Gov. Ivey (R-AL) appears distraught, probably because in the last 14 days her state's per capita caseload has increased by a horrifying 311% and hospitalizations are up 92%. Only 34% of Alabamans are fully vaccinated, tied with Mississippi for the worst rate in the entire country.
Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) is, arguably, the dumbest member of Congress. Some say high school dropout Lauren Boebert (Q-CO) and Andrew "just tourists" Clyde (R-GA) are even stupider. Cawthorn-- a Hitler devotee-- strengthened his case during an interview on one of the fringe neo-Nazi websites (Real America’s Voice) he frequents, with a promise to his fans that he would "prosecute" Dr. Fauci when the GOP take back control of the House. "I'll tell you when we take the majority back in 2022, I'll make sure consequences are doled out. We want to prosecute this guy to the full ability of the law. And I’ll tell you, to lie to the American people just to get your name in the news, just to get your face on the cover of books, just to get fame and fortune. I’ll tell you, Dr. Anthony Fauci does not deserve either fame or fortune." Cawthorn is best known for having no real interest in or knowledge of policy, but strictly to... how did he put it? "To get your name in the news, just to get your face on the cover of books, just to get fame and fortune."
David Frum ended his Atlantic column, Vaccinated America Has Had Enough, this morning with a question: "Will Blue America ever decide it’s had enough of being put medically at risk by people and places whose bills it pays? Check yourself: Have you?" I have-- and long ago. That's why I cheer whenever any of them threaten secession. How much better off would the United States be without them! Build that wall!
Frum: "In the United States, this pandemic could’ve been over by now, and certainly would’ve been by Labor Day. If the pace of vaccination through the summer had been anything like the pace in April and May, the country would be nearing herd immunity. With most adults immunized, new and more infectious coronavirus variants would have nowhere to spread. Life could return nearly to normal. Experts list many reasons for the vaccine slump, but one big reason stands out: vaccine resistance among conservative, evangelical, and rural Americans. Pro-Trump America has decided that vaccine refusal is a statement of identity and a test of loyalty. In April, people in counties that Joe Biden won in 2020 were two points more likely to be fully vaccinated than people in counties that Donald Trump won: 22.8 percent were fully vaccinated in Biden counties; 20.6 percent were fully vaccinated in Trump counties. By early July, the vaccination gap had widened to almost 12 points: 46.7 percent were fully vaccinated in Biden counties, 35 percent in Trump counties. When pollsters ask about vaccine intentions, they record a 30-point gap: 88 percent of Democrats, but only 54 percent of Republicans, want to be vaccinated as soon as possible. All told, Trump support predicts a state’s vaccine refusal better than average income or education level.
To overcome this resistance, some state and local political leaders have offered incentives: free beer, free food, tickets for a $1 million lottery. This strategy is not working, or not working well enough. Part of the trouble is that pro-Trump state legislatures are enacting ever more ambitious protections for people who refuse vaccines. They are forbidding business owners to ask for proof of vaccination from their customers. They are requiring cruise lines, sports stadiums, and bars to serve the unvaccinated. In Montana, they have even forbidden hospitals to require health-care workers to get vaccinated.
Pro-Trump vaccine resistance exacts a harsh cost from pro-Trump loyalists. We read pitiful story after pitiful story of deluded and deceived people getting sick when they did not have to get sick, infecting their loved ones, being intubated, and dying. And as these loyalists harm themselves and expose all of us to unnecessary and preventable risk, publications-- including this one-- have run articles sympathetically explaining the recalcitrance of the unvaccinated. These tales are 2021’s version of the Trump safaris of 2017, when journalists traveled through the Midwest to seek enlightenment in diners and gas stations.
Reading about the fates of people who refused the vaccine is sorrowful. But as summer camp and travel plans are disrupted-- as local authorities reimpose mask mandates that could have been laid aside forever-- many in the vaccinated majority must be thinking: Yes, I’m very sorry that so many of the unvaccinated are suffering the consequences of their bad decisions. I’m also very sorry that the responsible rest of us are suffering the consequences of their bad decisions.
As cases uptick again, as people who have done the right thing face the consequences of other people doing the wrong thing, the question occurs: Does Biden’s America have a breaking point? Biden’s America produces 70 percent of the country’s wealth-- and then sees that wealth transferred to support Trump’s America. Which is fine; that’s what citizens of one nation do for one another. Something else they do for one another: take rational health-care precautions during a pandemic. That reciprocal part of the bargain is not being upheld.
