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: In break with Cheney and reality, GOP further anchors itself to Trump

With House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy backing the ousting of Rep. Liz Cheney from House GOP leadership because she acknowledges the reality that the election was not stolen, the Republican Party confirms again that it and the Donald Trump brand are one and the same. We begin today’s roundup with Allan Smith and Sahil Kapur at NBC News on the Republican Party’s choice to tether itself to Donald Trump and his delusions about the election:

The calculation is that the party will be better off in the midterm elections embracing Trump than running from him, even if it means further alienating the kind of suburban voters who handed Democrats victories in 2018 and 2020. [...]

Republicans plan to remove Cheney as chair of the House Republican Conference, the No. 3 position in House GOP leadership, in a move to demote the highest-ranking Republican who voted to impeach Trump early this year. She has vocally criticized Trump's "big lie" that the election last year was stolen.

Ayers warned that efforts to exile Cheney — the highest-ranking Republican woman in Washington and the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney — could further antagonize suburban voters, particularly college-educated women, who ditched the party because of their opposition to Trump.

Dana Milbank:

But while Cheney continues to speak the truth about Trump’s election fantasies and his role in the Capitol attack, McCarthy went to Florida soon after the insurrection to see a politically finished Trump and “resurrected him politically back to life.” 

“He basically made the decision when he went to Mar-a-Lago that he was not going to be a leader of the Republican Party,” Kinzinger told the press club. “… I don’t consider him to be speaking on behalf of the Republican Party anymore because he gave his voting card, gave his proxy card, to Donald Trump.” Kinzinger called the attempt to oust Cheney “ludicrous” and said that, after Jan. 6, “the person that should have their leadership challenged is Kevin McCarthy.”

And as Max Boot at The Washington Post points out, if you think Republicans in DC are out of touch with reality, the GOP at the state level is far worse:

Since this is a column, not an encyclopedia, I can only begin to scratch the surface of grass-roots Republican derangement and extremism. I can mention only in passing that Republicans in the Michigan House of Representatives recently heard testimonyon vaccine passports from Naomi Wolf, who has become notorious for spreading covid-19 lies. That the Michigan state Republican chairman referred to Democrats as “witches” and speculated about the assassination of pro-impeachment Republicans. That one of the leading GOP candidates for governor of Virginia called the mob that stormed the Capitol “patriots.” That GOP state legislators around the country have praised the constitutional provision that enslaved people would count as only three-fifths of a person in determining congressional representation. And, worst of all, that GOP-controlled state legislatures are passing legislation to restrict voting in order, ostensibly, to combat election fraud (which is nearly nonexistent and completely inconsequential).

Meanwhile, at The NationJohn Nichols takes a close look at Cheney’s soon-to-be replacement — Rep. Elise Stefanik, and points out she’s actually been less a loyal vote for Trump than the person she is going to replace:

Consider the FiveThirtyEight “Tracking Congress in the Age of Trump” tally of how often members of Congress voted with or against the former president. Cheney scored a striking 92.9 Trump loyalty rating. That was higher than Trump pitchmen such as Florida Republican Matt Gaetz (85 percent) and Ohio Republican Jim Jordan (88 percent). Cheney even rated above Alabama Republican Mo Brooks (88.6 percent), who actually appeared at the January 6 rally where the incitement of insurrection occurred.

What of Stefanik? She rated just 77.7 percent on the Trump loyalty scale.

On a final note, don’t miss Eugene Robinson’s analysis of the GOP leadership shakeup:

The greatest threat to our nation’s future is not covid-19 or the rise of China or even the existential challenge of climate change. It is the Republican Party’s attempt to seize and hold power by offering voters the seductive choice of rejecting inconvenient facts and basic logic.

For the American experiment and people to survive, much less prosper, this iteration of the GOP must fail.

The blind-loyalty-even-to-dishonest-insanity Republican litmus test that is about to cost Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) her leadership job is only the most acute manifestation of the party’s decline into utter irresponsibility. It’s bad enough that those who want to remain in good standing must embrace the “big lie”about purported fraud in the 2020 election. But the requirement doesn’t stop there. On issue after issue, Republicans are cynically adopting a kind of pre-Enlightenment insistence on the primacy of belief over evidence.

