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Tag: anthony fauci

Republican Candidates Vilifying Fauci To Excite Their Base Voters

In a Republican Party dependent on ginning up its base's rage, the villain of choice has become President Joe Biden’s top medical adviser on the pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who now often supplants GOP archenemy and Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

As the New York Times reports, "Fire Fauci" became the inaugural ad for Jane Timken last fall as she launched her bid to win Ohio's open Senate seat. Wackadoodle celebrity doc Mehmet Oz, who's running for Pennsylvania's open Senate seat, doesn't want to debate his opponents—he wants to debate Fauci. And Wisconsin Democrat-turned-Republican Kevin Nicholson, who's running for governor, said Fauci "should be fired and referred to prosecutors.”

In Fauci, many Republicans see an amalgam of favorite conservative resentments.

“Populism is essentially anti: anti-establishment, anti-expertise, anti-intellectual and anti-media,” GOP strategist Whit Ayres told the Times. Fauci, he added, “is an establishment expert intellectual who is in the media.”

But while demonizing Fauci could whip up the GOP base, the strategy could just as easily haunt Republicans in the general election, as Ayres noted.

However, another GOP strategist, John Feehery, argued that anger at Fauci over lockdowns was an issue that could cross party lines with voters desperate to move on from the pandemic.

But it wouldn't be the first time Republicans fixated on a base strategy that saddles them in the general election. One big question is whether the pandemic will still have the resonance it does today.

The strong and steady U.S. recovery is starting to suggest that the nation's economy has moved beyond the reaches of the highly unpredictable pandemic. Some Democratic officials are also ending pandemic restrictions that had been in place for months on end. Democratic governors in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Delaware have all laid out timelines for ending statewide mask mandates in schools and elsewhere.

So while Republicans fixate on Fauci and the pandemic, Democrats are working to move the nation beyond its clutches.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

#EndorseThis: Jimmy Kimmel Is Fed Up With Scumbags Attacking Dr. Fauci

The amount of disinformation and misinformation being unloaded on the daily by Fox News and Right-Wing outlets on Covid-19 and vaccines could fill the Grand Canyon. In fact, the smears on Dr. Anthony Fauci by Fox News and the anti-Science far-right has been so egregious that they have resulted in death threats to Dr.Fauci and his family. While nobody on the left has declared Fauci the Holy Saint of Vaccines and Public Health, it hasn't stopped rabidly right-wing zealots from tearing him apart, utterly failing to understand that science changes and evolves--even if they don't.

Well, Late NIght Comedy Host Jimmy Kimmel has had it with the likes of Republican Sens Paul and Cruz, Fox News, and every other right-wing troll looking to make noise with incessant attacks on Fauci. Moreover, how Fox News has been pushing that the real enemy isn’t the virus but rather Dr. Fauci.

Watch Jimmy Kimmel Is Fed Up With Scumbags Attacking Dr. Fauci

March Reveals Anti-Vax Campaign Is Driven By Far-Right Extremists

Back when it was first gaining traction in the 1990s, the anti-vaccination movement was largely considered a far-left thing, attracting believers ranging from barter-fair hippies to New Age gurus and their followers to “holistic medicine” practitioners. And it largely remained that way … until 2020 and the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As this Sunday’s “Defeat the Mandates” march in Washington, D.C., however, showed us, there’s no longer anything even remotely left-wing about the movement. Populated with Proud Boys and “Patriot” militiamen, QAnoners and other Alex Jones-style conspiracists who blithely indulge in Holocaust relativism and other barely disguised antisemitism, and ex-hippies who now spout right-wing propaganda—many of them, including speakers, encouraging and threatening violence—the crowd at the National Mall manifested the reality that “anti-vaxxers” now constitute a full-fledged far-right movement, and a potentially violent one at that.

The most prominent of these extremists was former progressive icon Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has morphed over the past decade and longer, due to his obsession with the anti-vaccination cause, into a raving far-right conspiracy theorist. On Sunday, he was one of many who compared anti-pandemic measures such as masking and vaccine mandates to the Holocaust.

