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GOP Senators Stoke Irrational Hatred Of Nonpartisan Scientist Fauci

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

Dr. Anthony Fauci, now 80, joined the National Institutes of Health back in 1968 and has worked with a long list of Republican presidents — from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush to Gerald Ford. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, he has become an object of irrational hatred in the far-right MAGA movement. And journalist Alexander Bolton, in an article published by The Hill on December 1, explains why that hatred has recently become even worse.

Fauci considers his work with the federal government apolitical, often stressing that his top priority is public health regardless of whether the president is a Democrat or a Republican — and he typically dodges overtly political questions during his frequent appearances on MSNBC and CNN. But Fauci deeply offended thin-skinned MAGA Republicans when, during a Sunday, November 28 appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation, he told host Margaret Brennan that his detractors are “really criticizing science because I represent science.”One of those Republicans was Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who claimed, “Tony Fauci is nothing more than a Democratic operative.” Cotton would do well to research his party’s pre-MAGA history; Fauci got along fine with President Ronald Reagan, President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush.

In fact, a June 19, 2008 press release from the George W. Bush White House stated, “Three decades ago, a mysterious and terrifying plague began to take the lives of people across the world. Before this malady even had a name, it had a fierce opponent in Dr. Anthony Fauci. As the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for more than 23 years, Tony Fauci has led the fight against HIV and AIDS. He was also a leading architect and champion of the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which over the past five years, has reached millions of people — preventing HIV infections in infants and easing suffering and bringing dying communities back to life.”

That press release went on to say, “Those who know Tony do admit one flaw: sometimes, he forgets to stop working…. For his determined and aggressive efforts to help others live longer and healthier lives, I'm proud to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Dr. Anthony S. Fauci.”

Regardless, Cotton and other Republicans view attacking Fauci as a way to score cheap political points with the MAGA crowd, and no one is better at such pandering than former Donald Trump critic turned obsequious Trump sycophant Ted Cruz. The far-right Texas senator has slammed Fauci as “the most dangerous bureaucrat in the history of America” and made the ludicrous comment that Fauci should serve prison time for denying that the NIH funded virus research at a lab in Wuhan, China — which is where COVID-19 was first reported in December 2019.

Fox News’ Lara Logan, according to Bolton, has even compared Fauci to the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele of Nazi Germany infamy.

But one Republican who is calling out the far right’s anti-Fauci nonsense is Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah. Bolton quotes the 2012 GOP presidential nominee as saying, “A lot of politics today is performance politics, which is saying things which excite the bases of our respective parties. I look at Dr. Fauci as an expert in disease and viruses (and) respect his point of view. He’s not perfect; like all humans, he will make mistakes. Politicizing him is just par for the course these days in our highly politicized environment, but I respect him as a scientist.”

Cotton Falsely Claims Nation Had No 'Supply Chain Or Labor Shortages' Under Trump

On Monday, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) claimed there were no supply chain or labor shortages in 2020 when former President Donald Trump was in office. But this is not true.

Cotton made his comments during an appearance on Fox News' Ingraham Angle hosted by Laura Ingraham.

"We've had this pandemic for two years, Laura, I don't remember inflation or supply chain shortages or labor shortages that we've seen this year in the first year of the pandemic," Cotton said. "What changed? Joe Biden and the Democrats took power in January."

But in a report his own office released in February, Cotton acknowledged supply chain problems that disrupted the distribution of personal protective equipment to doctors and hospitals.

Cotton's report, "Beat China: Targeted Decoupling and the Economic Long War," discusses actions taken by China to manufacture equipment for its virus response, which led to shortages elsewhere in the world.

"This move imperiled America's ability to procure personal protective equipment at the outset of the pandemic, likely costing American lives," the report said.


Supply chain problems became clear almost immediately after the pandemic began, forcing medical workers on the front lines of the response to reuse and ration equipment like N95 face masks. There were also more widespread supply-chain issues when Trump was in office, including shortages of groceries and consumer goods like toilet paper and diapers.

