Daily Kos

Evangelical anti-vaxx 'rebel' reveals father ended up in ER after whole family contracts COVID-19

The evangelical right in our country is not populated by people promoting long-term thinking. While most Christians believe that vaccinations are miraculous ways in which science has been able to help humanity fend off disease and death, evangelicals continue to promote an end-of-times eschatological Judeo-Christian view of the world that has been wrong about the coming apocalypse for about 2,100 years now. Never fear, at some point they’ll get it right. Comedy is just tragedy plus timing and all of that.

Eric Metaxas is one of the Christian right-wingers who has been around peddling pretty abhorrent drivel pretending American Christians have been persecuted in our country for decades. His reading of American history includes the belief that the millions of Native Americans who died as a result of European war and disease were simply the trinkets of Christian deliverance in the New World. Unsurpringly, Metaxas has been an anti-vaxxer in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic—being anti-vaccine is where the money is made these days for libertarians and right-wingers. Guess who got COVID-19? I’ll give you four guesses.

If you said Eric Metaxas, his wife Susan, and both of his parents, ding ding ding! Metaxas spoke on his show after an absence. In the clip below, he explains that he’s been dealing with a lot of COVID-19 in his life.

ERIC METAXAS: I got COVID. Suzanne got COVID. I don't know if she gave it to me, or I gave it to her. But then she went to visit my parents and gave it to them. And my mother got it. And my father got it. And my current daughter—I won’t use her name on the air—let’s just say Hortense, went to nurse my parents.
So this has been the craziest time in the Metaxas family, folks. If you've been wondering where I've been, I have no idea where I've been. I've been in a perspiring haze for days and days and days. Obviously I'm mostly out of it. The fact that I can be functional and talk here for the first time in two weeks. But the fact that my parents were ill was very upsetting to me. My dad had to go to the emergency room, again, so it's been a really crazy time … and obviously when your dad’s 94 and he has COVID, and other health issues, it’s just been very stressful I have to say.

No idea what “current daughter” means in any context. Metaxas could simply be exhausted and historically he speaks in a strange way with phraseologies that even make me wonder. The Metaxas’ family revelations come after months of Metaxas giving his expert opinion on Steve Bannon’s show, where he explained that not taking a vaccine was a way to rebel against … something.

“The bottom line is, questions come up about the vaccine. People say, ‘I’m not going, this is experimental. I’ve watched this pandemic roll out and I’m not afraid of getting it, my kids are not afraid of getting it. This is not a big deal for us, I’m not going to put some experimental thing in my system, when we literally don’t know what could happen.’” Metaxas went on to juxtapose people afraid of the vaccine with “some other people” saying that “you must do it,” and that the “government is telling you you must do it.”

His convoluted point being that … take a breath … ”Americans need to understand that if the government, or everybody, is telling you you have to do something, we don’t have dissent, no dissent, you need to understand that’s not the American way, folks. And if only to be a rebel, you need to say, ‘I’m not going to do that.’” This isn’t the only time Metaxas spent trying to get some of that right-wing anti-vaxx traction.

A couple of days before Halloween, just over a month ago, Metaxas, who was probably trying to scare your children, gave one of those classic analogies to the Holocaust that is so bananas offensive that either someone is a rabid antisemite or they have very little brain function, or both. On right-wing clown Dave Rubin’s Rubin Report, he explained that the COVID-19 vaccine has opened his eyes to what he says has been happening every time he’s been put on shows for the past decade or so. Comparing anti-vaxxers’ “demonization” and “marginalization” to Jews under the Nazis, he reveals: “The vaccine idea, the idea that you can tell people, ‘Listen, yes this was made because of aborted fetuses; but you know, what if it was made with the bodies of Jews we murdered in the concentration camps who cares we're telling you, you need to get it whether you have an objection to murdering Jewish children, we don't care. We're going to tell you what to do.”

I hope he and his family recover at God’s pace.

Veteran House Republicans are trying to sweep the GOP extremists running the caucus under the rug

Sure, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is coddling GOP caucus extremists in his caucus in his quest for the speakership. Sure, a small cadre of House Republicans who have gleefully put their colleagues' lives on the line are running the joint with McCarthy's blessing. Sure, some members of that same group are raising money hand over fist by zealously chasing the title of "worst human in the world."

But it's all just business as usual, says veteran GOP lawmaker Tom Cole, a 10-term Oklahoma Congressman.

