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Tag: republican governors

‘Have At It’: Biden Defiant As Anti-Vax Governors Threaten To Fight Mandates

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Joe Biden has a stern message for Republican governors ready to challenge his "vaccine-or-weekly-testing mandate" as a means of mitigating COVID-19.

On Friday, September 10, the president spoke at a Washington, D.C., middle school where he shared details about his next initiatives to mitigate the spread of the virus in schools. At one point during his speech, Biden addressed Republican governors who have railed against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health recommendations to combat COVID-19.

Toward the end of his speech, one reporter echoed concerns of the president's opponents who oppose his latest attempts to mitigate the virus. According to Mother Jones, the reporter noted that some have deemed Biden's initiative as an "overreach" as they vow "to challenge it in court."

In response to the reporter's remarks, Biden said:

Have at it. Look, I am so disappointed that particularly some Republican governors have been so cavalier with the health of these kids, so cavalier with the health of their communities. We're playing for real here. This isn't a game. And I don't know of any scientist out there in this field who doesn't think it makes considerable sense to do the six things I have suggested. But you know—let me conclude with this:

One of the lessons I hope our students can unlearn is that politics doesn't have to be this way. Politics doesn't have to be this way. They're growing up in an environment where they see it's like a war, like a bitter feud. If a Democrat says right, everybody says left….I mean, it's not how we are. It's not who we are as a nation. And it's not how we beat every other crisis in our history. We got to come together. I think the vast majority—look at the polling data—the vast majority of the American people know we have to do these things. They're hard but necessary. We're going to get them done.

Of the Republican governors vowing to fight back in court, Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) has released a statement on her opposition to the Biden administration's efforts. Speaking to Fox News, Noem insisted that her legal team is already working to push back against what she describes as an "unlawful mandate."

"This is not a power that is delegated to the federal government," Noem said. "My legal team is already working. And we will defend and protect our people from this unlawful mandate."

The United States is facing an accelerated spread of COVID-19 as the Delta variant continues to ravage many states across the country, particularly in areas with lower vaccination rates.

Suffer, Little Children: Anti-Vax, Anti-Masking, And The Faces Of Evil

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

The origin of evil is an issue that would seem as difficult to fathom as the meaning of life, or the purpose of the universe. It's not. Evil is not simply when something bad happens. Hurricanes aren't evil. Not even a disease is evil. Evil takes understanding. Evil is when someone displays indifference or experiences pleasure in the face of suffering.

The worst sort of evil comes when empathy and consideration are replaced with a perverse joy, one that doesn't just refuse to acknowledge someone else's pain, but takes pride in dismissing the thought that others deserve consideration. And it looks like this.

What's happening in that Tennessee school board meeting is a tiny subset, a pixel in the larger picture, of what's happening on multiple issues across the country. Another part of that greater image can be seen when CNN asked Dr. Anthony Fauci about a statement by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. And in the responses of a school superintendent from Mississippi.

As CNN reports, children too young to be vaccinated now make up 26% of all new cases of COVID-19 cases. That number has grown enormously as schools have reopened for in-person instruction in districts where masks are not mandated and vaccination for staff is not a requirement. In fact, the total number of children infected across the course of the pandemic has grown by 10% in just the last two weeks.

That's because the reopening of schools, especially in areas where school boards have bowed to pressure—or the executive orders of Republican governors—and refused to institute mask mandates or vaccination requirements and are seeing an "explosions of cases." That explosion generated over 14,000 cases among students in Florida within the first week of classes. It resulted in thousands of cases in Texas, where district after district has been forced to suspend classes.

Florida and Texas may have been grabbing the headlines thanks to the deeply twisted statements from Govs. Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott, but they're far from alone. In just four days in August, the Clarion Ledgerreports that over 5,700 students tested positive in a single week, putting over 30,000—6.5% of the state's total student population—into quarantine.

In this interview, Mississippi school superintendent John Strycker explains that he doesn't require masks in his school, even after a teacher died. Strycker says, "I'm confident in what we're doing."

Strycker: I wept. Okay? It's very hard on me. But when I'm making my decisions, I need to do the best I can to make non-emotional decisions.
Reporter: But your non-emotional decision is to do nothing.
Strycker: Right.

