Ending It All This Time

Democracy is messy. That may be why Republicans have given up on it. Elections really don’t work. Let those folks storm the Capitol again and this time wipe out Congress and shut down the Supreme Court and install Donald Trump as President for Life – and make the office hereditary – his sons can follow him, and their sons, and so on. He will make the laws and then enforce them, and then rule on whether they are unconstitutional or not. (They would be of course,) And life would be simpler. America would be whiter. Gays would be back in the closet, or dead. Women would know their place. And those who accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior would run things. No one else would have a say. And no one would argue about politics anymore. That wouldn’t be allowed. This would be wonderful.

Listen to talk radio. That’s the general idea. Democracy has torn us apart. It’s time to move on.

Two-thirds of America isn’t ready for that yet. Trump isn’t the answer to everything. They’ll accept the mess, for now. But a real mess is coming. The Washington Post’s Tony Romm explains that:

The United States is careening toward an urgent financial crisis starting in less than two weeks, as a political standoff on Capitol Hill threatens to shutter the government during a pandemic, delay hurricane aid to millions of Americans and thrust Washington to the precipice of defaulting on its debt.

Yep, here we go again:

The high-stakes feud stems from a fight to raise the U.S. government’s borrowing limit, known as the debt ceiling. Democrats have tied the increase to a bill that funds federal operations into early December, setting off a war with Republicans, who refuse to raise the cap out of opposition to President Biden’s broader agenda – even if it means grinding the country to a halt.

Their position? Biden has to give up on his entire agenda and admit government is stupid and doesn’t work and the private sector can fix everything, and this nothing should be done about anything. And that is a deadly position:

No recent fight in the halls of Congress has quite carried the same stakes as this one, coming at a time when Washington continues to grapple with rising coronavirus infections and the deadly consequences of a fast-warming planet. Biden himself has warned about the “catastrophic” effects of inaction with key deadlines looming.

In short, this is not the time to shut down the government, on principle. Specifics do matter:

With the clock ticking, the House took the first steps Tuesday to stave off the political and economic crisis, as Democrats voted to keep the government operational and suspend the debt ceiling into December 2022. The party-line outcome foreshadowed its doomed prospects in the Senate, where Republicans have pledged to oppose it, threatening to leave Congress with little time to resolve a set of disputes that could destabilize global markets.

“We cannot shut down the government. That would be catastrophic in its own right,” warned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a speech before the vote. “We cannot ignore and not support the full faith and credit of the United States of America.”

This is critical stuff this time:

The first deadline arrives Sept. 30, at which point Congress must strike a deal to fund the government or critical federal services could cease Oct. 1. Millions of federal employees could see interruptions to their pay. Federal agencies that perform critical tasks in homeland security, law enforcement and housing could stop paying workers indefinitely. National parks and monuments also may close.

The implications of a shutdown on the government’s response to the pandemic are less clear, as there is little precedent for a sudden halt in government functions during a public health crisis. The U.S. government plays a leading role in monitoring the virus’s spread and coordinating vaccines and testing, all the while distributing billions of dollars in housing relief and other aid programs – working through agencies that are traditionally severely affected during a shutdown.

This cuts off the CDC and NIH and all the rest. Nothing can be monitored. Nothing can be reported. All that will be defunded. The only source of pandemic news would be Tucker Carlson. But it’s more than that:

Three years ago, a shutdown under President Donald Trump’s watch also cleaved a hole in the U.S. economy: JPMorgan Chase estimated then that the country lost $1.5 billion each week that Washington remained at a standstill.

A shutdown in 2021, however, could have even greater economic effects at a time when the Biden administration is still grappling with a pandemic that at one point caused widespread, Depression-era unemployment. Adding to the burden, lawmakers had hoped in the latest funding measure to authorize billions of dollars to respond to two recent, deadly hurricanes that battered the Gulf Coast and Eastern Seaboard. Those dollars now remain in jeopardy, along with a third priority to help resettle Afghan refugees who left their home country as the Taliban seized on a messy U.S. withdrawal.

Only one Senate Republican, Sen. John Neely Kennedy (La.), has signaled an interest in breaking ranks and casting a vote in favor of the spending – citing the impact of Hurricane Ida on his home state.