Posted in APR

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

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Vaccine hesitancy and how to reach the subgroups most hesitant


Religious Identities and the Race Against the Virus: Engaging Faith Communities on COVID-19 Vaccination

Faith-based approaches are influential among vaccine hesitant communities. More than one in four (26%) Americans who are hesitant to get a COVID-19 vaccine, and even 8% of those who are resistant to getting a vaccine, report that at least one of six faith-based approaches supporting vaccinations would make them more likely to get vaccinated...

These faith-based approaches include: A religious leader encouraging vaccine acceptance, a religious leader getting a vaccine, religious communities holding information forums, learning that a fellow religious community member received a vaccine, a nearby religious congregation serving as a vaccination site, and religious communities providing vaccine appointment assistance.

The Senate just unanimously confirmed Deanne Criswell to be FEMA Administrator. She's led NYC’s emergency management office for years and ​will be instrumental in helping this country respond to COVID and tackle the climate crisis. And she's the first woman to lead the agency!

— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) April 22, 2021

David Leonhardt/Upshot:

What Do You Do When the Kids Are Still Unvaccinated?

There will be more than one reasonable way to approach the risks of family activities.

What should those families do this summer and next fall, as they consider sending children to day care, seeing relatives, socializing with friends, eating in restaurants or traveling on airplanes?

The answers will not be easy. Families will make different decisions based on their own preferences. There will be more than one reasonable approach.

— Paul Musgrave (@profmusgrave) April 22, 2021

Zeynep Tufecki/Whitney R. Robinson, PhD, MSPH/Substack:

How One Epidemiologist Decided Whether to Send Her Children to Group Childcare

How to reason when information is incomplete, uncertain and emotionally-fraught

I’ve written on Twitter about my decision in March 2020 to keep my two young children (1 year old and 5 years old) in group childcare.  I feel lucky that I had the option.  But keeping them in daycare was a pretty out-of-step decision in my social circle at the time.  One day my toddler was the only child in his classroom. It was just him and his two teachers.  I’ve talked about my decision publicly over the past year, on Twitter and on my podcast, but I’m not trying to convince anyone else to make the same choices.  If I’d been in different circumstances, such as having older relatives living in my household or in a job where I couldn’t risk a two-week daycare quarantine, I might have made a different decision. I’ve talked about my decisions because I was talking about my research life publicly.  I couldn’t do that in good conscience without acknowledging the support I was getting through paid childcare.  So many families, especially mothers of young children, have dealt with huge levels of gaslighting and burnout over the past year.  I didn’t want to ignore the impossible trade-offs many families with young children faced because of the lack of a social safety net. I also wanted it to be clear what trade-offs I was making to reduce the risk for myself and the other members of the daycare community (e.g., no podding, no indoor activities with anyone outside our immediate family, purely outdoor meetups).

Because this was a tangible decision that I made early in the pandemic, when research was limited, I thought it was a good example for Zeynep’s meta-epistemiology series.  When almost everyone else was keeping their kids home, how did I decide to send mine to daycare?  In the spirit of Zeynep’s previous posts, I will answer that question using 3 principles.

Greta Thunberg looking disappointed in world leaders, a photo essay.

— Seth Masket (@smotus) April 22, 2021

NY Times:

Biden’s Intelligence Director Vows to Put Climate at ‘Center’ of Foreign Policy

A pair of recent intelligence reports have presented a grim picture of climate change. The annual worldwide threat assessment, which looks at short-term challenges, said extreme weather caused by climate change would increase the potential for surges in migration and cause instability around the globe.

The changes will “exacerbate political instability and humanitarian crises,” the annual threat report said.

#India just reported almost 315k #COVID19 cases marking the highest single-day increase anywhere in the world. The situation's so dire hospitals are on the verge of collapse running out of beds, oxygen & meds. I speak w/ @BDUTT who says deaths are likely higher than reported

— Rosemary Church (@rosemaryCNN) April 22, 2021

Sarah Longwell/Bulwark:

Did We Forget Our Democracy Is Still Under Threat?

Complacency is an inherent weakness of democracy.

