Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: COVID is still the top story

The Economist:

Why America needs vaccine mandates

State pressure has a role in public health. Covid-19 jabs are no exception

What should not be in doubt is the danger posed by the Delta variant of covid-19. It is too infectious to be stopped simply by tracking cases. Vaccinated people, especially the elderly, gradually lose protection. If infected they can die, albeit at only one-tenth the rate of the unjabbed. Waves of infection overwhelm hospitals. Treating the unvaccinated cost $3.7bn in America, or $20,000 a patient, in August—a waste of resources.

For all these reasons, your choice over vaccination is everyone’s business. It matters that only 63% of Americans aged over 12 have had two doses of a vaccine, compared with 76% of French and 85% of Danes. Delta’s rapid spread through the population can be slowed by vaccination, sparing hospitals from overload and protecting vulnerable vaccinated people—for instance, the residents of old-people’s homes.

I kind of feel like not enough people realize we are potentially headed to a government shutdown in less than 2 weeks in the middle of a pandemic that is killing 2,000 Americans a day.

— Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) September 20, 2021

Margaret Sullivan/WaPo:

For one Capitol reporter, Jan. 6 was the final straw — but he had watched a crisis brew for years

“I’ve been covering the Hill for a long, long time, and the Hill right now, to an unacceptably large extent, is a real cesspool,” [Andrew] Taylor told me in an interview.

Taylor was at his desk in the Daily Press Gallery on Jan. 6 when the Senate abruptly gaveled out of session. “I jumped to check it out,” he wrote later, in a rare-for-him first-person story. “Soon word came to huddle in the chamber. ‘Lock the doors,’ gallery staff was instructed. . . . Maybe a dozen reporters and aides in the gallery and virtually the entire Senate huddled inside.”

Taylor said he never felt himself at the time to be in physical peril. It only sank in for him in the days and weeks that followed.

“I was having a hard time with it,” he told me with characteristic understatement. He became angry and agitated, and increasingly uninterested in returning to the place where he had spent decades as a particularly knowledgeable and respected reporter.

People with COVID in the U.S. are increasingly having to pay deductibles and copays for treatment…like people with cancer, diabetes, heart disease, etc.@PostRowland using @KFF data.

— Larry Levitt (@larry_levitt) September 19, 2021


Cecile Richards: Court’s Texas move could mean end of Roe

“For a lot of people, they’ve always assumed that, even if they lived in a state that passed restrictions on reproductive care, that there was always a judicial system that would be there to protect them and declare these laws unconstitutional,” Cecile Richards, former president of Planned Parenthood, told The Associated Press in an interview this week.

“That isn’t happening any more.”

To coincide with Saturday’s anniversary of the death of {Ruth Bader] Ginsburg, whom she called “a trailblazer and advocate for women everywhere,” Richards released an open letter warning that Texas’ Republican leaders “have outlined a roadmap for other Republican governors to follow suit, with the acquiescence of the Supreme Court.”

You have to really dig for it on the home page, but Fox News has interesting poll numbers on masks, mandating vaccines, etc

— Bill Grueskin (@BGrueskin) September 19, 2021

Alan Braid/WaPo:

Why I violated Texas’s extreme abortion ban

In medical school in Texas, we’d been taught that abortion was an integral part of women’s health care. When the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Roe v. Wade in 1973, recognizing abortion as a constitutional right, it enabled me to do the job I was trained to do.


And that is why, on the morning of Sept. 6, I provided an abortion to a woman who, though still in her first trimester, was beyond the state’s new limit. I acted because I had a duty of care to this patient, as I do for all patients, and because she has a fundamental right to receive this care.

NEW: Before the pandemic and prior to enacting a slew of far-right priorities, Greg Abbott’s overall approval rating was 59%. It’s now at a rock-bottom 45%. And his approval among independents has dropped from 53% last year to only 30%. (The Dallas Morning News/UT Tyler)

— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) September 19, 2021

Tim Miller/Bulwark:

Dark Omen in Rep. Anthony Gonzalez’s Retirement

A slap in the face for delusional Republicans who want to pretend the GOP is anything but a pro-insurrection Trump cult.

Unlike fellow Ohio congressman Jim Jordan, Gonzalez was not willing to go along with the phony election-certification charade. He eventually became one of ten Republican House members to vote for Trump’s impeachment over the actions that led to the January 6 insurrection.

The backlash from that vote is what led to the harassment and eventually tonight’s resignation.

89% of active-duty troops have received at least their first COVID vaccine dose, according to the White House. Just three weeks ago, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that number was 76%. @playbookdc

— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) September 18, 2021

EJ Dionne/WaPo:

Anthony Gonzalez gets what Democrats need to know

For at least two more elections — next year’s midterms and the 2024 presidential contest — the central issue before voters will be whether to reward or punish the GOP’s extremism and, particularly in the case of the House Republican leadership, the party’s embrace of Trump.

This is not an abstract question. In the here and now, Republican-controlled states have embraced voter suppression and election subversion, justified in the name of doubts sown by Trump’s preposterously false claims about the 2020 election outcome.

With some honorable exceptions, Republican governors in the party’s strongholds have blocked sensible actions to prevent tens of thousands of deaths from the spread of covid-19.

Gonzalez’s decision in combination with the outcome of the California recall, the continuing deadly spread of the delta variant and the introduction of the Freedom to Vote Act in the Senate could well mark last week as a turning point in how Democrats, including Biden, approach the next phase of political combat.

Every adult diagnosed with COVID-19 in Idaho is on a universal do not resuscitate order. Every adult. Don’t try to live with the virus. Get vaccinated if you can. Wear a respirator or well fitted mask, good seal, and ventilate your workspaces/schools.

— Dr Noor Bari (@NjbBari3) September 18, 2021

N.B. Added addition to above tweet: while the framework is real, it is not under universal implementation.

No, Idaho is not under a ‘universal DNR.’ Hospitals won’t just let everyone die.

A misleading claim about Idaho’s hospital crisis has gone viral

It’s also important to note that the state plan is a framework. It is meant to help hospitals make an impossible choice: decide who gets life-saving care when they don’t have enough for everyone. It is not an order for hospitals or medical workers to withhold medical care when they can adequately provide it.

Brian Manzullo/Detroit free Press:

COVID-19 vaccines: Here's how to spot misinformation on social media — and fight it

In other words, you and I have a part to play in championing the truth. And it's a good thing we have that power, because the internet today is a Wild West, where false information thrives as well as true information, and can lead to dire real-life consequences.

That especially has been true when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines. In recent months, you likely have been bombarded with inaccurate or misleading information regarding the efficacy and safety of vaccines, created by bad actors on the internet and later shared by friends, family, celebrities, influencers and politicians all over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social platforms. This misinformation — sometimes purposefully manufactured to influence you, which is called disinformation — has played a role in tens of millions of Americans electing not to receive a vaccine.

‘Christians who are troubled by the use of a fetal cell line for the testing of the vaccines would also have to abstain from the use of Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, Ibuprofen, and other products,’ says Dallas First Baptist’s Robert Jeffress, of #COVID19 shots.

— Bob Garrett (@RobertTGarrett) September 18, 2021


Australia had 'deep and grave' concerns about French submarines' capabilities, PM says

Australia was concerned the conventional submarines it ordered from France would not meet its strategic needs before it canceled the multibillion defense deal in favor of an agreement with the United States and the United Kingdom earlier this week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Sunday.

Seeking to explain the sudden U-turn that caused huge anger in Paris, Morrison said that while he understood France's disappointment over the issue, "Australia's national interest comes first."
"It must come first and did come first and Australia's interests are best served by the trilateral partnership I've been able to form with President Biden and Prime Minister Johnson," he said at a news conference on Sunday.
The decision by Australia to ditch the French deal and attain nuclear-powered submarines through a new agreement with the United States and the United Kingdom appeared to have taken France by surprise earlier this week.

See also:

As the evidence supporting ivermectin for COVID collapses, the drugs evangelists turn increasingly to anecdote. They often mention the “Uttar Pradesh miracle” Just a thought but maybe it was the mask mandate, lockdown/curfew, & vaccinating 800m people in India (20m in one day)?

— Nick Mark MD (@nickmmark) September 19, 2021

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Vaccine and booster FDA advisory is nuanced

Katherine J Wu/Atlantic:

Sorry, a Coronavirus Infection Might Not Be Enough to Protect You

Anyone who’d rather have COVID-19 than get vaccinated is taking two gambles: that immunity will stick around, and that symptoms won’t.

Some of these differences might help explain the results of a recent, buzzy study out of Israel, in which researchers reported that previously infected individuals were better protected than people who had been fully vaccinated with the Pfizer shots, including against severe cases of COVID-19. “As soon as that paper came out,” Fauci told me, “we obviously discussed the inevitable issue”—whether infection should be enough to exempt someone from a shot.

It’s important because there are plenty of folk who have been infected but not vaccinated. And not all of them know their status, nor is there a foolproof way to find out. Some other countries accept prior infection as counting. The US does not. In any case, a good review here of what we do and do not know.

Old enough to remember when Afghanistan was going to dominate the midterms, end Biden's presidency, etc.

— Brendan Nyhan (@BrendanNyhan) September 17, 2021

NY Times:

Ohio House Republican, Calling Trump ‘a Cancer,’ Bows Out of 2022

Representative Anthony Gonzalez, one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump, is the first of the group to retire rather than face a stiff primary challenge.

The congressman, who has two young children, emphasized that he was leaving in large part because of family considerations and the difficulties that come with living between two cities. But he made clear that the strain had only grown worse since his impeachment vote, after which he was deluged with threats and feared for the safety of his wife and children.

Mr. Gonzalez said that quality-of-life issues had been paramount in his decision. He recounted an “eye-opening” moment this year: when he and his family were greeted at the Cleveland airport by two uniformed police officers, part of extra security precautions taken after the impeachment vote.