But that’s about it. Otherwise, do nothing. But wait, there’s more:

The next blow could come days later, in mid-October, when the U.S. government stands to breach the debt ceiling absent action from Congress. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen and other top Biden administration officials have urgently referred to the prospect as a financial doomsday, saying it puts U.S. credit at risk and could plunge the economy back into the recession from which it only recently re-emerged.

That’s the big deal:

The significant, looming repercussions only add to the urgency on Capitol Hill, which has less than two weeks until government funding runs dry – and a few weeks until the country breaches the debt limit. House Democrats on Tuesday unveiled the full text of their plan, which funds the government into early December and suspends the debt ceiling into December 2022.

That’s the best that they could do:

Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) have called on their GOP colleagues to acknowledge their “shared responsibility,” reminding them Monday that Democrats had supplied the votes to keep the country solvent even as they opposed other policies under Trump. A day later, Schumer took to the Senate floor to fault the GOP for hypocrisy, after the party added $7 trillion to the deficit while in power.

“This is playing with fire,” said Schumer, warning the combination of a government shutdown with a breached debt ceiling could have consequences including higher interest rates on Americans’ mortgages and delays in obtaining Social Security checks.

In short, you guys created most of this debt. The first interest payments on the debt are coming due. Pay up! But that doesn’t matter now:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has ignored the attacks, as his party hopes to use the fight over the debt ceiling as a way to delay Democrats from securing as much as $3.5 trillion in new spending that Biden seeks. He said GOP lawmakers would have supported an extension of government funding along with new disaster relief if only Democrats had not coupled it with an increase in the federal borrowing limit.

Taking to the floor Tuesday, McConnell did not directly address the debt limit – but did fault the president and his Democratic allies in Congress for a “reckless taxing-and-spending spree.”

Admit all government is stupid and doesn’t work! But the Democrats just aren’t there yet:

In recent days, Democratic lawmakers have reassured they will not allow the country to default. Some have said they could ultimately take special legislative maneuvers to bypass the Republican blockade and adopt the debt ceiling increase on their own.

But the process could take days that Democrats simply do not have, meaning at least a partial or short-term government shutdown is possible even if Congress staves off a more apocalyptic financial meltdown. And it would force Democrats to vote on their own to raise the debt ceiling by a specific amount, opening them to GOP attacks later – even as Democrats contend that some of the spending was enacted on a bipartisan basis.

They have no options, and the Washington Post’s Jeff Stein reports this:

The United States could plunge into an immediate recession if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling and the country defaults on its payment obligations this fall, according to one analysis released Tuesday.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, found that a prolonged impasse over the debt ceiling would cost the U.S. economy up to 6 million jobs, wipe out as much as $15 trillion in household wealth, and send the unemployment rate surging to roughly 9 percent from around 5 percent…

The Treasury Department has said it will exhaust its “extraordinary measures” to pay the U.S. obligations sometime in October, giving lawmakers little time to act to head off calamity.

“This economic scenario is cataclysmic. The downturn would be comparable to that suffered during the financial crisis” of 2008, said the report, written by Zandi and Bernard Yaros, assistant director and economist at Moody’s Analytics.

Yes, it’s that bad. And this is fairly simple:

The debt limit is the maximum amount of debt that Treasury can issue to pay the country’s bills. It was suspended from 2019 through the beginning of last month under a deal reached during the Trump administration. If Congress fails to increase the debt limit, Treasury would be unable to pay debts as they come due. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said earlier this week that such a default would be unprecedented in U.S. history. Moody’s “best estimate” is that this date is Oct. 20, although Treasury has not given a more precise day.

At that point, Treasury officials would face excruciating choices, such as whether to fail to pay $20 billion owed to seniors on Social Security, or to fail to pay bondholders of U.S. debt – a decision that could undermine faith in U.S. credit and permanently drive federal borrowing costs higher.

That’s an interesting choice – save the world’s economy or let tens of millions of the elderly die homeless in America’s streets – but it’s not just that;

Failure to raise the debt limit would have catastrophic impacts on global financial markets. Interest rates would spike as investors demand a higher rate of return for the risk of taking on U.S. debt given uncertainty about repayment. An increase in interest rates would ripple through the economy, raising costs not only for taxpayers but also for consumers and other borrowers. The value of the U.S. dollar would also decline long term as investors questioned the security of purchasing U.S. treasuries.

