Tuesday, January 25, 2022

 -Conservative MP Conor Burns, on Boris Johnson's lockdown birthday party

A new front has opened up in the GOP war on federal pandemic measures, and in a painful reminder that everything can always get dumber, this one’s about protecting Americans’ sacred right to expensive, tax-payer subsidized medicine that doesn’t work.

  • On Monday, the FDA revoked emergency authorization for monoclonal antibody therapies from Regeneron and Eli Lilly for now, as both drugmakers have reported that the treatments were ineffective against the Omicron variant. As a result, the Department of Health and Human Services notified state health officials that it had halted distribution of the drugs. In a functional society, this would be the end of the newsletter, and we would all go watch a movie.
  • Alas! Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), whose pandemic response consists of railing against prevention measures and relying on antibody treatments to save Floridians who wind up hospitalized as a result, vowed to fight the decision in some unspecified fashion. “People have a right to access these treatments, and to revoke it on this basis is just fundamentally wrong and we’re going to fight back,” he said at a Tuesday press conference. Asked about DeSantis’s anti-FDA diatribe, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the only thing there is to say: “Let’s just take a step back here to realize how crazy this is.”
  • The other exhausting battles over masks and vaccines rage on, even in solid blue states. A New York judge struck down the state’s indoor mask mandate on Monday, ruling that Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) and state health officials couldn’t enact the rule without the approval of the state legislature. A day later, an appeals-court judge approved a request from New York Attorney General Letitia James to stay the ruling while the state files an appeal, temporarily restoring the mandate.

On the flipside, Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) has created chaos by attempting to impose COVID-spreading policies on unwilling school systems (in violation of state law).

  • Much as he tried to balance a moderate aesthetic with MAGA dog-whistles during his campaign, Youngkin is now urging Virginians to “love your neighbor” even while Trumpishly stoking the kind of anti-mask rage that emboldened one woman to threaten school officials and other parents to gleefully defy school mask requirements. Youngkin told right-wing radio host John Fredericks on Monday that the school districts keeping mask mandates in place “aren’t recognizing the rights of parents today.” (In the same interview, Mild-Mannered Normal Republican Youngkin announced a tip line where parents can report teachers who use “divisive” class material.)
  • The GOP’s courting of the anti-mask, anti-vax fringe has some very predictable, very cool longer-term implications. In Georgia, a GOP state senator has introduced a bill that would ban the state from requiring “proof of any vaccination of any person as a condition of providing any service or access to any facility.” As written, the bill would abolish vaccine requirements entirely for Georgia public schools. The author said that wasn’t his intention and that he planned to “adjust” the bill, but Republicans in other states have been tip-toeing in the same direction.

From Donald Trump sycophants to purple-state Republicans who stood apart to get elected, the GOP will use the dumbest weapons imaginable to prolong the pandemic to the bitter end. A party that will wreck the country to regain control of it isn’t likely to stop once it gets there.

Pod Save America is hitting the road this spring for Pod Save America: (A)Live and on Tour! The tour kicks off on April 14th in Washington D.C with Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Tommy Vietor, and Dan Pfeiffer traveling to cities like Seattle, Dallas, Chicago, Boston, and more—and they’ll be joined by inspiring local activists, candidates and politicians. The listener pre-sale has begun, use the code CROOKED! For the full list of dates and for more information on city-specific COVID protocol, visit Crooked.com/events.

Russia launched a wave of military exercises across the country on Tuesday, while accusing the U.S. of escalating tensions by delivering a fresh shipment of weapons to Ukraine and putting troops on high alert. While President Biden told reporters that a Russian attack “would be the largest invasion since World War II” and “would change the world,” Ukrainian leaders have sought to downplay the threat, urging citizens to remain calm. (Analysts say that may be a strategy to avoid provoking Russia and creating mass panic, or just a function of Ukraine being used to a constant, high threat level—or some combination.) The Biden administration announced on Tuesday that it was working with fuel suppliers in the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia to increase the flow of supplies to Europe in the coming weeks, to reduce any leverage Russia might gain by threatening to cut off fuel shipments.

It’s a commonly held assumption in The Discourse that additional school closures during the Omicron wave would be disastrous for Democrats in the midterms, in large part fueled by Terry McAuliffe’s stinging defeat in Virginia. But writing in the New Republic, journalist Rachel Cohen gathered a mountain of evidence showing that parents and voters hold more nuanced views: Throughout the pandemic, polls found that in spite of how much remote learning sucks, most parents and most voters didn’t want kids in school buildings full-time until teachers could get vaccinated. And while “education” was undeniably a major factor in the Virginia gubernatorial election, it looks likely that Glenn Youngkin’s voters were more fired up about the manufactured CRT culture war than pandemic school closures. The bottom line, of course, is that schools can’t stay open when the whole staff gets sick at once, regardless of what pundits would prefer. Here’s a great piece on what teachers have been going through, in their own words.

Three federal judges in Alabama have blocked Republicans’ new congressional maps that packed Black voters into a single district.

A Wisconsin appeals court has temporarily blocked a judge’s order prohibiting drop boxes in the state.

Neil Young has threatened to pull his music from Spotify if it continues to host Joe Rogan and his vaccine disinformation. 

General Motors announced it will invest $7 billion in electric vehicle manufacturing in Michigan, bringing thousands of jobs to the state.

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