One of the most important stories in America is the threat of violence against GOP politicians who cross Trump and his movement (i.e., the whole party). That story is not nearly well enough known. Read about Anthony Gonzalez. Put yourself in his shoes.

— Jay Nordlinger (@jaynordlinger) September 17, 2021

Tom Nichols/Atlantic:

Trump Put Milley in an Impossible Position

The general stayed inside the lines—barely. The real problem is that he was in that situation at all.

Milley’s conversations with [Chinese General Li Zuocheng] are a concern not because they were unprecedented or a betrayal (as his critics claim) but because Milley felt the need to have them at all. Senior military-to-military contacts are normal and are an important part of building trust between nations, especially between adversaries. In the late 1990s, I had students from Russia in my Naval War College seminars. We valued their presence enough that when the Kremlin pulled them out after the war in Kosovo, I was sent to Moscow in hopes of creating more joint programs with the Russians that might include bringing those officers back. (I do not, of course, in any way represent the views of the Defense Department or the U.S. government.)

“People would get vaccinated if it weren’t mandated” is such an audaciously ridiculous lie that you almost have to admire it.

— James Surowiecki (@JamesSurowiecki) September 17, 2021

Jackie Calmes/LA Times:

Gen. Mark Milley deserves commendation in the face of Deranged Trump Syndrome

MAGA disciples talk of Trump Derangement Syndrome to dismiss the former president’s critics — the majority of Americans — as simply unhinged.

What we actually suffer from is Deranged Trump Syndrome — the sense that Donald Trump was and is capable of just about any noxious act…

We need more information about Milley’s thinking, and he’s sure to be asked to provide it when he testifies later this month before senators about the flawed withdrawal from Afghanistan. But based on what’s been leaked from a book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa of the Washington Post, to be released next week, Milley mostly deserves our commendation

That email lady nailed it years ago. Deplorables, the whole basket of em.

— Tim Fournier (@pepinosuave) September 17, 2021

Justine Coleman/The Hill:

Pandemic frustrations zero in on unvaccinated Americans

The growing frustration with the ongoing pandemic is boiling over, with all eyes turned to the unvaccinated as the key to getting through the COVID-19 crisis.

As cases approach winter levels, the U.S. has been left to decide how to deal with and treat the millions who still haven’t received their shots, months after they became widely available.

In response, some have resorted to mocking and joking about the unvaccinated, an approach public health and psychology experts say is unlikely to change the minds of both hard-line activists or the vaccine hesitant.

Police unions are getting bolder and going public with their affinity for far-right militia groups. Not a great sign.

— Christopher Ingraham (@_cingraham) September 16, 2021

David Rothkopf/Twitter:

With every passing day, it looks less like we have one nation divided by differing political beliefs and more like we have two warring countries battling each other within shared borders. One side represents and seeks to preserve the United States. The other seeks to destroy it. 
If the goal of the GOP is, at it appears to be, gut our democracy, to disenfranchise massive portions of our population, to impose the views of the minority on the majority, to attack principles like tolerance, that no individual is above the law, and equity... literally reject reality and demonstrable facts and embrace an alternative reality founded in lies and dangerous to the health of the nation, our environment, our ideals and our standing in the world, then we have left the realm of political debate.

"You’re going to jeopardize any faith in the legal institutions," he said, blaming us for his votes in Bush v Gore, DC v Heller, Citizens United, Connick v Thompson, Concepcion, Shelby County, Hobby Lobby, Vance v Ball State, the eviction moratorium, the Texas abortion law...

— Max Kennerly (@MaxKennerly) September 16, 2021

Greg Sargent/WaPo:

The right-wing media is helping Trump destroy democracy. A new poll shows how.

When future historians seek to explain the United States’ perilous slide toward authoritarianism in the 21st century, they will grapple with the role played in all these events by Fox News and the right-wing media. Simply put, those actors are helping Donald Trump and his movement threaten democracy, in a way that will likely continue getting worse.

new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute demonstrates in a fresh way just how responsible those bad-faith media actors are for what we’re seeing right now. And this raises anew the question of how much damage they will do over the long haul.

The poll’s big finding is that people who rely heavily on Fox News and other right-wing media are overwhelmingly more likely to believe the election was stolen from Trump — and are overwhelmingly less likely to blame Trump for the insurrection — than those who do not.

In one sense, that’s a no-brainer. But taken together, those views add up to something truly toxic: The “belief” that the election was stolen, and the simultaneous refusal to assign accountability for an effort to violently overthrow our constitutional order, suggest right-wing propaganda may be softening the ground for a more concerted abandonment of democracy going forward.

From the NYT

— Daniel Hurst (@danielhurstbne) September 18, 2021

Steven Rosenfeld/National Memo:

“Arizona ‘Audit’ Report Likely To Concede That Biden Won In 2020”

The team of Arizona Republican state senators, legislative staff, and advisers finalizing the Cyber Ninjas' report on the 2020 presidential election in Maricopa County is preparing to say that Joe Biden legitimately won the election, according to the largest funder of the Senate's mostly privatized election review, former CEO Patrick Byrne.

"The way some of these political RINOs [Republicans In Name Only] are doing this is they're trying to argue that the [election] report should only be allowed to go and address the original construct of the report, the original assignment of the audit, and leave out other things that have been found," Byrne told Creative Destruction Media's L. Todd Wood.

"The political class is going to try to come in and water this down," Byrne said. "The Republican political class, the RINOs, the nobodies… They are going to try to water this down. I am sure they all have been promised federal judgeships or sacks of cash under a streetlight if they can get this killed at this late date or watered down. And I think the public of Arizona should go ballistic."

Sources in Arizona have said that the state Senate review team was spooked by the possible losses of law licenses looming over Trump's attorneys, as well as stern warnings from the U.S. Department of Justice for possibly using investigative methods that could violate voter intimidation laws. As a result, they have been editing the report drafted by the Senate's lead contractor, Cyber Ninjas, and excising claims and narratives that are speculative rather than factual. This has delayed the report's release until the week of September 20, sources indicated.

from @jameshamblin "Everyone may need boosters eventually. But not yet. Until then, we have to grapple with the fundamental conundrum that has beset humanity since day one: Some things are good for some people but not for others."

— Greg Dworkin (@DemFromCT) September 18, 2021

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: It’s infrastructure week… for real.


The quiet Biden-GOP talks behind the infrastructure deal

That embrace of a favored provision hit home with Cassidy. “The president made it clear that that was essential for him,” the senator said. “Since the president had said it must be there, obviously that was very helpful.”

And we have a bill.

— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) August 2, 2021

NY Times:

To Fight Vaccine Lies, Authorities Recruit an ‘Influencer Army’

The White House has teamed up with TikTok stars, while some states are paying “local micro influencers” for pro-vaccine campaigns.

Fewer than half of all Americans age 18 to 39 are fully vaccinated, compared with more than two-thirds of those over 50, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And about 58 percent of those age 12 through 17 have yet to receive a shot at all.

To reach these young people, the White House has enlisted an eclectic army of more than 50 Twitch streamers, YouTubers, TikTokers and the 18-year-old pop star Olivia Rodrigo, all of them with enormous online audiences. State and local governments have begun similar campaigns, in some cases paying “local micro influencers” — those with 5,000 to 100,000 followers — up to $1,000 a month to promote Covid-19 vaccines to their fans.

“These 500 tragedies are independent of the total number of children who contracted the virus. COVID would not be a worse disease if only 1,000 children contracted it, but 50% died. Either way, 500 children are dead. As Dr. Walensky said, “Children are not supposed to die”.

— Dr. Lisa Iannattone (@lisa_iannattone) August 1, 2021


Many parents still haven’t gotten their adolescent kids vaccinated. What are they waiting for?

For individual parents looking at their own kids, however, the choice doesn’t always seem so clear-cut. Abby had a seizure last year that was never fully explained by the slew of medical specialists the family visited, says Kensek, and she occasionally suffers from high blood pressure. It makes Kensek nervous about signing her up for a relatively new vaccine, despite assurances of its safety in general.

“I don’t see the necessity of poking that beast,” she says. “There’s just not enough [data] out there for us yet. The CDC says it’s safe, and that’s great. But how many times have they gone back on their suggestions?”

She’s hardly alone. 

“We’re seeing a lot of first doses right now, a lot of parents coming in, 30 to 40 year old age range bringing their 12-14 year old children as well,” Vanessa Davis, the clinic’s supervisor, said. It‘s reporting an 80% increase in demand from 2 weeks ago.

— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) August 1, 2021


Georgia health systems hesitate to mandate vaccines

Many health care systems across Georgia have no plans to mandate coronavirus vaccines for frontline workers, despite increasing infections caused by a variant that reportedly spreads as easily as chickenpox.

Nearly 60 major medical organizations called this week for mandatory vaccines for most health care workers, and an internal report surfaced from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that described the highly contagious nature of the Delta variant that is causing the latest increase. Even so, most health care systems in Georgia say that while they will require masks and follow other safety protocols, they’ll continue letting employees decide on their own about vaccinations.

Vaccination rates among health care workers vary widely across the state, although a majority of employees of many major providers have received at least one shot, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found.

NEW: It is widely expected that a #COVID19 vaccine will be authorized for kids under 12 this year. We looked at the size and characteristics of this population. They represent 15% of the US pop, or 48 million. w/@SArtiga2 @_KendalOrgera @tolbert_jen

— Jen Kates (@jenkatesdc) July 30, 2021

NY Times:

Already Distorting Jan. 6, G.O.P. Now Concocts Entire Counternarrative

In the Republicans’ disinformation campaign, the arrested Capitol rioters are political prisoners and Speaker Nancy Pelosi is to blame for the attack.

n the hours and days after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, rattled Republican lawmakers knew exactly who was to blame: Donald J. Trump. Loyal allies began turning on him. Top Republicans vowed to make a full break from his divisive tactics and dishonesties. Some even discussed removing him from office.