As the virus spread across the country, Trump refused to invoke the Defense Production Act to make more personal protective equipment for frontline medical workers.

"The federal government's not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items and then shipping," Trump told reporters in March 2020. "You know, we're not a shipping clerk."

On January 21, 2021, President Joe Biden signed an executive order invoking the Defense Production Act to get American manufacturers to produce more medical equipment.

Labor shortages also predate the Biden presidency. The percentage of workers participating in the economy fell as the pandemic began in 2020.

In a report on labor shortages, the Wall Street Journal noted in October that the percentage experienced its biggest drop since World War II "in the early months of the pandemic." Some economists have attributed the ongoing problem to lingering concerns about the virus as well as retirement schedules being accelerated.

The U.S. economy has improved since Biden took office. More than 5.5 million jobs have been added since January, and the unemployment rate has fallen from 6.3 percent to 4.6 percent.

Nevertheless, Republicans keep using Cotton's misleading line of argument. In a Fox News appearance earlier this month, former Trump senior counselor Kellyanne Conway falsely claimed that "there wasn't a supply chain crisis" when Trump was in office.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Republicans Use Waukesha Parade Tragedy To Push Anti-Semitic Politics

Conservatives have wasted no time in politicizing the recent Waukesha, Wisconsin, tragedy, in which a driver plowed his car into scores of people participating in a local holiday parade.

The most recent theory promoted by some Republicans is anti-Semitic in nature and suggests billionaire philanthropist George Soros is somehow responsible for what happened.

"The massacre in Waukesha is horrifying. It was also preventable," Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) tweeted Monday. "Soros prosecutors unleash havoc and violence when they take power. It is their goal. When we take back Congress, Republicans will take on the Soros prosecutors and stand up for the victims of crime."

Conservative lawmakers have specifically tried to blame the liberal donor for giving funds to local district attorney campaigns, to back bail reform, citing the fact that the Waukesha driver behind Sunday's incident had posted bond just over a week earlier, after being charged with reckless endangerment and skipping bail in a separate domestic abuse case.

The man in question had a long history of run-ins with police and had allegedly been fleeing the scene of another suspected domestic dispute when he struck multiple parade participants, killing at least five. The Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office has since announced an inquiry into what it called the "inappropriately low" bail approved for the suspect earlier in November.

While Soros has poured money into such races across the country, it was not immediately clear whether he had given to John Chisholm, the Milwaukee County district attorney. A scan of finance reports from Chisholm's campaign committee, Citizens for Chisholm, did not immediately reveal any contributions from the philanthropist.

Republicans were quick to blame Soros regardless.

"He funds everything destructive to faith, families, and freedom. He hates America," Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) wrote. "George Soros should have his citizenship revoked and we should block his money from poisoning our great country forever more. It's simple. If you don't like our Constitution, we throw you out."

Invoking Soros' name in connection with conspiracy theories and global plots, as many on the right commonly do, follows a pattern of anti-Semitism that connotes Jewish control of society, according to experts. Soros is a Holocaust survivor who was born in Hungary in 1930, and made his fortune as a hedge fund manager.

"In far-right circles worldwide, Soros' philanthropy often is recast as fodder for outsized conspiracy theories, including claims that he masterminds specific global plots or manipulates particular events to further his goals," the Anti-Defamation League, a leading Jewish advocacy organization, states on its site. "Many of those conspiracy theories employ longstanding anti-Semitic myths, particularly the notion that rich and powerful Jews work behind the scenes, plotting to control countries and manipulate global events."

"Soros prosecutors" has become a canard on the right in the culture war fight around policing and tough-on-crime policies. Conservatives, for example, recently targeted a Muslim prosecutor in Loudoun County, Virginia, in the lead-up to the state's gubernatorial election, alleging that her connection to Soros resulted in a school sexual assault cover-up.

