Tag: covid 19
Kevin McCarthy

Right-Wing Media Figures Clash Over GOP Government Shutdown

As House Republicans fail to advance spending bills needed to fund the federal government and avert a government shutdown, right-wing media are at odds with one another over whether to cheer on the possibility of a shutdown or ridicule those Republicans leading the charge toward it.

The federal government will enter a partial shutdown by the end of this week unless Republicans can agree to funding extensions, which would mark the sixth consecutive shutdown brought on by a Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

The Republican-led House is lurching closer to a government shutdown

  • The federal government will shut down unless Republicans agree to continued funding by September 30. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is struggling to find 218 votes to support must-pass appropriations legislation before the end of the fiscal year on September 30. If legislation is not authorized in time, the federal government may face a shutdown. [The Washington Post, 9/12/23]
  • House Republicans have failed to advance multiple spending bills in recent days. The House has a series of yearlong spending bills to address, to fund the departments of Defense, State, Agriculture, and Homeland Security. CNN reported on September 25 that during the previous week, the GOP’s leadership team “failed twice to advance the defense bill” and that Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy “put the House GOP’s stopgap bill on ice amid a right-wing rebellion.” [CNN, 9/25/23]

“Take a stand”: Many in conservative media support a shutdown

  • National Pulse Editor-in-Chief Raheem Kassam: “Govt shutdown > public lockdown.” [Twitter/X, 9/9/23]
  • Right-wing Grabien founder Tom Elliott: “My only concern w/ a govt shutdown is that it will be temporary.” [Twitter/X, 9/11/23]
  • Right-wing economist Stephen Moore: “Shutdown Might Mean Gov't Gets Serious About Fiscal Ineptitude.” In a syndicated column posted by Newsmax, Moore mocked concern over the damage of a government shutdown, comparing it to the public health orders early in the COVID-19 pandemic under the Trump administration. Even though he wrote, “I'm NOT in favor of a government shutdown,” he added, “But they aren't the end of the world,” and continued to downplay their impacts. He contradicted himself again by concluding: “But if it takes a short-term shutdown of some government agencies to force Congress and the White House to get serious about our fiscal ineptitude, then do it. It's for the children.” [Newsmax, 9/13/23]
  • OAN host Dan Ball expressed support for a government shutdown. In an interview with Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Ball said, “If the Dems can shut us down over the flu, then you guys, the Freedom Caucus, should shut us down over overspending.” Ball also said that shutting down the government “for a few weeks or months” won’t “damage anybody, except some federal employees might not get paid for a bit.” [OAN, Real America with Dan Ball, 9/13/23]
  • Fox star Sean Hannity instructed Republicans to “take a stand” and shut down the government, then blame Democrats. After demanding that Republicans shut down the government, Hannity encouraged them to blame Democrats for their obstruction: “And whatever the Republicans pull off in the House, and they eventually agree to, which will itself be a compromise, the Senate needs to do their job, and then they need to be willing to let the government shut down and then blame –– put the blame where it belongs: on the people that are robbing our children and our grandchildren blind. It's time to take a stand, that's what you guys got elected for. You said you wanted to, you know, lead. This is a chance to lead.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 9/19/23]
  • Newsmax host Eric Bolling: “Stop writing the checks. ... The American people don’t really care.” In an interview with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Bolling mocked Republicans for worrying about the political blowback of yet another federal government shutdown and added that Gaetz was right to oppose a funding deal, telling him to “stay strong.” [Newsmax, Eric Bolling The Balance, 9/19/23]
  • Former Trump strategist Steve Bannon: “Forcing the regime to shut down their own illegitimate government is a win.” Bannon asked his guest, far-right commentator Jack Posobiec, for his thoughts about “the meltdown of the uniparty,” and Posobiec argued that government shutdowns are nothing to fear even as he explained that intelligence personnel had to rotate days off during a shutdown when he worked for the government in 2013. [Real America’s Voice, War Room, 9/20/23]
  • Pro-Trump comics creator Scott Adams: “I back @RepMattGaetz on this. Avoiding a shutdown is a dumb goal. Fixing the budget approval process (as promised) is a winning system.” [Twitter/X, 9/24/23]
  • Ex-Fox Business host Lou Dobbs: “House RINOs are squealing at the prospect of actually shutting down this corrupt anti-citizen Federal government. End corruption—defund the Feds!” [Twitter/X, 9/24/23]

