020 election, in my opinion, was full of shenanigans. And my fear is they’re going to try that in this election right here and recall. So I’m urging people to go to ElectElder.com. Whenever you see anything, hear anything suspicious, go to my website. We have a battery of lawyers. We’re going to file a lawsuit in a timely fashion this time,” Elder said Sunday in an exclusive interview on Fox News “Media Buzz.”

    JFC.

  38. tomh says

    Re: #39
    Yeah, because in a state where it’s 2-1 registered Democrats over registered Republicans, the only way a Republican could lose is if there were fraud. That makes sense. And the Republican voters believe this!

  39. says

    For conservative vaccine skeptics, there’s one principal argument at the top of the list of talking points: The decision is private and personal, affecting no one but the individual. That argument is completely wrong, of course, but it’s become a staple for much of the right.

    “What do you care if your neighbor has one or not?” Republican Sen. Ron Johnson asked in April. “I don’t think it’s anybody’s damn business whether I’m vaccinated or not,” Texas Rep. Chip Roy added in July.

    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed a similar line at a press conference late last week, saying that vaccines help people, but adding a caveat. “It’s about your health and whether you want that protection or not,” the GOP governor told reporters. “It really doesn’t impact me or anyone else.”

    It is truly amazing that a year and a half into the crisis, after hundreds of thousands of deaths and tens of millions of infections in the United States, some in positions of authority are still struggling with the societal nature of a viral pandemic. [40 million+ cases of COVID in the USA so far, and there have been more than 648,000 deaths from the virus in the U.S. … so far. Numbers still rising. Link]

    The editorial board of The Miami Herald tried yesterday to remind DeSantis of the details he really ought to know, describing the Republican’s position as “a profile in selfishness.”

    [I]t’s the opposite of what he says. COVID’s spread actually is a community problem, and solving it starts with vaccines. Getting the vaccine certainly helps the person who gets the shot — the governor’s not wrong about that. It vastly reduces the chances of being hospitalized or dying of the disease. But it also reduces the spread of the virus to others. That’s the critical point that DeSantis is disregarding in his zeal to appeal to the freedom-at-all-costs far-right of his party as he heads into reelection and eyes the White House.

    Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease authority, echoed the point yesterday when asked about the Florida governor’s rhetoric. “If [DeSantis] feels that vaccines are not important for people, that they’re just important for some people, that’s completely incorrect,” Fauci explained, adding, “When you’re dealing with an outbreak of an infectious disease, it isn’t only about you. There’s a societal responsibility that we all have.”

    Immunology may be complicated, but this underlying principle is not: Covid-19 is a dangerous contagion. As we recently discussed, those who believe they’re taking a personal risk are actually creating a societal hazard – one that, among other things, fills hospitals, delays medical care for everyone, and needlessly extends the duration of the pandemic. [See blf’s comment 33.]

    What’s more, the longer the pandemic lasts, and the more people get infected, the greater the risk of new, dangerous variants.

    A Washington Post analysis added yesterday that there is such a thing as the common good: “Making the case to the unvaccinated that they would help their society, their neighbors or their family members — rather than just themselves — could seemingly be compelling to at least some of them. Telling them it’s all about them is one of the worst conceivable messages, because it’s wrong and because it absolves them of any feelings of social responsibility.”

    Eighteen months into the public health crisis, DeSantis either doesn’t understand these obvious truths or he sees political value in pretending the truths aren’t real. Either way, the Florida governor’s rhetoric is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

    Link

  40. blf says

    First Dog on the Moon in the Grauniad, Ozland’s alleged-“PM” Scott Morrison got to see his kids on Father’s Day and everyone is furious at him all the time now (cartoon): “I can only talk to my dad on the phone (when I answer his calls)”. As referenced in the cartoon, Morrison has a habit of this sort of thing, secretly vacationing in Hawaiʻi during the serious Ozland fires a few years ago, and more recently abusing teh “U”K’s Covid-19 restrictions (again, initially essentially secretly). I haven’t bothered to look up the details, but (vaguely) recall in both those cases, he initially lied / covered-up, and (judging by the cartoon) is doing so again this time. I assume both he and Ted Cruz attended the Monty Python “Run Away, Run Away” lesson, but replaced the vicious rabbit comedy part with vicious rabid wholesale corruption (it’s got some of the same letters, which is enough, ain’t it?).

  41. blf says

    London transport staff warned of razors inside Covid conspiracy posters:

    […]
    Staff on London’s public transport network have been warned that blades are being concealed inside posters promoting conspiracy theories about Covid-19 and vaccinations.

    Transport for London (TfL) said there had been a number of reports of razor blades being attached to the back of the posters intended to harm anyone taking them down, and that at least one person was harmed in an incident outside its network.

    Trade union representatives for transport workers, who likened the tactic to that used in the past by fascists from the National Front, have raised the issue on a safety forum for staff and management and are to provide a warning to members.

    A bulletin sent by TfL said “propaganda posters” questioning the existence of Covid-19, spreading untruths about vaccinations or carrying other messages, had been placed in locations such as doors, lamp-posts and walls.

    The bulletin included two images, one of a poster saying Masks don’t work, and another showing its reverse spattered with blood and being held by someone carrying a bloodied tissue.

    [… Loons] have also filmed themselves pulling down public health information posters on the London Underground, where stickers spreading conspiracy theories about the pandemic have become increasingly commonplace.

    In a stunt last month a man wearing a high-visibility vest and posing as a Covid marshal was filmed walking through a carriage with a loudspeaker telling passengers their papers were to be checked to ensure they had been vaccinated.

  42. says

    Fist Fights Break Out At Missouri School Board Meeting After Universal Masking Vote

    Fights broke out and at least one person was handcuffed after a Missouri school board voted unanimously to mandate masking in schools amid a surge of coronavirus cases in the area.

    The scuffles were just the latest in a wave of backlash around the country as anti-mask parents object to schools tightening COVID protocols, in light of spiking cases and limited options for protecting unvaccinated children during in-person learning.

    It’s a scene we’ve watched play out in school board meeting rooms across the country since the beginning of August — and the backlash from anti-vax and anti-mask parents has become increasingly violent in recent weeks as more and more students are forced to quarantine over COVID exposure in mask-optional school districts.

    […] Sheriff’s deputies on the scene reportedly broke up the fighting and handcuffed at least one person.

    […] The police subsequently issued municipal citations for disorderly conduct, according to the statement.

    “All subjects in the school parking lot were then dispersed and asked to leave school property,” the statement added.

    A notice for the meeting posted Friday noted the mandate was being considered due to the amount of community spread impacting students.

    “We currently have over 200 students in quarantine due to close contact with a positive,” the notice read.

    The district currently has 21 recorded COVID cases as of Monday. Those cases, in the first nine days of the school year, outnumber the first half of the last school year, according to KMBC.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Arrest them. Check to see if they have a kid in school. Ban them from the school grounds. I’m way past tired of their garbage.
    ——————
    a society rapidly unraveling where people now default to physical violence to justify their opinions and beliefs
    ———————–
    I can’t get over how strange it is to see a radical minority faction dedicated above all, in fact if not in their own words, to maximizing the death rate among themselves. It’s true that they also represent a real threat to the rest of the community. But it’s undeniable that, to the extent they get their way, the consequence is to maximize illness and death amongst themselves.
    ————————
    In Virginia, the Dem governor made masks mandatory in all schools, thus taking the issue away from local idiots and preempting or at least toning down many a would-be fraught school board meeting.
    ———————–
    Doesn’t help here in MO where we have an idiot Governor and most of the state legislature.
    ———————-
    I can’t help but notice the part where they were taken alive and weren’t swarmed by cops who tased them and beat the shit beat out of them.
    ————————
    Exploitation of the worst failings in human nature. Lies, racism, cult of charismatic demagogic leadership, greed, ignorance, dehumanization and scapegoating. With millions of it’s citizens dead, the nation occupied by foreign forces, cities, industry, infrastructure a smoking ruin:

    “A large part of the population clung sentimentally to their Führer right up to the end…They could not bear to lose their faith in him who had appeared to them as a mass redeemer. Nor could they give up their belief in the justification of the Hitler program.”

    The Curtain Falls, Last Days of the Third Reich, 1945 , Bernadotte.
    ———————
    Our enemies are loving this and Fox News and Rupert Murdock are brokering our countries demise for their own fun and profit.

  43. says

    When bad things happen, that’s tragedy. When people knowingly cause them to happen, that’s evil.

    The origin of evil is an issue that would seem as difficult to fathom as the meaning of life, or the purpose of the universe. It’s not. Evil is not simply when something bad happens. Hurricanes aren’t evil. Not even a disease is evil. Evil takes understanding. Evil is when someone displays indifference or experiences pleasure in the face of suffering.

    The worst sort of evil comes when empathy and consideration are replaced with a perverse joy, one that doesn’t just refuse to acknowledge someone else’s pain, but takes pride in dismissing the thought that others deserve consideration. And it looks like this.

    When a Rutherford County student tells the board his grandmother, a former @rucoschools teacher, died of covid because someone wasn’t wearing a mark … anti-maskers behind him laugh and interrupt him. [video available here: https://twitter.com/TheBoroHoller/status/1435381602499112962 ]

    What’s happening in that Tennessee school board meeting is a tiny subset, a pixel in the larger picture, of what’s happening on multiple issues across the country. […]

    As CNN reports, children too young to be vaccinated now make up 26% of all new cases of COVID-19 cases. That number has grown enormously as schools have reopened for in-person instruction in districts where masks are not mandated and vaccination for staff is not a requirement. In fact, the total number of children infected across the course of the pandemic has grown by 10% in just the last two weeks.

    That’s because the reopening of schools, especially in areas where school boards have bowed to pressure—or the executive orders of Republican governors—and refused to institute mask mandates or vaccination requirements and are seeing an “explosions of cases.” That explosion generated over 14,000 cases among students in Florida within the first week of classes. It resulted in thousands of cases in Texas, where district after district has been forced to suspend classes. […]

    What does evil look like? It looks like someone standing in front of a camera and saying that a decision that can cost the lives of thousands is a personal choice. It looks like that. [see comment 41]

    […] What does evil look like? It looks like a woman snickering at a child talking about his dead grandmother. It looks like a doctor knowingly passing along false information that places children and teacher in danger. Most of all, it looks like a governor denying that individuals have any obligation beyond self preservation, and that pretending that societal responsibilities do not exist.

    See also: https://www.idahostatesman.com/news/local/education/article253945878.html

  44. says

    Deranged and violent white man on a plane:

    Monday, some asshole threw a fit on an American Airlines flight landing in Salt Lake City from Los Angeles. The staff, which isn’t compensated nearly enough to host impromptu live productions of “The Jerry Springer Show,” identified the asshole as Timothy Armstrong, a 61-year-old grown ass man from Las Vegas.

    Multiple videos show Armstrong berating the flight crew at the front of the plane and growling like a mad dog while seemingly trying to eat his face mask. He screamed at the crew that they couldn’t “hold him” on the flight while it’s on the ground, but they were still in the air, as a crew member patiently explained. This was around noon so you wonder how drunk could he have been […]
    [video available at the link]

    Dennis Brauch, who recorded the incident, said:

    “He began by yelling at the Asian woman in front of me to sit down when she was standing to deal with a back issue,” he said. “He proceeded to tell multiple flight attendants that she and her companion ‘didn’t belong here.’ After asking him to calm down the man went into a complete meltdown of racist, sexist and belligerent comments, culminating in his arrest at the gate.”

    […] After he was ordered to sit down, he shouted “Joe Biden! Really?” for a while, which is about as coherent as the GOP presidential nominee will be in 2024.

    When the flight actually landed, the Salt Lake City Police boarded, took Armstrong into custody, and escorted him off the plane. Paramedics took him to the hospital. This is the sort of white-glove treatment you receive when you are deranged and violent on a flight while white.

    I usually don’t want to give too much attention to some random asshole when there are so many prominent assholes to rip apart, and airlines have long served as a microcosm of society that seems to bring out the worst in people. But lately, the escalating number of airplane rages and grocery store rampages feel purposeful, like a form of deliberate stochastic terrorism intended to keep us in a perpetual state of fear. Fox News’s white power hours are devoted to all the apparent crime in Chicago, Detroit, Washington DC, or just about anywhere Black people gather in numbers larger than a single digit. […] [video available at the link]

    But very angry white people are freaking out in supermarkets, like the dullard in Nebraska recorded mocking the public health guidelines in a supermarket, the place where we keep our food.

    Even if Nebraska had better vaccination rates, it’s never ideal when strangers cough on you. I feel like if Americans visited a country for the first time and some asshole in a market deliberately coughed on them, they’d never shut up about it. When the cougher is called a “Karen,” which I admit is a little played out now, she said, “You’re such sheep!” and explained that she’s not wearing a mask indoors because she’s not sick and neither is the person she keeps coughing on. Germ theory probably isn’t one of her core competencies.

    Nebraska has no mask mandate, not that assholes like her would comply. She claimed she has allergies but that doesn’t excuse hacking all over the fresh produce.

    We’re just a few days away from annual 9/11-related jingoism but I’d feel more patriotic if I wasn’t worried that some of my fellow citizens might snap and kill me at Trader Joe’s.

    Link

  45. blf says

    Three Vermont state troopers accused of creating fake Covid-19 vaccination cards:

    […]
    Three Vermont state troopers have resigned after being accused of creating fake Covid-19 vaccination cards, state police announced on Tuesday.

    […]

    Shawn Sommers and Raymond Witkowski resigned on 10 August after a colleague raised suspicions about the alleged fraud to supervisors. A few weeks later, David Pfindel resigned on 3 September after Vermont’s department of public safety completed its investigation into the matter.

    […]

    The state police was unable to announce the troopers’ resignation before Tuesday or provide additional case details due to an ongoing investigation by the FBI. It remains unclear why and for whom the troopers allegedly fabricated the cards.

    In addition to the FBI, the matter has been referred to the US attorney’s office in Burlington.
    […]

  46. blf says

    Blow to DeSantis as judge rules Florida cannot enforce mask mandate ban:

    Judge rules against governor while appeals court decides whether ban on public schools mandating masks is ultimately legal

    […]

    The Leon county circuit judge, John C Cooper, lifted an automatic stay of his decision last week that the Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, and education officials exceeded their authority by imposing the blanket ban through executive order and hitting pro-mask local school boards with financial penalties.

    Cooper said the overwhelming evidence before him in a lawsuit by parents challenging the DeSantis ban is that wearing masks does provide some protection for children in crowded school settings, particularly those under 12 for whom no vaccine yet exists.

    […]

    “We’re not in normal times. We are in a pandemic,” Cooper said in a hearing held remotely. “We have a variant that is more infectious and dangerous to children than the one we had last year.”

    […]

    Jacob Oliva, public schools chancellor at the state education department, said in a notice last week to local superintendents that “enforcement must cease if the stay is lifted”.

    […]

    The core of the governor’s argument is that a recently passed Parents Bill of Rights gives decision-making authority to parents on whether their children should wear a mask to school.

    […]

    On the Parents Bill of Rights, Cooper said his previous order follows the law as passed earlier this year by the state legislature. The law, he said, reserves health and education decisions regarding children to parents unless a government entity such as a school board can show their broader action is reasonable and narrowly tailored to the issue at hand.

    The DeSantis order impermissibly enforces only the first portion of that law, Cooper said.

    “You have to show you have authority to do what you’re doing,” the judge said. “You cannot enforce part of that law but not all of it.”

    In a separate case, parents of special needs children have filed a federal lawsuit claiming the DeSantis school mask ban violates the Americans with Disabilities Act by placing their medically sensitive children in jeopardy. A federal judge in Miami was set to hold a hearing later on Wednesday.
    […]

  47. blf says

    Charming loons, Who Is Owed Reparations? Larry Elder Argues Slave Owners Whose Legal Property Was Taken Away’:

    Larry Elder becomes exasperated when a conversation arises about reparations — that is, whether African Americans are owed some compensation for centuries of slavery. But the Republican gubernatorial candidate in California’s recall election does think a case can be made that slave owners deserve reparations.

    Elder made such comments, which were first flagged by Resist Programming, on a July 18 episode on “The Candace Owens Show, broadcast on right-wing propaganda outlet PragerU. Elder told Owens that an argument could be made that reparations are owed to people whose ‘property’ was taken away after the end of the Civil War because like it or not, slavery was legal.

    The conversation began when Owens joked that she could support reparations.

    I think I could be pro-reparations, Owens said. I think we should allow people the opportunity or the chance to go back to Africa. I would sponsor that like you wouldn’t believe.

    [… impressively garbled history from teh loons…]

    Elder’s comments fall in line with others he has made on racism and slavery. According to The Sacramento Bee, the conservative radio host has stated that systemic racism is a lie, blamed rising crime on Black Lives Matter, and claimed that welfare is more harmful to Black families than slavery. He also supports banning “critical race theory” […] in schools.

  48. blf says

    Dear madam magic sky faeries, lightening bolts suggested… Hank Kunneman Says That Questioning His False Election Prophesies Is Grievous to God:

    Right-wing pastor Hank Kunneman has been one of the most obstinate of the self-proclaimed “prophets” who repeatedly guaranteed that former President[Wacko House squatter] Donald Trump would win reelection in 2020. For nearly a year, Kunneman has petulantly refused to apologize for his false prophesy, instead promising that God will reward those who stand with him while attacking those who have dared to criticize him.

    Despite the fact that President Joe Biden has been in the White House for more than eight months now, Kunneman continues to insist that his prophecies regarding Trump’s victory were accurate. [… On] Tuesday, Kunneman insisted that anyone who questions the accuracy of his prophesies or his standing as a prophet is insulting God and warned that God is testing people to see really who is on the Lord’s side right now.

    […]

    Kunneman claimed that on Aug 16, 2020, God prophesied through this vessel here that they would steal the election.

    […]

    Of course, if anyone watches the “prophecy” that Kunneman delivered on Aug 16, they will see that his message then was exactly the opposite of what he now claims it to be. He asserted at the time that God would thwart the plans of the enemy to sow chaos and steal the election.

    Kunneman nonetheless asserted Tuesday that anyone who calls him a false prophet is failing a test laid out by God.

    […]

  49. blf says

    US’s wealthiest 1% are failing to pay $160bn a year in taxes, report finds:

    This amounts to 28% of the ‘tax gap’, treasury report says, which Biden proposes closing by empowering IRS to pursue aggressively

    [… Deputy assistant secretary for economic policy, Natasha] Sarin said that tax gap — “the difference between taxes that are owed and collected” — amounted to “around $600bn annually and will mean approximately $7tn of lost tax revenue over the next decade.”

    The Biden administration proposes closing the tax gap by empowering the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to more aggressively pursue unpaid taxes, at a cost of $80bn and in the process helping fund the president’s ambitious domestic economic agenda.

    Republicans in Congress and lobbyists for business are united in opposition to the proposal to shore up tax enforcement.

    “The sheer magnitude of lost revenue is striking,” Sarin wrote. “It is equal to 3% of GDP, or all the income taxes paid by the lowest earning 90% of taxpayers.

    “The tax gap can be a major source of inequity. Today’s tax code contains two sets of rules: one for regular wage and salary workers who report virtually all the income they earn; and another for wealthy taxpayers, who are often able to avoid a large share of the taxes they owe.”

    The treasury report may also focus attention on Americans outside the top 1% but still well off. According to the report, the wealthiest 5% of US taxpayers account for more than 50% of lost tax revenue annually. For the top 20%, the figure is 77.1%.

    Sarin said that “for the IRS to appropriately enforce the tax laws against high earners and large corporations, it needs funding to hire and train revenue agents who can decipher their thousands of pages of sophisticated tax filings”.

    Former treasury secretary Robert Reich, now a Guardian contributor, called the report a “bombshell” and said: “The IRS must have the funds to beef up enforcement. Every additional $1 of IRS funding yields $3 of tax revenue, mostly from the very rich who illegally avoid paying taxes owed.”

    […]

  50. says

    Abbott Considering Other Measures to Prevent People from Ever Setting Foot in Texas, by Andy Borowitz

    Texas Governor Greg Abbott said that he was “actively considering” additional measures to prevent people from wanting to ever set foot in the state.

    Although he acknowledged that new laws banning most abortions, restricting voting, and allowing citizens to carry a gun without a permit or training would dissuade many from visiting Texas, Abbott said that “there’s more we can do.”

    “Maybe we pass a law that says when you have to go to bed every night, or when you’re allowed to use a hair dryer,” he said. “We need to put our thinking caps on.”

    “Just spitballing here, but what if we mandated that every visitor to Texas got bitten by a dog or poked with a stick of some kind?” he said. “I’ll be damned if that wouldn’t do the trick.”

    Even as he works overtime thinking up new ideas to alienate potential visitors to Texas, he admitted he was surprised that anyone still wanted to come. “Honestly, I thought me being Governor would be enough to keep people out,” he said.

    New Yorker link

  51. says

    NBC News:

    Solar power could provide nearly half of America’s electricity by the middle of this century, the Biden administration said in a study released Wednesday as it tries to prove its ambitious, zero-emissions goal can be reached by then.

  52. says

    The wealthiest 1% have robbed the nation with $7 trillion in tax evasion over the last 10 years

    The good news for the IRS is that most Americans pay their fair share of taxes. A new analysis of incomes and returns suggests that tax compliance for low- and middle-income workers is “high.” As The New York Times reports, the same can’t be said of the rich.

    Where the income received by the majority of Americans comes primarily in the form of paychecks, with taxes deducted at the time they are issued and totals reported directly to the Internal Revenue Service, that’s not true of the wealthy. Those at the top of the income pyramid are more likely to be rewarded in ways that aren’t as visible and certainly don’t have taxes carved out in advance. Add to that the number of loopholes and dodges available to those wealthy enough to employ experienced tax attorneys and accountants, and compliance among the wealthy is not high. It’s that other thing. The one that has created a “tax gap” with $7 trillion left on the table over the last ten years alone.

    That means that 18 months’ worth of the entire U.S. budget has been lost in a decade, simply to tax cheats. A new report from the Treasury Department gets more explicit about the source of this “tax gap” by pointing a finger right at the top of the income pyramid. It’s not just that the wealthy tend to underpay their taxes; the wealthiest tend to underpay by the greatest amount. That leaves the top 1% of Americans alone responsible for $163 billion a year that should be going to roads, schools, parks, and healthcare … but is instead going directly to their silk-lined pockets.

    The purpose of the Treasury report is not just to make it clear that America is failing to collect anything close to a fair amount from those who pay themselves through a nest of LLCs, remote accounts, and false fronts, but to end this deception is going to take a dedicated effort—and more resources at the IRS. And the report spells out explicitly why one group of Americans are demonstrably complainant, and a much smaller group is not.

    Today’s tax code contains two sets of rules: one for regular wage and salary workers who report virtually all the income they earn; and another for wealthy taxpayers, who are often able to avoid a large share of the taxes they owe.

    And yet, the way the current rules for the IRS are written, they’re required to spend a lot of their time picking for dimes in the returns of those who fall into the first camp, rather than searching for the billions being covered up in the returns of the later.

    The combination of an ever greater income gap and the IRS’ inability to direct its resources to focus on the wealthiest returns means that it’s increasingly easy for the wealthiest to hide larger and larger amounts away and for fewer of their efforts to get caught. As a result, the IRS estimates that the current resources miss about 15% of the taxes owed each year—almost all of that from the wealthiest 1% of taxpayers.

    That’s why President Joe Biden is currently pushing hard for additional funding at the IRS and for the ability to focus audits and investigations where they matter—on the people who have the money. It’s also why Republicans are pushing back, arguing that the IRS “can’t be trusted” and that attempting to secure the money owed is “an invasion of privacy.” [Oh, FFS]

    What’s being left on the table each year is enough to cover all unemployment payments, SNAP and other child nutrition programs, have a few billion left on the side for all foster care programs and children’s health programs—every one of which Republicans are sure to claim is too costly. What it would take to recover those funds is a tiny fraction of the benefits that would result.

    But somehow, Republicans—or specifically, Republican donors—don’t want the IRS to spend more time looking at the wealthiest 1%. And there are 7 trillion reasons why.

  53. says

    Follow-up to comment 39.

    Yep, here come the lies.

    […] Media Matters reports that Fox News has already deployed a State Big Lie, telling its viewers that if Newsom defeats the GOP recall, it’s because Democrats cheated. Within a roughly two-week period, several Fox News personalities and guests, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, “painted a lurid picture of vast election fraud in California.”

    Some claimants tried to be slick, like Fox News Primetime rotating host and former MTV Real World San Francisco contestant Rachel Campos-Duffy. Media Matters reported that while she brought up supposed voter fraud during an interview with Elder this week, it was to merely say that he was the one who had supposedly been concerned about it. Elder had no specific examples when prompted—of course, he didn’t—but it didn’t really matter. Campos-Duffy talked about it, Elder talked about it, it doesn’t matter if the claims are bullshit, the job got done.

    Meanwhile, others were not so slick. Media Matters reports that Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren claimed on Outnumbered that “[t]he only thing that will save Gavin Newsom is voter fraud,” and that “it’s going to have big consequences not only for that state but for upcoming elections.” Oh, so not only is there a State Big Lie, but they’re going to use it to further Future Big Lies. “It’s not just Tami—baseless allegations of cheating and voter fraud are all across Fox News’ discussions of the CA recall, laying the conspiratorial groundwork to allege it was stolen if it doesn’t go their way,” tweeted Media Matters’ Lis Power.

    […] the disgraced former House speaker [Newt Gingrich] was pushing these lies during an Aug. 22 appearance on Sunday Morning Futures, claiming Vice President Kamala Harris is “part of raising the money to pay for the cheating. I mean, it’s just that simple. It’s not complicated.”

    That’s a pretty big fucking claim, and a responsible journalist would ask for receipts. But this is Fox News, and, specifically, Maria Bartiromo. “That is so extraordinary,” she responded to Gingrich. “And that is the reason we continue to focus on all of these audits going on across the country. We want fair and free elections.” […]

    Maria Bartiromo is getting worse and worse. She recently asked Mike Pompeo if Joe Biden is mentally capable of being president. Is Maria Bartiromo mentally capable of being a journalist … or even a talking head “news” host?

    Video snippets are available at the link.

  54. tomh says

    This is how you do it.

    United Airlines staff with vaccine religious exemptions face unpaid leave
    Noah Garfinkel

    United Airlines staffers who are granted religious exemptions for the company’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate will be placed on temporary unpaid leave starting Oct. 2, the airline told employees in a memo.

    United last month became the first major U.S. airline to institute a vaccine mandate for employees, and acknowledged then it would consider exemptions for religious, personal or medical exemptions.

    The unpaid leave rule applies to all employees who get an exemption, regardless of their role in the company, per the statement. It is in effect until “specific safety measures for unvaccinated employees are instituted,” the airline wrote.

    Employees who have requests for exemptions denied will be required to get their first vaccine dose by Sept. 27.

    “[We] can no longer allow unvaccinated people back into the workplace until we better understand how they might interact with our customers and their vaccinated co-workers,” states the memo.

  55. raven says

    nbcnews.com

    Idaho begins rationing health care as Covid surge crushes hospitals
    Sept. 8, 2021, 4:22 AM PDT / Source: Associated Press
    By The Associated Press
    BOISE, Idaho — Idaho public health leaders announced Tuesday that they activated “crisis standards of care” allowing health care rationing for the state’s northern hospitals because there are more coronavirus patients than the institutions can handle.

    The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare quietly enacted the move Monday and publicly announced it in a statement Tuesday morning — warning residents that they may not get the care they would normally expect if they need to be hospitalized.

    The move came as the state’s confirmed coronavirus cases skyrocketed in recent weeks. Idaho has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the U.S.

    The state health agency cited “a severe shortage of staffing and available beds in the northern area of the state caused by a massive increase in patients with Covid-19 who require hospitalization.”

    The designation includes 10 hospitals and healthcare systems in the Idaho panhandle and in north-central Idaho. The agency said its goal is to extend care to as many patients as possible and to save as many lives as possible.

    The move allows hospitals to allot scarce resources like intensive care unit rooms to patients most likely to survive and make other dramatic changes to the way they treat patients. Other patients will still receive care, but they may be placed in hospital classrooms or conference rooms rather than traditional hospital rooms or go without some life-saving medical equipment.

    Idaho is now rationing health care due to an overloaded health care system. Overloaded with Covid-19 virus patients.

    This is happening in a lot of places. They usually don’t make public announcements though. The health care for patients just goes downhill because there are too many patients and not enough staff. My friend got an email from their local hospital a few weeks ago. It said basically, don’t get sick because we are full of Covid-19 patients and won’t be able to treat you.

  56. tomh says

    Abortions in Indiana

    CHICAGO — The Seventh Circuit lifted a stay that had blocked certain provisions of an Indiana law limiting abortion access. The state will now be allowed to require a physician to be present while a patient ingests an abortion-inducing drug and will prohibit the use of telemedicine in abortion care — even to obtain informed consent or to conduct pre-abortion counseling sessions.

    Read the order here.

  57. raven says

    It’s refrigerated truck time again. In Cowlitz county, Washington state.
    This county is in SW Washington, on the Columbia river near Portland.
    It is not a good sign when the refrigerated trucks show up in your neighborhood.

    Cowlitz County morgue overwhelmed by COVID-19 spike, searching for mobile morgue
    by Kellee Azar, KATU News Wednesday, September 8th 2021

    COWLITZ COUNTY, Wash. — Officials in Cowlitz County say the morgue is overwhelmed as the county faces a spike in COVID-19 cases that is stressing hospitals to record-breaking levels.

    Now, the Southwest Washington county is looking at refrigeration trucks to be used as mobile morgues. Area hospitals are also setting up mobile ICUs and even tents outside to expand waiting rooms.

    Cowlitz County Coroner Dr. Tim Davidson says between August 31st and September 6th, 8 people died in the county from COVID-19. That works out to an average of at least one death a day.

    This has been going on over a year, two years, it’s just sad that we are at this place that we are still losing people,” Cowlitz County Coroner Dr. Tim Davison said.
    For the county that’s the highest rate ever and for Davidson, it’s higher than they can handle. Usually, the morgue can hold 10 cadavers, on Wednesday morning there were 18.

    “We are using additional tables and we are just putting individuals on recovery gurneys and moving them into cold storage,” Dr. Davidson said.

    Now, he’s looking for help. As part of an emergency declaration, the county approved a mobile refrigeration unit to act as a pop-up morgue.

    I hoped it would never happen. But we are here and we have to take care of the deceased and get them back to their families,” Dr. Davidson said.
    Dr. Davidson has worked as the county coroner for 15 years, he and his small staff of just five people are working nearly 24/7 to keep up.

    “This is an emotional rollercoaster for my whole crew. We are sad because we are losing community members. I’m not going to get in the political stance, but we are losing people and we shouldn’t be losing people like this,” Dr. Davidson said.

    The positive news for Southwest Washington is that the area is seeing an uptick in the number of people getting their vaccine. While that doesn’t help in this moment, once more people are fully-vaccinated, it will, health officials hope.

  58. snarkrates says

    Lynna: “Maria Bartiromo is getting worse and worse.”

    Yeah, that’s one I bet Joey Ramone wishes he could take back.

  59. says

    Layoffs drop to pandemic-era low as U.S. economy improves

    The last time jobless claims were this low, the effects of the pandemic hadn’t even reached the United States yet.

    After months of hit-or-miss progress on weekly unemployment claims in the early part of the year, CNBC reported this morning on the newest data from the Labor Department, which offers the best news on layoffs we’ve seen in quite a while.

    First-time filings for unemployment claims in the U.S. dropped to 310,000 last week, easily the lowest of the Covid era and a significant step toward the pre-pandemic normal, the Labor Department reported Thursday. […] it was in March 2020 when jobless claims first spiked in response to the Covid-19 crisis, climbing to over 3 million. That weekly total soon after reached nearly 7 million as the economy cratered. For 55 consecutive weeks, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits was worse than at any time during the Great Recession.

    All of that appears to be behind us. Looking at today’s report, we haven’t seen data this good since before the pandemic began in earnest. Last week’s figures were encouraging, but given the sharp improvement, today’s new data is significantly better.

    To be sure, it’d be a mistake to see 310,000 jobless claims as good news on its own. […] In the early months of 2020, the U.S. average on unemployment claims was roughly 211,000 – well below the total from today’s report.

    But given what Americans have been dealing with throughout the pandemic, these new figures are worth feeling good about. A return to a “normal” number of first-time claims, which seemed difficult to even imagine in the recent past, now appears to be in sight.

  60. says

    Biden’s White House clears out Trump picks from military boards

    The Biden administration has quietly spent the year removing Trump appointees from government posts. It’s clearly taking a while.

    […] the outgoing president and his team focused on a lower profile goal: rewarding loyalists.

    […] the then-president spent his final weeks in the Oval Office “doling out plum spots on premier boards and commissions to his friends and supporters … who will serve fixed terms even after Mr. Trump leaves office.”

    [Trump] seemed wholly indifferent to qualifications and merit, which led him to appoint partisan operatives such as Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer to military service academy boards. Yesterday, as Politico reported, President Joe Biden and his team did some political housecleaning.

    The Biden White House has begun the process of removing Trump allies from military advisory boards, months after they were installed into those posts at the end of the last administration. On Wednesday, Cathy Russell, the director of the White House’s Presidential Personnel Office, sent letters to 18 individuals on three different boards, asking for them to resign. The list includes the Board of Visitors to the Air Force Academy, Military Academy and the Naval Academy, the White House said.

    Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, confirmed to reporters at a briefing yesterday that the president wanted to ensure that these advisory boards had personnel who are “qualified to serve” and are “aligned” with the administration’s values.

    And so, 18 Trump appointees were told they could either voluntarily step down or be fired. Many were defiant, including Conway, Trump’s former campaign manager, who complained that the Biden White House was failing to honor “presidential norms.” [Ha!]

    […] The president appears to have the legal authority to remove these appointees, and the Times reported overnight that Trump’s picks have, in fact, been “pushed out” of their posts.

    That includes retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor, a controversial far-right figure whom Trump tapped to serve on West Point’s advisory board, and who spent part of the spring pushing a conspiracy theory that said the Biden administration is bringing in nonwhite immigrants as part of a “grand plan” to have them outnumber white people in the United States.

    Just as notable is the degree to which yesterday’s developments are part of a larger pattern. In January, for example, the Biden administration fired Trump appointees at the National Labor Relations Board. A month later, the Democratic White House also dismissed Trump appointees serving on Pentagon advisory boards.

    In March, the Biden White House fired the Trump-appointed general counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; in April, a high-ranking Trump appointee at the National Security Agency was forced out; in May, the administration ousted four Trump-appointed members of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts; and in July, the president took steps to fire the Trump-appointed commissioner of the Social Security Administration.

    Yesterday served as a reminder that the efforts to remove Trump loyalists from government posts are ongoing.

  61. says

    Violence, lots of violence. And when the Proud Boys don’t get the violence they long for, they roam around in packs to create some.

    Tusitala “Tiny” Toese, the Northwest-based Proud Boys leader with a long history of violence, was shot in the leg this weekend in Olympia, Washington. If you were to only read the news accounts in local media, you would know that the shooting Saturday afternoon was the culmination of another confrontation between the far-right street brawlers and antifascists.

    However, that is a grossly incomplete picture of what happened. Videos and written accounts posted on social media—many of them posted by Proud Boys sympathizers—during the fracas show what really happened: When counterprotesters failed to appear at an anti-vaccination event for which they were providing “security,” frustrated Proud Boys formed a pack and began hunting for “antifa” on the streets of Olympia. They assaulted an independent female journalist who had to seek refuge in a local tavern. They also began assaulting random people on the street they identified as “antifa” and began chasing them with clubs, baseball bats, and Mace; in the end, one of their victims drew a gun at a bus stop and fired several rounds, one of which apparently struck Toese.

    Consistent with their post-Jan. 6 strategy of attaching themselves to local right-wing events, the ostensible cause du jour for the Proud Boys’ presence in Olympia on Saturday was an anti-vaccination “End the Mandates” protest organized by a local far-right political candidate, Candace Mercer, held on the Washington state Capitol grounds. However, despite repeated warnings by speakers at the event that “antifa is expected,” no counterprotesters appeared at the rally.

    So the Proud Boys, with Toese in the lead, went hunting for them, videos show. A group of about 50 of them, toting weapons like batons and bats and bear spray, marched through downtown Olympia toward Olympia City Hall, roughly a mile away, chanting “Fuck antifa!” as they went. Mercer was planning to shoot a video there later that afternoon, and the brawlers were responding to reports of counterprotesters at that location.

    Along the way, they apparently encountered various activists, as well as simply random pedestrians, they identified as “antifa,” and began harassing them. One of these was the Portland-based independent journalist Alissa Azar, who had covered this group of Proud Boys at street brawls in Portland previously and was there to monitor their activities Saturday. They apparently recognized Azar and surrounded her, pulling on her hair and mauling her. She screamed and ran away, finding safety in a nearby tavern.

    “I was at an intersection about to cross but when I looked to my right I saw that large group of Proud Boys,” she later tweeted. One of them, she said, shouted: “There’s Alissa! Get her!” She found herself surrounded by the men.

    “It was terrifying,” she wrote. “They had their hands all over me [and] some men [were] cheering on the violence [and] others encouraging more of it. It all happened really fast but also it felt like time was frozen. There was a moment where I could tell they were contemplating what to do [and] my heart sank.”

    She added: “I didn’t know what was going to happen but I also knew exactly what could happen. I remember seeing all the people on the street understandably confused and afraid, but I also remember just begging for someone to do anything but just watch me.”

    Fleeing on foot, Azar dashed inside a nearby bar, which then prevented any Proud Boys from following inside. She tweeted that she was “Safe now and have protection.”

    Random passersby were apparently assaulted as well. An African-American man with dreadlocks told a videographer that “I got a gun pulled on me by a Proud Boy earlier, for no fucking reason.”

    Videos show Proud Boys apparently running through Olympia side streets in pursuit of “antifa,” at the end of which gunfire can be heard. In apparently pursuing “antifa” suspects, the men had diverted off their path toward City Hall and wound up at the city’s main bus-transit depot downtown near State Street.

    It was there that Toese, as other videos show, encountered an antifascist who apparently took the baseball bat he wielded as a serious threat and opened fire. Video shows Toese limping away from the encounter, then collapsing on a nearby street corner and surrounded by people who provide him with medical attention.

    Toese was transported to a nearby hospital, treated for his wounds—which were deemed non-life-threatening—and released.

    […] Toese only recently ended his probation for his conviction in a previous assault. He has been heavily involved in recent violence in Salem, Oregon, and twice in Portland.

    After Saturday’s shooting, Mercer tried to claim that both antifa and Proud Boys had “crashed my events uninvited,” but then had also extolled Toese’s presence in a Medium post in which she claimed that “thirty antifa” had shown up at her video shoot and that “antifa made open plans to attack me and shut me down,” even though none had showed up for her event at the Capitol. [She lies big time, just like Trump]

    “A man was shot in Olympia today protecting me,” she wrote. “I did not ask for his protection but he took a bullet for me. He is a Proud Boy. Antifa were coming at my video shoot, and on their own initiative, the PB were blocking antifa from my event when Tiny got shot.” [Another fucking lie.]

    […] What became even more clear Saturday is that even when the “antifa” menace fails to materialize, the Proud Boys will go hunting for it, wherever they can find it. Moreover, these are men carrying weapons and threatening ordinary citizens, but local police forces are clearly failing to respond […]

    Many “Patriots” could be heard talking on social media and Telegram channels about retribution after Toese’s shooting.

    According to data collected by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project, Proud Boys have been among some of the most active far-right groups nationally since January 2020. Nearly one-quarter of all demonstrations involving the group have turned violent.

    Link

  62. says

    The Proud Boys Say They Aren’t Coming. DC Is Bracing for Violence, Anyway. e

    Far-right groups are warning their followers that a September 18 rally could be a government trap. FFS. The “government” didn’t organize the rally.

    High-profile extremist groups are sending mixed signals about whether their members will actually show up to a DC rally this month intended to demand “justice” for people who have been charged with taking part in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol—but officials in Washington say that aren’t taking any chances.

    A group led by Matt Braynard, a former Trump campaign employee, is seeking a permit for up to 500 people to demonstrate in front of the Capitol on September 18 for a so-called #JusticeForJ6 protest. The planned rally is part of a persistent effort by Trump backers to downplay the events of January 6. Braynard has said the upcoming demonstration will push back on the “the phony narrative that there was an insurrection” and has claimed the crowd that day was “largely peaceful.” […] Many on the right, including Braynard, have also embraced Donald Trump’s false claims that he was cheated out of an election victory, the same lie that incited the insurrection

    Law enforcement officials, caught off guard in January, are bracing for the prospect of violence. DC police have said they “will be fully prepared.” The US Capitol Police are reportedly considering reinstalling a fence around the Capitol complex. An intelligence assessment by the force, Roll Call reported Tuesday, states that although “outwardly Matt Braynard has instructed attendees to remain peaceful, given the propensity for this group to attract domestic extremists, their support for the insurrectionists, and their continued challenges to democratic institutions, it is not unreasonable to plan for violent altercations with those associated with this demonstration.”

    The Associated Press, citing federal intelligence findings, reported last week that far-right groups including the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers are planning to attend the rally. That has heightened concerns in Washington, since members of both groups are being prosecuted for allegedly taking part in the January 6 attack and conspiring beforehand to interfere with the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.

    Publicly, however, members of those groups and other right-wing influencers deny any plans to mass in DC, and they’re trying to dissuade their followers from showing up. […]

    Through a Telegram account, the Proud Boys also disputed the idea that group members planned to attend en mass and suggested the rally was a law enforcement trap. “We aren’t going and you shouldn’t either because [everybody] going to jail. Sounds like bait,” the group warned.

    […] Some of the Proud Boys Telegram groups tried to get ahead of any potential violence by sharing a message that read, “Whatever this rally is in DC, it definitely isn’t going to be a Proud Boy rally. No doubt there will be some boomers in black and yellow gear calling themselves Proud Boys though.”

    Ron Watkins, the co-founder of 8chan, the key imageboard in facilitating the QAnon conspiracy movement, issued a similar message on his Telegram own channel, calling the event a likely “false flag” and saying that he hopes none of his followers attend. A prominent QAnon Telegram channel with more than 100,000 followers and other pro-Trump and pro-QAnon channels with large followings reposted Watkins’ message.

    Others on the online right are spreading similar messages off Telegram. Gateway Pundit blogger Jim Hoft speculated that the event could be “FBI manufactured.” The far-right social media site Gab urged its users not to attend. “Do not take the bait,” the platform posted on its Twitter account. “They are losing the narrative on January 6th so this is why the CIA mockingbird media is pushing this. No one serious or smart is going.”

    The remnants of The_Donald subreddit, which has moved between homes since being banned from Reddit, was a large hub for planning in advance of the original January 6 riot. But a recent search of the community yielded few results for the September 18 rally. Most of those that do show up call it a false flag and encourage others not to attend. […]

    The Harrington Hotel, a Proud Boys favorite, is completely sold out of rooms for the weekend of September 18 and 19, according to its bookings website. A hotel employee confirmed this over the phone.

    Contrary to Tarrio’s claims, another Proud Boy, speaking at an event in Portland in August, urged group members and supporters to attend the DC rally. […]

    Weirdness all around. They don’t really know what they are doing. Whatever happens, the rightwing extremists will spin it as an FBI or “government” false flag event. Doofuses and dunderheads.

  63. says

    At least 200 Afghan dual nationals, including Americans, leave from newly reopened Kabul airport.

    Washington Post link

    The first international commercial flight out of the Afghan capital since last month left Thursday evening with about 200 dual nationals aboard, marking a reopening of the airport after it was damaged in the chaos following the Taliban takeover.

    Roughly 200 people — including about 30 Americans — were granted permission to leave the country Thursday, as the airport was declared repaired and ready for some commercial flights.

    The manifest for the Qatar Airways flight granted permission for 211 passengers to leave from Kabul, according to diplomats in Kabul who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. It was not immediately clear how many passengers made it to the airport to board the flight, but footage showed a group of men, women and children boarding the plane.

    The Taliban was pressed to allow the departures by U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad, said an official, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters. The dual nationals on the manifest also included passport holders from Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Canada and Germany.

    Qatari and Taliban officials gathered on the tarmac in Kabul on Thursday to announce that the airport was nearly fully operational after significant repairs were made after the Taliban came to power. They also confirmed that Americans and other Western passport holders were on the flight. […]

  64. says

    Republican infighting:

    […] After months of searching, Trump on Thursday announced his endorsement of Harriet Hageman, an attorney who resigned earlier this week as Wyoming’s national GOP committeewoman. […] Hageman was a delegate for Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign.

    “Harriet has my Complete and Total endorsement in Replacing the Democrats number one provider of sound bites, Liz Cheney,” Trump said an emailed statement on Thursday.

    Cheney responded to the statement with a tweet: “Here’s a sound bite for you: Bring it.”

    Link

  65. says

    Biden to expand vaccine requirements to frontline health workers

    The six-part plan will include the order that all executive branch federal workers get vaccinated.

    […] Biden last month said he would impose staff vaccination requirements on all federally funded nursing homes, a directive expected to cover roughly 15,000 facilities employing 1.3 million people. Now, he is poised to extend the order to a far wider group of providers, including major hospitals across the nation that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding.

    The requirement is part of a broader six-part plan for combating the pandemic that Biden is set to unveil later this afternoon, with a range of new initiatives aimed at boosting vaccinations, access to testing and aiding the Covid-19 fight abroad.

    Biden is expected to issue an executive order requiring that all federal workers get vaccinated against Covid-19, with no option for being regularly tested as an alternative, people familiar with the plan said. That’s an escalation from his earlier encouragement that the federal workforce seek vaccination or be subject to a range of restrictions.

    The president in his speech also plans to call on governors to get all teachers and school staff vaccinated, according to two people with knowledge of the matter, as well as encourage schools to institute regular testing regimes. He will urge employers over a certain size to institute requirements that employees get vaccinated or submit to regular testing.

    And in an effort to build out the administration’s pandemic response abroad, Biden is expected to call for a global summit on Covid-19 to coincide with the United Nations General Assembly later this month.

    […] The federal vaccination requirement will apply to all executive branch workers and contractors, bringing the rest of the government in line with the tougher requirements adopted earlier by the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs and parts of the health department.

    Until Thursday, the rest of the federal workforce had the option to submit to regular testing, mask-wearing and restrictions on travel rather than get vaccinated. That clause will now be eliminated, bringing the entire government in line with the approach that Biden has pushed private-sector companies to adopt.

    Biden during his speech is also expected to urge schools to implement regular testing for all students, teachers and staff, two people familiar with the matter said.

    The White House earlier this year allocated $10 billion to help schools create Covid-19 testing regimes, but few took advantage of the opportunity amid a lull in cases earlier this year. Now, as the Delta variant fuels a resurgence and children return to classrooms, Biden will press schools to refocus their efforts on regular testing.

    Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, said the effort to implement testing in schools across the country is a good idea. Public health experts have raised concern in recent weeks that infections among children are rising as they head back into classrooms for the start of the school year.

    “I have been surprised at how many are not testing routinely,” Plescia said. […]

  66. says

    Wonkette:

    This week, a very holy man went viral on TikTok after he was filmed lecturing a group of women for wearing bathing suits in public. Were they in a church? No. At a funeral? No. In a business meeting? No. They were at the beach, a place where most people would not be surprised to see a group of women sitting around wearing bathing suits. In fact, most people probably even expect that when they go to a public beach, in the United States, they will see women wearing bathing suits.

    But not Logan Dorn.

    Dorn walked right up to these hussies and asked them, “Why do you dress this way?” to which one of them responded, “I’m hot and I like women, so please leave us alone.” Rather than doing just that, Dorn continued to lecture them, saying, “That’s a thong and that’s a bra. Take young eyes into consideration, they don’t need to see pornography.” The women informed Dorn that they were not bothering him and, again, encouraged him to go away, to which he said, “You’re flaunting your stuff!” One woman, sensing Dorn’s religiosity, suggested that he gouge out his eye out if she bothers him.

    Dorn explained that he doesn’t have to do that because there is “free will” in America, though apparently not for women, and “freedom of speech,” which means that women have to listen to him. “If men of God don’t stand up, then our society’s gonna go down the drain because there’s no morality,” he said, leading the women to tell him that they are atheists and do not believe in God.

    After several minutes of Dorn ranting about why it was bad for them to wear bathing suits at the beach, the women suggested to Dorn that he go lecture a shirtless man wearing a bathing suit, but he said “That’s a lot different.” [video is available at the link]

    Towards the end of the video, a woman who is apparently with Dorn and also wearing a bathing suit (though apparently not a “pornographic” bathing suit), joins him and lectures the girls about swearing in front of her kids and tells them that they don’t respect themselves, due to the kind of bathing suits they are wearing.

    Dorn responded to the viral video with his own video explaining his bullshit, which is somehow even worse than the original lecture. He says that he came out of the water and saw that his family members were getting ready to move their things, explaining to him that they had to move because there were college-age women who were “showing too much” and he just felt a “righteous anger” come over him and a “boldness by the holy spirit to go and confront these ladies to speak truth that ‘Hey, what you’re wearing is not okay for a nine-year-old boy or a six-year-old boy.'”

    His family members had the right idea. If you don’t like seeing women wearing bathing suits, if you don’t want your children to see women wearing bathing suits, don’t go to the beach or don’t take your kids to the beach, or leave the area of the beach where all the heathen Jezebels are.

    Dorn claims in the video to have been introduced to pornography at a young age and “it destroyed me.” Which seems like another him problem. He is also very sure that this whole thing will be a problem when the young women he lectured “come face to face with God,” who will surely demand an explanation for what they were doing wearing bathing suits at the beach that one time back in 2021.

    Dorn also goes on quite a bit about “truth,” which really is a hell of a thing to call your weird, misogynistic beliefs about what women who don’t follow your religion are allowed to wear at the beach.

    UPDATE: Logan Dorn has been fired from his job at “Mighty Hand Construction,” which does not condone the harassing of women trying to enjoy a nice day out at the beach.

    Link

  67. says

    Trump wants all your money … again.

    Donald Trump just can’t stop writing me.

    “Friend, Did you see my email from a few days ago?” he asked on Tuesday. It was, I believe, the sixth message I’d gotten from him since Labor Day — a.k.a. Monday. All addressed to “Friend.” […]

    Anyhow, all of these letters involve fund-raising. And great deals! Contribute any amount to Trump’s joint fund-raising committee, Save America, and “your gift will be INCREASED by 500%.”

    Extremely unclear where that extra cash will be coming from. Maybe a rich person who agrees to match donations, the way some do during the very, very, very much more modest fund-raising drives for places like public radio stations? Maybe a miraculous money tree?

    “We have a CRITICAL End-of-Month fundraising deadline coming up, and each day when I ask my team who has stepped up, they NEVER mention YOUR NAME. Why is that, Friend?” the wounded former president demanded.

    […] Trump hasn’t said whether he’ll be running again in 2024. He’s plenty busy with other stuff, like holding rallies, playing golf and spending the anniversary of 9/11 providing commentary for a boxing match at a Florida casino.