Strycker then claims that the children in his care are "safe relative to the other schools." In the first three week of school there, 6.4 percent of students have tested positive for COVID-19.

Following this interview, CNN moves to looking at the large Los Angeles unified school district where the superintendent has made very different decisions. At that school, every member of the staff is required to report their vaccination status and everyone—students, teachers, and visitors—is required to wear a mask. Over the same period, the infection rate in Los Angeles schools was 0.5 percent.

What's become clear across the nation is simply this: School districts that do not have a mandatory mask policy are very likely to see a high incidence of COVID-19 cases within a period of a few weeks. Those levels are very likely to lead to that school district being forced to quarantine a substantial subset of its student and staff population, and almost as likely to result in classes being suspended for a period.

The reason is simple enough: As much as anti-mask forces want to make wearing a mask an emblem of personal fear, it's not. The mask is simply societal responsibility. Masks reduce the rate of transmission of COVID-19, as well as other viruses, but they are really only highly effective if nearly everyone is wearing them. One person wearing a masks in a sea of bare faces gains very little, if anything, in the way of personal protection. If everyone is wearing masks, there is a large decrease in the spread of disease.

The same rule applies to vaccines. As NPR reports, DeSantis has repeatedly dismissed the role of vaccines as anything more than personal protection.

"At the end of the day though," said the Florida governor, "it's about your health and whether you want that protection or not. It really doesn't impact me or anyone else."

And as Dr. Anthony Fauci has made clear, DeSantis is "completely incorrect." Vaccines, like masks, do provide some protection to the individual, but their greater role is in breaking the chain of transmission. A high level of vaccination doesn't just protect the vaccinated, it protects everyone. Whether someone has been vaccinated definitely affects those around them.

"When you're dealing with an outbreak of an infectious disease, it isn't only about you," said Fauci. "There's a societal responsibility that we all have."

And there's that phrase again: societal responsibility—the need to take action that protects not just yourself or your family, but everyone in the greater society. What's missing from every insistence that masks or vaccines are a "personal choice" is that these choices have an impact on others. Saying that masks or vaccines don't affect anyone else is like saying that driving drunk doesn't affect anyone else. Or firing a weapon through a loaded room doesn't affect anyone else. These actions may nothave an immediate impact, but there is a recognized societal responsibility that makes them illegal even if they don't result in immediate loss.

What does evil look like? It looks like someone standing in front of a camera and saying that a decision that can cost the lives of thousands is a personal choice. It looks like that.

It also looks like these events at a charter school in Boise as reported by the Idaho Statesman.

At the beginning of the year, the board of the Peace Valley Charter School passed a mask mandate. But they rolled back that mandate after hearing from Dr. Ryan Cole—the same doctor who referred to COVID-19 vaccines as both "fake" and "needle rape." Following that statement, Cole was made a member of Idaho's Central District Health Board.

At a special meeting of the school board, Cole testified that masks didn't work and that there was "not one study" showing that masks could help stop a viral disease. Cole also testified that masks "retain carbon dioxide" and can cause "inflammation in the brain." None of these things has any basis in fact. (For reference, here's a large study showing that masks work and here's a broad review of the topic which confirms that effectiveness).

At that meeting, board members were also given a packet of documents, which included one titled "COVID-19 Masks Are a Crime Against Humanity and Child Abuse." The board reversed its vote, eliminating the mask mandate.

What does evil look like? It looks like a woman snickering at a child talking about his dead grandmother. It looks like a doctor knowingly passing along false information that places children and teacher in danger. Most of all, it looks like a governor denying that individuals have any obligation beyond self preservation, and pretending that societal responsibilities do not exist.

'Completely incorrect': Dr. Fauci pushes back on DeSantis' vaccine claim www.youtube.com

Wednesday, Sep 8, 2021 · 11:59:27 AM EDT · Mark Sumner

And as that Idaho school votes to drop mask mandates in response to disinformation …

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 and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

It’s Time For The Republican Party To Split

As Donald Trump's Republican Party descends into madness, dragged down by the president's lies, threats and possible mental illness, it's become hard to imagine democracy-loving conservatives continuing to live in the same house. They're in a marriage that can't be saved.

The framework for a new party is already up, thanks to the seasoned Republican operatives behind the never-Trump movement. They can establish a safe space for the likes of Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse and Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, among others. And their tribe will increase.