"Even in Hitler Germany (sic), you could, you could cross the Alps into Switzerland. You could hide in an attic, like Anne Frank did," Kennedy said. "I visited, in 1962, East Germany with my father and met people who had climbed the wall and escaped, so it was possible. Many died, true, but it was possible."Many of the rally attendees wore yellow replicas of the Star of David badges that were forced upon Jewish victims of the Holocaust, and many of them carried signs referencing both that horrific episode of history and the German Nazi regime that inflicted it. So did other speakers, such as Del Bigtree, CEO of the anti-vaccination group Informed Consent Action Network, who added a threatening tone directed at journalists.

"Unlike the Nuremberg Trials that only tried those doctors that destroyed the lives of those human beings, we're going to come after the press,” Bigtree told the crowd.

Violence was also an undercurrent in the audience, some of whom carried signs suggesting a lethal response: “Shoot those who try to kidnap and vaccinate your child.” Another agreed with Bigtree, calling for “Nuremberg Trials 2.0.”

The inherent antisemitism of the anti-vaxxers’ conspiracism was also on full display: A large bus pulled up to the protest area blaring music with lyrics pronouncing “It’s God Over Government,” festooned on its side with mock “Wanted” posters featuring the anti-vaxxers bogeymen, notably Dr. Anthony Fauci, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and attorney Jacob Rothschild—the latter of whom has no known connection to the vaccine or mandates whatsoever, but whose last name conjures up Hitler’s antisemitic conspiracy theories that identified the family as one of the primary components of the Jewish cabal that Nazis believed secretly controlled the world.

The audience was a veritable showcase of the wide bandwidth of a far-right extremism. White nationalists from Nick Fuentes’ “Groyper army” (who have begun attaching themselves to anti-vaxx rallies as a way to recruit new followers) brought their “America First” banners. Proud Boys, who similarly have become a presence at COVID-denialism events, were also scattered throughout the crowd.

As Zachary Petrizzo of The Daily Beast reported, there were also lots of people out making money from the high percentage of hyper-gullible marks in the crowd:

Along the march route, attendees were also enticed to buy Trump paraphernalia, given religious books, and encouraged to take a free nasal spray that promises to cure anyone of the coronavirus if they are infected. Xlear CEO Nathan Jones, whose company sells the spray and has been sued by the FTC, was in attendance and baselessly claimed to The Daily Beast that his nasal solution “works” on COVID-19, adding that “just using saltwater [will] stop the spread of COVID-19 in the lungs.”

The coalescence of the anti-vaccination movement with other far-right conspiracist movements—particularly the authoritarian QAnon cult—has been an ongoing phenomenon since COVID-19 broke out in 2020, and the radicalization of its believers has been gathering steam increasingly since. Likewise, the inherently violent nature of many of these movements has resulted in an increasing drumbeat of real-world violence directed at health care workers, local authorities, and anyone who supports the pandemic measures.

Along the way, it has spread globally. In Europe this weekend, similar anti-mandate demonstrations brought together the COVID conspiracists with neo-Nazis, white “identitarians,” and a broad array of other far-right extremists.

Some European anti-vaxxers have attempted to shut down vaccination sites by claiming they have a “crime number” for the site, meaning they’re supposedly under police investigation (they’re not). Some of them, claiming to be “common-law officers,” have attempted to arrest nurses, teachers, and even police officers. Much of their rhetoric echoes the American “sovereign citizen” movement.

As Amanda Marcotte observes at Salon, these previously diffuse movements are commingling into a perfect storm of unified right-wing extremism that runs from mainstream Republicans to smirking neo-Nazis, with consequences well beyond just the pandemic:

There are a lot of Republican voters whose hatred and desire to spite Democrats has led them to gamble with their own lives by refusing vaccines. It's not much of a leap to believe such folks are open to taking things to the next level, to reject democracy and embrace an authoritarian ideology for the same vindictive reasons. The anti-vaccine discourse is a perfect space to blur the lines between being a petty partisan who is mad about losing an election and being an outright fascist who no longer believes in holding free and fair elections.


Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Fauci: Heavily Armed 'Crazy' Sought To Kill Me After Rand Paul's Verbal Assault

Defending himself against Senator Rand Paul's unrelenting and false attacks in a Senate Health Committee hearing on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci told the Kentucky conspiracy-theory wielding Republican his attacks led to a heavily-armed man driving cross country to Washington, D.C. on a mission, the gunman said, "to kill Dr. Fauci."

Fauci accused Paul of using the "catastrophic epidemic for your political gain."