The more recent right-wing claims, including one from Ohio-based Senate candidate J.D. Vance that "the Waukesha terrorist is just one of many criminals that Soros-backed prosecutors have released into our cities" and that his philanthropy has created "death and crime across America," are the latest in a trend of GOP fear-mongering surrounding the incident.

Hours after the Sunday night incident, Fox News hosted Nigel Farage, a former British politician and Brexit leader, who connected the parade tragedy to the southern border and domestic terrorism, despite the case having nothing to do with immigration.

The attempts to tie the Waukesha driver to Democrats appears to be part of a broader attempt by conservatives to use crime as a cudgel against the left, alleging that high crime rates are a result of liberal policies to slash police budgets or admit immigrants and refugees into the country.

Crime has increased nationwide, but that rise has not been limited to Democrat-controlled regions. Numbers have ballooned in some cities that boosted police funding as well.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Tom Cotton Can't Decide Whether US Should Abandon Or Protect Afghan Refugees

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

In a Tuesday appearance on Fox News, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) slammed the U.S. military's effort to help Afghan refugees, complaining that service members are being used as "nannies and babysitters and daycare operators" while they "should be" focusing on military training.

In mid-July, the Department of Defense announced Operation Allies Refuge, an effort "to support the relocations of interested and eligible Afghan nationals and their immediate families who supported the U.S. Government and applied for a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV)."

The department said at the end of August that it was approved to help up to 50,000 people as part of that mission, "providing essential support at secure locations, where these Afghan citizens and their families can safely complete the necessary steps for residing in the United States."

Conservatives began attacking the operation as reports surfaced this weekend that military bases were preparing for thousands of refugees.

"I've been to the border earlier this year. We saw Border Patrol officers who signed up to be law enforcement actually having to work as nannies and babysitters and daycare operators, watching out for all of the children who are showing up at the border," Cotton said, prompted by Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade, who expressed opposition to the ongoing effort to help refugees. "Now we're impressing soldiers into doing the same thing, when you're right, they should be training."

Cotton also implied that the mission to help refugees is harming U.S. military preparedness. "They should be focusing on the mission of deterring our adversaries, to say nothing of the billions of dollars this is going to cost American taxpayers," he said.

But Cotton and other Republicans have simultaneously criticized Biden for not evacuating enough people. On Thursday, Cotton and other GOP senators sent a letter to the administration demanding accountability for those left behind in Afghanistan, noting, "Our immediate priority is the safety and well-being of American citizens, permanent residents, and allies who were left behind in Afghanistan."

They have also in recent days sought to frame Afghan refugees as potentially dangerous terrorist threats. However, several federal-level and local fficials have confirmed that refugees seeking resettlement in the United States will undergo background checks as well as health screenings.

American military bases have been used as temporary housing for refugees at several points in history. They were used to house anti-communist refugees from Hungary during the Cold War, as well as for over 100,000 Vietnamese who fled Vietnam at the end of the Vietnam War.

Members of the military have expressed their support for the current mission.

"It's an opportunity to make a difference in a situation where it really is necessary: working directly with displaced nationals, helping them settle, and keeping them safe," Lt. Col. Lisa Weaver of the Washington National Guard toldthe Army's official online publication.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Statues Come Down While Barriers To Truth Are Erected

Reprinted with permission from Roll Call

In Charlottesville, Va., where a Unite the Right gathering of neo-Nazis, white supremacists, Lost Cause devotees and other angry history deniers left destruction and death in their path in 2017, there was a different scene this past weekend.

The city removed statues of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, memorials to those who fought on the losing side of a Civil War to maintain the brutal and murderous institution of slavery. They were erected as monuments to white supremacy, not in the 1860s but the 1920s, a Jim Crow threat to Black citizens to "know their place."

Now, as then, there are those opposed to this bit of progress, with arguments that removing the stone idols would mean erasing history, which is ridiculous since that history will never disappear from books, museums and tall tales handed down by the "never forget" brigade.