Old joke: An old fish and a young fish pass each other. The old fish says, “Fine water today, isn’t it?” The young fish replies, “What’s water?”

This, I have learned in hundreds of hours of focus groups, is how many Americans think about democracy—or more accurately, don’t think about it. Democracy is the system we have, and have inherited, but most of our experiences with any of the alternatives are so remote that we view democracy as the default state. As something that just is.

That isn’t to say that Americans don’t think about politics. Oh, do we. Probably more than is helpful. We have, as a people, some pretty out-there opinions and preferences and expectations about politics.

Wow, significant and alarming gap here: Just half of moms with children at home say they have been or plan to get vaccinated; that's 17 points lower than women without kids at home, and 18 points lower than dads with kids at home.

— Ruth Graham (@publicroad) April 22, 2021


US drop in vaccine demand has some places turning down doses

Barbara Gennaro, a stay-at-home mother of two small children in Yazoo City, Mississippi, said everybody in her homeschooling community is against getting the vaccine. Gennaro said she generally avoids vaccinations for her family in general, and the coronavirus vaccine is no different.

“All of the strong Christians that I associate with are against it,” she said. “Fear is what drives people to get the vaccine — plain and simple. The stronger someone’s trust is in the Lord, the least likely they are to want the vaccine or feel that it’s necessary.”

Another challenge for vaccinations in a rural state like Mississippi is that in many cases, doses are being shipped in large packages with one vial containing at least 10 doses.

Biden is the first Democratic president since Jimmy Carter who didn’t put Larry Summers in charge of big economic policy decisions. A consequential move: If he’s running the show there’s probably no $1.9 trillion stimulus law and no $2.25 trillion infrastructure & jobs plan.

— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) April 22, 2021

Robert Draper/NY Times magazine:

Liz Cheney vs. MAGA

The Wyoming congresswoman challenged Republicans to turn away from Trump after Jan. 6. Instead, they turned on her.

Others argued that her announcement a day before the impeachment vote had given the Democrats a talking point to use against the rest of the Republican conference. (“Good for her for honoring her oath of office,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi pointedly remarked when told of Cheney’s intentions.) Likening the situation to a football game, Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania lamented, “You look up into the stands and see your girlfriend on the opposition’s side — that’s one hell of a tough thing to swallow.”

“She’s not your girlfriend!” a female colleague yelled out. Kelly’s remark was immediately disseminated among Republican women in professional Washington, according to Barbara Comstock, who served as a Republican congresswoman from Virginia until 2019. “We emailed that around, just horrified, commenting in real time,” she told me.

President Biden's climate summit is highlighting a White House approach that blends diplomacy, executive power, salesmanship and a few threats too. Here are a few pillars of the emerging Biden climate doctrine.

— Axios (@axios) April 23, 2021

William Saletan/Slate:

Republicans Still Sympathize With the Insurrection

They identify with the people who stormed the Capitol.

These sentiments don’t seem to have waned. Since January, the share of Republicans who insist that President Joe Biden did not “legitimately win the election,” nearly 80 percent of the GOP, has hardly budged. Nearly two-thirds of Republicans say Trump won the election, and nearly 30 percent say they’ll “never accept” Biden as president. Two weeks ago, by a two-to-one ratio, Republicans reaffirmed their view that the election was “stolen” from Trump. Last week, 70 percent said there had been enough fraud to change the election’s outcome.

This faith in the myth of the stolen election is driving an enduring sense of affinity with the Capitol invaders. In a Harvard-Harris poll taken in late February, two-thirds of Republicans refused to call the clash an “armed insurrection,” insisting it was just a “protest” that had somehow turned violent. In March, when a Monmouth survey asked about the “anger over the presidential election” that had “led to” the attack, 40 percent of Republicans said the anger was at least partially justified. Two weeks ago, in an Ipsos poll, most Republicans said that the people who “gathered at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6” were largely “peaceful, law-abiding Americans.”