Other conservative media figures have disparaged Republicans for driving toward a shutdown

  • Fox contributor Karl Rove: Republicans get blamed for government shutdowns “generally because Republicans are responsible for the shutdown. They seem to eagerly want it.” Rove continued to criticize Republican lawmakers: “So yeah, there's a reason why they get blamed. And look, the American people demand that their government try and run itself in an appropriate fashion. And the fact that the biggest financial and business enterprise in the world, the U.S. government, cannot pass a budget in time and then ends up shutting itself down over things that are on the margin. … The Republicans are going to be shooting themselves in the foot in the run-up to the 2024 election if they continue to think that shutdowns are a great way to put themselves in front of the American people.” [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 9/17/23]
  • Fox News host Mark Levin on conservatives pushing for a shutdown: “You can’t be Pickett. … Even Pickett didn’t want to be in Pickett’s Charge.” On his radio show, Fox News host Mark Levin told conservatives, “if your goal is to bring down the government, let me tell you a little secret: They’re not going to be able to do it this way.” Levin acknowledged the reality that Senate Republicans will vote with Democrats to avoid some draconian spending cuts, then said: “And so, you know, you can't be Pickett. This can't be Pickett's Charge. Pickett's Charge, let's go get ‘em. Even Pickett didn't wanna be part of Pickett's Charge,” a reference to a disastrous Confederate attack during the Civil War. Levin added: “So if we have stupid people doing stupid things in the name of conservatism, that bothers me a lot. I'm never going to line up behind stupid.” [Westwood One, The Mark Levin Show, 9/18/23; Library of Congress, accessed 9/19/23]
  • Fox News Radio host Guy Benson: There are “Republicans saying, and not without reason, a shutdown is not a good idea.” In an interview with Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), Benson said that Republicans are giving the appearance of unreasonably opposing everything, “but part of the job is like manning up and being adults and getting something done as opposed to being against everything, especially when you’re at least nominally in the majority in the chamber where this stuff has to originate.” [Fox News Radio, Guy Benson Show, 9/18/23]
  • Right-wing commentator Ben Shapiro argued that “the Republican Party, they are the stupid party, there is no question, and that stupidity is extending over into this government shutdown talk.” On his radio program, Shapiro attacked the so-called “stupid party” Republicans for missing an opportunity to use spending negotiations as leverage against Democratic Party priorities. He concluded by offering the GOP strategic advice going forward: “Whenever chaos is projected to no apparent end — because the Democrats run the Senate and Joe Biden is the president, and so they have a bit of a say in what exactly ends up becoming law here — Republicans, how about this? Be concerted in the issues that you attack. Focus for a moment in time. Otherwise, Democrats are going to have something to run on, and that is not what you want.” [The Daily Wire, The Ben Shapiro Show, 9/18/23]
  • Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade grilled Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) about his pro-shutdown stance: “Congressman, you just know if the government gets shut down, Republicans get the blame.” After a testy exchange between Kilmeade and Rosendale over the latter’s refusal to support a short-term proposal to avoid a government shutdown, Kilmeade replied: “Congressman, you just know if the government gets shut down, Republicans get the blame because they are not even providing even a CR [continuing resolution], a pathway to a CR. You're saying I'm not going to go for 30 days, so the government shuts down. That means your investigations stop, that means the border funding doesn't happen, and that's OK?” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/19/23]
  • On Hannity, Fox contributor and former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich singled out “all the people in the Freedom Caucus who are cheerfully screwing things up.” Gingrich argued that Freedom Caucus shenanigans might endanger GOP House seats in 2024. “Sometimes I think we have some members who can’t not only play chess or checkers, they can't play tic-tac-toe,” Gingrich said. “You have to start from success and work back.” Coincidentally, Gingrich engineered two government shutdowns during his time as House speaker, in part over a petty personal grudge. [Fox News, Hannity, 9/22/23; Media Matters, 8/31/10]
  • Fox anchor Maria Bartiromo to Rep. Gaetz: “Are you not right now indirectly working with Democrats? ... That's what your actions are doing.” Bartiromo pressed the far-right congressman over his strategy and noted, “That’s why some people feel this is a personal vendetta you have against” McCarthy. When Gaetz defended himself, Bartiromo replied, “You’re enabling” Democrats. [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 9/24/23]