Ironically, many of these same folks would be only too glad to forget what really happened, during that bloody Civil War and in the 100 years after — the ingenious laws and policies that continue to reverberate through everything from health care to housing.

As part of the plan, they've come up with a fear-based campaign to, you got it, erase any part of American history that deals with racism and the ways it was intentionally embedded in American institutions. And predictably, this battle in a war that has never ended is actually gaining momentum that Republican politicians hope to ride to electoral victory.

The Ultimate Snowflakes

They could not do it without the cooperation of aggrieved parents fighting against something they haven't even tried to understand.

I really wish that instead of tying themselves into contradictory knots, these troops standing in the way of the truth — the ultimate snowflakes trying to "cancel" facts — would come clean and just admit that it's not history they're opposed to, it's any reckoning that gets in the way of their myths.

The version of history they love is what's been spoon-fed to many generations until fairly recently — propaganda in the name of patriotism. The concern "for the children" expressed in tear-stained testimony at school board meetings from Loudoun County, Va., to Chandler, Ariz., only extends to certain kids, their own. It leaves out the Black, brown, Asian American and Native American children who have suffered through and been traumatized by a white-washed tableau that either villainizes or disappears American heroes who always have been stalwart fighters for an inclusive and welcoming society, also known as America as it supposedly aspires to be.

There is no more absurd example than in Tennessee, where parents from "Moms for Liberty" don't want children to learn about what six-year-old Ruby Bridges endured when she integrated her New Orleans elementary school in 1960. The image of young Ruby immortalized by quintessential American artist Norman Rockwell depicts her daily walk surrounded by federal marshals. To get an education, her body and soul had to survive angry white parents, faces twisted, who greeted her with jeers, who threatened to poison her, who, when a child her age should have been playing with baby dolls, held up a coffin carrying a Black one so Ruby could get the message.

So, white children of today are too fragile to merely read about the dangerous racism a 6-year-old faced not that long ago? Do their parents realize they are still trying to bar Ruby Bridges from school?

A complaint is that Ruby's story needs more whites in shining armor.

Well, there were a few, including Barbara Henry, a white teacher from Massachusetts, who did the job she was paid to do for the year Ruby was in a class all her own. And there are the parents who eventually sent their children back to get an education, in more ways than one.

The star of her story, though, is Ruby, someone any child should admire. She never cried or whimpered, said federal marshal Charles Burks. "She just marched along like a little soldier." A former first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, wrote her a letter.

An argument brought up again and again in these curriculum fights is that teaching stories like Ruby's causes children of color to think of themselves as victims. The opposite is true. Ruby, at 66, is still an activist, as well as a wife and mother. Ruby Bridges Goes to School: My True Story, her book that parents are so afraid of, teaches lessons of resilience and strength that transcend color. The message she continues to share: "I tell children to be kind to each other."

Oh, the horror!

Beyond The Classroom

Children wrongly taught that America was and has always been perfect, presumably grow into the fragile flowers that Sen. Tom Cotton believes need protecting when they enter the military. In the manner of the thought police in Russia or China, the Arkansas Republican is trying to get an instructor at the U.S. Air Force Academy fired for teaching about systemic racism that shaped all-American institutions, like the military.

Does Cotton not know that African Americans fought for the right to fight and die for a country that enslaved them, discriminated against them, segregated them into separate units until 1948?

Was Cotton not taught of the Japanese Americans who fought in World War II — including in one of the most decorated regiments in the country's history — while family members back home were herded into internment camps, suspect only because of their race and ethnicity?

That made their sacrifice more patriotic, with their numbers in service still strong. Though they lack representation at the top, about 43 percent of the 1.3 million men and women on active duty in the United States military are people of color.

People of color in America know, have always known about, injustice, just as six-year-old Ruby learned. Being clear-eyed about how the country falls short of its ideals only hardens the determination to right those wrongs.