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Vaccine fallout and withdrawal effects


Why America’s white evangelicals shy away from covid jabs

And what can be done to change their minds

Why the stubborn hesitancy? One reason may be that evangelicals overwhelmingly denounce abortion, and some are concerned about the jab’s connection with the practice. The vaccines currently distributed in America were developed and tested using cell lines from aborted fetal tissue. This has not stopped the Vatican from endorsing their use. But some evangelicals may believe the (false) idea that the vaccines use recently aborted fetuses or require continual abortions.

Another concern relates to the Bible. According to some interpretations, the Book of Revelation describes the end of days: a beast will force his mark on people. Some worry that the vaccine is this mark.

Evangelicals are more likely than non-evangelicals to worry about side effects from covid-19 and childhood vaccines, according to the Understanding America Study, a survey from the University of Southern California. They are also more likely to believe, wrongly, that covid-19 vaccines are not effective in preventing infection. And evangelicals tend to rely on media sources that feed their fears.

OK, this is good news at least. Perceptions of Moderna and Pfizer don't seem to have been affected much.

— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) April 15, 2021


A year into the pandemic, it’s even more clear that it’s safer to be outside

What a difference a year makes. The beaches were even busier this year, but officials say there were no talks of closure. There was also far less outcry.

And with good reason, according to many scientists and public health experts, who say that the outdoor spaces now warming under spring sun should be viewed as havens in the battle against a stubborn virus and restriction-induced fatigue. For more than a year, the vast majority of documented coronavirus clusters have been linked to indoor or indoor-outdoor settings — households, meatpacking plants, nursing homes and restaurants. Near-absent are examples of transmission at beaches and other open spaces where breezes disperse airborne particles, distancing is easier, and humidity and sunlight render the coronavirus less viable.

A collusion throwback: It has long been suspected but never explicitly stated by the US Kilimnik passed internal Trump campaign data from Manafort to Russian intelligence services. The announcement Thursday establishes a simple and direct channel

— Jeremy Herb (@jeremyherb) April 15, 2021

Lisa Abramowicz/Bloomberg:

$877 Billion in Checks Won’t Automatically Fuel Inflation

Helicopter money succeeded in plugging a gap in lost business from the pandemic, but it’s harder to see how it alone could lead to a sustained period of surging prices.

What happens months down the line is less clear, and the signal from bond markets is that the cash pile isn’t enough to unleash animal spirits over the long term. Treasury yields dipped Thursday after what was, for the most part, an exceptional retail sales report. This underscores how unique this moment is not only in the scope of savings in bank accounts but also the continuing health crisis and its effect on both the labor market and supply chains.

🚨 New polling from @NavigatorSurvey Support for Biden's American Jobs Plan - Support: 51% - Oppose: 19% Support for Biden's American Jos Plan once they hear about what's in it - Support: 70% (63% w/ independents, 48% w/ GOP) - Oppose: 19% (13% w/ independents, 38% w/ GOP)

— Jesse Ferguson (@JesseFFerguson) April 15, 2021

Jason Sattler/USA Today:

On Afghanistan, Biden decides a 20-year war is long enough and upsets all the right people

We can always go back in if we must, but only after the debate our leaders long avoided as a tiny sliver of America was bleeding out all the sacrifices.

This announcement demonstrates what have proven to be the two most promising aspects of Biden’s young presidency: the ability to learn from past mistakes, his own and others, and a willingness to trigger the right people.

And right now, all the right people are upset.

John Bolton, the United Nations ambassador under President George W. Bush and national security adviser under President Donald Trump, called the decision “reckless” and predicted “terrorists would enjoy a resurgence threatening America." Bolton is a warmonger so fond of regime changes that he even somewhat supported Trump’s impeachment. But his sentiment represents the consensus of much of the foreign policy establishment, the “bipartisan” backlash machine known as “the blob.”

New NPR/PBS/Marist poll out today finds 56% support, 34% oppose President Biden's $2.3 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan.