After multiple and unyielding attacks from Sen. Paul, Fauci was forced to defend himself, telling committee members, "the last time we had a committee or the time before, he was accusing me of being responsible for the death of four to five million people, which is really irresponsible."

"And I say, 'why is he doing that?' There are two reasons why that's really bad. The first is it distracts from what we're all trying to do here today, is get our arms around the epidemic and the pandemic that we're dealing with, not something imaginary."

"Number two, what happens when he gets out and accuses me of things that are completely untrue, is that all of a sudden that kindles the crazies out there, and I have the life – threats upon my life, harassments of my family and my children with obscene phone calls, because people are lying about me. Now, you know, I guess you could say, 'well, that's the way it goes. I can take the hit.'"

"Well, it makes a difference because as some of you may know, just about three or four weeks ago, on December 21, a person was arrested, who was on their way from Sacramento, to Washington, D.C. at a speed stop in Iowa. And they asked – the police asked him where he was going, and he was going to Washington D.C. to kill Dr. Fauci. And they found in his car, an AR-15 and multiple magazines of ammunition, because he thinks that maybe I'm killing people. So I asked myself, 'Why would Senator want to do this?' So go to Rand Paul website, and you see 'Fire Dr. Fauci' with a little box that says 'contribute here.' You can do $5, $10, $20 $100. So you are making a catastrophic epidemic for your political gain."

Watch:

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

Prominent QAnon Anti-Vaxxer Who Called For Fauci 'To Be Hung' Dies Of Covid

QAnon supporter Cirsten Weldon was among the far-right anti-vaxxers and coronavirus truthers who railed against COVID-19 vaccines in 2021 — and on Thursday, January 6, according to The Daily Beast, she died of COVID-19.

Weldon, who called for Dr. Anthony Fauci — President Joe Biden’s top White House medical adviser — to be executed, was known for posting videos of herself berating people who were waiting in line to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Weldon falsely claimed that COVID-19 vaccines were dangerous, and she said that Fauci “needs to be hung from a rope.”

The Daily Beast’s Will Sommer reports, “Cirsten Weldon had amassed tens of thousands of followers across right-wing social media networks by promoting the pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy under the screenname CirstenW.’ She was prominent enough to become a sort of QAnon interpreter for comedian conspiracy theorist Roseanne Barr and started recording videos about QAnon with her.”

In one of her videos, Sommer notes, Weldon can be seen yelling at people who were waiting to get vaccinated for COVID-19 — saying, “The vaccines kill, don’t get it! This is how gullible these idiots are. They’re all getting (the) vaccine!”

Weldon became ill in December, describing her symptoms in her videos and saying that she had “bacterial pneumonia.” But she continued to oppose COVID-19 vaccines.

In a December 27, 2021 video posted on Facebook, Weldon told viewers, “I didn't think I was going to make it. I'm sorry. I'm exhausted, and I have no — I'm very, very weak. I have no strength. I haven't eaten in four days.” Weldon described having “fever, chills, sweats.”

According to Sommer, Weldon posted her final video on December 28, 2021 and was “hospitalized in Camarillo, California” three days later.

Sommer points out that Weldon is “just the latest instance of a far-right personality who opposed vaccination being killed by the virus.” Others have included radio host Douglas Kuzma, who died on January 3 — only three days before Weldon — and QAnon supporter Robert David Steele, who described COVID-19 as a “hoax” before dying from it in August 2021. QAnon supporter Veronica Wolski, another anti-vaxxer, died of COVID-19 the following month.

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

Fauci: Hospitals Jeopardized By Overwhelming Rise In Omicron Infections

By Kanishka Singh

(Reuters) -Top U.S. infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said there was still a danger of a surge in hospitalization due to a large number of coronavirus cases even as early data suggests the Omicron COVID-19 variant is less severe.

"The only difficulty is that if you have so many cases, even if the rate of hospitalization is lower with Omicron than it is with Delta, there is still the danger that you will have a surging of hospitalizations that might stress the healthcare system," Fauci said in an interview on Sunday with CNN.

The Omicron variant was estimated to be 58.6 percent of the coronavirus variants circulating in the United States as of December 25, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The sudden arrival of Omicron has brought record-setting case counts to countries around the world and dampened New Year festivities around the world..