“There’s always some gifted communicator who comes in,” said Rep. Cole, who was elected as part of the 1994 Republican takeover of the House. “We’re a long way of knowing how long they’ll stay. A lot of the brightest stars of the 1994 class were gone within eight years.”

If it weren't required journalistic practice, it would almost be superfluous to name the infamous names at this point. But we're talking about Republican representatives such as Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, and Paul Gosar of Arizona. We can only assume that Cole was singling out one of these ignominious lawmakers as "gifted."

But it was the follow-up portion of Cole's quote to the Associated Press that really captured the essence of the predicament House GOP leadership has put the country in.

“The reality is the first six years, the only thing you are going to do is what they let you,” Cole added.

Bingo. Greene, Boebert, Gosar and several others are simply doing precisely what McCarthy and his leadership team are allowing them to get away with. That includes labeling members of their own caucus "traitors," calling them "trash," inciting intra-caucus feuds, and spurring death threats against colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

To McCarthy, what's a few death threats—or perhaps a lost life—so long as he has the votes to become speaker if the GOP takes back the House next year? And yet, despite his willingness to put lives on the line for his own benefit, the extremists may well give him the boot anyway. In the meantime, they have free rein.

Cole clearly intended to dismiss all the dust being kicked up by the newest round of GOP flamethrowers, but instead he squarely put Republican leaders on the line for fostering the environment of permissiveness that the Greenes and Boeberts of the caucus are now exploiting.

The problem for Republicans now is that the whole point for the MTG caucus is to shock, garner attention, and then escalate. Their big rewards come through fundraising and celebrity, and the more incendiary and rancid their comments, the more they reap the rewards—which can be significant.

Greene, for instance, has raised $6.3 million this year, according to the AP, and Boebert has scored $2.7 million in donations on the year. That's an extraordinary amount of fundraising for any freshman member of the House who otherwise wields almost no institutional power.

“If you say something batshit crazy, if you say something extreme, you are going to raise money,” said GOP Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina, who became a target of Greene's last week after she dared to condemn Boebert for hurling Islamophobic epithets at Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. Greene then labeled Mace "the trash of the conference,” the type of thing that apparently thrills the GOP's rabid base into shelling out money. Mace later told the AP that Greene is a “grifter of the first order” who is capitalizing on “vulnerable conservatives.”

Cole, McCarthy, and others may be happily fooling themselves into believing they're still in charge, but judging by the public discourse in the party, Greene's statement on Steve Bannon's radio show last week carries more water.

"Here's the deal, in the GOP conference they consider conservatives the fringe," she explained, "We are not the fringe. We are the base of the party.”

Greene's no conservative—she and her comrades are extremists, through and through. But she's right that they are no longer the fringe of the party. They are wielding the bulk of the power in the GOP conference precisely because McCarthy is too afraid to stand up to them.

The same thing is true in the Senate, where the supposed establishment has surrendered to Donald Trump to the point where Minority Leader Mitch McConnell endorsed violence-prone alleged wife beater Herschel Walker for the Georgia Senate race.

Tucker Carlson asked Hunter Biden to help him get his son into college

During the run-up to the November election between President Joe Biden and the former guy, Fox News and other conservative propaganda machines went back to the only playbook the Republican party has used for decades—scandal mud-slinging. Having not spent the last 30-plus years building a boogieman out of Joe Biden (as they had with Hilary Clinton), the Hail-Mary attempt at tilting public opinion away from President Biden was to push a scandal surrounding the reported finding of the soon-to-be President’s son. Hunter Biden, who has had a long and well documented history of addiction issues and a complicated divorce, gave the right wing rags the promise of just enough seediness to mix with the implication of some vague whiff of impropriety on the part of Joe Biden during his tenure as Vice President next to Barack Obama.

It was all hot garbage, and most of what was leaked showed a man with a lot of problems and messiness, guilt and shame, recovery and stumbling. One of the most vociferous sounds to rise out of the ultra-conservative cacophony machine was Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. It wasn’t a surprise as Carlson has shown himself to be willing to do and say anything in the service of libertarian and right-wing nihilism, as long as he maintains power and financial support.

Guess what? Weird story. According to Vice and the Daily Mail, wacky former Trump conspiracy theorist, Lin Wood—who has been attacking everybody and everything not named Lin Wood of late—claims to have access to and has posted all kinds of screen grabs. Those screengrabs purport to be correspondence between Hunter Biden and Tucker Carlson. If real, and they have not yet been verified, they show a very close buddy buddy-type relationship between two pretty wealthy guys. In fact, Tucker seems to have asked Hunter to write a college recommendation letter for his son, Buckley.*

*Every time—barf.