— Ryan Struyk (@ryanstruyk) April 15, 2021

Susan B Glasser/New Yorker:

Biden Finally Got to Say No to the Generals

Critics be damned, the President is ending the Forever War waged by Bush, Obama, and Trump in Afghanistan.
In the end, though, Biden’s call was not surprising. Last November, I asked Kori Schake, a veteran of Bush’s Pentagon and National Security Council, what to make of Trump’s post-election push to withdraw the troops before the end of his term, a desire that seemed to influence his decision to fire his Defense Secretary, Mark Esper. (Trump, in fact, seemed to have fired Esper mostly out of pique, having harbored a months-long grudge against his Defense Secretary for apologizing that he took part in Trump’s controversial Lafayette Square photo op, during last year’s Black Lives Matter protests.) Wasn’t it just another problem for Biden to deal with, I asked? “Looks to me like a gift,” Schake replied, “though that was clearly not Trump’s intention.” By extending Trump’s deadline from May 1st to the politically charged date of September 11th, Biden added months to Trump’s deadline and enabled himself, as Schake told me, on Wednesday, to “strike the pose of looking more cautious” than Trump while still leaving responsibility for the deal on Trump’s ledger, should things go sour. That could be a gift, indeed, and Biden took pains to emphasize in his speech that the deal was one he “inherited.”

Fixed it for you, @TheHill

— Carl T. Bergstrom (@CT_Bergstrom) April 15, 2021

Issac Bailey/CNN:

Why should a cop's blue fear matter more than my Black life?

I'm a Black man who has never personally had a nasty run-in with the police. I should have no trouble with them. But I fear them, and I know they fear me.


While I understand a cop's fear, it's not the same as wondering if your kid might be killed after a cop decides to pull him over or because he was selling loose cigarettes on a street corner. Random violence is the scariest crime because there's nothing you can do to avoid it, because you can't anticipate it. We understand that when a young man shoots up a school or mall or movie theater. That's what police violence has done to me. It's why even though I've never been harmed by police, I can't help but wonder if that's gonna change by tomorrow.

For the first time, the government has drawn a line directly from Trump's 2016 campaign to Russian intelligence.

— Philip Bump (@pbump) April 15, 2021

Greg Sargent/WaPo:

A coronavirus-infected Republican’s anger at Trump signals turbulence ahead

Jason Watts, a local Republican official in Michigan, committed the cardinal sin: He dared to criticize Donald Trump. When he went to defend himself against the inevitable blowback at a meeting with the former president’s loyalists, very few were wearing masks.

Then Watts tested positive for the coronavirus.

In so many ways, this story captures our times. But not in a told-you-so kind of manner. Instead, it points to how difficult it may prove to move past the wounds that Trump has inflicted on this nation, and how the eager complicity of many Republicans continues to make them all the worse.

Watts recounted his travails to MLive and the Chicago Tribune, and the story is just starting to go national.

The trouble for Watts, a local GOP committee treasurer, started when he told the New York Times that he had never voted for Trump. Watts lamented the GOP’s lockstep loyalty to Trump, because “this undertone of hatred, this fealty at all costs, it’s going to damage us.”

Quinnipiac poll: 89-8% support requiring background checks for all gun buyers 74-21% support a 'red flag' law 52-43% support a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons 51-44% support a nationwide ban on the sale of high-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 bullets

— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) April 15, 2021

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Insurrection and politics are a flammable mix

Leigh Ann Caldwell/NBC:

House Democrats draw the line: No bipartisan cooperation with Republicans who questioned the election

After the Jan. 6 riot, some Democrats say they simply can't work with anyone who voted against certifying the election.
Democratic lawmakers are each drawing their own lines, and some are finding that it means there are colleagues whom they once worked with to craft bipartisan legislation but with whom they now are unable, or unwilling, to collaborate.

A new one day vaccine record was hit on Saturday — more than 4.5 million Americans reported to have received a dose.

— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 14, 2021

Tim Miller/Bulwark:

Leadership Lessons From A Scandal-Ridden Governor

Dems show how the GOP should have treated Trump. Plus: Q-A-Mom?

A popular leader massively botches a crisis and covers up his mistakes. He is credibly accused by multiple women of inappropriate behavior. And yet the voters stick with him.

Sound familiar?

Well here is where the story changes a bit.

The party leaders rebuff their voters. They declare that no matter the level of popular support, someone who has committed such unacceptable acts has lost the ability to govern and should be removed from office.

What a concept!

I can understand if this series of events might be disorienting. After-all this is what a properly functioning democratic republic—one with properly functioning political parties—looks like. The GOP should take note.