    And he’s hardly the only major political name out beating the bushes for donations. Nancy Pelosi was in my inbox Wednesday with a letter decrying the new Texas anti-abortion law and with a petition […] on the plus side, Pelosi indicated she’d be very happy with just $20. And she did get in my actual first name.

    Pelosi’s correspondence isn’t nearly as … energetic as you-know-who’s. “Please contribute ANY AMOUNT IMMEDIATELY and your gift will be INCREASED by 500%,” writes “Donald J. Trump 45th President of the United States.” Just in case you’d forgotten.

    Any amount? Sextupled by magic? “There’s no way to know what they mean by that,” said Robert Kelner, a Washington lawyer who’s an expert in campaign finance issues.

    Well, it’s certainly impressive how urgent Trump makes it all sound. During the Labor Day barrage he announced that “your 400% impact offer has been extended” and that if you just “CONTRIBUTE NOW,” a $250 contribution will count as … $1,250!

    If you’re interested, please make sure it happens only once. As Shane Goldmacher reported in The Times this spring, a 63-year-old cancer patient in hospice donated what was just about his last $500, and then discovered $3,000 had been withdrawn by the Trump campaign in less than 30 days, leaving his account empty and frozen. The campaign, you see, had set up a default system that siphoned new money every week from donors who didn’t realize they had to make a special effort to opt out.

    Very tricky business, that. Another Trump letter includes boxes — prechecked for your convenience — with rousing statements like: “President Trump, I need you right now. This is where we step up and show the left-wing MOB that REAL Americans are REJECTING JOE BIDEN’S corrupt agenda.” Said box quietly ends, “Make this a monthly recurring donation.”

    […] Many of the Trump emails suggest he needs money to challenge those evil, wrongheaded, “Biden won!” election results. Doesn’t seem like all that great a legal investment. Although probably better than those lawsuits Rudy Giuliani announced in a parking lot next to a porn store in Philadelphia.

    Some of the money that goes to Trump’s PAC is used to underwrite his travel around the country and — if he happened to be in the mood — could be used to pay salaries for his family members or pricey events at, say, a Trump hotel.

    No small matter, that. Think about Trump Tower. On the one hand, it’s in even worse shape than most Manhattan real estate, carrying a name not all that useful as a New York brand. On the other, his PAC has reportedly been shelling out more than $37,000 a month for office space in Trump Tower. Not at all clear what said space is needed for, politics-wise, but if Trump ever decides to reboot “The Apprentice” with a pandemic flair, he’s got the set ready.

    New York Times link</a.

  68. says

    Officials face ‘a sustained campaign of intimidation’ from the far-right

    There’s a “sustained campaign of intimidation” from the far-right against election officials. And public health officials. And educators. And lawmakers.

    It was a year ago this month when Donald Trump and Joe Biden met for the first presidential debate of the 2020 cycle, which proved to be memorable for unfortunate reasons. As regular readers may recall, it was the event in which the Republican incumbent expressed indifference toward potentially violent radicals.

    Trump telling the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by,” for example, jolted American politics and sparked celebrations among extremists.

    But as part of the same sentence, the then-president quickly added, “This is not a right-wing problem; this is a left-wing problem.” At the same debate, when asked if he was willing to condemn white supremacists and fringe militia groups, Trump shrugged and said, “Sure, I’m willing to do that – but I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing.”

    The then-president’s point – Trump wanted Americans to see a far-left menace that eclipsed anything seen on the right – came to mind when reading Reuters’ latest report on the “sustained campaign of intimidation” against U.S. election officials at the state and local level.

    The unprecedented torrent of terroristic threats began in the weeks before the November election, as Trump was predicting widespread voter fraud, and continues today as the former president carries on with false claims that he was cheated out of victory…. In addition to the messages that threatened violence, hundreds of others contained harassing language that was disturbing, profane and sometimes racist or misogynistic. The intimidation has affected all levels of election administrators, from rank-and-file poll workers to secretaries of state.

    The terrifying threats against election officials who did nothing wrong are not to be confused with the far-right intimidation efforts targeting public health officials. CBS News reported in June:

    Nearly a quarter of public health workers report feeling bullied, harassed or threatened due to their work as the pandemic was unfolding, with 1 in 8 saying they had received job-related threats. That’s according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    USA Today published a related report in July, noting that public health officials “have faced doxxing, online harassment and other threats” stemming from their efforts to address the Covid-19 crisis.

    […] Anne Lutz Fernandez, high school English teacher, recently wrote a piece for NBC News educators having to deal with “verbal and physical attacks.”

    Protestors burning masks, ripping masks off educators’ faces and hurling obscenities have disrupted and derailed education board meetings nationwide this summer as local officials have sought to allow in-person learning despite a new wave of Covid-19 cases powered by the delta variant of the coronavirus.

    The terrifying threats against education officials who did nothing wrong are not to be confused with the far-right intimidation efforts targeting members of Congress. Axios reported in April:

    Members of Congress are spending tens of thousands of dollars on personal security for them and their families in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot, according to an analysis of first-quarter Federal Election Commission reports by Punchbowl News…. Private security expenditures were especially common among anti-Trump Republicans and high-profile Democrats who earlier this year voted to impeach and convict the former president for inciting the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot, signaling they fear for the safety of themselves and their families.

    The terrifying threats against lawmakers who did nothing wrong are not to be confused with the far-right intimidation efforts targeting Capitol Hill. Roll Call reported late yesterday:

    As Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger prepares to brief congressional leaders on a potentially violent rally scheduled for Sept. 18, an internal department assessment reveals more violent online discussion around the event and increased attendance numbers for the demonstration. The intelligence assessment, dated Sept. 7, notes that in recent days, the department and partner agencies have found more violent online talk surrounding the #JusticeForJ6 rally, organized by Look Ahead America. The event seeks to support pro-Trump rioters who were jailed for their roles in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

    A year ago this month, Trump may have said, in reference to violent threats, “This is not a right-wing problem; this is a left-wing problem,” but reality is telling a very different story.

  69. tomh says

    @ #71
    I saw it last night on the local ABC station–pretty effective. I think Democrats are waking up to the danger. It’s looking like very little chance of the recall succeeding.

  70. says

    Humor/satire from Andy Borowitz:

    After a statue of Robert E. Lee was removed from Richmond, Virginia, Donald J. Trump offered to buy the monument for his bedroom at Mar-a-Lago.

    “It’s a beautiful statue of a beautiful man, and, quite frankly, there’s no one I’d rather wake up to every morning,” he said.

    Stating that the removal of the statue “should never have been allowed to happen in this country,” Trump said that he had offered Virginia a statue of himself in return.

    “I can’t think of a better person to take Robert E. Lee’s place than Trump,” he said. “I’ll even throw in free shipping, like that loser Bezos.”

    Asked why he had decided to place the Civil War statue in his bedroom, Trump said that his wife, Melania, had asked him to put it someplace where she wouldn’t see it.

    New Yorker link

  71. says

    Justice Department sues Texas over restrictive abortion law

    The Biden administration is filing a lawsuit against Texas challenging its near-total ban on abortions, which the Supreme Court declined to block last week.

    Attorney General Merrick Garland said Thursday that the Justice Department filed the suit against Texas over its law, which he called “clearly unconstitutional under longstanding Supreme Court precedent.”

    “The United States has the authority and the responsibility to ensure that no state can deprive individuals of their constitutional rights to a legislative scheme specifically designed to prevent the vindication of those rights,” Garland said at a news conference.

    The lawsuit, filed Thursday in federal court in Texas, argues the law is unconstitutional and was enacted in open defiance of the Constitution.

    The DOJ seeks a declaratory judgment that the law, known as Senate Bill 8, is invalid under the Supremacy Clause and the 14th Amendment, is preempted by federal law and violates the doctrine of intergovernmental immunity.

    […] After the Supreme Court’s decision last week, President Joe Biden vowed a “whole-of-government” response to try to safeguard access to abortions in Texas. Biden directed White House legal and gender policy advisers, the DOJ and his Health and Human Services Department to evaluate what “legal tools we have to insulate women and providers from the impact of Texas’ bizarre scheme of outsourced enforcement to private parties.”

    Garland said DOJ’s decision was not based on pressure from lawmakers or the White House.

    “We carefully evaluated the law and the facts and this complaint expressed our view of the law and the facts,” said Garland.

    The administration’s move comes as the conservative 6-3 Supreme Court majority is expected to take up a case from Mississippi in its term beginning this fall that challenges Roe v. Wade.

  72. says

    Chris Wallace is the Fox News host who has the program on Sundays where they don’t even have a cooking segment for Best New Fall Recipes To Feed A Crowd Some Horse Deworming Paste For Football Watching Parties. […]

    POINT IS, Chris Wallace is one of the few actual journalists in Fox News’s employ, which means he is very bad at being a Fox News host. And he went on Stephen Colbert’s liberal agenda program last night to shill his new book, and he had this thing to say about Republicans who are just trying to destroy American democracy so that Dear Leader Donald Trump may be restored to his rightful position in the White House and also as a bigger and better replacement for the highly overrated Jesus Christ, who isn’t near as good a savior as Trump is: [video is available at the link]

    WALLACE: There are plenty of people who were the leaders in the Congress of challenging [the election] that I just have not had on the show ever since [January 6], and have purposefully not had on the show, because I don’t frankly wanna hear their crap.

    But having said that, there are some leaders that you have to ask them questions. There are people in leadership and the Senate and I won’t let them come on without putting them through the wringer.

    Wallace told Colbert he’s seen a lot of bad shit in his time, but nothing like what we deal with now, with people lying about the election being stolen and lying about the terrorist attack Trump incited on January 6, which Wallace called “one of the worst days” he’s ever experienced in Washington. He said he was “sickened” by it.

    Of course, a lot of the people Wallace works alongside every day were decidedly not sickened. We do wish he’d talk about that. We wish he’d talk about what it’s like to pass Tucker Carlson in the hallway, that guy who devotes so much of his on-air time to outright lying about the nature of January 6, and who the insurrectionist terrorists were that day. We wish he’d say what that feels like.

    But oh well, he didn’t say anything about that. Still, it was nice to see one of Fox’s most important hosts tell those Republicans on live liberal agenda TV that he literally doesn’t want to hear their shit, and that’s why they haven’t been invited on his show.

    Would be nice to hear it from more “good” Fox News hosts, haha just kidding there aren’t any, the end.

    Link

  73. says

    Pennsylvania Republicans launch election ‘review’

    Even after the Arizona Republicans’ election “audit” was exposed as an utterly bonkers exercise, there was little doubt that GOP officials from other states – many of whom traveled to Phoenix and took notes – would try to export the fiasco. The question wasn’t whether we’d see some Arizona-style election “investigations”; the question was where and when. […]

    Wisconsin Republicans are moving forward with their own taxpayer-financed election examination, and as Reuters reported, Pennsylvania Republicans are doing the same.

    Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania kicked off an “election integrity” review with a public hearing on Thursday, joining partisan efforts in other battleground states to cast doubts on former President Donald Trump’s November election loss. […]

    To the extent that the hearing itself was relevant, state legislators heard from a Republican county commissioner who didn’t see any evidence of election wrongdoing or fraud. It led Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania’s Democratic state attorney general, to describe the event as “a complete dud.”

    But the quality of the hearing is less important than its existence: Pennsylvania Republicans are conducting a “full forensic investigation” for no good reason.

    The state Senate’s top Republican, President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, recently told a conservative media personality that he and his GOP colleagues are justified in this partisan exercise, not because there’s evidence of wrongdoing, but because they think evidence of wrongdoing might emerge if they keep looking for it. […]

    literally no one has produced any evidence of “many problems” in Pennsylvania’s 2020 elections. A couple of Trump voters were caught trying to cast illegal ballots on behalf of dead relatives, but in a state in which roughly 7 million Pennsylvanians voted, the vanishingly small number of Republicans who tried and failed to commit fraud was inconsequential.

    […] voters in Pennsylvania had the audacity to support the Democratic ticket – just as Pennsylvania voters did in 2012. And 2008. And 2004. And 2000. And 1996. And 1992.

    Indeed, as the NBC News recently reported, after the official tally showed President Joe Biden winning the Keystone State, “Pennsylvania conducted two-post election audits confirming the accuracy of last fall’s count, and the results were certified.”

    And yet, here we are, watching a wildly unnecessary “review” get underway anyway.

    Proponents have said the review is necessary to look for irregularities that exist in the minds of conspiracy theorists. But as the circus in Arizona has made clear, the actual goal of these endeavors is to undermine public confidence in American elections and create a pretense for additional anti-voting measures.

  74. says

    Kevin McCarthy wages a strange crusade against proxy voting

    House Republicans were so outraged by proxy voting, they literally made a federal case out of it. Kevin McCarthy wants the Supreme Court to weigh in.

    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has spent the last year making strange and unfortunate decisions, and as NBC News reported yesterday, the California Republican added to the list with an unnecessary appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is asking the Supreme Court to overturn the proxy voting rules that the House implemented because of the pandemic, a tool that Republican lawmakers have taken advantage of themselves…. It’s unclear if the Supreme Court will even respond to McCarthy’s request.

    This isn’t likely to go well.

    Let’s recap how we arrived at this point. As regular readers may recall, as the Covid-19 crisis started taking a severe national toll last year, House Democratic leaders came up with a temporary fix intended to limit lawmakers’ exposure. Under the plan, lawmakers who hoped to avoid the floor of the Capitol – because they were experiencing symptoms, because someone in their household was ill, etc. – could cast votes by proxy.

    It wasn’t complicated: Members could reach an agreement with like-minded colleagues, who in turn would agree to vote on their behalf. The system ensured that many representatives could participate in the legislative process during a pandemic without endangering themselves or their colleagues.

    For reasons I’ve never fully understood, Republicans were outraged – or at least said so in public. It led McCarthy and 20 other GOP House members to file a federal lawsuit in May 2020, challenging the constitutionality of proxy voting.

    A district court rejected the case, concluding that it wasn’t up to the judiciary to intervene in how the legislative branch established its own procedural rules. In July, a federal appeals court unanimously agreed and threw out the case. Even a Trump-appointed appellate judge concluded that the case deserved to be rejected.

    And yet, the House minority leader is fighting to keep the case alive anyway.

    There is a degree of irony to the circumstances. While GOP lawmakers initially cried foul when Democrats created the proxy system, many Republicans have since embraced the model with some enthusiasm.

    Indeed, though the system was intended to address the Covid-19 crisis, some Republicans haven’t just accepted the proxy rules, they’ve also abused them – voting by proxy while appearing at events such as the Conservative Political Action Conference. McCarthy and other GOP leaders – the ones who literally made a federal case out of the temporary model – said very little when their own members started taking advantage of the system.

    […] the Supreme Court appears unlikely to take the case. McCarthy probably knows this, but he may hope to get another couple fundraising appeals in front of prospective donors, boasting about taking a fight against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s policy all the way to the highest court in the land.

    As for Pelosi herself, when the proxy system was first created, it was designed to be temporary, with the House Speaker in a position to extend the emergency authority every 45 days.

    Last month, Pelosi extended proxy voting through at least Oct. 1. The sooner more Americans get vaccinated and the country returns to normal, the sooner McCarthy’s lawsuit will become moot.

  75. says

    Florida’s controversial ‘anti-riot’ law blocked by a federal court

    A federal judge has blocked enforcement of Florida’s “anti-riot law,” saying it “encourages arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.” Yep. Ron DeSantis gets slapped down by the courts … again.

    […] several Republican-led states embraced anti-protest measures, which were designed to punish those who take to the streets to dissent. It wasn’t exactly a secret that GOP officials were motivated in large part by last year’s social-justice protests, held in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by a police officer in Minnesota.

    Florida officials went further than most, creating a controversial “anti-riot” law in April, which faced long odds in the courts. Indeed, as The Miami Herald reported, a federal judge yesterday blocked Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida sheriffs from enforcing a key portion of the state statute.

    A federal judge on Thursday temporarily blocked Gov. Ron DeSantis and three Florida sheriffs from enforcing a key portion of the state’s so-called anti-riot law, in part, because it “encourages arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.” The definition of what constitutes a riot under a new state law pushed by the governor is too vague “to the point of unconstitutionality,” U.S. District Judge Mark Walker of Tallahassee wrote in his preliminary injunction order.

    […] one of the most obvious problems with the statute was its provision that said if someone feels intimidated by three people, that may constitute “mob intimidation,” which can be punished by up to a year behind bars.

    As Paul Waldman explained, that was really just the start. The same law “forbids people charged under the law from being released before their first court appearance, forcing them to languish in jail potentially for days, even if they would have otherwise been quickly processed and released.”

    Florida’s policy said those who topple monuments could face lengthy prison sentences. If protesters block a road, Florida drivers who plow into them, claiming self-defense, were given civil liability protection by the GOP-created statute.

    The same state law made it practically impossible for local communities to reduce their police budgets, regardless of their fiscal circumstances, while also making local governments potentially liable for damages as a result of riots or unlawful assemblies.

    […] Republicans hoped to create a chilling effect for Floridians inclined to exercise their First Amendment rights.

    As a Washington Post analysis put it in April, “If you’re a protester in Orlando, you might think twice about organizing a protest if you know that police have expanded powers to declare riots and impose felony punishments. Much less if you know that drivers will feel fewer constraints about how they respond if confronted with a protest.”

    Making matters just a bit worse, in July, when Cuban-American protesters shut down a Florida highway to protest developments in Havana, Florida didn’t enforce the law – perhaps because it was the governor’s political allies who were the ones in the streets.

    Yesterday’s ruling was a preliminary injunction order, blocking enforcement of the state law because, as the judge put it, it’s “a likely unconstitutional statute.” DeSantis said he hopes to prevail on appeal.

  76. says

    Follow-up to comment 75.

    […] Will the Justice Department’s lawsuit work?

    There is relevant precedent to draw upon. […] when Arizona Republicans approved their infamous anti-immigration law in 2010, the Obama administration’s Justice Department sued, insisting that the state statute conflicted with existing federal law – and GOP state policymakers couldn’t effectively undo federal law on their own.

    Eventually, the U.S. Supreme Court largely agreed, striking down the bulk of Arizona’s policy. Now, it looks like federal prosecutors hope to run a similar plan, arguing in its new lawsuit that Texas’ abortion ban is plainly at odds with federal law, as defined by existing Supreme Court precedent.

    Time will tell, obviously, whether the federal judiciary agrees. The Justice Department filed suit yesterday in Texas’ capital, but there’s trouble on the horizon: The Lone Star State is in the 5th Circuit, and the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is, by most measures, the nation’s most conservative and reactionary circuit, stacked with conservatives tapped by Republican presidents.

    That said, if federal prosecutors can find some relief at the district court, it might lead to a temporary halt to Texas’ abortion ban.

    Link

  77. says

    Why Republicans hope to derail Biden’s bold new vaccine policy

    Republicans opposed to Biden’s vaccine plan aren’t saying the policy won’t work — because for the GOP, whether the plan is effective or not is irrelevant.

    Leading voices throughout the public health community have been increasingly candid of late: The United States simply is not winning the fight against Covid-19. The White House has clearly come to the same realization, and […] President Joe Biden is responding with an aggressive new policy.

    President Joe Biden on Thursday issued two executive orders mandating vaccines for federal workers and contractors and announced new requirements for large employers and health care providers that he said would affect around 100 million workers, more than two-thirds of the U.S. workforce.

    […] The Biden administration has implemented an effective plan to make vaccines readily available for free nationwide, and it’s waged a public information campaign designed to encourage Americans to do the smart and responsible thing, but much of the country still won’t roll up their sleeves.

    The result is a prolonged pandemic, overflowing hospitals in unvaccinated areas, thousands of preventable deaths and a weakened U.S. economy.

    And so, Biden is kicking things up a notch with a bold new approach, which will likely add tens of millions of workers to the vaccinated ranks.

    “This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” the president said in his White House remarks yesterday. “And it’s caused by the fact that despite America having an unprecedented and successful vaccination program, despite the fact that for almost five months free vaccines have been available in 80,000 different locations, we still have nearly 80 million Americans who have failed to get the shot. And to make matters worse, there are elected officials actively working to undermine the fight against Covid-19. Instead of encouraging people to get vaccinated and mask up, they’re ordering mobile morgues for the unvaccinated dying from Covid in their communities.”

    Biden added, “We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us.”

    In the same remarks, the president went on to say, “[W]hat makes it incredibly more frustrating is that we have the tools to combat COVID-19, and a distinct minority of Americans — supported by a distinct minority of elected officials –—are keeping us from turning the corner. These pandemic politics … are making people sick, causing unvaccinated people to die.”

    […] Republicans rushed to tell the public how desperate they are to block the White House’s plan to end the pandemic, embracing the same “pandemic politics” that are making Americans sick.

    The Republican National Committee, for example, announced plans to file a lawsuit to derail Biden’s policy, which the RNC called “unconstitutional.” At the same time, Republican governors in Texas, Missouri, Georgia, Arizona, Alabama, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wyoming, among others, denounced the president’s proposals and vowed to fight back against them.

    […] none of the Republicans opposed to the White House’s initiative have said it won’t work. Indeed, true to […]

    It doesn’t matter if Biden’s policies will save lives. Or ease the burdens on hospitals and morgues. Or help end the public health crisis. Or give the economy a boost. Or even receive a warm welcome from the American mainstream.

    What matters for the president’s Republican opponents is whether the policies are ideologically satisfying and pleasing to their party’s rabid base. The RNC will no doubt seize on its lawsuit as a fundraising opportunity, and ambitious Republican governors are likely preparing to run political advertisements, boasting about standing up to that rascally American president who’s daring to help rescue his country from a deadly pandemic.

    The question then becomes whether the nation’s conservative federal judiciary will side with precedent or endorse the Republicans’ political ploy.

  78. says

    Giuliani Pal Admits To Funneling Foreign Money Into U.S Political Campaigns

    An associate of Rudy Giuliani’s told a federal judge on Friday that he solicited campaign contributions from a wealthy foreigner as part of a bizarre plot to get political juice for a marijuana business.

    Igor Fruman, 56, who spent part of 2019 attempting to dig up dirt on the Bidens on Giuliani’s behalf, told U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken for the Southern District of New York that he had asked a foreigner to contribute $1 million during the 2018 midterms as part of an effort to secure cannabis licenses.

    Red in the face and speaking through a thick Ukrainian accent, Fruman pleaded guilty only to one count of an October 2018 indictment that charged he and ex-Giuliani buddy Lev Parnas with crimes relating to a marijuana scheme and to an alleged plot to have the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine removed at the direction of a Ukrainian official. Parnas maintains his innocence and is headed to trial next month.

    Fruman only pleaded guilty to a solicitation of foreign contribution count related to the pot plot, saying that he asked a foreign national to contribute $1 million to a series of state-level campaigns during the 2018 midterms. The scheme was part of what Fruman described as a “business venture” to buy cannabis licenses in a series of western states.

    “I deeply regret my actions and I apologize to the court and the United States government for this conduct,” Fruman said at the change-of-plea hearing.

    Fruman did not sign any cooperation agreement with prosecutors. He agreed to a maximum sentence of 46 months behind bars as part of the agreement.

    Well, that’s strange. What happened to the money? Did it go to a trumpian political candidate or not? What about the charges related to Giuliani’s efforts to have Ukranian’s manufacture dirt on Joe Biden’s son?

  79. says

    Follow-up to comment 81.

    The Governor of South Carolina promised Holy War in his response to President Biden’s vaccine mandates.

    South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R), whose state has reached record-breaking levels of COVID-19, tweeted “Rest assured, we will fight them to the gates of hell to protect the liberty and livelihood of every South Carolinian” after Biden announced his executive order.

    The Palmetto State topped the entire country in COVID-19 case rates last week and continues to do so, per local news outlet WBTW’s analysis of CDC data.

    McMaster lifted South Carolina’s state of emergency in June, claiming at the time that “we’ve worked our way very well.”

    Link

  80. says

    Some thoughts on President Biden’s recent actions:

    […] Rather than hold out an olive branch to Republican politicians who are endangering the lives of local citizens, Biden came straight through them. He defended local school officials who were trying to protect children through masks and vaccines, called out attempts to take money from schools and officials who did the right thing, and promised that the federal government has their backs.

    Defcon 1 level of response from Fox News and Republicans at both state and federal levels shows just how shocked they were by a Biden that came out not just swinging, but ready to shove them all aside. And responses like that from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott are left not just looking powerless, but pitiful in their hypocrisy. This is, after all, the man who just signed an order saying that businesses are not allowed to require vaccination, claiming that it’s a “power grab” to say that businesses must require vaccination.

    Republicans have spent the last year eroding the authority of school boards, city, and county officials by passing laws that strip away their authority to deal with emergencies and protect both children and adults. Biden just took that ball away from them and threw it far downfield.

    What President Joe Biden has demonstrated in both the war in Afghanistan and in the ongoing fight against COVID-19 is that when push comes to shove, he’s willing to shove harder than any Democratic president in 50 years. He’s stood firm in the face of political opposition, and moved forward with surprising vigor and inventiveness. It’s clear that ending the war in Afghanistan mattered to Biden, and he ended it. It’s clear that fighting the pandemic matters to Biden, and he’s fighting. It also seems that Biden is equally serious about battling the climate crisis, and the plans he’s pushing there are—finally—at a level that approaches dealing with something that’s truly an existential challenge. When something matters enough to President Biden, he takes action that is astoundingly bold and refreshingly clear of concern about the political consequences.

    Now if he would only feel that way about the filibuster, the Supreme Court, and protecting the rights of women.

    Link

  81. says

    Hurricane Ida Left a Huge Water Crisis in Her Wake

    Hundreds of thousands of people still lack safe drinking water.

    It has been a week and a half since Hurricane Ida hit the Gulf Coast and the devastating impacts of the Category 4 storm are still being felt throughout the region. Some 418,000 people in Louisiana remain without power, unable to run air conditioning units to deal with scorching late summer temperatures or keep food fresh in homes and grocery stores. The storm has also forced hundreds of municipal water systems offline, creating a drinking water crisis that officials warn could last weeks.

    As of Tuesday, 51 water systems across Louisiana, each serving between 25 to 20,000 people, remained shut down due to Ida. Another 242 remained under boil water advisories. Around 642,000 people remain without access to clean water, according to the Louisiana Department of Health. […]

    “There is no particular timeframe for all systems to come back up to 100 percent,” Kevin Litter, a spokesperson for Louisiana Department of Health, said in an email. “This will be different for every system and also based on location.”

    The reasons for the immediate water crisis are two-fold: Across Louisiana and Mississippi, Hurricane Ida ripped down power lines, leaving water systems unable to get the electricity they needed to pump groundwater or to run treatment facilities. Even though Louisiana mandates that all water systems have backup, fuel-powered generators, many don’t comply with the rule, Litter explained. Those who do have backup pumps are being affected by the extended blackout still crippling parts of the Gulf a week post-storm—a situation that has created fuel shortages that leave generators useless. Flooding on roads can also leave critical infrastructure, like water wells or pump stations, out of reach, making it impossible to fix storm damage. Lastly, the destruction of roads and bridges has literally ripped apart water pipelines, disrupting the whole system.

    Intensified by climate change, Hurricane Ida is one of the strongest storms on record to hit the Gulf Coast. But the 150-mile-per-hour winds that took down electric lines, trees, and homes, as well as the powerful storm surge that briefly reversed the flow of the Mississippi River, can’t fully explain the state’s water systems failures.

    Underlying the immediate devastation is the fact that Louisiana has one of the worst water systems in the country, which has left it vulnerable to storms like Ida. In 2017, the American Society of Civil Engineers, or ASCE, gave the state’s drinking water system a D- in a recent infrastructure report card. “We have an antiquated water supply and water pumping system,” Craig Colten, professor emeritus of geography at Louisiana State University and an expert on resilience, told Grist. “Our sewage treatment system is aged, and our infrastructure has not been maintained.” […]

    Infrastructure, infrastructure , infrastructure.

  82. says

    Follow-up to comment 85.

    About 60 percent of Louisiana’s water systems are more than a century old. Even before Hurricane Ida, many of Louisiana’s water systems were cited for routinely violating drinking water standards. About 40% of the systems that violated the law serve populations with high percentages of people of color.

    Even worse:

    […] problems go beyond power and pipelines. With rising sea levels, approximately 30 percent of the state parishes are at risk of saltwater entering the wells and aquifers where they source their wate […] The Investigative Reporting Workshop and WWNO/WRKF found that many aquifers in the state are shrinking fast, mainly because agriculture and oil and gas industries are over-pumping groundwater reserves. […]

  83. says

    Stuff of nightmares.

    […] while a lot can still happen between now and 2024, Trump’s increasingly aggressive flirtation with a third presidential run has caught the attention of his would-be rivals.

    “I think [Trump running] feels like more of a possibility now than it did before,” an aide to one Republican eyeing a 2024 run said. “That doesn’t mean you stop what you’re doing altogether. Until he says what he’s going to do, that’s not an option.” […]

    Jason Miller, a senior adviser to Trump’s 2020 campaign and a close associate of the former president, said in an interview with Cheddar’s J.D. Durkin last week that the likelihood that Trump will run again is “somewhere between 99 and 100 percent.”

    […] Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), one of Trump’s staunchest allies in Congress, was also recently recorded in an undercover video saying that Trump was virtually guaranteed to run for president again […]

    Even with his outsized influence over the GOP and near-universal name recognition, Trump still has a set of challenges to contend with.

    For one, he’s been banished from both Facebook and Twitter, once his social media site of choice, and his online presence has been reduced mostly to sporadic emailed statements. He has also continued to cling to his baseless assertion that the 2020 election had been rigged against him, a claim that even some Republicans are uneasy about.

    “The further removed we are from him being in the Oval Office, the harder time he’s going to have making news,” one Republican strategist and presidential campaign veteran said. “He just doesn’t have the platform he used to have and that naturally makes it harder to get people to pay attention.”

    Link

  84. says

    ESPN college football and basketball reporter Allison Williams won’t be reporting from the sidelines this season after deciding not to get vaccinated against the coronavirus because she’s trying to get pregnant.

    The Walt Disney Company, a co-owner of ESPN, announced all salaried and non-union employees needed to get vaccinated against the coronavirus within 60 days.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, doctors and scientists have said that COVID-19 vaccines are safe for those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, and trying to get pregnant.

    Tweet:

    This will be the first fall in the last 15 years I won’t be on the sidelines for College Football.
    My heart hurts posting this but I’m at peace with my decision.

    She went against CDC guidelines. Getting infected with Covid is a greater risk that getting the vaccine, and that is true for pregnant women, or for women trying to get pregnant. “There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men,” the CDC said.

  85. says

    Wonkette:

    Our COVID roundup for today starts with gladsome tidings: On the same day that Joe Biden mandated wide-ranging vaccines for private businesses (yes, he can do that, because OSHA), the Los Angeles Board of Education announced that by January 1, 2022, all students 12 and older will have to be fully vaccinated to attend school in the LA Unified School District. The only exceptions would be for kids unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons, since California did away with vaccine exemptions for “conscience” or “religious” reasons in 2015.

    This is a pretty big deal, since LAUSD is the nation’s second-largest school system. Earlier in the pandemic, LA schools were also ahead of much of the nation in testing and mask mandates, too. The LA Times notes that New York City, the country’s biggest school district, so far only mandates vaccinations for students who play contact sports, although both New York and Chicago schools do mandate vaccinations for all employees. Now that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has full FDA approval for those over 16, it’s likely other school districts will start requiring vaccines as well.

    […] US News reports that “More than 1,400 schools across 278 districts in 35 states that began the academic year in person have closed” already […] a surprising 40 percent didn’t actually have any kind of plan in place for online instruction, because apparently they were just sure the pandemic was over or they’d just keep the schools open no matter how many teachers keeled over.

    The numbers of kids infected after schools opened with mask-optional policies are at first astonishing and then disgusting, because what did those states’ Republican leaders fucking expect?

    Texas: 51,000 students have tested positive since schools opened in August. Mississippi: 20,000 kids. And it just gets worse and worse:

    Meanwhile, in Florida, more than 26,000 children tested positive just last week, and children under the age of 12 became the age group with the highest new COVID-19 case count. In Georgia, cases in children 11 to 17 years old quadrupled over the last month since schools reopened. According to the state’s public health officials, Georgia is experiencing the highest number of COVID-19 outbreaks since the pandemic began – more than half of which are connected to K-12 schools.

    It’s almost as if all that blather about freedom and individual responsibility doesn’t do jack shit to control a highly infectious virus. […]

    Texas: Mask Mandates Work? […] Austin TV station KXAN did some number crunching, comparing school districts in Central Texas that had mask mandates in place at the start of the school year with districts that began classes without a mandate […] And son of a gun, it turns out that schools with mask mandates had way fewer cases of COVID among students and staff than the districts that opted for freedom and hoping for the best.

    Currently, 11 of the 20 districts analyzed require masks.

    Of those districts, the three with the highest percentage of students and staff cases do not require masks.

    Of those three, Lago Vista ISD, about 20 miles from Austin, had the highest number of cases per capita out of the 20 districts KXAN looked at, with

    more than one in every 13 students and staff members infected this school year.

    The surge caused district leaders to shut down the high school for the rest of the week. Students there will instead learn online until they can return to campus Monday.

    A quick look at the Repository of All Knowledge shows Lago Vista is 94 percent white, and that the annual median family income is a fairly comfortable $72,114, compared to the statewide median family income of $61,874. […]

    The four districts with the lowest percentage of cases (Austin, Round Rock, Manor, and San Marcos) all required masks before the school year started.

    […] UPDATE: Goddamn it, Kentucky Republicans Just Hate Kids Or Something

    Just after this story posted, we found out we missed a schools and covid story: Republicans in both houses of the Kentucky legislature voted last night to override Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s vetos of two bills that restricted the state’s ability to order mask mandates in schools and elsewhere. The upshot is that the state board of education’s mask mandate is gone, although individual school districts will still be able to mandate masking.

    Worse, schools will only be allowed 10 days of “non-traditional instruction days” for an entire district. That oughta teach the virus to not keep spreading! School districts would be allowed to move particular groups of students to online learning for up to 20 days (until December 31, by which time we guess the Lege will demand the virus to go away forever), but district-wide online classes will only be allowed for a total of 10 days. That way a certain percentage of kids will be in school where they can be exposed to the virus as God intended.

    The bill also eliminated mask mandates for daycare centers, for freedom. Perhaps the goal is to increase child mortality rates to those seen at the time of America’s founding. Another provision in the bill would allow students who have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19 to keep attending school, as long as the student tests negative daily. The bill contained an emergency clause, so it will go into effect immediately. […]

    Link

  86. says

    Wonkette:

    Last night, President Joe Biden announced a series of vaccine mandates that quite frankly should have already been implemented months ago. Naturally, this has led to a number of rightwing zealots crying that the president has “declared war on the unvaccinated.” It has also, unfortunately, led to Zeke Miller of the Associated Press claiming that the president has “declared war on the unvaccinated.”

    Oh, the poor dears.

    In an article literally titled “Analysis: Biden’s war on virus becomes war on unvaccinated,” Miller suggests that Biden’s pushing these mandates was driven by self-interest and a desire to weaponize the frustration of the vaccinated in some capacity, rather than, you know, preventing more people from dying.

    […] It’s hardly Biden’s fault that people are hoovering horse paste because they think the vaccine is filled with Satanic microchips. The reason we have had a major spike in cases is because restrictions were relaxed as a result of the vaccine and those who did not get the vaccine felt just as entitled to enjoy that as those who did get it — which we can plainly see led to a whole lot of them getting COVID and filling up our ICUs and emergency rooms. If the vaccine did not exist, these same restrictions would still apply to all of us for literally the same reasons they are currently being applied to the unvaccinated.

    […] most people are just going to read the headline and think, “See, even the AP thinks that Biden is ‘declaring war on the unvaccinated.'” Except he’s not doing that. If one considers “killing people” a primary feature of war, the only people declaring war on anyone are the unvaccinated themselves. They’re spreading a disease that kills people. They’re taking up beds in ICUs, which is also killing people. Preventing them from doing that is not an act of war, it’s defending the nation.

    Fox News’s Jesse Watters, too, is crying that Biden is declaring war on the unvaccinated. [video available at the link]

    The government, however, is not the only entity “declaring war on the unvaccinated,” if that’s what we’re calling vaccine mandates. Fox News itself — which just so happens to employ Jesse Watters — already requires employees to either get vaccines or mask up and has for quite some time now. […]

    You will notice that Watters is not complaining about this, probably because he likes feeling relatively safe when he goes to work every day.

    Utah Rep. Chris Stewart claimed that Biden had no right to mandate the vaccine, tweeting, “The government’s duty is to present the facts, then trust people to make their own decision.” It is worth noting that this is not the case for literally any law or issue regarding public health or safety. The government does not give people the facts about murder and then allow them to make their own decisions about whether or not to kill people, or give people the facts about salmonella and then allow companies to make their own decisions about whether or not to recall tainted foods. In fact, I am having a lot of trouble trying to come up with a single instance wherein it is the government’s duty to “present the facts, then trust the people to make their own decisions.” […]

    Stewart also tweeted that “An American’s ability to work and earn a living should not be threatened by an arrogant federal government,” which is great because that’s not what is happening here. People who work at companies with more than 100 employees will either have to provide proof of vaccination or weekly tests showing that they don’t have COVID. Given that the vaccine is the entire reason people are able to go back to work, this is quite rational. As for federal workers and contractors being required to get the vaccine? Well, the United States government is their employer and therefore has a right to make that decision.

    […] If an employer can fire someone because they’re having a bad day and feel like taking it out on someone or because they don’t like someone’s socks, then surely they can dismiss them for making the workplace less safe for other employees.

    […] Fighting for your right to spread COVID, get food poisoning, get your arm hacked off, or die in an industrial fire in a room with locked doors is Rep. Madison Cawthorn, who yesterday announced that he is filing a bill to gut OSHA. […]

    This is patently absurd, as there is nothing preventing Americans who wish to get food poisoning from getting it on their own, without putting anyone else at risk. They can undercook chicken in their own homes any time they like, no one is stopping them. I assure you I would be the last person to tell Madison Cawthorn that he can’t shove raw chicken down his gullet with unwashed hands. That is none of my business at all.

    Similarly, no American is being “forced” to get a vaccine, they are just not being allowed to threaten the health and safety of others quite as wantonly as they were doing. They’re already causing enough harm to us all simply by taking up all of the ICU beds.

    […] We can say, “Fuck it, who cares how many people die anyway, or how badly they overload the hospitals, so long as people who don’t get vaccinated feel good about themselves,” we can all go back to restrictions as they were before the vaccine, or the people who didn’t get the damn vaccine can go back to things as they were before the vaccine. […]

    It’s one thing for the usual suspects to go off the deep end and claim that this is an attack on people who just believe differently rather than a straightforward health and safety measure, but journalists and pundits not of that ilk have a responsibility to have cooler heads and not frame this as anything but that.

    Link

  87. says

    Katie Porter! One of the good ones.

    Childcare is a necessity, and not just for those who have children and need it. It’s a necessity for people who wish to have employees, it’s a necessity for people like me who don’t have kids but rely on goods produced and services rendered by those who do — and who also believe, […] that the children are our future.

    As such, it actually makes no logical or logistical sense whatsoever for this to be a thing we do piecemeal, with parents struggling to afford care for their children while they work jobs we need them to work and caregivers still making nowhere near enough money for a service we need them to perform. Thus, Democrats have included funding for paid leave and childcare in the $3.5 trillion (over 10 years) reconciliation “Build Back Better” bill.

    In an appearance on MSNBC yesterday, California Rep. Katie Porter discussed why it is necessary for that funding to be included in the bill rather than as a stand-alone bill, despite the fact that Democrats like Joe Manchin have said they won’t support it. Porter explained that the reason it needs to be included in a human infrastructure bill is that one of the lessons we learned during the pandemic is that not having childcare hurts our overall economy. [video available at the link]

    Specifically, she said:

    I am going to be honest, I have no earthly idea where the stand-alone bill is coming from. Chris Cuomo asked me about it last night. I have no idea who has given you this crazy talking point. Let me be clear. Women, parents, childcare aren’t some special need, they’re a building block of our budget and of our economy in the exact same way that environmental standards are, the exact same way that dealing with clean energy investment, dealing with health care. This needs to go in the same bill because it is about the same things.

    Well that does seem fairly obvious. MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle, however, pressed Porter on the fact that Joe Manchin might not be the only Democrat out there who doesn’t want to vote in favor of the bill, and perhaps there are other Democrats who are afraid to speak out and are letting him do so in their place.

    One of the reasons it needs to be in the reconciliation bill, Porter explains, is that if it’s a “stand-alone bill,” it will be just as easy for many politicians to ignore as it has been for them to ignore the issue of childcare for the last several decades.

    Let me take it in two separate pieces. The first piece, why should childcare be part of the bill. I partially addressed this. Let me make a practical point to you, Stephanie. If we had the men who have run this country for hundreds of years, the wealthy men whose wives and others have taken care of childcare, so convinced it was important, we would have done something about child care 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago when other countries did it. So, I am not today all of a sudden convinced we have the will to deal with childcare when we put off the issue decade after decade after decade.

    Porter then noted that her colleagues love to talk about families and children and childcare, love to bring up equal pay, and that this bill offers them a perfectly lovely opportunity to actually do something about those issues. She also explained that passing the bill, along with the childcare component, is a hell of lot more “fiscally responsible” to raise money to pay for these things by requiring corporations to pay their fair share of taxes than it is to just ignore all of these things we desperately need.

    With regard to Senator Manchin and others that want to talk about the price tag for this. Let me be clear, you’re a business person, you get it, you can do the math. If something costs ‘A,’ you have two options. You can negotiate down from ‘A’ or find the money. We have revenue options on the table. There are a huge number of corporations that pay zero taxes and by making savvy revenue choices, for example, using real corporate profit approach to dealing with those corporations that pay zero, we can generate $700 billion. If we use the corporate minimum tax approach, we generate $40 billion. Right there. Right there, Senator Manchin, right there.

    Anyone that’s worried about spending, we can generate revenue so it isn’t about $3.5 trillion in spending. We will generate revenue to pay for things. I have the will to do it. The question is does Senator Manchin or is he more concerned about his corporate donors, including the oil and gas industry, big pharmaceutical industry and others getting away with paying nothing under the current tax system.

    This is something Manchin ought to be a little careful about in light of the news that his daughter was responsible for hiking up the cost of Epipens, creating a monopoly on them by bribing Pfizer not to make a generic version, and requiring people to buy two at a time. He owes us. He owes the American people for having raised the kind of monster that would gouge people like that, and perhaps the best way to start to make up for that is by voting for this bill, which will actually do something to improve all of our lives.

    Let us also note that a key component of this bill is a provision that would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, preventing them from at least gouging Medicare recipients in this manner. So that might have somewhat more to do with Manchin’s opposition to the bill than simply thinking Americans [do not deserve] the kind of subsidized childcare people in other countries enjoy.

    […] This is not a spending bill, it’s an investment bill. It’s an investment in our future and in our quality of life and it will save us all money. It will lead to people being able to earn more money themselves, meaning that they will then pay more in taxes. It will lead to more Democratic victories as well, because once people have things like subsidized childcare, they’re not going to want to give them up. […]

    https://www.wonkette.com/katie-porter-childcare-msnbc

  88. says

    Humor/satire from Andy Borowitz:

    Calling President Joe Biden “an authoritarian dictator of the most reprehensible kind,” Fox News has accused him of using the power of the federal government to improve the country.

    “Joe Biden came into office claiming that he wanted to be the President of all the people,” Sean Hannity said. “Now, however, his real agenda has become clear: he wants to increase Americans’ life expectancy.”

    “How long one lives should be a personal choice,” Hannity continued. “But not if Joe Stalin-slash-Biden has anything to say about it.”

    Tucker Carlson agreed, arguing that Biden’s push for a $3.5 trillion spending package “is no more and no less than a totalitarian dictator’s plot to raise the nation’s standard of living.”

    “To those of you who think I’m being an alarmist, let’s learn a lesson from history,” he said. “This is exactly like what happened in Germany under Angela Merkel.”

    New Yorker link

  89. blf says

    Magic sky faeries (ordered us to) did it! Israel to prosecute Hasidic pilgrims who faked negative Covid tests to fly home:

    Dozens of Hasidic Breslov pilgrims boarded planes in Ukraine with bogus paperwork, border officers say

    […]

    Between 25,000 and 30,000 pilgrims, largely from the Breslov sect, visited Uman in central Ukraine this year. Israel’s Magen David Adom medical service told the Jerusalem Post that up to 14% of those returning had tested positive for Covid.

    The medical service, which had set up testing centres in Uman and at the airport in Kyiv, said 2,000 pilgrims coming back from the Ukrainian city had tested positive for Covid. […]

    After a tipoff, police identified pilgrims with fake paperwork as they arrived in Israel, escorting them home for mandatory quarantine amid fears that hundreds could have procured bogus tests.

    The Israeli border and immigration service said it had received information that dozens of people who tested positive in Ukraine had boarded planes with false negative tests. On just one flight from Kyiv, 13 passengers were found to have forged tests […]

    [The prime minister, Naftali] Bennett said anyone caught using forged paperwork would be prosecuted, including potential charges of fraud, forgery and deliberately spreading disease.

    […]

    According to reports in Israeli media, pilgrims who had received positive Covid tests at crowded testing centres in Uman before returning home were later approached with offers of forged documents for their journey.

    The health ministry director general, Nachman Ash, said: “We are hearing that there are not a small number of infected people, those that tested positive over there, and we expect more people to be diagnosed here, too.”

    […]

    Congratulations to whoever tipped off the police in time to catch teh plague rats before they could further spread the infection.

  90. tomh says

    Sixth Circuit upholds block of Tennessee abortion ban
    ROSANA HUGHES / September 10, 2021

    (CN) — The Sixth Circuit on Friday upheld a federal judge’s decision to block a Tennessee law banning abortions as early as six weeks.

    The law, passed last year, makes it a Class C felony if a doctor performs an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected or at six weeks or later, and imposes a so-called reasons ban — the criminalization of the procedure if a woman is seeking an abortion because of the fetus’ race or sex or if the fetus was diagnosed with Down syndrome.

    At the time of its passing, Governor Bill Lee, a Republican, called the legislation the “strongest pro-life law in our state’s history.”

    Within a month, the law was blocked after reproductive rights groups challenged it even before the governor signed it.

    In blocking the law, U.S. District Judge William Campbell Jr., a Donald Trump appointee, said the plaintiffs were likely to succeed in challenging the law and that portions of the statute — the ban based on discrimination — were so vague that the law was unconstitutional.

    “When a law threatens criminal sanctions, such vague provisions and potential varied interpretations cannot stand,” he wrote.

    A 2-1 majority of the Sixth Circuit agreed Friday, after hearing oral arguments in the case in April.

    “The district court properly issued a preliminary injunction … because the provisions are constitutionally unsound,” Senior U.S. Circuit Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey, a Bill Clinton appointee, wrote for the majority….

    The Cincinnati-based appeals court’s ruling comes at a time when Republican state lawmakers across the country are enacting anti-abortion laws, many of which are meeting swift legal challenges.

    Daughtrey noted as much in her majority opinion, writing that “state legislatures recently have passed more anti-abortion regulations than perhaps at any other time in this country’s history.”

    “However, this development is not a signal to the courts to change course,” she added. “It is, in fact, just the opposite. The judiciary exists as a check on majoritarian rule. It has a duty to protect the constitutional rights, including privacy and bodily autonomy, of those within its borders, even — or especially — if the relevant class of people ‘has been subjected to a ‘tradition of disfavor’ by our laws.’”

  91. says

    blf @93, religious extremists became a literal plague.

    tomh @94, The Sixth Circuit had more sense than the conservatives on the Supreme Court.

    In other news: Health care staffing CEO resigns after ties linked him to anti-mask group

    On Friday, Overland Park, Kansas-based company Krucial Staffing announced that CEO Brian Cleary would be stepping down. The company provides emergency health care staffing. Cleary’s ties to anti-mask group Mask Choice 4 Kids are very close; Cleary’s 19-year-old son founded the group. Krucial Staffing is making a ton of money during the global pandemic, unfortunately, as anti-vaxx areas of the country have seen surges in COVID-19 cases and, naturally, health care worker shortages.

    The Kansas City Star reports that Krucial Staffing officials had accepted Cleary’s resignation and further distanced themselves from Cleary, writing, “Obviously being in the health care staffing business, we understand the importance of masks in hospitals and any medical setting. As a company, we work to ensure that all our health care personnel have the best protective equipment to keep them safe in their working environment.”

    The Star reports that Jacob Cleary, Brian’s son, “relinquished his supposed leadership role with Mask Choice 4 Kids” just hours after the newspaper contacted Krucial Staffing to ask about their CEO’s relationship to the organization. The key purpose of Mask Choice 4 Kids, of course, is to get students to protest mask mandates in schools by uncovering their faces in protest during class.

    Jacob Clearly posted a video on Sept. 7, handing over his organization’s leadership to Tana Goertz. If that name is familiar to you, maybe it is because she is the former The Apprentice TV show contestant and MAGA-supporter, Tana Goertz. [All the best people.]

    According to the Shawnee Mission Post, the Mask Choice 4 Kids group on Facebook is labeled a “youth organization.” While 19-year-old Cleary definitely seemed like a “youth,” Ms. Geortz seems like something else. Over the Labor Day weekend, the Mission Post reported that thousands of “Mask Choice 4 Kids” signs appeared illegally “on major roadways and intersections in northern Johnson County.” Because they were illegally posted, it seems citizens who actually live in the county removed them—which is legal to do.

    The only word from the former CEO has been a social media post he made last Sunday.

    In a message on a separate Facebook group, Blue Valley Parents for In-Person Learning + Parent Choice, Brian Cleary wrote Sunday that it was his 19-year-old son who’d come up with the idea of Mask Choice 4 Kids, “then a bunch of parents have run with it.”

    “Follow us on social media, we are going to be having a rally outside of the next board meeting” on Monday, saying that he expected up to 1,000 people to attend. The Blue Valley district requires everyone to wear masks in school buildings.

    Brian Cleary was interviewed on KSHB41 local news about the delta variant surge in COVID cases in July. At the time, his business was getting to see a surge in staffing opportunities. He told the news that “If 2020 was a house on fire, this may be just kind of the garage on fire, so nothing of that level yet, and I hope we don’t get there.” Of course, mask mandates and other safety measures like that might stomp out that fire too fast, leading to less staffing business for the Kansas-based company.

    Krucial Staffing did not provide any information on whether or not Cleary would continue to maintain an ownership stake in the company.

  92. says

    […] To remind everyone of the status quo: hundreds still die daily from a disease with three, count ‘em THREE fucking vaccines, because a bizarre, quasi-religious culture has congealed around zany, suicidal ideas like “medical science is bad, actually,” and “reality is optional.”

    Oh, and when they’re not busy spreading disease, adherents of this batshit new faith (their highest deity is a game show host who cannot, for reasons doubtless lost to the fog of prehistory, pick out pants that fit) work diligently to end American democracy, and replace it with a permanent dictatorship of the loud, angry, and stupid.