The correspondence seems to cover a period of their friendship between 2014 and 2016. Here’s the exchange where Tucker “can't thank you enough for writing that letter to Georgetown on Buckley's behalf. So nice of you. I know it'll help. Hope you're great and we can all get dinner soon.” Buckley ended up going to another college and graduating about a year before Tucker made the baseless claim that Hunter Biden had ‘kiddie porn’ on his computer? No good deed and all.

Another email exchange seems to be connected to the sad period during the dissolution of Hunter Biden’s marriage. At one point the DailyMail itself wrote up in its most scandalous prose, about the possibility that Hunter Biden was involved in an extra-marital affair. Real tabloid dirtbag stuff. Biden contacted Tucker. Tucker seems to have attempted to intervene on Biden’s behalf, writing “This whole thing is disgusting and awful and it breaks my heart that you all have to go through it. I'm really sorry. Let me know if there's anything [Carlson's wife] Susie and I can do to help.”

Whether or not these leaked screenshots are real remains to be verified. However, Tucker himself, as well as his wife, admitted to having a relationship with the Bidens that was intimate enough for Carlson to say he would not involve Hunter in his attacks. That, of course, seems to have changed.
In the final days before the election, Tucker Carlson teased out a long-awaited explosive interview, where he would produce all kinds of proofs revealed through the Hunter Biden laptop showing that Joe Biden had used his office as Vice President in an inappropriate manner. Then Carlson shockingly (not shockingly) claimed his treasure trove of Hunter Biden secrets had mysteriously disappeared. Maybe it was the deep state? Maybe he read the fine print and saw that the treasure trove of secrets he was sitting on were mostly about how close a buddy he was the man whom he now smeared in the name of Donald Trump.

Ohio pastor who bragged about hunting people is charged in shooting death of Casey Goodson Jr.

The now-retired Ohio sheriff’s deputy/pastor who shot and killed 23-year-old Casey Goodson Jr. on Dec. 4, 2020 after earlier bragging to a congregation about being able to “hunt people” is finally facing charges, according to ABC News. Jason Meade shot Goodson in the back five times, netting him charges including two counts of murder and one count of reckless homicide Thursday. He has also faced continued criticism from protesters who have called into question the absence of footage from police body cameras or dash cameras in the shooting.

Activist Lance Cooper compared Meade to Derek Chauvin, the former cop convicted of murdering George Floyd when he kneeled on the Black father’s neck for more than nine minutes. “There are many Derek Chauvins in America,” Cooper tweeted back in April. “Casey Goodson Jr. was murdered by Deputy Jason Meade in Ohio. Casey was shot in the back six times while entering his home. He was returning from the dentist with Subway for his family. His keys were in the door when he was executed.”

The Franklin County coroner has confirmed that Goodson was actually shot five times, ABC News reported.

Mark Collins, Meade's attorney, alleged in a statement ABC News obtained that his client began pursuing Goodson after seeing him aim a gun at another driver then at Meade. Collins cited the story of a deputy who said Goodson was "waving the firearm erratically." According to the attorney's statement, Meade followed Goodson first in his car then on foot as Goodson approached a home relatives say belonged to Goodson's grandmother. Collins said Meade identified himself as a police officer and ordered Goodson to show his hands, one of which was carrying a plastic bag. The other held a gun, Collins claimed. Meade "commanded Mr. Goodson to once again 'drop the gun,' and when that command was ignored, and while the gun was pointing at Mr. Meade, he, in fear for his life as well as those inside the house, fired his weapon at Mr. Goodson," the attorney said in the statement.

Goodson's mother, Tamala Payne, said she was “overwhelmed with joy” to hear Meade had been indicted. “It’s been a year of sadness, it’s been a year of grief, it’s been a year of pain," she said at a news conference. "But I know that every day of this year, that my family and I wake up and just fight for what’s right.”

Ohio officer charged with murder in shooting www.youtube.com

In stories earlier reported by the Columbus Free Press and The Washington Post, Meade made his policing goals clear two years before the encounter with Goodson. “I work for the sheriff’s office ... I hunt people—it’s a great job, I love it,” he told attendees at a 2018 convention of the Ohio State Association of Free Will Baptists. “I worked this job 14 years, you know I ain’t never been hit clean in the face one time? It’s a fact. It ain’t ’cause I’m so good ... You know why? I learned long ago I gotta throw the first punch. And I learned long ago why I’m justified in throwing the first punch. Don’t look up here like, ‘Oh, police brutality.’ People I hit you wish you could hit, trust me.”