By spring, however, after nearly 200 congressional Republicans had voted to clear Mr. Trump during a second impeachment proceeding, the conservative fringes of the party had already begun to rewrite history, describing the Capitol riot as a peaceful protest and comparing the invading mob to a “normal tourist visit,” as one congressman put it.

This past week, amid the emotional testimony of police officers at the first hearing of a House select committee, Republicans completed their journey through the looking-glass, spinning a new counternarrative of that deadly day. No longer content to absolve Mr. Trump, they concocted a version of events in which those accused of rioting were patriotic political prisoners and Speaker Nancy Pelosi was to blame for the violence.

Some Smart Brevity®, from @axios:

— David Gura (@davidgura) August 1, 2021

Charlie Sykes/Bulwark:

They Really Are Deplorable

Mocking the blue

Our friend Olivia Troye asks: “Mocking the officers, the trauma they lived, and downplaying Jan 6... How do these people sleep at night?” The real answer: it’s not just their business model, it’s become a way of life.

On one level D’Souza’s mockery of police officers injured in the line of duty is just another example of performative assholery, but it also fits a pattern worth noting: Charlie Kirk mocks Simone Biles for “weakness,” Tucker Carlson cackles about critics, and Laura Ingraham ridicules victims of the January 6 riots.

None of this has any relationship to the fight for freedom, limited government, or national greatness, or anything like a coherent set of ideas. But there is a through-line here: a strutting posture of faux toughness, and the celebration of the “strong” as opposed to the weak.

We’ve seen this play before.

Having downplayed Trump's attempts to overturn the election, one must then poo poo worries about future elections. After all, if the GOP really has turned against American democracy, how can a person of integrity who respects the Constitution keep supporting the party? 4/x

— Nicholas Grossman (@NGrossman81) August 1, 2021

Kevin Drum/Mother Jones:

The Real Source of America’s Rising Rage

We are at war with ourselves, but not for the reasons you think.

What accounts for this? It’s here that our popular explanations run aground. It can’t be all about a rise in conspiracy theories, since they’ve been around for decades. It can’t be social media, since Facebook and Twitter have become popular in the political arena only over the past few years. It can’t be a decline in material comfort, since incomes and employment have steadily improved over the past couple of decades. It can’t really be social trends, since most of them have improved too. And most of the specific issues that might cause alarm—immigration, racism, and more—are unlikely candidates on their own. They may be highly polarizing, but in a concrete sense they haven’t gotten worse since 2000. In fact, they’ve mostly gotten better.

To find an answer, then, we need to look for things that (a) are politically salient and (b) have changed dramatically over the past two to three decades. The most obvious one is Fox News.

To an extent that many people still don’t recognize, Fox News is a grinding, daily cesspool of white grievance, mistrust of deep-state government, and a belief that liberals are literally trying to destroy the country out of sheer malice. Facebook and other social media outlets might have made this worse over the past few years—partly by acting as a sort of early warning system for new outrages bubbling up from the grassroots that Fox anchors can draw from—but Fox News remains the wellspring.

WSJ: FDA Advisers and former FDA officials familiar with the process predict that full approval of at least Pfizer’s vaccine could come in September or October.

— andrew kaczynski (@KFILE) August 1, 2021

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Bothsidesing the insurrection is a media failing

Greg Sargent/WaPo

The huge, gaping hole in our media discussion of the GOP and Jan. 6

The bare-bones chronology is that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) nixed two of McCarthy’s choices — Reps. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) — from serving on the committee. McCarthy then pulled his nominations of all other Republicans and declared none would serve.

The conventions of political reporting require that this is portrayed as a battle between equivalently motivated partisans: It’s a “partisan fight” or a “partisan brawl” or an escalation of “political tensions” or an “inability” to achieve a “bipartisan committee.”

Pelosi nixed Banks and Jordan because they have openly declared their hostility to the committee’s core investigative mission and have repeatedly raised doubts about the integrity of Donald Trump’s loss. They validated the lies that inspired the insurrection in the first place.

In short: Pelosi did not allow them to serve on the committee because their openly telegraphed goal was to sabotage the committee.

Anti-anti-anti-vax is a good way to put it, because Tucker etc. don’t outright say don’t get it, like antivaxxers, but do “just ask questions” to spread doubt and undermine vaccination efforts, which fits within the larger goal of discrediting authoritative sources of information

— Nicholas Grossman (@NGrossman81) July 22, 2021

Jill Lawrence/USA Today:

In vetoing Jordan and Banks, Pelosi safeguards history, democracy and Capitol attack probe

We can only hope that truth, facts, personal testimonies and violent video will lift the scales from American eyes and put the nation on a better path.

Say what you will about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and there are multitudes with lots to say, she is a woman with a steel backbone and a laser focus on history – both the centuries past and the countless pages yet to be written.

Though it was shocking and apparently unprecedented that she rejected two of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s choices for the select committee that will be investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, it probably should not have been. Pelosi is not interested in a dog-and-pony show, in distractions that will give endless fodder to conservative media outlets and undercut the gravity of the task before this panel.

A speaker who has helmed two impeachments, painful procedures that exposed egregious offenses by President Donald Trump yet failed to remove him from office, knows exactly what would happen if she gave a platform to Republican Reps. Jim Jordan and Jim Banks.  

Plum Line/WaPo:

How Kevin McCarthy is boosting the integrity of the Jan. 6 investigation

We should be thankful that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) just pulled Republicans out of any involvement in the select committee to examine the Jan. 6 insurrection. In so doing, he ensured that the committee’s investigation will both have more integrity and be more likely to undertake a valuable accounting.

Which goes to a larger truth about this moment: Efforts at a real examination of arguably the worst outbreak of political violence in modern times — and efforts to protect our democracy more broadly — will not be bipartisan. These things will be done by Democrats alone.

If you want to understand what's happening in Missouri with the delta variant, look no further than the contrast between @RoyBlunt , who isn't seeking reelection, and @HawleyMO , who has national ambitions. Then read my @KHNews latest:

— Lauren Weber (@LaurenWeberHP) July 21, 2021

Molly Jong-Fast/Daily beast:

The GOP Isn’t Sending Their Best, and Pelosi Isn’t Having It

The facts aren’t flattering to Republicans so their plan is to ignore the facts and throw shit at the wall and then try to blame Democrats for the stains and the stench.

McCarthy knew damn well what he was doing when he offered up two election deniers to sit on the committee in the first place. There’s no one in the world who considers jacketless Jim a serious appointment. He is a Trump sycophant who spends most of his time trying to say insane stuff so that he can get on Fox News.

With the rest of the party walking away, the only remaining Republican looks to be Liz Cheney, who Pelosi appointed after McCarthy kicked her out of the party’s leadership for calling an insurrection an insurrection and putting loyalty to country above loyalty to Trump.

folks lecturing others on what (not to) do are missing the point Governors and pundits don't determine whether regular customers wear masks, that's mostly up to the customers

— Greg Dworkin (@DemFromCT) July 22, 2021


White House officials debate masking push as covid infections spike

One idea batted around by some officials would be to ask all Americans to wear masks when vaccinated and unvaccinated people mix at public places or indoors, such as at malls or movie theaters, according to two people familiar with the conversations.

So far, leaders in the White House have been hesitant about any policies that would explicitly require Americans to show proof of their vaccination status, according to a person familiar with those talks. Depending on where discussions lead, that decision could ultimately fall to business owners who want to offer mask-free environments.

Finally, the ID vs ophthalmology throw-down we’ve been waiting for

— Ilan Schwartz MD PhD (@GermHunterMD) July 20, 2021



My good lords, I must bring to your attention a grave issue that requires our utmost concern. You see, my fellow land-owning gentry, it seems that the invention of mechanized industry, the rise of “capitalism,” and the impact of the recent plague have brought upon us a wave of moral degradation and irredeemable sloth — specifically, nobody wants to be a serf anymore.

This newfound modicum of control the peasant class has over their lives has brought us to a dark new reality in which the serfs have become so lazy that they’ll no longer toil without pay on land they do not own yet can never leave, and instead leach upon the system by searching out more equitable work.

The drop in cases and deaths occurred following start of vaccinations as been reversed in the UK by the delta variant. Hospitalizations are on the rise in many states the US, and it appears almost all are unvaccinated. Deaths will like rise here as well. Please get vaccinated.

— Vincent Rajkumar (@VincentRK) July 22, 2021

Ed Yong/Atlantic:

America Is Getting Unvaccinated People All Wrong

They’re not all anti-vaxxers, and treating them as such is making things worse.

Rhea Boyd: It was a tele-townhall, and around 5,000 people participated. I would have imagined that people who stayed on would be unvaccinated, but the people who asked questions were a mix. I had one gentleman who was vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson and he asked, “Did I get a safe shot?” We affirmed for him that this far after his vaccination, he’s likely safe, but that opened my eyes. If you’ve heard about that serious side effect and are worried if you’re at risk, you’re probably not encouraging the people around you to be vaccinated.

Yong: That’s fascinating to me. There’s a tendency to assume that all vaccinated people are pro-vaccine and all unvaccinated people are anti-vaccine. But your experience suggests that there’s also vaccine hesitancy among vaccinated people.

Boyd: Yes, and we tend to hear similar questions among people who are unvaccinated. They may also have heard common threads of disinformation, but they’re still asking basic questions. The top one is around side effects, which are one of the main things we talk about when we give informed consent for any procedure. If people aren’t sure about that, it’s no wonder they’re still saying no.