This story is so well-written and reported. A real must-read. One of the best pieces I have read in a while. But it is not fun to read because of all the terrible, mean behavior it details from Cuomo and his team.

— Perry Bacon Jr. (@perrybaconjr) March 13, 2021

Rebecca Traister/New York:

Andrew Cuomo’s governorship has been defined by cruelty that disguised chronic mismanagement. Why was that celebrated for so long?

Four years later, and one year after he began his star turn as “America’s Governor,” steering his state through COVID via daily, reassuringly matter-of-fact press briefings, Andrew Cuomo’s third term as governor of New York is suddenly deeply imperiled. In January, State Attorney General Letitia James released a report showing that his administration had underreported COVID deaths in nursing homes by as much as 50 percent. In February, liberal State Assembly member Ron Kim, who had criticized the governor in the wake of that report, spoke publicly about how Cuomo called him at home and threatened his career. Then the floodgates opened: His adversary Mayor Bill de Blasio called the bullying “classic Andrew Cuomo”; state legislators Alessandra Biaggi and Yuh-Line Niou began openly suggesting that the governor’s hard-knuckled approach to politics is simply abusive. And since last month, when Cuomo’s former aide and candidate for Manhattan borough president, Lindsey Boylan, published an article on Medium accusing him of sexually harassing and kissing her against her will, five more women have come forward with tales of harassment, objectification, and inappropriate touching. As of publication, dozens of Democratic members of the State Assembly and Senate, and 11 Democratic members of Congress, have called for his resignation.

This was a tough read throughout, including this part about how Cuomo's behavior was an open secret among the press corps:

— A.D. Quig (@ad_quig) March 12, 2021

Joyce White Vance/WaPo:

Civil suits may pry out the information we need to hold Trump accountable

The former president faces at least 10 lawsuits, and procedural rules he can’t dodge

Civil cases differ from criminal cases in obvious ways: They seek money damages; no one goes to prison; and plaintiffs establish their claims by a preponderance of the evidence, not “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” But civil cases differ in another way, too. They have extensive pretrial discovery. Nothing in a criminal case — or impeachment, for that matter — compares to civil discovery, the process of scooping up evidence from depositions of parties and witnesses, requests for documents, and written questions answered under oath. Discovery is more regimented in criminal cases; it primarily involves the prosecution sharing with the defense the evidence it will use at trial, as well as exculpatory evidence. Civil discovery, in short, can lead to the mother lode.

Trump is a defendant in at least 10 civil cases, including his niece’s. A reckoning awaits — one that will require his personal participation in instances where he has no Fifth Amendment privilege to assert, and it is likely to be speedier and more direct than any criminal reckoning.

So now it's a bipartisan bill, despite not a single Republican vote for it. And now we take credit for something we did everything we can to kill the bill. There is no shame no longer even does it.

— Joe Lockhart (@joelockhart) March 14, 2021

Margaret Sullivan/WaPo:

Online harassment of female journalists is real, and it’s increasingly hard to endure

Julia Carrie Wong remembers a time, years ago, when she felt that being a part of digital culture was fun.

“I used to really enjoy online spaces, having a personality and a voice,” recalled the 37-year-old technology reporter for the Guardian.

That changed radically several years ago after she wrote on Twitter in support of a journalist who had been targeted by a white-nationalist site.

The trolling began. Wong had once described herself, in a first-person story, as half-Chinese American and half-Jewish, so her online attackers blasted vicious slurs against both parts of her heritage. They circulated photos doctored to show horns on her head. They talked about where she lived.

It has only gotten worse since then. In 2019, Wong wrote a story about the man accused of killing 23 people at an El Paso Walmart after allegedly penning a missive posted to 8chan, an anonymous discussion board. Swarms of toxic online denizens of that site and others came after her, bombarding her with death and rape threats.

Reason 1) Assertive presidential leadership can polarize something that otherwise would be broadly unifying. IE the reason we had a "Marshall Plan" (named after then SecState) rather than a "Truman Plan" was that President Truman's name excited strong partisan feelings 2/x

— David Frum (@davidfrum) March 14, 2021

Salone Dattani/New Statesman:

Where will the next pandemic come from and how can we prevent it?