Goodson was not a suspect nor the focus of an investigation, but Meade shot him reportedly for waving a gun from his car, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office alleged in a statement.

Meade, an Iraq War veteran who started his work with the sheriff's office in 2003, is a pastor at Rosedale Free Will Baptist Church, which is about 30 miles west of Columbus. Before launching into the confession of his true belief system, Meade earlier confessed to another Baptist congregation: “I’m not politically correct. Do I need to throw that out? Full disclosure: if you’re looking for PC you got the wrong one.”

Listen to Meade’s complete remarks.

Meade went on to paint police as David and victims of police brutality as Goliath in a twisted interpretation of the popular biblical story in which a young man, David, slays the great warrior Goliath with a slingshot and a rock. The story is often used to demonstrate how faith can make the seemingly impossible possible, but Meade’s takeaway seemed to be that David won because he took the first shot.

Watch: These video clips reveal the extent of what Trump did after he reportedly got a positive COVID test

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes went in on former President Donald Trump after it recently came to light that the twice-impeached, one-term president appeared at rallies, meetings with Gold Star families, a party for a Supreme Court nominee, and even the first debate with then-candidate Joe Biden—all while knowing full well he had tested positive for COVID-19.

The timeline as laid out by Hayes shows dereliction of duty even more repugnant than usual for Trump.

According to a memoir by Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, titled, The Chief’s Chief, before Trump tested negative for COVID-19 on Sept. 26, 2020, he tested positive—nearly a week before he publicly disclosed his condition.

But instead of quarantining out of an abundance of caution, the White House chose to dismiss Trump’s positive result and allow the president to attend an event honoring his Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett—with her children in tow—along with several other GOP members—all without masks, indoors and zero social distancing. This event was later acknowledged as a super-spreader event.

Later that day, Trump again tested positive for COVID-19. Still, instead of letting the folks present at the Barrett event know of his results, the president flew to Middletown, Pennsylvania, for a rally—even walking on to Air Force One maskless and speaking to reporters, one of whom later got COVID-19.

The following day, Sept. 27, Trump held meetings with Gold Star family members in the White House.

The next day, Trump held a press conference outdoors on the subject of COVID-19 testing. He asked Admiral Giroir to talk about COVID testing during the event, where he joked, “Good luck. Hope you don’t test positive.”

Several staffers in the White House would test positive for the virus.

On Sept. 29, knowing that he had COVID-19, Trump flew to Ohio for his first debate against a then 77-year-old Biden.

According to MSNBC, Mark Meadows writes that even though he was fully aware that each candidate was required “to test negative for the virus within seventy-two hours of the start time ... Nothing was going to stop [Trump] from going out there.”

Meadows writes that Trump had been looking “physically unwell,” and was not tested before the debate.

“His face, for the most part at least, had regained its usual light bronze hue, and the gravel in his voice was gone. But the dark circles under his eyes had deepened. As we walked into the venue around five o’clock in the evening, I could tell that he was moving more slowly than usual. He walked like he was carrying a little extra weight on his back,” Meadows writes.

Chris Wallace of Fox News, later said Trump hadn’t tested before the debate because he arrived late.

In the days that followed, Trump attended multiple rallies, without masks or social distancing.

Trump’s aide Hope Hicks was the first person in his inner circle to test positive for COVID-19. Trump then got a second positive test, but told Fox News’ Hannity that he’d recently gotten a test, but implied he didn’t know the results, saying, “we’ll see what happens.“ He then said that, if he’d gotten COVID, it would have been contracted from “soldiers and police” desperate to shake his hand.

“They want to hug me and they want to kiss me. And they do. And frankly, I’m not telling them to back up,” Trump told Hannity.

Trump finally publicly announced his COVID diagnosis on Oct. 2, allegedly just one hour after getting the test results. He was checked into Walter Reed later that day.

“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19,” Trump tweeted, adding that they would begin to quarantine immediately.

But even in the hours before announcing his diagnosis, Trump was diminishing the virus and the pandemic.

”I just want to say that the end of the pandemic is in sight,” he said in prerecorded remarks.

In a statement on Wednesday, Trump called Meadows’ claims “Fake News.”