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

DeSantis Vows To Appoint His Anti-Vax Surgeon General To Top Health Post

DeSantis Vows To Appoint His Anti-Vax Surgeon General To Top Health Post

Governor Ron DeSantis is pledging to "clean house" at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and says he will install his current, highly controversial Surgeon General at the nation's top public health agency, should the Florida Republican win the White House.

Dr. Joseph Ladapo, who DeSantis hired away from the University of California, Los Angeles, is known as an anti-vaxxer who claims his opposition to the life-saving COVID vaccines is God's plan. As DeSantis' Surgeon General, Ladapo has pursued a campaign of vaccine misinformation, and been accused of scientific fraud after he "personally altered" critical results of a COVID vaccine study.

"Ladapo’s changes," Politico reported in April, "presented the risks of cardiac death to be more severe than previous versions of the study. He later used the final document in October to bolster disputed claims that Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were dangerous to young men."

"The surgeon general, a well-known Covid-19 vaccine skeptic, faced a backlash from the medical community after he made the assertions, which go against guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics. But Ladapo’s statements aligned well with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ stance against mandatory Covid-19 vaccination."

In May, the Orlando Sentinel reported, "Ladapo says anti-vaccine crusade was God’s plan."

In its deep profile of Ladapo, the Sentinel quotes the Florida Surgeon General saying the COVID-19 vaccine “has a terrible safety profile,” and, “At this point in the pandemic, I’m not sure anyone should be taking them.”

The newspaper adds, "In a December interview with Republican politician Dr. Ben Carson, Ladapo said his wife encouraged him to speak out about the COVID-19 vaccine."

“Even though I’m chatting with you here, it’s really a mom-and-pop operation. It’s my wife and I,” Ladapo told Carson, the Sentinel reported. “… She has been so vocal against these things for kids since … it was just a twinkle in the eyes of the CEOs of Pfizer and Moderna. She just knew that they were up to absolutely no good and she was right.”

Dr. Ladapo's wife, Brianna Ladapo, "is also the one who convinced Ladapo to go to the counseling that he believes was God’s plan to give him the courage to speak out against COVID-19 policy."

Before becoming Surgeon General, "Ladapo signed the Great Barrington Declaration along with 47,000 other medical practitioners, which called for people to build an immunity to COVID through natural infection when possible in order to reach herd immunity, rather than isolating or wearing face masks."

Governor DeSantis' crusade against scientifically-accepted public health measures, measures that Ladapo also opposes, has impacted Florida's COVID-19 response, with disastrous results.

Although a report last year found Florida neglected to report thousands of COVID deaths during the pandemic, the Sunshine State still had poor results battling the deadly virus.

Florida ranked tenth-worst in per-capita COVID deaths, and eight-worst in COVID cases per capita.

That performance continues to this day.

"By state, Hawaii and Florida saw the highest rates of new COVID-19 hospitalizations," U.S. News and World Report reported last week, "more than twice the national rate."

Speaking to Fox News Thursday night, behind a chyron that read "Liberals Bring Back COVID Hysteria," Governor DeSantis adamantly insisted his COVID polices are the right ones, as he praised Dr. Ladapo and pledged to install him at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

"We're going to clean house in places like the CDC," DeSantis said, "they didn't follow the science during COVID they followed the narrative during COVID and that was very, very destructive."