A lot of vaccine information isn’t common knowledge. Not everyone has access to Google. This illustrates preexisting fault lines in our health-care system, where resources—including credible information—don’t get to everyone. The information gap is driving the vaccination gap. And language that blames “the unvaccinated” misses that critical point. Black folks are one of the least vaccinated groups, in part because they have the least access to preventive health-care services.

And similarly, the fact that the GOP doesn’t have any serious public policies to offer - hasn’t been interested in tackling actual public policy problems in a long, long time - is just greeted with a shrug. Meanwhile, every Democratic proposal is met with intense scrutiny.

— Thomas Zimmer (@tzimmer_history) July 22, 2021

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The pandemic isn’t over yet

‘Like we’re on an island’: How Missouri’s inaction allowed delta variant to spread

On June 2 Jessica Pearson, an epidemiologist with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, sent a concerned but business-as-usual email to local health officials in the northwest corner of the state.

Pearson took note of the highly contagious COVID-19 delta variant, which had surged in some northern Missouri counties.

“Just a reminder that there is nothing additional that needs to be done as far as public health action for variant cases,” Pearson wrote, recapping a conference call earlier that day, “but we emphasize the importance of a timely investigation and implementation of control measures.”

One month later, as the United States as a whole experiences the fewest cases and hospitalizations in months, Missouri is in crisis.

This isn’t COVID porn, as it’s sometimes labeled by those who want to pretend we’re done. We are in a good place in half the country but the other half is beginning to struggle. And since people travel, caution is appropriate.

The Delta hit to the US is now extending from cases to hospitalizations, 13 states with >65% Delta prevalence now with ≥25% increase of hospitalizations over past 14 days

— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) July 11, 2021

Erika Edwards/NBCNews:

Unvaccinated hospitalized patients say they regret not getting the shot

A year and a half into the pandemic, low vaccination rates and the rise of the delta variant threaten to cripple some hospital systems.

To describe Dr. Ryan Dare as frustrated would be a gross understatement.

Dare and his colleagues at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock are dealing with a surge in extremely ill Covid-19 patients — one that is "nearly 100 percent preventable."

That's because virtually all of their patients are unvaccinated. And now they wish they had gotten the shots when they had the chance.

Good point:

— David Cay Johnston (@DavidCayJ) July 10, 2021

Josephine Harvey/HuffPost:

‘Pandemic Is Not Over’: Florida Republican Describes Harrowing COVID-19 Ordeal

James Ring, president of the Lakeland GOP, said he hadn’t taken the time to get vaccinated yet.

A Florida Republican official has urged people to get vaccinated and wear masks after he got badly sick with COVID-19 last month and feared he “wasn’t going to make it out of the hospital alive.”

James Ring, president of the Republican Party of Lakeland, Florida, said he had grown complacent about remembering to wear a mask and hadn’t gotten around to getting vaccinated yet.

The CDC has released new guidance urging schools to fully reopen in the fall, even if they cannot take all of the steps the agency recommends to curb the spread of the coronavirus

— Apoorva Mandavilli (@apoorva_nyc) July 9, 2021

Maya Wiley/WaPo:

 I lost the NYC mayoral race, but women and minorities win with ranked-choice voting

As a Black woman and civil rights attorney, I had many emotional experiences during the campaign that just ended. But my brief Harlem encounter was one of the most humbling. I had a real shot at becoming the 110th mayor in a city that had elected 109 men, and only one of those a person of color. In an unprecedented race held during a pandemic, with more than 30 candidates, a shortened election cycle and less name recognition than other top contenders, I came in third. But ranked-choice voting (RCV) was neither an explanation for the outcome nor an impediment to Black women winning in the future.

One of the more telling things I have read about the Washington press corps and what it prizes. The theme is coming down from the insane high of Trump to the sedate professionalism of the Biden White House. In commenting on this they reveal themselves.

— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) July 9, 2021

Julia Ioffe/Tomorrow Will Be Worse (newsletter):

The Agony and Ecstasy of the Trump Reporters, After the Fall of Trump

The prominent White House reporter, however, acknowledged an occasional feeling of loss. “I loved covering Trump,” they said. “It was a great and fascinating story. It wasn’t just about him; it was about his movement and the institutions and America. The story was always so dramatic and had these larger than life characters. The stakes often felt very high. I like covering Biden, too, but it just doesn’t feel as dramatic. It’s a slightly better work-life balance, and I’m not waking up at 5:30 in the morning, wondering what the president tweeted and what direction it will send my day in. It was exciting and exhilarating, but it’s fucking exhausting.”

Some were relieved for the country’s sake. “I’m not of the camp that misses Trump,” said the broadcast reporter. “I understand the sentiment, but you also have to step back and look at what happened on January 6. This isn’t a fun game that we’re playing on Twitter, it’s serious. It’s bigger than you and your career.”

But many feel a yawning sense of emptiness and disappointment at what the ebbing Trump tide left behind. “I think everyone probably misses the ease of it, having so many willing leakers,” said the young White House reporter. “It made you think that you were better than you were. It made you think you were a really good reporter, but really, are you? I think we had an inflated sense of our abilities and it was all a fraud. Now everyone is exposed and everyone is dogshit. Where are the great stories? They don’t exist. I can’t remember the last time I read a great story that really revealed something about the Biden White House.”

A very detailed look at election administration in 2020.

— Charles Franklin (@PollsAndVotes) July 10, 2021

Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt/Atlantic:

The Biggest Threat to Democracy Is the GOP Stealing the Next Election

Unless and until the Republican Party recommits itself to playing by democratic rules of the game, American democracy will remain at risk.

As we argued in How Democracies Die, our constitutional system relies heavily on forbearance. Whether it is the filibuster, funding the government, impeachment, or judicial nominations, our system of checks and balances works best when politicians on both sides of the aisle deploy their institutional prerogatives with restraint. In other words, when they avoid applying the letter of the law in ways contrary to the spirit of the law—what’s sometimes called constitutional hardball. When contemporary democracies die, they usually do so via constitutional hardball. Democracy’s primary assailants today are not generals or armed revolutionaries, but rather politicians—Hugo Chávez, Vladimir Putin, Viktor Orbán, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan—who eviscerate democracy’s substance behind a carefully crafted veneer of legality and constitutionality.

This is precisely what could happen in the next U.S. presidential race. Elections require forbearance. For elections to be democratic, all adult citizens must be equally able to cast a ballot and have that vote count. Using the letter of the law to violate the spirit of this principle is strikingly easy. Election officials can legally throw out large numbers of ballots on the basis of the most minor technicalities (e.g., the oval on the ballot is not entirely penciled in, or the mail-in ballot form contains a typo or spelling mistake). Large-scale ballot disqualification accords with the letter of the law, but it is inherently antidemocratic, for it denies suffrage to many voters. Crucially, if hardball criteria are applied unevenly, such that many ballots are disqualified in one party’s stronghold but not in other areas, they can turn an election.

Un. Be. Lievable. The underlying article about the conflict is here:

— hilzoy (@hilzoy) July 9, 2021

Lisa Rosenbaum/NEJM:

No Cure without Care — Soothing Science Skepticism

Whereas many people’s fundamental heuristic for health-related decisions is to trust medical and scientific experts, vaccine hesitancy reminds us of the many competing forces informing people’s intuitions about health, be they religious, political, historical, or identity-based. To be clear, some of these forces are identifiable and should be addressed; the contribution of historical abuses and ongoing systemic racism to vaccine hesitancy in minority communities is a notable example. But in understanding people who simply have a feeling that Covid vaccines should be avoided, identifying specific heuristics matters less than simply recognizing the limits of data in shaping perceptions of truth. “We don’t make our decisions about what’s true based on an analysis of evidence,” Levinovitz emphasized. “It’s a profound misconception of how people figure out reality.”

Though Covid hasn’t changed human nature, its devastating consequences have highlighted the gap between what is true and what people believe. One memorable low for me was reading a South Dakota nurse’s description of patients who were critically ill with Covid but continued to insist the virus was a hoax until the moment they were intubated.2 If you can be denying the existence of a disease while you’re dying from it, what hope is there for science to persuade people unaffected by that disease to take it seriously enough to get vaccinated?

For some subset of the population, not much. But although people who are aggressively denying science and disregarding others’ health loom large in our minds, there are probably many more who are simply bewildered and no longer know whom or what to trust. Undoubtedly, current vaccine skepticism is partly rooted in factors specific to this moment and these particular vaccines. But to the extent that hesitancy also reflects deeper, longer-standing fractures in our relationship with the public, its exploration provides an opportunity to improve patient care in ways that go far beyond the pandemic.

This really seems extreme and a harbinger of what is to come: veteran (and tenured) high school teacher and baseball coach dismissed from school after he assigned a Ta-Nehisi Coates essay and poem about white privilege.

— Don Moynihan (@donmoyn) July 9, 2021

List of authors.

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: After Juneteenth, a reckoning of sorts

Washington Examiner:

Arizona election analysis finds GOP voters disenchanted with Trump helped Biden win

Benny White, a Republican election researcher who previously ran for Pima County recorder, joined with Democrat Larry Moore and independent Tim Halvorsen, two retired executives from election company Clear Ballot, performed an analysis of the cast vote record in the November general election in Maricopa County. White has worked on over two dozen previous election audits, and Moore has had experience in more than 200, White told the Washington Examiner.

White, who said he voted for Trump in both elections, spent weeks with his team analyzing the cast vote record, which was obtained through a public records request on May 7. The data can be used to confirm vote tabulations and better understand voting patterns and behavior.

Here’s a piece on Opal Lee from Variety (Why 94-Year-Old Activist Opal Lee Marched to Make Juneteenth a National Holiday).

Derek Robertson/Politico Magazine:

How Republicans Became the ‘Barstool’ Party

The Barstool-ification of the GOP could reconfigure its cultural politics for a generation.