The full video is below:

Here’s Everything Trump Did After Testing Positive For Covid www.youtube.com

Kevin McCarthy's plan to appease the radicals in his ranks is backfiring spectacularly

GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's dreams of one day becoming speaker of the House are going up in flames as the Republican caucus devolves into a raging inferno of internecine guerrilla warfare.

Specifically, House GOP radicals have turned caucus politics into an unsightly brawl more resembling the kicking, screaming, hair pulling, and spitting of a middle-school rivalry than the growing pains of major political party plotting its path to renewed relevance.

No one is more central to this uniquely embarrassing GOP drama than McCarthy, who has turned spinelessness into an ethic in his quest for power. McCarthy's moral deficit has left any members of the GOP conference who still possess a shred of integrity to condemn the actions of the extremists putting the lives of both their GOP colleagues and Democratic counterparts at risk.

It started last month with McCarthy allowing Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia to target as "traitors" the 13 House Republicans who voted for a bipartisan infrastructure bill supported by nearly two-thirds of the country. Egged on by Greene & Co., death threats ensued, but McCarthy turned the other cheek, because speakership.

But death threats left unchecked breed more death threats and, once McCarthy proved his obsequiousness, the GOP extremists were bound to expand outward. Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado got right to work, deploying Islamophobic slurs against Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.

After Boebert tagged Omar the "jihad squad” and McCarthy crawled under a rock, GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois called Boebert "TRASH" for hurling the anti-Muslim trope.

But it was Republican Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina who would draw the next trashy moniker after she "100%" condemned Boebert's dangerous antics on CNN Tuesday. In response, Greene labeled Mace "the trash of the GOP Conference" in a Tuesday morning tweet.

Despite Mace telling CNN Tuesday that she hadn't come to Congress to name-call, the exchange devolved quickly.

“Marjorie Taylor Greene is a liar. And I’m not going to tolerate lies, racism or bigotry, whether you are Republican or Democrat,” Mace said during a Tuesday interview on Neil Cavuto’s Fox Business show. “She’s crazy. She’s insane. She’s bad for the party. And I’m not going to put up with it.”

This is exactly what happens in a caucus completely devoid of moral leadership. Indeed, McCarthy has become so useless, some of the GOP's saner caucus members are actually publicly begging him to at least act like a leader.

“I think when you’re in a position of leadership, you have to stand up. You have to deal with it,” said Rep. Tom Reed of New York, one of the 13 GOP House members who voted for the infrastructure bill. “I appreciate the fact that Kevin called our colleague directly to discuss the matter with her. But at some point in time, you also have to stand up and just call it out for what it is. This type of rhetoric cannot be condoned. It cannot be upheld.”

If McCarthy had more than two brain cells to rub together, he would realize this truth: His bid for the speakership is over, particularly if he continues to let the GOP radicals roll him like a limbless log day in and day out. Last week, Greene used Rep. Matt Gaetz’s podcast to note that McCarthy doesn't have “the full support" of the caucus to be speaker.

"There’s many of us that are very unhappy about the failure to hold Republicans accountable, while conservatives like me, Paul Gosar and many others just constantly take the abuse by the Democrats," Greene said.

It’s over, McCarthy. You appeased the radicals right into burning you at the stake.

Republican infighting spills into public and devolves into high school bickering

When you find yourself siding with one GOP deplorable over another, catch yourself. Because, as captivating as it is to watch a rodent eat its own, reading how Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene attacks South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace over racist and Islamophobic comments from the truly detestable Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, you have to wonder how low these disgusting folks can go.

In a now-deleted tweet, Greene launched the first shot to Mace for condemning Boebert, following a now-viral video of Boebert “joking” that Omar was a terrorist and member of the “jihad squad.”

“I looked to my left, and there she is, Ilhan Omar. And I said, ‘Well, she does not have a backpack—we should be OK.’” The audience laughed raucously. Omar has denied the incident Boebert described ever took place.

“I have time after time condemned my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for racist tropes and remarks that I find disgusting, and this is no different than any others,” Mace said during an interview on CNN.

“As a member of Congress, and seeing such division in our country, we all have a responsibility, both elected members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and the American people in our communities and at work in our communities [...] have a responsibility to lower the temperature, and this does not do that,” Mace added.

Tuesday, Greene called the South Carolina Rep. “trash” and accused her of being what amounts to kryptonite to GOP-ers: “pro-abort.” According to MSNBC columnist Eric Michael Garcia, this is relevant “because Mace was raped in high school and as a result, wants exemptions for abortion bans for rape and incest, which many anti-abortion conservatives also support,” Garcia tweeted.