...Can governments lawfully require more public-health cooperation from their populations? They regularly do, for other causes. More than a dozen conservative states have legislated drug testing for people who seek cash welfare. It is bizarre that Florida and other states would put such an onus on the poorest people in society-- while allowing other people to impose a much more intimate and immediate harm on everybody else. The federal government could use its regulatory and spending powers to encourage vaccination in the same way that Ron DeSantis has used his executive powers to discourage it. The Biden administration could require proof of vaccination to fly or to travel by interstate train or bus. It could mandate that federal contractors demonstrate that their workforces are vaccinated. It could condition federal student loans on proof of vaccination. Those measures might or might not be wise policy: Inducements are usually more effective at changing individual behavior than penalties are. But they would be feasible and legal-- and they would spread the message about what people ought to do, in the same way that sanctions against drunk driving, cheating on taxes, and unjust discrimination in the workplace do.
100% of House Democrats are vaccinated. Just 54% of Republicans are-- 114 of 211, including 17 who were finally vaccinated yesterday. It lasted less than a month but the neanderthals in the Tennessee legislature halted all vaccine outreach-- and not just for COVID-- to adolescents. These are miserable people with nothing to live for and who think nothing of bringing the rest of us down with them. Elaine Godfrey did an interesting piece today, also for The Atlantic, on how a seemingly reform-minded, forward-looking Republican, freshman Nancy Mace, from a relatively well-educated South Carolina swing district hoped to be a face of a post-Trump GOP but, wrote Godfrey, she "lost her nerve" and soon learned there is "no such thing" as a post-Trump GOP. When she vowed to vote to certify Biden's election, "a Republican constituent threatened on social media to shoot her... [and] she applied for a concealed-carry permit."
Mace supported Trump "but following the January 6 riot at the Capitol, she became that rare thing: a GOP lawmaker willing to publicly oppose him. Networks clamored to have her on TV, and in the days after January 6, she seemed to be everywhere. '[Trump’s] entire legacy was wiped out yesterday,' she told CNN the next morning, calling on her fellow Republicans to 'rebuild' the party. When the Fox News host Neil Cavuto asked her whether she still believed that Trump had a future in the GOP, Mace replied: 'I do not.'" Soon after that the first female graduate of The Citadel "appeared to have lost her never." She almost appeared to have been brain-washed and never again veered away from the party line-- on anything... just like Kevin McCarthy. And like McCarthy, she stabbed Liz Cheney in the back and voted to remove her as GOP conference chair.
By February, Mace was picking high-profile Twitter fights, and over the next few months her team would blast out press releases decrying antifa and Democrats’ efforts to “defund the police.” I wondered: Was she trying to change the subject? Was she hoping to regain some credibility in her party? I brought up a particularly bitter exchange with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that had gone viral, in which Mace accused the New York progressive of exaggerating the danger she’d been in during the Capitol riot. The move earned her a six-minute spot on Hannity, where she attacked Ocasio-Cortez some more, and a segment on Fox News Radio, in which, without apparent irony, she lamented the “Jerry Springer Show” state of American politics. Since then, Mace has appeared on Fox News several times a month to riff on a selection of partisan talking points.
...But in trying to establish herself as a born-again Trump critic, Mace had clearly made a miscalculation: State and local party leaders complained about her in local papers. One constituent wrote a letter to the editor saying she felt betrayed by Mace; another person called into Rush Limbaugh’s show to say she was furious at the congresswoman. South Carolinians ranted about Mace on Facebook, and right-wing blogs published takedowns of her. At least one Republican has already promised to challenge her from the right in 2022, and Team Trump is said to be recruiting other primary contenders. Despite her district’s sometimes moderate inclinations, winning reelection will require first winning the Republican primary-- and in South Carolina, that’ll be hard to do without embracing Trump. Mace appears to have realized this.
Earlier this summer, Mace posted photos to Twitter showing the sidewalk in front of her home covered in graffiti. The scrawled messages included a fairly straightforward “Fuck you, Nancy” but also the deep-cut anarchist phrase “No gods, no masters.” (Some Twitter users were quick to allege an inside job: One tweeted photos of Mace’s handwriting, while others pointed out that the culprit seemed to have targeted the parts of Mace’s property that would be easiest to powerwash. Mace has denied vandalizing her own home.) It’s not clear who was behind the graffiti; authorities are still investigating. What is clear is that Mace saw an opportunity to score political points and ran with it. Her campaign used the vandalism as an excuse to send out a fundraising email. In an interview with Sean Hannity, she vowed never to back down from her beliefs: “We’re seeing the left burn, loot, and destroy our cities and our property,” she said. She posted to Instagram a video of herself stress-eating a Twinkie, and a photo of herself at a gun shop. “Buying another firearm,” she captioned it. “Feeling safer today than yesterday.”
I wonder if Mace would tell her constituents to not get vaccinated if that's what it took for her to be accepted as a true Trumpist. Or is that a step too far for her? Maybe there's no step too far. So far her only opponent is a Trumpist crackpot, Lynz Piper-Loomis. Presumably, at some point a Democrat will also run for the seat.