One of Trump’s early adopters articulated the mindset perfectly in August 2015, back when Jeb! was still his closest primary threat: “I am voting for Donald Trump. I don’t care if he’s a joke. I don’t care if he’s racist. I don’t care if he’s sexist. I don’t care about any of it. I hope he stays in the race and I hope he wins. Why? Because I love the fact that he is making other politicians squirm. I love the fact he says shit nobody else will say, regardless of how ridiculous it is.”

Is it surprising that Republican politicians would constantly prefer to talk about the party’s record on race in the 1800s?

— Michael Freeman (@michaelpfreeman) June 20, 2021

Brian Karem/The Bulwark:

The GOP’s Alternate Reality Industry

Plus, Eric Swalwell’s restroom run-in with Ted Cruz.

Representative Eric Swalwell, a Democrat from California, told me of a chilling revelation he had when he once happened across Ted Cruz in the Senate men’s room during Trump’s second impeachment trial. Swalwell calls his epiphany “my pro-wrestling theory.”

According to Swalwell, many of the members of the GOP look at themselves as something like pro-wrestling performers. They know it’s fake—kayfabe, as it’s called in wrestling—and so do the voters. “For most of these guys, they don’t look at their constituents as the people they represent,” Swalwell told me in an interview for my “Just Ask the Question” podcast. “They look at them as their fans.”

Which brings us to that restroom run-in during the impeachment trial. Swalwell, recall, was one of the House managers making the case for holding Trump to account for the events of January 6. When Swalwell ran into Cruz, the Texas senator told him, “Hey I just want you to know you’re doing a great job out there.”

Swalwell was taken aback. Cruz had scorched him on Twitter and on Fox News within 24 hours of running into him in the restroom—yet according to Swalwell, the senator acted like “we’re two pro wrestlers. We’re bros.”

It’s kayfabe, baby. But do you even lift, bro?

The UK has warned the US 3 times. We're 1 for 2 so far. 1. Covid is coming. Response: "It won't happen here" X 2. Alpha variant. Response: Solid vaccination campaign, a bump instead of a surge ✓ 3. Delta variant. Response is lacking any sense of urgency to date

— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) June 19, 2021

iNews (UK):

G7 summit was ‘super spreading’ event for Cornwall as cases rocket 2,450% after Johnson and Biden visit

Areas of Cornwall where G7 events were focused saw infections rise more than 2,000 per cent in the seven days leading up to the end of the meeting between global leaders .

The G-File, from ⁦@JonahDispatch⁩: American Passover

— The Dispatch (@thedispatch) June 18, 2021

David Rothkopf/USA Today:

Joe Biden is better on the world stage than any president since George H.W. Bush

It is probably unfair to compare Biden's early performance to the first months of Donald Trump, the only president in U.S. history to have had zero public service experience of any kind before he took office. In fact, it’s probably unfair to compare him with any of his predecessors since the senior Bush. Former Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, former Texas Gov. George W. Bush and freshman Sen. Barack Obama all came into office with little or no international affairs experience. And it showed.

Good Lord. This ⁦@DouthatNYT⁩ column is incoherent. The reason liberals aren’t as exercised about Russia these days is that they’re not worried about Biden selling us out to Putin.

— Dan Kennedy (@dankennedy_nu) June 20, 2021


Juneteenth forces U.S. to confront lasting impact of slavery economy

Why it matters: That lack of generational wealth still denies Black families the economic security that many white families take for granted.

By the numbers: Around $50 trillion of economic resources and labor has not been paid to Black people since slavery, Rochester told Axios. Advocates say this legacy of slavery must be addressed to tackle systemic racism.

EXCLUSIVE: Last year MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell said he’d convert 75% his factories to making masks. He did. It was a multimillion-dollar bust. Now he’s sitting on millions of masks he despises & wants to burn. He told me all about it @thedailybeast

— Roger Sollenberger found true love, suckers (@SollenbergerRC) June 19, 2021

Nicole Bibbins Sedaca/The Bulwark:

How Juneteenth Observance Can Rekindle Our Democracy

Our failings remind us of the importance of our democratic values.

But our rememberance cannot be merely a passive observation of past events. Like Independence Day, Juneteenth National Independence Day—as the holiday will now officially be known—must be at once a celebration, a reminder, and a challenge.We celebrate the universal and lasting importance of democratic values and institutions.We are reminded of the fact that even democratic nations quite often fall short of these values. And, hopefully, we rise to the challenge of our shortcomings by using the opportunity of democracy to create an ever more perfect union. Democracy and democratic values do not lose their importance because of human failing. Human failing reminds us of the need for democracy and democratic values.

It’s Juneteenth, the rest is fancy ‘no one will use it’ stuff. It’s like trying to rename the Bronx Zoo (they’ve tried and failed).

G.O.P. lawmakers have also stripped secretaries of state of their power, asserted more control over state election boards, made it easier to overturn election results, and pursued several partisan audits and inspections of 2020 results.

— Nicolle Wallace (@NicolleDWallace) June 19, 2021

Troy Patterson/New Yorker:

The Celebration of Juneteenth in Ralph Ellison’s “Juneteenth”

In a pinch, any passage of Ellison will do. The novelist was a tremendous writer of passages who spent four decades, between the incandescent accomplishment of “Invisible Man” and his death, in 1994, producing many reams of stunning ones that never coalesced into a proper novel. He had the problem of a house fire that consumed at least some of a manuscript; he had the challenge of setting down an expansive parable about race in America in bright, hard language, like the radiant vernacular of a jazz-head Joyce. He had been dead for seventeen years when the bulk of this latter work was published as an eleven-hundred-and-thirty-six-page behemoth called “Three Days Before The Shooting . . .”—a vast slab of gorgeous marble amounting to an incomplete monument. “Juneteenth,” published in 1999, at three hundred and sixty-eight pages, is the fine effort of his executor, John F. Callahan, to shape the manuscript into a comprehensible sculpture.

This by @Calthalas in @ForeignPolicy is really good #MedievalTwitter #twitterstorians

— Matt Gabriele (@prof_gabriele) June 20, 2021

Harry Siegel/Daily Beast:

Eric Adams Wears a Gun, Brandishes Dead Rats, and Maybe Lives in Jersey. He Could be NYC’s Next Mayor.

There’s only been one, or maybe two, mayors of New York City in my lifetime who were not weirdos: the gentlemanly and restrained David Dinkins for sure; and arguably the Clash-loving, dad joke-making Massachusetts native Bill de Blasio, a veteran of the Dinkins administration who’s gone after this year thanks to term limits. Ed KochRudy Giuliani, and even Mike Bloomberg were each, in their own inimitable ways, unhinged.

If the polls hold and former cop, Republican, and Louis Farrakhan admirer and current vegan Eric Adams wins the Democratic primary on Tuesday that will almost surely decide the city’s next mayor, we’ve got another character coming. Adams’ oft-recited political origin story involves getting beaten up by the police as a teen along with his older brother Conrad after they broke into the apartment of a prostitute he says owed them money for running errands, and then deciding to become a cop himself to reform the NYPD from within.

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The anti-democracy, pro-coup Republicans, unmasked

Greg Sargent/WaPo:

A GOP senator’s angry shaming of Mitch McConnell demands more from Democrats

In an extraordinary nine-minute session with reporters, Murkowski called on McConnell to stop placing “short-term political gain” before the need to grapple with what really happened on Jan. 6. At stake are the “principles of democracy we hold so dear,” which must be valued “beyond just one election cycle.”

It didn’t work, of course. Senate Republicans just successfully filibustered the commission. A couple more Republicans voted for it than expected, but still, virtually all voted against even allowing it to be debated.

Murkowski did a good job shedding light on the problem we now face. But here’s the thing: In the end, only Democrats can begin to solve that problem.

It’s crystal clear that the only thing the GOP cares about is power, and absolutely nothing else.

A telling stat on Newsmax and Trump's waning influence. Trump's Tuesday interview was Newsmax's top-rated hour -- with 295,000 total viewers. In comparison, Maddow drew 2.6 million and Hannity nabbed 2.3 million viewers in the same hour. Even Cuomo more than tripled Trump.

— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) May 27, 2021

Susan B Glasser/New Yorker:

American Democracy Isn’t Dead Yet, but It’s Getting There

A country that cannot even agree to investigate an assault on its Capitol is in big trouble, indeed.

Before leaving town for their Memorial Day recess, in fact, Senate Republicans successfully used the legislative filibuster for the first time this session to block the proposed bipartisan panel. Their stated arguments against a commission range from the implausible to the insulting; the real explanation is political cynicism in the extreme. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is so far delivering on his pledge to focus a “hundred per cent” on blocking Biden’s agenda, even claimed that an investigation was pointless because it would result in “no new fact.” John Cornyn, a close McConnell ally, from Texas, was more honest, at least, in admitting, to Politico, that the vote was all about denying Democrats “a political platform” from which to make the 2022 midterm elections a “referendum on President Trump.” For his part, Trump has been putting out the word that he plans to run for reëlection in 2024—and exulting in polls showing that a majority of Republicans continue to believe both his false claims of a fraudulent election and that nothing untoward happened on January 6th. Needless to say, these are not the signs of a healthy democracy ready to combat the autocratic tyrants of the world.

“Turns out, things are much worse than we expected,” Daniel Ziblatt, one of the “How Democracies Die” authors, told me this week. He said he had never envisioned a scenario like the one that has played itself out among Republicans on Capitol Hill during the past few months. How could he have? It’s hard to imagine anyone in America, even when “How Democracies Die” was published, a year into Trump’s term, seriously contemplating an American President who would unleash an insurrection in order to steal an election that he clearly lost—and then still commanding the support of his party after doing so.

Time to give up on Marco Rubio, who will never do the right thing if there’s any risk | Editorial

— Orlando Sentinel (@orlandosentinel) May 27, 2021

Stephen Richer/ National Review:

The Madness of the Maricopa County Election Audit

I’m a libertarian-minded Republican. I hate taxes. Especially the income tax. But I pay all required taxes.