This Is McConnell’s plan:

Republicans have insisted that Democrats should increase the debt limit on their own, because they are pushing trillions of dollars in new spending priorities. But Democrats have rejected that approach because current national debt levels, which require raising the debt ceiling, are due to an array of policy priorities from both parties. The debt ceiling would have to be raised or suspended regardless of the spending package being pursued by the Biden administration.

And that’s a problem:

The path forward is unclear. Congressional Democrats on Monday unveiled a plan to package the debt ceiling suspension with funding the federal government – which would otherwise shut down at the end of this month – along with emergency funding for disaster relief and Afghan refugee resettlement funds. Republicans are expected to block the measure, with even moderate GOP senators saying they will vote against that package as long as it includes raising the debt ceiling.

Nothing is easy now:

Historically, both parties have come together to ensure the debt ceiling gets raised. Turning it into a political pawn would jeopardize international faith in the U.S. government, driving the cost of borrowing higher, even if it is not breached.

The world is watching. The world is not impressed, and Dan Froomkin is frustrated:

Republican congressional leaders are flagrantly ginning up a major political and financial crisis – safe in the knowledge that the Washington press corps will blame both sides.

At issue is a formality: raising the debt ceiling so that the U.S. government can continue paying the bills as previously appropriated by Congress.

But Republicans are refusing to go along, threatening a catastrophic government default and shutdown that could send the U.S. economy into an immediate recession and destabilize global markets.

They’re saying that keeping the government solvent is a Democratic problem now.

It’s an abandonment of the responsibility of governing. It is aberrational behavior by a political party that is willing to take extreme and potentially damaging action to score political points. It’s a hostage crisis.

And by not calling it out for what it is, the political press is enabling it.

That means that previous reporting was bullshit:

Tony Romm describes – but doesn’t question – the “political standoff” in which Republicans “refuse to raise the cap out of opposition to President Biden’s broader agenda – even if it means grinding the country to a halt.”

And if the blame is generally apportioned to both sides, it nevertheless seems like the onus is always on Democrats to fix the problem.

As Romm’s Washington Post colleague Jeff Stein writes, “The White House is in a bind” because “GOP lawmakers refuse to help Democrats avert a national financial catastrophe, leaving the administration with few easy answers as time runs out.”

Stein notes that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell “has not communicated any requests to the administration of what he wants in exchange” for Republican votes. Then Stein decries the fact that “there are no negotiations to resolve the impasse.”

He wants the world to burn. Taft’s it. But that’s the Democrats’ problem:

The Associated Press characterized the Democratic effort to push ahead with a vote as “all but daring Republicans who say they will vote against it despite the risk of a fiscal crisis.”

And rather than acknowledge that threatening shutdown and default is a now a go-to for an increasingly antigovernmental Republican Party, the AP benignly calls this “an all-too-familiar stalemate.”

Democrats chose to combine stopgap legislation to keep the government funded with the debt ceiling suspension – neither of which should be remotely controversial. New York Times reporters Emily Cochrane describes the move as “setting up a clash with Republicans.”

Coming pretty darn close to putting the blame entirely on Democrats, Cochrane writes that “the decision by Democratic leaders to attach it to legislation lifting the federal debt limit through Dec. 16, 2022 could ultimately jeopardize a typically routine effort to stave off a government shutdown, heightening the threat of fiscal calamity.”

This is absurd and Froomkin cites Catherine Rampell

Yes, it stinks that Democrats always have to be the grown-ups and prevent infantile Republicans from trashing the Constitution and causing a global catastrophe. But that’s apparently how our government works now.

The sooner Democrats realize this, the better.

Froomkin agrees:

How can the Republicans be so confident that the mainstream media won’t make it clear who’s to blame? Because it’s so damned predictable.

In 2013, when Senator Ted Cruz and his fellow Republicans shut down the government for 16 days in an attempt to defund Obamacare, the Washington Post blamed it on a “bitterly divided” Congress that “failed to reach agreement,” while the New York Times called it “a bitter budget standoff” left unresolved by “rapid-fire back and forth legislative maneuvers.”

And that’s nonsense:

How can democracy self-correct if the public does not understand where the problem lies? And where will the pressure for change come from if journalists do not hold the responsible parties accountable?