    I mention this because, right here, in the midst of this shitstorm of historic proportions, the New York Times figured it was the ideal moment to administer the “both sides” treatment to Normal Human Empathy so vigorously Chuck Todd is expected to sue for gimmick infringement.

    You see, some profoundly damaged shitbag scrawled a sad, mean little op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, shitting on President Biden for using his own grief to connect with Gold Star families, and the pearl-clutchers at the Times dutifully transcribed that cynical bullshit as a thoughtful argument offered in good faith, rather than simply one more strand of outrage spaghetti flung at the fridge in the Ministry of Propaganda’s break room, and goddammit, it’s well past time y’all in the press wised up to the way these asshats manipulate you.

    Because if commiseration and compassion have indeed become partisan, you aren’t dealing with a polite disagreement between reasonable folk, you’re talking about a movement seeking to replace civilization with sociopathy. And history shows us, without much subtlety, how that shit works out.

    The truth is, Republicans despise Biden’s decency because it shames them, and they fear it because it’s what enabled him to defeat their Crotchrot Emperor in the first place. I’m sure these fucks would love nothing more than to turn Smilin’ Joe’s greatest asset into a liability, and it sure would be cool if the “paper of record” could replace a few of these docile stenographers with real reporters while the republic still stands.

    Because decency IS partisan in America right now. From the halls of Congress to the Fux Nooz boardroom to each individual, personalized, wingnut rabbit hole, Republicans are united in their efforts to roll back hard-won human rights,and prolong this interminable fucking pandemic, spreading disease, suffering, and death, especially amongst children too young to vaccinate.

    “Well DANG, CAP, that is one inflammatory accusation!” It is. Notice any lies?

    If it’s confirmation you’re after, well, take a look at the Laboratory of Kakistocracy some call Texas, where voting is for white people, and women just got legally downgraded from “human” to “host body.”

    Confronted about a particularly draconian aspect of his theocratic crackdown on female autonomy, Governor Greg Abbott claimed it would be silly to worry about the lack of exemption from his abortion ban for rape victims, cuz he’s gonna snap his fingers and eliminate rape completely, easy peezy.

    […] Texans are experiencing a quality of life that shouldn’t be possible in a nation as advanced and wealthy as the United States. You transformed your state’s energy grid into a warped experiment in mad libertarian science, allowing oligarchs to gleefully extract billions from the plebs while an expendable handful (just a couple hundred human beings, whatevs) FROZE TO DEATH IN THEIR OWN HOMES.

    Your public health policy reads like it was crafted by coronavirus lobbyists, like pestilence’s own personal ALEC. You’re setting records for pediatric hospitalizations, Greg. Because you have chosen to value the esteem of maniacs over the lives of children, tens of thousands of kids have contracted Covid-19 on your watch. Dozens have died.

    Did everybody catch that? I feel like we’re numb to these statistics, but as of last Friday, September 3rd, Texas had reported over 50,000 child coronavirus cases, and 59 deaths. Certainly more by now, and more to come. I bet I could come up with a really fantastic joke about the dark irony of these child-murdering bastards’ sanctimonious “pro-life” branding, but I’m too busy projectile vomiting.

    Anyhoo, problem-solving doesn’t really seem to be your “thing,” Gregward, so forgive my skepticism regarding this secret plan to end rape forever. While we’re exchanging glove slaps, I may as well call into question the purity of your intentions, what with the LITERAL BOUNTIES you just authorized on women who exercise their reproductive rights. Texas actually leads the nation in rape, by the way, so heckuva job so far.

    Word on the street is, Democratic strategists have finally begun embracing the political gifts that fall into one’s lap when one’s opponents deliberately cause thousands of senseless, preventable deaths, setting up a major midterm collision between the apocalyptic fatalism of Tate Reeves’ “what is a pandemic really but an opportunity for folks to get a head start on the afterlife?” and the politics of common fucking sense. I’m feeling optimistic, but far from cocky.

    Jim “What if ringworm had a safely gerrymandered seat in the U.S. Congress” Jordan says, “vaccine mandates are un-American,” and call me old-fashioned, but I think once you formally vote to side with terrorists against your own country and Constitution, you waive all future participation rights in the “what counts as patriotism” debate.

    Members of the Proud Boys, that delusional incel brigade you may remember from such terrorist attacks as the Capitol Riot, attempted to invade a high school full of children in Vancouver, Washington, enraged that the district had taken simple, scientifically sound measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 through their student body. This story barely made a ripple at the national level, cuz we live in this fun, safe, extremely healthy culture that has normalized shitty white boy violence.

    It will no doubt shock you to learn Senator Lindsey Graham (R-the Military-Industrial Complex) is already positively horny to re-invade Afghanistan. […]

    In a thuggish attempt to bully their way out of the legal consequences of their treachery, a group of House Republicans (Gaetz, Brooks, Taylor Greene, Gosar…you know, the Nazis) sent a petulant, threatening letter to the CEO of Yahoo!…who hasn’t worked there in four years. I feel like I could almost handle the tyranny of the minority, if they weren’t so aggressively, defiantly subpar. The plot against America is being carried out on a third-grade reading level, and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    […] The Biden Administration’s ongoing fumigation of the executive branch finally dislodged a few celebrity squatters from their lame duck appointments to the advisory boards of the nation’s military academies, prompting some mildly amusing theatre. Lots of melodramatic wailing about “norms” from the likes of Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway? Okay, sure. Congrats on slithering your way back onto page 12 for a day […]

    Looks as though Joe Biden finally had his fill of the dewormer-guzzling plague dispenser crowd, and their insistence on the right to not just die, but kill. GOOD.

    […] the President announced a new set of You’ll Fight Covid and Like It, Mister measures, including overdue mandates for millions of workers, to either take their pick of the three safe, effective vaccines, or submit to weekly testing, a common sense policy designed with the once-non-controversial goal of reducing sickness and death.

    There are a lot of “overdue” descriptions floating around, but I think that Biden acted fairly quickly after the official approval for the Pfizer vaccine was issued by the FDA on August 23rd. I admit to being relatively ignorant when it comes to what the Executive Branch can do, and cannot do, when it comes to issuing vaccine mandates.

    […] Carrot Time is over. We had Carrot Time for a long-ass time. Lotta people died to give these colicky toddlers all the Carrot Time anyone could reasonably expect. So, it’s Stick Time now. Half past Stick Time, if you ask me.

    Instead of the “now that you mention it, saving lives and moving past the motherfucking pandemic both sound great; thanks, Joe!” response you’d expect from sane, rational beings, Republicans offered only “full on revolt” against these (checks notes) necessary public health measures, vowing scorched earth opposition to this intolerable violation of the coronavirus’ inalienable right to be escorted, classroom by classroom, though the entire fucking country, until every school has its very own mobile morgue parked out front to handle the surge in expendable kid corpses.

    Sharing America with a death cult is like being trapped in an episode of The Odd Couple scripted by Cormac McCarthy during a bath salts overdose. I confess I do not care for it. […]

    Link

  93. says

    If there is one thing I feel strongly about, it is giving people credit when they are right, even if they are a person who is normally wrong about things. In fact, especially if they are a person who is usually wrong about things. As much as I get the bitterness about not wanting to give people cookies for basic human decency, I am happy to give out all of the cookies on earth if it makes people better.

    And I would like to dole out a dozen cookies to Ben Domenech for his wise and cogent statements about vaccines and vaccine mandates. Honestly, I’m just so very impressed. Let’s take a look at some of these very fine quotes from his article in The Federalist titled “The Insane Vaccine Debate,” shall we?

    [V]accination is not about protecting the vaccinated so much as it is about protecting others from disease-carriers. Vaccines are properly understood not on the basis of narrow self-interest but as a defense of the human species.

    Fundamentally, the protection against life-threatening plague is one of the original reasons government exists.
    We’ve had mandatory vaccines for schoolchildren in America since before the Emancipation Proclamation. The Supreme Court has upheld that practice as constitutional for over a century, and only the political fringes believe there ought to be a debate about such matters. This is one of the few areas where government necessarily exercises power.

    [C]onceding that parents have the right to delay these shots is not the same as saying they should have the right to prevent such vaccination altogether without consequences.

    If you choose not to vaccinate, private and public institutions should be able to discriminate on that basis. Disneyland should be able to require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry, and so should public schools.
    You shouldn’t be compelled to vaccinate your child, but neither should the rest of us be compelled to pretend like you did.

    I’ve just gotta pause here because wow that is just what I was saying earlier today. The unvaccinated want to enjoy the benefits and the freedom of being vaccinated without getting vaccinated themselves, and that’s just not right. It’s not fair to the rest of us who did the responsible thing and got vaccinated.

    If the decline in […] vaccination continues, perhaps the federal government could take the step of making access to the child tax credit contingent upon vaccination. If we’re going to have redistributive social engineering in the tax code, it may as well be for children who aren’t carrying disease around Disneyland.

    That is certainly an idea!

    Domenech also shared a very interesting quote from Richard Epstein, writing for the rightwing think tank The Hoover Institute, noting that it is the government’s responsibility to protect citizens from communicable disease in this manner, as citizens have no other legal recourse against those who infect them with communicable diseases:

    The basic soundness of the constitutional recognition of a police power to deal with communicable diseases is beyond dispute. Even in a free state, quarantines are the only reliable remedy to protect the health of the public at large from the spread of disease. It is sheer fantasy to think that individuals made ill could bring private lawsuits for damages against the parties that infected them, or that persons exposed to imminent risk could obtain injunctive relief against the scores of persons who threaten to transmit disease. The transmission of disease involves hidden and complex interconnections between persons that could not be detected in litigation, even assuming that it could be brought in time, which it cannot.

    He also shared another quote from a conservative thinker, writing for Reason magazine:

    Oliver Wendell Holmes articulated a good libertarian principle when he said, “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.” […]

    Some people object to applying Holmes’ aphorism by arguing that aggression can only occur when someone intends to hit someone else; microbes just happen. However, being intentionally unvaccinated against highly contagious airborne diseases is, to extend the metaphor, like walking down a street randomly swinging your fists without warning. You may not hit an innocent bystander, but you’ve substantially increased the chances. Those harmed by the irresponsibility of the unvaccinated are not being accorded the inherent equal dignity and rights every individual possesses. The autonomy of the unvaccinated is trumping the autonomy of those they put at risk.

    Wow, again, those are just some really great points. Isn’t it nice when we can find common ground?

    Unfortunately, all of these quotes are from an article Domenech wrote during a measles outbreak in 2015, when he associated anti-vaxxers with the Left, noting that “i]t’s telling that refusing to get your kids vaccinated is the trendy thing among the California elite, even as they decline to embrace other aspects of the Amish lifestyle.” All of them are just as true today as when he wrote them six years ago — the only thing that has changed is Domenech himself, who now frequently claims that vaccine passports, like the one he suggested one might use at Disneyland, “are a violation of individual freedom and a dangerous privacy risk regardless of the entity mandating their use.” […]

    Oddly enough, Domenech now claims that that there is no discrepancy between what he believed then about vaccines and what he believes now, but that the Biden administration is doing something totally different from what he was talking about. […]

    Domenech is now trying to make the case that the difference is that it is one thing for public or private institutions to require vaccine passports, but another for public institutions to compel private institutions to require them. This might be a point if the Biden administration were doing that, but they are not. The only workers required to get a vaccine in order to keep their jobs are federal workers or those who work for federal contractors that are free to give up their federal contracts should they prefer not to comply with that rule. Other companies with more than 100 employees are simply required to test unvaccinated employees every week, which seems like a fairly reasonable request when we are talking about a virus that kills people — and people can skip that weekly testing if they are vaccinated.

    There is no universe in which someone capable of understanding why vaccines are necessary and why the government has a compelling interest in protecting people from communicable diseases cannot understand why these measures are necessary. For someone like Domenech, opposition to these measures has more to do with being a team player for the Right than any sincerely held belief he might have about anything. […].

    Wonkette link

  94. says

    Biden’s vaccine push wins cautious business support as political opponents fume

    Even in deep red Texas, some employers embrace the president’s vaccine strategy.

    Bob Harvey’s phone did not ring.

    In Washington, a political furor had erupted over President Biden’s new coronavirus vaccine and testing mandate for businesses, with Republicans howling about an unconstitutional power grab and vowing to challenge him in the courts.

    But in Houston, where Harvey heads the city’s largest business group, employers took the news in stride.
    “I have not heard from my members today, which is interesting. I think the reason is what he announced is so in line with the conversations we’ve been having,” Harvey, the chief executive officer of the Greater Houston Partnership, said Friday. “This will come as a relief to the business community, to have an order that requires all of them to move together.”

    The president’s decision to require medium and large companies to subject their employees to mandated vaccination or weekly coronavirus testing represents a sharp expansion of the federal government’s workplace powers, according to political scientists and legal experts.

    […] Biden’s action was welcomed by many bosses.

    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) called Biden’s move “an assault on private businesses,” but businesses in his state’s largest city did not see it that way.

    “The context in which this is occurring really matters,” said Harvey, a former energy industry executive. “We’ve been hit hard by this fourth wave [of the virus] … and employers simply must play a role in addressing this problem. We’ve tried it every other way.”

    In a recent survey, 23 percent of partnership members already required coronavirus vaccines for some or all employees and an additional 30 percent were considering doing so. Of the remaining 46 percent that were not, most said they feared that some workers would quit rather than submit.

    The president’s blanket order, applying to all companies with at least 100 employees, eliminated that worry, Harvey said.

    Texas is a hotbed of resistance to pandemic health measures. Its vaccination performance — 58.6 percent of those 12 and older are fully vaccinated […]

    “The reality is there are a number of businesses that are wanting the government to step in. This gives them the cover to do what they want to do anyway,” said Charles Shipan, a political scientist at the University of Michigan.

    […] Houston is a largely Democratic city. But Harvey’s group has members in 11 counties, nine of which backed former president Donald Trump last year, and includes numerous companies in traditionally conservative industries, such as oil and banking. Among them: ExxonMobil, Chevron, JPMorgan and Wells Fargo.

    Biden’s new covid plan also drew backing from some national business groups, such as the Business Roundtable, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the American Apparel and Footwear Association.

    And the president cited the example of several large companies that already require employees to be vaccinated, including Disney and United Airlines and “even Fox News.” (The cable network actually required employees to disclose their vaccination status, not get vaccinated, according to published reports.)

    “We’re going to reduce the spread of covid-19 by increasing the share of the workforce that is vaccinated in businesses all across America,” Biden said, speaking in the State Dining Room.

    […] Several Republican governors, including in Texas, Georgia, and South Dakota, vowed to fight the mandate in court.

    […] Even before the president spoke on Thursday afternoon, the Federalist, a right-wing publication, assailed the vaccine-and-testing plan as “a fascist move.”

    J.D. Vance, a Republican Senate candidate in Ohio, called for “mass civil disobedience,” urging Americans to refuse to comply with any new requirement or to pay any subsequent fine. And Josh Mandel, another Senate aspirant in Ohio, warned that Biden would use “the Gestapo” to enforce his directive.

    Social media chatter about workers quitting their jobs rather than complying with the new federal mandate has left Wall Street economists unimpressed. Michael Feroli of JPMorgan Chase called it “noise,” pointing out that employees who quit are not eligible for unemployment insurance. […]

    Washington Post link

  95. says

    Unvaccinated are 5 times more likely to be infected, and 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19

    […] The latest data from Civiqs shows that 91% of Democrats fall in camp “Already Vaccinated,” with another 4% saying they intend to be vaccinated. That’s the kind of number that keeps measles and mumps in check, and both of those diseases are much more transmissible than any form of COVID-19. If everyone was vaccinated the way Democrats are vaccinated, we would not be having a new wave of infection.

    Of course, we are having a new wave of infection; one that, on Friday, saw the U.S. rack up another 171,000 cases and 1,761 deaths. Florida and Texas once again led the way, as Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott continue their neck and neck competition to be the worst governors in America. However, they face some stiff competition from someone who hasn’t gotten nearly as much press—Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee.

    Tennessee is home to that school where men followed a doctor into the parking lot and threatened his family because the doctor had the audacity to simply testify and answer questions for school board members. That school, Williamson County, was out all last week after so many kids and staff members came down with COVID-19 that classes became impossible. […].

    But that’s not all. In a hearing this week, Gov. Lee’s ban on school masks went to court after parents of immunocompromised students sued the state for putting their kids in danger. As education site Chalkbeat reports, the attorney for the state argued that schools should use “creative scheduling” to see that those kids could attend classes without encountering any children who were intent on being free to spread disease. Because sure, schools have no problem re-scheduling classes and moving students around based on who is or isn’t wearing a mask on a particular day.

    […] Tennessee has actually moved to the top of the pack when it comes to the number of COVID-19 cases by population. For a long time, the Dakotas hung tight to that spot, along with Rhode Island, which got battered in the initial outbreak, but now Tennessee has surged ahead. A full 16.5% of Tennesseans have now tested positive for COVID-19, and with a statewide rate of positive cases at 21%, there’s no doubt that number still has room to grow.

    But DeSantis is not going to be dismissed so easily. Florida has also surged ahead (literally) of North Dakota and now holds the number two spot with 16.1% of the state’s population having tested positive. In terms of raw numbers, it’s no competition, Florida has had 3.4 million cases to Tennessee’s 1.1 million. Still, it seems that the Sunshine State might have a little trouble making the top of the sickest state chart, since it’s positivity rate is down to “only” 14% and it’s actually vaccinated at a rate quite a bit higher than Tennessee.

    With just 43% of the state’s population vaccinated, several counties below 30%, red hot levels of positivity, and Bill Lee running point on terrible policies, it seems there is a good chance that Tennessee might hold onto the crown as America’s Sickest State. […]

    Common sense should be way, way more than enough. However, the well known problem with common sense is just how uncommon it can be.

    Oh, and while 5x better odds than the unvaccinated are great … wear your mask.

  96. says

    “Woodwork squeaks and out come the freaks”

    So we had another klannish gathering here in Loudoun County to rail against Critical Race Theory and urge a vote for the Republican candidate for governor, one Glenn Youngkin, a former Black Rock finance guy. Trump Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson was the celebrity keynote speaker. […]

    Naturally the speakers evinced not a clue as to what CRT is actually about. A deluded Chinese immigrant said it was “communist tactics.” A Christian-fundy teacher charged that it encouraged kids “to discriminate against each other.” Best of all was a local African-American podcaster: “If you want to be around Black people — Africa. There’s like 28 countries over there. In our country, things are on the line.”

    The reporter parenthetically added, “There are 54 independent countries in Africa, according to the World Atlas.”

    We’re getting close here to telling black folks to go back to Africa.

    The GOP campaign has mostly been about law n’ order, not pausing to dwell on the display of adherence to the law on display this past January 6th in Washington, D.C.

  97. raven says

    Another day, another 1,600 unvaccinated Covid-19 virus patients die.
    This is what the heatlh care workers see a lot of.
    Covid-19 virus deniers/antivaxxers in the hospital, very sick, about to die, and still don’t believe the Covid-19 virus exists or that the vaccine is worth getting. And then they go on to die. The staff everywhere are demoralized.

    They don’t make a point of it, but the ventilators have their problems. The highest survival I’ve seen is 75%. It can be as low as 5%. A general ballpark figure is 50% live, 50% die.

    Even on their death beds, some COVID-19 patients in Idaho still reject vaccination
    ARIELLE MITROPOULOS Sat, September 11, 2021, 7:01 AM·5 min read

    Just a few months ago, there were only five COVID-19 patients, at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, Idaho. As of Thursday, there were more than 45.

    Nearly all of these patients are not vaccinated, a reflection of “the amount of misinformation that’s being absorbed, and taken as truth in our community because people are convinced that they don’t want to be vaccinated, and then they end up here,” Dr. Meghan McInerney, the intensive care unit’s medical director, told ABC News.

    Given the influx of patients, beds do not stay empty long.

    “We are overwhelmed. We have so many patients with COVID, who are unvaccinated,” said McInerney. “On top of an already busy ICU, you add the volume of COVID patients that we’re seeing now and yes, it’s just added a different level of busy, a different level of crazy. … It’s a lot. It’s a lot.”

    Hospitals across the state of Idaho are now facing their most significant surge yet, as COVID-19 patients flood into emergency departments.

    Statewide, more than 600 patients are now hospitalized with the virus, the highest on record, and less than 13% of the state’s ICU beds remain available.

    Earlier this week, in an effort to address the ongoing surge, state health officials in Idaho announced that they had activated a “crisis standards of care” for the state’s northern hospitals, which will allow hospitals to ration care given the increased demand and a “severe staffing shortage.”

    The rapidly spreading delta variant has rendered the job of these front-line workers even more difficult, McInerney explained. Idaho currently has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the U.S., with less than 40% of the state’s total population fully vaccinated; the national rate stands at 53.6%.

    “It’s really hard to be a physician at the front lines, doing this every single day and living in a state where the vaccination rate is so low,” McInerney said.

    In fact, all of the patients who are critically ill from COVID-19 and currently under care in Saint Alphonsus Boise have not been vaccinated, ICU nurse Jessica Parrott told ABC News, while “the people who are not getting critically ill, are the people who have the vaccine,” she added.

    The virus is also landing much younger people in the ICU, some of whom are in their early 20s. This particular wave of infections feels more “aggressive,” than those treated during the surge in 2020, said Dr. Carolyn McFarlane, a hospitalist at Saint Alphonsus Boise.

    “The deaths within our system in the past 24 hours are a 30-year-old and another in their 50s. It feels preventable,” McFarlane said.

    Staff are completely overworked and overwhelmed, McInerney said, and teams are facing a staffing crisis. Nurses are being increasingly asked to pick up extra shifts due to the influx of patients coming from all over Idaho, and even from outside the state.

    “We don’t have the hands that we need to take care of everyone. And it is incredibly frustrating for all of those involved on every level, between [administration] down to environmental services,” said Alicia Luciani, a COVID-19 charge nurse at Saint Alphonsus Boise. “It’s affecting everyone and affecting how our patients are getting care. And we do our utmost to provide all that we can for these patients.” However, she added, “It’s incredibly frustrating. Everyone is so tired.”

    In addition to the physical and emotional exhaustion from working shifts that feel like a “silent battleground,” medical staffers at Saint Alphonsus said they are disheartened by the continued unwillingness of some Idaho residents to get the vaccine.

    MORE: COVID patients overwhelm Texas hospitals, amid ‘hair on fire’ crisis

    Although a number of patients do express regret that they have not received or sought out a vaccination, some even apologizing for it, according to nurse educator Monica Brower, others remain contentious, even after being on a ventilator and confronting the stark reality of their mortality.

    “Don’t tell me I have COVID. I don’t believe in COVID,” patients have told McFarlane, who teared up as she recounted combative patients.

    “There is an almost adversarial tone to things when we ask, ‘Did you get vaccinated?'” McFarlane said. “It creates a rift in the tone of the room, because it’s a feeling of ‘well you’re going to treat me differently because I didn’t get vaccinated,’ and that is far from the truth.”

    In fact, said McFarlane, “It almost gets to a point where you read the tone in the room and you shy away from even asking about vaccination status, because you want to be able to focus on saving the person’s life, not going into the politics behind the vaccine.”

    As more unvaccinated patients fill hospital beds, Luciani said it has become “really hard to maintain a level of hope.”

    “They stick to their guns,” Luciani explained, and even on their death bed she’s had to listen to people deny that they have the virus, while maintaining their fervent anti-vaccine sentiment. “In my mind, that life is essentially over as we know it. … Some people just refuse. And it’s kind of like a slap in the face.”

    MORE: Front-line workers in Nevada say they are ‘reliving 2020’ as new infections surge to highest point in 5 months

    “They don’t get to see how hard we’re working to try to keep them alive. … This is the real deal. This is what it looks like,” McInerney said.

    When asked what keeps them going, McFarlane’s answer resonates.

    “We are taking care of our communities, family members, people that are acquaintances, neighbors. … We will do everything we can to care for them, because we care, because we have taken an oath, and it’s the time for us to rise to the occasion. And we are here for our community.”

    Even on their death beds, some COVID-19 patients in Idaho still reject vaccination originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

  98. raven says

    I just found out someone I know slightly had Covid-19 virus and ended up in the hospital. He wasn’t antivax and in fact, had his first shot of two.

    He was on a ventilator for a month and is very lucky to be alive.
    After a month on a ventilator, they start thinking seriously about turning you off. Literally. At that point for a lot of patients, they can’t get off of the ventilator any more.

    He is OK considering what he went through and is even back to work. He is also very paranoid about catching the Covid-19 virus again.

  99. Trickster Goddess says

    A very dear friend of mine finally got her first shot yesterday. Her hesitance wasn’t political or conspiratorial but rather stemming from past mistreatment by the medical establishment from a time when she had been hospitalized and forced to take psychiatric drugs against her will with no warning of the side effects and not being listened to when she complained about the negative effects.

    What changed her mind was BC’s vaccine passport coming into effect this week. As she put it, she was pretty reluctant to get the vaccine, but not reluctant enough to disrupt her life.

    I’m very relieved.

  100. blf says

    Trickster Goddess@105, Congratulations to your friend ! You write, “What changed her mind was BC’s vaccine passport coming into effect this week. As she put it, she was pretty reluctant to get the vaccine, but not reluctant enough to disrupt her life.”

    Here in France, the same sort of thing happened when the Health Pass was introduced: Paper or app proving you’ve been fully-vaccinated, recently tested negative (with charges now being introduced for “convenience” testing), should be immune, etc — and is necessary to visit (inside or outside) a restaurant, bar, café; take a long-distance train; etc., and the staff now also must(?) be vaccinated. At the time the Health Pass was announced, around 40% were vaccinated and the vaccination rate was dropping, but within a week about four million signed up to be vaccinated, and now, about five weeks after it came into effect, just over 80% of the eligible population is fully-vaccinated. New cases are around 10,000 per day, and R has finally dropped to less than one (just below 0.8). All this also shows a famous poll at the end of last year which found only c.40% would get the vaccine was, fortunately, incorrect. Eyeballing the current trends graph suggests the rate is holding steady; and at the current time, the unvaccinated are about ten times more likely to test positive or wind up in ICU then the (fully?-)vaccinated. Current concern is the start of the school year and in-classroom learning, albeit masks are mandatory for both staff and students.

    Every Saturday, there’s still some goosestepping eejits protesting the Health Pass, vaccines, President Macron, immigrants & other “others”, and the Chicago Cubs winning the 2016 World Series, but those protests have been a declining trend and were never very big (by French standards). Indeed, last figure I saw, about 67% approve of the Health Pass, and it’s use has become routine. There was another such stumbles here in the village yesterday; I missed it, but it didn’t sound very large and I heard some booing.

  101. blf says

    Chris Riddell in the Grauniad on teh “U”K’s alleged-“government”, The Tory cabinet of mediocrities (cartoon): “They all seem to be making it up as they go along, from immigration to social care”. Obviously “U”K-specific, but for most of it, the grist should be fairly obvious (“Where is Raab?” refers to the current alleged-FM, Dominic Raab, who all-but-disappeared as Afghanistan was collapsing and dogs & some people were being evacuated).

  102. blf says

    Republicans once called government the problem — now they want to run your life:

    […]
    I’m old enough to remember when the Republican party stood for limited government and Ronald Reagan thundered Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.

    Today’s Republican party, while still claiming to stand for limited government, is practicing just the opposite: government intrusion everywhere.

    Republican lawmakers are banning masks in schools. […]
    Republican states are on the way to outlawing abortions. […]
    Republican lawmakers are forbidding teachers from telling students about America’s racist past. […]
    […] Republican lawmakers are making it harder for people to vote. […]

    [… T]hese Republican lawmakers have a particular ideology, and they are now imposing those views and values on citizens holding different views and values.

    This is big government on steroids.

    Many Republican lawmakers use the word freedom to justify what they’re doing. That’s rubbish. What they’re really doing is denying people their freedom — freedom to be safe from Covid, freedom over their own bodies, freedom to learn, freedom to vote and participate in our democracy.

    […]

    Today, Republican politicians have no coherent view. They want only to be re-elected, even if that means misusing government to advance a narrow and increasingly anachronistic set of values — intruding on the most intimate aspects of life, interfering in what can be taught and learned, risking the public’s health, banning what’s necessary for people to exercise their most basic freedoms.

    This is not mere hypocrisy. The Republican party now poses a clear and present threat even to the values it once espoused.

  103. blf says

    I was browsing the front page of The Irish Times and noticed their tracker says almost 90% have been fully-vaccinated. Congratulations! (I didn’t check if that’s for the Republic (probably) or entire island, nor did I check if that’s of the eligible or total population — any which way, it’s very impressive.) It’s not the best in Europe, several small locales (Gibraltar, etc.) and countries (famously Portugal, but also Denmark, Malta, etc.) have done better. In fact, Denmark lifts all Covid restrictions as vaccinations top 80% [of eligible], a snippet:

    However, the wearing of face coverings is still mandatory at airports and people are advised to wear one when at the doctor, test centres or hospitals. Distancing is still recommended and strict entry restrictions still apply for non-Danes at the borders. The outbreak is still considered “an ordinary dangerous illness”.

    The Danish health minister, Magnus Heunicke, said in August that “the epidemic is under control”, but warned “we are not out of the epidemic” and the government would act as needed.

    Denmark is also apparently no longer requiring their equivalent of the (French) Health Pass in any circumstances.

    World-wide, only about 30% are fully-vaccinated.

  104. raven says

    We all know what the female slavers/forced birthers have done with the Texas abortion law.
    This is right up there with the crimes against humanity of Romanian dictator Ceausescu and his abortion prohibition law. The women denied abortions are more likely to be poorer, life limited, have health problems, mental healthy problems, and be victims of domestic violence.
    And victims of the fundie xians and the state of Texas.

    .1. The study found that people who were denied an abortion had almost four times greater odds of being below the federal poverty level.
    .2. did not terminate their pregnancy five years after seeking abortion care, found that patients who gave birth were more likely to describe their health as “poor” and reported higher rates of chronic pain.
    .3. More likely to suffer from stress and mental health problems.
    .4. More likely to be the victims of domestic violence. ​

    NBCNews.com
    Lifelong consequences’: What happens to people who can’t get abortions
    Sept. 12, 2021, 1:30 AM PDT By Chloe Atkins

    On the morning Texas’ restrictive new abortion law took effect, an ultrasound examination of Marva Sadler’s first patient showed fetal cardiac activity, rendering the woman ineligible for a legal abortion.

    Sadler, senior director of clinical services for Whole Woman’s Health, said the woman was a single mother of two and had just started a new job. She didn’t have anyone to take care of her children and couldn’t take off work to travel to another state to get an abortion.

    “It was the first real blow of ‘I really can’t fix this.’ How do you answer that? And that conversation quickly took over to us figuring out how to get her prenatal care,” Sadler said.

    In the 48 hours leading up to Sept. 1, Whole Woman’s Health in Fort Worth, Texas, provided 66 abortions a day on average. But during the first three days of the law being in effect, the clinic provided 11 abortions a day on average.

    “The women who not only live in this state — but who work, pay taxes, vote, pray and are raising the future leaders of this community — are being denied their very basic right to health care,” Sadler said.

    In Houston, Doris Dixon, director of patient access at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, said call centers for abortion services have turned into help lines, where staff members are “walking patients through this new law” and helping “them navigate where they can go.”

    “Patients are struggling, and the staff is struggling,” Dixon said.

    Since the law took effect, Dixon said most of the patients she has observed seeking care at Planned Parenthood Center for Choice in Houston are ineligible for an abortion.

    “Some of this is just outside of our ability to help,” Dixon said. “There are no babysitting services for people to send their children to while they go out of state, and there’s no guarantee that they won’t lose their jobs because they would be gone for two or three days. The issue is a lot bigger than even just finding resources for them to go elsewhere.”

    “People will fall through the cracks and wind up having to carry their pregnancies to term,” she added.

    The new law forbids abortions once cardiac activity is detected, usually at around six weeks of pregnancy, before most people know they are pregnant. The law allows no exceptions for rape or incest. Texas is the first state to effectively outlaw abortion at this point in pregnancies since Roe v. Wade.

    Many won’t be able to get an abortion outside of Texas because of financial or circumstantial challenges, including the cost of travel, difficulty taking time off from work or securing child care.

    Abortion-rights advocates and providers say Senate Bill 8, as the new law is known, will probably lead to an increase in patients carrying unwanted pregnancies to term. Consequently, many will feel the financial and health impacts of being turned away from a clinic for years to come.

    Denial of abortion leads to economic hardship
    While people of all socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds get abortions, about half of all individuals who obtain one live below the federal poverty level. When someone already struggling financially is denied care, it puts them in an even more difficult economic situation, said Diana Greene Foster, a professor in obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco.

    Foster is the leader of the Turnaway Study, a nationwide project that examined the long-term effects of either having an abortion or being turned away. The study found that people who were denied an abortion had almost four times greater odds of being below the federal poverty level.

    When individuals are blocked from obtaining care, she said, they are more likely to struggle to afford basic living expenses like food, housing and transportation.

    Meanwhile, people who carried an unwanted pregnancy to term experienced a 78 percent spike in debt that was a month or more past due after the time of birth and an 81 percent increase in reports of bankruptcies, evictions, and tax liens, compared to others who had access to abortion care. Individuals who are denied an abortion are also three times more likely to be unemployed than those who obtained one.

    “Laws that limit abortion access have a huge economic impact,” said Kate Bahn, director of labor market policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. “It’s not just the year-over-year financial hardship associated with having children, but it also affects people’s career trajectories.”

    “If you don’t have certainty over family planning, you’re much less likely to move into a higher-paid occupation and complete education,” Bahn added.

    A likely increase in mental and physical health consequences
    Being denied an abortion can significantly increase mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and low self-esteem in the months after abortion denial and may cause life-threatening physical health outcomes that last years.

    Before the law took effect, Dr. Bhavik Kumar, a staff physician at Planned Parenthood Center for Choice in Houston, typically saw 20 to 30 abortion care patients a day. On Sept. 1, he saw only six, and half were past the new legal limit and had to be turned away.

    Kumar cautioned that the patients denied care could face “lifelong consequences.”

    “The folks that will suffer are going to be low-income folks that already have poor access to health care, and people of color, especially Black women,” he said.

    One analysis of Turnaway Study data, which examined the physical health of those who did and did not terminate their pregnancy five years after seeking abortion care, found that patients who gave birth were more likely to describe their health as “poor” and reported higher rates of chronic pain.

    The physical and mental toll of childbirth plays a role in those adverse health outcomes, said Dr. Nisha Verma, a fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health and an OB-GYN who provides abortion care in the Washington, D.C., area. Those who carry to term could face excessive bleeding during delivery, postpartum depression, gestational diabetes and hypertension.

    “When we’re thinking about people’s health care, their pregnancies and their lives, every person is different, and no law like [S.B. 8] can take each unique situation into account,” Verma said.

    Carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term is far riskier to someone’s physical health than having an abortion. About 700 people in the United States die each year as a result of pregnancy or delivery complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the maternal mortality rate is 20.1 deaths per 100,000 live births. The total abortion-related complication rate is estimated to be about 2 percent, and death occurs in less than 1 out of every 100,000 abortions.

    Domestic violence is also common among people seeking abortions, with between 6 percent and 22 percent reporting recent violence from an intimate partner. Those who are turned away from getting an abortion are more likely to stay in contact with a violent partner, and they are more likely to raise the child alone.

    “These are personal, intimate decisions, and if the government interferes, it changes people’s ability to take care of themselves, their children and even to have future children under better circumstances,” Foster said. “It’s not just political maneuvering; this is real people’s lives.”

  105. blf says

    The question GOP critics of Biden’s vaccine policy won’t answer:

    […]
    The question I’d love [numerous thugs] to answer is simple: How would mass civil disobedience help end the pandemic? To borrow the South Carolina [alleged-“]governor[” Henry McMaster]’s line, how would fighting the Biden administration’s vaccine policies “to the gates of hell,” bring this public health nightmare to an end?

    The answer, of course, is that it wouldn’t, and therein lies the problem: For far too many on the right, ending the pandemic isn’t the principal goal.

    Indeed, it’s why of all the Republicans who condemned Biden’s policy yesterday, none of them said it would be ineffective in combatting the public health crisis. They instead bypassed the efficacy question altogether, since it’s simply not part of their political offensive.

    The president and his detractors are having two very different kinds of conversations. Biden’s focus is on ending the pandemic and saving lives. His Republican critics are focused on amorphous concepts of freedom — as defined by conservative ideologues [hence the eejit quotes –blf] — and exploiting political opportunities for partisan gain.

    When it comes to Covid-19, public-health steps can be reduced to a simple question: Will the decision help end the pandemic or help extend it? The fact that so many Republicans find this binary dynamic irrelevant helps explain why the United States is still struggling so badly with the crisis.

  106. blf says

    Oh FFS! Jefferson County [Colorado] shuts down mobile vaccine sites after drivers repeatedly harass staff:

    […]
    The executive director of Jefferson County Public Health, Dr Dawn Comstock, had to shut down several of mobile vaccine clinics after one driver ran over their sign, others screamed profanities at the vaccine staff and one driver even threw water on a nurse.

    “Unfortunately, this isn’t new,” Comstock said. “We’ve had someone throw live fireworks. We’ve had someone drive up onto a curb toward a vaccination staff member.

    Comstock says she’s fed up.

    “I respect everyone’s right to their own opinion. What I do not respect is violence and contempt and acting abusively toward Jefferson County Public Health staff,” Comstock said.

    […]

    “I’m tired of being polite and calling it misinformation,” Comstock said. “It is lies, and those lies are contributing to continued loss and suffering in our community.”

    […]

    Because, obviously, preventing everyone from being vaccinated is gonna scare the virus away and end the pandemic.

  107. blf says

    An opinion column from Hawaiʻi, No Honor In Standing Up For What Is Wrong:

    Anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers and Covid-deniers have been treated with kid gloves by everyone, but they are the draft-dodgers in the war against Covid.

    The vaccinated have had enough.

    As President Joe Biden put it in his speech this week announcing a new round of vaccine mandates:

    “We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us.”

    […]

    They see the anti-vaxxers parade around town and they shake their heads and roll their eyes. They hear the anti-mask debate and think privately to themselves, “Wow, that’s madness standing right here in this grocery store line. Maybe you don’t care about dying, but I do. What about my rights?”

    But mostly, it’s past frustrating. It’s past impatience. It’s on to the disgust of witnessing a minority made up of self-important, wrong-thinking, antisocial hypocrites drag us to more deadly variants and more overloaded hospitals.

    […]

    Maybe if the virus was huge and covered with spiked and mossy scales like a dinosaur in the Jurassic Park series or a Star Wars sand worm, there would be pride and esprit de corps in all of us joining together to combat the scourge with guns and baseball bats and home-made rocket launchers.

    Because who doesn’t like a good old-fashioned ass-kicking? […]

    Instead, the fight against Covid-19 is nerdy and complicated and rooted in science, the class that was only truly fun when the Bunsen burners were involved.

    I’m not saying the anti-vax, anti-mask, anti-vaccine-passport people aren’t intellectual. No, wait. I am.

    How else would one describe those inexplicably clinging to false information and disproven conspiracy theories and their misuse of the idea of personal freedom to mean, I get to make my own rules regardless of how that affects my community and I’d rather die than admit I was wrong?

    […]

    The fight against Covid-19 […] is both wonky and gritty, involving both intellect and gut, both head and heart. It is super patriotic. It is supremely American — smart and determined and united for the greater good. It is absolutely like taking up arms against a vicious invader threatening our children’s future and our way of life.

    The anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers and conspiracy theorists are the villagers who sit in their houses and refuse to join the fight. They’re the draft dodgers during the war. Their cry of personal choice is as anti-American as lying about bone spurs.

    History will not look back on them kindly, but that is a small concern at this point. The greater problem is the fake equivalency the anti-crowd has enjoyed from media outlets who treat their concerns as having equal weight to the advice of the medical community and who don’t question the larger implications of the skewed idea of personal freedom.

    What of the personal choices of those who took the vaccine because they don’t want to die?

    Biden addressed that, too.

    “For the vast majority of you who have gotten vaccinated, I understand your anger at those who haven’t gotten vaccinated. I understand the anxiety about getting a breakthrough case, but as the science makes clear, if you’re fully vaccinated, you’re highly protected from severe illness even if you get Covid-19 … You’re as safe as possible, and we’re doing everything we can to keep you that way, keep it that way, keep you safe.”

    There is also fake equivalency perpetuated by those in power who don’t like to be yelled at or called out on Twitter. Government officials and elected leaders have been so careful about giving lip service to “respecting personal choice” and providing expensive and cumbersome testing options to those who just refuse to do the right thing. The vaccinated masses are getting tired of that too.

    Stop kid-gloving these hold-outs. They’re exacerbating the worst thing that will happen in many of our lifetimes. […]

    Biden closed his remarks with a whispery, kind of creepy plea to “get vaccinated,” like some sage grandpa advice […].

    He should have yelled.

  108. blf says

    In Mississippi, doctors who spread misinformation about COVID could lose their license:

    Strong words from the board charged with holding doctors accountable in Mississippi: if you put out misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine, your license could be in jeopardy.

    The move by the Mississippi State Board of Medical Licensure comes as misinformation regarding the virus and vaccine aren’t just spreading on social media, but also in some doctors’ offices across the country.

    “I’ve seen many comments about Dr Dobbs[] and some about me, saying that we’re just motivated by greed and money and power,” said Dr Mark Horne, who served as past president of the state’s medical association.

    […]

    “It’s offensive to me to look at the last month and know that over 1,000 Mississippians died in August, from COVID-19 related complications, and that the vast majority of those people did not need to die,” Horne said. “I find that it’s just deeply painful.”

    Four days ago, MSBML published a policy on misinformation, telling physicians across the state that if they generate and spread vaccine misinformation, they’re risking disciplinary action which could include suspending or revoking their license to practice medicine.

    The board’s policy states doctors licensed in Mississippi have an ethical obligation to ensure the medical information they provide is accurate and whether physicians recognize it or not, they possess a high degree of public trust because of their training and expertise, which gives them a powerful platform.

    […]

    The state’s medical board can only investigate once a complaint is filed. If you know a doctor who’s spreading misinformation, you can file a complaint with the agency by calling 601-987-3079.

    So it seems the Mississippi board has the same (self-perceived) problem as all(? most?) other health boards in the States: They “cannot” do anything except when there is a specific complaint.

      † “Dr Dobbs” does not seem to be identified in the article, but is very probably Dr Thomas Dobbs, the State Health Officer.

  109. blf says

    COVID-19 conspiracy theorists ‘shamelessly’ using 9/11 anniversary to spread misinformation, experts say:

    […]
    I News report[ed] that Telegram channels […] are sharing messages conflating the two events, describing the pandemic and the terrorist attack as the elites waging a biological and genetic war against the population.

    The paper states that one message reads: Right now, with the excuse of a false pandemic crisis, we find ourselves in a similar situation, where our freedoms and constitutional rights are being threatened worldwide, in order to impose a toxic gene-therapy vaccine, using bribery.

    […]

    Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, told I News: “Conspiracy theorists shamelessly recycle outlandish claims to fit the story of the day-whether it’s the anniversary of 9/11, the pandemic or any other major news story.

    “Their propaganda has been given new life by technology owned by companies that turn a blind eye to the spread of hate and misinformation.”

    […]

    From the I News report, Covid conspiracy theorists ‘shamelessly’ using 20th anniversary of 9/11 to spread pandemic falsehoods:

    Covid skeptics and conspiracists are drawing parallels between 9/11 and Covid-19, claiming the attack provided the blueprint for how governments ‘orchestrated’ the pandemic

    […]

    Key figures in the conspiracy movement including David Icke and the people behind a separate website which hosts Covid disinformation content are trying to use the anniversary of the attack two decades on to undermine the legitimacy of Covid-19.

    […] Icke, who has falsely claimed the pandemic was part of a plot by governments to destroy the economy and conduct mass surveillance, has released a video linking Covid-19 to 9/11 in the run up to Saturday’s anniversary.

    Another separate Covid-sceptic website, which promotes the work of prolific disinformation figures and anti-vaxxers, has released a video series citing similar false comparisons titled “Covid-19/11: Narratives Intertwined”.

    The series interviews key figures within the 9/11 and anti-lockdown conspiracy movement, and includes Robin Monotti, who previously compared lockdowns to Nazi eugenicist programmes, and runs a Telegram channel with Michael Yeadon who was a former vice president of Pfizer and has promoted disinformation about the Covid vaccine’s risk to pregnant women.

    Mr Monotti repeats a false conspiracy claim that BBC journalists had prior knowledge of 9/11, and claims that people should similarly distrust Government narratives on the pandemic.

    […]

    US journalist Mike Walter, who saw the third plane hit the Pentagon in Washington, revealed last week in a new BBC documentary, Surviving 9/11, that he had invited truthers into his home to try to understand them.

    He said that despite telling them exactly what he saw, they suggested his eyes were playing tricks on him.

    The dismissal of his experience is a devastating insight into the impact of disinformation on people, and that twenty years on, the pandemic has shown that conspiracy theories can still prove dangerously potent.

    I don’t recall hearing of the Yeadon kook before. Apparently, he’s very possibly the origin of teh vaccines make woman infertile nonsense. Reuters has a long story about him, The ex-Pfizer scientist who became an anti-vax hero (March 2021). A snippet:

    Earlier this year, a group of Yeadon’s former Pfizer colleagues expressed their concern in a private letter, according to a draft reviewed by Reuters.

    “We have become acutely aware of your views on COVID-19 over the last few months … the single mindedness, lack of scientific rigour and one sided interpretation of often poor quality data is far removed from the Mike Yeadon we so respected and enjoyed working with.”

    Noting his “vast following on social media” and that his claim about infertility “has spread globally,” the group wrote, “We are very worried that you are putting people’s health at risk.”

    He apparently wanted all vaccine trials stopped, and, according to Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge, he has “alleged that vaccines were part of a deliberate attempt at mass depopulation, saying recipients would die within two years.”

  110. blf says

    Conspiracy theorists protest COVID measures in Slovenia:

    For months, journalists from the Slovenian public broadcast network, RTV, had been complaining that anti-vaccination protesters had been harassing, insulting and threatening them outside of their building in the capital, Ljubljana. The broadcasting network owns the building, but since the property around the offices is state-owned, protests and gatherings are allowed.

    […]

    The employees’ complaints went largely ignored by authorities — that is until last Friday, when when a group of anti-vaccination protestors and opponents of coronavirus-related restrictions stormed RTV Slovenia’s building.

    The night of 3 September […] about 20 people, who believed that the coronavirus did not exist, entered the building despite the security guards’ warnings. They made their way into the broadcasting studio, sharing live footage from their Facebook page. While RTV staff filmed them, the intruders insisted that they broadcast them live on the national news to address the country’s citizens.

    The police arrived — the protesters yelled at them, refusing to leave. Finally, special forces were called in to throw out the protestors. […]

    Slovenia’s current vaccination rate of 48 percent is lower than the European Union’s average of 65 percent. […]

    […] That same night, a container near the vaccination center was set on fire and put out by firefighters. Nearby, anti-governmental flyers were found. They read: The people will judge you very soon and For freedom and against COVID-passes terror.

  111. blf says

    Oh FFS! QAnon Conspiracy Theorists Harass [Chicago] Northwest Side Hospital That Rejected Unproven Ivermectin Treatment For COVID Patient:

    AMITA Resurrection Hospital has gotten “hundreds” of calls and emails after a local woman hospitalized with COVID-19 claimed she was denied the drug, which is used to treat livestock with worms.

    […] Veronica Wolski was hospitalized two weeks ago after contracting COVID-19, according to VICE. She claims she asked a doctor to administer ivermectin and was refused, according to Wolski’s social media posts reviewed by VICE.

    […]

    Wolski, known for demonstrating on a bridge over the Kennedy Expressway [see below], has been chronicling her hospitalization via Telegram, according to VICE. After she was refused ivermectin, her friends urged supporters to protest outside the hospital earlier this week. Then, a prominent QAnon influencer encouraged supporters to call the facility and demand physicians agree to Wolski’s request for ivermectin, VICE reported.

    Asked about the VICE article, hospital spokeswoman Olga Solares confirmed the hospital has received “hundreds” of “phone calls and emails associated with this patient’s care.”

    […]

    A security guard [said] three or four people showed up to a planned protest Monday and the demonstration quickly “fizzled out.”

    Veronica Wolski is known for her so-called, People’s Bridge, where she drops anti-vaccine disinformation leaflets off a bridge in Chicago. She has been in the hospital with covid for two weeks.

    […]

    Arthur Caplan, the director of the division of medical ethics at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine, told CBS this week using ivermectin with its side effects is like throwing a “100-pound rock” that will hasten the death of an already sick person.

    “I know people are desperate, looking around for treatments, want to do something, anything they can think of. They see something promising on the internet and they believe it,” Caplan said. “Look at the side effects of ivermectin, look at the damage being done. Then you look at the vaccine and the problems it has — which are next to nothing. Take the vaccine, don’t get into the position where you need to use something like ivermectin.”

    Dr Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, has said 95 percent of Chicagoans hospitalized with and dying from COVID-19 recently are not vaccinated.

    The doctor has urged all people to take precautions, like wearing a mask indoors in public, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

    And on Tuesday, she urged people not to take ivermectin to treat COVID-19.

    “In no case should anybody try to take a veterinary formula, ever, of any medication. And, unfortunately, this is what we’ve been seeing: People have been trying to buy veterinary formulations of this deworming medication,” Arwady said.

    People have been reported taking ivermectin in very large doses, leading to liver problems, nausea and “all kinds of issues,” she said.

    […]

    Perhaps anti-vaccine kooks have worms for a brain, hence the veterinary ivermectin… which makes about as much sense as using it to “treat” a case of Covid-19, rather than (usually) prevent a case, and (almost always) prevent any case from becoming serious, by using something jabbed over 5 billion times around the world. Gotta kill off all those worms that ate all teh brain cells !

  112. blf says

    A Florida councilman who denied the pandemic was real has been hospitalized with COVID-19:

    […]
    Fred Lowry, a Florida councilman who denied the coronavirus pandemic was real, has been hospitalized with COVID-19.

    […]

    Lowry, who is also a senior pastor at the Deltona Lakes Baptist Church, faced calls for his resignation in June for his remarks during a sermon on May 30, the Daytona Times reported.

    […]

    We did not have a pandemic, folks. We were lied to, Lowry said, per the News-Journal,

    He also questioned the results of the 2020 presidential election, denied that climate change was man-made, and repeated the belief espoused by QAnon that a cabal of Democrats run a child abuse rings, per the News-Journal.

    This is supposed to be rampant I hear in Hollywood and among the elite. I don’t know if it’s true, but where there’s smoke…, he said, the News-Journal reported.

    Per the News-Journal, Lowry mocked White House chief medical advisor Dr Antony Fauci […], calling him Dr Falsey.

    I did not mispronounce that. That’s the way I wanted to say it,[] he said, the News-Journal reported.

      † Despite being plausible, set in eejit quotes since he’s an eejit — and apparently a very Very sick fool, with double pneumonia, “a lung infection that affects both lungs at the same time and can develop in cases of severe COVID-19.”