"So we will clean house with personnel. You're gonna have people in with me like my surgeon general in Florida, Dr. Joseph Ladapo," DeSantis continued.

"These are people that were right about COVID from day one. They were pilloried by a very politicized scientific establishment but they stood their ground, and they've been proved right. Those are the people that need to be in positions, not the political actors that we've seen over the last four or five years."

Watch at this link.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Fox Anti-Vax Propagandists Declare War On New Covid-19 Shot

Fox Anti-Vax Propagandists Declare War On New Covid-19 Shot

Tucker Carlson may be gone from Fox News, but his former colleagues are still carrying on his war against the COVID-19 vaccines that have prevented millions of American deaths since they became widely available in 2021.

Fox’s propagandists responded to President Joe Biden’s Friday call for new funding for an updated vaccine booster that will be recommended for all Americans when it becomes available this fall by warning that COVID-19 vaccines are dangerous and ineffective. Some even directly exhorted their viewers — generally seniors who are most vulnerable from COVID-19 — not to take the new booster.

“There's another shot that he's going to recommend all Americans take?” Jesse Watters, Carlson’s 8 p.m. replacement, asked Monday on Fox’s panel show, The Five. “This is another huge scam and no one is going to go along with another shot, especially if it's mandated.”

Several pharmaceutical companies are currently developing updated COVID-19 vaccines that are expected to provide increased protection from Eris, the variant currently dominant in the United States.

With COVID-19 cases on the upswing, Biden said Friday that he plans to ask Congress “for additional funding for a new vaccine” he would “tentatively” recommend “that everybody get.” The updated vaccine is expected in mid-September, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during her Monday briefing.

Fox hosts responded with ridicule and fury. Notably, several suggested that because the initial vaccines provided limited protection from infection from newer variants (even as they continued to provide strong protection from death or serious illness), people should be skeptical of the effectiveness of an updated shot specifically targeted to current strains. That’s a recipe for Fox’s viewers to once again put their health in danger by declining the shots.

Sean Hannity once garnered unearned credit from mainstream reporters over a tepid snippet about the vaccines. But since coming under fire from right-wing rivals and walking back even those remarks, he’s rarely missed an opportunity to demonstrate his vaccine skepticism.

“Straight ahead, COVID madness coming back,” he said, teasing a Monday night segment. “More draconian measures and a new vaccine that I'm sure they're going to tell you is absolutely safe. Like the last one? Straight ahead.”

After the break, he introduced Biden’s comments by saying, “Here we go again,” then asked Fox contributor Tomi Lahren, “Isn't this the same Joe Biden, same government that said that if you got the vaccine, that you'd never get COVID, you'd never transmit COVID and that were proven dead wrong? Isn't that the same government?”

Lahren replied that “if the Biden administration and leftists everywhere were that concerned about a new COVID strain, a new COVID variant, that southern border would be closed,” adding, “If the American people are ever dumb enough to fall for this again, we deserved to fail as a country. But I don't believe we are dumb enough to fall for it again. Not this time.”

Hannity went on to say that while he was not giving “medical advice,” he was “not listening to them” about the vaccines because “I don't believe a word they say. They've been proven wrong again and again and again.”

Likewise, while guest-hosting Fox’s prime-time “comedy” show Gutfeld!, Jimmy Faila argued that Biden’s call for a new shot was unnecessary because “unlike the Clintons, the virus wasn’t nearly as dangerous as we were told.”

“Now, I'll admit it's nice to see this White House making news for a drug besides cocaine,” Faila said. “But there's no need to discuss any drugs because the vaccines didn't stop transmission.”

Faila went on to express confusion about why politicians would say COVID-19 “would have been way worse” if they hadn’t been vaccinated, adding, “Like, you're saying it didn't work, OK? The government was wrong about every single thing they pushed on us during COVID, especially mask mandates, lockdowns, and vaccines.”

