Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Omicron, SCOTUS and media reluctance to face GOP anti-democratic forces

Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Omicron, SCOTUS and media reluctance to face GOP anti-democratic forces

NY Times:

Vaccine demand grows in the U.S. and so do wait times.

Many vaccination clinics and local officials are reporting long lines and delays in booking vaccination appointments recently, the product of expanded eligibility on booster shots and fears of the Omicron variant, experts said.

The stresses on the U.S. vaccination program are also worsened by the broader labor shortage that is affecting many sectors, including health care.

“What the public needs to keep in mind is that we’ve got a stressed and strained health care delivery system,” said Mitchel Rothholz, the lead for immunization policy at the American Pharmacists Association.

Vaccine demand has spiked from an average of under a million doses a day for much of October to an average of 1.5 million a day in recent weeks, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Demand for boosters and first time doses seems to be driving that increase.

Stop panici.. oh wait. Appears the message to get vaxxed is getting out. And people complaining about panic appear to be disappointed. Oh, well. Over it. 

Now do testing. Send test kits and masks to everyone. And if you need to fire louis DeJoy to get it done, over that, too. 

First the spatial spread. Recall previous variants and the pace with which they were reported in different locations. Omicron is already on all continents other than Antarctica in slightly over a week since it got named. I mean… wow 2/n

— Bill Hanage (@BillHanage) December 5, 2021

More of that thread here:

The UK has a pretty large amount of immunity from the combination of a good vaccination program and an incompetent initial pandemic response. If that doesn’t get in the way of omicron transmission, it’s not good 9/n 
In Israel we have a fully boosted person transmitting to another. This is not data. It is anecdote. It’s not that it *can* happen, it’s how *often* it happens that matters. That said, the fact that this has already been observed should be a contrast with previous variants 10/n 
Taken together Omicron will be the story of the next few months. This is true regardless of how things like the severity shake out. Something so transmissible has consequences and they’re not all rational. Look at the travel bans

Fauci on Sen. Ron Johnson saying he’s “overhyped” Covid: “How do you respond to something as preposterous as that? … Overhyping Covid? It’s already killed 780,000 Americans and over 5 million people worldwide. So I don’t have any clue of what he’s talking about.” pic.twitter.com/ENgXo6jJIK

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 5, 2021

Liza Featherstone/NY Times:

Josh Hawley and the Republican Obsession With Manliness

Mr. Hawley is not alone in sensing that masculinity is a popular cause; around the world, male politicians are tapping into social anxieties about its apparent decline, for their own ideological ends. The Chinese government, for instance, has declared a “masculinity crisis,” and it is responding by cracking down on gaming during school days and by investing in gym teachers and school sports.

There can be a homophobic and fascistic component to such calls: China has also barred “sissy” men from appearing on TV; in Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro has said that masks are “for fairies”; and Mr. Hawley, in his speech, fueled anti-transgender prejudice by alluding to a bogus “war on women’s sports.” Nothing justifies this hateful nonsense. But Mr. Hawley, for all his winking bigotry, is tapping into something real — a widespread, politically potent anxiety about young men that is already helping the right.

Joe Biden’s repeated efforts to unite the U.S. are not just political posturing. He realizes finding a way to come back together as a nation is essential to our survival. I only hope enough of us start to work w/him to reverse the damage being done daily. https://t.co/q13xmV0U0y

— David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) December 5, 2021

NY Times:

Before Even Receiving a Name, Omicron Could Have Spread in New York and the Country

A health care analyst came to Manhattan for an anime convention. His trip shows how the virus once again outpaced the public health response.

It is possible that the convention contributed little to Omicron’s spread. But it appears more likely that the virus is once again outpacing a public health response that is simply unable to keep up. (On Saturday, Connecticut officials said that a man in his 60s from their state fell sick with the Omicron variant in late November, days after a family member had returned from attending the anime convention.)

In the nearly two years since the novel coronavirus first began circulating in this country, the United States has built enough capacity to test more people than any other country. It is now sequencing some 14 percent of positive P.C.R. tests, searching for mutations and identifying variants.

The delta wave peaked in S Africa 6 months ago, are we surprised by reinfection 6 months later? If mRNAx2 waned at 6 months, didn’t we expect post-infection immunity to wane? https://t.co/8YVgbbxaCr

— Eli Perencevich, MD MS🧼 😷 (@eliowa) December 5, 2021

Dana Milbank/WaPo:

The media treats Biden as badly as — or worse than — Trump. Here’s proof.

After a honeymoon of slightly positive coverage in the first three months of the year, Biden’s press for the past four months has been as bad as — and for a time worse than — the coverage Trump received for the same four months of 2020.

Think about that. In 2020, Trump presided over a worst-in-world pandemic response that caused hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths; held a superspreader event at the White House and got covid19 himself; praised QAnon adherents; embraced violent white supremacists; waged a racist campaign against Black Lives Matter demonstrators; attempted to discredit mail-in voting; and refused to accept his defeat in a free and fair election, leading eventually to the violence of Jan. 6 and causing tens of millions to accept the “big lie,” the worst of more than 30,000 he told in office.

And yet Trump got press coverage as favorable as, or better than, Biden is getting today. Sure, Biden has had his troubles, with the delta variant, Afghanistan and inflation. But the economy is rebounding impressively, he has signed major legislation, and he has restored some measure of decency, calm and respect for democratic institutions.