  113. tomh says

    Texas attorney general sues schools for requiring masks
    CAMERON LANGFORD / September 10, 2021

    (CN) — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued several school districts Friday for making their students and staff wear masks. He claims they are flouting the governor’s executive order intended to let Texans make health decisions free from government control….

    Governor Greg Abbott issued a mandate in July 2020 requiring Texans to wear masks in all buildings and crowded outdoor spaces during a surge of Covid cases.

    But after Texans started receiving Covid vaccines early this year, Abbott repealed the mask order and took up the mantra of personal responsibility.

    He issued executive order GA-38 in June barring government entities from forcing anyone to get vaccinated, and any jurisdiction from forcing people to wear masks, while encouraging residents of areas where Covid is spreading rapidly to wear them.

    Abbott did not budge even as the delta variant caused the number of Texans hospitalized with the virus to jump from around 1,600 on July 1 to 13,790 on Sept. 1….

    Abbott and Paxton convinced the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court on Aug. 15 to block the counties’ mask orders while the cases play out before lower courts.

    Just five days later, however, the state supreme court refused to block temporary restraining orders granted by a Democratic judge in Travis County, in the state capital Austin. The order allowed several school districts and the state’s most populous county Harris, whose seat is Houston, to proceed with mask edicts.

    Paxton’s lawsuits filed Friday against the Galveston, Richardson, Round Rock, Elgin, Spring and Sherman independent school districts will likely add more confusion and conflicting orders to the legal battle over masks.

    “Defendants are deliberately violating state law. In flouting GA-38’s ban on mask mandates, defendants challenge the policy choices made by the state’s commander in chief during times of disaster,” opens Paxton’s lawsuit against Round Rock ISD, its superintendent and school board members….

    Paxton and Abbott are also eager to sue President Joe Biden over his new push to get shots in the arms of 80 million unvaccinated Americans.

    “Biden’s new nat’l vaxx mandate on private biz may be the most unconstitutional, illegal thing I’ve ever seen out of any Admin in modern American history,” Paxton tweeted Friday. “This is an egregious, tyrannical power grab that stands no chance in court. I’ll be suing this disastrous Admin very soon.”

    More than 58,000 Texans have died from the coronavirus, there are an estimated 308,340 active cases in the state and 306 children are hospitalized with the virus, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

  114. blf says

    Why vaccine skeptics are all in on ivermectin:

    […]
    How have unapproved remedies that do not show signs of working and could be harmful instead come to be in high demand among people who reject vaccines and other tested preventive strategies? It’s a question of trust and distrust — and of which experts people listen to.

    Rogue remedies like ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine are most popular among people who are skeptical of vaccines and other treatments — precisely because those treatments haven’t gone through the same process of scientific and expert review that they distrust. For people who are suspicious of mainstream scientific thought, information that appears to come from other sources often seems independent, insightful and brave. These skeptics insist that they can evaluate health information themselves, and contested claims from nonofficial sources let them feel like they’re doing so, which can paradoxically make those claims seem truer and therefore more appealing than the mainstream ones.

    […]

    Doing your own research[] sounds compelling. People commonly “research” appliances, new restaurants or consumer products. This kind of “research” is a process of gathering information, reading others’ personal experiences and impressions and evaluating their relevance. However, none of that is actually what science involves. Science is the pursuit and application of knowledge using systematic methodologies based on evidence. Science is slow and methodical, and it aims to create knowledge that is generalizable, beyond the individual interpreting it.

    For people who largely trust government agencies, expert panels that review research and make recommendations, and peer-review processes, “follow the science” seems like a clear mandate. The idea is that expert knowledge, derived from rigorous methods, should guide policy and practice. Vaccines against the coronavirus, for example, were systematically tested in tens of thousands of volunteers, and they’re trustworthy because of the processes by which they were evaluated. Some clinical trials of vaccines failed to show efficacy, making the ones that succeeded compelling. All are continually monitored with ongoing data analysis of vaccine safety and efficacy. For those who trust science, the systems work.

    In the case of ivermectin, scientists found that the medication could kill the SARS-CoV-2 virus in a laboratory setting. But to be useful in practice, this finding had to be studied in actual people and with methods that allow for a causal relationship between the drug and the improvement in the people who take it to be measured. Although there were initial positive reports that ivermectin could help, those studies did not adhere to the methodological expectations of good science, and some have been found to have had issues with the data. Overwhelmingly, there is consensus among scientists that ivermectin does not cure covid. “Following the science” leads to the conclusion that the drug should not be taken to treat covid.

    For those who do not trust the agencies and scientists who decide what standard should be used in research, though, the conclusion that ivermectin should not be used to treat covid feels untrue. Some are reading online accounts of individuals who took ivermectin and recovered — anecdotal evidence that is devalued in clinical trials and outcomes research but is nonetheless compelling to readers. Others listen to medical practitioners who speak out against mainstream science and medicine, seeing them as a kind of scientific whistleblower, speaking truth to power.

    For example, Pierre Kory, an American physician who testified before Congress in December 2020 that ivermectin is a miracle drug for treating covid, insists that the lack of support for the medicine as a covid treatment is financially and politically motivated. Why, he and others suggest, would companies support repurposing existing drugs when they could develop new, more expensive drugs and increase profits? Many label Kory’s statements misinformation, to which he responds, It’s because I’m providing information that is not supported by the establishment, right? So anything that doesn’t agree with them is misinformation, but what they do is disinformation. … The science around ivermectin is up against one of the largest and most powerful disinformation campaigns, I think almost ever.

    FFS, even if fad-of-the-day is an effective treatment, it shouldn’t be Plan A. Plan A is an effective prevenative, which also happens to be safe and free. Weirdly, none of those fads du jour ever seem to be free…

    […] Merck, a large manufacturer of ivermectin that does not have a vaccine against covid and which seemingly could profit from the treatment’s growing demand, issued a statement [Merck Statement on Ivermectin use During the COVID-19 Pandemic] denouncing its use for covid.

    But that statement, which cuts against the drugmaker’s profit motives, doesn’t seem to have dampened the desire for its product. Nor does the fact that many marginalized expert voices have their own profits at stake, too. For example, Joe Mercola, a physician[quack] and longtime opponent of vaccines, has amassed millions selling purported alternatives to vaccines. Subscriptions to sites that promise information to avoid covid, telemedicine visits that promise access to ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine, or templates and tools for vaccine and mask exemptions are big business. And the business model is predicated on furthering distrust of science rather than dialogue about it.

    […]

    Desperation to save a loved one is understandable, as is a desire to find solutions that seem novel and miraculous. A purported miracle drug sounds better than the alternative: accepting that following the science is often messy and slow. But that slow process is what provides the best path to finding new answers to complicated questions — and ultimately, it’s worth trusting.

      † Set in eejit quotes because in the vaccine / virus context, it very often seems to mean finding some fool of a quack or other bogus expert — or anecdotal unverified claims — to validate presuppositions or pre-formed “conclusions”.

  115. KG says

    Why, he [Pierre Kory, ivermectin fan] and others suggest, would companies support repurposing existing drugs when they could develop new, more expensive drugs and increase profits? – blf@120

    Odd that the evil Big Pharma companies have not even attempted to block the use of dexamethasone, a cheap and fairly effective treatment in severe cases of Covid-19. But I’m sure Kory can explain that.

  116. blf says

    FFS (but not unexpected)! Joe Rogan doubles down on unproven ivermectin after bout with COVID-19:

    Joe Rogan returned from his battle with COVID-19 on Tuesday and began spreading misinformation[, pushing] anti-vaccine conspiracy theories and touted ivermectin, a drug with no proven ability to treat the coronavirus.

    […] He claimed that he was treated with monoclonal antibodies, ivermectin, Z-Pak, prednisone, everything. I also got an NAD drip and a vitamin drip and I did that three days in a row.

    […] Rogan insisted on Tuesday that it was the ivermectin that cured him, without presenting specific evidence. He also blasted media reports and public health advice that contradicted his claims.

    They tried to make it seem like I’m doing some wacky s*** that’s completely ineffective, Rogan said. What they didn’t highlight is that I got better.

    […]

    Rogan said his doctor[quack] prescribed him ivermectin, and that he got the human-safe version of it from Dr[quack] Pierre Kory, who has pushed the drug on The Joe Rogan Experience in the past. Kory is the co-founder of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care (FLCCC) Alliance, a group that is aggressively pushing ivermectin online.

    Kory has claimed that he is being censored after a journal rejected his paper about ivermectin due to several unsupported claims. “In our view, this paper does not offer an objective nor balanced scientific contribution,” the journal [Article rejection: Review of the Emerging Evidence Demonstrating the Efficacy of Ivermectin in the Prophylaxis and Treatment of COVID-19] said in March.

    Rogan also falsely claimed on his show that Japan had approved ivermectin for treating COVID-19. He appeared to be referring to comments made by Haruo Ozaki, chairman of the Tokyo Medical Association, which has no say in the decisions of the Japanese government.

    Ozaki has said there is not enough evidence to prove that ivermectin does or does not work, but he’s cautiously suggested it’s worth trying due to the COVID-19 “crisis,” the AFP reports.

    […]

    A snippet from that rejection of quack Kory’s “study” (link embedded in above excerpt):

    [… T]he article made a series of strong, unsupported claims based on studies with insufficient statistical significance, and at times, without the use of control groups. Further, the authors promoted their own specific ivermectin-based treatment which is inappropriate for a review article and against our editorial policies.

    In our view, this paper does not offer an objective nor balanced scientific contribution to the evaluation of ivermectin as a potential treatment for COVID-19. Frontiers’ has published more than 2,000 rigorously peer-reviewed articles on COVID-19 since the pandemic erupted via our Coronavirus Knowledge Hub, and we are acutely aware of just how critical high-quality, objective research in this area is at this time. Frontiers takes no position on the efficacy of ivermectin as a treatment of patients with COVID-19, however, we do take a very firm stance against unbalanced or unsupported scientific conclusions.

    Sounds somewhat similar to what quack Didier Raoult in Marseille did with hydroxychloroquine — not objective or balanced, poor (and also nonexistent) controls, etc. Quack Raoult also did a Wakefield, with essentially-nonexistent ethics, “experimenting” on young children. Apparently, quack Raoult then also falsely-labelled his “studies” as retrospective, avoiding the need for ethical review. And like Wakefield, quack Raoult sicced his rabid followers on critics, reviewers, etc. (I also have a very vague memory that quack Raoult had some financial ties involving hydroxychloroquine — again, very Wakefield-ish, who was trying to discredit the MMR vaccine in favour of his(?) vaccine. However, I’ve not been able to confirm that recollection with some admittedly quick searches.)

  117. blf says

    Some snippets from Northern Idaho’s anti-government streak hinders fight against Covid:

    State representative Heather Scott, a Republican from Blanchard in the northern part of the state, refused an interview request, saying reporters were liars. Scott promoted mask-burning protests around northern Idaho and the rest of the state earlier this year. She is also among the lawmakers that have frequently pushed misinformation about Covid-19 on Facebook.

    Last year, armed groups patrolled the city’s [Coeur d’Alene] downtown core to protect against non-existent Black Lives Matter protesters.

    Covid-19 has thrived in this environment.

    Kootenai Health has 200 beds for medical or surgical patients. On Wednesday, Kootenai Health’s doctors and nurses were caring for 218 medical and surgical patients, aided by military doctors and nurses called in to help with the surge.

    On Friday, the hospital tallied 101 Covid-19 patients, including 35 requiring critical care. The hospital normally has just 26 intensive care unit beds.

  118. blf says

    Google Cuts Off Ad Money To ‘Gateway Pundit,’ A Haven For Vaccine And Election Misinformation:

    Google has finally pulled the plug on the ad dollars flowing to the Gateway Pundit, a leading source of false information about covid-19, vaccines and the 2020 presidential election.

    Google’s decision to demonitize Gateway Pundit likely represents a major blow to the site. An analysis by the Center for Countering Digital Hate had previously estimated that Gateway Pundit had earned over a million dollars using Google’s AdSense from November 2020 through last June. Destinations like Gateway Pundit struggle to bring in traditional advertising because of their controversial content, and its status within Google’s Adsense seemed unusual given what it published on its site. […]

    Gateway Pundit’s place online — and its ability to earn money through mainstream, reputable sources like Google AdSense — highlighted how widespread misinformation on the web has gotten, spreading far beyond darkened corners and private groups on social media. It can just as easily exist out in the open, sucking up advertising dollars from companies like Patagonia, Canon cameras and Columbia University through Gooogle [sic] AdSense. (An important note: Those businesses didn’t deliberately choose to place their marketing material on Gateway Pundit. Those advertisers pay to place their ads in AdSense, but it’s up to AdSense’s software then to determine where they’ll go.)

    Unsurprisingly, the lost funding hasn’t changed Gateway Pundit’s editorial mission. Its most popular story on Friday was about a boat party for Trump supports in Florida. The second- and third-most-popular stories again focused on false conspiracy theories about the coronavirus.

  119. blf says

    Opinion column in Colorado, Anger is the only reasonable response to COVID obstructionists:

    We want mandates

    [… N]ow, as we suffer through a second summer of illness and death, we find ourselves confronted with a category of people whose behavior is despicable — the COVID obstructionists, the ones who not only refuse to protect themselves but actively prevent others from doing so.

    There’s no point trying to understand them, no reasoning with them. They deserve no patience, no forbearance. The only reasonable response to these miscreants is anger. White hot anger.

    Last weekend, Jefferson County Public Health staff were forced to close a mobile vaccination clinic after medical professionals were harassed and threatened. [see @112 …]

    Colorado has long had its own COVID deniers, like Republican state Rep Patrick Neville, who sued the governor over mask mandates, and various sheriffs who refused to enforce mask rules, and Republican US Rep Lauren Boebert, who defied a public health order when she kept her Rifle restaurant open for sit-down service in May 2020.

    Such tantrums set the tone for what was to come.

    […] Eleven states have prohibited mask mandates. And there are innumerable individual acts of obstruction of the sort witnessed in Jefferson County last weekend.

    To what end? The country is gripped by a fourth wave of infections, and hospitals in many parts of the country, including Colorado, are approaching or exceeding capacity as unvaccinated patients pour in.

    In the beginning of the pandemic, it was easier to tolerate ignorance and stubbornness. Not anymore, not with nearly 700,000 or more dead and the highly-contagious delta variant tearing through the population. Now we want severity. We want mask requirements. We want vaccine mandates. We want crisis standards of care that prioritize vaccinated patients.

    We will grieve for the unvaccinated who don’t make it, but there’s only so much room in our hearts, because we’re grieving the loss of our own loved ones who did not have to die. They could still be with us, and we are angry that they’re not.

  120. says

    Even in red states, colleges gravitate to requiring vaccines and masks

    As students head to college this fall, hundreds of schools are requiring employees and students to be vaccinated against COVID-19, wear masks on campus, or both.

    But at some schools, partisan politics have bolstered efforts to stymie public health protections.

    […] As the fall semester approached, Richard Creswick, an astrophysics professor at the University of South Carolina, was looking forward to returning to the classroom and teaching in person. He felt it would be fairly safe. His graduate-level classes generally had fewer than a dozen students enrolled, and the school had announced it would require everyone on campus to wear masks indoors unless they were in their dorm rooms, offices or dining facilities. For Creswick, 69, that was important because he did not want his working on campus to add to the COVID-19 risk for his wife, Vickie Eslinger, 73, who has been undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

    But state Attorney General Alan Wilson weighed in early in August, sending a letter to the school’s interim president, Harris Pastides, that a budget provision passed by the state legislature prohibited the university from imposing a mask mandate. Pastides, who previously served as dean of the university’s school of public health, rescinded the mask mandate, although he encouraged people to still use them.

    […] After the university revoked its mask mandate, Wilson sent out a campaign fundraising letter within days touting his intervention in public health measures and stating, “The fight over vaccines and masks has never been about science or health. It’s about expanding the government’s control over our daily lives.”

    Creswick and Eslinger, who felt strongly that the mask mandate was indeed about health, filed a lawsuit, arguing that the legislative provision cited by the attorney general did not prohibit a universal mask mandate. The state Supreme Court took up the case on an expedited basis and on Aug. 20 ruled 6-0 in their favor.

    The school immediately reinstated its mask mandate and other colleges in the state followed suit. [Good news!]

    […] The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone at colleges and universities wear masks indoors, even if they are fully vaccinated, in locales with substantial or high transmission of the coronavirus. Most of the country meets that standard at this point. The CDC also recommends that colleges offer and promote COVID-19 vaccines.

    […] As of Aug. 26, the Chronicle of Higher Education had tallied 805 campuses that require at least some employees or students to be vaccinated. Most schools grant exemptions from the vaccine mandate, often for religious or medical reasons. And hundreds of colleges are requiring students and staff members to wear masks on campus this fall, according to a running tally by University Business.

    Still, 12 conservative-leaning states prohibit vaccine mandates at higher education institutions, according to an analysis by the National Academy for State Health Policy. […]

    At Indiana University, a group of students challenged the school’s vaccine mandate on the grounds it violated their constitutional right to “bodily integrity, autonomy and medical choice.” The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit refused to block the school’s policy. The court reasoned the universities can decide what they need to do to keep students safe in communal settings. The students then appealed to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who refused without explanation to block the mandate.

    […] for teachers, whose professions are rooted in encouraging the pursuit of learning and knowledge, prohibitions that fly in the face of science and jeopardize public health can be tough to swallow.

    “It’s completely demoralizing to realize that our health and safety has been trumped by politics,” said Becky Hawbaker, an assistant professor in the College of Education at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa, who is president of United Faculty, the union representing 600 faculty members at the school. “It seems like you know a train wreck is coming and you’re sounding the alarm, and no one seems to listen.”

    […] In May, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, signed a law prohibiting mask mandates at K-12 schools, and within city and county governments. A few days later, the Iowa Board of Regents, which oversees the University of Northern Iowa, the University of Iowa, and Iowa State University, lifted emergency rules that had been in place the previous year requiring indoor masking and physical distancing at the colleges.

    The University of Northern Iowa held classes in person throughout the past school year without major problems, using those mask and distancing requirements, Hawbaker said. But with the rise of the delta variant and the increase in COVID-19 cases in the community, now is not the time to remove safety restrictions, the union asserts.

    So far, more than 200 people have signed an August letter sent by the union to the Board of Regents requesting mask and vaccine mandates on campus, and classroom changes to allow physical distancing, Hawbaker said. […]

    Some of those colleges had to fight really hard for their mask and/or vaccine mandates.

  121. blf says

    Opinion column in Alaska, Hospital vaccine mandates make sense:

    […]
    Responding to record high COVID hospitalizations last week, Foundation Health Partners mandated employees be vaccinated at its three Fairbanks area health care facilities. On Wednesday in Anchorage, Mayor Dave Bronson claimed his email box is blowing up with people who are health care professionals and who refused to take the vaccine, and to the point where they’ll walk away from their job.

    Whilst the claim by the alleged-“Mayor” is, sadly, possibly plausible (this is Alaska!), I decided to set it in eejit quotes because some quick research shows he is indeed an eejit — e.g., from Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge, “Bronson has refused to enact mask or vaccine requirements, saying that it was a matter of personal choice. He said he would not get a vaccine, calling it experimental.”

    In this disagreement, there’s no reason to side with the politician unless he produces the goods.

    Now, I understand the privacy concerns related to the individual decisions of health care providers. But I think the public ought to hear why any of them told Bronson they’re prepared to quit their jobs if their employer requires that they get vaccinated.

    So, starting with one the most bizarre conspiracies circulating in the social media swamps, let’s run through why some people are opposed to getting vaccinated.

    A year ago, Tucker Carlson warned his Fox News viewers that Bill Gates would push mandatory vaccinations as a pretext for mass social control. That morphed into a plot to use the vaccines to implant microchips in people.

    I’m confident there aren’t any health care professionals who believe such nonsense. But if that’s why some refuse to be vaccinated, the public would be better served if they left the medical profession entirely.

    There’s a lot of Americans who believe the threat from COVID-19 has been exaggerated by politicians, medical experts, and the mainstream media. Anyone working in a health care facility right now should know that’s not true. And they don’t belong there if they’re telling anyone it is true.

    […]

    Another vaccination concern originates with distrust for the government agencies responsible for approving them, the companies that helped develop them, and America’s medical institutions. But any doctor or nurse who feels that way is unlikely to be working alongside others who put so much trust in the profession as a whole.

    […]

    Essentially, I’m arguing that doctors, nurses, radiologists, lab technicians and pharmacists need a legitimate scientific reason to refuse to be vaccinated. And if they think the vaccines were hastily approved, production wasn’t adequately controlled, or that we’re being misled about the side effects, that belief must be based on well-documented, accredited research.

    It’s in the public interest that such information not be withheld solely to protect their employment status or privacy rights. But at a minimum, they should voluntarily share the fact they’re not vaccinated and the reason they made that choice with any patient they treat.

    As for Bronson, if many of the emails he received raised serious medical concerns about being vaccinated, then he has a responsibility to obtain permission to share that information with their names. Otherwise, instead of duly informing the public of the vaccines’ serious risks, he’s offering little more than hearsay.

    My suspicion, however, is that most objections were not based in medical science. And the only reason he used his bullhorn to spread their message is it suited the political agenda he established during his campaign for office.

  122. says

    Trump’s 9/11 Statement is a Disgusting Display of Narcissism and an Insult to America

    […] On September 11, 2001, the nation was changed in ways it could not have previously imagined. It was a day of unthinkable loss. But it was also a day that was followed by weeks and months and years of inspiring expressions of heroism, hope, and unity.

    On this day of remembrance, four American presidents of both political parties – Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden – came together to pay tribute to those who were lost and those who worked tirelessly and selflessly to save lives and rebuild.

    Unfortunately, there is another former president who simply doesn’t have the compassion to participate in such displays of empathy and patriotism. On this day Donald Trump released a statement that affirmed his utter absence of the basic human decency that defines America in times of hardship.

    Trump’s offensive “tribute” to the victims and heroes of 9/11 lasted for about 24 seconds of the video that ran 1:44. He then spent the remainder of his remarks attacking President Biden. He began by blaming Biden for how the war in Afghanistan ended, despite the fact that it was Trump’s plan that led to the Taliban’s victory. He released 5,000 of their fighters and lifted all of the financial sanctions in what his own National Security Advisor lambasted as a “surrender agreement”.

    Here’s a taste of Trump’s self-serving and anti-American ranting on a day that should be a solemn occasion (posted here by his spokes-shill, if you have the stomach for it):

    “The leader of our country was made to look like a fool, and that can never be allowed to happen. It was caused by bad planning, incredible weakness, and leaders who truly didn’t understand what was happening. This is the 20th year of this war and should have been a year of victory, honor and strength. Instead Joe Biden and his inept administration surrendered in defeat. We will live on, but sadly our country will be wounded for a long period of time. We will struggle to recover from the embarrassment this incompetence has caused. Do not fear however. America will be made great again.”

    […] He soiled the seriousness of the day with his jealousy and bitterness because Biden was able to accomplish goals that he could only whine about. […]

    Also on this day, Trump thought it would be appropriate to “honor” its memory by partying with his boxing pals as he serves as the featured commentator for an exhibition match at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. For fifty bucks a pop Trump is turning this anniversary into another opportunity to fleece his cult disciples.

    By contrast, President Biden is visiting all three sites that were struck on 9/11. He is paying his respects to the fallen, their families, and those who sacrificed in rescue, recovery and rebuilding efforts. […]

    The differences between Biden’s respectful and hopeful message, and Trump’s selfish, envious, and hate-filled harangue, could not be more distinct. But it is also no more than we expect from a lying, unpatriotic, greedy, sociopathic, narcissist, who couldn’t care less about this country or its people.

  123. says

    Another home-grown terrorist pleads guilty, but claims he was just engaging in “political hyperbole.”

    A man who officials say traveled to Washington, D.C. for Jan. 6 and threatened to shoot Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in the head on live television pleaded guilty Friday.

    Cleveland Meredith Jr., 53, pleaded guilty to one count interstate communication of threats because of a text message he sent to a relative on Jan. 7.

    “Thinking about heading over to Pelosi C—’s speech and putting a bullet in her noggin on Live TV,” it read, according to authorities, followed by a purple devil emoji.

    He admitted to sending the text message in a plea deal, but argued that it was “political hyperbole.” […]

    He had a Tavor X95 rifle, a Glock 9mm handgun and roughly 2,500 rounds of ammunition with him, officials said.

    Agents spoke with Meredith at his hotel in Washington on Jan. 7, and he agreed to let authorities search his hotel room, his truck, a trailer and his telephone.

    He was charged with interstate communication of threats, possession of unregistered firearms, possession of unregistered ammunition and possession of a large capacity ammunition feeding device. […]

    In other text messages sent on Jan. 7 with the same relative, Meredith wrote: “I’m gonna run that C— Pelosi over while she chews on her gums,” according to court documents. […]

    He is the 65th of roughly 600 defendants charged to plead guilty in connection to the riots.

    Link

    “He had a Tavor X95 rifle, a Glock 9mm handgun and roughly 2,500 rounds of ammunition with him …” That doesn’t back up his claim of hyperbole. He was prepared to shoot Nancy Pelosi.

  124. says

    Wonkette: Trump Spent 9/11 Teaching The Moonies A Thing Or Two About Brainwashing

    Most of us, probably, did not do anything too fabulously important yesterday. […] but I am not a former US President. Donald Trump […] decided to commemorate 9/11 in part by giving a speech to the Moonies and making an appearance at some kind of MMA thing.

    The speech occurred during the Unification Church’s latest “Rally of Hope” event, and involved Trump praising the Church itself, current leader Hak Ja Han and her deceased husband, the notorious Reverend Sun Myung Moon. He praised Moon in particular for “founding The Washington Times, an organization for which I have tremendous respect and admiration.” [video is available at the link]

    Trump had nothing but praise for the church, stating

    What they have achieved on the [Korean] Peninsula is just amazing. In a few decades, the inspiration they have caused for the entire planet is unbelievable, and I congratulate you again and again. In less than one lifetime they took a war-torn land and turned it into one of the great nations and great democracies of the world, while standing as America’s friend and ally. Their example reminds all of us who strive for peace and a better future, that we should never give up and never, ever lose hope.

    He’s not the first Republican to speak at one of these shindigs. He’s not even the first person from his own administration. That honor belongs to Mike Pence, who appeared at their Rally of Hope last year.

    The Moons are known in the church as the “True Parents” and are indeed considered literal deities. Adam and Eve were the original True Parents but they screwed everything up by eating an apple, which the Church considers a metaphor for having had sex before they were supposed to. Then Jesus was supposed to come down and save everybody, but he failed because he got crucified before he could do that. The Moons are just the latest in a series of divinely created beings meant to lead people to God and what they call the “spirit world.” They also believe that the children who are the products of the mass public arranged marriages are “blessed children” born without original sin, which is why it’s super awkward for them when those kids leave the church or turn out to be gay, which the church frowns upon. [Twitter responses to Trump’s ridiculous speech are available at the link]
    […]

    Trump as a Moonie is weirdly appropriate.

  125. blf says

    Bulgaria, EU’s least vaccinated nation, faces deadly surge:

    Standing outside the rundown public hospital in Bulgaria’s northern town of Veliko Tarnovo, the vaccination unit’s chief nurse voices a sad reality about her fellow citizens: “They don’t believe in vaccines.”

    Bulgaria has one of the highest coronavirus death rates in the 27-nation European Union and is facing a new, rapid surge of infections due to the more infectious delta variant. Despite that, people in this Balkan nation are the most hesitant in the bloc to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

    Only 20% of adults in Bulgaria, which has a population of 7 million, have so far been fully vaccinated. That puts it last in the EU, which has an average of 69% fully vaccinated.

    […] Sibila Marinova, manager of Veliko Tarnovo’s intensive care unit, says the full Covid-19 ICU ward in her hospital shows [an eejit’s claim I don’t believe vaccines work is] simply not true.

    “100% of the ICU patients are unvaccinated,” she told the AP, adding that staff shortages are only piling on more pressure.

    And she said she’s angry that so many Bulgarians are refusing to get jabbed.

    Bulgaria has access to all four of the vaccines approved by the EU — Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson. But since the start of the pandemic, more than 19,000 people in Bulgaria have died of Covid-19, the EU’s third-highest death rate, behind only the Czech Republic and Hungary. In the last week, an average of 41 people have died each day.

    […] 71-year-old retiree Zhelyazko Marinov doesn’t want to get vaccinated.

    I think[hallucinate] I’m healthy enough and have a good natural immunity, he said, adding that he could be persuaded to get vaccinated if he couldn’t travel without a vaccine certificate.[←Powers-that-be, take notice!]

    Mariya Sharkova, a public health law specialist, believes that Bulgaria’s worryingly low vaccine uptake is the result of residents’ low trust in official institutions, along with fake news about the shots, political instability and a weak national vaccination campaign.

    “In Bulgaria, we don’t have good health literacy,” she told the AP. “Many people choose to believe conspiracy theories and fake news.”

    Only vaccines that are mandatory in Bulgaria — such as measles, mumps and rubella — have a high uptake. Sharkova said some blame has to lie with the government’s vaccination program.

    “They didn’t build any strategy on how to fight vaccine hesitancy,” she said. “We didn’t have any real information campaign for the vaccines. The ministry of health relies mainly on announcements on the ministry’s website [Good grief!], and I don’t think anyone actually goes on and reads it.”

    “The best policy for such hesitant countries and populations as ours are mandatory vaccines,” said Sharkova, who is dismayed that national TV channels often invite vaccine-skeptic doctors[quacks] to be on their programs.

    […]

    Hriska Zhelyazkova, a 67-year-old military officer from the coastal city of Burgas, says she distrusts vaccines because they were created so quickly[] — apparently unaware that years of research laid the groundwork for the vaccine shots, which now have been used in hundreds of millions of people with exceedingly rare serious side effects. [Billions of people, actually…]

    Still, she said she may get vaccinated if authorities slap tougher restrictions on unvaccinated people.[←Powers-that-be, take notice!]

    Back at the Veliko Tarnovo hospital, pro-vaccination drawings colored by children hang on the walls. “You are our superheroes,” one caption read.

    […]

      † Set in eejit quotes because whilst the Covid-19 vaccines were developed at unprecedented speed, that never has been a good or sensible reason to be suspicious of them; e.g., the approval procedures for an EUA are essentially-identical to those for a full license. In addition, as the article notes, zillions of people have been safely vaccinated, and the vaccines are working.

  126. blf says

    Lynna@130, “Trump as a Moonie is weirdly appropriate.”

    Hair furor would insist on both being Moon (the founding nutcase, not the Massive Orbital Cheese Vault) and teh messiah / nouveau Adam the cult is waiting for who will “become the new head of the human race” (according to Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge). They’ve also apparently got some weird idea about “indemnity”, which hair furor would further misconstrue to his own advantage.

  127. blf says

    What would it take for antivaxxers and climate science deniers to ‘wake up’?:

    […]
    In 1927, an article in the venerable medical journal the Lancet commented on the opposition to smallpox vaccination in terms that have an eerie resonance today.

    “We still meet the belief … that vaccination is a gigantic fraud deliberately perpetuated for the sake of gain … The opposition to vaccination … like many emotional reactions, is supported by a wealth of argument which the person reacting honestly believes to be the logical foundation of his behaviour.”

    When I first read this, I was researching climate science denial. But it fits the fervent beliefs of Covid deniers and antivaxxers just as well.

    Prone to “conspiracist ideation”, many anti-vaccination activists appear to believe Covid-19 is a hoax. They dismiss experts as frauds lining their pockets, refuse to accept any evidence that contradicts their beliefs, and create their own world of self-reinforcing truth.

    Antivaxxers seize on an occasional dissenting study and exploit it for all it’s worth even after it has been discredited. A one in a million chance of an adverse effect is confirmation of everything they’ve been saying, even though many medical interventions […] have higher risks. A single anecdote is enough to invalidate a mountain of carefully collected scientific evidence.

    In the same way, climate science deniers seize on an unseasonable snowstorm or a year that bucks the warming trend as vindication. One dissenting study, even if invalidated, is enough to disprove an entire IPCC report.

    [… other parallels…]

    While the paranoid mindset and arguments of antivaxxers and climate deniers can appear very similar, there are important differences between the politics of the two phenomena.

    Firstly, while climate science denial is found mainly on the right of the political spectrum, antivaxxers can be found at both ends. […]

    Second, while antivax activism is not respectable in the political mainstream, climate denial is rife, although thinly concealed. The influx of deniers into [Ozland’s] Liberal and National parties has set the political agenda for years. […]

    Third, while the mainstream media treat Covid deniers and antivaxxers with disdain, sections of the media have for years actively promoted climate science denial. The Australian has published hundreds of news stories disparaging climate science and hundreds of opinion pieces packed with misinformation, and conspiracy.

    Fourth, while Covid denial and antivax conspiracy theories have grown organically, climate science denial was manufactured and spread by powerful interests. […]

    What would it take for antivaxxers and climate science deniers to “wake up”? Studies have shown that facts are puny against the carapace of denial when people’s sense of self is at stake.

    However, in the case of antivaxxers, imminent death seems to do the trick. In the US, the death-bed conversions of a number of high-profile antivaxxers who caught the virus has attracted attention, and mockery. [And elsewhere, measures like France’s Health Pass have boosted vaccination rates (also see @131) –blf]

    […]

    A large majority of the public has always supported climate action, though mostly without much conviction. That is now changing, which may explain why [Ozland’s alleged-“PM”] Scott Morrison is trying to recalibrate and the Murdoch media are said to be changing their position on climate action.[]

    If true, it only confirms that they pick and choose from the science to suit a political agenda.

      † In both cases, as I currently understand it, the claim is Morricoal and Murderall are tepidly moving to consider claiming to support net zero (carbon) emissions (possibly as soon as 2050), albeit only for a few weeks until teh rabble looses interest.

  128. blf says

    Salesforce offers to help staff leave Texas as abortion law takes effect:

    […]
    The cloud-based software giant Salesforce is offering to help relocate employees out of Texas following the state’s enactment of its extreme new abortion law.

    Referring to the “incredibly personal issues” that the law creates, a message to the company’s entire workforce sent late on Friday said any employee and their family wishing to move elsewhere would receive assistance.

    […]

    The ride-share companies Lyft and Uber have both said they will pay the legal costs of any drivers sued for transporting women to or from procedures. Meanwhile, Match Group, which owns the dating app Tinder, and its rival Bumble, which is also based in Texas, have set up funds for employees seeking abortions out of state.

    “The company generally does not take political stands unless it is relevant to our business. But in this instance, I personally, as a woman in Texas, could not keep silent,” the Match chief executive, Shar Dubey, said in a memo to workers.

    [… Salesforce] has a history of involvement in politics. In 2015, [CEO Marc] Benioff said Salesforce was “dramatically reducing” its investment in Indiana in protest against a religious freedom law that critics said promoted discrimination against LGBTQ+ people.

    The state’s then governor and later US vice-president[ranting poodle], Mike Pence, was forced to sign a “clarification” to the law after a fierce backlash from companies and gay rights activists.

  129. blf says

    White House Doesn’t Deny Vaccine Mandate for Domestic Flights Could Be Coming:

    COVID-19 vaccine mandates for domestic air travelers could be next on President Joe Biden’s agenda, after he announced sweeping mandates on the US workforce this week.

    […]

    “We didn’t anticipate that when there was a vaccine approved under a Republican president — that the Republican president took — that there would be such hesitation, vehement opposition in some cases, from so many people of his own party,” [White House press secretary Jen] Psaki said of the [recent mandates]. “We didn’t anticipate that.”

    […]

    Here in France, you need the Health Pass to travel on long-distance trains (e.g., TGV). Probably also applies to (long-distance) buses and (all?) domestic flights (I’m uncertain), and (with a few exceptions) cross international (intra-EU) borders.

  130. blf says

    An opinion column in Arkansas, Exasperated and frustrated:

    “I’ve about had it,” an Arkansas executive told me a few days ago, exasperated by the refusal of many of his coworkers to accept the COVID-19 vaccine that could save them days, weeks of agony, even spare their lives. Whatever the basis of their reluctance […] they were exposing themselves and their colleagues (and their families) to an invisible invader that has sickened hundreds of thousands of their fellow Arkansans, many of them fatally. Too, they were damaging the enterprise that employed them, that put food on their tables and paid their mortgages, that provided them with group health insurance that some of them needed as never before. Coronavirus infections had stretched an already stressed staff and promised to thin it still further.

    […]

    The state’s hospitals and their personnel keep hitting their limits — of COVID-19 intensive care beds, of rooms for patients with other clinical issues, of ambulances and EMTs and emergency room bays, of nurses and technicians. Arkansas’ inventory of respirators, the only means of keeping advanced coronavirus cases alive, is not unlimited; and on many days we have come perilously close to being without. In fact the state’s health care system is holding together now only because corridors have been converted to triage centers and trauma is being treated in what were closets.

    […]

    The delta variant has also altered the epidemic’s demographics, and in a manner that should scare the daylights out of every parent and grandparent, assuming they view the coronavirus as a real threat and not a deep state hoax. Across the nation, coronavirus targets are increasingly the young. In Arkansas today, one of every three active cases is age 18 or younger, driving that bracket’s share of the cumulative state case total to about 20%. The trend line of new cases among Arkansas youth is essentially straight up. The school year and its attendant congregate activities (athletics and assemblies, classrooms and cafeterias) is less than a month old, the debate over masking mandates is a political, legal, social and cultural disgrace and we are, at a minimum, weeks away from federal authorization for the coronavirus immunization of youngsters.

    […]

    Frustrated and increasingly concerned for the impact of the coronavirus on its bottom line, corporate America is becoming steadily more aggressive with not only its customers but its workforce. Some major corporations are demanding their employees either “take the jab” or pay significantly higher medical insurance premiums; others insist it’s the vaccine or the job. […]

    The stridency with which anti-vaccine, anti-masking forces reject the best thinking of the best scientists and physicians, including those in Arkansas, is a reflection of our toxic times. Emblematic, but not excusable. Not alone in exasperation are managers and educators and clinicians. […]

  131. blf says

    Why Henry Ford employees suing over vaccine mandate pulled suit:

    Henry Ford Health System employees challenging the company’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate submitted a notice of voluntary dismissal to a federal judge Friday, hours before they were to participate in a hearing seeking a halt to the hospital’s policy.

    […]

    On Friday, the deadline for Henry Ford’s vaccine mandate, the health system said 92% of its employees were fully vaccinated and another 3% had received their first dose. The health system promised to “work in good faith” with people who have a “change of heart.”

    No employees were fired Friday, but they will face suspension through Oct 1 and then “voluntary resignation”[eh?] if they remain unvaccinated, according to the hospital system.

    […]

    The lawsuit filed Monday in Detroit argued that employees would be subjecting themselves to potential harm and death by getting the vaccine and cited death and injury data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System to support their reluctance to get the vaccine.

    In other words they hired failed clowns for lawyers. That’s not what VAERS is for, not how it should be used, and I vaguely recall every suit attempting to use it in such a manner has been bounced out of court so fast their alleged-“lawyers” are probably still suffering whiplash.

    The suit argued that the policy violates the employees’ 14th Amendment right to bodily integrity and personal autonomy. It also said the denial of medical treatment is a fundamental right.

    I don’t grok what that last sentence is trying to say. Refusing medical treatment is a fundamental right? Or being refused medical treatment is a fundamental right? Or worms ate my brain cell so I need some ivermectin? Or…?

  132. blf says

    Follow-up to @137, Some snippets from an earlier article, 51 Henry Ford employees sue hospital system over vaccine mandate:

    Many of the 51 employees involved in the suit are registered nurses, of which the hospital is experiencing a shortage. Last month, hospital Chief Operating Officer Bob Riney said the hospital system was “several hundred” nurses short.

    There’s some creative legal and scientific reasoning which could win some fiction awards:

    Defendants claim the protection of their patients as a goal for the mandate, but this argument is illogical, the lawsuit said. If the ‘vaccines are effective,’ the vaccinated bear no risk created by the unvaccinated.

    First off, the patients are unvaccinated. So are the alleged-“nurses”. So what is this gibberish about someone being vaccinated? Second, ever hear of breakthough infections? Third, the vaccinated can still be carriers, infecting others, even if not sick. Fourth, the vaccines are effective. And safe. (And free!) Fifth, the virus evolves. Providing new hosts for it to mutate and evolve in is so obviously counter-productive even a stooopid clown of a lawyer and nursesquacks should be able to see that from lightyears away. Sixth, getting sick is expensive. The vaccines are free. Also, seventh, even if the mandate is illogical, it does not cause harm. Grrrr!

    (The “denial of medical treatment is a fundamental right” claim is also made, but again without any explanation.)

    In June, more than 150 employees resigned or were fired from the hospital system Houston Methodist after a Texas federal district judge dismissed a lawsuit by a nurse who alleged the policy was unlawful.

    Less than a month later, the US Department of Justice opined in a legal opinion that the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act does not prevent entities from imposing vaccine mandates, including when a vaccine only has approval for emergency use.

    About 56%, or about 4.8 million people, over the age of 12 in Michigan are fully vaccinated, according to state data.

  133. blf says

    Opinion column in San Francisco, As a doctor, I don’t hate the unvaccinated. But I rage at COVID disinformation profiteers:

    As a doctor who has spent much of the past 20 months working with COVID-19 patients, let me assure you, there isn’t a single person in health care who derives any joy from seeing story after story of anit-vaxxers [sic] gasping for breath in the ICU. Nurses who watch their young pregnant patients on heart-lung machines, as they help deliver soon-to-be-motherless babies, feel no twinge of “told-you-so” for these dying unvaccinated moms.

    Instead, our rage is directed at the disinformation profiteers — those bad actors with the big platforms who are behind each and every one of these deaths. Some of them run state governments, some have MD next to their names, others are millionaires who smugly sit on their Fox News perches and some spew bile from their radio pulpit. They are the ones who have helped drive us back into the throes of this pandemic. They helped us reach almost 3,000 daily COVID deaths for the first time in months. They should be blamed when feverish little boys with brain cancer are forced to sit in the parking lot instead of being admitted to hospitals. All because living in the land of the free means you get to stay unvaccinated and then steal a bed from a kid with cancer when you inevitably get sick.

    […]

    A friend who is a family doctor told me that she, uncharacteristically, almost lost her temper at one of her patients last week. The patient was an unvaccinated oncology nurse.

    I immediately understood. Unvaccinated oncology nurse — three words that should never hold hands in any sentence. The nurse[quack] later tested positive for COVID.

    I know of practices where half of the clinicians are not vaccinated, and following this example, the majority of their staff are not either. Unwitting patients are coming in for treatment with these health care providers[plague rats], many with risk factors that put them in danger of poor outcomes should they contract COVID-19.

    […]

    Sen Ted (Cancun) Cruz doesn’t want Texas schools to require masks but sends his kids to a $30,000-per-year private school that mandates them. Texas Gov Greg Abbott wants to spout personal freedom while he had three vaccine shots and access to expensive and often hard to obtain monoclonal antibody treatment the minute he contracted COVID.

    The kids and families who live in Texas, Florida or Arkansas matter just as much as my patients in Oakland. But here we have mask and vaccine mandates, higher vaccination rates, and continued capacity in our ICUs while those states don’t.

    […]

    During a recent four-hour stretch of work, I sent three COVID-positive patients to the emergency room, all of whom could not get a full sentence out without gasping for breath and losing their words. None were vaccinated.

    A recent patient, an elderly pastor in a low-income, highly COVID-impacted community, insisted he didn’t need the vaccine because a doctor in an online video assured him that his natural immune system would be enough to fight the virus. When he told me it was Sherri Tenpenny, I recognized her as one of the disinformation dozen, a folksy Midwesterner who manages to keep her medical license despite her endless lies.

    I told him, “She is the doctor who says vaccines magnetize people, and keys will stick to your forehead once you get it. Please don’t pay her any mind.” He was taken aback and instantly disarmed of his opposition to the vaccine.

    […]

    I need to consciously take calming breaths throughout these vaccine counseling conversations to avoid losing my cool. And I always keep the faces of the bad actors burned in my brain, so as not to leak out any of my frustration on the often hapless and misinformed patient in front of me.

    […]

  134. blf says

    Chinese exile Guo Wengui uses misinformation network to push unproven drugs to treat Covid (CNBC edits in {curly braces}):

    Guo Wengui, a wealthy businessman who fled China in 2014 and is linked to several high-profile far-right personalities in America, has been using his online network to promote unproven drugs to treat Covid-19 while spreading misinformation about the vaccines used to combat the disease.

    As recently as Sunday on a livestream, Guo used his show […] to push ivermectin, […], and malaria drug artemisinin as ways to battle the coronavirus.

    […]

    Guo on Thursday equated vaccinating children with murder. Please do not take your children to get vaccinated anymore. It is not about getting a shot that simple but equivalent to murder, he said in a translated video post […]. Those who were vaccinated might face an unpredicted severe consequence.

    […]

    Guo has been close to former Trump White House chief strategist Steve Bannon for years. A foundation linked to Guo recently hosted an event that featured remarks by Bannon and others tied to former President[Wacko House squatter] Donald Trump, including lawyer and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former national security advisor Michael Flynn and MyPillow CEO and conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell.

    Guo fled China in 2014 in anticipation of corruption charges. After Guo criticized China’s leaders, warrants were reportedly issued for his arrest on charges that included corruption and bribery. […]

    Remember, artemisinin, ivermectin, dexamethasone, oxytetracycline, hydroxychloroquine, and zinc are the necessary medicines to fight the CCP {Chinese Communist Party} virus. These few medicines will eradicate the virus, Guo said during his Sunday [(in translation) …]. Also, artemisinin is effective for those who have had one shot of the vaccine, but not the second or third shot, he added.

    […]

    Beyond Guo and [Joe] Rogan, others have pushed ivermectin to Covid patients. Conservative radio host Dennis Prager said on his podcast in late July that he used ivermectin as a prophylaxis and, after the FDA came out against the use of ivermectin to treat Covid, accused the agency of killing tens of thousands of Americans with that statement.

    I put it to you pretty starkly. Either the FDA is misleading you, or I’m misleading you, Prager told his audience.

    Oooooh, aaaahh, well, geesh, that’s a very difficult one to answer. I’ll go with you (Prager) are lying for 5 billion jabs, please, and behind the closed door, 99% of Covid cases in ICU being unvaccinated.

    […]
    Guo has also focused on artemisinin in his recent episodes.

    […]

    Mr Miles Guo [one of Guo’s aliases] affirmed that Artemisinin, discovered and extracted by Nobel laureate Tu Youyou, is more than 99% effective in curing the CCP virus, the translation says. He also reiterated again that all chaptors [sic must stock up on the Ivermectin, Azithromycin, and Oxytetracycline.

    Not at all sure what that chaptors nonsense is about.

    The WHO has said artemisinin, which is an antimalaria drug derived from the artemisia plant, will be tested on hospitalized Covid patients. The WHO said there has yet to be proof of artemisia-derived products being effective in treating Covid-19, the BBC reported.

    Guo’s campaign to push ivermectin and artemisinin amounts to the latest example of his misinformation tactics, according to new research from Graphika.

    “In promoting artemisinin, Guo and his media network are relying on tactics Graphika and the Virality Project have observed in the amplification of other unproven Covid-19 treatments,” the researchers say […]

    A snippet from Ye Pffffft! of All Knowledge (their(?) edits in {curly braces}):

    In April 2017, an Interpol notice was issued for Guo’s arrest, requested by the Chinese government. In June 2017, staff of one of Guo’s other investment vehicles, Pangu Investment, were charged for scamming banks on loans. The staff members accused all alleged that they were under the orders of Guo.

    By June 2017, the Chinese government sent U.S. President Donald Trump a letter, delivered by casino businessman Steve Wynn, requesting for Guo to be deported to China. Unnamed sources “familiar with {a} meeting” allege that Trump was inclined to deport Guo, a member of his Mar-a-Lago resort, but that his advisors opposed deporting him by reasoning that he could be used for political leverage against China.

    Another oof alls teh besteristings, this loon with chaptors.

  135. blf says

    Ha! Statement by Commissioner Nikki Fried on Governor Ron DeSantis Pushing COVID Vaccine Disinformation (a PR quoted essentially in full):

    […] Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried released the following statement on reports that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has spread disinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine multiple times in recent days:

    “It’s extraordinarily dangerous and irresponsible for Governor DeSantis to continue to lie about the vaccine — which he’s done twice in as many days. By saying vaccines don’t help anyone but the recipient (not true) and that breakthrough cases among vaccinated aren’t rare (also not true), he’s continuing to impede the health and economic recovery of our state. No news outlet should broadcast the governor’s misinformation without immediate editorial correction with the facts.”

    Commissioner Fried, an independently elected member of the Florida Cabinet, has been providing regular COVID-19 updates, holding briefings across the state to provide timely public health information as well as encouraging science-based virus-mitigation efforts, including vaccination, mask-wearing, social distancing, and testing after known exposure or symptoms.

    Ms Fried is apparently running for Governor. Some snippets from Politico, She could take down Ron DeSantis. But that doesn’t mean the left likes her (June 2021):

    [… O]ver the two-and-a-half years she’s been in office, they [“Florida’s environmentalists and progressives”] say she hasn’t acted on left-leaning policies like climate change and energy efficiency or fought hard enough against Republicans.

    Environmentalists were especially angry in 2019 after Fried supported utilities such as Florida Power & Light Co and Duke Energy Florida that were asking the state to sharply lower or eliminate their energy conservation goals. She went so far as to say Florida’s energy conservation rule should be scrapped.

    Environmentalists for decades have also increasingly hammered what they say is the state’s hands-off approach to groundwater pollution from farms that has fouled natural springs and other waterways.

    Fried has said she’s is laser focused on protecting Florida’s waterways and has worked for updates to state agricultural best management practices designed to reduce water use and runoff from farms.

    But Ryan Smart, executive director of the Florida Springs Council, said that Fried in 2020 supported legislation that was supposed to protect springs but was weakened to allow pollution from farms to continue. His group opposed the measure after it was rewritten.

    […]

    This is not to say DeSantis has impressed other environmentalists more. The Sierra Club in March gave Fried a C-minus in its first ever report card for her positions on climate change, but the organization gave DeSantis a D-minus.

    Progressives, like Florida Democratic donor John Morgan, were especially livid over Fried’s non-committal position on a proposed $15 minimum wage. Fried doesn’t have control over the state’s minimum wage, but as the state’s top elected Democrat, activists looked to her for moral leadership.

    Business interests had lined up against the wage bump and as the increase was being fought, Fried told the Tampa Bay Times that she was undecided.

    Morgan publicly decried Fried’s “very weak, tepid response” in support of the measure right before voters approved it last November — an example of Fried leading from behind.

  136. blf says

    Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Anti-vaxxers plan to take over Aussie town:

    Conspiracy theorists have flagged running for council and pushing out the sheep in [Ozland]’s anti-vax capital.

    Mullumbimby, near Byron Bay, is home to Covid-19 deniers, anti-maskers and conspiracy theorists who believe the pandemic was deliberately created and 5G technology transmits coronavirus.

    Childhood vaccination rates in the New South Wales town are among the lowest in Australia, with 68.2 percent of one-year-olds fully immunised, compared with 94.9 percent nationwide.