And, in truth, it's not just students of color whose lives continue to be affected by systemic racism. In a Texas school, a white teacher gave white students permission to use the "N-word." In California, a high school basketball team had its title taken away for throwing tortillas at members of the opposing, predominantly Latino team at a postgame "celebration."

All children, as well as adults who should know better, have learned only too well lessons about the country's power divide, about who counts and who does not.

When you hide history, a price will be paid. Esther Bejarano knew. The Auschwitz survivor, who used the power of music to fight anti-Semitism and racism in postwar Germany, died recently at the age of 96. She used to tell the young people: "You're not guilty of what happened back then. But you become guilty if you refuse to listen to what happened."

When I study the pictures of those everyday Americans spewing hate at a 6-year-old and then the faces of angry parents and politicians, so insistent on burying the truth, my wish is that they listen, then look in a mirror.

Mary C. Curtis has worked at The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Charlotte Observer, as national correspondent for Politics Daily, and is a senior facilitator with The OpEd Project. Follow her on Twitter @mcurtisnc3.

CPAC’s Insane Extremism Is A Warning For 2022

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Many Never Trump conservatives were hoping that when now-President Joe Biden won the 2020 election, Republicans would abandon Trumpism. Instead, they doubled down on it, and the recent 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas was a celebration of Trumpian extremism — from anti-vaxxer paranoia to the Big Lie about the 2020 election to praising the January 6 insurrectionists as heroic. According to liberal Washington Post opinion columnist Greg Sargent, CPAC 2021 should serve as a wake-up call for Democrats and encourage them to do everything imaginable to prevent a red wave in the 2022 midterms.

SargeNT explains, "Back in the dark ages of the last century, the right-wing culture war was often described with a reference to the three Gs: God, guns and gays. These days, the right-wing culture war is perhaps better described with three Vs: vaccine derangement, validation of White racial innocence, and valorization of insurrectionists. Over the weekend, the Conservative Political Action Conference treated the nation to a parade of such obsessions."

The lineup at CPAC 2021 in Dallas ranged from former President Donald Trump to Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas to a QAnon supporter: Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado.

"We were told the large percentage of Americans who remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 is a cause for ecstatic celebration," Sargent notes. "We were told 'Marxist' Democrats want to indoctrinate your children to be ashamed of their whiteness. And, of course, we were told that the election was stolen from Donald Trump. This zombie lie was delivered to CPAC by the former president himself, who previewed this by telling Fox News that the January 6 rioters were 'peaceful people' and that they are this current moment's true victims of injustice. If there's one thing that all this lunacy confirmed, it's that such culture-warring will be central to GOP efforts in 2022."

Sargent notes that the 2010 and 2014 midterms — back when Barack Obama was president — far-right Republicans successfully used culture war fear-mongering to rally their base.

"Today's vaccine denial and valorization of insurrectionists carry serious echoes of the Tea Party during the Barack Obama presidency," Sargent recalls. "In 2010, protesters confronted Democratic lawmakers with vile slurs, and Republicans told endless lies about 'death panels.' In 2014, the GOP went all-in on the lie that Obama would allow terrorists to import Ebola across our border. Republicans were in no way penalized for any of this. Instead, they won two smashing midterm victories."

Sargent wraps up his column by urging Democrats to put Republicans "on the defensive" in the 2022 midterms.

"This might include asking anti-critical race theory Republicans why they think our cadets are such snowflakes that they must be shielded from hard truths about their country's past," Sargent writes. "Or asking why Republicans are doing far too little to encourage GOP voters to endure a little pinprick to protect their friends, relatives, and neighbors from dying of a deadly disease. Or why they're trying to bury the truth about their own party's complicity in an effort to sack the U.S. government with mob violence."

The columnist adds, "Ask yourself this: Why is it that Democrats spend far more time denying lies — that they want to indoctrinate your children with White shame and send jackbooted government thugs to kick down your doors and force vaccines on you — than Republicans spend denying any of those charges against them, which are true?"