"There will certainly be a lot more cases because this is a much more transmissible virus than Delta is," Fauci said on CNN.

However, "It looks, in fact, that it [Omicron] might be less severe, at least from data that we've gathered from South Africa, from the UK and even some from preliminary data from here in the United States," Fauci said.

Fauci added that the CDC will soon be coming out with a clarification on whether people with COVID-19 should test negative to leave isolation, after confusion last week over guidance that would let people leave after five days without symptoms.

The CDC had reduced the recommended isolation period for people with asymptomatic COVID to five days, down from 10. The policy does not require testing to confirm that a person is no longer infectious before they go back to work or socialize, causing some experts to raise questions.

"You're right. There has been some concern about why we don't ask people at that five-day period to get tested. That is something that is now under consideration", Fauci told ABC News in a separate interview on Sunday. "I think we're going to be hearing more about that in the next day or so from the CDC."

U.S. authorities registered at least 346,869 new coronavirus on Saturday, according to a Reuters tally. The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 rose by at least 377 to 828,562.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Mark Porter)

Mandating Vaccines For Air Travel Is A Flight Of Fancy

Most children learn that while a few pieces of candy are a treat, eating a whole bag can be misery. Most adult understand that taking a multivitamin every day may be good for your health, but taking two or three or four is a waste. In much of life, restraint is a virtue.

That may be news to Anthony Fauci. He is a justly respected scientist whose desire to protect the health of Americans is sincere and admirable. But even the best-intentioned souls can get overzealous. In recommending a federal vaccination mandate for all domestic air travelers, he overshot the runway.

It would undoubtedly put a burden on airline employees, who are already under severe strain just trying to keep the aviation system operating. Forcing them to inspect vaccination certificates for more than one million passengers every day would take time and energy. American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said in August, "It wouldn't be physically possible to do without enormous delays in the airline system."

When I contacted Clifford Winston, an economist at the liberal Brookings Institution, he raised other questions: "First, is the marginal benefit all that much? Second, would transmission be more likely because airline passengers would have a false sense of security and not wear masks? Third, would people try to cheat the system by providing fraudulent proof they were vaccinated?"

The risk of getting infected on a plane is clearly very low — otherwise, we'd hear of super-spreader flights every day. Airliners have hospital-grade ventilation systems, and the federal mask mandate provides another reliable barrier to transmission.

Nor is it clear how much a mandate would do to foil the omicron variant. Hundreds of flights are being canceled every day because airline employees have come down with COVID-19 — even at airlines that require all their workers to get the shots.

The problem is that though the vaccines greatly reduce the severity of symptoms, they don't prevent the vaccinated from contracting the virus. So it's not at all certain that a mandate for passengers would make an appreciable difference.

Even Fauci seems to know as much. In a Monday interview on MSNBC, he didn't argue that a mandate would make sense to protect passengers and crew. He argued instead that the requirement would be an incentive for holdouts to finally get the vaccine.

Even that is mostly wishful thinking. In a 2019 survey, 41 percent of Americans said they never fly and 28 percent said they fly only once a year. The former would have zero incentive to get the shots. Many of the latter who are unvaccinated would simply skip their annual flight rather than comply. Some of them would drive instead — which, as Winston notes, is far more dangerous than flying.

We should never forget that dictates of this sort impose on the freedom of individuals. Sometimes, that imposition is justifiable to protect others. But we shouldn't force vaccinations on people in the absence of clear, substantial benefits to society as a whole.

Many of those who refuse to get the shots have gained a measure of immunity through previous COVID-19 infections — making them less of a danger to their fellow citizens. But anti-vaxxers are mainly putting themselves in jeopardy. The rest of us can largely protect ourselves, even on airplanes, by getting vaccinated, wearing high-quality masks and sanitizing our hands frequently.

Yes, masks work. A study published last year in the Journal of Travel Medicine looked at long international flights to Hong Kong on Emirates, which enforced a strict masking rule. It found that no transmission occurred even on flights carrying several infected travelers.

Fauci and plenty of other people assume that with any tactic aimed at a worthy objective, more is always better than less. But sometimes, wisdom consists of knowing when it isn't.

Follow Steve Chapman on Twitter @SteveChapman13 or at https://www.facebook.com/stevechapman13. To find out more about Steve Chapman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.