    Ye Pfffft! of All Knowledge adds, “The Byron Shire, in which Mullumbimby is situated, is also the only remaining local government area in the Northern Rivers region to reject fluoridation of its water supply.”

    The town has now been singled out as a perfect location for a free society. There have previously been 5G protests there, as well as banning vaccinated people from shops.

    The Free People movement is a conspiracy theorist group against mandatory vaccinations and other regulations that have been introduced to stop the spread of Covid.

    […]

    They are just the latest iteration of the anti-vax movement, which constantly rebrands itself.

    Through private groups, other online conspiracy theorists against mandatory vaccinations have flagged the idea of moving to the town in the Northern Rivers, NSW.

    One member suggested taking over and forcing those who disagree with them out of the town. [I guess that’s what one does in a free society? –blf]

    […]

    Various anti-vax groups and influencers already call the Northern Rivers their home and throughout the pandemic, there have been issues with compliance in these areas.

    Australia Post stores in some areas are now being manned by security guards after an alarming number of customers failed to comply with Covid-19 protocols.

    At least a third of customers are estimated to have refused to wear masks, use hand sanitiser or check in to the Mullumbimby and Byron Bay stores before the drastic measure despite the region being included in the statewide lockdown.

    Earlier this year, businesses in the area temporarily barred vaccinated people from entering.

    A hairdresser, yoga studio and massage therapy business erected signage banning people from entering in case they shed the virus.

    If you have had a Covid-19 vaccine we ask you to attend online, reschedule or practice at home for a studio minimum of two weeks, or longer until any symptoms subside, one of the signs read.

    The mildly deranged penguin’s alternative sign, “If you think my being vaccinated is dangerous to you, please flush your head in the toilet until all the worms you use as brain cells have been shed. Please do not use ivermectin to treat your worm-ridden brain unless you are horse.”

  137. blf says

    Greece begins mandatory testing for unvaccinated workers:

    Greece on Monday introduced mandatory weekly testing for all unvaccinated workers as it struggles to boost vaccination rates that are lagging the European Union average.

    Public and private sector employees will have to pay for weekly tests or carry a vaccination certificate to gain access to their place of work, while unvaccinated children at high schools which reopened Monday are being given test kits distributed at government expense.

    Similar restrictions will also apply at sports stadiums, museums and archaeological sites, as well as indoor leisure areas like cinemas and restaurants.

    Some 56% of Greece’s residents have been fully vaccinated, while the average rate in the EU is just over 60%.

    Greece has imposed vaccine mandates for health care workers and allows the vaccination of children starting at age 12.

    [… Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis:] “Unfortunately this de-escalation [signs of a decline in cases†] is accompanied by the deaths of our fellow citizens who are unvaccinated. It hurts me to know that these people could have lived, but they fell victim to conspiracy theories.”

      † I think that’s what the Minister meant, despite the horrible translation and not-too-informative article. Whilst the site (EuroNews) is perhaps Ok (as in not “fake”), the short articles seem rather often to be badly written, often just being (as in this case), wire reports (this one is from AP, so it’s perhaps AP which botched the clarity, not EuroNews).

  138. blf says

    I just got an SMS from my mobile operator saying 5G is now available in the village. That means the previous-injected graphene oxide microchips, which have most just been idling (except for reporting my location to the GPS & trying to convince me peas are diabolically dangerous), will now+++ ACTIVATE=blf
    *** ACTIVATED
    +++ PEAS ARE EDIBLE
    !!! ERROR - NEED CHEESE
    +++ WHAT?
    !!! NEED MOAR CHEESE
    +++ FROM=bgates TO=blf "Take your horse dewormer and reboot."
    /// PENGIUN CONFUSED WARNING
    +++ REBOOT! REBOOT!
    *** "She's the greatest
    She's fantastic
    Wherever there's danger she'll been there
    She's the ace
    She's amazing
    She's the strangest she's the quirkest she's the best
    Penguin
    Mild Penguin
    MILDLY DERANGED PENGUIN"
    +++ TERMINATE LINK
    *** ENDI…
    activate. Soon. Any time now…

  139. blf says

    me@144, …trying to convince me peas are diabolically dangerous → trying to convince me peas are not diabolically dangerous…

    Probably a glitch whilst repportinininning mmmyyyy positran position to GPS.

  140. says

    blf @132: “Hair furor would insist on both being Moon (the founding nutcase, not the Massive Orbital Cheese Vault) and teh messiah / nouveau Adam the cult is waiting for who will “become the new head of the human race” …” Right. Thanks for that clarification. Cult. More cult. Maximum cult.

    In other news: In California, the stakes are high, and the process is weird

    If recent polling is correct, the incumbent governor is likely to keep his job, but the stakes are high, and the process is weird.

    President Joe Biden is scheduled to appear in California this evening, where he’ll campaign alongside Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom ahead of tomorrow’s recall election. If recent polling is correct, the incumbent governor is likely to keep his job, but the stakes are high, and the process is weird. Let’s review some the basics.

    How in the world did this happen?

    California’s recall laws are badly in need of reform, but for now, a Golden State governor’s opponents can force a statewide recall election by collecting enough petition signatures. The threshold isn’t that high: It takes 12 percent of the turnout from the most recent gubernatorial race. If roughly half of California’s electorate voted in the last election for governor, for example, that means 6 percent of state can force a recall election.

    Ordinarily, recall supporters have 160 days to gather the required number of signatures, but in this case, a state judge gave Newsom’s opponents extra time because of the pandemic. (The same judge later prevented the governor from including his party identification on the ballot.) [Nefarious shenanigans making a weird situation even worse.]

    How many questions are on the ballot?

    Just two: (1) Should Newsom be recalled? 2) If a majority votes to recall the governor, who should replace him?

    What does the governor have to do to win?

    If a majority of voters oppose the recall, Newsom will remain in office and the drama will end. If the incumbent governor falls short, even a little, Newsom will be recalled and the new governor will be the candidate who receives the most number of votes on the ballot’s second question.

    How many other candidates are running?

    There are 46 replacement candidates on the ballot, including conservative media personality Larry Elder, who’s widely seen as the top Republican contender.

    With 46 replacement candidates, won’t it be difficult for any one candidate to generate significant support?

    It’s one of the more obvious flaws in the state’s system: Elder, for example, could become the next governor if he wins 20 percent of the vote, even if 49.9 percent of Californians decided to keep Newsom in office.

    Is there talk of overhauling this process?

    Yes, but that will have to wait. The focus in the short term is on tomorrow’s election, though there’s ample talk of reforming the status quo.

    Does Newsom have a major Democratic opponent?

    No. In fact, this was a deliberate strategy on the part of the California state party. While there are some lesser-known Democrats running, the party rallied behind Newsom and created a system in which parties were effectively told, “If you recall the governor, you’ll be left with a conservative Republican as California’s new chief executive.”

    What happens if Newsom loses?

    The stakes are quite high. Elder, for example, has already vowed to govern as a very conservative Republican on practically every issue, including the Covid-19 crisis. What’s more, while incumbent Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein has said she intends to remain in office, if she were to give up her U.S. Senate seat for any reason, Elder has vowed to replace her with a GOP senator, who in turn would flip control of the Senate to Republicans and put Mitch McConnell in charge of the chamber.

  141. blf says

    School vaccine campaigns targeting students face blowback:

    Fearing his parents wouldn’t approve of his decision to get a COVID-19 vaccine but needing their signature, Andrew signed up for the appointment in secret, and then sprang it on them at the last minute.

    They said no. Andrew cursed at his mother and father and called them idiots. Andrew’s dad grabbed him by the shirt collar.

    “He said, You’re not getting this damn vaccine; you need to lower your voice. Watch your tone when you talk to me. It was, it was the first time my dad had ever done something like that — he grabbed my shirt and yelled in my face,” said Andrew, a 17-year-old student in Hoover, Alabama.

    In most states, minors need the consent of their parents in order to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Navigating family politics in cases of differing views has been a challenge for students and organizers of outreach campaigns, who have faced blowback for directly targeting young people.

    […]

    In Tennessee, […] Republican lawmakers accused the health department of “peer pressuring” children to get the vaccine and criticized a top official who sent a memo to vaccine providers explaining that they could legally waive parental consent under Tennessee law.

    […]

    In Molalla, Oregon, the mayor pressured a high school to cancel a vaccine drive on campus this semester, citing a $50 gift card incentive he equated with bribery. Many who called for an end to the vaccine drive expressed opposition to the vaccines, although Mayor Scott Keyser [presumably lied and] said he’s not against them.

    School officials in Kettering, Ohio, received death threats in August after TikTok videos baselessly claimed the suburban Dayton district was vaccinating children without parental consent.

    There was no truth to the claims — they came out before the school year began, and spring vaccine clinics required parents to be present — but they caused “huge hysteria” in the community nonetheless, according to Kettering City Schools superintendent Scott Inskeep.

    […]

    In a total of eight states, all in the Southeast and Pacific Northwest, providers can waive parental consent requirements — Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Alabama, according to a May review by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

    […]

    In May, officials in two Oregon counties barred health officials from giving vaccines to kids without parental consent. Yamhill County Commissioner Lindsay Berschauer and the mother of three teenagers defended the move saying, Our children are not the property of the State of Oregon. [They are also not your property! –blf]

    But the counties backed down after state health officials issued a legal opinion affirming consent rights for children 15 and older. Berschauer continues to advocate[rant] against vaccine incentives for teens, calling the programs “peer pressure.” [And that is a bad thing, in this situation, exactly how? –blf]

    On paper, Alabama’s law is one of the more liberal, allowing minors like Andrew to get the vaccine on their own. In practice, that’s nearly impossible. The Alabama Department of Public Health requires parental consent as a matter of policy, and so do major pharmacies.

    The day after the argument with his parents, Andrew’s father took him to the pharmacy and signed [YEAH!], without saying a word. Andrew’s father confirmed his son’s account but declined to be interviewed. Andrew asked that his last name not be used out of fear of further upsetting his parents.

    Pediatricians in some cases try to facilitate conversations between children and parents and promote the COVID-19 vaccine. But it doesn’t always work, even with parents who have accepted their pediatrician’s recommendation on other vaccines, including for HPV and the flu.

    I’d have guessed people opposed to the Covid-19 vaccines who also be opposed to the HPV vaccine, in part since the objections to the HPV vaccine are absurd (it turns my precious child into an immoral painted jezebel! (not the butterfly (presumably))).

    “They look at me like I’m suggesting that they feed their childhood poison when I’m recommending a COVID vaccine,” said doctor Katrina Skinner, President of the Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

    Andrew’s Hoover High School does not promote COVID-19 vaccinations on its website or social media channels, and there’s no indication the school will host a vaccine clinic. School officials did not respond to calls and emails requesting comment.

    Andrew isn’t the only teenager with sense:

    Alabama state health officials have been encouraging the vaccines among young people with a contest on the social media app TikTok that awarded $250 for the best video promoting COVID-19 vaccinations.

    One of Andrew’s schoolmates, Rotimi Kukoyi, 17, was one of four contest winners. He shared the video with his 18,000 followers, built over two years by making jokes.

    “I showed the CDC explaining how the vaccine is safe, and how it’s effective, and then I linked resources for people to sign up to get the vaccine,” Rotimi said.

  142. tomh says

    NBC News
    Alabama heart patient dies after hospital contacts 43 ICUs in 3 states, family says
    Sept. 12, 2021, 8:14 PM PDT
    By Tim Stelloh

    An Alabama antiques dealer died this month of a “cardiac event” after the emergency staff at his local hospital contacted dozens of intensive care units in three states and was unable to find him a bed as Covid-19 cases surged, his family said….

    …he died at Rush Foundation Hospital in Meridian, Mississippi, after staff members at Cullman Regional Medical Center contacted 43 ICUs and were unable to find him a bed….

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alabama has one of the highest rates of new Covid-19 cases in the country, with about 541 per 100,000 people having tested positive in the last seven days.

    It’s time to move unvaccinated Covid cases down the list relative to normal emergencies, such as this heart attack.

  143. says

    Support for Trump, Big Lie defines Republican politics

    Democrats can (and will) continue to run against Donald Trump because he and his GOP loyalists have made it so easy to do so.

    The latest national CNN poll found that most Republican voters still want Donald Trump to lead their party, which is notable in its own right. But just as important is how this belief shapes what it means to be a Republican in 2021:

    Most Republicans also consider support for Trump – and his false claim to have won the 2020 election – to be an important part of their own partisan identity alongside support for conservative principles.

    [willful ignorance, stubbornly ignorant]

    According to the poll’s internal data, a combined 61 percent of the party’s voters believe supporting the former president is either very or somewhat important in defining what it means to be a Republican. A combined 59 percent said the same thing about believing that Trump won the 2020 election, which he lost in reality.

    An even higher percentage of Republican voters – 63 percent – said Trump should remain the GOP’s principal leader.

    At face value, there’s something rather extraordinary about so many voters from a major party standing by a failed former president who was impeached twice, and whose brief political career is defined by scandal, corruption, mismanagement, incompetence, and multiple criminal investigations.

    But there’s another dimension to this that’s likely to remain relevant for quite a while. The Washington Post reported yesterday on the three Democratic-led states — California, New Jersey, and Virginia — holding statewide elections this year:

    In each state, party leaders acknowledge that in past elections Trump polarized and motivated voters that they had never won before his presidency. Democrats worried that his absence from the ballot, along with their party’s historic difficulties in turning voters out in nonpresidential elections, would threaten their chances. Yet in all three, Democrats say they think that the ex-president, who has hinted at a third run in 2024, still has power to mobilize liberal voters and keep suburban moderates in the Democratic tent, even if he is no longer on the ballot or in office.

    […] The qualitative differences in the post-Trump era, however, are dramatic. Most modern presidents, after leaving the White House, actually go away. They don’t try to run their political parties; they don’t demand fealty from rank-and-file voters; they don’t orchestrate misinformation campaigns; they don’t set out to destroy the careers of intra-party detractors; and they don’t openly discuss the possibility of seeking national office again. […]

  144. says

    Follow-up to blf in comment 134.

    […] The Chicago Tribune reported that World Business Chicago, the public-private operation that serves as the city’s economic development arm, took out a full-page ad in yesterday’s Dallas Morning News, “inviting corporations to head north for the warm business climate and stay for the more liberal abortion and voting laws — a swipe at restrictive legislation [Texas] passed on both fronts in recent months.”

    Among the stated reasons businesses should relocate to Chicago: The city believes in “science to fight COVID-19.”

    This morning, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Virginia’s Democratic 2021 gubernatorial nominee, added, “My message to companies like Salesforce is clear: come to Virginia – where we remain open and welcoming, and opposed to dangerous abortion bans that put women’s health and lives at risk – all of which Glenn Youngkin would enact as governor.”

    It’s difficult to even guess whether we’ll see departures from Texas in any significant numbers, but the state’s Republican leaders have certainly opened the door to departures – and would-be suitors seem only too pleased to roll out some welcome mats.

    Link

  145. says

    Why Amy Coney Barrett’s new rhetoric is so hard to take seriously

    Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett is the wrong messenger, with the wrong message, speaking at the wrong place.

    It’s been nearly a year since Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the U.S. Supreme Court, and the conservative jurist is apparently concerned about public perceptions regarding the high court.

    Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett expressed concerns Sunday that the public may increasingly see the court as a partisan institution. Justices must be “hyper vigilant to make sure they’re not letting personal biases creep into their decisions, since judges are people, too,” Barrett said at a lecture hosted by the University of Louisville’s McConnell Center.

    She added that “judicial philosophies are not the same as political parties.”

    There’s a lot to unpack here, but let’s focus on three core problems.

    First, the justice’s message was literally unbelievable. Ideally, justices would be indifferent toward political considerations, but in recent years, the public has seen far too much contrary evidence. Consider, for example, the overtly political speech Justice Samuel Alito delivered last fall to the Federalist Society.

    Second, Barrett may not appreciate the extent to which she’s a poor messenger. It was in late-October 2020 – while voting in the presidential election was already underway in many states – when a divided Senate, voting along largely partisan lines, confirmed the conservative jurist to the nation’s highest court. Her first decision was not a judicial ruling; it was a choice to participate at a White House political event the evening of her confirmation.

    As we discussed at the time, Donald Trump hosted a prime-time spectacle with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer: Barrett stood in the spotlight, on a White House balcony in front of the presidential seal, alongside Trump who beamed with pride before an applauding audience, which included Republican senators who ignored their ostensible principles while confirming her.

    Barrett was aware of the electoral context; she knew this prime-time celebration would give the appearance of a political victory party; and she chose to participate anyway, indifferent to public perceptions about the politicization of the judiciary.

    In the months that followed, Barrett voted largely as she was expected to, including in the recent case that ended Roe v. Wade protections in Texas.

    But let’s also not overlook the context of her remarks yesterday: Barrett appeared in Kentucky, where she was introduced by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Republican who’s done more to politicize the federal judiciary than any living American.

    During her remarks at the McConnell Center, Barrett spoke just feet away from the GOP senator who was responsible for orchestrating the brazenly partisan scheme that led to her confirmation.

    If the justice is concerned about the public perceiving the Supreme Court as a partisan institution, she should’ve turned down McConnell’s invitation instead of making the problem worse.

    Clueless. Amy Coney Barrett is clueless.

  146. says

    Follow-up to tomh in comment 148.

    […] there’s one detail about this story – or at least tied to the story – that the Post doesn’t mention. Cullman, Alabama was the site of what the Alabama state GOP billed as the largest political rally in Alabama history just a couple days before DeMonia went to the hospital. The state GOP claimed 50,000 turned out for the rally in Cullman. Few if any seemed to be masked.

    The August 21st rally in Cullman was actually the one where Trump made a low energy pitch for vaccinations only to get booed by the crowd. He appeared to back away from it in real time in response to the crowd. You probably remember it. DeMonia was admitted to Cullman Regional Medical Center two days later on August 23rd. He died at a hospital in Mississippi on September 1st.

    Given the short gap in time, clearly Trump’s visit didn’t cause the surge in hospitalizations that forced DeMonia’s doctors to evacuate him west to Mississippi. But there’s no doubt the climate of COVID denial and lo-fi anti-vaccine politics Trump has brought in his wake did contribute mightily to it. Alabama is the fourth least vaccinated state in the country. And Trump’s visit probably didn’t do any favors for Alabama hospitals in the subsequent three weeks.

    DeMonia was 73 and, according to his daughter, was fully vaccinated.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/the-rest-of-the-story-4

  147. says

    Follow-up to blf in comment 140.

    Bannon, Guo-Linked Media Company Part Of $539 Million Settlement In SEC Probe

    A firm linked to former Trump campaign chairman Stephen K. Bannon was part of a $539 million deal to settle charges emanating from an alleged illegal stock offering scheme, the SEC said on Monday.

    Three companies, all linked to eccentric exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, agreed to pay the massive half-a-billion-dollar settlement to resolve the allegations.

    Bannon was listed as a director of one of the three firms, GTV Media Group, the Wall Street Journal reported last year, while company documents named Guo as an “adviser.”

    […] The agency said that two websites linked to the companies – GTV.org and Gnews.org – promoted illicit offerings of stock and digital currency. The companies have been accused of spewing herculean amounts of disinformation, including a supposed “dossier” that purported to document Hunter Biden’s ties to China during the 2020 election.

    […] Guo and Bannon have spent part of the past year promoting a Chinese government-in-exile called the New Federal State of China, and held a rollickingly bizarre event in June for the event, which featured Mike Flynn, Rudy Giuliani, and others.

    But the past year has also seen Bannon indicted and arrested while aboard Guo’s yacht on charges relating to the We Build The Wall alleged fundraising scam. […] Trump pardoned Bannon for those charges.

    At the center of the media ecosystem that pushes Guo’s message out to millions of people is GTV, a Chinese news and social media platform operated by GTV Media Inc.

    The SEC accused the firm of failing to register a share offering that took place between April and June 2020 with the SEC. The civil regulator said that two other firms – New York City-based Saraca Media and Arizona-based Voice of Guo – participated as well.

    The SEC also charged GTV and Saraca with illegally offering an unregistered digital asset – in this case, that refers to GTV’s G-Coins and G-dollars.

    The regulator cited a memo that touted GTV as ““the first ever platform which will combine the power of citizen journalism and social news with state-of-the-art technology, big data, artificial intelligence, block-chain technology and real-time interactive communication,” saying that it had planned on becoming “the only uncensored and independent bridge between China and the Western world.”

    The SEC said in a statement that its investigation is continuing. The WSJ reported last year that the FBI was reviewing the offering.

    The companies pay the fines, but Bannon and Guo get off scot free.

  148. blf says

    This isn’t actually a terribly good opinion column, in that it contains some non-rhetorical errors (including about its subject matter), but does contain some decent snarking, I have a better term for the ‘vaccine-hesitant’:

    […]
    The principle behind [using the term] “vaccine-hesitant” seems to be that giving offense to these ignorant people might result in greater social disruption, civil war, etc — that if we got these people really mad, they might start indiscriminately coughing or vomiting or wiping their noses on strangers.

    That might be the reason some organisations use the term, but the medical community uses it to help distinguish those with doubts about vaccine (no matter how ludicrous the doubts) from those adamantly opposed (the “hardcore anti-vaxxers”). The difference is the merely hesitant can be convinced to change their opinion, and / or (rather more importantly), get vaccinated. The hardcore anti-vaxxers are probably a lost cause.

    To me it is a ridiculous euphemism, the way you might refer to cannibals as “practitioners of nontraditional culinary adventuresomeness.” I propose, instead, as I have just made clear, “idiots.” (Some people — those with legitimate medical or religious reasons to hesitate — are hereby officially exempted from contempt.)

    A “religious reason” is a valid reason to not be vaccinated? Besides going against the advice of most(?) tithe-gatherers (so-called “religious leaders”), and vaccination not being banned by any(?) religion (even the JW’s are apparently Ok with the Covid vaccine (unconfirmed)), it simply fails the most basic checks. E.g., doesn’t follow the science. Or, suppose a large religion with hundreds of millions of followers banned abortion, I mean vaccination… the results would not be good. (Several commentators take the author to task over this inclusion of “religious reason” as a valid reason to not be vaccinated.)

    Back in the 1950s, there was little or no “vaccine hesitancy” to the inoculation against polio. That is because, back then, people trusted science. We were on the brink of the Space Age. We had conquered smallpox.

    Smallpox existed in the wild until the late 1970s. Even in the 1960s, there were outbreaks in Europe. According to Ye Pfffft! of All Knowledge, “In the early 1950s, an estimated 50 million cases of smallpox occurred in the world each year.” Yes, a vaccine existed (and had, in one form or another, since about 1800), but with 50m cases annually, saying “[w]e had conquered smallpox” is like saying “hair furor won the election” albeit not as false.

    As an aside, I rather doubt there was “no” opposition to the polio vaccine (albeit the author does admit there might have been some, and it does seem to the case the vaccine was enthusiastically welcomed). And unlike most(? all?) other vaccine rollouts, there were problems: First, the live (attenuated) polio vaccine does shed, and even now (it’s still in use since it’s easy to transport into rugged / remote areas), occasionally causes polio; and Second, in the famous “Cutter incidence” in 1955, a manufacturing error resulted in an (insufficiently attenuated) live polio vaccine, with numerous cases resulting.

    Today a substantial subset of people seem to regard science as the equivalent of necromancy or alchemy, or, like, Rumpelstiltskin. Anthony Fauci, a doctor who has literally […] saved hundreds of thousands of lives, is regularly portrayed by the idiots as some sort of maniacal dictatorial quack, a cross between Hitler and surgeons from the 16th century […] who would operate on mentally ill people to remove, from their brains, the “stone of madness.”

    […] I am merely saying that we are in the middle of a pandemic, and seemingly at the mercy of incredibly stupid people who are so medieval they won’t be happy until a hollow-eyed man with black crummy teeth in a burlap robe is wandering the streets clanging a bell and yodeling, “Bring out your dead.” [That’s an idea… albeit teh eejits would probably miss the point –blf]

    Whilst referring to the vaccine hesitant, and the hardcore anti-vaxxers, as “eejits” (however you care to spell it) is understandable, always using that insulting term for both without acknowledging the differences, seems, well… idiotic.

  149. says

    Man With Weapons And Allegedly Spouting White Supremacist Rhetoric Arrested Near DNC

    A California man who allegedly had a machete and bayonet in a truck with white supremacist symbols on it was arrested late Sunday night near the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C.

    Donald Craighead, 44, of Oceanside, California, was arrested for unlawful possession of banned weapons, Capitol Police said in a press release Monday announcing the arrest.

    An officer pulled over Craighead once he spotted that his Dodge Dakota did not have a license plate, only an American flag, police said.

    Craighead “began talking about white supremacist ideology and other rhetoric pertaining to white supremacy” upon his arrest, the USCP said, and he also claimed that he was “on patrol.”

    The USCP tweeted photos of the interior and exterior of the truck, which appear to show the machete and swastikas drawn on the rearview mirrors: [photos available at the link]

    The arrest comes days before a pro-Trump rally that will be held in D.C. on Saturday in support of the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, whom ex-President Donald Trump and his allies have tried to rebrand as political prisoners.

    The DNC headquarters are located just a few blocks away from the Capitol. […]

  150. says

    blf @154, “Whilst referring to the vaccine hesitant, and the hardcore anti-vaxxers, as “eejits” (however you care to spell it) is understandable, always using that insulting term for both without acknowledging the differences, seems, well… idiotic.” Yep. I like the “plague rats” description.

    In other news: Biden admin appeals DACA ruling as Democrats make legislative case to parliamentarian

    The Biden administration has appealed the July court decision that ruled the popular and successful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to be unlawful […] That ruling, issued by anti-immigrant federal judge Andrew Hanen, ground all new applications to a halt, including at least 81,000 first-time forms that had been backlogged due to agency delays. Currently, only renewals may go forward.

    That will likely continue to be the case for the time being. The Biden administration’s appeal goes to the 5th Circuit, “an extremely conservative appeals court,” […]

    This appeal of the DACA ruling to the 5th Circuit only stresses the importance of major legislative advancements made within the past several days. The Senate parliamentarian on Friday heard arguments over the inclusion of immigration provisions—including a pathway to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants—in Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending package. President Joe Biden had notably endorsed reconciliation following Hanen’s decision, saying in a statement that “[i]t is my fervent hope that through reconciliation or other means, Congress will finally provide security to all Dreamers, who have lived too long in fear.”

    […] Since December alone, the program and its beneficiaries have seen a tumultuous timeline where DACA was fully reopened under court order, but then encountered massive agency-wide delays, and then was partially shut down under court order.

    […] Astrid Silva, DACA recipient and Big Dream Nevada founder, told MSNBC’s Alicia Menendez she’s been waiting for decades for her chance to become an American on paper: [Tweet available at the link.]

    […] immigration provisions advocates and Democrats are seeking to pass through the reconciliation process that could permanently protect up to 8 million people, with markup beginning in the House on Monday [today]. Advocates are urging that legislation remain as inclusive as possible. “We believe that passing this legislation through reconciliation is permissible because the bill’s budgetary effects are a substantial, direct and intended result, and that the non-budgetary effects do not so disproportionately outweigh the budgetary effects as to make them merely incidental,” a Democratic aide said in the report.

    Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough’s decision could be out within days, and Democrats should remember that her opinion is just that: an opinion. “The presiding officer ‘may accept or reject’ that advice,” Daily Kos’ Joan McCarter wrote in July. “Senators are free to run their chamber as they see fit,” Daily Kos political director David Nir tweeted. ”Elizabeth MacDonough is not their boss—it’s the other way around.” While this fight to pass permanent relief continues, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and co-counsel at Ropes & Gray are also appealing the Hanen’s decision on behalf of nearly two dozen DACA recipients.

    […] MALDEF Vice President of Litigation Nina Perales said in a statement received by Daily Kos. “For this reason, DACA is an important part of the immigration system and should be upheld as lawful.” MALDEF President Thomas Saenz said “[w]e look forward to a successful appeal on behalf of our courageous clients, even as we urge Congress to act to prevent the necessity of this appeal.”

  151. blf says

    Follow-up to @117, Veronica Wolski, Woman[plauge rat] Who QAnoners Demanded Hospital Treat COVID With Ivermectin, Dies:

    […]
    Her death was announced on Telegram by conspiracy theorist Lin Wood, one of the biggest and most influential QAnon supporters. Wood previously urged his 814,000 Telegram followers to ring up the Amita Health Resurrection Medical Center and demand that Wolski be treated with ivermectin instead of approved and tested drugs or vaccines. [Vaccines would not have helped her by then, FFS! Vaccines are a preventative, not a treatment –blf]

    […]

    In his post on Telegram, Wood claimed that Wolski had been murdered by the hospital for refusing to treat her COVID with ivermectin.

    […]

    Just hours before reporting her death, Wood posted a video online where he called hospital staff and demanded that she be released from hospital, claiming the person on the call would be guilty of murder if she did not.

    Wood also made a similar statement late on Sunday night, claiming he had spoken to Wolski’s power of attorney and that Amita Resurrection Hospital and its medical providers would be complicit in murder if they do not immediately release Veronica to receive the medical treatment she is requesting.

    Wood once again shared the hospital’s phone number while encouraging his hundreds of thousands of followers to call it and let his[?] hospital hear your voices NOW.

    Other popular QAnon supporters who encouraged their followers to harass the hospital staff into treating Wolski with ivermectin include Sidney Powell, who along with Wood attempting to claim the 2020 election was rigged with the widely dismissed “kraken” lawsuits, and former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

    […]

    Bingo! An entire card of crackpot plague rats.

    Spotted via https://www.sorryantivaxxer.com/post/veronica-wolski-64-chicago-il-qanon-conspiracy-theorist-anti-vaxxer-died-from-covid (a snippet):

    I’m sure NOW these people will use Veronica as their Martyr and create an Ivermectin army and start attacking more and more hospitals. Maybe this can replace “The Storm” as something for them to be Patriots about? We’ll see.

  152. blf says

    Related to @120, Ivermectin frenzy: the advocates, anti-vaxxers and telehealth companies driving demand:

    […]
    At the top of a Florida-based telehealth website that promises quality meds with fast shipping[], above a menu of skin care products, erectile dysfunction medications and hair loss treatments, sits a bright orange banner with bold lettering: LOOKING FOR IVERMECTIN? CLICK HERE, it reads.

    The telehealth site is one of numerous online providers that have moved to capitalize on the surge in demand for ivermectin as Covid-19 cases rise across the US. […]

    Driving the ivermectin frenzy is a cottage industry of advocacy groups, anti-vaccine activists and telehealth companies. Touting the drug as a miracle cure for Covid-19, these groups have rapidly risen to prominence, finding a fervent audience among conservative media figures, the vaccine-hesitant and people desperate to treat loved ones suffering from the virus.

    […]

    Despite outstanding questions over ivermectin’s efficacy, several advocacy organizations have been on a nearly year-long campaign to mainstream the drug. Two of the most prominent groups backing ivermectin as a Covid-19 treatment are the UK-based British Ivermectin Recommendation Development (Bird) and the US-based Front Line Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC).

    […]

    Doctors[Quacks] in both groups have been on a media blitz during the last year, publishing protocols and promotional material on ivermectin, giving interviews to news outlets, holding panels and appearing on podcasts.

    But other doctors have cautioned the groups have relied on weak data, ignored studies that show ivermectin is not effective and made numerous misleading claims in their push for the drug — such as FLCCC tweeting last month that this could all be over by the end of August and one founding member comparing restrictions on ivermectin to genocide.

    Both the FLCCC and Bird have drawn further scrutiny from other[real] medical professionals for affiliating with prominent anti-vaccine organizations. In September, the FLCCC and Bird sent open letters to health departments in Australia, New Zealand, Iceland and the Cayman Islands advocating for the use of ivermectin for a variety of Covid-19 treatments. Listed as partner organizations on the letters were several international anti-vaccine groups, including the organization of prolific anti-vaxxer Robert F Kennedy Jr.

    “For an organization that is not anti-vaxx it seems to be incredibly comfortable co-promoting organizations that are anti-vaxx,” said Dr Kyle Sheldrick, a Sydney-based doctor who has raised alarm over unethical conduct in pro-ivermectin studies. “As a doctor myself, I would not be part of any group that keeps the sort of company that FLCCC keeps.”

    Co-founder and president of FLCCC, pulmonary care specialist Dr[quack] Pierre Kory [see @120, @121, and @122], has also found allies among influential politicians and media figures who have spoken critically of Covid-19 vaccines.

    At a December 2020 hearing chaired by Senator Ron Johnson, who has falsely claimed that natural immunity is better than vaccine immunity and made misleading statements about vaccinations causing death, Kory called ivermectin the solution to Covid-19. The appearance boosted Kory’s online following and led to appearances on several popular podcasts that have questioned vaccinations. In June, Kory was a guest on Joe Rogan’s top-rated podcast[rampant liefest], telling Rogan’s millions of listeners that his dream is that every household has ivermectin in the cupboard while suggesting that technology companies were censoring discussion of the drug [and the Chicago Cubs did not win the 2016 World Series].

    […]

    Public interest in ivermectin ballooned following Joe Rogan’s podcasts. […]

    As interest in ivermectin spread, opinions on the drug became subsumed into a broader culture war. As health authorities dismissed it, some advocates increasingly claimed that there was a wide-ranging conspiracy against the drug, accusing tech platforms and big pharma of censorship. Some FLCCC members appeared in YouTube videos promoting conspiracy theories, with titles such as Exposed! FDA, CDC & WHO is hiding this from you? In one video, the hosts claimed, There is a conspiracy to block and ban discussion of treatments that will not make any money for the big pharmaceutical companies. [So why does Merck, who makes ivermectin (and so would profit), does not have a vaccine, and is part of Big Pharma, say to not use it for Covid-19? –blf]

    Fox News hosts, including Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, featured guests promoting the drug and deriding public health officials for cautioning against its use. Conservative radio hosts joined in recommending the drug, including [someone named by Daily Beast who won’t let me see] who has since died of Covid-19.

    As ivermectin turned into a conservative rallying point, some groups began to take advantage of its new audience. At least three telehealth sites offering ivermectin have ties to America’s Frontline Doctors […]

    Dr[Quack] Stella Immanuel, another member of America’s Frontline Doctors, posted on her medical practice Facebook page this month that we went from 100 to 700+ a day signing up for telehealth in three weeks and are totally swamped[ creatures that need draining]” with patients seeking ivermectin.

    Immanuel became infamous last year as a high-profile promoter of hydroxychloroquine […], as well as for her claims that common illnesses were the result of people having sex with demons in their dreams and that reptilians run the government. […]

    […] On Telegram and other messaging platforms, pro-ivermectin communities have become hubs for anti-vaccine misinformation, with members sharing tips for pharmacies and telehealth providers who will order them the drug. In pro-ivermectin Facebook groups, members have promoted the drug’s use, condemned its opponents and discussed taking legal action against doctors who won’t administer it.

    […]

    Barring new data that proves ivermectin’s efficacy in treating Covid-19, many health experts view the drug as a potentially dangerous distraction.

    “There are lots of promising treatments that are much farther along the research and development pipeline than ivermectin,” said Dr Jorge Caballero, co-founder of Coders against Covid, an organization that analyzes Covid data. “Let’s focus on the library of things that we do know work. We know that vaccines work.”

    […]

      † The unnamed site may, on alternate Mondays for precisely 3 minutes starting at a different time each alternating Monday, be a honest trustworthy firm. But I doubt it, hence the eejit quotes.

  153. blf says

    Biden’s hard line on vaccine mandates draws praise and pushback:

    […]
    “​​What we need is things that work right now,” Dr Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown School of Public Health, told reporters of the announcement from the White House. “So I actually think it will make a big difference.”

    […]

    The US has a long history of mandating vaccines [America mulls vaccine mandates — will they work?]. But previously, vaccinations were required only for government entities or on the state level. This is the first vaccine mandate that extends to so many Americans. However, legal scholars say the mandate falls within the power of federal agencies.

    “We are at a critical moment,” Jha said. “If we did not really begin to implement these things — if we did not substantially ramp up vaccinations, make testing much more widely available — we’re looking at thousands of people dying every day for weeks and months on end.”

    […]

    Some snippets from the referenced history of vaccine mandates in the States (link embedded in above excerpt (August 2021, my added emboldening)):

    The US has a long history of requiring vaccines. In winter 1777, George Washington required smallpox inoculations for all soldiers fighting the British. In 1809, Massachusetts passed a law requiring proof of inoculation against smallpox.

    By 1980, schools in all US states had laws requiring vaccinations for students. Some places offered religious or philosophical exemptions. Such rules were put to the test in a measles epidemic in Philadelphia in 1991, when 1,400 cases and nine deaths were mainly clustered in two churches whose members requested exemption from vaccination.

    “Philadelphia was a feared destination,” said Dr Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center and an infectious disease physician at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Schools canceled trips to the city. People were afraid to come.”

    The measles vaccine became compulsory. “Everyone in those schools had to be vaccinated, even though the parents didn’t want them to be,” Offit said.

    One pastor asked the American Civil Liberties Union to represent the churches but it declined, Offit recalled, on the grounds that “while you are at liberty to martyr yourself to your religion, you are not at liberty to martyr your child”.

    In the grip of the Covid pandemic, mandates seem a logical next step, experts say. Vaccines are safe and effective, widely available and more needed than ever as the Delta variant spreads.

    […]

    Allowing the virus to circulate will put those not eligible for vaccination, like children, and those who not protected well, like the immune-suppressed, at risk. Unchecked spread means more variants will emerge, probably making vaccines less effective.

    There’s also an ethical imperative to mandate vaccines, [founder of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, Dr Ruth] Faden said.

    “There’s an awful lot of good, an awful lot of human welfare that could be promoted here, a tremendous burden of disease and death could be prevented.”

    […]

    Much like laws about wearing seatbelts and against driving distracted or drunk, vaccine mandates help the world function. As Faden puts it: “I can’t just go through a traffic light because I’m in a hurry.”

  154. tomh says

    Texas judge issues injunction against anti-abortion group on enforcing new law
    By Jessica Schneider and Ariane de Vogue, CNN
    Updated 4:06 PM ET, Mon September 13, 2021

    (CNN)A Texas state judge issued an injunction
    against anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life, blocking it from trying to enforce the new six-week abortion ban against Planned Parenthood in Texas.

    The injunction, issued by Judge Karin Crump of the Travis County court, applies to anyone affiliated with the group and stops them from filing a lawsuit against Planned Parenthood for any potential violation of SB8, the law that effectively bans most abortions in Texas. The law gives private citizens the power to enforce it.

    This order applies only to Texas Right to Life and is part of a larger — and piecemeal — approach by abortion rights advocates to try to blunt the effect of the law. Other short-term temporary restraining orders are in place against other anti-abortion advocates, and more permanent injunctions are being sought in those cases….

    The injunction against Texas Right to Life is effective immediately and replaces a temporary restraining order that was issued earlier this month. It will remain in effect until at least April 2022, when a trial is scheduled on the merits of the case.

    .

  155. blf says

    Unvaccinated conservative talk show host and pastor, dies of COVID-19:

    Conservative firebrand Bob Enyart, the pastor of the Denver Bible Church and indelible talk show host, has died from COVID-19, his radio co-host announced Monday on Facebook.

    “Bob Enyart was one of the smartest, and without question, the wisest person I’ve known,” Fred Williams, Enyart’s co-host on the Real Science Radio show, said in a post[, proving both of them are complete eejits].

    Enyart and his wife refused to get the vaccine due to abortion concerns, he said on his website[, so add a third eejit (presuming he(?) wasn’t lying)].

    In October, Enyart successfully sued the state over mask mandates and capacity limits in churches, a rare legal victory against broad public health mandates instituted during the pandemic[, adding multiple additional eejits to the heil coronavirus goosesteppers, namely some judges and lawyers].

    [… Enyart] once traveled to New Zealand for the sole purpose of being arrested with a Clinton is a Rapist banner, according to a 1999 Westword profile.

    On his old TV show, Bob Enyart Live, the host would “gleefully read obituaries of AIDS sufferers while cranking ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ by Queen,” Westword reported.

    I am therefore very Very happy that this genocidal-promoting nazi is fecking dead. Unfortunately, he’s probably rich enough to afford a funeral, rather than having his plague-ridden corpse incinerated as hazardous biological waste. (See below if you think this is “too” harsh or violates guidelines.)

    […] He claims to be in the top 5% of all authors for book and video sales.

    Enyart also served as the spokesman for American Right to Life, which bills itself as the abolition wing of the pro-life movement.

    […]

    From the Encyclopedia of American Loons (#651, August 2013):

    [… Bob] Enyart is an absolutely inane and insane fundie talk radio host, author, and pastor and a self-proclaimed “right-wing religious fanatic”. He is, perhaps, particularly well known for his views on homosexuality and abortion (whom among these aren’t), for picketing the homes of doctors performing abortions, and for reading the obituaries of AIDS victims on the air calling the deceased people sodomites. He has also led residential protests against executives of a company that provided construction services for Planned Parenthood offices, and is a proponent of the corporal punishment of children, saying that their hearts are lifted by spanking (he was himself convicted for misdemeanor child abuse in 1994 after beating his girlfriend’s child with a belt so hard that the beating broke the skin). Yes, Enyart is that kind of person, if “person” is the right kind of word. […]

    […]

    Diagnosis: Apparently absolutely devoid of any redeemable personality traits or positive human characteristic; yet this zealous bag of bigotry and denialism may nevertheless actually enjoy some listeners. Exasperating.

    sorryantivaxxer.com is also utterly unsympathetic, Bob Enyart, 62, Another Conservative Radio Host, anti-vaxx. “Another one bites the dust” with COVID (minor edits, unmarked, for formatting reasons):

    [… His] claims:

    (1) Babies are being killed to do vaccine research. This is wrong. The stems cell lines come from fetuses from the 1970s and are thousands of generations removed. See: https://www.nebraskamed.com/COVID/you-asked-we-answered-do-the-covid-19-vaccines-contain-aborted-fetal-cells

    (2) mRNA could change our genome. This is false. See: https://www.reuters.com/article/factcheck-covid-mrna-gene/fact-check-mrna-vaccines-are-distinct-from-gene-therapy-which-alters-recipients-genes-idUSL1N2PH16N

    (3) Quantum Dots being used to mark and trace peoples vaccine history this is false currently although possible in the future.

    Anyway, Bob is dead from COVID because he didn’t get vaccinated.

    It’s entirely reasonable, and possible, to feel sorry for the dying & dead unvaccinated, even if they refused the proven safe & effective preventative due to misinformation. Some of the misinformers also deserve sympathy, perhaps especially (albeit not exclusively) if they recant. Enyart is none of these cases. Besides being a denier and scientifically illiterate (he also denied evolution), he celebrated the death of people from AIDS, and promoted the torture of children (being convicted of doing so himself!).

  156. says

    On Covid-19 crisis, Florida’s DeSantis starts to lose the plot

    Instead of maintaining a vaccines-and-freedom-are-both-good posture, DeSantis participated in a deeply problematic press conference.

    As a practical matter, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis isn’t investing much energy into efforts to end the pandemic. The Republican governor is, however, actively involved in standing in the way of others who are trying to end the pandemic.

    For example, as the number of Covid-related child deaths in Florida grows, DeSantis and his administration continue to fight against policies that would require mask protections in schools. As President Joe Biden takes steps to ensure vaccinations among public sector employees, the Republican governor yesterday vowed to fine local governments “$5,000 for each employee who is required to be vaccinated.”

    How would any of this help bring about an end to the deadly public health crisis? It wouldn’t, but like too many in his party, ending the pandemic isn’t DeSantis’s principal concern.

    It was against this backdrop that the GOP governor held a press conference yesterday on vaccines. As The Tampa Bay Times reported, it didn’t go well.

    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis stood silently Monday as employees for the City of Gainesville repeated misinformation about the Covid-19 vaccines during a news conference set up by his office. “The vaccine changes your RNA,” said Darris Friend, who said he’s about a year and a half away from retirement after 22 years with the city. Another implied that the vaccine could kill her.

    Ideally, the governor, in a position of authority and ostensibly aware of reality, would’ve explained to the public that vaccines do not change people’s RNA and do not put anyone’s lives in danger.

    But as the Times’ report added, DeSantis “shifted his feet in apparent discomfort” but did not correct the obvious misinformation being peddled by confused people speaking alongside him.

    And for the Florida Republican, this was an unfortunate turning point.

    For much of the year, DeSantis has tried to thread a needle, telling the public that vaccines are good, while simultaneously insisting that they remain entirely voluntary. The former was intended to make the governor appear reasonable in the eyes of the reality-based community, while the latter would keep the ambitious politician popular with his party’s rabid base.

    For all intents and purposes, the strategy unraveled over the summer as Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and fatalities spiked, and the governor struggled to justify his passivity in the face of an ongoing public health disaster. […]

    DeSantis […] participated in a press conference in which the public was told bizarre nonsense about the one thing that can help end this nightmare.

    As Jon Chait explained, “[…] The Republican party didn’t set out to position itself with vaccine skeptics. But they have found themselves, once again, standing shoulder to shoulder with the absurd, looking down at their feet and pretending it isn’t happening.”

  157. snarkrates says

    blf, Maybe we could open up an franchise specializing in asparagus and diuretics in the vicinity of Enyart’s grave.

  158. says

    Yes, President Biden’s plan to increase the number of vaccinated Americans is popular.

    […] A Politico/Morning Consult poll released yesterday found the president’s policy receiving generally “high marks.” Politico reported these results:
    – Requiring all employers with 100 or more employees to mandate Covid-19 vaccinations or weekly testing: 58 percent support, 36 percent oppose
    – Requiring federal workers and contractors to get vaccinated for Covid-19, without an option to opt out through regular testing: 57 percent support, 36 percent oppose
    – Requiring most U.S. health care workers to get vaccinated for Covid-19, without an option to opt out through regular testing: 60 percent support, 34 percent oppose

    An Axios/Ipsos poll, released this morning, pointed in a similar direction:

    Just days after President Biden announced new vaccine requirements for federal employees and businesses with 100 or more workers, the latest Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index (conducted after Biden’s announcement) finds that 60 percent of Americans support the federal government implementing these new policies.

    CNN’s newest national poll, meanwhile, also found narrow majorities endorsing vaccine requirements for “office workers returning to the workplace” (54 percent), “students attending in-person classes” (55 percent), and “patrons attending sporting events or concerts” (55 percent).

    When Republican officials responded last week with hysterical apoplexy, it’s possible they assumed the American mainstream was already on the GOP’s side. It’s also possible that Republicans believed they could help steer public attitudes with over-the-top condemnations.

    […] the American mainstream is more interested in ending the pandemic than going along with a partisan crusade against the president.

    Link

  159. says

    https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1437583096849866765

    Here’s Tucker Carlson reading Nicki Minaj’s “testicles became swollen” tweet out loud: “My cousin trinidad won’t get the vaccine cuz his friend got it & became impotent. His testicles became swollen. His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl called off the wedding. So just pray on it & make sure you’re comfortable with ur decision, not bullied.”

    Video is available at the link.

    Ted Lieu:

    I just want to note that sexually transmitted diseases are not side effects of the COVID vaccines.

    Nicki Minaj has over 20 million followers on Twitter. Joy Reid took her to task for disseminating disinformation.

    “You have a platform, sister, that is 22 million followers,” Reid said Monday during a discussion on her program about vaccine mandates and misinformation. “I have 2 million followers … you have 22 million followers on Twitter. For you to use your platform to encourage our community to not protect themselves and save their lives … my God sister, you could do better than that.”

    Reid added Minaj’s massive following stemming from her music career is “a blessing,” telling the hip-hop star that “people listen to you more than they listen to me.”

    “For you to use your platform to put people in the position of dying from a disease they don’t have to die from, oh my God,” Reid continued. “As a fan, as a hip-hop fan and as somebody who is your fan, I am so sad that you did that, sister. Oh my God.”

    Minaj responded with more tweets, some doubling down and some accusing Joy Reid of going after another black woman “at the request of a white man.” So, Minaj is digging that hole deeper.

  160. says

    George W. Bush condemns ‘violent extremists,’ Trump pushes back

    What does it say about Donald Trump that every time he hears condemnations of hatred and extremism, he instinctively assumes he’s the target?

    Exactly 20 years after the Sept. 11 attack, George W. Bush delivered remarks in Pennsylvania, from the field where Flight 93 crashed. The former president’s speech was poignant, and in many ways, important.

    “[W]e have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders, but from violence that gathers within,” the Texas Republican said. “There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit. And it is our continuing duty to confront them.”

    Bush added, “A malign force seems at work in our common life that turns every disagreement into an argument, and every argument into a clash of cultures. So much of our politics has become a naked appeal to anger, fear, and resentment. That leaves us worried about our nation and our future together.”

    The former president was deliberately vague about his rhetorical targets. He mentioned no one by name and was unspecific about parties and ideologies.

    But the only other living former Republican president was nevertheless outraged. In a written statement released yesterday, Donald Trump lashed out at Bush directly:

    “So interesting to watch former President Bush, who is responsible for getting us into the quicksand of the Middle East (and then not winning!), as he lectures us that terrorists on the ‘right’ are a bigger problem than those from foreign countries that hate America.”

    Trump went on to say Bush “led a failed and uninspiring presidency,” and he “shouldn’t be lecturing anybody!”

    As a factual matter, Bush did not single out terrorists on “on the ‘right,'” or say that they pose a more serious threat than foreign attackers. Trump just made that up.

    But perhaps the most amazing thing about Trump’s angry response is its existence: Bush denounced “violent extremists,” and those who appeal to “anger, fear and resentment,” which led Trump to assume that he was the intended target.

    […] it was in February 2019, for example, when filmmaker Spike Lee said in his Academy Awards acceptance speech, “Let’s all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate.”

    The then-president was outraged, taking great offense and describing Lee’s comments as a “racist hit” on Trump.

    Lee hadn’t mentioned Trump’s name — or said anything racist, for that matter — but […] Trump immediately felt insulted.

    Something similar happened during John McCain’s memorial services a year earlier. Trump’s name was not uttered, but many who eulogized the late senator went out of their way to contrast his lifetime of service with those who, in Barack Obama’s words, are “small and mean and petty.”

    People close to Trump said he “fumed” during the event, and “grew angry” with the veiled criticisms. The then-president’s name didn’t come up, but confronted with oblique references to dishonorable people of weak character, he assumed the worst.

    In the final full month of his presidency, Barack Obama spoke at an event at Pearl Harbor and told attendees, “Even when hatred burns hottest, even when the tug of tribalism is at its most primal, we must resist the urge to turn inward. We must resist the urge to demonize those who are different.” Trump, naturally, assumed the Democratic president was directing the comments at him.

    Three years later, Obama urged Americans to reject those who feed “a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments.” Trump was offended by this, too.

    What does it say about Trump that every time he hears condemnations of hatred and extremism, he instinctively assumes he’s the target?

  161. says

    Larry Elder Campaign Touts Website Already Saying Newsom Won Via Voter Fraud

    The campaign of Larry Elder, the hard-right radio host who’s been leading the pack of Republicans working to unseat California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in today’s recall election, is promoting a website that curiously already states the results of the election even though it, uh, hasn’t started yet!