From factory farming to climate change, the connections between humanity and nature carry increasing risk.

Over a hundred thousand people have now died of Covid-19 in the UK alone; people around the world have been separated from their family and friends, and entire economies have come to a standstill. All of which raises an important question: how can the world prevent another pandemic?

The obvious place to start is at the beginning – before a pathogen has been seeded around the world and serious damage has been caused. If we can predict where the next pandemic will come from, perhaps we can stop it at its source.

Though “exhausted” from a year-long pandemic, confidence about containing the outbreak hits new highs as more vaccines roll out, and Americans are widely optimistic about the coming months.

— Anthony Salvanto (@SalvantoCBS) March 14, 2021

John Harwood/CNN:

Biden's toughest test on economic inequality will be reinvigorating the labor movement

For the Democratic left, President Joe Biden's mammoth victory on Covid relief has inspired new hope of rebalancing America's increasingly unequal economy.

Nothing will test that hope more severely than Biden's goal of reinvigorating the labor movement as a way to do it.
His aspiration to be "the most pro-union president you've ever seen" stems from his upbringing in post-World War II Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he witnessed the early stage of Rust Belt decline. Labor movement experts see early evidence of commitment in a recent video he recorded affirming the right to organize as Amazon workers in Alabama vote on whether to form a union.
"Arguably the most pro-union public statement by a the entirety of American history," tweeted Erik Loomis, a labor historian at the University of Rhode Island.

The Recent Lung Cancer Screening Guidelines + their Impact on Women, Race & Addiction During COVID-19. My latest in @forbes Thank you Drs. Divya Bappanad, Peter Friedman, @UnhealthyAlcDrg @jabarocas @The_BMC @BUSPH @peacehealth

— Dr. Lipi #PeoplesVaccine Roy (@lipiroy) March 10, 2021

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: The CPAC crazies are, in fact, the Republican base

Tim Miller/Bulwark:

CPAC Was the Real Republican Party All Along

It turns out that the conservative Star Wars bar was actually representative of the Republican base.

CPAC didn’t misrepresent the conservative base because the real Republican voters out there were more normal and serious suit-and-tie types. It misrepresented the Republican voters in the other direction: CPAC attendees were more policy oriented than your median Republican voter. But as a matter of weirdness and tribal antipathy, they were actually a pretty good reflection of the right, broadly speaking.

By nature of being in or around Washington and drawing people who were passionate about policy—sometimes insane policies, but policies nonetheless—CPAC over-indexed away from the GOP’s core demo: the middle- and working-class exurban Boomer dittoheads who were the beating heart of the party all along.

And it turns out that those voters didn’t give a hoot about John Barasso’s Obamacare Replacement Plan or Ludwig Von Mises or the Fourth Great Awakening.

They just wanted their anti-elite grievances validated in the most entertaining (and/or bullying) way possible.

The fact that we are about to be hit with a tidal wave of voter suppression legislation by Republican legislatures throughout the country is the most under reported story right now. The media is unequipped to cover this in clear moral terms and instead prefers to both sides it.

— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) February 25, 2021

Elizabeth Dye/Above the Law:

After SCOTUS Green Light, Mazars Finally Hands Over Trump’s Bigly Amazing Tax Returns He probably fought so hard to keep them hidden out of, ummm, modesty.

And now … we wait. Maybe there will be evidence of rampant criminality in those returns. Or maybe everything is by the book and Trump just tried to hide them because he’s given away so much money to charity that he didn’t want to embarrass Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg for their paltry donations. (Yeah, probably not.)

But in the meantime, as (Cyrus) Vance pointed out in his response to Trump’s certiorari motion, the New York Times has already seen the returns and published a whole series of articles about them. So whatever happens with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, we already know that Trump is about to face a day of reckoning with the Joint Committee on Taxation, the bipartisan congressional panel tasked with reviewing all IRS refunds to individuals which exceed $2 million.

Yes, straw poll, but Don Jr at 8 at a hardcore pro-Trump gathering is the most interesting result

— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) February 28, 2021

Zeynep Tufekci/Atlantic:

5 Pandemic Mistakes We Keep Repeating

We can learn from our failures.

