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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

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Republicans Stirring Up Ugly Smears -- And Lethal Hatred -- Against Fauci

Days after thousands of emails from Dr. Anthony Fauci became public through a series of FOIA requests, Republicans are using portions of those emails—out of context—to ramp up attacks on the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Those emails are being conflated with a series of media-hyped articles about the origins of COVID-19, and the result is a genuinely toxic stew that is being used by Republicans ranging from Josh Hawley to Donald Trump Jr. as a way to stir up hate and rake in cash.

For those not neck deep in OAN, Newsmax, or Fox News, it may be hard to fathom just how much those channels have become a 24/7 assault on the 80-year-old doctor, or how hard they have been pushing the "lab escape" theory as "proof" that the NIAID director is somehow responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. All of these outlets are in heavy rotation with the idea that COVID-19 originated in a Wuhan lab, operated by a friend of Dr. Fauci, that Fauci helped China in covering up that origin, and that this somehow absolves Donald Trump of all responsibility in 900,000 American deaths.

And that's the lightweight version. The version being pushed by multiple "guests" and "experts" appearing on these programs is that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was deliberately engineered to infect people as part of a program that Fauci—and President Barack Obama—approved of and funded. The baseless accusations are so ugly that, even as Republicans like Hawley demand that Dr. Fauci be fired, others, like Trump Jr., are already chuckling over the idea that Dr. Fauci could be murdered.

On Friday evening, Trump Jr. showed that he isn't just expecting Dr. Fauci to be killed by the rabid Trump supporters being pushed to believe that a man who has lived his life in service to both medicine and the nation is some kind of monster. No, Junior is ready to celebrate that murder. In an Instagram post, Trump Jr. posted an image saying "I'm just going to jump ahead on this, and said I don't think Fauci killed himself." Those words were pasted over a smiling image of the odious and sadistic slave owner Calvin Candie from the film Django Unchained.

Sen. Rand Paul started the latest edition of the smear train on Thursday when he issued a fundraising pitch insisting that Fauci "must go" and claiming that Fauci—who was forced to correct Paul over and over in Senate hearings—was "continuously and deliberately misleading the public at every turn." He provided no examples, but insisted that someone must "fire Fauci!"

On Friday, Sen. Hawley explicitly tied together vague claims about Fauci's emails, with equally vague claims about COVID-19. "Anthony Fauci's recently released emails and investigative reporting about COVID-19 origins are shocking." Exactly what in Fauci's emails Hawley found upsetting, he didn't say. But he did call for Fauci to resign, as well as "a congressional investigation" into claims that Fauci somehow covered up the pandemic's origins.

Also on Friday, Donald Trump issued a statement saying that "After seeing the emails, our Country is fortunate I didn't do what Dr. Fauci wanted me to do."

What this means is anyone's guess, but by Saturday morning Sen. Marco Rubio figured he had his marching orders, so he piled on, calling for Biden to remove Dr. Fauci. And again, Rubio's claim went directly back to the idea that Fauci "dismissed the idea that the virus could have come from a lab."

Fauci never made such a dismissal. And the "lab escape" origin of COVID-19 certainly isn't proven. But it has been getting constant fluffing from a series of articles and constant right-wing coverage, all of which features the implication that "Trump was right" about "the China virus."

The Daily Mail that Trump intends to make things even worse Saturday evening, when he makes his first appearance as a private citizen at a North Carolina rally. He's planning to make attacking Dr. Fauci the center of his tirade,

On Friday, President Biden spoke up in support of Dr. Fauci, responding to a question by saying, "Yes, I'm very confident in Dr. Fauci."

But the assault on Anthony Fauci is unrelenting and the level of ugliness demonstrated by the Trump, Jr. message is only getting worse. If Republicans have learned anything from Jan. 6, it's apparently that they really can (and do) inspire and direct deadly hate.


WHO Chief: Pretending Pandemic Is Over Now Would Be ‘Monumental Error’

We are not out of the COVID woods yet, despite declining coronavirus infection levels and increasing vaccine rates, a world health leader warned Monday. The mood may be lightening up in the U.S. and elsewhere as people get their shots, and infections and deaths decline, but COVID-19 is still a very real and present danger, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said as the 74th World Health Assembly wrapped up. He called on the world’s nations to work together to end this pandemic and prepare for the next one, proposing a treaty on pandemic preparedness and respo...

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 12 books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Cruz Refuses To Don Mask When Asked By TV Crew

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) says he will not wear a mask when on television because he's been vaccinated and falsely claims CDC guidance states he does not have to.

"Would you mind putting a mask on for us?" a reporter off-camera asked the Texas Republican Senator as he was about to speak.

"Uh, when I'm talking to the TV camera I'm not going to wear a mask," Cruz said quickly, making a gesture around his face, "and all of us have been immunized, so," he added, pointing to his Senate colleagues behind him. Reports say more than one-quarter of members of Congress are refusing the vaccine but there is no public record of who has been vaccinated and who is refusing.

"It would make us feel better," the reporter urged.

"You're welcome to step away if you like," Cruz replied, effectively suggesting reporters working on the front lines shouldn't expect elected representatives to follow the rules to keep them and others safe from the coronavirus.

The reporter did not respond. Cruz paused, uncomfortably grinning, then declared that was "the whole point of a vaccine."

He added, "CDC guidance is what we're following."

Sen. Cruz is wrong. The whole point of the vaccine is to keep people from getting sick and dying. His refusal to wear a mask, vaccinated or not, does not fulfill that goal – especially since the vaccine is not one-hundred percent effective. Studies appear to show those vaccinated are less likely to spread the virus but that has not been confirmed and even if true, again, not at a one-hundred percent rate.

Cruz is also wrong about what the CDC recommends for those who have been fully vaccinated.

CDC says fully vaccinated people should continue to: "Take precautions in public like wearing a well-fitted mask and physical distancing," and "Wear masks, practice physical distancing, and adhere to other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease."

Also, President Joe Biden's executive order "requires anyone working in or visiting federal buildings or federal lands to wear masks, maintain physical distance, and adhere to other public health measures, as provided in CDC guidelines."

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