    The campaign’s website has a “Stop Fraud” link leading to “StopCAfraud.com,” which has a petition that demands the California state legislature “investigate and ameliorate” the “twisted results” of the election. [There are no results! Not yet anyway. As Rachel Maddow said last night, there are no results twisty or not twisty. Elder’s campaign put that nonsense up online more than 26 hours before election day.]

    The linked website claims that unspecified “statistical analysis used to detect fraud in elections held in 3rd-world nations” have detected fraud “resulting in Governor Gavin Newsom being reinstated as governor.” [Ha! Rampant bullshit.]

    On the linked website site is a disclaimer that it was paid for by the “Larry Elder Ballot Measure Committee Recall Newsom,” and indicates that group received major funding from … wait for it … the Elder campaign.

    What’s incredible is that the site is still up even after the Elder campaign was asked about it by news outlets. Elder spokesperson Ying Ma acknowledged in a statement that the campaign has “provided a link to an outside website that is providing an avenue for voters to document irregularities they encounter in this election” but “we believe that Larry will win.” [More bullshit. Elder himself has been spouting comments that reveal his is worried/afraid/sure that he will lose.]

    Elder refused to commit to accepting today’s election results yesterday, saying instead that “we all need to be looking at election integrity”: [video available at the link]

    Trump also put out a rant baselessly claiming (again) that the recall election is “rigged” and that the mail-in ballots “will make this just another giant Election Scam.”

    Biden warned Californians that Elder was “the closest thing to a Trump clone that I have ever seen” during his stump speech for Newsom yesterday in Long Beach, California.

    Yep. Biden is right. See comments 29, 39 and 49.

  162. says

    Idaho Republicans sent their state into pandemic crisis. Now it’s spreading over state borders.

    […] the state of Idaho’s near-complete incompetence at dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in adjacent Washington State hospitals having to pick up the slack. Northern Idaho hospitals are now so inundated with patients that crisis rationing of health care was announced last week. In Washington, the new flood of Idaho pandemic patients is resulting in postponed brain cancer surgeries and overwhelmed emergency rooms.

    […] Republican Idaho Gov. Brad Little’s clownish pandemic incompetence is flat-out killing people, and not all of them are in Idaho. It’s yet another case of a red-state Republican government completely botching—on purpose—the response to a public crisis while leaving it to the public and to nearby better-run governments to clean up the wreckage. Again. And Americans have every right to be pissed off about it.

    […] Idaho’s 40% vaccination rate is among the nation’s lowest, and Little is among the Republican governors who—of course—bellowed that he would be taking legal action to make sure the federal government couldn’t mandate vaccinations for employees […] There’s similarly no plans to take other measures to reduce the pandemic’s spread in the state.

    The Little plan appears to be akin to Republican plans in Florida and elsewhere and can be roughly described as ”If we claim it’s patriotic not to try, then nobody can blame us for the staggering numbers of deaths.” Like Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis, Little also attempted to portray pandemic safety measures as a Democratic attack on “freedom,” specifically the freedom to spread a deadly disease if you damn well want to, anywhere you want to, because screw everybody else.

    At this point it’s hard to blame this entirely on Donald Trump. His thickheaded incompetence was the reason Republicanism first came to insist that competence, actually, was the real enemy here, but Trump is retired now and the rest of these clowns are still in the center ring. […]

    Little’s incompetence at managing what’s now a state emergency is risking lives in Washington State and in any other state now having to accept an influx of ventilator-reliant Idaho freedom-havers. It’s the same dynamic that’s played out time and time again, as Republican ideologues make a catastrophe […] then rely on the nation’s not-Republicans to attempt to patch up the damage without them.

    […] In Republican governance you can fill hospitals to overflowing, fill them further until crisis protocols must be enacted, fill them further still so that hospitals in neighboring states are also seeing an influx of your state residents, and still nobody in the party will question whether or not Republicanism should be doing something more substantive than bupkis in response.

    […] Recent history suggests that each freedom-loving Republican will regret their past actions if and only if a member of their own family kicks the pandemic bucket. If a member of your family gets infected and dies, they don’t care. If it’s your cancer surgery that has to be delayed, allowing the cancer to further grow so that hospitals can free up rooms and doctors for unvaccinated anti-mask belligerents now sucking air through a tube while their families search local livestock supply stores for veterinary dewormers, they don’t care.

    Maybe Washington State needs to implement vaccine passports for crossing its state borders.

    […] Getting vaccinated is free. Being treated in an emergency room for even a “mild” case of COVID-19 infection is not only not free, it remains heart-stoppingly expensive. Spend a night or 10 in an ICU and even with insurance, many Americans will still face a mountain of unpayable bills.

    What will be the long-term economic effects in places like Florida and Idaho after a sea of unvaccinated patients live through the pandemic, only to see their savings wiped out and then some from the costs of keeping them alive? What will the long-term effects on local health care systems be from that many bills going unpaid?

    […] Keep your patriotic deaths to yourselves and leave the rest of us out of it, Republican do-nothings. These are your bills to be paid, not ours. Stop relying on everyone else to bail you out of every catastrophe […]

  163. says

    Facebook is a menace. COVID-19 is a menace. Conservatism is a cesspool. Together, those three ingredients have created a toxic stew of malevolent death and devastation. […] I hadn’t really fully understood just how horrifying that combination of right-wing extremism, Facebook, and a killer virus was until I became a regular at the Herman Cain Awards subreddit. This series will document some of those stories, so we are aware of what the other side is doing to our country. […]

    These people’s faith leaves plenty of room open for fear. Fear of scary immigrants. Fear of liberals. Fear of being replaced by Black and brown people. Fear of “Chinese Communists.” Fear of critical race theory. Fear of masks. Fear of vaccines. The list is endless.

    This isn’t a question of “faith over fear.” It’s some weird, perverted, bizarre interpretation where their faith is suddenly incompatible with taking a free, lifesaving vaccine. […]

    Taking the vaccine was somehow rejecting “faith” for “fear.” And so here we are: a big chunk of the family going down with COVID-19. […]

    These people consistently vote against a party that would provide universal health care, meaning an unforeseen hospitalization wouldn’t bankrupt their family. This is all so easily avoidable, and this situation is nonexistent in other countries. Yet here they are, collecting pennies on a GoFundMe fundraiser that will never even cover medical bills, much less replace whatever income she was providing to the family (“a huge role,” according to this very fundraiser). […]

    But yeah, “faith over fear,” or something. […]

    Can you imagine being an overworked doctor or nurse laboring in this most difficult, emotionally wrenching environment, and having to deal with people who think they know better because of some meme they saw on Facebook?

    COVID-19 attacked her lungs and her heart. Hospitals have a protocol they follow in these cases, which is based on over a year of experience in seeing what improves the chances of survival the most. And these assholes are screaming at them about hydroxychloroquine because of Donald Trump, and ivermectin horse dewormer because Facebook said so.

    COVID-19 creates dangerous systemic inflammation. Steroids help lower that inflammation. Are they ideal and free of side effects? No! No drug is when treating this disease. But you know what else has severe side effects? COVID-19! […]

    “Whether to vaccinate is a deeply personal matter, but here, let me tell the world about my wife’s bodily fluids while on her death bed.”

    I get that these people are in severe, panicked distress. Their reactions aren’t going to be rational, and let’s be honest, there wasn’t much rationality from this guy even before this tragedy. But hospitals are messy, gross places in the best of times. Now emergency rooms are overflowing with avoidable COVID-19 cases, and hospitals have to deal with staffing shortages from burnout, illness, and even staff quitting over vaccine mandates. So yeah, maybe patients are shitting their beds and things don’t get cleaned up until staff has time to get to it. It’s not ideal. It’s likely horrible.

    But that’s why, you know, we smart ones try to avoid the place by, you know, vaccinating. […]

    COVID-19 will do this cruel twist of the knife: The patient will seemingly improve, and then a day or two later, she or he dies. I hate it—the false hope it brings. It makes the end even more painful. And it happens all the freakin’ time. […]

    Such a waste. So avoidable. [Spoiler: Natalie died.]

    Enter Chadwick: [Post available at the link]

    So many of these COVID-19 dead leave behind children. They’re so wrapped up in their “my body, my choice” delusion that they’re willfully blind to the devastation their potential death (or incapacitation) can have on their families. No GoFundMe site will make those families whole. Not financially, and certainly not emotionally.

    It’s simple math: Even if the disease only kills 0.1% of all Americans, that’s still 3.3 million Americans. What makes them so sure they won’t be one of those? Yet they’ve convinced themselves—thanks to Facebook, the conservative movement, and their right-wing churches—that the vaccines don’t work, or that they have mind control chips in them, or that they’re “experimental.” Meanwhile they themselves are somehow protected from this deadly pandemic. Because of faith.

    And time and time again, they’re proven wrong. […]

    Link

  164. says

    Texas school district that closed down after two teachers died from COVID reopens with mask mandate

    On Aug. 30, after two junior high school teachers passed away due to complications from COVID-19, Connally Independent School District (ISD) in Texas announced that its schools would be closing down for the rest of the week and through the Labor Day weekend. Connally ISD is based in McLennan County, and Texas is ruled by a Republican governor who is trying to make public health steps illegal.

    Last week, Connally ISD Superintendent Wesley Holt wrote an email to parents and employees explaining that “As educators, it is our duty to keep our students safe and healthy. We feel instituting a mask mandate is a step towards doing this.” This decision is a very easy one from a humanitarian, intelligent, and educational perspective, but because it was made by a person working in the Lone Star State in 2021, Holt’s email will now likely be a part of twice-indicted fraudster and State Attorney General Ken Paxton’s potential lawsuit against the Connally ISD.

    […] Texas Attorney General Paxton posted this threat on Facebook:

    In light of our coming legal action, three school districts smartly rescinded their mask-mandates: Trenton, Calvert, and Los Fresnos ISDs. In doing so, they’ll save taxpayer dollars in futile litigation expenses AND come into compliance with state law. MANY more ISDs are still breaking the law. Lawsuits are coming against them THIS WEEK. Rescind now or see you in court!

    A reminder: Ken Paxton logged “more than 22,000 staff hours” on Texas taxpayers’ dime working on ‘voter fraud’ cases just last year. Paxton is easily one of the most wasteful attorney generals in the country as his office seems to specifically chase ghosts and sue children.

    CNN reports that McLennan County has 37,492 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 572 deaths—four of which happened on Sunday alone. The infection rate in the approximately 250,000-person county is above 15%. Waco and McLennan County’s official COVID-19 health page reports that the total death count to date is 578. According to the health officials on the ground, they have had 181 new cases, with 202 hospitalized patients,and 39 patients on ventilators.

    If anything can be called a silver lining in all of this, it’s that the seriousness of getting vaccinated has been impressed on those closely touched by these tragic loses. Natalia Chansler’s sister, Annice, told CNN that some of her family had been on the fence about getting vaccinated. “They’ve made that move and I’m so proud of them for doing that. I hate that it took Natalia’s passing for them to understand how important it is, but I’m just glad they’ve done it.”

  165. johnson catman says

    re Lynna@169:

    It’s simple math: Even if the disease only kills 0.1% of all Americans, that’s still 3.3 million Americans.

    Apparently, it is not-so-simple math to the author of the article. Multiply 330 million (330,000,000) times 0.1% and you get 330,000 not 3,300,000.

  166. says

    johnson catman @171, thank you for the correction. So far, more than 600,000 people have been killed by the disease. Even the math illiterate should be able to understand that.

    In other news: Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett is just trolling us at this point

    The newest member of the Supreme Court, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, is reportedly “concerned” that the American public unfairly suspects the Supreme Court to be a partisan institution.

    […] we know this because Barrett said so in a speech on Sunday at the University of Louisville’s McConnell Center, founded by Sen. Mitch McConnell, after being personally introduced by Mitch McConnell himself, after Mitch McConnell pushed Barrett’s nomination through the Senate in a matter of weeks after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, after Mitch McConnell blocked a previous Supreme Court confirmation for more than a year to prevent the seat being filled by a Democratic president’s nominee.

    Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed before Ruth Bader Ginsburg was buried. And Mitch McConnell is extremely partisan. No Supreme Court Justice should accept a speaking gig at the McConnell Center.

    Whether Amy Coney Barrett reflected on any of this as she awaited backstage for Mitch McConnell to finish her glowing introduction is unknown. Whether she considered even for a moment whether answering Mitch McConnell’s call to speak to McConnell backers at the McConnell Center would further fuel, in the public mind, suspicions that the Supreme Court was at this point nothing more than an extension of Republican politics with members of the judiciary working hand in hand with Republican political activists is also a mystery.

    But it is highly likely that she is just f–king with us because nobody could be that obtuse unless it was on purpose. Amy Coney Barrett appears to now be just openly trolling people as she brags about the comity on the court and how, actually, justices are “hyper-vigilant” not to let “personal biases” influence their rulings no matter how much it might look like a newly emboldened partisan majority is playing Magic 8 Ball with precedent to rewrite, in some cases, a century’s worth of established law.

    It’s possible, in Amy Coney Barrett’s mind, that she actually thinks she’s gracious in explaining this to us at all. […]

    I’m meeting you halfway here, Barrett seems to be saying. I’m going to continue declaring that all of my excruciatingly predictable rulings providing near-uniform backing to Republican Party priorities are a “judicial philosophy,” albeit one that seems to change its core presumptions from each case to the next as the court’s conservatives Jenga their way to predetermined ideological outcomes. And you are going to sit there listening to Mitch McConnell introduce me at the Mitch McConnell Center for Republican Judicial F–kery, and it is all just an amazing coincidence.

    […] Now that we’re at the point of seriously (ostensibly) pondering whether states can farm out the enforcement of new civil rights-limiting laws to private bounty hunters in order to evade constitutional prohibitions against doing those things, however, it’s becoming increasingly impossible to tease out just what “philosophy” is at work here other than a general decision that Republican Party-backed ideologues will support any Republican Party-backed scheme presented, in the effort to limit American democracy, backtrack on civil rights, […] back gun vigilantism over public safety, and so forth.

    Barrett shouldn’t be asking whether the public believes the Supreme Court to be a partisan entity now. It’s unquestionably a partisan entity. […] A Republican Senate shoved Barrett’s own confirmation through a mere week before a presidential election, gleefully putting a thumb in the eye of any press rube gullible enough to believe their previous outrage over doing the same thing even in the same calendar year as an election was sincere.

    […] The question Amy Coney Barrett should be asking is not whether the public believes the court is partisan. The question is whether the public still believes the rulings of the court to be legitimate.

    […] Does the public believe the Supreme Court will stand firm if Republicans declare a future election to be invalid after the Republican candidate does not win? Or does the public believe that the Supreme Court’s conservative majority would eagerly back even a fraudulent hoax undermining democracy itself if the result meshed with the personal preferences of its members?

    Republican-led states are engaging in those precise preparations even now, as state after state installs new restrictions on the right to vote explicitly premised on false propaganda. On hoaxes. On Republican-backed, partisan mirages of supposed “fraud” that exists nowhere, resulting in new Jim Crow laws tamping down on votes, a push that began immediately after the Supreme Court’s conservative majority removed state restrictions on doing so with the implausible and now disproven claim that the Jim Crow era had passed. New laws include means by which the Republican Party can install partisan acolytes to challenge the vote tallies of counties that vote against them.

    Does the public believe the Supreme Court will stop them, or help them? […]

  167. says

    Wonkette: Did You Forget How Crazy Trump Was? Bob Woodward Will Remind You.

    Excerpts from Bob Woodward’s latest book Peril are dropping, and SPOILER ALERT, Donald Trump is fucking crazy.

    Most surprising detail: We have Vice President Dan Quayle to thank for saving the Republic.

    Because when fellow Hoosier Mike Pence was looking to phone a friend for sage advice on whether to toss out swing state ballots as Trump and the MAGA goons demanded, he couldn’t think of anyone better than the learned scholar who got into a fight with a fifth grader over the spelling of the word “potato.” And even that guy said hell to the no.

    Tell us, CNN:

    “Mike, you have no flexibility on this. None. Zero. Forget it. Put it away,” Quayle told him.

    Pence pressed again.

    “You don’t know the position I’m in,” he said, according to the authors.

    “I do know the position you’re in,” Quayle responded. “I also know what the law is. You listen to the parliamentarian. That’s all you do. You have no power.”

    And even though Donald Trump screamed and shouted that “I don’t want to be your friend anymore if you don’t do this!” (no, really) and “You’ve betrayed us. I made you. You were nothing,” Mike Pence actually stuck to his guns.

    […] Least surprising detail: Bob Woodward tries to bothsides it by shoehorning the first four months of the Biden administration into a book about Trump. This is Bob Woodward we’re talking about here.

    Runner up for least surprising detail: It was that chaos weasel Steve Bannon who convinced Trump to go all in on January 6.

    On December 30, Bannon convinced Trump to come back to the White House from Mar-a-Lago to prepare for the events of January 6, the date Congress would certify the election results.

    “You’ve got to return to Washington and make a dramatic return today,” Bannon told Trump, according to the book. “You’ve got to call Pence off the fucking ski slopes and get him back here today. This is a crisis.”

    The authors write that Bannon told Trump that January 6 was “the moment for reckoning.”

    “People are going to go, ‘What the fuck is going on here?’ ” Bannon believed. “We’re going to bury Biden on January 6th, fucking bury him,” Bannon said.

    It’s always the ones you most suspect!

    But whatever you can say about Woodward, he does get the goods, releasing new details on Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley’s actions after the January 6 insurrection when he “was certain that Trump had gone into a serious mental decline in the aftermath of the election, with Trump now all but manic, screaming at officials and constructing his own alternate reality about endless election conspiracies.”

    So Milley rounded up all the top military guys at the Pentagon and told them in no uncertain terms that no matter what batshit order came out of the White House, nothing happened without his approval. No nuclear war with Iran, no invasion of China, no mass movement of American troops — no wagging the dog whatsoever.

    Which was apparently a good thing, because that fucking lunatic Trump signed an executive order right after the election mandating that all American troops had to be out of Afghanistan by January 15, 2021, before Biden was even sworn in. He was later persuaded to rescind it, but please keep that in mind when Republicans tell you that their withdrawal from Afghanistan would have gone smoothly and left no one behind.

    After he got through with the top brass, Milley got on the horn with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to assure her that he wasn’t going to let the maniac president launch a coup or a nuclear war.

    “What I’m saying to you is that if they couldn’t even stop him from an assault on the Capitol, who even knows what else he may do? And is there anybody in charge at the White House who was doing anything but kissing his fat butt all over this?” Pelosi demanded, adding, “You know he’s crazy. He’s been crazy for a long time.”

    “Madam Speaker, I agree with you on everything,” Milley said, according to Woodward and his co-author Robert Costa.

    And it wasn’t just Pelosi freaking out. The Washington Post quotes excerpts describing two phone calls Milley made to his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army, assuring him that the US wasn’t about to strike China based on the whim of a madman.

    “General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay,” Milley said on October 30. “We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you.”

    On January 8, Milley went back to Li to promise that America wasn’t about to descend into utter chaos and civil war.

    “We are 100 percent steady. Everything’s fine. But democracy can be sloppy sometimes,” he said.

    Remember when Trump said that no one would be laughing at us when he was president?

    There is so much more, including Trump losing his shit after Defense Secretary Mark Esper refused to invoke the Insurrection Act against BLM protesters.

    “You’re all fucked up,” he screamed. “Everybody. You’re all fucked. Every one of you is fucked up!”

    Yes, we were all fucked up. And we’re still all fucked up. But a little less than we were on January 20.

  168. says

    Wonkette:

    […]

    TUCKER CARLSON: I mean I lie if I’m really cornered or something. I lie. I really try not to. I try never to lie on TV. I just don’t — I don’t like lying. I certainly do it, you know, out of weakness or whatever.

    He lies if he’s cornered. He tries not to. He tries not to lie on TV. Note he doesn’t say he succeeds when he tries not to lie on TV. He doesn’t like lying. But he does it, because he’s weak.

    […] There was a lot more context to the discussion, and all of it was uninteresting, but if you really want to know, Media Matters gotchu, since we’re pretty sure you’re also not going to watch that video above. The short version is that Rubin and Tucker were talking about how DON LEMON and BRIAN STELTER are big liars, and then Tucker just went and told us his heart feelings, about why and when he lies.

    And look, we all know that Tucker lies just CONSTANTLY on his show, to the point that Fox News lawyers in court have had to argue (we are paraphrasing) that any idiot should know Tucker is not to be relied upon for Knowledge Truths … but this whole time he was just feeling scared and cornered, like a stinky rodent animal with rabies and masculinity issues in the corner of the attic?

    […] We’re just saying. Because he really does lie a lot on TV, so he must be just shivering in fear pretty much from the time his producer whispers in his ear to say he’s live.

    Does Tucker know he actually doesn’t have to go on TV, if it scares him so much he has to just constantly lie? He could do a different job. […]

  169. says

    Link for text quoted in comment 174.

    Wonkette: “AOC Went To Met Gala Last Night Just To Hurt Conservative White Male Feelings”

    […] Lotta people have opinions about Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez going to the Met Gala, where she wore a dress by a Brooklyn designer what said “TAX THE RICH” on the back.

    Depending on your viewpoint, you might think Ocasio-Cortez is a hypocrite for schmoozing with the rich even though she LITERALLY HATES the rich. (Because she wants to tax them, this means she hates them, just like if you want to teach all of American history, even the parts where white people didn’t comport themselves with the utmost in moral character and dignity, that means you literally hate all white people. This is how Republicans think.) Maybe you think she is being a hypocrite because she accepted the gift of a free ticket to the Met Gala or a borrowed dress. (In which case you’ve definitely been Doing Your Own Research on how fundraisers and gifts to politicians work!) Maybe you think she is being a traitor to The Cause because “reason.” (You’re just jealous, most likely.)

    Let’s look at some of our favorite conservative men melting down about the pretty lady they’re all scared of going to the fancy place they’d never be invited to. […] [snipped some Twitter responses, including Benny Johnson noting the price of a ticket to the Met Gala, etc.]

    It’s funny because AOC likely didn’t have to pay for literally any of it. She was invited as a New York politician to the very fancy New York fundraiser, and teamed up with an up-and-coming designer who made her a fancy dress that just so happened to get everybody talking about taxing the rich. New York Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney wore a dress that said “Equal Rights for Women,” but Republican men aren’t screaming at her right now because they aren’t as panty-pissing scared of/fixated on her like they are with AOC. [snipped Trump’s ridiculous response, as posted on Twitter by Donald Junior]

    “Authoritarian mask Karen.” Good one, Junior.

    Of course, you had to be vaccinated to go to the Met Gala […] Also, New York is a very vaccinated city, and the whole point of getting people vaccinated (instead of dewormed) is so we can get past this damn pandemic and back to normal life, and so we don’t have to be authoritarian mask Karens anymore.

    Here’s Ted Cruz, who is having similar brainworms to Junior up there, these boys really need to take their Ivermectin chewables: [Cruz’s stupidity can be viewed at the link.]

    […] Ditto for House Republicans, who could have actually sought out some information about the party they weren’t invited to, but tweeted stupid quotes from poorly written and researched Fox News articles instead: [Stupidity can be viewed at the link.]

    So many white men, so many feelings.

    So did AOC really completely own the libs last night, specifically HERSELF the lib?

    As the congresswoman noted in an Instagram story, there was a surge in searches for “Tax the rich” last night while she was showing off that dress. And she did it at the rich people party! So that seems to be a win.

    Also newsflash to the confused: AOC is definitely not rich, particularly by the standards of members of Congress, or by the standards of other attendees at the Met Gala. But she sure does advocate people paying their fair share. And oh look, she talked about that on the red carpet standing next to the designer of the dress, whom AOC brought as her guest: [video available at the link]

    For more on what a coup this really was for the message AOC came to deliver, read Amee Vanderpool.

    AOC also explained Met Gala Tickets, How Do THEY Work, for any who are curious [Tweet available at the link]

    So we’ll call this one a win for AOC.

    And of course, that means this is yet another loss for conservative men. Poor things. In all this business they’ve also been too distracted by AOC to even be triggered by Megan Rapinoe looking like a badass and carrying an “In Gay We Trust” clutch at the party Megan Rapinoe also got to go to and they didn’t. […]

  170. says

    Follow-up to comment 173.

    “Top general was so fearful Trump might spark war that he made secret calls to his Chinese counterpart, new book says.”

    Washington Post link

    Twice in the final months of the Trump administration, the country’s top military officer was so fearful that the president’s actions might spark a war with China that he moved urgently to avert armed conflict.

    In a pair of secret phone calls, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, assured his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army, that the United States would not strike, according to a new book by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward and national political reporter Robert Costa.

    One call took place on Oct. 30, 2020, four days before the election that unseated President Trump, and the other on Jan. 8, 2021, two days after the Capitol siege carried out by his supporters in a quest to cancel the vote.

    The first call was prompted by Milley’s review of intelligence suggesting the Chinese believed the United States was preparing to attack. That belief, the authors write, was based on tensions over military exercises in the South China Sea, and deepened by Trump’s belligerent rhetoric toward China. [See comment 173]

    In the book’s account, Milley went so far as to pledge he would alert his counterpart in the event of a U.S. attack, stressing the rapport they’d established through a backchannel. “General Li, you and I have known each other for now five years. If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.”

    Li took the chairman at his word, the authors write in the book, “Peril,” which is set to be released next week.

    […] Li remained rattled, and Milley, who did not relay the conversation to Trump, according to the book, understood why. […]

    Believing that China could lash out if it felt at risk from an unpredictable and vengeful American president, Milley took action. The same day, he called the admiral overseeing the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, the military unit responsible for Asia and the Pacific region, and recommended postponing the military exercises, according to the book. The admiral complied.

    Milley also summoned senior officers to review the procedures for launching nuclear weapons, saying the president alone could give the order — but, crucially, that he, Milley, also had to be involved. Looking each in the eye, Milley asked the officers to affirm that they had understood, the authors write, in what he considered an “oath.” […]

    Though Milley went furthest in seeking to stave off a national security crisis, his alarm was shared throughout the highest ranks of the administration, the authors reveal. CIA Director Gina Haspel, for instance, reportedly told Milley, “We are on the way to a right-wing coup.” […]

  171. says

    Louisiana was scheduled to hold a series of local elections in a few weeks, including municipal races in New Orleans, but Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards agreed to delay the elections while the state continues to recover from Hurricane Ida.

  172. says

    […] recent report comes to us from the World Bank, suggesting that by 2050, a worst-case scenario of the climate crisis could force more than 200 million people to leave their homes […]

    Why? A gradual decrease in crops, rising sea levels, and a lack of clean water could lead to millions of people needing to evacuate from their homes. The report suggests this trend could occur in many regions, including North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Latin America, and East Asia, and the Pacific. When researchers looked at the climate crisis from a best-case scenario lens, they found that more than 40 million people may need to relocate within their own countries due to climate change. As well as economic and security concerns, this is also undeniably an example of collective trauma.

    So, what can be done? According to researchers, we need to be taking action now to determine possible hotspots for migration, prepare for where people in need will move to, and support people who are not able (or choose not to) migrate elsewhere. […]

    In terms of climate change itself, researchers stress the importance of collective action to reduce emissions and development.

    […] This particular survey included residents of more than 15 countries in Asia, Europe, and North America, with about 20,000 people. Most people surveyed—including most Americans—claim they would be open to making changes in how they live to help reduce climate change. Unsurprisingly, younger generations on the global scale are more concerned about how climate change may affect them personally when compared to older folks. Also unsurprisingly, progressives worldwide say they are more willing to make those personal changes to combat climate change.

    Now, individual choices are critical, but it’s really corporations that need to make large-scale changes. Clearly, most corporations aren’t willing to do that independently, so we need our elected officials (and the general public) to hold them accountable and push for better.

    Link

    See also: Associated Press link

  173. says

    Follow-up to comment 165.

    Chief White House medical advisor Anthony Fauci responded to Nicki Minaj’s vaccine worries after her comments on Twitter sparked controversy on Monday. […]

    CNN’s Jake Tapper questioned Fauci about the tweet, asking whether there is any evidence that vaccines approved for use in the U.S. could cause such problems.

    “The answer to that, Jake, is a resounding no,” Fauci responded. “There’s no evidence that it happens, nor is there any mechanistic reason to imagine that it would happen, so the answer to your question is no.”

    “She should be thinking twice about propagating information that really has no basis as except a one-off antidote and that’s not what science is all about,” Fauci added.

    […] Fauci said it is “very difficult” to combat the misinformation and the only way to counter falsities is to “provide a lot of correct information” and “debunk these kinds of claims.” […]

    Link

  174. tomh says

    Arizona takes on Biden administration over vaccine mandate
    BRAD POOLE / September 14, 2021

    (CN) — Arizona and its Attorney General Mark Brnovich sued President Joe Biden on Tuesday, claiming the president’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate for large employers discriminates against U.S citizens because the vaccine is not mandated for immigrants who enter the country illegally.

    “The Executive Branch has adopted an unconstitutional policy of favoring aliens that have unlawfully entered the United States over actual U.S. citizens, both native and foreign born, with the inalienable right to live here,” Brnovich argues in the 15-page complaint.

    The mandate, which the Biden administration will enact through Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules, will force companies with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccines for employees.
    […]

    “Public health, safety, welfare were left to the states,” Brnovich said. “I think the president’s actions over the last eight months and especially this executive order relating to vaccine mandates indicate that his administration is undermining federalism and undermining the laboratories of democracy.”

    The attorney general demurred when asked whether the federal government has the authority to impose safety mandates like helmets and breathing masks for some workers. Lawsuits challenging the OSHA rules will come later, he said.

    “This is just the first of many lawsuits to come,” he said.
    […]

    The state wants a federal judge to declare it unconstitutional to have differing vaccine policies for unauthorized aliens and U.S. citizens or lawful residents.

  175. says

    Bits and pieces of news, most of which are summarized by Steve Benen:

    [NBC News] More than half a million customers in Texas were without power Tuesday after Tropical Storm Nicholas made landfall there, threatening parts of the Gulf Coast with up to 20 inches of rain.
    ————————-
    [NBC News] The Justice Department on Tuesday announced new limits on chokeholds and no-knock warrants, but stopped short of banning the controversial law enforcement tactics that critics say have led to unnecessary deaths.
    ————————-
    [Washington Post] Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday unveiled new rules governing federal monitors responsible for overseeing police reforms in local jurisdictions, including setting limits on the watchdogs’ tenure and budgets and requiring them to undergo more training.
    ————————-
    [NBC News] The Department of Homeland Security is estimating roughly 700 people will attend the ‘Justice for J6’ rally in Washington, D.C., on Saturday and has taken steps to make sure law enforcement is better prepared than it was prior to Jan. 6, said Melissa Smislova, deputy undersecretary for intelligence enterprise readiness. [Really? Only 700? That could actually be some sort of good-ish news.]
    ————————
    [NBC News] All active duty soldiers are expected to be vaccinated by Dec. 15, the U.S. Army said Tuesday. “This is quite literally a matter of life and death for our Soldiers, their families and the communities in which we live,” Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle, the Army’s surgeon general, said in a statement.
    ———————–
    [NBC News] The number of Americans living in poverty declined overall during the Covid pandemic due to the massive stimulus relief measures Congress enacted at the beginning of the crisis, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday.
    ———————–
    [Des Moines Register, re news that was also covered by Teen Vogue] […] a seventh-grade English teacher in Winterset, Iowa, had been placed on administrative leave on Aug. 31 after he included a Pride flag in a presentation to introduce himself to his students. However, the school district says the issue actually rested in a personality quiz he assigned to students. On Saturday, the teacher resigned, citing his mental health.

    What started all of this, according to the students? Students viewed the Powerpoint presentation, asked about the Pride flag, and Kaufmann answered honestly that he is bisexual. From there, he was allegedly put on leave. And both middle and high school students walked out of school on Tuesday in support of their teacher.

    What is the school saying? In a statement to Teen Vogue, Winterset Community School District Superintendent Justin Gross explained that the district became “aware of concerns” related to the content of a “personality survey” shared with students and placed Kaufmann on leave while they investigated. […] the personality test [a parent said] was given by Kauffman to students, in which they’re asked about how they’d feel loved in their ideal relationship. An option includes “initiates sexual intimacy,” which is undoubtedly inappropriate to give to seventh-graders.

    […] Mind you, teachers (and frankly, people in most professions) discuss their sexuality all of the time. People in heterosexual-presenting marriages often have photos from their wedding on their desk, pictures from family vacations, births, or holidays. When talking about what people did over a holiday break or even a regular weekend, folks often share about their activities and (whether thinking about it or not) signal to their orientation via pronouns, names, or labels like “husband” or “partner.”

    It’s only when people signal queerness, apparently, that some parents have an issue.

    In the end? Kauffman resigned on Saturday, telling the Des Moines Register that he was not leaving in place of being fired. Kauffman told the outlet the district had reassured him that termination was not actually on the table. Still, he wanted to resign to “protect my own mental health and well-being,” as well as ensure students would not be distracted from their work in the classroom. He described the public backlash as an “enormous burden.”

  176. raven says

    Looks like Newsom, governor of California won the recall.
    Not only that, it wasn’t even close, 2 to 1.
    The likely GOP challenger was Trump+, opposed abortion and the minimum wage. In a state that has a high cost of living, the minimum wage doesn’t go very far. Without the minimum wage, a lot of people would be below a survivable wage without some sort of government aid. Which means the government ends up subsidizing low wage businesses by paying their wage bills.

    CNBC

    With 64% of the expected vote in, Newsom led with 5,562,954 votes, or 66.6%, against removing him from office, compared with 2,787,227 votes, or 33.4%, in favor of the recall.

  177. blf says

    Follow-up to @161 & @163, A snippet from the Gruniad’s Colorado radio host [Bob Enyart] who urged boycott of vaccines dies of Covid-19:

    Enyart also called for women who had abortions to face the death penalty.

    Regarding Covid-19 vaccines, Enyart said people should boycott the shots because … they tested these three products on the cells of aborted babies.

    As the Washington Post explains, Conservative radio host who spurned vaccines, mocked AIDS patients dies of covid-19:

    […] Earlier this year, some Catholic leaders who were engaged in philosophical debates on how central the use of fetal cell lines were in the production of the vaccines came out to say the shots were moral and essential in the fight to save lives. The lines in question were essentially reproductions of fetal cells from abortions done in the 1970s and 1980s, and the vaccines themselves don’t contain fetal cells.

    […]

    When it came to the coronavirus, Enyart promoted falsehoods about the virus, masking and vaccination on his show, Real Science Radio, website and social media pages.

    I took a brief look at that site (which I’m not linking to), and “promot[ing] falsehoods” is another candidate for the Understatement of the Year Award.

  178. lumipuna says

    johnson catman @171, thank you for the correction. So far, more than 600,000 people have been killed by the disease. Even the math illiterate should be able to understand that.

    I just saw a Finnish news photo, from this March, of some covidiot brandishing a protest sign that says covid is 99.97 % survivable. These sort of claims float around, varying in specific number, and hardly anyone bothers to discuss them seriously. Probably covidiots themselves don’t bother to care what the percentage is supposed to be, as long as the risk of death looks incomprehensibly small to borderline innumerate people and “no worse than flu” to the more educated people.

    Anyway, it occurred to me that by March, covid had already killed far more than 0.03 % of entire population in many countries. For example the US was then well past 0.1 %, and now at 0.2 %, with estimated less than half (?) of population gone through infection.

  179. blf says

    Follow-up to @175, Ben Jennings in the Grauniad, On Boris Johnson at the Met Gala (cartoon). The background is that, in teh “U”K, alleged-“PM” Borris is proposing eliminating a pandemic-related increase in benefits, and also raising certain taxes. Steve Bell skewers some of this, On Thérèse Coffey and the universal credit cut (cartoon), apparently that alleged-“Minister” said all people had to do was work an extra two hours a week to make up for the benefits cut.

  180. blf says

    In dog bites man news (or, in this case, rabid loon barks news), Trump aides seek to build opposition to Afghan refugees in US:

    Trump anti-immigration tsar[brownshirt] Stephen Miller is among those seeking to puncture broad support for resettling Afghans.

    As tens of thousands of Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban arrive in the US, a handful of officials of former US President Donald Trump[Wacko House squatter hair furor] are working to turn the conservative[rabid nazi] Republican party against them.

    The former officials are writing position papers, appearing on conservative television outlets, and meeting privately with GOP lawmakers — all in an effort to turn the collapse of Afghanistan into another opportunity to push a hardline immigration agenda.

    It is a collaboration based on mutual conviction, said[bellowing between barks] Stephen Miller […]

    My emphasis has been in talking to members of Congress to build support for opposing the Biden administration’s overall refugee plans.

    […] The strategy relies on tactics that were commonplace during Trump’s tenure and that turned off many voters, including racist tropes, fear-mongering and false allegations.

    […]

    From a political standpoint, cultural issues are the most important issues that are on the mind of the American people, said Russ Vought, [completely ignoring the pandemic, inadequate incomes, etc.,] Trump’s former budget chief and president of the Center for Renewing America, a nonprofit group that has been working on building opposition to Afghan refugee settlement in the US — along with other hot-button issues, such as critical race theory, which considers American history through the lens of racism.

    His group is working, he said, to kind of punch through this unanimity that has existed that, despite the chaotic withdrawal, Afghan refugees deserve to come to the US.

    […]

    With the US confronting a host of challenges, it is unclear whether voters will consider immigration a leading priority next year.

    It was a key motivator for voters in the 2018 midterm elections, with four in 10 Republicans identifying it as the top issue facing the country, according to AP VoteCast data.

    But it became far less salient two years later, when only three percent of 2020 voters — including five percent of Republicans — named it as the number one issue facing the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic and related economic woes.

    When it comes to refugees, 68 percent of Americans say they support the US taking in those fleeing Afghanistan after security screening, according to a Washington Post / ABC News poll in late August and early September. That includes a majority — 56 percent — of Republicans.

    […]

    Other former administration officials strongly disagree with such inflammatory language.

    “Some of the people who’ve always been immigration hardliners are seeing this wrongly as an opportunity ahead of the midterms to, lack a better term, stoke fear of, ‘I don’t want these people in my country,’” said Alyssa Farah, a former Pentagon press secretary who also served as White House communications director under Trump.

    Farah said she has been working to “politely shift Republican sentiment” away from arguments she sees as both factually false and politically questionable.

    The Republican Party, she noted, includes a majority of veterans — many of whom worked closely alongside Afghans on the ground and have led the push to help their former colleagues escape — as well as evangelical Christians, who have historically welcomed refugees.

  181. blf says

    The price of a cafe, Who are really the rudest — the French, tourists or Parisians? (possibly paywalled):

    What is the price of rudeness? Between 90 centimes and €1.40, according to a sign in a café close to my home […]

    […] The sign read:

    Tarif du café.
    Un café! 2€50.
    Bonjour, un café! 2€.
    Bonjour un café, s’il vous plaît 1€10.[]
    [Merci! 😉]

    [… discussion about politeness in France…]

    Who was the sign aimed at? Locals? Foreigners? Parisians? Did the café owners enforce their “fines” for being impolite?

    Remembering to say bonjour and s’il vous plaît, I ordered a coffee. I introduced myself. I showed the patronne my tweet and told her how successful it had been. She was mildly amused that her little, chalked sign had made a virtual tour of the world.

    It turned out that she was the grand-daughter of a former mayor of my village […]. Clémentine Dubois, 35, has run the bar and PMU (betting shop) in Clécy for two years.

    “We put up the sign soon after we started,” she said. “There were some people who came in here who were very abrupt with me. I didn’t think that was right. Manners are important. They are the basis of everything we do together.”

    Were the offenders foreign tourists? Or Parisians maybe?

    “No, not at all,” Clémentine said. “They were local. Old men mostly. They are very off-hand with me — bossy. I thought the sign would be a good way of reminding them to be polite.”

    Does she enforce the price-differential? “No. It’s just a joke… but, you know, I think it has worked. We get very little rudeness now.”

    So there you are. The French politeness code is not universally known or respected even by the French — or not the grumpy, old, male, rural French. […]

    How much did I pay for my coffee […]? Nothing. Clémentine refused my €1.10.

      † Just to be pedantic, the sign reads (there’s an image at the link), « Bonjour, un café s’il vous plaît », which is certainly closer to how I say it (the, comma was misplaced).

  182. says

    NBC Boston:

    In New Hampshire yesterday, state Rep. Bill Marsh announced that he’s changing his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat. The legislator, who’s also a physician, said the GOP’s opposition to vaccine policies pushed him over the edge. “I cannot stand idly by while extremists reject the reasonable precautions of vaccinations and masks,” he said in a statement. Republicans maintain a modest majority in the legislative chamber.

    Good News.

  183. says

    Why Trump is calling one of his handpicked generals a ‘dumbass’

    Earlier this year, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley feared Trump was dangerously unstable. Trump is now calling Milley a “dumbass.”

    […] conditions throughout our government were dire toward the end of Donald Trump’s presidency. What’s unsettling is the stream of revelations that continue to come to light, documenting the extent to which things were worse than we knew.

    Take yesterday’s revelations, for example. NBC News reported:

    Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley took steps to prevent then-President Donald Trump from misusing the country’s nuclear arsenal during the last month of his presidency, according to a new book by The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and Robert Costa […]

    It sounds like outlandish fiction, but it was apparently our reality – not in some long-ago past, before the United States became the world’s preeminent superpower, but earlier this year.

    As Rachel noted on last night’s show, two days after the insurrectionist attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, Milley – a man who was tapped by Trump to serve as the nation’s senior military officer – had a difficult conversation with his counterpart in China, who feared that the United States had become an unstable power that could collapse. Indeed, Beijing wasn’t even sure whether Trump might start some kind of war – perhaps even targeting China – as part of a wild bid to hold power.

    Milley tried to convince his counterpart in Beijing that the United States remained a steady and stable democracy, but according to the Woodward/Costa book, the general didn’t really believe his own assurances. On the contrary, Milley feared that the Republican president was in serious mental decline, and his most rabid followers wanted to overthrow the government.

    On Capitol Hill, meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly also spoke to Milley in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot, and the California Democrat also expressed concern that the erratic and unhinged president might launch some kind of dangerous military strike.

    […] It was around this time that the general, according to the book, summoned senior officers from the National Military Command Center, telling them to call him directly before acting on suspect orders from the then-president.

    In reality, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs is not in the chain of command before a military strike, but Milley was so concerned about Trump’s stability, he was effectively adding himself to the process as a way of preventing a dangerous president from doing something catastrophically insane.

    Late yesterday, Trump was apparently made aware of the book’s revelations, leading the Republican to issue a written statement in which he called Milley, whom he handpicked to serve as the Joint Chiefs chairman, a “dumbass.” Though the former president described the book’s reporting as “fake news,” he also suggested Milley may need to be “tried for TREASON” for having communicated with his Chinese counterpart “behind the president’s back.”

    Yeah, yeah. Blather and bluster away Hair Furor. You have nothing to add, but you did confirm that you are the dumbass.

    […] it wasn’t that long ago when Trump held Milley in high regard, even treating the general — and not the secretary of defense — as the top decision-maker at the Pentagon.

    That did not last. In June 2020, for example, Milley publicly expressed regret for his presence during Trump’s Lafayette Square debacle. The Republican wasn’t pleased by the general’s reaction, deeming it a betrayal. Soon after, as the then-president tried to discredit his own country’s electoral system, and raised the prospect of ignoring election results he didn’t like, the Joint Chiefs chairman made explicit that the armed forces would not be involved in the electoral process or resolving an election dispute.

    As Election Day 2020 neared, the Trump campaign even included Milley in a commercial, without the general’s consent or approval, despite the military’s strict rules.

    The former president apparently settled on the “dumbass” assessment quite recently.

    […] there was one thought I couldn’t shake while reading the latest reporting: Trump remains the prohibitive favorite for the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nomination.

  184. says

    What makes Josh Hawley’s latest political stunt such a bad idea

    The United States has key national security positions that need confirmed officials. Josh Hawley wants to prevent that from happening.

    When the 9/11 Commission investigated the attacks, it identified a series of problems and missteps that helped make the terrorism possible. Among them was an underappreciated personnel issue: Throughout the Bush/Cheney administration, there were vacancies in key, Senate-confirmed national security positions.

    It’s impossible to know whether the attacks could’ve been prevented by qualified officials serving in these posts, but the point the 9/11 Commission hoped to make wasn’t subtle: National security vacancies can be dangerous and policymakers should take steps to avoid them.

    Twenty years after the attacks, the United States finds itself facing similar conditions – which by some measures are worse than they were in the runup to 9/11. The New York Times reported a few days ago, “Only 26 percent of President Biden’s choices for critical Senate-confirmed national security posts have been filled, according to a new analysis by the Partnership for Public Service.” For comparison purposes, note that 57 percent of key national security positions were filled ahead of the 2001 attacks.

    […] A group of Republican senators, led in part by Texas’ Ted Cruz and Florida’s Rick Scott, have used procedural tactics to slow down the confirmation process for nominees […] it’s a problem Missouri’s Josh Hawley is eager to make worse. The Washington Post reported yesterday:

    Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has pledged to hold up all of President Biden’s nominations to the State Department and the Pentagon unless the top official at both departments resign in the wake of the chaotic U.S. exit from Afghanistan.

    [Oh, FFS!]

    […] it’s important to emphasize that Josh Hawley, perhaps best known as a champion of Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, cannot block President Joe Biden’s nominees indefinitely.

    As the Post’s report added, “Because Democrats control the Senate, Hawley can effectively only delay Biden’s nominations, but his move will force Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) to go through procedural hurdles on the Senate floor, rather than move quickly with a pro forma vote that is more common for nominees to lower-profile posts.”

    […] To hear Hawley tell it, the State and Defense Departments are responsible for important mistakes in Afghanistan. His solution is to keep the State and Defense Departments understaffed for as long as possible – as if this might help prevent future mistakes.

    […] We are, after all, talking about a Republican who pushed for a rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan when he thought it was Donald Trump’s idea. Indeed, as recently as April, the senator was outraged by the Biden White House’s plans to leave Afghanistan by September, not because Hawley wanted to maintain a military presence, but because the Democratic president wasn’t ending the war fast enough.

    […] even if we put all of these relevant concerns aside, let’s also not overlook the obvious fact that the senator’s over-the-top demands will go unmet. Remember, Hawley isn’t just standing in the way of key confirmations as a stand-alone tantrum; Hawley says he’ll relent if Secretary of State Antony Blinken resigns. And Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin resigns. And White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan resigns.

    Hawley also wants Biden to resign, though that doesn’t appear to be part the senator’s new stunt.

    None of this will happen, no matter how long Hawley stomps his feet and folds his arms. Indeed, the fact remains that if anyone should be resigning in disgrace, it’s the senator who’s calling on others to resign […].

    Hawley is throwing a tantrum.

  185. blf says

    An opinion column from Canada, A medical officer of health with no public health qualifications: Matt Strauss is an absurdly political hire:

    [… T]he anti-lockdown, anti-restriction, anti-public health doctor[quack Matt Strauss] was hired in early September to be the new interim acting medical officer of health in Haldimand-Norfolk in southwestern Ontario; that appointment was upheld 8–1 by the local board of health Monday night, which is also the local county council. […]

    It is an absurd, backwards, political hire. Strauss is not trained in public health; he is an ICU doctor, but more prominently, he is a guy who has spent the pandemic condemning lockdowns and praising Florida and saying in a since-deleted tweet he would rather give a child COVID than a Happy Meal. Maybe he doesn’t know Happy Meals come with apple slices now, and yogurt. Or that communicable diseases are communicable.

    Mostly, Strauss is a doctor[quack] pretending to be a more qualified doctor who has also flirted with anti-mask sentiments […], who has since descended into something like full-on lunacy.

    This hiring is clearly the work of a political agenda from a part of Ontario represented by conservatives and dominated by the farming industry. The previous MOH, Dr Shanker Nesathurai, had to fight to protect migrant workers with proposed two-week quarantines, or by limiting how many could sleep in a single bunkhouse. (A legal challenge from farmers briefly overturned the move, before an appeal restored it.[)] Indeed, Nesathurai tried to protect his constituents at large, and caught hell for it. Tobacco country may not care enough about what’s good for you.

    So led by Norfolk County Mayor Kristal Chopp, the counties clearly sought out an anti-lockdown voice instead. […]

    […]

    And so, we come to [Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr Kieran] Moore. He has the power to not just rescind Strauss’s appointment but to suspend the board of health if he sees a risk to the public health of the region. Haldimand-Norfolk has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the province, at 74.4 percent of those above the age of 18 who are fully vaccinated; beyond that, migrant workers have been poorly protected there before, and one died in the summer of 2020 as part of a massive outbreak. Strauss couldn’t lift a lockdown, but he can mismanage who is and isn’t considered a high-risk case, and could muck up case and contact management in many ways.

    “We will first provide guidance and support,” said Moore. “He may be new to outbreak management and to the immunization strategy and we’ll be monitoring adherence to best practices in that region. And if I have any concerns regarding the safety and health of that community, I can step in as the chief medical officer of health, and will.”

    But by that measure, Moore should rescind the hire now. […]

    [… One medical officer of health who requested anonymity:] “How will he handle promoting healthy babies and healthy children? How will he handle the human health hazards and environmental investigations? Has he ever done one? Has he ever run any outbreak response, or even a COVID response? What’s he going to do about a restaurant adulterating food? Does he even know the regulations? These are some real questions. Public health is more than just COVID, but (that) is the only reason he’s being hired.

    “Public health units have essentially been utterly destroyed. We have staff that are completely burnt out. None of our other programs are running the way that they should. We’re going to have to rebuild from the ground up once this is done. So if he’s the guy, I hope he has some help, because there’s a ton of work to do.”

  186. says

    Follow-up to raven @183.

    I was glad to see the Republican challenger (46 challengers, but really only one main guy, Larry the Doofus) in California go down in such an obvious defeat.

    Looking at the bigger picture: Gavin Newsom’s victory matters (and not just in California)

    GOP operatives at the national level harbored hopes of turning the California race into a bellwether. So much for that idea.

    Headed into Election Day in California’s gubernatorial recall race, there was some uncertainty about when the public would learn the results. If the early tallies were close, and incumbent Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom appeared to be in real trouble, it could take weeks to know the outcome.

    As is turns out, the results were so one-sided, the public didn’t have to wait long at all. The NBC affiliate in Los Angeles reported overnight:

    Gov. Gavin Newsom cruised to victory in the recall election and will stay in office, […]’ As early returns were released Tuesday night, the question of whether Newsom should be recalled was met with a resounding “no,” with nearly 70 percent of early ballots rejecting the move.

    [Yay!]

    […] Californians voting to keep Newsom in office outnumbered recall supporters by nearly 30 points. The governor’s detractors needed to get more than 50 percent of the vote, and as things stand, they didn’t quite get to 36 percent.

    The election was, in other words, a landslide. The wealthy Republicans who helped bankroll the recall campaign saw no returns on their investment.

    [Republicans thought that] the more Newsom struggled in the country’s largest blue state, the more Republicans could credibly claim that Democrats in the Biden era are in serious trouble and facing dramatic electoral headwinds.