Fox could have responded to the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines, which were developed under then-President Donald Trump and are remarkably effective in preventing serious COVID-19 cases (with rare side effects), by urging viewers to get the shots. But the network instead ran a multiyear campaign against the vaccines while relentlessly hyping ineffective drugs popular among right-wing influencers. Any moral responsibility its hosts felt for their audience was apparently overrun by their reflexive opposition to Biden and their recognition that antivax commentary was “great for ratings.”

These attacks on the vaccination campaign had deadly consequences. Polls routinely show the network’s viewers were less likely to say they were, or planned to get, vaccinated than people who get their news from other sources. One recent study found that “excess mortality was significantly higher for Republican voters than Democratic voters after COVID-19 vaccines were available to all adults, but not before."

But Fox is undeterred by the destructive impact of its vaccine coverage. The network is doing its best to inflame viewers as its extremist competitors baselessly fearmonger over the prospect of “new lockdowns” ahead of the 2024 election. And that means more of them are going to die.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Jimmy Patronis

Are Culture Warriors Just Too Stupid To Get How Business Works?

Jimmy Patronis, Florida's "chief financial officer," said that Farmers Insurance pulled out of Florida not because it was losing money there but because the company was "woke." How that wokeness manifested itself, he does not say.

The profit motive is apparently a very shocking concept to the state official tasked with overseeing Florida's financial regulation. But if he does "get it," this would be the latest example of a right-wing Republican trying to undermine capitalism for political ends.

Let's not dignify Patronis' statement by calling it a "lie." Nor is it just stupid. It is "shtupid."

Because it is undeniable that losses are what's driving some property insurers out of Florida, mostly due to massive flooding. And this problem is hardly limited to Florida. In Louisiana, 49% of which is below sea level, insurers are pulling back on offering homeowner's coverage — or piling on the price tag.

State Farm has said it won't accept any new applications for property and casualty insurance in California. Flooding is not the main reason. Fire is.

Allstate is also not signing new policies in the state. Why? The company says that the cost to insure new customers in California is "far higher" than the price customers are paying for its policies. When an insurer spends more paying off claims than it collects in premiums — that's called losing money.

Rest assured that California's reluctance to ban children's books about Tango, a penguin raised by two daddies (apparently true), in no way influences its insurers' decisions, one way or another, to cover properties there.

After decades of making good money, what's causing insurers to report less-than-zero profits after paying claims? It's the parade of cataclysmic weather events made worse by rising temperatures. There have always been hurricanes. But warming sea surface temperatures are already spawning more very destructive Category 4 and 5 hurricanes.

The Biden administration is pushing policies to address this terrifying trend. Florida governor and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis dismisses concern over global warming as "left-wing stuff." Well, not dealing with that "stuff" certainly frees up hours to go after Disney and drag queens.

Let the grown-ups worry about how drought, floods, killer heat waves and related pestilence are hurting their economies. Never mind the human suffering, should these guys care.

DeSantis' sharpest offensive against companies trying to make a living was his law forbidding them to require passengers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID. This meddling reached its nutty summit in the heart of the pandemic when DeSantis attacked the cruise ship lines operating out of Florida for insisting that passengers be vaccinated.

Face it, spending days stuffed on a ship with several thousand strangers, many carrying a potentially deadly disease, did not appeal to cruise patrons at the time. That went double for the older ones, who make up a large chunk of these companies' business. Thanks to COVID, the number of people who took cruises fell to under 6 million in 2020, down from almost 30 million the year before.

Is it possible that these businesses insisted on the COVID shots because they wanted to keep their customers and, thereby, make money?

Back in the real world of both climate science and business judgement, warming temperatures have made home coverage anywhere near the water unaffordable, if not unattainable. The price of homeowners insurance in Florida now averages an amazing $6,000. Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel recently said "that kind of economic cost is probably not enough to offset all the wokeness in the world or even the taxes."

Face it. Private companies don't want — and can't be forced — to lose money. It's time right-wingers got "woke" to that.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.