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Five GOP Governors Who Rejected Safety Rules See Big Virus Spike

Six months ago, the Washington Post published an op-ed under the names of five Republican governors who bragged that their states had stayed open and thrived despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, half a year later, most of those governors' states are seeing the worst spikes in the numbers of new coronavirus cases and COVID-19 deaths in the country.

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Survey: GOP Governors’ Ratings Drop Over Pandemic Failure

Republican governors across the country are seeing dwindling approval numbers on their response to the coronavirus crisis, according to a Gallup poll released Tuesday.

Only 53 percent of respondents now say their Republican governor "cares about the safety and health of my community," compared with 61 percent who said so in early June.

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Debunking Chris Christie’s Minimum-Wage Mythology

If there is any upside to the constant blabber from a politician like Chris Christie, it is that he blurts out what others like him would never say in public – for instance, his recent remarks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“I’m tired of hearing about the minimum wage,” said the boorish New Jersey governor, a sentiment no doubt shared by the assembled big-business lobbyists and by most of Christie’s fellow Republican governors. “I really am. I don’t think there’s a mother or a father sitting around the kitchen table tonight in America saying, ‘You know, honey, if our son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, my God, all of our dreams would be realized.’ ”

Like him, several Republican governors have vetoed a proposed minimum-wage increase during their terms, and a few have even questioned whether there ought to be any minimum at all. Christie doesn’t go that far, although he campaigns and raises money for those who do, but he evidently believes that paying even a poverty-level wage to the poorest workers is damaging to the economy. And the would-be GOP presidential hopeful also believes, as he suggested to the Chamber of Commerce, that the minimum wage mainly affects teenaged and casual workers.

The notion that minimum-wage increases slow down economic growth and employment is an old Economics 101 myth, bolstered last winter by a Congressional Budget Office study that said increasing the federal minimum to just over $10 an hour might cost up to 500,00 jobs.

According to conservative economists, the minimum wage decreases demand for unskilled labor by raising the price. Simple enough, right? Or maybe that formulation was too simple — because putting extra dollars into the hands of those who spend it immediately, on food, clothing, and other essential goods, boosts the economy.

We have accumulating evidence, from a real, ongoing experiment, that raising the minimum wage is actually beneficial to the economy and not only doesn’t hurt employment, but helps create jobs. The experiment is taking place in 13 states that raised minimum wages above the federal level earlier this year, where results can be compared with all the other states that continued to let wages stagnate. So far, every comparison of employment rates for teenagers and adults with a high-school education or less between the two categories of states has upset the old assumptions about minimum-wage effects.

Six months after wages went up, federal data indicated that jobs were growing more rapidly in those 13 states than in the rest. The most carefully controlled recent study, conducted by two economists at the University of Delaware, with numbers released last August, showed that there was no dropoff in job growth in those states, which continued to have a slight, though statistically insignificant, advantage over states where the minimum wage wasn’t raised.

“There is no evidence of negative employment effects,” wrote the University of Delaware economists, Saul D. Hoffman and Wai-Kit Shum, “due to the increases in state minimum wages.”

Whether those comparisons will remain valid into the future remains to be seen, although there is an increasing set of studies, both national and international, suggesting that the conventional wisdom about the effects of minimum-wage increases is simply wrong.

What we know for certain – and what the CBO report last winter emphasized – is that increasing the minimum wage is good for poor families and low-paid workers. It improves family incomes, reduces dependency on welfare and other income support programs, and chips away at the worst effects of economic inequality. Raising the federal minimum to $10.10 an hour, as the president has proposed, would increase net real income to poor and working families by up to $17 billion and move about a million people up from destitution.

But the minimum wage isn’t a panacea.

After Chris Christie vetoed an increase in the Garden State, Democratic legislators put it on the ballot and the voters approved raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 an hour. Yet while 4 of the top 10 states in employment performance this year were among those that raised the wage — specifically Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Florida — Christie’s New Jersey was not among them.

So bad was his economic management that New Jersey marked the worst performance of any state, period — with a net decline in employment of more than half a percentage point by last summer.

No wonder he’s tired of hearing about higher wages. And no doubt working families are equally tired of hearing about him.