Slate’s Jim Newell agrees with that:

At the core of this potentially catastrophic game of chicken playing out at the highest levels of government are the rinky-dink politics of dumb 2022 campaign ads. And the person being the most ridiculous here, first and foremost, is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

While debt limit hikes over the last decade, including during the Trump years, have been done on a bipartisan basis, often negotiated as part of overall spending deals, McConnell has for months maintained that Republicans absolutely will not help Democrats raise the debt limit this time. There is not any precedent for this and, as Paul Kane wrote in the Washington Post, McConnell has “essentially created a new rule out of whole cloth to justify his actions.” His new rule is that when a party has unified control of government, it is that party’s responsibility to increase the debt limit on its own. He will not even engage in negotiations or ask for something in exchange. If a debt limit hike comes up in any bill, he – and enough Republicans to successfully filibuster it – will vote to default on the federal debt. Which he thinks would be bad, but also not his problem.

The reason McConnell is staking this position is that he wants material for campaign ads. He wants Democrats, without any Republican help, to do the work of increasing the debt limit by a big number, a great deal of which was amassed during the Trump administration. Then, Republicans can run campaign ads about how reckless Democrats increased the debt by a huge number, when Democrats were just giving the Treasury authority to pay the bills we’ve already accrued.

So this really is about those display ads:

This quest for televised talking points guides even the tiniest tactical decisions McConnell is making here. For instance: Some Senate Democrats had floated in recent days that they could pass the increase by themselves, on a clean bill through regular order, so long as Republicans don’t attempt to filibuster it. But McConnell won’t allow that. He is insisting Democrats do it through the reconciliation bill they’re working on. Why? Because if Democrats do it through reconciliation, they have to cite a specific number they’re raising the debt limit to, and can’t just suspend the debt limit for a certain date. McConnell wants Democrats to cite a scary number, for campaign ads. Democrats would also, through reconciliation, have to go through two more “vote-a-ramas,” or all-night open-amendment sessions. That would give McConnell two more long nights of putting Democrats on-the-record on fraught issues, which Republicans could then convert into – you got it – campaign ads.

To review: McConnell wants Democrats to own the selection of a scary number on a must-pass item, so he can run campaign ads against them, and he insists they do it through the procedural route that would allow Republicans to secure even more campaign ad material.

That’s how the game is played now:

Since Republicans began weaponizing debt limit increases during the Obama administration, just about every Democrat has either publicly or privately adopted the appropriate position: The debt limit is a catastrophically stupid law that shouldn’t exist. Raising it doesn’t increase spending itself; it just allows the government to finance all the spending that Congress has already approved. It has straightforwardly not served its purpose of being a “check on runaway spending,” but it has allowed bad-faith actors to wield it as a suicide vest unless some political demand of theirs is met. It’s an international embarrassment that binds the stability of global markets to our broken domestic politics. A responsible majority would work to either repeal it or – as Democrats have the power to do on their own – raise it to a cartoonishly high number to ensure it’s never an issue again. Rather than being a difficult vote, this should be a crowning achievement worthy of a ticker-tape parade.

But Democrats are too scared of the campaign ads to do that…

And thus thus:

McConnell might not mind if the economy melts down under a Democratic president. That’s good campaign ad material, too.

This will not end well. This may be the end.

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The Slow Fade

Where were we? Ah yes, Trump Patriots, or his Republican-approved neofascist militias – take your choice – were about to storm the Capitol again. But this time it was to demand the release of all who had been arrested the first time, political prisoners arrested for quite peacefully protesting, arrested on that day back in January for their views. There had been no violence. Nothing much happened on the day back in January. All that they had demanded was that Congress toss out the certified vote of any state that had not voted for Trump and declare that Trump had actually won – all people had to do was recheck what had been checked and certified many times before. Something had gone wrong. All that Vice President Pence, presiding over the session, had to do was say the process had to stop until that recheck of the vote in those “Biden” states was done, until everyone understood that he and Donald Trump had actually won reelection.

Well, perhaps things had gotten a little bit out of hand. But that still had been a political protest and thus a legitimate and protected exercise of free speech. Some folks just got a little too excited that day. But these were all political prisoners. Free them! Or else!

Or else what? No one knew. This time no one was going to storm the Capitol and wipe out the whole of Congress and declare Donald Trump president for life with all the powers of Congress devolving to him alone. Congress wasn’t there. Congress was in recess. And who had the authority to dismiss all charges against all who had been arrested back in January? Who was supposed to do what, specifically? No one really knew. But it really didn’t matter, because hardly anyone showed up:

The most anticipated visit by right-wing activists to the nation’s capital since a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 ended with a whimper Saturday, as demonstrators supporting the rioters found themselves far outnumbered by police, journalists and counterprotesters.