I suspect you also pay your taxes. And like most Americans, you probably don’t cheat or lie.

For that reason, even though an IRS audit might annoy you and cause you some stress, you’d eventually realize that you have nothing to fear as long as the audit is done fairly and properly.

But you’d likely feel differently if the IRS outsourced the audit to someone who:

  • Had no applicable professional credentials
  • Had never previously run a tax audit
  • Believed that Hugo Chavez had nefariously controlled your tax-auditing software
  • Had publicly stated prior to examining your taxes that you’d certainly committed tax fraud

That is what is happening to elections in Maricopa County, Ariz. — the home of almost two-thirds of Arizona’s voting population.

STEPHEN RICHER is the Maricopa County recorder. He was elected, as a Republican, in November 2020, and took office in January.

The cool thing about taxing the rich nationally is you don't have to worry about them leaving for a lower-tax state (and no they don't generally leave the country, lol).

— Daniel Marans (@danielmarans) May 28, 2021

Ronald Brownstein/CNN:

Is the GOP's extremist wing now too big to fail?

Congressional Republicans have crystallized an ominous question by rejecting consequences for Donald Trump over the January 6 riot in his impeachment trial and welcoming conspiracy theorist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia into their conference: Has the extremist wing of the GOP coalition grown too big for the party to confront?

Pro-insurrection Republicans are already claiming a 1/6 commission with an equal number of Dem and GOP nominees that has bipartisan majority support in both houses is somehow partisan and unfair, which indicates they’d lie about any report regardless, so just do it, bill or no.

— Nicholas Grossman (@NGrossman81) May 28, 2021

Peter Hotez/Daily Beast:

The Only Way to Resolve the Wuhan ‘Lab Leak’ Controversy

Increasingly, the longstanding near-consensus that the likely origins of human COVID-19 was in an animal virus reservoir, such as bats, is coming under fire. In that scenario, which I continue to think is the most plausible, the virus’ gestation or circulation in bats may have been followed by increasing human-bat interactions, possibly as a result of the expansion of human populations in forested areas. A similar scenario was likely responsible for the emergence of Ebola virus infection in Africa. Many scientists feel it is more likely that the novel coronavirus may have jumped from bats to humans indirectly, through an intermediate animal.

The major competing view throughout this pandemic has been that the virus was conceived artificially through manipulations in the laboratory (especially the Wuhan Institute of Virology), that it was a naturally occurring virus that leaked from a lab accidentally, or both. While many have suggested there may be so-called “smoking guns” for one or the other hypothesis, to my mind, they are inconclusive at best. For example, the finding of unique RNA sequences in the COVID-19 virus, including a so-called furin-cleavage site, is considered by some as evidence of virus manipulation in the laboratory or “gain-of-function” research. The latter refers to cases where scientists attempt to actually make a virus more transmissible or infectious deliberately.

However, furin-cleavage sites are well-known to be present in multiple naturally-occurring coronaviruses, including the MERS coronavirus. Therefore, it is not at all clear that such sites were engineered by scientists working on SARS CoV-2.

It's actually genuinely remarkable that 6 Republican Senators joined Democrats on a major bill. But instead of encouraging that to happen more often, the filibuster just prevents this kind of bipartisanship from even being a possibility.

— Steven White (@notstevenwhite) May 28, 2021

Gregory J Wallance/The Hill:

Marjorie Taylor Greene should be expelled from Congress — but Republicans are too afraid of Trump to do it

Greene should be expelled from Congress. Perhaps once it was tempting to dismiss her as just a fringe character with her past support for QAnon, her claim that the Parkland, Fla., school shootings were a false-flag operation and her suggestion that space lasers caused the California wild fires for the benefit of, among others, an investment banking firm that bears the name of a prominent Jewish family. It started to dawn on people that Greene is potentially dangerous when it emerged that she had endorsed social media posts advocating violence against Democrats, which caused House Democrats and a handful of Republicans to vote to strip her of her committee seats.  

Hours after voting against the Jan. 6 Commission, Sen. Hyde-Smith released a statement about Memorial Day, saying that “those who died for us deserve to be honored every day.” I asked her office & Wicker's if they had met with Gladys Sicknick. No reply.

— Ashton Pittman (@ashtonpittman) May 29, 2021

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The two issues are still the pandemic and defending democracy

Greg Sargent/WaPo:

Republicans offer a vile new excuse for opposing a Jan. 6 commission

With Republicans gearing up to kill a commission to examine the Jan. 6 insurrection, they have offered a barrage of comically weak excuses. They say the commission is “slanted,” that its work will overlap with other investigations, that its mission fails to target left-wing “political violence” and that Democrats are driven only by politics.

Now, with debate beginning in the Senate over the bill creating a commission that passed the House late Wednesday, Republicans are offering a vile new excuse. It somehow manages to be both candid and evasive at the same time.

Yet this excuse also reveals how deep flaws in our public discussion of this whole matter — by neutral media and Democrats alike — unwittingly enable GOP spin.

The new excuse is that we shouldn’t be wasting our time re-litigating the 2020 election. 

If you think 1/6 was largely peaceful, if you think Antifa/BLM dressed up and did it, if you think President Trump did nothing to incite it, then fine, let’s have an independent bipartisan commission and find out.

— Patrick Chovanec (@prchovanec) May 20, 2021

Perry Bacon Jr/WaPo:

American democracy is in even worse shape than you think

We have four huge problems. I don’t see solutions to any of them.

By far the biggest problem is the Republican Party. Presented with a clear chance to move on from Trumpism after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, the GOP has instead continued its drift toward anti-democratic action and white grievance. The future looks scary. A Republican-controlled House could attempt to impeach Biden in 2023 and 2024 on basically any pretext, as payback for Trump’s two impeachments. If Republicans win the governorships of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin next year, taking total control in those key swing states, they could impose all kinds of electoral barriers for the next presidential election. The Republicans are laying the groundwork to refuse to certify a 2024 Democratic presidential victory should the GOP hold a House majority.

2024 National Republican Primary: Trump 48% Pence 13% DeSantis 8% Trump Jr. 7% Romney 4% Haley 4% Cruz 4% Tim Scott 2% Rubio 1% Noem 1% Pompeo 1% Cheney 1% Hawley 0% Hogan 0% Rick Scott 0% .@MorningConsult/@politico, 982 RV, 5/14-17

— Political Polls (@Politics_Polls) May 19, 2021

David Frum/Atlantic:

The Pro-Trump Culture War on American Scientists

Some are trying to turn the lab-leak theory into a potent political weapon.

Two questions have dominated politics throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Democrats and public-health experts have asked: What should we do? Former President Donald Trump, for his part, minimized the need to act. He instead spoke incessantly about a very different question: Whom should we blame?


In November 2020, a solid majority of American voters decided that the first of the two questions—What should we do?­—was more urgent, and that Biden and his party offered the better answer.

But now that Biden’s administration is succeeding at bringing the pandemic under control within the United States, Trump’s preferred alternative question—Whom should we blame?—is reclaiming attention.

So this right wing dude in Belgium stole some rocket launchers and went to join the "resistance" targeting scientists. He is still at large. This is why I get so bent out of shape about attacks on WHO, public health officials, and endangers people's lives.

— Dr. Angela Rasmussen (@angie_rasmussen) May 20, 2021

Greg Sargent/WaPo:

Republicans are likely to kill the Jan. 6 commission. But we have other options.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is set to hold a vote Wednesday on the bipartisan deal reached in the lower chamber to create a commission. That compromise was very fair and made concessions to both Republicans and Democrats.

But with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) opposed as well, it’s unlikely to get the stampede of support from House Republicans that might forestall a GOP filibuster in the Senate.

Now what?

Congressional scholar Norman Ornstein is well positioned to explain this moment and where we go from here. That’s because he was an early and very prescient observer of the GOP’s radicalization against democracy who also happens to be an expert on congressional procedure.

McCarthy opposed it. Scalise opposed it and whipped the vote. McConnell opposed it. Trump opposed it. And 35 House Republicans voted yes.

— Jonathan Karl (@jonkarl) May 20, 2021


GOP defections over Jan. 6 commission deliver rebuke to McCarthy

The big bipartisan vote was a major rebuke to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who worked hard to minimize the brewing rebellion in his ranks over the commission. During the vote, McCarthy huddled in the back of the chamber with his staff, watching the vote tally tick upward as Republican after Republican registered their “yes” vote.

McCarthy’s handling of his party's internal divisions this week has revealed potential weaknesses in his leadership style — and offered a preview of how the California Republican might run the House one day.

One way to think about lifting mask mandates is as a big advertisement for vaccination. It is super effective! Vaxxed folks are incredibly unlikely to get very ill OR spread disease to others. It’s a message that *could* make getting vaccinated more attractive to the hesitant.

— Rob Mentzer (@robertmentzer) May 19, 2021

Ed Yong/Atlantic:

What Happens When Americans Can Finally Exhale

The pandemic’s mental wounds are still wide open.

But there is another crucial difference between May 2020 and May 2021: People have now lived through 14 months of pandemic life. Millions have endured a year of grief, anxiety, isolation, and rolling trauma. Some will recover uneventfully, but for others, the quiet moments after adrenaline fades and normalcy resumes may be unexpectedly punishing. When they finally get a chance to exhale, their breaths may emerge as sighs. “People put their heads down and do what they have to do, but suddenly, when there’s an opening, all these feelings come up,” Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, the founder and director of the Trauma Stewardship Institute, told me. Lipsky has spent decades helping people navigate the consequences of natural disasters, mass shootings, and other crises. “As hard as the initial trauma is,” she said, “it’s the aftermath that destroys people.”