This pessimism is sapping people of energy to get through the winter, and the rest of this pandemic. Anti-vaccination groups and those opposing the current public-health measures have been vigorously amplifying the pessimistic messages—especially the idea that getting vaccinated doesn’t mean being able to do more—telling their audiences that there is no point in compliance, or in eventual vaccination, because it will not lead to any positive changes. They are using the moment and the messaging to deepen mistrust of public-health authorities, accusing them of moving the goalposts and implying that we’re being conned. Either the vaccines aren’t as good as claimed, they suggest, or the real goal of pandemic-safety measures is to control the public, not the virus.

Five key fallacies and pitfalls have affected public-health messaging, as well as media coverage, and have played an outsize role in derailing an effective pandemic response. These problems were deepened by the ways that we—the public—developed to cope with a dreadful situation under great uncertainty. And now, even as vaccines offer brilliant hope, and even though, at least in the United States, we no longer have to deal with the problem of a misinformer in chief, some officials and media outlets are repeating many of the same mistakes in handling the vaccine rollout.

Just think where we'd be right now if —We didn't have very successful vaccines —That it took 1 year instead of an average 8 yrs —That #SARSCoV2's spike protein proved to be a great target, unlike 7 vaccine programs that have thus far failed ★ graph by @MaxCRoser @OurWorldInData

— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) February 27, 2021


Most House Republicans voted not to certify some election results. Democrats are still seething.

Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.), who won a GOP-held seat in 2018, said he still counts some Republicans from that class as friends and “potential partners” in legislation. But he drew a sharp contrast with the new Republicans.

“I’ll say this about the 2018 Republican freshman class: None of them tried to kill me or overthrow the United States government. So the only thing I could possibly have against them is an occasional disagreement,” Malinowski said.

Officials from El Paso, Texas, said they learned their lesson after a similar storm almost exactly 10 years ago that knocked out power and water in the city.

— ABC News (@ABC) February 27, 2021


What’s in the House’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan

The House on Saturday passed the American Rescue Plan, marking a crucial step towards the White House’s first major piece of legislation.

Here’s what is in the House version. These breakdowns and estimates were compiled from Congressional summaries and reports, as well as the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

32% of CPAC attendees who participated in the straw poll do not want him to run for president again.

— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) February 28, 2021

LA Times:

Why your place in the COVID-19 vaccine line depends on where you live

When the first doses of COVID-19 vaccines were rolled out in the United States, the choice of who should receive them was fairly obvious — and widely accepted.

They would go to healthcare workers, who are highly exposed to the coronavirus and keep the medical system functioning, and people living in nursing homes, who have made up a third of all COVID-19 deaths nationwide.

Since then, the choices have gotten tougher: Teachers, farmworkers, senior citizens and dozens of other groups have made compelling arguments for why they should go next. For leaders making those decisions, it is effectively a zero-sum game: giving priority to some means fewer doses for others.

Though the nation’s vaccine availability will probably improve substantially in the coming months, officials at this moment are wading through what could be the most contentious phase of the rollout — a collision of relentless demand and constrained supply.

governors who pushed back on covid restrictions > legislators who tried to overturn results of an election

— Alex Roarty (@Alex_Roarty) February 28, 2021

David Mastio and Jill Lawrence/USA Today:

Is Donald Trump a declining parody or a terrifying threat?

David: Trump’s CPAC comeback speech revealed a sad little man, angry at local courts and politicians and disappointed in the federal judges he seated, but who “didn’t have the guts or the courage” to bow to him. Trump tried to carry on as if he hadn’t been impeached after the Capitol was ransacked by a mob, but even the lies seemed faintly ridiculous. “We will win. We’ve been doing a lot of winning,” was the wacko fib he launched his speech with, as if he hadn’t cost Republicans control of the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House. Trump Republicans know that truth.

Much of @HawleyMO CPAC speech self-advertised his suffering for the pro-Trump cause. Big mistake. For the pro-Trump movement, victimhood is not an end in itself. For them, their victimhood is a justification for abusing others. They don't want martyrs. They want righteous bullies

— David Frum (@davidfrum) February 27, 2021