Dec 3, 2021

Spreading Covid is now GOP's top priority

Saboteurs

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Eric Boehlert
Fearless media commentary
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Waging war on the country’s well-being, the GOP, fueled by the right-wing media, has set its sights on Covid nihilism. And they’re doing it in the name of partisan warfare.

Republican members in the House and Senate were scheming to shut down the federal government to ensure that workers won’t have to comply with vaccination mandates put in place to help slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus. The plot came as health officials warn that the new Omicron Covid-19 variant could be highly be contagious and dangerous to Americans.

At least four red states — Florida, Iowa, Kansas and Tennessee — have begun extending unemployment benefits to workers who were fired or who quit over their employers’ requirement that everyone get vaccinated. (Typically, only workers are who laid off through no fault of their own are eligible for benefits.) It’s a way for the GOP to tighten its bond with anti-vaxxer voters and to show solidarity with those who are working hard to perpetuate the pandemic.

TV doctor Mehmet Oz made headlines this week when he declared his candidacy for next year’s Pennsylvania Senate race. (Oz has not lived in the Keystone State since the 1980’s.) He’s likely most infamous for his Fox News appearance at the outset of the pandemic when he urged schools be reopened immediately, even if that meant a mortality rate of 2 to 3 percent among students, or 3 million deaths nationwide. He also promoted useless hydroxychloroquine to fight the coronavirus.

All of this dangerous behavior and rhetoric comes while Fox News churns out nonstop lies about a free, safe, and effective vaccine designed to save lives. Just this week on Fox, the nation’s Covid point person, Dr. Anthony Fauci, was compared to fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and deranged Nazi doctor Josef Mengele.

Here’s what’s painfully obvious, even if the political press doesn’t want to say so: Republicans aren’t merely anti-mask or anti-vaccine. They’re pro-Covid. Period. Republican politicians and commentators, who are fully vaccinated themselves, want the virus to spread and they want to extend the deadly pandemic so it inflicts political damage on Democrats next year. And yes, even if that means anti-science Republicans helping to spread the virus among their own voters, which ought to seem inconceivable, but is not. “Red America Has Seen the Highest Rates of Cases and Deaths, and the Lowest Rate of Vaccinations,” read a recent Washington Post headline.

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Never in our nation’s history has a mainstream political party responded to a public health crisis by doing whatever it takes to keep the crisis alive, completely unconcerned about the rising death toll.

There’s a reason every single Republican member of the House and Senate voted against the historic, $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill earlier this year —they hated that it represented a popular win for President Joe Biden.

Despite the mounting evidence of the party’s nihilistic ways, the press remains too timid to call Republicans “pro-Covid,” just like they wouldn’t call Trump a “liar.” Millions of conservative Americans are being brainwashed about the pandemic, and thousands are killing themselves in the process. Yet the media downplay the huge story, framing it simply as “vaccine hesitancy.”

Republicans plan on shamelessly exploiting the Omicron variant. And the only way to exploit a Covid variant is to help spread it. This type of cynical and unpatriotic strategy isn’t new for Republicans — they spent eight years blocking President Barack Obama’s agenda and then blaming him for not getting his agenda passed.

Note that when Republicans ran the federal government and America was under siege from Covid, Trump and his team again aided the virus’ spread. Back then, it was done out of a panicked sense of denial, fearful of what the pandemic would mean to Trump’s re-election.

Trump all but issued  a stand-down order for the virus invasion, then became the world’s most influential fountain of Covid misinformation, using his daily White House briefings to spread rampant virus lies. "When it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away," he once predicted.  Yet we never saw a parade of "Trump Lies about Pandemic" headlines, as the press remained intimidated by the GOP madman.

“The previous administration* gagged its own scientists, buried its own reports, bullied its own agencies, soft-pedaled its own data, and created its own reality to sell to the country, all at a crucial time when the pandemic could have been fought seriously and at least partly arrested,” notes Esquire’s Charles Pierce.

Just this week we learned that Trump likely showed up at the first presidential debate against Biden contagious with Covid, after Trump tested positive for the virus days earlier and refused to tell anyone.  

The transformation from bumbling Covid enablers under Trump, to proud Covid supporters today happened when the GOP started shifting gears this spring and summer. At the time, the good news regarding America’s fight against Covid was cascading in, as cases and deaths plummeted in the U.S. The developments led Biden to announce, appropriately at the time, that the U.S stood poised to put the deadly pandemic in the past and fully reemerge to a normal way of life.

Then the Delta variant stormed our shores, sending cases upwards, creating renewed debates about mask-wearing and vaccine mandates. Sensing a political opening, the GOP made a decision to become the party that opposed vaccines, and to become pro-Covid — to do everything possible to extend the pandemic and block Biden’s efforts to save lives and restart the economy.

In other words, the GOP eagerly adopted its role as the fifth column within the United States, working unapologetically to damage the country’s health from within.

That’s the ugly truth that the press ought to be telling.

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⚖️ GOOD STUFF:

Why does the erosion of democracy continue despite the fact Democrats were victorious in 2020? The Washington Post’s Perry Bacon tackles that topic in, “We May Have Already Missed Our Last, Best Chance to Bolster American Democracy.” The short answer is that the GOP just gets more radical:

The Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters may have embarrassed some Republicans, but it didn’t shift their political calculus. In fact, Republicans have gotten more radical since, having passed laws making it harder to vote while falsely arguing that Biden didn’t win the election fairly. They have tried to stop an investigation of the Jan 6 insurrection, defended GOP lawmakers who threaten colleagues and banned books that focus on racism. The Republican-appointed justices on the Supreme Court, who often take actions that support the party’s goals, also haven’t changed direction, issuing an opinion limiting the Voting Rights Act that all but invites GOP officials to enact more restrictions.

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🎸 FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK

Elvis Costello & The Imposters, “Magnificent Hurt”

Talk about time travel, this pounding new track from Costello’s upcoming 2022 album transports you straight back to the singer’s New Wave glory days with the Imposters, circa late 1970’s and 1980s.

Costello signature, urgent singing, the driving organ groove, and the glorious whack-whack back beat all reach back and capture some welcome magic.

I took a little walk, I took another stimulant
I shed a single tear for my predicament
Don't act surprised or insolent
It's the way you make me feel, magnificent hurt

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