Koch Networks Using Dark Money To Kill Voting Rights Bills

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Earlier this year, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives took a stand against voter suppression when they passed House Resolution 1, a.k.a. the For the People Act — a comprehensive voting rights/election reform bill that now faces an uphill climb in the U.S. Senate under the rules of the filibuster, which requires 60 or more votes for most legislation. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and many other Senate Republicans are vehemently opposed to HR 1, and according to the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, "dark money" from "the Koch network" is helping to fuel that opposition.

In an article published on May 28, CREW's Meghan Faulkner and Miru Osuga explain, "There's a whole lot of dark money behind the opponents of democracy reform. The Koch network alone has spent tens of millions backing many of the senators who are opposing the For the People Act, which would overhaul campaign finance rules and enforcement and make it harder for dark money groups, like those in the Koch network, to secretly influence our elections."

Faulkner and Osuga note how much "the Koch network" has spent "backing" GOP opponents of the For the People Act, including $5.6 million spent on Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, $1.3 million on Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, $4.9 million on Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, $4.3 million on Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, $5.7 million on Sen. John Cornyn of Texas and $4.3 million on Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas.

"All told," Faulkner and Osuga note, "groups associated with the Koch network have spent over $100 million boosting the campaigns of current Republican senators, none of whom are supportive of comprehensive campaign finance reform. That total doesn't even include millions of dollars in additional dark money spending from these groups that was never reported to the Federal Election Commission."

KochPAC is a political action committee funded by employees of Koch Industries and their allies. Billionaire oligarch Charles Koch, the 85-year-old brother of the late David Koch, has been a major supporter of right-wing causes.

According to CREW, one of the things that troubles "the Koch network" is how "popular" the proposals of the For the People Act are. The bill comes at a time when Republicans in state legislatures all over the United States are aggressively pushing voter suppression bills.

"The Koch network and other dark money groups know exactly how popular this democracy reform is and how much it threatens the broken campaign finance system they depend on," Faulkner and Osuga stress. "That's why they're doing their best to defeat it quietly in Congress, aided by the senators whose campaigns they've boosted with millions of dollars of secret money."

Republicans Warn That Opposing Racism Is A ‘Communist’ Plot

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) claimed on Tuesday that advocating for dismantling systemic racism is propaganda in service to the Communist Party of China.

On Tuesday afternoon, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan wrote, "On the anniversary of George Floyd's murder, we reflect on the fact that dismantling systemic racism is also a national security priority. The fight for racial justice at home and abroad is foundational to our future & to how the world sees us."

"This tweet is approved by the Communist Party of China," Cotton tweeted in response just minutes later.

Republicans in Congress largely ignored the anniversary of George Floyd's murder. But they have been more vocal about the supposed communist threat of anti-racist policy and education.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on Wednesday argued that "social justice" is "often code for social Marxism." Rep. Matt Gaetz said just days ago that "the real threat to our nation is the Marxism and Critical Race Theory that they [the Biden administration] embraces." And Rep. Mo Brooks wrote earlier in May that "Marxism stokes division by fanning the flames of class, race, and gender resentment."

Cotton has repeatedly lashed out at efforts to address systemic racism in America.

In February, he characterized efforts by the Biden administration to address racism as "anti-American" and racist itself.

A month later, Cotton said that acknowledging the existence of racial bias in the country was "slander" against America.

Other Republicans have similarly attacked the concept of systemic racism.

Thirty Republicans in the House banded together this month to push legislation that would prevent the government from addressing racism. Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), has argued that "systemic socialism" is more of a "real" problem than racism.

International rivals of the United States have tried to exploit the racial animosity in the country to their own advantage. Citing campaigns by the Russian and Chinese governments to highlight and exploit America's racial divisions, the Center for a Just Security recently noted, "America's competitors view its social division, history of racism, and domestic anti-democratic movements as a vulnerability for the country."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.