Although the protesters returned to the scene of a historically grievous attack on American democracy, it was immediately obvious that much had changed. The Capitol grounds – where poorly prepared police fought a losing, hand-to-hand battle against President Donald Trump’s supporters just over eight months ago – were secured Saturday with metal fences and hundreds of officers. The halls of Congress were all but deserted. No president, or former president, delivered a bellicose speech urging that his election loss be overturned.

No mainstream Republican showed up to give a stirring speech. Trump didn’t show up. Not even the QAnon side of the party showed up. And not one talk-radio host showed up. Rudy Giuliani didn’t show up. There was no one there to scream bloody murder, or anything else. No one was told to march on the Capitol kick ass and take names and take back their country. Everyone knew better:

Police made just four arrests throughout the day, seizing two weapons. The relative peace and quiet was a welcome turn for the U.S. Capitol Police, whose leaders endured blistering criticism in the months after Jan. 6 for inadequate security.

In recent weeks the agency had repeatedly warned that it would have a large force in the field, aided by police departments from across the region and the National Guard. The entire D.C. police force was activated Friday and Saturday. The massive law enforcement presence Saturday was unmistakable, with many in full riot gear and others on horseback.

That did the trick:

Influential figures on the far right actually discouraged their followers from showing up Saturday, asserting the event was a trap. Baseless rumors ricocheted through social media alleging that the federal government was attempting to lure demonstrators to Washington to arrest them. The Proud Boys, a group with a history of violence that includes participation in the Jan. 6 insurrection, discouraged their members from attending.

Capitol Police said Saturday afternoon that between 400 and 450 people had been observed at some point inside the protest zone. But many of them were journalists and other bystanders.

The Proud Boys’ paranoia, along with the paranoia of the Oath Keepers and all the other Trump militias, keep them away, and made things small, even nationally:

Simultaneous demonstrations elsewhere in the country were also sparsely attended. In Seattle, a group of about 15 stood in the rain, chanting “USA.” Some 20 people gathered across the street from the federal courthouse in Charlotte, where they were observed by joggers and heckled by a man who shouted out the window of his car as he drove by: “They’re all insurrectionists! Get over it! They deserve to be in jail!”

Others disagreed:

Among those at the rally was Eugene Sibick, a 63-year-old from Buffalo whose son is among the more prominent criminal defendants in the Jan. 6 riot. Thomas Sibick, also of New York, allegedly ripped the badge and stole the radio from D.C. police officer Michael Fanone, who was beaten and Tasered by pro-Trump rioters while attempting to defend the Capitol. Sibick later buried Fanone’s badge in his backyard, prosecutors said. He was arrested in March on various charges stemming from the incident and is now awaiting trial at the D.C. jail.

Eugene Sibick said his son’s ongoing detention was “a disgrace to this country.” He said he speaks to Thomas on the phone almost every day and is distressed by his son’s description of the food given to him, such as bologna and slices of bread with tartar sauce, but no fish.

No fish? That happens when, on the basis of clear evidence, you’ve been charged with beating the crap out of a police officer, and then you gloat about it. Be thankful for the tartar sauce. But it’s all good:

Beverly Foley – a Texas coordinator for Look Ahead America, the organization that planned Saturday’s event at Union Plaza, near the Capitol Reflecting Pool – said the demonstration was a success by dint of the overwhelming media presence, even if few protesters actually showed up. Many around the country, she predicted, would now take greater interest in the rights of those jailed because of their roles in the riot.

Yes, many around the country will now want these people locked up for a few years. Many around the country know these people:

Law enforcement was conspicuously prepared for trouble Saturday after a series of threats and attacks in the months following the insurrection.

In April, a man rammed his car into a barricade outside the Capitol, killing a Capitol Police officer. Last month, a man who claimed he had a bomb parked a truck near the Capitol and demanded to speak to President Biden. And earlier this week, a man with a bayonet and machete was arrested near the Democratic National Committee headquarters.

And that makes this all a bit absurd:

Matt Braynard, the former Trump 2016 campaign staffer who leads Look Ahead America, repeatedly insisted that the rally would be peaceful.