Some GOP are saying that the 1/6 commission bill gives the Dem-appointed chair all the staffing authority. Below is staffing language from the 9/11 commission, a 1/6 commission bill introduced by House Rs earlier this year, and the 1/6 commission bill they're voting on today.

— Jim Newell (@jim_newell) May 19, 2021

Dana Stevens/Slate:

Excuse Me If I’m Not Ready to Unmask

Early on in the pandemic, I vowed to set a high standard for COVID-19 avoidance.

Now that the reins of government have been taken by a president and a party that, whatever you think of their policy positions, at least appear united in their belief that mass death is a bad thing, much of the confusion and day-to-day terror of that first year has subsided. The speed and competency of the vaccine rollout has been nothing short of a miracle, the public-health achievement of the young century; we should all feel infinitely grateful to the research scientists, health-care workers, and public-health officials who have made it feasible to vaccinate millions of people in just a few months.

But excuse me if I, like many of the people I see around me, am not yet quite ready to expose my lower face. Early on in the pandemic, I made a vow with my family that we would set a high standard for COVID-19 avoidance. Not only were we not getting this virus ourselves, if we could help it, but we were taking no chances of inadvertently spreading it to anyone else, even if that did make for a long and lonely year without indoor gatherings and travel to see family and friends. I didn’t want to go to my grave thinking that I was a link in some chain of human interaction leading to someone else’s serious illness or death.

An really smart idea to encourage vaccinations: Report hospitalizations & deaths (both local & nationally) in 2 categories: in vaccinated people vs. in unvaccinated people. It would take about 10 minutes for benefits of vaccination to be obvious. (H/T to @UCSF's Matt Springer)

— Bob Wachter (@Bob_Wachter) May 20, 2021

Dareh Gregorian/NBC News:

What the new criminal probe could mean for the Trump Organization

Legal experts say the New York attorney general's decision to team up with Manhattan prosecutors doesn't bode well for the former president's company.

Former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner, a legal analyst for NBC News and MSNBC, agreed that the two offices' teaming up was bad news for the Trump company.

"Two prosecutorial heads are better than one. To have that sort of synergy, that's bad for the target of the investigation. How bad? We just don't know," Kirschner said.

possibly the worst person in Washington now that the former guy's family is gone

— Greg Dworkin (@DemFromCT) May 20, 2021

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Reaching a pandemic milestone

NY Times:

Vaccinated Americans now may go without masks in most places, the C.D.C. said.

The advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention comes as welcome news to Americans who have tired of restrictions and marks a watershed moment in the pandemic. Masks ignited controversy in communities across the United States, symbolizing a bitter partisan divide over approaches to the pandemic and a badge of political affiliation.

Permission to stop using them now offers an incentive to the many millions who are still holding out on vaccination. As of Wednesday, about 154 million people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, but only about one-third of the nation, some 117.6 million people, have been fully vaccinated.

CDC says because I am fully vaccinated I don’t have to wear pants

— Andy Cobb (@AndyCobb) May 13, 2021

Your mileage may vary.

These two thoughtful reads (Jennifer Bard and David Leonhardt) will give you a flavor of CDC's dilemma and bring nuance to difficult decisions that nonetheless must be made.

Jennifer Bard/Harvard Law:

Public Health vs. Individual Advice

As a matter of advice to individuals who have been full vaccinated, the news that they no longer have to wear masks in places where they are at lower risk of infection is reassuring and good to hear. But, as a matter of federal guidance that will be translated into public health law and used as basis for challenging or removing mask mandates, it’s a mess on several levels.

First and foremost, it shifts the responsibility of protecting people still vulnerable to COVID-19 from the state to the very individuals who can cause the most harm. Whether the harm comes from unvaccinated individuals who choose not to wear masks as a matter of principle, or who simply leave the house without one, or from vaccinated individuals who are still able to transmit the virus, the danger is the same. There will always be people who cannot be vaccinated, whether because of a medical condition, or simply because they are too young.

Nor does it make any sense to suggest that those who are worried should wear masks themselves and leave others to do as they wish. First, there will, again, always be people, such as babies, who simply cannot wear a mask.

Second, while medical grade N-95 masks work very well to protect their wearer — even among sick, unmasked people — surgical and cloth masks don’t provide that kind of unilateral protection.

In other words, if you’re wearing a cloth mask and the other people in the classroom, or movie theater, or plane, aren’t, it pretty quickly makes you almost as vulnerable as if you weren’t wearing anything. But if everyone is wearing a cloth mask, you are all relatively better protected.

This also raises an issue of social justice: those who want to protect themselves must buy expensive, high-tech masks to protect themselves from others who are unwilling to use inexpensive cloth or paper ones.

It's not about zero, it's about normalcy, @DLeonhardt writes: "If you’re vaccinated, Covid joins a long list of small risks that we have long accepted without upending our lives, like riding in a car, taking a swim or exposing ourselves to the common cold."

— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) May 14, 2021

Ian Millhiser/Vox:

Joe Manchin’s surprisingly bold proposal to fix America’s voting rights problem

Manchin’s idea won’t fix America’s democracy, but it could solve some pretty significant problems.

Most congressional Democrats have rallied behind a bill, known as the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, that would restore preclearance in a handful of states, while simultaneously making it easier to impose preclearance on new states and local governments that attempt to disenfranchise racial minorities.

But Manchin suggested on Wednesday that Congress should pass a much bolder attempt to roll back Shelby County. In an interview with ABC News, Manchin proposed making the John Lewis Act apply “to all 50 states and territories.” Thus, all states, not just the handful of states with the worst record on race, would be required to submit any new voting rules to federal review in order to make sure that the new rule will not target voters of color.

Follow the science ... 🍻

— Prof Francois Balloux (@BallouxFrancois) May 13, 2021

The GOP has lost its way. Fellow Americans, join our new alliance.

The Republican Party made a grievous error this week in ousting Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) from the House leadership for telling the truth about Donald Trump’s “big lie,” which has wreaked havoc in our democratic republic by casting doubt over the 2020 election.

Cheney rightfully struck back against party leaders and warned about the GOP’s dangerous direction. She is not alone.

Romney discussing January 6, via @igorbobic: "Well, I was there. And what happened was a violent effort to interfere with and prevent the constitutional order of installing a new president, and as such it was an insurrection against the Constitution.”

— Grace Segers (@Grace_Segers) May 13, 2021

NY Times:

Many Unvaccinated Latinos in the U.S. Want the Shot, New Survey Finds

Issues of access and fears of employment and immigration consequences have kept their Covid vaccination rates low, the findings suggest.

Latino adults in the United States have the lowest rates of Covid-19 vaccination, but among the unvaccinated they are the demographic group most willing to receive the Covid shots as soon as possible, a new survey shows.

The findings suggest that their depressed vaccination rate reflects in large measure misinformation about cost and access, as well as concerns about employment and immigration issues, according to the latest edition of the Kaiser Family Foundation Covid-19 Vaccine Monitor.

These vaccine percentages almost perfectly reflect a classic Rogers Diffusion-Of-Innovations Curve. Considering we’re well into the Late Majority at only 5 months, I’m actually quite encouraged. We often measure medical innovation diffusion on a scale of years (or decades).

— Daniel Liebman MD MBA (@D_Liebman) April 25, 2021

New weekly The Economist/YouGov national poll shows vaccine reluctance hitting another new low. - 69% of adults say they have been at least partially vaccinated, or plan to get vaccinated soon - 17% say they will not get vaccinated - 14% say they're unsure

— G. Elliott Morris (@gelliottmorris) May 12, 2021

Jonathan Martin/NY Times:

Republicans’ Overthrow of Liz Cheney Risks Worsening Their Headaches

As the party ties itself ever tighter to Trumpism, some Republicans worry about the implications for 2022 and far beyond. “I don’t think it’s a healthy moment for the party,” said one congressman.

“The party is going to come back stronger, and I’m going to lead the effort to do it,” Representative Liz Cheney said as she stepped into an elevator and down to her demise.

Less than an hour later, accompanied by the acclaimed photographer David Hume Kennerly, a family friend, Ms. Cheney returned to her office for an interview with NBC’s Savannah Guthrie. A sit-down with Bret Baier of Fox News was to follow.

The message was unmistakable: Her colleagues may have stripped Ms. Cheney of her post as chair of the House Republican Conference, but they have effectively handed her a new platform and a new role as the leader of the small band of anti-Trump Republicans.

It didn't get a lot of notice but @RepGosar suggested the Jan. 6 arrests are part of a government wide conspiracy to harass Trump supporters in a hearing yesterday

— Hunter Walker (@hunterw) May 13, 2021

Amanda Carpenter/Bulwark:

Bring on the Liz Cheney Death Match
Cheney’s likely ouster will force the conversation about January 6. [written before the vote]

Later this week House Republicans will almost certainly oust Rep. Liz Cheney from her leadership position in the conference. In doing so, they will cement their commitment to former President Trump’s lies about the 2020 election. This is a good thing.

Let me explain.

Had Cheney voted to impeach Trump and then quietly moved along to whitewashing the insurrection (like most other Republicans) then no one may have realized how deeply the Trump brain worms had penetrated the GOP leadership hive mind. She’s giving the party a public MRI.

Yes, the results of this test are awfully ugly, but they may be useful in the end.

GOP leaders would have never admitted how closely they planned to remain tethered to the twice-impeached president who presided over the party’s loss of the House, Senate, and White House. We wouldn’t have known how content they are with Trump’s big election lie. Cheney exposes their complicity. Until she piped up, everyone was on pace to rally under the red elephant flag and chant “Fire Pelosi!” They would have seamlessly moved on from January 6 and started campaigning on Trump’s 2020 election lies for 2022.

But Cheney played spoiler. And yes, this time it’s different.

🔥 It’s been easier to get fully vaccinated in the Northeast than most anywhere else in the U.S.