For more on this piece, see tweets at end of post from Magdi Semrau.

No politician ever had a better sense of humor than #BobDole. My favorite Dole joke was his response to seeing Presidents Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and Richard Nixon together at an event. Dole cracked, “It’s See No Evil, Hear No Evil, and Evil.”

— Larry Sabato (@LarrySabato) December 5, 2021

Ian Haney López:

The Democracy Endgame

The Democratic Party is famously bad at communicating a unifying story about its vision for society. Indeed, Democrats all too often campaign as if their opponent is another faction of their own party rather than the Republicans. And then, with each new loss (or distressingly narrow victory), Democrats take aim at each other anew, further strengthening the sense that their brand is disarray.

Many factors contribute to conflict among Democrats. But nothing hamstrings the Democratic Party’s power to define itself and its mission as much as the right’s strategic racism. The GOP’s embrace decades ago of racial dog whistle politics has turned Democrats against each other. One Democratic faction believes with every fiber that white racism must be directly confronted, though this alienates white voters and loses elections. The other side insists that the best strategy is to mainly ignore racism—though this leaves unchallenged the Republicans’ main electoral strategy. Democrats are thus two Titanics, steaming in opposite directions. From their respective decks, each can see the iceberg in the other’s path, but not the jagged teeth beneath their own bows. For democracy itself, whatever hope there is depends on both these Titanics turning.

While the U.S. booster shot campaign accelerated in November, the share of vaccinated adults (73%) remains largely unchanged since Sept. 1/4 of Republicans, White Evangelical Christians & the uninsured continue to say they definitely won’t get a #vaccine. https://t.co/Ti4oavzAyh pic.twitter.com/IEvBcTiPWn

— KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation) (@KFF) December 5, 2021

Garrett Epps/Washington Monthly:

The Supreme Court’s Biggest Concern About Overturning Roe? What That Will Mean for Itself.

As Wednesday’s oral argument made clear, the justices care far more about the high court’s reputation than the lives of millions of women.

A few minutes later, Justice Amy Coney Barrett asked the same question in slightly different words. “Take it out of the issue of stare decisis,” she helpfully suggested. Instead, she asked, what if a state court decided that a state constitution protected the right to choose up to, say, 27 rather than 24 weeks? “As a matter of first principles, is that line acceptable as a matter of constitutional law?”

In other words, both justices were asking: Do we really have to mess around with these obsolete precedents or can we just do what we want? Won’t you pretty please concede that your precious precedents are nonsense?

Not a soul listening to the argument—whether in the eerily deserted Supreme Court chamber or over the Court’s audio feed—has any doubt about how this Court would decide the issue if they were writing on a clean slate. At least three of the justices on the Court’s right wing—and quite possibly all six—think Roe is an abomination and should be overturned today.

Using Charles Gaba’s work after consulting him (which they subsequently acknowledged):

A new NPR analysis reveals that pro-Trump counties now have a higher death rate from COVID-19 than counties that voted for Joe Biden. Mistrust and vaccine misinformation are to blame. https://t.co/v0BhMudwAV

— NPR (@NPR) December 5, 2021

Will Bunch/Inquirer:

3 words America forgot that explain gun insanity, vaccine denial, student debt, and more

America’s grim 2021 worsened with new fears of guns, COVID-19, and political inaction — all rooted in our rejection of a 3-word concept.

A lot of pundits — I guess that includes me — have spent a lot of time in recent weeks wondering why the national mood nearly a year into the Biden presidency is so sour, even with the buffoonery of Donald Trump banished from the White House (at least for now), the economy surging back by most measures (especially jobs), and a Congress that, for all its flaws, has passed COVID-19 relief, an infrastructure bill, and may do more. I think the trauma of the last five or so years has exposed something deeply damaged in the national soul — a common thread that’s buried in almost every story, even when we fail to see it.

Seriously, what the hell is wrong with America? What all these stories share is what the nation has been missing, in accelerated fashion, since the government-is-the-problem “Reagan revolution” of the 1980s, which is any notion of three words that have disappeared from the national conversation: “The public good.”

Another point on this valuable piece by @Milbank. The type of sentiment analysis that was run on Biden vs. Trump news reports does not measure content, but rather the connotations of individual words. Such an analysis thus reflects how content was *described*, i.e. “word choice” https://t.co/8PurEJNlHq

— Magdi Semrau (@magi_jay) December 5, 2021

What does this mean about press coverage? We don’t know the full method of this particular analysis, but we can infer it largely reflects descriptive choices, eg. “Trump/Biden Triumphant, Trump/Biden Gloomy” etc. No one analysis is the last word, but this is a valuable addition pic.twitter.com/E9BZIDgNjJ

— Magdi Semrau (@magi_jay) December 5, 2021

Anita Sreedhar and Anand Gopal/NY Times:

Behind Low Vaccination Rates Lurks a More Profound Social Weakness

Over the past four decades, governments have slashed budgets and privatized basic services. This has two important consequences for public health. First, people are unlikely to trust institutions that do little for them. And second, public health is no longer viewed as a collective endeavor, based on the principle of social solidarity and mutual obligation. People are conditioned to believe they’re on their own and responsible only for themselves. That means an important source of vaccine hesitancy is the erosion of the idea of a common good.

From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.

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