“This is a purely patriotic exercise of First Amendment rights of fellow humans, fellow Americans who have been denied their civil rights because of their political beliefs,” Braynard said.

That’s not what most people saw eight months earlier, and now they know what to expect, and it isn’t a purely patriotic exercise of First Amendment rights. Expect a specific kind of violence:

The mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol may have been a fringe group of extremists, but politically motivated violence has the support of a significant share of the U.S. public, according to a new survey by the American Enterprise Institute.

The survey found that nearly three in 10 Americans, including 39% of Republicans, agreed that “if elected leaders will not protect America, the people must do it themselves, even if it requires violent actions.”

That result was “a really dramatic finding,” says Daniel Cox, director of the AEI Survey Center on American Life. “I think any time you have a significant number of the public saying use of force can be justified in our political system, that’s pretty scary.”

Of course the American Enterprise Institute is a quite conservative Republican think tank, but traditionally conservative and not impressed with Trump or QAnon, so of course they’re frightened. This Republican Party is not what they signed up for:

The survey found stark divisions between Republicans and Democrats on the 2020 presidential election, with two out of three Republicans saying President Biden was not legitimately elected, while 98% of Democrats and 73% of independents acknowledged Biden’s victory.

The level of distrust among Republicans evident in the survey was such that about 8 in 10 said the current political system is “stacked against conservatives and people with traditional values.” A majority agreed with the statement: “The traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.”

Elections don’t work anymore. Guns might work now. Trump seems to have had that in mind eight months ago. But this new follow-up rally, which he repeatedly endorsed and heavily promoted, came to nothing. No one stormed anything. No “political prisoners” were freed. The people, outraged by and fed up with democracy, are not rising up to return him to power. The people abandoned him. They say that they may have to use force to save the traditional American way of life, but maybe later. There are too many cops around.

Trump gets it. He has another plan:

Former President Donald Trump has made no secret that he is eager to end Mitch McConnell’s run as the Republican leader in the Senate, but lawmakers don’t seem all that interested, reports the Wall Street Journal. Trump has been making calls to senators and allies to try to weigh potential interest in ousting McConnell from the leadership spot, but so far he has gotten little traction.

Although the two men were allies for much of Trump’s presidency, McConnell refused to go along with the former president’s lies that widespread voter fraud cost him the 2020 election. Even if Trump’s plan never gets off the ground though “the discussions risk driving a wedge deeper between the most influential figure in the Republican Party and its highest-ranking member in elected office,” notes the Journal.

But the idea is to get rid of the highest-ranking Republican in elected office and replace him with someone who will swear that Trump won reelection in a landslide and that Trump is still the president. But that went about as well as the second justifiable-insurrection rally:

Differences between Trump and McConnell have only grown since the former president left office. McConnell was one of 18 Senate Republicans to vote in favor of a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that Trump spoke up against. Although Trump has been open about his desire for Republican senators to oust McConnell from the leadership spot that he has held for almost 15 years, he refused to discuss in a recent interview whether he was trying to get potential challengers together.

For now it seems even Trump’s most fervent allies aren’t all that eager to join the former president in the plan to oust McConnell. “Naw, I’m not going to get in that fight,” Sen. Tommy Tuberville, who was one of Trump’s top allies in the Senate, said. Even candidates that Trump has endorsed have failed to publicly express a desire to oust McConnell from his position.

Trump may not return in triumph. Donald Trump might not return at all. And now even Fox News reports that the nation agrees with the Biden-Fauci moves to keep even more people from dying:

Majorities of Americans support mask and COVID-19 vaccination mandates in some situations, according to a Fox News poll released on Sunday.

Sixty-seven percent of respondents in the new survey said they support mandatory mask-wearing for students and teachers in schools, with 66 percent also saying businesses should require face coverings.

Sixty-seven percent of respondents seem to think that thirty-three percent of Americans are quite dangerous fools, and then add this:

According to the poll, 61 percent of respondents said would support vaccine mandates for teachers, 58 percent agreed for federal government workers and 55 percent backed requirements for businesses employees.

Fifty-four percent of Americans also said they support vaccination requirements to participate in indoor activates, which is up from 50 percent last month, pollsters noted.

But there are always those who say science is nonsense or deliberate lies:

Ninety percent of registered Democrats said that they believe that masks are effective against the coronavirus while 51 percent of registered Republicans think differently, according to the survey.