— Jorge A. Caballero, MD (@DataDrivenMD) May 13, 2021

Nick Troiano/Atlantic:

Party Primaries Must Go

Partisan primaries motivate legislators to keep in lockstep with a narrow and extreme slice of the electorate rather than govern in the public interest.

Three days after the insurrection, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska became the first Senate Republican to call for President Trump’s resignation; she later became the only Senate Republican up for reelection in 2022 who voted to convict Trump in his impeachment trial.

In any other election, and in almost any other state, Murkowski’s vote would likely have doomed her chances in a Republican primary. However, in November, Alaska became the latest state to ditch partisan primaries when its voters adopted a sweeping election-reform package on the ballot.

Under the reform, rather than both parties holding separate primary elections, all candidates will instead compete in a single, nonpartisan primary in which all voters can participate and select their preferred candidate. Then the top four finishers will advance to the general election, where voters will have the option to rank them. Whoever earns a majority of votes wins. (If no candidate earns a majority after first choices are counted, the race is decided by an “instant runoff”––whereby the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and voters who ranked that candidate first have their second-place votes counted instead, and so on, until a candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote.)

With this reform, Alaska became the first state to combine a nonpartisan primary with ranked-choice voting in the general election. Known as “final-four voting,” this system has two major advantages. First, by abolishing party primaries, it eliminates elected leaders’ fear of being “primaried” by a small base of voters within their own party. Second, by abolishing plurality-winner elections and the “spoiler” effect they produce, it levels the playing field for independent and third-party candidates.

Yes, that is 96% of the far-righters who think the election was stolen. We don't see that kind of number often in public opinion work...

— Natalie Jackson (@nataliemj10) May 12, 2021

James Hohmann/WaPo:

A bankruptcy trial reveals the deep rot within the NRA

The political graveyard is full of men who thought they were irreplaceable. We may soon learn whether that maxim applies to the man who leads the most powerful lobby in America.

For three decades, Wayne LaPierre has cashed in on the culture wars he has stoked as CEO of the National Rifle Association. He has used the organization like a personal checking account. A 12-day trial that just concluded has revealed even deeper rot within the group.

The chief federal bankruptcy judge in Dallas blocked the NRA on Tuesday from declaring Chapter 11 and reincorporating in Texas, ruling that LaPierre’s petition to do so was “not filed in good faith” because his real goal is to evade a civil suit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D).

LaPierre said he fears the dissolution of the NRA and the seizure of assets if the group remains incorporated in New York state, as it has been since 1871.

They are either: 1) Lying 2) Delusional

— S.V. Dáte (@svdate) May 13, 2021

AOC says of MTG: “I used to work as a bartender. These are the kinds of people that I threw out of bars all the time.”

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) May 13, 2021

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The first 100 days look pretty good, but the global pandemic rages on

David Lauter/LA Times:

In his first 100 days, ‘Uncle Joe’ Biden combines progressive goals and a reassuring manner

As his presidency nears its 100th day, the blank spots are filling in. The resulting image is one most observers did not expect based on Biden’s largely centrist, four-decade record.

“A couple of months before the election ... did I think he would be a transformational president? I would have laughed at that idea,” said Democratic strategist Cornell Belcher.

“I would have been mistaken.”

“I don't have to think about what Joe Biden is doing every day,” said a North Carolina man who voted for Biden. “The best thing about Joe Biden is I don't have to think about Joe Biden.”

— Monica Alba (@albamonica) April 25, 2021

NY Times:

How Covid Upended a Century of Patterns in U.S. Deaths

COVID trolls went nuts over this graphic. it spoiled their narrative.

The U.S. death rate in 2020 was the highest above normal since the early 1900s — even surpassing the calamity of the 1918 flu pandemic.

🇺🇸🇮🇳🌎🦠 Unbelievable that NIH head Francis Collins & former FDA chief Scott Gottlieb were not asked a single question about the Covid catastrophe that is unfolding in India & elsewhere & how the U.S. could help on political Sunday shows Meet the Press & Face the Nation.

— Michael Knigge (@kniggem) April 25, 2021

LA Times:

Michigan’s outbreak has scientists worried COVID skeptics will keep pandemic rolling

When Kathryn Watkins goes shopping these days, she doesn’t bring her three young children. There are just too many people not wearing masks in her southern Michigan town of Hillsdale.

At some stores, “not even the employees are wearing them anymore,” said Watkins, who estimates about 30% of shoppers wear masks, down from around 70% earlier in the pandemic. “There’s a complete disregard for the very real fact that they could wind up infecting someone.”

Her state tops the nation by far in the rate of new COVID-19 cases, a sharp upward trajectory that has more than two dozen hospitals in the state nearing 90% capacity.

The nation is watching.

Post-ABC poll shows a record divide between the parties in views of Biden ahead of the 100-day mark - 90% of Democrats approve vs. 13% of Republicans. Full story w/@danbalz @EmGusk

— Scott Clement (@sfcpoll) April 25, 2021

The insurrectionist party has not accepted defeat.

Frank Bruni/NY Times:

So Anthony Fauci Isn’t Perfect. He’s Closer Than Most of Us.

We owe him gratitude, not grief.

The phrases “public servant” and “public service” are exhausted to the point of meaninglessness. They’re tics. They roll off politicians’ tongues as readily as requests for money, suggesting that adulation and power aren’t the more potent draws to elected office. They’re invoked in regard to other government workers, as if decent paychecks and generous pensions weren’t a significant lure.

But if anyone ever deserved to be described in those terms, it’s Anthony Fauci. That was true before the coronavirus. It’s truer now — despite the times when he has revised his message on how to deal with it, despite assessments of the pandemic that didn’t bear out and despite Republicans’ efforts to use all of that to turn him into some bespectacled Beelzebub.

Shocker of shockers: Fauci isn’t perfect. But he has been perfectly sincere, perfectly patient, a professional standing resolutely outside so many of the worst currents of American life. More than that, he has been essential. We owe him an immeasurable debt of gratitude, not the mind-boggling magnitude of grief that he gets.

If anything, that grief has grown more intense of late. It was on garish display during a House hearing just over a week ago, when Representative Jim Jordan, doing a fan dance for Fox News, tore into Fauci as a doomsday addict less intent on saving people’s lives than on scrapping people’s liberties.

.@KFF’s excellent polling shows that the hardest “will never get” group is ~ 13-15%, and has been pretty stable across survey waves

— Kevin Collins (@kwcollins) April 25, 2021


India is struggling with a catastrophic second wave

A return of the virus was inevitable. The government’s failures were not

A month is a long time, in pandemics as in politics. Until March, India was recording barely 13,000 new covid-19 cases a day, fewer than Germany or France and a drop in the ocean for a nation of 1.4bn. The caseload then began to tick gently upwards, until suddenly, late in March, it was rocketing. On April 21st India clocked 315,000 new positive covid-19 tests, above even the biggest daily rise recorded in America, the only other country to record such highs. In contrast to America, however, the pandemic’s trajectory in India is near-vertical (see chart 1). Its vaccination effort, albeit impressive in scale and organisation, is simply too late to change the course of the virus any time soon. “They said flatten the curve and we did,” laments a wry recent tweet. “We just put it on the wrong axis.”

This is such a bad look for us. Our own vaccination effort is tapering's clearly time to help our friends in their hour of need.

— Noah "Bunny Hugger" Smith 🐇 (@Noahpinion) April 24, 2021


Israel and Chile both led on Covid jabs, so why is one back in lockdown?

Analysis: contrasting national outcomes highlight how easily UK could blow its chances

What is happening in Chile?

Chile is in the enviable position of having vaccinated faster than any other country in the Americas. More than a third of the country’s 18 million people have received at least one shot of either Pfizer/BioNTech or China’s Sinovac Biotech vaccine. However, cases have soared to the point of overwhelming the health system and strict lockdown measures are back in place.

What went wrong?

The speedy vaccination programme appears to have instilled a false sense of security that led the country to ease restrictions too soon without people appreciating the ongoing risks. The country reopened its borders in November and in January introduced permits for Chileans to go on summer holiday. Without strict controls on people entering the country, and the lack of an efficient contact-tracing system, travellers may have brought infections back into the country that were not picked up.

The virus would have had more chance to spread when the schools reopened along with restaurants, shopping malls, casinos, gyms and churches. With transmission rates now so high in the country, a far greater proportion of the population will need to be vaccinated to get on top of the epidemic.

We finally have our Biden Voters in Diners story.

— John Armbruster (@john_armbruster) April 25, 2021

Business Insider:

This millennial GOP congressman voted to impeach Trump. Now he's trying to save his party from going off a cliff.

These are surreal times to be [Peter] Meijer. At 33, he is the eighth-youngest member of Congress and quick with references to the classic "Oregon Trail" video game. About a week before we met, Michigan Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser suggested assassination as a way to remove Meijer.

"Ma'am, other than assassination, I have no other way ... other than voting out," Weiser told a woman at a North Oakland Republican Club inquiring about how to defeat the "witches in our own party." "OK? You people have to go out there and support their opponents."

Maryland To Review Dr. David Fowler’s Work After Testimony In Derek Chauvin Trial – WCCO | CBS Minnesota

— Skeptical Scalpel (@Skepticscalpel) April 25, 2021


U.S. Says It’ll Send India Vaccine Materials, Boost Aid Finance

Earlier, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser said the U.S. will consider sending India stockpiled doses of AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine currently unapproved for use in the U.S.

“I think that’s going to be something that is up for active consideration,” Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” while cautioning that he didn’t “want to be speaking for policy right now.”

Indian colleagues have recommended to me these fundraisers to buy oxygen, food for those in need, & support for people isolating/quarantining:

— Prof. Gavin Yamey MD MPH (@GYamey) April 25, 2021