    As the dust settles in the Golden State, all of that talk has evaporated.

    There will be plenty of commentary fleshing out the implications of the results, but there are three angles of particular interest:

    1. The pandemic matters.

    The Democratic incumbent focused much of his message in recent months on the importance of combatting Covid-19 […] Newsom’s principal Republican rival, conservative media personality Larry Elder, did the opposite. […]

    2. The California Republican Party is a mess.

    […] There was a scenario in which the state Republican Party might have rallied behind Faulconer [former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer] as a credible and mainstream alternative to the status quo, while dismissing other GOP contenders as irrelevant oddballs. Instead, the Trumpified party ignored the qualified contender, coalesced around a conspiratorial talk-show host […]

    3. In some states, rallying the GOP base simply isn’t enough.

    In theory, Republicans had a plan: The GOP would rally the base, get rank-and-file Republicans excited about a Trump-like candidate, and rely on Democratic passivity and indifference to create a real contest.

    […] The GOP’s unqualified Trump-like candidate woke up Democrats, alienated swing voters, and helped generate a lopsided result .[…]

  187. blf says

    Covid kills a 9/11’s worth of Americans every three days. The vaccine mandate shouldn’t be controversial:

    […] By one estimate, the Biden vaccine mandate will mean 12 million more Americans get the jab. That’s 12 million more people who will then be extremely unlikely to be hospitalized or die of Covid-19. It’s 12 million more people who can help keep the US economy afloat, and who are helping to keep their communities safe.

    The new Biden vaccine rules also reflect this administration’s insistence on responding effectively to a complicated reality instead of reacting to those who yell the loudest. It is true that there is a subset of the US population — disproportionately white, Trump-voting evangelicals — who strongly object to the Covid vaccine and say they will refuse to get it, requirements be damned. But there’s also a group of people who simply haven’t gotten their act together, or haven’t felt incentivized to get inoculated. There’s a lot to say about these folks — that they’re selfishly putting their communities at risk, that they aren’t being good citizens […]

    But the Biden administration isn’t in the business of finger-wagging; it’s in charge of making effective policy. And the vaccine rule is exactly that: it gives people an excellent reason to choose vaccination […]

    Resurgent Covid numbers are dragging the US economy down, and Biden is looking at a dark winter if more Americans don’t vax up. March 2020 kicked off an unprecedented financial disaster […] We know now that lockdowns didn’t primarily cause this massive economic contraction; fear of Covid did. And we know that the economic growth we’ve seen since Biden took office is partly credited to his administration’s massive vaccine rollout coupled with much-needed financial assistance to most Americans, which got inoculations into arms and people back into the streets, on to airplanes, and into restaurants with money to spend.

    The vaccine rollout gave Americans the choice to get the jab and protect their communities and their country, or forego it out of political obstinacy. (Some people, of course, cannot get the vaccine for health reasons, but those people are a small minority and not the ones dragging down the US’s stagnated vaccination numbers.) Shamefully, a huge number of Americans have refused to do the right thing. […]

    [… M]any mainstream media sources have focused on the objections and the potential political blowback instead of the necessity of this rule, and the leadership that implementing it exemplifies.

    […] Cynical conservatives have realized they can turn even the most commonsense measures into convenient political footballs, sending political reporters and talking heads scrambling to analyze the political fallout of rational rules and good policy. That in turn only reinforces the power of these bad actors.

    We don’t have to fall for it. Many Americans would surely agree that we want leaders who follow the scientific consensus and make decisions based on what is best for public health and the country’s economic wellbeing, even when those decisions are hard. Most of us would surely agree that we want leaders who lead instead of spinelessly acquiescing to the whims of those who throw the biggest tantrums.

    […]

  188. says

    Mike Pence didn’t stand up to Trump, he tried ‘over and over’ to find a way to reverse the election

    […]

    Trump: “If these people say you had the power, wouldn’t you want to?”

    Pence: “I wouldn’t want any one person to have that authority.”

    Trump: “But wouldn’t it be almost cool to have that power?”

    Pence: “No. I’ve done everything I could and then some to find a way around this. It’s simply not possible.”

    Trump: “No, no, no! You don’t understand, Mike. You can do this. I don’t want to be your friend anymore if you don’t do this.”

    This segment brings home what may be the most astounding realization possible: We’ve all overestimated the emotional maturity of Donald Trump. Everyone who ever compared Donald Trump to a third-grader needs to start writing now, because there are a lot of third-graders in this country, and they all deserve a personal apology.

    Trump’s response to learning that Pence wouldn’t break the Constitution for him is a threat that most people haven’t heard since they were old enough to switch from regular diapers to pull-ups. Not only is there an amazing level of infantile petulance in this “I don’t want to be your friend anymore” ploy, the fact that Trump said this aloud, in front of other people, displays a level of self-awareness that’s usually reserved for animals that can’t recognize their own face in a mirror.

    Trump didn’t even let up after deploying his sandbox-worthy threat. He phoned up Pence as the Jan. 6 rally was about to get underway, and as the Congress was about to get around to logging the count of Electoral College votes, and tried a different angle.

    “If you don’t do it,” said Trump, “I picked the wrong man four years ago. You’re going to wimp out,”

    This would be the moment in which Trump attempts to shame Pence for briefly placing the Constitution ahead of his personal loyalty to Trump. For Trump, failing to bring down the Republic if you have an opportunity to is “wimping out.”

    But, believe it or not, there’s a moment that comes between these two Trump-Pence interactions that may be even more frightening. That’s because Pence seems to have seriously considered the idea of using his non-existent power to halt the count. In fact, under pressure from Trump, Pence seems to actively seek ways in which he can disrupt the process and overturn the election.

    However, the truth is that Pence’s power in the process is purely ceremonial. Unable to come up with a means to give Trump what he wanted, Pence sought out someone he knew who had been in a similar situation … former vice-president Dan Quayle.

    According to Woodward and Costa, Pence asked “over and over” if there was “anything he could do” to give Trump the outcome he wanted on his call to Quayle.

    […] On the one hand, there’s a deeply black comic moment in thinking that the future of the nation rested with Dan Quayle in January of this year. However, the truth is less comedic and a good deal darker.

    What these conversations show is that Trump’s playground taunting of Pence worked. Pence didn’t do the right thing out of some finally tapped well of moral resistance; he did the right thing only after he exhausted every way he could to do the wrong thing. Pence didn’t stand up to Trump; he tried “over and over” to find a way to give Trump exactly what he wanted.

    Mike Pence tried to throw the nation to the same mob that was outside chanting for his death. He didn’t suddenly develop a trace of a spine. He didn’t discover his inner love for the Constitution. He just couldn’t think of a way to turn his ceremonial role into the democracy crush that Trump wanted.

    And Dan Quayle … Dan Quayle is a heroe.

    Author’s note: Though I couldn’t resist the joke, the truth is that screwing up the spelling of a single word is probably the worst possible reason to dislike or make fun of Dan Quayle. There are a lot of reasons not to like Quayle. A lot. That’s just not one of them.

  189. says

    Simone Biles tells Congress ‘entire system’ enabled Nassar abuse

    Olympic gymnastics star Simone Biles on Wednesday blamed the “entire system” for enabling the abuse by disgraced gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.

    In emotional testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biles said that she didn’t want another young athlete to experience the horror that she and hundreds of other gymnasts endured.

    Biles, who has been open about being abused by Nassar, said that circumstances that led to her abuse came about because multiple entities — including USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee — “failed to do their jobs.”

    “I don’t want another young gymnast, Olympic athlete, or any individual to experience the horror that I and hundreds of others have endured before, during, and continuing to this day,” Biles said.

    “To be clear, I blame Larry Nassar — and I also blame an entire system that perpetrated his abuse,” she continued.

    The Judiciary panel is holding the hearing following the release of a Justice Department inspector general report that faulted the FBI for not responding to the allegations against Nassar with the urgency they required.

    Biles explained that she didn’t understand the magnitude of Nassar’s abuse until the Indianapolis Star published an article in the fall of 2016 explaining the abuse.

    She said that while she was competing in Rio as part of the 2016 Olympic team, neither USA Gymnastics nor the FBI ever contacted her parents that investigations were ongoing.

    She said that those who were tasked with ensuring the safety of gymnasts “failed to do their jobs.”

    “Nassar is where he belongs, but those who enabled him deserve to be held accountable,” she continued. “If they are not, I am convinced that this will continue to happen to others across Olympic sports.”

  190. says

    Marco Rubio being a total dunderhead:

    […] he wrote a big mad huffy letter to President Joe Biden, like he’s a real grown-up or something, demanding Joint Chiefs Chair General Mark Milley be fired for undermining former barely elected clownfuck president Donald Trump, as Bob Woodward’s new book reports […]

    Of course, Milley was reportedly undermining Trump in order to protect America and the world from getting literally blown up because Trump’s fragile ego was having a temper tantrum, but Rubio does not choose to huff and puff about that, because Milley is not Rubio’s daddy, Trump is.

    Here is some text from Rubio’s whiny letter:

    I write with grave concern regarding recent reporting that General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, worked to actively undermine the sitting Commander in Chief of the United States Armed Forces and contemplated a treasonous leak of classified information to the Chinese Communist Party in advance of a potential armed conflict with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). These actions by General Milley demonstrate a clear lack of sound judgement [sic], and I urge you to dismiss him immediately.

    It has been reported that General Milley spoke with his counterpart in the People’s Liberation Army after learning the PRC was worried about escalating tensions as a result of military exercises conducted in the South China Sea. Reportedly, General Milley told his counterpart: “[y]ou and I have known each other for now five years. If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.” I do not need to tell of you the dangers posed by senior military officers leaking classified information on U.S. military operations, but I will underscore that such subversion undermines the President’s ability to negotiate and leverage one of this nation’s instruments of national power in his interactions with foreign nations.

    All of that might be true, but don’t y’all love how he’s just glossing over how the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff felt the need to reassure China that we would not be starting a hot nuke war, on account of Trump […] feeling extra-wounded that day? None of this would have happened if America had at the time had a legitimate president worthy of global respect and capable of doing the job. Had we had a real president, nobody would have had to wonder if we might be GOING TO WAR WITH FUCKING CHINA, MARCO.

    Even more egregiously, reports indicate that General Milley interfered with the procedures by which the civilian commander-in-chief can order a nuclear strike. He purportedly instructed officials not to take orders without his involvement and forced them to take an oath to that effect. A senior military officer interfering with that civilian-controlled process is simply unacceptable at best, and at worst, would cause ambiguity which could lead to war.

    Another thing that could have led to war would have been Trump ordering a nuclear strike […]

    General Milley has attempted to rationalize his reckless behavior by arguing that what he perceived as the military’s judgement [sic again] was more stable than its civilian commander. It is a dangerous precedent that could be asserted at any point in the future by General Milley or others. It threatens to tear apart our nation’s longstanding principle of civilian control of the military.

    We agree. It’s terrifying that in this case, it could have been credibly argued that the military’s judgment was better than the civilian president’s. […]

    Of course, we disagree with Marco on how to make sure that never happens again. We think we should never again allow authoritarian fascists who happen to be the stupidest person ever to escape from God’s throwaway pile to become president of the United States. Rubio, on the other hand, thinks the solution is:

    You must immediately dismiss General Milley. America’s national security and ability to lead in the world are at stake.

    Get fucked.

    To be clear, it’s not that everything Marco Rubio is saying is untrue, it’s just that he hasn’t earned the right to make the point, because he’s been slobbering over the crumbs in Donald Trump’s happy meal ever since Trump humiliated him in the 2016 GOP primary.

    […] “the rules weren’t written for the situation our country faced.”

    […] To laugh in the general direction of Marco Rubio even thinking he’s got a seat at this grownups’ table, stay right here.

    Link

  191. says

    Follow-up to comment 197.

    This morning, NBC News reported that the FBI has fired an agent for not properly investigating allegations from American gymnasts that they were being sexually abused by USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.

    The firing of the agent, Michael Langeman, came after a Justice Department inspector general report released in July criticized him and his boss, agent in charge Jay Abbott, for their handling of the case. It said they failed to respond to allegations by gymnasts that they had been sexually abused by Nassar “with the urgency that the allegations required.”

    Langeman was a supervisory special agent in the FBI’s Indianapolis field office when he interviewed Olympic medalist McKayla Maroney in 2015 about her allegations of abuse by Nassar. The inspector general report said that he and Abbott lied to investigators from the inspector general’s office about their actions and that they never officially opened an investigation.

    […] it’s timely that the Senate Judiciary Committee [held] a hearing this morning on the FBI’s royal fucking up of the Nassar investigation. Gymnasts Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols, and Aly Raisman [testified]. Current FBI Director Christopher Wray — who didn’t run the FBI when this all started — and Inspector General Michael Horowitz also testified. […]

    Link

    Video is available at the link. Christopher Wray apologized, and he said the FBI will learn from and will correct their mistakes.

  192. blf says

    At a shall-remain-unnamed kook site I somethings visit (with suitable protections) to see what the hallucination de jour is (within that echo chamber), some new batshitery cropped up: Supposedly, because California has been thug for a long time until recently, the elections there must have been faked since, well, for a long time.

    Just going by the list of past-Governors, Former California Governors, there hasn’t been an extended period of a thug-as-Governor since the 1950s. Figures. “Recently” means anything after the McCarthy era, or “Ronaddled Raygun’s backwards-looking rose-tinted glasses” (paraphrasing) as Garry Trudeau once put it in Doonesbury.

  193. blf says

    Job offer for Taliban, Lauren Boebert Says Government Should Be Run by Righteous Men and Women of God (my added emboldening):

    Republican Rep Lauren Boebert of Colorado [bellowed to] a crowd of conservative Christian activists gathered in the auditorium at [right-wing pastor Andrew] Wommack’s Charis Bible College, [calling] on the audience to put faith into action by calling on God to remove ungodly leaders in Washington DC, and replace them with righteous men and women of God who realize that the government should be taking orders from the church.

    When we see Biden address the nation and the world and show more contempt and aggravation and aggression towards unvaccinated Americans than he does terrorists, we have a problem, Boebert said. And that’s why I have articles of impeachment to impeach Joe Biden, Kamala Harris.

    Reality interrupts to point out the pandemic is, as per @195, killing “a 9/11’s worth” of USAians every three days. And that it is now, in the States, a pandemic of the unvaccinated. Why shouldn’t people be angry at the selfish stoopid louts who don’t or won’t realise you’re a flaming eejit (or, with only a tiny adjustment, who can take the preventive jabs but refuse to)?!

    We cannot take another 18 months, we cannot take another three years of this poor, failed leadership, she continued. […]

    [… she then goes even further off the rails, if that’s possible…]

  194. raven says

    Idaho is once again leading the way. The Idaho GOP put an antivaxxer quack doctor on their largest public health board and just recently, a week ago, September 7. This guy is just repeating mindless antivax talking points that are completely false.

    At the time the Idaho GOP did this, their hospital system overloaded and failed because it was overrrun with Covid-19 virus patients. They are now exporting their problem to Washington state which is being overloaded with patients from Idaho.

    How a rogue doctor who called the vaccine ‘needle rape’ was made an Idaho public-health official in its worst COVID crisis yet
    Mia Jankowicz Wed, September 15, 2021, edited for length

    Dr Ryan Cole, a pathologist with no public health experience, was championed by the GOP.
    His victory came as Idaho was overrun with severe COVID-19 cases, its lowest ebb in the pandemic.

    In Boise, Idaho, a doctor in a lab coat offered comforting words to concerned parents and school governors about COVID-19 restrictions for the new semester. “There’s really statistically no efficacy in masks,” Dr. Ryan Cole said airily, and incorrectly, on an August 26 Zoom call with Peace Valley Charter School, which was deciding what measures to implement when lessons restarted.

    Cole’s specialism is dermopathology – a discipline focused on diseases of the skin which has little relevance to respiratory conditions like COVID-19.

    Nonetheless, Cole is a celebrated figure among anti-vaxxers. He made headlines in July by calling the vaccine the “clot shot” and “needle rape” in a presentation to America’s Frontline Doctors (AFD), a group known for COVID-19 misinformation.

    Two weeks later, that system broke. Ten of the state’s hospitals were put under crisis protocols, under which patients are told they may get care below the usual minimum standard, like being treated in makeshift wards or without proper equipment.

    On the same day, Idaho’s largest public health board, the Central District Board of Health (CDH) announced that Cole would become its seventh member.

    Cole made it onto the board thanks to a backlash against CDH restrictions which propelled coronavirus skeptics into positions of power.

    Vaccines ‘a poisonous attack’
    In an interview with Insider, Cole denied being anti-vaccine, saying that he supports vaccination in general and has had many himself.
    But he said he has not had the COVID-19 shot, and argued that geting it should be a personal choice. He did not address his “needle rape” remarks.
    He has also derided the vaccine as “experimental,” a common insult among anti-vaxxers. All vaccines used in the US went through extensive clinical trials before being given temporary authorization. The Pfizer vaccine has since got full approval from the FDA.

    He has also spoken on the podcasts of lawyer and conservative talk show host Daniel Horowitz, and anti-vaxx conspiracy theorist Dr Sherri Tenpenny.

    “This is no longer good science. This is a poisonous attack on our population,” Cole said of the vaccination campaign at the AFD summit, to loud applause. “And it needs to stop now.”

    He also told Insider he is concerned that the vaccine is causing mutations like the Delta variant, a false claim that has been repeatedly debunked.

    Cole has instead promoted the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment. The drug is currently considered, at best, unproven and at worst a dangerous distraction from better treatment, as The Guardian reported.

    Insider spoke to one of the leading voices in opposition to Cole’s appointment, Dr David Pate. He is the former CEO of the non-profit St Luke’s Healthcare System, which operates in Idaho and other states.

    He is also a good friend and co-author with Dr. Ted Epperly, whom Cole unseated on the CDH board.

    Pate told Insider that the ideas Cole promotes are “simply not consistent” with the science of public health. “And it’s undermining our public health efforts,” he said.

    Opposition to Cole’s appointment came from the Idaho Medical Association, several of the state’s medical experts, the editorial board of the Idaho Statesman, and local campaigners – but ultimately achieved little.

  195. blf says

    Nonsense: The Unifying Theme Behind Greg Locke’s Conspiracy Theories:

    […] One of [radical right-wing pastor Greg] Locke’s favorite methods of dismissing anything that contradicts his narrow worldview is to dismiss it as nonsense.

    For instance, Locke insists that the idea that Joe Biden is the president is nonsense. [examples…]
    Locke also believes that dangers posed by the COVID-19 virus are nonsense. [examples…]
    According to Locke, participating in social distancing and mask wearing in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is likewise nonsense. [examples…]

    One of the unifying themes of Locke’s rants is essentially that anything he doesn’t like is nonsense, but the reality seems to be that the things he dismisses as nonsense are really just things that he doesn’t understand.

    On Monday night, Locke […] dismissed math, of all things, as nonsense after admitting that he simply is not very good at it.

    nonsenseI’m dumber than a box of rocks in a lot of[all] areas, Locke said. nonsenseI graduated from high school almost two years late with an eighth-grade bonehead math degree. I failed pre-algebra two years in a row. I’ve never had business math, consumer math, I never even made it past pre-algebra, I never had real algebra. I hate math. I get nervous when the Holy Spirit wants me to preach out of the Book of Numbers. I hate math. It’s nonsense.
    […]

    Numbers is not a mathematics textbook. As Ye Pfffft! of All Knowledge points out, “The name of the book comes from the two censuses taken of the Israelites.”

    The mildly deranged penguin points out he’s rather good at counting, or at least collecting, tithes:

    According to several sources, Pastor[swamp creature] Greg Locke’s net worth is an estimated $129 million. His wealth comes from a variety of sources.

    Pastor[Swamp creature] Locke is the head pastor of Global Vision Bible Church, operating out of Nashville, Tennessee. The church holds sermons and religious services for thousands of Tennesseans.

    Besides being a pastor [oozing slime], Pastor[swamp creature] Locke also travels the world and holds speaking arrangements in college campuses, religious workshops, and seminars.

    Additionally, he has a line of women’s and men’s apparel and drinks shakers, which cost anywhere from $17.76 to $29.99.

    Furthermore, Pastor[swamp creature] Greg has published two bestselling books, undoubtedly with tens of thousands of copies sold worldwide.

    […]

    He recently called the COVID-19 pandemic a hoax pandemic and went on an anti-vaccination rant. He was rightly raked over the coals by the scientific community and members of his congregation. Greg was also caught threatening bodily harm to a Dunkin’ Donuts employee over their mask policy.

    Furthermore, Pastor[swamp creature] Greg also implemented a no-mask policy for people frequenting his congregation. Consequently, his audience became divided over his radical views.

    Despite that, the incident brought Pastor[swamp creature] Greg Locke to the forefront of American news media. As a result, his congregation grew in attendees, and he had to move to a larger venue to accommodate his growing audience.

  196. says

    GOP senator embraces the wrong anti-Biden theory at the wrong time

    There’s supposed to be a line between the cranks and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Jim Risch [Idaho!] seems eager to erase that line.

    The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held an important hearing yesterday, pressing Secretary of State Antony Blinken on U.S. policy in Afghanistan and the end of the war. There’s been plenty of debate about the withdrawal of U.S. forces, and this hearing was the panel’s first real opportunity to get answers from the nation’s top foreign policy official.

    Before the examination could even begin, it was easy to imagine the lines of inquiry. Was the withdrawal handled responsibly? What are the security implications? What is the status of efforts to remove Americans and our allies who are still on the ground in Afghanistan?

    But Republican Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, the committee’s ranking member, had a very different kind of question in mind. As the HuffPost reported:

    Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) had a burning question for Secretary of State Antony Blinken at Tuesday’s anticipated oversight hearing on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan: Who keeps silencing Joe Biden? Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, asserted in the hearing that someone in the White House hit a “button” to stop Biden from speaking at a Monday event on the threat of wildfires in Idaho.

    JFC! I heard that part of the hearing. Risch just would not let it go. He asked Antony Blinken over and over again who was given the task of turning off Biden’s microphone every time they wanted to silence him. Bogus story. Risch claims he saw it himself, that everyone has seen it, that it has happened multiple times in the past. Risch seems to think that Biden is such a fool that someone in the Democratic administration is tasked with periodically shutting off his microphone. Totally fucking batshit bonkers. Also, wildly off topic for that hearing.

    The Washington Post’s Amber Phillips noted that this was “an odd, factually inaccurate assertion” that “sounded more at home in a Donald Trump 2020 campaign attack than a serious hearing about U.S. foreign policy.” Pointing to Risch’s questions, Dana Milbank added, “This is what happens when an entire political party takes leave of reality.”

    The story – to the extent that “story” is even the right word in this context – stems from a presidential event in Idaho on Monday. Biden was speaking with local officials when media access to the discussion ended, as often happens. There wasn’t anything remarkable about it.

    But the Republican National Committee’s Twitter feed suggested someone on the president’s team cut Biden off mid-sentence, and some conservative media personalities concocted conspiracy theories about White House officials controlling the president’s ability to speak in public.

    It was all quite nutty, but that didn’t stop the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from taking the nonsense very seriously.

    Indeed, it was an unusually ugly effort to smear the president. “[Biden] can’t even speak without someone in the White House censoring it or signing off on it,” the senator claimed. “As recently as yesterday, in mid-sentence, he was cut off by someone in the White House who makes the decision that the president of the United States is not speaking correctly…. This is a puppeteer act.”

    Soon after, Risch, indifferent to reality, asked the secretary of state, “It’s been widely reported that somebody has the ability to push the button and cut off his sound and stop him from speaking. Who is that person?”

    Blinken replied that he had no idea what the senator was referring to. The nation’s chief diplomat answered with a grin, implicitly making clear that he found the line of inquiry to be laughable, but Risch did not appear to be kidding.

    Which is a shame, because the display was a sad joke.

    It’s difficult to choose which dimension of this was the most disappointing. Risch’s embrace of an obviously foolish conspiracy theory? His willingness to peddle such nonsense in public? His decision to put aside questions about U.S. policy in Afghanistan to push such an absurd question? The senator’s expectation that the secretary of state would have a detailed understanding of how White House communications operations work?

    Perhaps most important is simply the fundamental lack of seriousness with which the Idaho Republican approached his responsibilities. It’s one thing for conservative media outlets and the RNC’s Twitter feed to dip their feet in the fever swamp, but there’s supposed to be a dividing line between the silly cranks and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

    Risch reminded all of us yesterday that the line no longer exists.

  197. says

    Milley Defends Efforts To Keep Trump From Potentially Nuking China

    Joint Chiefs of Staff chair Gen. Mark Milley stands by his decision to privately reach out to senior military officials and his Chinese counterpart in an attempt to keep then-President Donald Trump from dragging the U.S. into war.

    Milley’s chief of staff, Col. Dave Butler, said in a statement that the official’s calls with China in October and January were “in keeping with” his “duties and responsibilities conveying reassurance in order to maintain strategic stability.”

    Butler also defended Milley’s discussions with senior officials in which he reportedly ordered them to involve him in decisions regarding the country’s nuclear arsenal after the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection that Trump fomented.

    “The meeting regarding nuclear weapons protocols was to remind uniformed leaders in the Pentagon of the long-established and robust procedures in light of media reporting on the subject,” Butler said.

    Milley “continues to act and advise within his authority in the lawful tradition of civilian control of the military and his oath to the Constitution,” the spokesperson added.

    Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa reported in their new book that Milley contacted his Chinese counterpart, Li Zuocheng, in October and January to reassure him that the U.S. was not planning on striking China. Milley also reportedly gathered senior military officials two days after the Capitol insurrection to make sure he would get involved in case Trump ordered a nuclear strike, according to Woodward and Costa.

    The response from Trump and his allies has been predictably explosive: On Tuesday night, the ex-president called Milley a “dumbass” who ought to be tried for “treason,” and denied expressing a desire to attack China.

    […] Trump’s foot soldiers in Congress have seized on initial analyses, demanding Milley’s ouster and similarly accusing the general of treason.

    “If the allegations are true, Gen Milley should go down in history as a traitor to the American people,” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-TX) tweeted.

    “These actions by General Milley demonstrate a clear lack of sound judgement, and I urge you to dismiss him immediately,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) wrote in a letter to President Joe Biden.

    Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) suggested that Milley be “court martialed.”

  198. says

    Follow-up to comment 205.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    It doesn’t sound like this was a one-on-one “secret call” at all.

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/claims-that-milley-made-secret-calls-to-chinese-leaders-exaggerated-sources-say

    “A defense official familiar with the calls said that description is “grossly mischaracterized.”

    The official said the calls were not out of the ordinary, and the chairman was not frantically trying to reassure his counterpart.

    The people also said that Milley did not go rogue in placing the call, as the book suggests. In fact, Milley asked permission from acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller before making the call, said one former senior defense official, who was in the room for the meeting. Milley also briefed the secretary’s office after the call, the former official said.”
    ————————
    Thank You General Milley
    A nuclear war can just ruin your day
    ————————–
    Milley did nothing to undermine civilian control. He didn’t make anybody swear an oath that they would refuse SecDef or Blobbo’s lawful orders. He asked to be kept informed, for the obvious reason that he wanted to have the opportunity to talk Trump out of doing anything too apocalyptic.

  199. says

    Pennsylvania GOPers Now Seek Personal Information From Voters In Sham ‘Audit’

    Pennsylvania state Senate Republicans on Wednesday took their long-delayed “audit” of the 2020 election results up a notch by authorizing subpoenas for personal information on every registered voter in the commonwealth.

    On Wednesday, the state Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee voted 7-4 along party lines to authorize 17 subpoenas that allows the panel to seek information from Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) administration on registered voters’ names, addresses, driver’s licenses and partial social security numbers from last November. The GOP-led subpoenas also request lists of voters who participated in the 2020 elections and the May 2021 primary — a move that Republicans claimed would help verify the identity of voters.

    The subpoenas additionally request all email and other written communications between the Department of State and elections officials in every Pennsylvania county.

    […] this is an escalation. Senate officials indicated that the personal information from voters would be turned over to an unnamed private company that would proceed with the review. State Sen. Cris Dush (R), who’s leading the effort, declined to provide detail on which companies he is considering for the task.

    Dush told Democratic senators during questioning on Wednesday that the yet-to-be-identified private company would receive compensation from taxpayer dollars, according to Spotlight PA, which noted that top Senate officials did not provide a specific budget nor a spending ceiling for their review earlier this week.

    […] The Associated Press noted that state law bars the public release of some of the information requested in the subpoenas, such as driver’s license numbers and Social Security numbers. Democrats said they plan to take the issue to court […]

    […] The committee vote to pursue the information followed a previous (and unsuccessful) effort from the Trumpy state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R) to obtain even more information from three Pennsylvania counties.

    In July, Mastriano sent letters to the counties, including Philadelphia, demanding pages of information on everything from ballot paper samples to “access or control of ALL routers, tabulators or combinations thereof (some routers are inside the tabulator case) in order to gain access to all the system logs.”

    The counties balked: For one thing, the election equipment Mastriano wanted included sensitive security details that could compromise the machines — as happened to counties in Arizona and Colorado from similar efforts to push the narrative that the 2020 election was stolen.

    Mastriano’s effort took another hit when Pennsylvania’s acting secretary of the commonwealth, Veronica Degraffenreid, ordered that machines in another county that had seen meddling from Mastriano, Fulton County, be replaced. A contractor that had had access to the machines, Wake TSI, had “no knowledge or expertise in election technology access” and subsequently compromised the system, Degraffenreid said.

    As Mastriano pushed for compliance from the counties and threatened subpoenas, cracks in his façade emerged; he seemed to lack support from his fellow Republicans.

    “Sen. Mastriano’s proposed audit has been handled very poorly,” Jeff Piccola, a former decades-long state legislator who’s now chair of the York County Republican Committee, told TPM last month. York was one of the counties from which Mastriano sought information. […]

  200. says

    LOL.

    Fox News host Tucker Carlson acknowledged on Tuesday night that his show had made a factual error when it put up a chyron attributing allegedly swollen testicles to the wrong person in rap star Nicki Minaj’s orbit.

    Carlson issued the correction the day after he reported on Minaj’s tweet in which she claimed that the COVID-19 vaccine caused her cousin in Trinidad’s friend’s testicles to swell.

    “We put the graphic on the screen, and we suggested that Nicki Minaj’s cousin is the one with the swollen testicles in Trinidad, and we were wrong and we want to admit it,” the Fox host told his viewers on Tuesday. “We henceforth correct the record.”

    “Nicki Minaj’s cousin’s testicles are not swollen,” he continued. “As far as we know, he’s fine. It’s Nicki Minaj’s cousin’s friend’s testicles who are swollen from taking the [vaccine], that’s the claim.”

    Carlson rarely corrects his false reporting, which has included disinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine and lies about white supremacists’ role in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. […]

    Link

  201. says

    The nation is now used to seeing political standoffs whenever the time again comes to raise the now-infamous “debt ceiling.” The nation is also generally aware of the dynamic that plays out each time the United States needs to raise the artificially set debt cap in order to keep paying the bills that Congress itself ordered the nation to pay: During times of Republican governance, Republicans hand out tax cuts to whoever the steady rotation of lobbyists in their offices tell them to, draining federal coffers. During times of Democratic governance, Republicans scream loudly about the money being spent on Actual Things, proclaim themselves outraged at federal deficits, and vow that they will absolutely not be a part of this fine mess that their yesterday selves got us into.

    I’m not sure there’s been any past Republican effort as lazily nihilistic as the one that’s currently forming, however. The seemingly unanimous take of Senate Republicans, as guided by (of course) Sen. Mitch McConnell, is that the debt ceiling of course needs to be raised as rote responsibility of government—and that Republicans will absolutely block attempts all attempts to do so so that Democrats have to do it without them.

    […] On Tuesday, Sen. McConnell turtled to reporters that Senate Republicans were “united in opposition to raising the debt ceiling.” Party cranks had previously promised to filibuster any legislation raising the ceiling, thus cutting off both the notion that the ceiling could be raised with Republican votes and the ability of Senate Democrats to even bring such a bill for a vote.

    […] Republicans don’t intend to use their position to negotiate anything. They just don’t wanna do it so they’re not going to. […]

    See, I worry here that I’m not fully conveying the full asininity of the Senate Republican position. They’re in broad agreement that the nation can’t default on its debts, they’re in broad agreement that therefore the debt ceiling should be raised as it has been every other time it has come up, and they’re in broad agreement that they’re going to sit in a corner screaming song lyrics and pressure cooker recipes while everybody else gets on that. As legislators, they don’t want to do this bit of government so they’re just not gonna, la la la, the rest of you are suckers for caring. […]

    O … kay?

    Oh, they still get their paychecks either way, of course. […]

    In any event, because none of this would be complete without Republican lawmakers simply lying their asses off about even the most basic functions of government, Republicans do intend to pretend that the debt ceiling is tied to new Democratic spending and not past congressional edicts. CNN gives us the immediate example of Sen. Joni Ernst blubbering that with new Democratic budget proposals this new hit on the debt ceiling is “their own making.” Yet again, for the people in the cheap seats, this ain’t so. The debt ceiling is governed by spending authorized by Congress in the past. […] Sen. Joni Ernst is just lying on this one, as is the party’s current style.

    So far, all of this looks like it will be turning out extremely Stupid […] It does look like Democratic leaders intend to force a Senate vote on the debt ceiling, Republicans intend to filibuster it, we will gradually inch toward the crisis of government not being able to pay its bills, and at the last minute or shortly thereafter Democrats will construct some mechanism for getting it done […]

    […] It turns out governance, like health care, is a lot cheaper when you don’t wait for every last bump and nick to turn into a full-blown emergency before dealing with it.

    End this farce. Republicans cannot govern, Republicans don’t want anyone else to govern, Republicans continue to flip random levers of government in the hope that the damage done will be something non-Republicans cannot easily fix. There is Too Much Shit these days for this little comedy routine to still be a core part of the national lineup. We need this time for debating more important things, like seawalls and pandemics and an explanation as to how the most incompetent White House in a century managed to come so very close to orchestrating a coup.

    Link

  202. says

    Wonkette: Trinidad And Tobago Makes Important Announcement On Nicki Minaj’s Cousin’s Friend’s Balls

    […] the case of Nicki Minaj’s cousin’s friend’s balls what are actually in the nation of Trinidad and Tobago, and whether they became super-sized by the COVID vaccine — and there’s an important update.

    Last night, Tucker Carlson offered, like the important journalist he is, to travel in an aeroplane over the sea to Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, to stick a microphone down Nicki Minaj’s cousin’s friend’s pants to see if that cousin’s friend’s balls were very big because of the COVID vaccine. “Hello there, Nicki Minaj’s cousin’s friend’s balls!” Tucker would say enthusiastically, like he was greeting the Hungarian prime minister.

    As of that publishing, we did not know whether Tucker would end up making that journey. And we still don’t.

    But the internet is telling us that the minister of health for Trinidad and Tobago, whose name is Terrence Deyalsingh, felt compelled to address the size of Nicki Minaj’s cousin’s friend’s balls in his COVID update, because of how misinformation is such bullshit. He said they “wasted so much time yesterday running down this false claim,” and concluded that there is no known side effect to the COVID vaccine that includes your balls or Nicki Minaj’s cousin’s friend’s balls getting OMG BIG. (It can be a side effect of chlamydia and gonorrhea, though, by the way.)

    Clearly annoyed that he was even having to spend more time on this, Deyalsingh said, “There is absolutely no reported such side effect or adverse event of testicular swelling in Trinidad or […] anywhere else in the world.”

    […] From what we can tell, this is all real and true and not some amazing parody. Terrence Deyalsingh is definitely the minister of health for Trinidad and Tobago. And WHATEVER caused Nicki Minaj’s cousin’s friend’s balls to have all the problems, it wasn’t the COVID vaccine.

    Of course, Tucker will probably tell us tonight that Deyalsingh is part of the Deep State (of Trinidad and Tobago) and demand to know what Dr. Fauci knew and when he knew it about Nicki Minaj’s cousin’s friend’s balls.

    And then maybe Tucker can have Glenn Greenwald on and they can talk about how maybe Nicki Minaj’s cousin’s friend’s balls might just need a spoonful of horse dewormer to return to their usual size. (Glenn is mad about the cancel culturing of horse dewormer.)

    What? Sounds about as reasonable as whatever else they talk about together.

  203. blf says

    Russia slams New York’s vaccine requirement for UN general assembly:

    […]
    All diplomats attending the UN general assembly in New York next week will have to provide proof of vaccination, the city government has confirmed, prompting an angry response from Russia.

    Delegates must be vaccinated to enter the debate hall, the mayor’s office told the assembly president in a letter dated 9 September.

    They must also be vaccinated if they want to eat or exercise indoors, the letter added.

    New York began enforcing a vaccine mandate on Monday, requiring proof of at least one shot for many indoor activities, including restaurants and entertainment venues.

    The letter signed by New York City’s health commissioner and confirmed by his spokesman said the UN debate hall was classified as a “convention center”, meaning all attendees must be vaccinated.

    […]

    Vassily Nebenzia wrote to assembly president Abdulla Shahid Wednesday saying he had been “very much surprised and disappointed” by a letter Shahid wrote to members in which he supported the proof of vaccination requirement.

    […]

    He described it as “a clearly discriminatory measure”, adding that preventing delegates to access the hall was a “clear violation of the UN charter”.

    The letter [presumably either NYC’s or Shahid’s –blf] also reminded diplomats that New York state requires everyone to wear masks on public transport.

    […]

    New York accepts all vaccines that have been approved by either the World Health Organization or America’s federal Food and Drug Administration.

    I suspect (part of) what is really going on here is Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine still hasn’t received WHO approval (as of 19 August (PDF)), and last year the FDA (and EMA?) said they were concerned about a lack of data and thought it unlikely it would gain EUA (perhaps even more unlikely now since there now is a fully-approved vaccine?).

  204. says

    Despondent after yesterday’s recall election, millions of California Republicans are fleeing the state for Florida and Texas in search of dumber governors.

    The Republicans are choosing to leave their lives in California behind rather than put up with another year and a half of a governor who oppressively follows science.

    Harland Dorrinson, a real-estate agent in Orange County, said that he was leaving for a new life in Florida with little more than the Rolex on his arm.

    “I looked at myself in the mirror and asked, Can I really live under the tyranny of a governor who blindly adheres to verifiable reality?” he said. “I decided I’d be better off with Ron DeSantis.”

    Although he is excited about starting over in the Sunshine State, Dorrinson said that choosing between Florida and Texas was “one of the toughest decisions” of his life.

    “With Governor Abbott and Governor DeSantis, you really can’t go wrong,” he said. “Both of them oppose mask mandates. Both of them oppose vaccine mandates. But DeSantis has actually had his videos banned from YouTube for spreading covid misinformation. That was the tiebreaker for me.”

    New Yorker link

    DeSantis has earned the nickname Ron DeathSentence.

  205. says

    Alaska News:

    Alaska’s largest hospital is now implementing crisis standards and rationing medical care amid a crush of COVID-19 patients and staff shortages that have forced providers to prioritize patients most likely to recover.

    Link

    […] Providence Alaska Medical Center’s chief of staff announced the decision in a two-page letter Tuesday that urges Alaskans to wear masks regardless of their vaccination status, get tested, get vaccinated if eligible and avoid potentially dangerous activities or situations that could result in hospitalization. […]

    “We’re out of beds. Life saving measures are not going to be possible in every case,” said Dr. Leslie Gonsette, an internal medicine hospitalist and member of Providence’s executive committee board who helped draft the letter. “And that’s what we’re trying to emphasize.”

    […] Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson has made it clear he opposes such requirements.

    […] Bronson praised the municipality’s work on testing and monoclonal antibody treatment sites and reiterated his opposition to any vaccine requirements as the meeting got underway. Several people testified in opposition to vaccination and other mitigation policies. At least one suggested the virus was nothing to be afraid of.

    “We are in a crisis at the hospital,” Solana Walkinshaw testified, meaning care had to be rationed. “That means when we have four patients and two machines, two people are not getting that care. It’s happening now.” […]

    “I would just briefly respond to this suggestion that we should not be afraid,” he said. “I would say that we are terrified as physicians and nurses. What we’re terrified of is being faced with two or three or four patients, and not having the resources that we need to take care of them.”

    […] The Providence letter describes an emergency room overflowing, with patients waiting in their cars for hours and heart attack patients sometimes denied timely life-saving care. Providence now often declines transfer requests from outlying rural hospitals trying to move accident or stroke victims and has instituted strict visitor restrictions. […]

  206. says

    This pastor will sign a religious exemption for vaccines if you donate to his church.

    Washington Post link

    A pastor is encouraging people to donate to his Tulsa church so they can become an online member and get his signature on a religious exemption from coronavirus vaccine mandates. The pastor, Jackson Lahmeyer, is a 29-year-old small-business owner running in the Republican primary challenge to Sen. James Lankford in 2022.

    Lahmeyer, who leads Sheridan Church with his wife, Kendra, said Tuesday that in the past two days, about 30,000 people have downloaded the religious exemption form he created.

    “It’s beautiful,” he said. “My phone and my emails have blown up.”

    The rules around religious exemptions for coronavirus vaccines vary widely as each state or institution often has its own exemption forms for people to sign. Experts on religious freedom claims say that most people do not necessarily need a letter from clergy for a religious exemption.

    Some institutions request a signature from a religious authority, but Charles Haynes, senior fellow for religious freedom at the Freedom Forum in Washington, said that those institutions could be on a shaky ground constitutionally. Haynes said that if a person states a sincere religious belief that they want to opt out of vaccination, that should be enough.

    “He’s not really selling a religious exemption,” said Haynes, who compared Lahmeyer’s exemption offer to televangelists who sell things like prayer cloths. “He’s selling a bogus idea that you need one.” […]

    WTF?

  207. blf says

    As part of the implementation of France’s Health Pass related measures, all(?) healthcare workers had to be (fully?-)vaccinated by September 15. From memory, the original plan was to fire any who weren’t, but the constitutional review modified that, so it’s (for the moment) suspension without pay. Which has happened, France suspends 3,000 unvaccinated health workers without pay:

    […]
    France’s national public health agency estimated last week that roughly 12 percent of hospital staff and around six percent of doctors in private practices have yet to be vaccinated.

    “Some 3,000 suspensions were notified yesterday to employees at health centres and clinics who have not yet been vaccinated,” [Health Minister Olivier] Veran told RTL radio.

    He added that “several dozens” had turned in their resignations rather than sign up for the jabs. […]

    That compares with 2.7 million health workers overall, Veran said, adding that “continued healthcare is assured.”

    “A large number of these suspensions are only temporary” and mainly concern support staff, with “very few nurses” among those told to stay home, he said.

    […]

  208. says

    This year’s ozone layer hole bigger than Antarctica:

    The hole in the ozone layer that develops annually is “rather larger than usual” and is currently bigger than Antartica, say the scientists responsible for monitoring it.
    Researchers from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service say that this year’s hole is growing quickly and is larger than 75% of ozone holes at this stage in the season since 1979.

    Vincent-Henri Peuch, the service’s director, told the Guardian: “We cannot really say at this stage how the ozone hole will evolve. However, the hole of this year is remarkably similar to the one of 2020, which was among the deepest and the longest-lasting – it closed around Christmas – in our records since 1979.
    “The 2021 ozone hole is now among the 25% largest in our records since 1979, but the process is still under way. We will keep monitoring its development in the next weeks. A large or small ozone hole in one year does not necessarily mean that the overall recovery process is not going ahead as expected, but it can signal that special attention needs to be paid and research can be directed to study the reasons behind a specific ozone hole event.”

    You know, just the other day, I was thinking to myself: “Why can’t we get our shit together on climate change? We managed with the ozone layer, so we should be able to do more.” And then I learn that while we may have cut back on emissions of CFCs, the hole is still there. And apparently still getting worse.
    Yay humanity. What a bunch.

  209. Rob Grigjanis says

    The Vicar @216: But it has to make sense as a cryptic clue. The answer is an anagram of ‘bugger whose’ – George W Bush.

  210. says

    Georgia’s Governor Kemp spurns Covid solutions, but invites ‘good ideas’

    “If you have any good ideas on how we can further slow the spread, I’d be open to it,” Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said. If only he meant it.

    The cover of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution yesterday featured two big reports on the pandemic in Georgia. On the right side of the page was a discouraging article about the sharp increase in Covid-19 infections among children in the state as schools reopen. Several hundred Georgia kids were hospitalized just last week.

    This news appeared alongside a competing article, alerting readers to a very different kind of development. The headline read, “Kemp avoids strong steps to stem COVID-19 spread.”

    As Georgia sees some of its highest numbers to date of infections, hospitalizations and fatalities, the Journal-Constitution reported that Republican Gov. Brian Kemp is among the GOP governors sticking to a passive approach to the pandemic.

    When [Kemp] went on national television to talk about the new school year, he spoke of masks as tools of government overreach, accusing the CDC of doublespeak. We don’t need mandates to know what to do, he said on Fox and Friends. His refrain there and at press conferences: We need to trust people to do the right thing. In the days following, Kemp told Georgians to follow scientific guidance. But he also said it was up to every individual whether to wear masks or get vaccinated.

    The report added that it was just a month ago, as cases in Georgia grew, when the Republican governor “signed an order allowing businesses to ignore any local COVID restrictions.”

    Asked if he’s doing enough to address the public health crisis, Kemp immediately responded, “If you have any good ideas on how we can further slow the spread, I’d be open to it.”

    […] Nearly 25 years ago, there was an episode of “The Simpsons” in which viewers saw Ned Flanders’ parents struggling to deal with Ned’s temperament issues when he was a child. They went to a therapist and said, “You’ve got to help us, doc. We’ve tried nothing and we’re all out of ideas.”

    Of course, it’d be an unfair overstatement to say the Georgia governor has tried literally nothing, but the line from the “The Simpsons” nevertheless rings true for a reason.

    There are plenty of constructive steps Kemp could take that would likely help make a significant difference. He could create vaccine requirements. He could mandate mask protections in schools. He could rescind his recent order and direct businesses to honor local Covid-19 restrictions. As the Journal-Constitution’s article added, Kemp could “offer incentives to younger people to get vaccinated and vastly expand mobile clinics.”

    The governor could also barnstorm the state, touting the importance of vaccines and pleading with Georgians to do the right thing in order to protect themselves, their families and their communities.

    But Kemp isn’t doing any of these things. […].

  211. says

    Biden’s ACA special enrollment period brought coverage to millions

    Biden’s decision to create a special ACA enrollment period proved to be a striking success. It’s part of the ACA’s very good year.

    Just one week after his inauguration, President Joe Biden did what his predecessor would not: He issued an executive order to create a special enrollment period through the Affordable Care Act, citing a need created by the pandemic. Donald Trump was expected to do something similar last year, but he refused, because he didn’t want people turning to “Obamacare” for help during a crisis.

    […] Biden’s decision to do the right thing proved to be a striking success. The Associated Press reported yesterday:

    Nearly 3 million consumers took advantage of a special six-month period to sign up for subsidized health insurance coverage made more affordable by the COVID-19 relief law, President Joe Biden said Wednesday…. ‘That’s 2.8 million families who will have more security, more breathing room, and more money in their pocket if an illness or accident hits home,’ Biden said in a statement. ‘Altogether, 12.2 million Americans are actively enrolled in coverage under the Affordable Care Act — an all-time high.’

    […] As HuffPost’s Jonathan Cohn recently added, “So this is what it looks like when the people in charge of ‘Obamacare’ want to enroll as many people as possible.”

    […] the ACA is having a very good year. Not only did the U.S. Supreme Court shield the ACA from its latest Republican attack a few months ago, but the open enrollment data coincides with expansive new benefits included in the Democrats’ Covid relief package. Some have seen their premiums cut in half, while many have seen their premiums fall to literally zero, thanks entirely to the investments in the president’s American Rescue Plan.

    There are, however, some clouds on the horizon. As regular readers know, the ACA-related benefits included in the American Rescue Plan are, at least for now, temporary. The White House and Democratic leaders want to make the current benefits permanent, and they intend to include funding for this in the Build Back Better infrastructure bill taking shape on Capitol Hill.

    Whether a small group of centrist and conservative Democrats will allow the legislation to proceed remains an open question. […]

  212. says

    Nearly a year after Trump’s defeat, Republicans in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are launching unnecessary and utterly ridiculous election “investigations.”

    Arizona Republicans’ utterly bonkers “audit” of the 2020 presidential election has become the stuff of legend — but not in a good way. As a bipartisan group of local officials in Maricopa County put it in May, the outlandish process is a “spectacle that is harming all of us,” adding, “Our state has become a laughingstock.”

    But with so much of the GOP fully invested in the Big Lie, Republican officials elsewhere remain eager to repeat Arizona’s mistakes nearly a year after Donald Trump’s re-election defeat.

    In Wisconsin, for example, GOP legislators recently agreed to spend up to $680,000 — in taxpayer money — on an entirely unnecessary investigation into ballots that have already been counted multiple times. Making matters worse, the Associated Press reported this week that the state’s election clerks reacted “with a mixture of concern and confusion to the first inquiry made by a special investigator hired by Republicans to examine” the state’s 2020 election.

    As Rachel explained on Tuesday’s show, the inquiry came in the form of a strange email from an unofficial account and an unknown sender, requesting the preservation of election records. Not surprisingly, several Wisconsin counties said they intended to ignore the mysterious correspondence and await official instructions. [LOL]

    The investigation is being led by former conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, who made up his mind about far-right conspiracy theories before his examination even began: Gableman is a “Stop the Steal” activist who’s publicly sought to undermine public confidence in the election results.

    While these developments unfold in the Badger State, Pennsylvania Republicans, also invested in the Big Lie, have moved forward with their own “review” of the election — despite the fact that the state has already conducted post-election audits confirming the accuracy of the results.

    The Washington Post reported yesterday on GOP state legislators approving subpoenas for “a wide range of data and personal information on voters.”

    Among other requests, Republicans are seeking the names, dates of birth, driver’s license numbers, last four digits of Social Security numbers, addresses and methods of voting for millions of people who cast ballots in the May primary and the November general election.

    That’s quite a list. Remember, there’s literally no evidence of election improprieties in the Keystone State. There was an election; the votes were tallied; the results were certified; and audits found no irregularities in the vote count. No one, anywhere, has produced any credible proof of problems with the state’s balloting.

    A couple of Trump voters were caught trying to cast illegal ballots on behalf of dead relatives, but they were easily caught, and in a state in which roughly 7 million Pennsylvanians voted, the vanishingly small number of Republicans who tried and failed to commit fraud was inconsequential.

    […] the state Senate’s top Republican, President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, recently told a conservative media personality that he and his GOP colleagues are justified in this partisan exercise, not because there’s evidence of wrongdoing, but because they think evidence of wrongdoing might emerge if they keep looking for it.

    “I don’t necessarily have faith in the results,” Corman said last month. “I think that there were many problems in our election that we need to get to the bottom of.”

    By all appearances, Corman lacks “faith in the results” because voters in his state had the audacity to support the Democratic ticket — just as Pennsylvania voters did in 2012. And 2008. And 2004. And 2000. And 1996. And 1992. His hunch has nevertheless led to expansive subpoenas for millions of voters’ personal information.