They did their research on Facebook. They’ve heard stories. But the rest are okay with Biden and Fauci and science and reality:

President Biden announced earlier this month that all private employers with 100 or more employees would be required to mandate COVID-19 vaccine and daily testing, and required vaccines for federal workers and contractors as well.

Those who disagree are few and may be fading away, like Trump. And some are just an embarrassment, as the Washington Post’s James Downie notes here:

When naming the poster child for irresponsible leadership on Covid-19, there are plenty of governors to choose from. You could make a strong case for South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem (R) or Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). But the mistakes of another Republican governor, Tate Reeves of Mississippi, haven’t gotten nearly enough attention. Until, that is, a disastrous appearance Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.

Host Jake Tapper opened the interview by asking Reeves to respond to President Biden’s callout of the state in a speech Thursday: “In Mississippi, children are required to be vaccinated against measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, hepatitis B, polio, tetanus and more,” said the president. “I propose a requirement for covid vaccines, and the governor of that state calls it, quote, ‘a tyrannical-type move.’”

Yes, Biden specifically called the governor of one state, Mississippi. He called out Tate Reeves. Jake Tapper did that journalistic thing. He asked for a response to that, but this politician did the political thing:

Reeves tried to dodge by distinguishing between the vaccines at issue. “It is unique to kids and their ability to go to our public schools. It’s not vaccines mandated in the workplace,” he told Tapper. “This is an attack by the president on hard-working Americans and hard-working Mississippians who he wants to choose between getting a jab in their arm and their ability to feed their families.”

Downie is not impressed:

First of all, if a vaccine mandate violates fundamental freedoms, surely, it’s more despicable to impose it on children. Reeves’s argument is nonsense. Those mandates are “unique to kids” because children can receive those vaccines. If the Food and Drug Administration cleared the coronavirus vaccines for all children tomorrow, does anyone believe Mississippi Republicans would suddenly support a mandate?

Some questions answer themselves, and then there was this:

“I’m sure I don’t need to tell you,” Tapper said, “Mississippi this week became the state with the worst number of coronavirus deaths per capita. In fact, if Mississippi were its own country, you would be second in the world only to Peru in terms of deaths per capita. That’s a horrible, horrible, heartbreaking statistic.”

Trapped by the numbers, Reeves avoided engaging the facts. He replied that cases have fallen in his state in recent days (as they have in many other delta variant hot spots). “Unfortunately, fatalities are a lagging indicator when it comes to the virus. It is a lagging indicator. And so timing has as much to do,” Reeves said, “with that statistic that you used as anything else.”

Downie is not impressed with that either:

Yes, deaths are a lagging indicator, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t happen. (And the improvement in case numbers could reflect the recent increase in vaccinations in response to the delta surge.) Nor should a governor – who professed that “my heart breaks for all 9,000 Mississippians that have passed away” – downplay those deaths. That Reeves would dismiss these deaths as bad “timing” says plenty about what Republican governors value…

But the whole thing was unpleasant:

You might think Reeves would be reluctant to speak out against a public health mandate, given his record on the subject. When covid first hit the state last year, Reeves asked Mississippians to trust in the “power of prayer.” On the tail end of last summer’s surge, he issued a mask mandate in August 2020. Within two months, he lifted it, only to reinstate it a few months later after cases rose again.

Certainly, Reeves is not unaware of the vaccines’ effectiveness. “The best thing that Americans can do is to talk to their doctor about potentially getting the vaccine,” he told Tapper. “In our state,” he said, some 89 percent of those hospitalized and 87 percent of deaths “are actually coming from those who were unvaccinated.”

So if resisting mandates has failed again and again, and if the steep toll of stalled vaccination rates is obvious for all to see, what is the problem with a vaccine mandate?

That’s not a question Reeves wants to answer.

No, he has other ideas:

“What we ought to be talking about,” he told Tapper, “…is what can we do to minimize the deaths going forward.”

Leave it to the states! But he has no ideas there:

Let’s look at the states – those “laboratories of democracy.” According to seven-day rolling averages, as of Sunday, the five states with the highest per capita covid death rates are all governed by Republicans, as are 12 of the top 13.

Reeves may protest that “this virus is not just attacking Republicans in red states,” but under Republican leaders in red states, there are too many needless deaths.

That’s becoming more and more obvious. So is the slow fade. Trump. And then the rest of the Republicans. Going. Going. Gone. One day.

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