    Marian Schneider, an elections lawyer for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, told The New York Times, “That’s a really bad idea to have private information floating around in a Senate caucus. And it’s really not clear how the data is going to be used, who’s going to be looking at it, who can have access, how it’s going to be secured. And it’s unclear to me why they even need the personally identifying information.”

    Court fights over these subpoenas are inevitable.

    Link

  213. says

    In April, a national poll found 70 percent of Republicans rejecting the legitimacy of Biden’s presidency. Five months later, it’s even worse.

    […] The fact that this problem persists — and by some measures, is getting worse — underscores a more serious problem.

    A new national CNN poll, released yesterday, asked respondents whether President Joe Biden legitimately defeated Donald Trump in the 2020 election. For most Americans the answer is obvious; for most Republican voters, it is not.

    Among Republicans, 78 percent say that Biden did not win and 54 percent believe there is solid evidence of that, despite the fact that no such evidence exists. That view is also deeply connected to support for Trump.

    At face value, it’s astonishing that nearly four in five GOP voters believe the president did not win the election, reality be damned. […] In other words, since the spring, GOP voters have become even more hostile toward their own country’s electoral reality.

    To be sure, 78 percent is an unusually high number — the highest I’ve seen in major independent polling — but there have been a variety of surveys in recent months pointing in similar directions.

    Over the summer, the Associated Press and Monmouth separately released poll results showing roughly two-thirds of Republicans coming to the same misguided conclusion.

    […] I initially hoped that reality would set in gradually over time. […] Many GOP voters were led to believe that Trump would win, so perhaps their rejection of Biden’s legitimate victory was little more than reflexive anger.

    In the same vein, as the nation’s focus shifted to post-inaugural governance, it seemed possible, if not likely, that voters would accept reality in greater numbers as post-election drama faded from view.

    Except, that’s not happening — in part because the post-election drama hasn’t faded from view. Trump lies with great regularity about his defeat, and much of his party plays along, either because GOP officials believe the nonsense or because they’re afraid of what will happen to them if they tell the truth. Absurd election “audits” are still ongoing — and in some states, just getting started.

    Rank-and-file Republican voters, meanwhile, don’t know they’re being deceived, and the result is widespread confusion about reality.

    […] If the CNN polling is correct and the problem is actually getting worse nearly a year after the election, that’s a problem for the entire political system

  214. says

    Twenty-four Democratic Attorneys General filed an amicus brief backing the Department of Justice’s challenge to the recent Texas abortion ban.

    […] In their amicus brief, the group led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey argued that Texas’ new six-week abortion ban is in “direct contravention” of the Supreme Court precedent affirming the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy prior to viability, which the court recognized in its 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade.

    “Today, virtually no one can obtain an abortion in Texas,” the brief reads. “In order to obtain abortion care, patients now have to travel out-of-state, which makes abortion for many people too difficult, too time-intensive, and too costly.”

    The group noted that residents of their respective states may require an abortion while in Texas, which could include workers, visitors or students from out of state.

    Additionally, they expressed concerns for Texans who are now seeking abortions outside of the Lone Star state as a result of a ban, and how that could potentially add more burdens onto already strained health care systems in their states.

    “In New Mexico, for example, an influx of patients from Texas has already strained provider resources and made it more difficult for New Mexico residents to receive timely care,” the brief reads. “Similar impacts are being seen or expected to be seen in other Amici States, including California, Colorado, Illinois, and Nevada.”

    The amicus brief’s Wednesday filing was issued after the Justice Department filed an emergency request late Tuesday night to freeze Texas’ anti-abortion law. Instead of immediately acting on the request, U.S. District Judge Robert L. Pitman agreed to the state’s request to hear arguments before ruling, and scheduled a hearing on Oct. 1 to consider temporarily blocking Texas’ six-week abortion ban.

    The Texas law needs to be stopped now! What’s with this fucking delay?

    […] The DOJ’s lawsuit, which was filed in Austin last week, seeks a judgment deeming the law invalid under the Supremacy Clause and the Fourteenth Amendment, and for an order blocking anyone from carrying it out.

    “The United States has the authority and responsibility to ensure that Texas cannot evade its obligations under the Constitution and deprive individuals of their constitutional rights by adopting a statutory scheme designed specifically to evade traditional mechanisms of federal judicial review,” the DOJ’s lawsuit reads. “The federal government therefore brings this suit directly against the State of Texas to obtain a declaration that S.B. 8 is invalid, to enjoin its enforcement, and to protect the rights that Texas has violated.”

    The DOJ’s lawsuit also took aim at the Texas law for allowing individuals from anywhere in the country to sue anyone who performs post-six week abortions, or who “aids or abets” it — which could net the plaintiff a $10,000 bounty and all legal fees paid for by the defendant.

    “It takes little imagination to discern Texas’s goal—to make it too risky for an abortion clinic to operate in the State,” the DOJ’s lawsuit reads.

    The DOJ’s lawsuit claims that the state is the rightful defendant.

    “The United States therefore may sue a State to vindicate the rights of individuals when a state infringes on rights protected by the Constitution,” the DOJ’s lawsuit reads. “Such an effort is particularly warranted where, as here, private citizens are—by design—substantially burdened in vindicating their own rights.” […]

    Link

  215. says

    Follow-up to comments 165 and 208.

    […] You might be thinking, “Cristina, are you seriously talking about this Nicki Minaj testicle thing for a third day in a row?” and I regret to inform you that yes, I am, and that’s because the White House actually got involved yesterday.

    Minaj claimed she had been invited to the White House to discuss the COVID-19 vaccine amid what she dubbed “#BallGate,” the backlash over her allegation that the vaccine had caused her cousin’s friend’s testicles to swell.

    The White House said the rapper hadn’t been offered an invite, but they had reached out to her to make sure she knows the vaccine doesn’t, you know, do that.

    “As we have with others, we offered a call with Nicki Minaj and one of our doctors to answer questions she has about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine,” the White House said in a statement.

    And now Trump stooges have found their patron saint in Nicki Minaj:

    Nicki Minaj is a far more reputable source of information than Rachel Maddow.

    One of them is censored by the regime. The other promoted by it. [tweeted by J.D. Vance]

    Link

    At the link, you can also see tweets documenting the many ways in which Fox News is promoting the “Nicki Minaj was censored” falsehood.

  216. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Violent insurrection? What violent insurrection? The Jan. 6 Capitol attack was more like “a couple of boomers doing a self-guided tour of a public building.”

    At least, that’s according to Matt Braynard, the former director of data and strategy for the 2016 Trump campaign and the organizer behind a protest at the Capitol Saturday on behalf of Jan. 6 “political prisoners.”

    […] “What happened on the sixth, by and large, was just an aggressive exercise of First Amendment rights in a public building,” Braynard told the conservative Catholic outlet Church Militant recently. [Teaming up with “conservative Catholic” outlets!?]

    […] Reframing the Capitol attack as fundamentally peaceful is central to his political project.

    Beyond the so-called political prisoners, Braynard is trying to convince conservatives that the mainstream media’s depiction of Jan. 6 as a “white supremacist insurrection” threatens to provide the foundation for gun grabs, purges from the military, and even critical race theory.

    […] Saturday’s rally will likely be a quieter event than the attack that aimed to overturn American democracy. Donald Trump, for one thing, isn’t beckoning his millions of supporters to the nation’s capital. What’s more, some of the groups under the heaviest scrutiny for that riot have said they’re staying away from D.C. this time.

    Far-right leaders and their rank-and-file believers have determined, at least publicly, that the event will be rife with “glowies,” or undercover federal agents.

    “[…] Sounds like bait,” the Proud Boys account on Telegram announced earlier this month, as the Washingtonian noted. Oath Keepers lawyer Kellye SoRelle, who herself had a recent encounter with federal law enforcement, told Mother Jones, “I do not know of any specific plan to attend, other than what we are watching the media fabricate.”

    But bringing out the muscle, at least for one day in September, isn’t the point. Rather, Braynard wants to change the narrative of the Capitol attack, softening the spotlight that for months has pointed at the violence on display that day.

    “This is really about fighting the narrative about what actually happened on Jan. 6,” he told Steve Bannon in one recent interview, adding later: “This protest is not about elections, it’s not about who won, it’s not about voter fraud. It’s about the abuse of these political prisoners and the scapegoating of them for this grand insurrection narrative.”

    […] “This is a tactic we’ve seen from the far right throughout the Trump years,” said Michael Edison Hayden, a spokesperson for the Southern Poverty Law Center, who compared the effort to rewrite the history of Jan. 6 to similar historical revisionism after the violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville in 2017.

    “It is to broaden the appetite for violence. If you don’t feel a sense of disgust and horror — if you consider this to be normal politics — then you’re willing to accept much more.”

    Jared Holt, a researcher at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, told TPM that Braynard could use an uneventful protest to his advantage. Holt has criticized reporting on the upcoming event, largely based on law enforcement sources, that has cast Braynard’s crew as a second-coming of the Capitol attackers.

    “If things go smoothly, and people who attend his rally comply with police and behave themselves, Matt Braynard will be able to turn around and use that to be able to further his own attempts to recast Jan. 6,” Holt said.

    “If they lied about us,” Holt speculated the organizer might say, “do you think maybe they lied about Jan. 6?”

    […] Ashli Babbitt, who became a right-wing martyr after she was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer while trying to storm a hallway mere feet from evacuating lawmakers, was actually “sort of trying to reach over a door or something,” Braynard told Church Militant.

    And while Capitol rioter Roseanne Boyland was declared dead of an amphetamine overdose by the D.C. Medical Examiner’s Office — and video from the event showed her being trampled by fellow rioters — Castronuova asserted in the Gateway Pundit last week that video showed a Capitol Police officer beating an unconscious Boyland with a stick. [OMG, so many lies, so much bullshit.]

    […]

    Link

  217. says

    A reusable Falcon 9 rocket launched four civilians into orbit Wednesday.

    The Crew Dragon capsule settled into orbit about 360 miles above the Earth’s surface.

    The mission is the first time that a launch was guided without an astronaut on board.

    […] Elon Musk’s SpaceX made history after successfully launching an all-civilian crew into Earth’s orbit for the first time ever.

    A reusable Falcon 9 rocket launched Chris Sembroski, an aerospace data engineer, Jared Isaacman, a billionaire tech entrepreneur, Sian Proctor, a geoscientist, and Hayley Arceneaux, a physician assistant, from Cape Canaveral Wednesday evening as part of the Inspiration4 mission.

    The Crew Dragon capsule settled into orbit about 360 miles above the Earth’s surface, higher than the pathway taken by the International Space Station, and will orbit the planet for three days. The crew will then splash down at one of several possible landing sites off the Florida coast.

    […] The mission comes after billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson both launched to the edge of space in spacecraft manufactured by their aerospace companies as part of efforts to ramp up the space tourism industry.

    Link

    Video taken from capsule’s cupola is available at the link.

  218. blf says

    The Nasa/JPL Mars helicopter Ingenuity’s 14th flight (possibly tomorrow, Friday) will be to test higher rotor speeds in preparation for seasonal atmospheric pressure differences (even lower density) on Mars. As explained in Flying on Mars Is Getting Harder and Harder, Ingenuity has now been operating for six months(!), well beyond its planned or expected lifetime, and is now having to deal with the seasons changing on Mars: “With Ingenuity in its sixth month of operation, however, we have entered a season where the densities in Jezero Crater are dropping to even lower levels. In the coming months we may see densities as low as 0.012 kg/m3 (1.0% [lower than the designed-for 1.2%–1.5%] of Earth’s density) during the afternoon hours that are preferable for flight.” One way of dealing with the problem is to spin the rotor faster than it’s ever been tested before (not even on Earth!), up to about 2800 rpm, or 0.8 Mach (on Mars), or about 10% faster than the usual operating speed.

  219. blf says

    Alberta [Canada] reverses hands-off approach to Covid to tackle ‘crisis of unvaccinated’:

    […]
    Alberta’s premier has announced sweeping new restrictions to combat the spread of the coronavirus, admitting the Canadian province was gripped by a “crisis of the unvaccinated”.

    The new measures marked a major reversal from Jason Kenney’s hands-off approach to the pandemic previously, and come amid warnings from frontline medical workers that the province’s healthcare system is on the verge of collapse.

    Kenney admitted as much when he outlined the province’s new restrictions, telling the public that Alberta may run out of intensive-care beds and staff to care for ICU patients within 10 days.

    Alberta currently has the worst coronavirus outbreak in Canada.

    Kenney, whose government consists of moderate and far-right conservatives, has previously resisted vaccine passport systems, citing privacy concerns. But on Wednesday evening, he admitted he had little choice.

    “The government’s first obligation must be to avoid large numbers of preventable deaths. We must deal with the reality that we are facing. We cannot wish it away,” he said. “Morally, ethically and legally, the protection of life must be our paramount concern.”

    Beginning late this month, Albertans must show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test for restaurants, bars and indoor organized events. Businesses that choose not to ask for vaccination status will have a separate, more strict set of regulations they must follow. For example, if restaurants opt out of the vaccine passport system, they must close their indoor dining rooms and limit outdoor service to tables of six people, all of whom must be from the same household.

    […]

    In his remarks, Kenney also apologized for treating Covid-19 as something that was not an immediate threat to the lives of Albertans. In July, officials had said Alberta was open for summer and the governing United Conservative party began selling hats proclaiming 2021 was the Best Summer Ever. Those hats are no longer for sale.

    “It is now clear that we were wrong — and for that, I apologize,” said Kenney.

    The Alberta Health Services head, Verna Yiu, had dire warnings for the province on Wednesday, saying that her agency will soon ask other provinces if they have ICU space to care for Albertans. AHS will also ask other provinces if they have frontline medical staff who could be deployed to assist in Alberta.

    The province has already cancelled surgeries to increase ICU capacity. As of Tuesday, 270 people were in Alberta’s ICUs, far more than the limit of 173. More than 90% of patients in the ICU are unvaccinated or partly vaccinated.

  220. says

    blf @229, wow. Kenney has really changed his tune. About time. I wish some conservative politicians in the USA would follow his example.

    May be relevant: There are 82,436 mormons in Alberta according to LDS church membership records. This may not count mormons who live in Alberta but who are members of even more fundamentalist versions of the LDS church (polygamists). They are very conservative.

  221. says

    $99 billion in damages. That’s what Biden says extreme weather cost USA taxpayers last year. He expects that amount to go up this year. Biden says that for every dollar of infrastructure and other preventative measures the government spends, we get $6 back in savings. So, yeah, he is right. We need to make those investments.

  222. says

    Sigh. Some madness from Fox News, plus commentary from Stephen Colbert as a palate cleanser.

    LARA LOGAN: This is really the moment to unite. Because we’re seeing is that these issues were never about Left and Right. They’re about right and wrong and good and evil and there’s nothing more threatening to them than saying you’re going to pray for something.

    TUCKER: It’s totally true! This isn’t even about vaccines, or about COVID! It’s about your dignity! And if they can force you to violate your own conscience, to put something in your body you don’t want, you are done, you have no more dignity, they control you, and that’s why they’re so insistent on doing it.

    Stephen Colbert segment on YouTube

  223. says

    Why Mitch McConnell is threatening to hurt the economy on purpose

    A full decade after the nation’s first-ever debt ceiling crisis, Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans are gearing up for a dangerous sequel.

    In most legislative fights, Democrats and Republicans operate in competing versions of reality. From health care to taxes, climate to immigration, the major parties often can’t agree what to do because they can’t agree on what’s real.

    But the debt ceiling is qualitatively different.

    Both parties are well aware of the fact that raising the debt ceiling allows the United States government to meet its fiscal obligations. Both parties fully understand that if the country fails to raise the debt ceiling, and our government defaults on its obligations, the results would be disastrous.

    This isn’t one of those fights in which Republicans struggle with substantive details, ignore the experts and concoct a weird alternate reality. GOP officials and Democratic officials are on the same page: Congress must pay its bills to protect the full faith and credit of the United States.

    The problem right now is that Republicans are simply refusing to govern responsibly. NBC News reported yesterday on

    A battle over the debt limit on Capitol Hill is intensifying after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans dug in this week against voting to raise it…. “Let me be crystal clear about this: Republicans are united in opposition to raising the debt ceiling,” McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters after a Senate GOP caucus meeting Tuesday.

    The Kentucky senator justified his position — conceding that he’s voted for plenty of other debt-ceiling increases — by arguing that Democrats are pursuing an ambitious economic agenda that Republicans don’t like.

    That’s a justification? Doesn’t sound like one to me.

    The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent described the GOP leader’s position as “lunacy,” which is more than fair given the circumstances.

    Republicans are not against a debt ceiling increase. Rather, they’re against voting for a debt ceiling increase. That’s ridiculous, of course, but it’s made worse by GOP plans to filibuster the vote when Democrats try to take the obvious step.

    In other words, the Senate Republicans’ position can be reduced to three straightforward points:
    – Congress must raise the debt ceiling.
    – Democrats must do this on their own.
    – Republicans won’t let Democrats do this on their own.

    […] This morning Punchbowl News noted in passing that “both sides” are “dug in” over the issue. The New York Times added that Democrats “do not appear to have a strategy” to get the job done.

    Aiyiyiyi. Don’t “both sides” this issue.

    […] One side of the political divide wants the United States to pay its bills; the other side is threatening to deliberately crash the economy as part of a political game.

    This shouldn’t be seen as a standoff in which “both sides” are “dug in”; this should be seen for what it is: a scandal in which a major political party says it’s prepared to hurt Americans on purpose.

    […] Wait, do we really have to talk about the debt ceiling again?

    I’m afraid so. No one wants to have this conversation — now or ever — but Senate Republicans are picking the fight, so it’s important for the public to understand what’s at stake.

    […] In our system of government, Congress has the “power of the purse” and appropriates federal funds, but it’s the executive branch that actually spends the money. For the most part, this works relatively smoothly, though there’s an important sticking point: the executive branch lacks the legal authority to spend more than the country takes in.

    Since the United States nearly always runs an annual budget deficit, this means administrations have spent decades going back to Congress and asking lawmakers to extend the nation’s borrowing limit — in effect, getting permission to spend the money lawmakers already allocated.

    This model seems badly flawed.

    It is. In fact, no major economy on the planet operates this way.

    What happens if the United States fails to extend its borrowing authority?

    Nothing good. Failure would result in the world’s largest economy defaulting on its debts and obligations, which would likely spark a global crisis. […]

    But for most of modern history, this hasn’t made much of a difference, right?

    Right. Lawmakers in both parties have occasionally used the process of raising the debt ceiling for grandstanding, but neither party had ever seriously entertained the possibility of trashing the full faith and credit of the United States government.

    And then?

    And then Republicans won control of the U.S. House in the 2010 midterms, and got to work launching a first-of-its-kind debt ceiling crisis in 2011. GOP lawmakers told the Obama White House that they would refuse to extend the nation’s borrowing limit — which is to say, refuse to cover the debts the nation had already accrued — until Democrats met the Republican Party’s non-negotiable demands.

    You make it sound as if GOP elected officials held the nation hostage.

    Because they did. In fact, McConnell himself described his party’s tactics as a “hostage” strategy at the time. Soon after, then-Vice President Joe Biden reportedly told congressional Democrats, in reference to GOP lawmakers, “They have acted like terrorists.”

    When GOP lawmakers created this crisis in 2011, did it really make a difference?

    Yes. The fact that Republicans were prepared to crash the global economy, on purpose, did not go unnoticed. Just as the nation was finding its footing after the Great Recession, the GOP’s debt-ceiling crisis slowed job growth in the United States to a crawl, did real harm to the nation’s global reputation, and led to the first-ever downgrade to our debt rating.

    Why didn’t Republicans pay a price for engaging in such scandalous tactics?

    Largely much of the Beltway media covered the story as just another fiscal fight between Democrats and Republicans. It’s likely why Republicans feel comfortable giving this another try now.

    So why has it been a decade since I last heard about this?

    Because when Republicans tried to launch additional debt-ceiling fights after 2011, then-President Barack Obama drew a line in the sand from which he did not deviate: He would not negotiate with those threatening Americans with deliberate harm. GOP lawmakers made post-2011 threats, and put together ransom notes, but when the Democratic White House refused to engage, Republicans ultimately had no choice but to approve clean debt-ceiling increases.

    And what about during the Trump era? Did Democrats try to borrow a page from the GOP’s playbook?

    No. During Trump’s term — a four-year period in which Republicans forgot to pretend to care about the deficit and spending concerns — Congress raised the debt ceiling three times without incident. Two years ago, Trump went so far as to declare, “I can’t imagine anybody using the debt ceiling as a negotiating wedge.” The Republican went on to describe the debt limit a “sacred thing in our country.”

    Evidently, the GOP has changed its mind now that there’s another Democratic president.

    Evidently.

    What’s on the Republicans’ list of hostage demands this year?

    For the most part, nothing. GOP leaders aren’t making specific demands, so much as they’re saying they’ll simply refuse to engage in responsible governing on this issue. The White House, meanwhile, is saying it wouldn’t matter if McConnell & Co. came up with a ransom note, because the president won’t negotiate with those threatening to harm Americans on purpose.

    How many Senate Republican votes does the Democratic majority need?

    In theory, none, since there’s a Democratic majority, but in practice, Democrats will need at least 10 GOP votes to overcome a Republican filibuster.

    Are there are any Senate Republicans prepared to approach this in a responsible way?

    Not yet. The grand total of GOP senators who’ve said they’ll vote for a debt-ceiling increase is, as of this morning, zero.

    How much longer until the deadline?

    The Treasury Department hasn’t yet identified a drop-dead deadline, but Yellen has told Congress that members will have to act by next month.

    Do Democrats expect Republicans to come around before it’s too late?

    Yes, but that’s a risky assumption and McConnell insisted yesterday that he and his members will refuse to be responsible.

    And if McConnell’s right?

    Democrats can try attaching a debt ceiling increase to some other bill; they can create a new exception to the Senate’s filibuster rules; or they can blame Republicans for doing enormous harm to the nation’s economic health and stability.

  224. raven says

    Oregon counties requesting emergency help getting mobile morgues
    by Genevieve Reaume, KATU Staff Wednesday, September 15th 2021

    Several hospitals have already brought in trailers to act as mobile morgues, including Providence Portland and Providence St. Vincent. Now, other counties and hospitals are asking for similar assistance from the state.

    Josephine, Tillamook and Lane counties have asked for trailers to help store bodies. Tillamook and Josephine’s requests have been fulfilled and Lane’s request, which the county notes is proactive, is still pending.

    In the Portland-metro area, OHSU and Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center have also asked for mobile morgues. According to OEM, OHSU’s ask was “fulfilled via hospital-to-hospital mutual aid agreements with Kaiser Permanente.”

    Legacy’s request is also pending.

    It’s refrigerated truck time again. A lot of hospitals in Oregon are getting refrigerated trucks.
    It is not a good sign when the refrigerated trucks show up in your neighborhood.

    I keep wondering what goes through the antivaxxers minds when the antivaxxers around them are all getting sick and dying.
    It really doesn’t look like it bothers them all that much.

  225. raven says

    All of Idaho now under Crisis Standards of Care as COVID-19 surges
    by KBOI StaffThursday, September 16th 2021

    BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) — The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has activated Crisis Standards of Care across the entire state of Idaho due to the state’s massive influx of COVID-19 patients being hospitalized. The surge, IDHW says, has exhausted existing resources in all areas of Idaho.

    Further, 83 percent of patients in St. Luke’s intensive care unit beds are COVID patients. Of those, 98 percent are unvaccinated.

    The hospital systems in all of Idaho have basically failed.
    This isn’t even news any more.
    Idaho’s last great move was to appoint an antivaxxer doctor to their Central Health Board.

    They have also been exporting patients to neighboring states and their hospitals are now full as well.

  226. says

    raven @236, I have friends who live in Washington State. They tell me that it is causing real problems to have all of the hospital beds in Washington filling up with COVID patients from Idaho.

    It’s a complete disaster. And, you are are right to say that Idaho appointed a doofus to their Central Health Board. The guy called vaccines “needle rape.” From the Washington Post:

    […] Ryan Cole, a doctor [he is a diagnostic pathologist] — backed by the Ada County Republican Party — who has called coronavirus vaccines “fake.”

    The Republican commissioners of the county — which encompasses the state capital, Boise — said they welcomed Cole’s “outsider” perspective and willingness to “question” established medical guidance. They appointed him over the protests of their lone Democratic colleague.

    […] “To watch my state implode over political decisions that have adverse consequences on health is horrifying to me. … That’s the tragedy that I’m watching unfold,” said Ted Epperly, Cole’s predecessor on the Central District Health Board, which can make broad rules such as mask mandates but had some of its authority stripped this year.

    David Pate, a friend of Epperly and a former CEO of Boise-based St. Luke’s Health System, said that if there is no political will or ability to enact mask mandates, authorities need to at least give people good information. He said the combination of decreasing public health officials’ powers and then allowing them to spread falsehoods is “the worst possible outcome.” He just learned that a charter school he successfully urged to require masks has changed course after hearing a presentation from Cole.

    A lifelong Republican and member of the governor’s coronavirus advisory group, Pate marveled that a segment of the right has been spreading misinformation that he said will be most deadly to their shot-spurning base.

    About 40 percent of Idaho’s population is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, one of the lowest rates in the country and significantly below the national figure of 54 percent.

    […] Cole is a pathologist who runs a medical testing center in Boise and whose public appearances have come to focus on covid-19. The doctor — who, according to his résumé, used to present mostly to medical conferences — has made most of his 2021 appearance at statehouses and on right-wing media, often disparaging the shots proved safe and effective in large trials.

    It started with a March talk at the Idaho Capitol, for a series hosted by the lieutenant governor, where Cole said mRNA vaccines using similar technology to coronavirus shots have led to cancer and autoimmune diseases. Asked for evidence later by a fact-checking site, he cited a paper whose lead author emphatically rejects Cole’s claims.

    […] “A fake vaccine,” Cole said. “Okay. I can — the clot shot, needle rape, whatever you want to call it.” […]

    Perhaps even worse:

    […] other elected officials are sowing misinformation.

    A recent newsletter from Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin (R) […] claimed falsely there is “clear” evidence that people “may be significantly worse off health-wise if they get vaccinated.”

    News outlets quickly pointed out that she was misreading data. People without full vaccination this spring and summer were 11 times more likely to die of covid-19 than the vaccinated, according to studies published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    But McGeachin — who is running for governor with the slogan “Make Idaho Free Again!” — has not backed off.

    “I remain clear in my position on the vaccines. If you want the vaccine, got get the vaccine,” she said in a statement to The Post […] [And she didn’t address the fact that she misread the data and was spreading lies.]

    The office of Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R), who has urged vaccinations but denounced mandates, did not respond to requests for comment. […]

    Washington Post link

  227. snarkrates says

    Given the longstanding connection between Rethug operators and outright fraud (Faux News fan/email lists are highly coveted by fraudsters everywhere, Rush Limpdick, Jim Bakker and many others promote(d) frauds on their broadcasts…) there is NO WAY I want them having any of my personal info.

    Rethugs–It’s fraud all the way down.

  228. says

    Despite court rulings, South Dakota’s Governor, Kristi Noem, pushes for school prayer

    It’s hardly a secret that South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is trying to raise her national visibility and score points with the Republican base ahead of the 2024 election cycle. What’s of greater interest, however, is how the GOP governor is trying advance her ambitions.

    In July, for example, Noem spoke at an event in Iowa, where she told conservatives she doesn’t recognize the United States anymore. “When I grew up, people were proud to have a job,” the governor said. “They weren’t confused on the difference between boys and girls. We prayed in schools – which by the way, in South Dakota, I’m putting prayer back in our school.”

    The South Dakotan took a similar message to a conservative outlet called Real America’s Voice, arguing yesterday that Americans should look at officials’ actions to determine whether they “line up with the word of God” and “see if they’re Biblical.”

    Of course, given that the United States is a democracy, and not a theocracy, officials’ actions are supposed line up with the Constitution and the rule of law, not how some people interpret scripture.

    But in the same interview, Noem went just a little further. Right Wing Watch posted this excerpt:

    “We’ve seen our society, our culture, degrade as we’ve removed God out of our lives…. When I was growing up, we spent every Sunday, every night, every Wednesday night in church. Our church family was a part of our life. We read the Bible every day, as a family, together…. I don’t know if families do that as much anymore, and those Biblical values are learned in the family, and they’re learned in church…. We in South Dakota have decided to take action to really stand for Biblical principles…. I have legislation I’ll be proposing this year that will allow us to pray in schools again.”

    The governor, wholly indifferent to the separation of church and state, added that an emphasis on “Biblical principles” will help “re-center” children who attend public schools.

    […] the Republican’s position is badly flawed and in need of a fact-check.

    For example, when Noem said she’ll introduce a proposal to “allow us to pray in schools again,” she’s pushing for a right that already exists. Voluntary school prayer was never removed from schools.

    What the governor seemed to be suggesting, however, isn’t a system in which students pray on their own, but one in which school officials intervene in children’s religious lives. In the United States, that’s not legal: As my friends at Americans United for Separation of Church and State recently explained, “The South Dakota Supreme Court struck down mandatory recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in the state’s public schools in 1929. The U.S. Supreme Court invalidated school-sponsored prayer and Bible reading in public schools in 1962 and ’63.”

    Noem may believe the Supreme Court’s new conservative majority is open to dramatic societal changes, but there is no scenario in which the federal judiciary allows a state to try to “re-center” children through the imposition of “Biblical principles.”

    But perhaps most important is the degree to which the governor’s argument contradicts itself. At one point in yesterday’s interview, Noem argues, “Biblical values are learned in the family, and they’re learned in church.” Moments later, the governor – who is ostensibly a proponent of small government – added that she believes it’s important for the government to get into the religion-promoting business. […]

  229. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Representative Elise Stefanik, a Republican from New York, abandons moderation, warns of a ‘permanent election insurrection’

    For much of the American mainstream, the “great replacement” conspiracy theory is probably too obscure to even be recognized, though for much of the right, it’s increasingly popular.

    The basic idea behind the conspiracy theory is that nefarious forces – Democrats, globalists, immigration advocates, et al. – intend to systemically replace white people in the United States by welcoming people of color from other countries. To varying degrees, the ugly concept has been embraced by some conservative media personalities and assorted Republicans in Congress.

    […] The Washington Post reported yesterday:

    Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), the No. 3 House Republican, is pushing the notion in Facebooks ads that President Biden and fellow Democrats are seeking a “permanent election insurrection” by expanding pathways to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

    One of the ads from Stefanik’s political operation, the public is told, “Radical Democrats are planning their most aggressive move yet: a PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION…. Their plan to grant amnesty to 11 MILLION illegal immigrants will overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington.”

    Though the New York Republican didn’t explicitly reference race in the advertising, the Post’s report added that her message “echoes” the language of “replacement theory” proponents.

    Part of what makes this notable is Stefanik’s position as a House GOP leader. In recent years, we’ve come to expect many rank-and-file House Republicans to denounce pathways to citizenship for immigrants, relying on words like “amnesty,” as part of a predictable political posture.

    But it’s qualitatively different – and considerably more offensive – when the House Republican Conference chair starts complaining about a “permanent election insurrection,” as part of a Democratic scheme to “overthrow our current electorate.”

    Just as notable is Stefanik’s background – because she hasn’t traditionally been this kind of Republican.

    It may seem like ancient history, but it was just a few years ago when Stefanik opposed Donald Trump’s immigration agenda. As yesterday’s Post report added, the New Yorker even co-sponsored the bipartisan Farm Workforce Authorization Act, which included a pathway to citizenship for undocumented migrant farmworkers.

    That was when Stefanik was eager to be seen as one of Congress’ more mainstream Republican members. During her 2016 campaign, she was reluctant to even say Trump’s name out loud for fear that voters might see her as a Trump ally.

    Stefanik eventually concluded, however, that to get ahead in GOP politics, she would need to put her principles aside and start embracing partisan nonsense.

    By last year, the young New Yorker had adopted an entirely new persona, even going so far to as to vote against certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election after the Jan. 6 riot.

    Stefanik’s ugly rhetoric about immigration is disheartening, but her willingness to dabble in conspiratorial nonsense didn’t come out of nowhere.

  230. says

    Ahead of rally, Trump goes to new lengths to defend Jan. 6 rioters

    In the immediate aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack, Donald Trump was watching enough television to realize the gravity of the situation and the degree to which mainstream Americans were recoiling in response to the insurrectionist riot. The then-president even pretended to share the public’s outrage.

    “Like all Americans, I am outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem,” the Republican said on Jan. 7, describing the events from a day earlier as a “heinous attack.” Reading from a prepared text, Trump added, “The demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol have defiled the seat of American democracy…. To those who engage in the acts of violence and destruction: You do not represent our country, and to those who broke the law: You will pay.”

    Five days later, the then-president condemned the “mob [that] stormed the Capitol and trashed the halls of government.” On the final full day of his term, again reading from a script, Trump added, “All Americans were horrified by the assault on our Capitol. Political violence is an attack on everything we cherish as Americans. It can never be tolerated.”

    But in the months that followed, far-right Republicans tried to rewrite the history of Jan. 6, recasting the villains as the heroes and law enforcement as the antagonists. By March, Trump was suggesting the rioters weren’t so bad after all. By July, he was defending the “loving crowd” that attacked his own country’s Capitol.

    It led The Washington Post’s Michael Gerson to note in a column, “There is … no doubt that all Trump’s thoughts and prayers are with the violent rioters of Jan. 6.” Yesterday, the former president removed any ambiguity, becoming explicit in new and unsettling ways with this written statement:

    “Our hearts and minds are with the people being persecuted so unfairly relating to the January 6th protest concerning the Rigged Presidential Election. In addition to everything else, it has proven conclusively that we are a two-tiered system of justice. In the end, however, JUSTICE WILL PREVAIL!”

    Part of what makes a statement like this amazing is the rapid evolution in Trump’s thinking. Eight months ago, he assured the public that he was “outraged” by the “heinous attack.” The rioters would be held accountable for having “defiled the seat of American democracy.” Their “assault,” he said, would not be “tolerated.” Now that so much of the Republican Party no longer believes any of this, Trump has dropped the pretense. The rioters he denounced in January deserve his support in September.

    […] As MSNBC’s Chris Hayes wrote in a 2018 op-ed for The New York Times, “If all that matters when it comes to ‘law and order’ is who is a friend and who is an enemy, and if friends are white and enemies are black or Latino or in the wrong party, then the rhetoric around crime and punishment stops being about justice and is merely about power and corruption. And this is what ‘law and order’ means: the preservation of a certain social order, not the rule of law.”

    But perhaps most important is the timing of the former president’s statement. There is a rally scheduled for tomorrow in Washington, D.C., in which far-right activists will express support for those who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6. The gathering is known as the “Justice for J6” rally, and the Department of Homeland Security has issued warnings about the potential for violence.

    To that end, security fences have been erected around key buildings in the nation’s capital. Reluctant to be associated with an event that may become violent, many GOP officials have decided to keep the rally at arm’s length. Unlike on Jan. 6, Republicans have not agreed to deliver speeches to attendees.

    It was against this backdrop that Trump decided to make things worse, effectively endorsing the rally’s purpose by claiming the Jan. 6 rioters are “being persecuted so unfairly.”

    It’s as if the former president was trying to make a potentially dangerous situation worse on purpose.

  231. says

    @239

    When I was growing up, we spent every Sunday, every night, every Wednesday night in church. Our church family was a part of our life. We read the Bible every day, as a family, together…. I don’t know if families do that as much anymore…

    What I’d really like to see someone ask Gov. Noem is: do you still do this? Do you still go to church twice a week? Do you read the Bible with your kids every day? Or are you one of those families that don’t do that as much any more? How much of a hypocrite are you?

  232. says

    Another “Karen” is caught on video being horrible.

    Calls to arrest a woman who chose violence are trending after a video of a woman assaulting a U.S. Navy sailor went viral. Police officials looked to social media to identify the woman and are in contact with the suspect after receiving multiple tips, the Berlin Police Department in Connecticut said. The woman was captured both verbally and physically assaulting the sailor, identified as Sean Nolte Jr., as he waited for some pizza on the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

    The incident began after the woman stormed into Central Pizza and accused Nolte Jr. of being a fake soldier. She not only cursed at Nolte Jr., who stood his ground, but threw his cap on the floor and slapped his face. “She storms out of the pizzeria, and storms right back in, progressively screaming at me ‘You disgust me, you son of a b—-,’ grabbing my uniform and throwing my cover on the ground, not aware that I am a real service member,” Nolte Jr. wrote in a Facebook post.

    Alongside his recollection of the incident, Nolte Jr. shared a video. He noted that the woman got violent after staring at him for several minutes. […]

    According to his Facebook page, he is a submarine electronics fire control technician. The Navy confirmed that he is a sailor assigned to training at the Naval Submarine School in Groton.

    Despite showing his ID to the woman, the woman discredited him and claimed his ID was fake, yelling: “This is what your ID should look like,” in the process of showing him a dependent military ID.

    That’s when things got physical. “This is disgusting,” the woman said to Nolte Jr. in the TikTok video. “You disgrace the USA,” she said while yelling other profanities.

    Despite the harassment he faced, Nolte Jr. stood calm. “Being in uniform, I must maintain professionalism, so I stand there and proceed to wish her a nice day,” Nolte Jr. said on Facebook.

    In the video, the restaurant employees can be heard telling her to leave, yet she doesn’t seem to care

    “Ma’am, you’re on camera — I would leave now before I call the police,” the off-camera worker warns. The woman then comes closer and the employee can be heard saying: “Ma’am, you’re not allowed to grab my phone, you’re not permitted to grab his hat.”

    […] Social media users were not only appalled at the woman’s actions but the fact that she harassed a person in uniform on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. After being posted on TikTok, the video garnered thousands of views. Police noted that other videos were also taken from surveillance cameras in the lobby of the restaurant, but those were not made public due to the ongoing investigation.

    In response to the incident, the owner of Central Pizza said he was shocked by what he saw. “I have never seen something like that,” Jason Bikakis told WGN-TV. Bikakis shared that he saw the woman slap Nolte Jr. “Slap him, yes, in the face like she knows him for a long time,” Bikakis said.

    According to the Hartford Courant, this isn’t the first time Nolte Jr. has made headlines. In July, a local TV station saluted him and thanked him for his service and volunteer work.

    “Sean’s a really good guy. He joined us right out of high school and we’re lucky to have him,” Chief Nick Wachter of Rescue Fire Company 37, a volunteer fire and EMS department in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, told the Hartford Courant. […]

    In regards to pursuing charges, Berlin Police Chief Chris Ciuci said the woman is in their custody and charges are forthcoming. “She was in a public restaurant and she created alarm by her language and by assaulting someone,” Ciuci said. “So, there are charges related to breach of peace and assault in the third degree that we’re pursuing.”

    Link

    See also: https://www.facebook.com/sean.nolte.3/posts/395019982142386
    The video is posted in the comments.

  233. says

    Wonkette:

    […].today we got the especially brilliant My Husband’s A Vaccinated Doctor. Here’s Why I’m Not Getting A COVID Shot from Grace Emily Stark, who has written several other articles for The Federalist, including the hilariously titled If You Love Romance And Adventure, Ditch Feminism.

    While we have mostly heard the other arguments before — the “people aren’t getting vaccinated because vaccinated people aren’t being nice enough about people being unvaccinated” in particular — this is definitely a new one. Stark’s reasoning is that she’s pregnant and she thinks that Democrats hate babies and also want all of the babies to be transgender.

    We know she is a health expert, of course, because she immediately states that although medical consensus is that the vaccines have not been shown to have any ill effect on pregnancy, those who are hip to VAERS, a reporting system where literally anyone can say anything is a side-effect of vaccines, know that that may not be entirely true.

    Despite no consensus of new, peer-reviewed clinical data on pregnant women and the vaccine, seemingly overnight all of the major health authorities suddenly coalesced from their muddled opinions into a united front, and started urging pregnant women to get the shots. Indeed, emerging data from various population-based databases was (and continues to be) encouraging on the safety of the vaccine in pregnancy, but anyone who knows anything about public health databases like the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) also knows that their data have to be taken with a few hefty pinches of salt.

    For the record, while nothing has shown that there is any danger in pregnant people getting the vaccine, studies have shown that having COVID-19 during a pregnancy is actually quite dangerous. COVID-19 infections have in fact been the cause of many maternal deaths over the last year and a half, and have been known to cause premature births. (Or premature C-sections in the ICU, racing against the clock because the mother is about to die.)

    But the term “pregnant people” is one of the very reasons why Emily Stark won’t get a vaccine. Because she does not want to take medical advice from “the highest and purportedly best medical authorities in the land” if they believe that transgender, intersex and non-binary people exist.

    What’s more, the health authorities who manage those databases and run all of our major health institutions are not actually urging pregnant “women” to get vaccinated, but pregnant “people.” That’s right, “people,” because as we are reminded again and again by the highest and purportedly best medical authorities in the land, “Women aren’t the only ones who can get pregnant, you know.”

    Because they’re … not?

    Stark’s other issue is that many of these medical authorities also believe in reproductive rights.

    These authorities who are seemingly incapable of accepting the very basics of human anatomy and biology are the same ones in utter hysterics over Texas’s heartbeat law. They assure me they will continue to fight for my “right” to dispose of the child within my womb, no matter the reason, and no matter the cost. They insist she is only a human person worthy of protection from bodily harm if and when I decide that she is — which, of course, is subject to change based upon my individual situation and preferences until she has fully exited my womb (and as some would have it, not even then)

    .
    To her, this means that none of them care about her baby, and, in fact, probably want her baby to die.

    So, if you want to know why I, at nearly 30 weeks pregnant and married to a fully vaccinated doctor, am not yet vaccinated against COVID-19, suffice it to say that I have determined there is a possibility that our major health institutions might not have my unborn daughter’s best interests at heart. They, after all, would neither admit that she is a human nor a girl at this point.

    That’s certainly a take.

    Curiously, despite her avowed anti-feminist stance, she does not mention how her “physician husband,” who — like 96 percent of doctors — is vaccinated, feels about this whole thing. […].

    Link

  234. says

    Sigh.

    A hostess at an Italian restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan was assaulted by three tourists from Texas after she asked to see their proof of vaccination on Thursday, the police said, four days after enforcement of the city’s vaccine mandate for indoor diners began.

    The altercation occurred after a hostess at the restaurant, Carmine’s, asked the tourists to show her proof they were vaccinated against the coronavirus before entering for dinner, the police said. New York City requires people to prove they have received at least one dose of a vaccine before dining indoors.

    The tourists, who were identified as Kaeita Nkeenge Rankin, 44, and Tyonnie Keshay Rankin, 21, of Humble, Texas, and Sally Rechelle Lewis, 49, of Houston, began to argue with the hostess over the requirement, the police said. […]

    As the argument escalated, the women began punching the hostess, who is 24, breaking her necklace during the assault. The hostess was left bruised and scratched up by the attack, the police said.

    All three women were arrested and charged with assault and criminal mischief before being given desk appearance tickets and orders to return to court.

    Last month, New York City became the first city in the country to require proof of at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine for indoor dining and other activities, like live performances, gyms and movie theaters. Enforcement of the policy began on Monday. [video is available at the link, shot from a distance and not really clear, but obviously violent]

    “It’s a shocking and tragic situation when one of our valued employees is assaulted for doing their job — as required by city policies — and trying to make a living,” a spokesperson for Carmine’s said in a statement. “Our focus right now is caring for our employee and the rest of our restaurant family. We are a family-style restaurant, and this is the absolute last experience any of our employees should ever endure and any customers witness.” […]

    NY Times link

  235. says

    Sneaky, unethical doofuses.

    How one state’s GOP created a case study in ugly gerrymandering

    In theory, Ohio ended gerrymandering abuses. In practice, Republicans want to make sure the abuses continue.

    In theory, voters in Ohio shouldn’t have to worry too much about excessive gerrymandering in the Buckeye State. After all, the state twice approved amendments to the Ohio Constitution that appeared to be designed to produce fairer and more representative district maps.

    In practice, it’s not quite working out that way.

    With Ohio voters giving Republican legislative candidates roughly 54 percent of the vote, one might expect to see a state map in which the GOP was on track to hold roughly 54 percent of the seats. But according to the plan created by the Republican-led redistricting commission, the legislative map will position GOP legislators to enjoy supermajorities in Columbus.

    But what about the state law that says maps “must correspond closely to the statewide preferences of the voters of Ohio” based on results from the past 10 years’ worth of elections? That’s where the amazing part begins: Republicans are arguing that they won races 81 percent of the time, which matters more than winning 54 percent of the vote. As a Washington Post analysis explained:

    To recap, [Republicans on the state’s redistricting commission] say winning 81 percent of statewide races suggests the state’s preference for Republicans is as high as 81 percent, even though voters give those Republicans only around 54 percent of the vote in those races…. By this logic, you could seemingly draw up to 81 percent Republican districts, because that would fall within the range of statewide preferences.

    WTF?!

    In fact, we can extend that logic further. As Daily Kos Elections noted this morning, based on the Ohio GOP’s reasoning, Democrats in states like California and Virginia would be justified in giving their party 100% of the seats since Democratic candidates have won 100% of the statewide races over the last decade.

    Indeed, the Post’s analysis added, “Democrats have won the popular vote in seven of the last eight presidential elections. Does that mean ‘the nationwide proportion of American voters favoring Democratic presidential candidates is as high as 87.5 percent’? Of course not. But perhaps Democrats would be justified in overhauling the electoral college or redrawing state lines to better reflect that obvious and strong nationwide preference for their candidates.”

    Litigation is inevitable, and Republican Gov. Mike DeWine doesn’t seem optimistic. “We know that this matter will be in court,” the governor said this week. “What I am sure in my heart is that this committee could have come up with a bill that was much more clearly constitutional. I’m sorry that we did not do that.”

    But the fact that GOP legislators are trying to pull off such a gambit anyway says a great deal about the party’s tolerance for abuses.

    As for efforts at the federal level, the Senate Democrats’ Freedom to Vote Act would end partisan gerrymandering, but only in federal elections. Problems like the one Ohio Republicans are eager to create would persist even if the legislation were to become law.

  236. says

    One in five hundred Americans has died in the pandemic, and Republicans are actively rooting for the country to fail.

    New Yorker link

    […] Biden’s September reset, after a traumatic August in Afghanistan and a catastrophic spike in covid deaths at home, includes a more aggressive approach to fighting the pandemic by pushing businesses toward vaccine requirements favored by solid majorities of Americans. In a speech on Thursday, Biden was in hard-sell mode for his three-and-a-half-trillion-dollar everything-but-the-kitchen-sink spending proposal, as Congress returns from summer recess and prepares to make crucial decisions about it. […]

    He came into office promising an end to the pandemic and a return to competent, commonsense governance. It’s why he beat Trump. But his first nine months in office have shown pretty conclusively that it is not possible to beat covid in a political environment that has arguably got worse, not better, since January. Consider the news this week that now one in five hundred Americans has died in the pandemic; total deaths in the country approach seven hundred thousand. What’s worse, covid deaths—the vast majority of them preventable, avoidable deaths, now that science and the federal government have provided us with free vaccines—are continuing to rise across large swaths of vaccine-resistant Trump country. This is not a tragic mistake but a calculated choice by many Republicans who have made vaccine resistance synonymous with resistance to Biden and the Democrats. The current average of more than nineteen hundred dead a day means that a 9/11’s worth of Americans are perishing from covid roughly every thirty-eight hours. To my mind, this is the biggest news of the Biden Presidency so far, and it has nothing to do with Afghanistan, or the fate of the budget-reconciliation bill, or Bob Woodward’s new book.

    […] the continuing loss of life is a result of G.O.P. political strategies that intentionally undermine the success of Biden’s policies. How can this President, or any President, reset from that?

    Biden’s challenge seems all the more clear to me after spending a few weeks away from the daily noise of politics to work on a book about his divisive predecessor. Trump is out of office, but Trump-style politics have decisively won over the Republican Party. A new CNN poll this week found that seventy-eight per cent of Republicans subscribe to Trump’s Big Lie that Biden was not legitimately elected—more than in some polls in the immediate aftermath of Trump’s traumatic exit. […]

    The partisan split has also translated into a deadly divide in vaccination rates—a tragedy given that vaccines are, for now, the only real way out of this mess. And no wonder this divide persists. It is not an accident or an immutable fact of American political life; it’s a fire built and stoked by Trump and his supporters. Among the top stories on Fox News’ home page on Thursday, I could not find a single reference to the pandemic, and little sense that covid even existed, beyond a link to a video headlined “Liberal host torched for labeling GOP ‘COVID-loving death cult’ in bizarre rant.” As I was writing this column, I received an e-mail from one Donald J. Trump. The subject was “Biden’s vaccine mandate.” “I totally OPPOSE this liberal overreach that requires Americans to be vaccinated,” Trump wrote. “The Left is working overtime to CONTROL you, Friend,” he warned. Biden, he added, “doesn’t care about you or your freedoms.”

    As a matter of politics, of course, this is not necessarily a winning strategy for the Republicans. In California on Tuesday, Governor Gavin Newsom defeated a Republican effort to recall him by running a campaign painting the G.O.P. candidate as a Trump-loving extremist who would undo public-health measures to fight the pandemic. […] Even some conservatives have come around to the idea that, as Rich Lowry, of National Review, put it, “the stolen-election myth has become an albatross for the GOP.”

    […] The tragic triumph of Trumpism is not that he has persuaded all Americans, or even a majority of Americans, to reject their way out of the pandemic; it’s that he has persuaded just enough of them to keep the disease wreaking havoc on the country.

    The G.O.P.’s desire to see Biden fail has become a willingness to let the country fail. Nine months into Biden’s Presidency, the bottom line is that the Republican war on Biden’s legitimacy and the war on Biden’s covid policies are now inextricably linked. The consequences of this are so hard to contemplate that we often do not do so: a politics so broken that it is now killing Americans on an industrial scale.

  237. says

    Biden resumes Haitian deportations despite quake, unrest. ‘We are in utter disbelief,’ advocates say

    Immigrant and human rights advocates expressed outrage on Thursday amid news that the Biden administration deported nearly 90 people—including a number of children under age 3, advocates said—back to Haiti despite political unrest and a devastating 7.2 earthquake.

    ”We are in utter disbelief that the Biden administration would deport Haitians now,” Haitian Bridge Alliance executive director Guerline Jozef said in a statement […] “Hours after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake, President Joe Biden released a statement saying that the United States was a ‘friend” of Haiti. A friend does not continuously inflict pain on another friend.”

    Haitian Bridge Alliance was among the hundreds of organizations that last month called on the Biden administration to halt deportations, citing August’s earthquake and the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. In their letter, the nearly 350 organizations cited past precedent for instituting such a pause, noting the federal government halted deportations following Haiti’s 2010 earthquake for a year.

    Officials have the ability to do this again. But Haitian Bridge Alliance said on Wednesday that the administration had carried out a deportation flight to Haiti earlier that day anyway, later confirmed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

    […] Advocates and legislators have slammed the Biden administration’s deportation flights to Haiti for months now, including an ICE flight that deported more than 20 babies and children in February. They’ve noted that Haiti still hadn’t fully recovere