Greene sprung into an attack. Challenging Mace to: “back up off of” Boebert, or “just go hang with your real gal pals, the Jihad Squad.”

“Your out of your league,” Greene added.

Mace responded by first correcting Greene’s grammar—an OG social media move that is usually only successfully applied to Republicans, who can be elected but somehow can’t figure out an apostrophe.

“And, while I’m correcting you, I’m a pro-life fiscal conservative who was attacked by the Left all weekend (as I often am) as I defied China while in Taiwan,” Mace wrote. “What I’m not is a religious bigot (or racist). You might want to try that over there in your little ‘league,’ she added.

The Twitter battle comes just a day after Boebert attempted to apologize to Omar, one of three Muslims serving in Congress—both the call and apology failed miserably, ending with Omar hanging up on Boebert.

Omar followed up the miserable and tone-deaf call with a written statement, saying in part: “Instead of apologizing for her Islamophobic comments and fabricated lies, Rep. Boebert refused to acknowledge her hurtful and dangerous comments publicly. She instead doubled down on her rhetoric, and I decided to end the unproductive call,” Omar said. “I believe in engaging with those we disagree with respectfully, but not when that disagreement is rooted in outright bigotry and hate.”

In true carnival barker-form, Greene doubled down on the call from Boebert to Omar on Steve Bannon’s War Room, saying “there’s no need to apologize” to Omar and accusing the Rep. of being “pro-Al-Qaeda” and “anti-American.”

Monday, Boebert posted a video of her vision of the call, saying in part: “as a strong Christian woman who values faith deeply, I never want anything I say to offend someone’s religion.”

Adding: “Make no mistake, I will continue to fearlessly put America first, never sympathizing with terrorists. Unfortunately, Ilhan can’t say the same thing. And our country is worse off for it.”

As our DK staffer Hunter so succinctly points out: “Boebert is being currently investigated by the House select committee probing Jan. 6 for her ties to a domestic terrorist attack on Congress. Omar is ... not.”

Why there haven’t been calls to censure Boebert for her repugnant comments is a mystery.

Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar was censured after posting a dangerous video on Twitter depicting him murdering Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and attacking President Joe Biden.

In the end, Omar is always the class act, despite the anti-Muslim rhetoric constantly thrown her way.

Monday afternoon, she tweeted: “There is only so much grace we can extend to others as humans before we must learn to cut our loses [losses] or hang up on someone in this case.”

It’s obviously too much to ask that feeble Minority Leader of the House, Kevin McCarthy steps in.

On Nov. 27, Greene posted to Twitter, saying, “I just got off a good called with @GOPLeader [McCarthy]. We spent time talking about solving problems not only in the conference, but for our country. I like what he has planned ahead. “

Tuesday, Mace tweeted the exact same message.

Trump-appointed judges are pushing a huge right-wing lie in order to block vaccine mandates

In July, President Joe Biden issued a series of rules requiring that federal workers, and workers at companies that receive federal contracts, must be vaccinated. That included health care workers who work for hospitals that receive Medicare or Medicaid payments. However, earlier this month, a three-judge panel in Texas blocked the implementation of the mandate for many large companies. Now, as The Washington Post reports, a federal district judge in Missouri has acted to block even the mandate for health care workers. That includes workers dealing face-to-(hopefully-masked-)face with COVID-19 patients in emergency rooms and workers caring for those most vulnerable to bad outcomes in nursing homes.

What both rulings have in common is simple enough: Trump-appointed judges.

Unsurprisingly, the ruling from District Judge Matthew Schelp is filled with the kind of political language that might be expected from a Trump appointee, with statements including claims that implementing the rule would create a “...politically and economically vast, federalism-altering, and boundary-pushing mandate...” The ruling also flatly accepts unsupported claims by a group of Republican state attorneys, headed by radical right Missouri attorney general Eric Schmitt, that the mandate would cause a collapse of the health care system. According to Judge Schelp, it’s the mandate that’s the threat that “significantly understates the burden that its mandate would impose on the ability of health care facilities to provide proper care, and thus, save lives.”

In fact, Judge Schelp ultimately echoes right-wing talking points by claiming that vaccine mandates mean that people will just walk off the job. “The loss of staffing in many instances will result in no care at all,” writes Schelp, “as some facilities will be forced to close altogether.” This isn’t just untrue; it’s a massive lie.

Vaccines work. Vaccine mandates work. And this ruling will directly contribute to the death of Americans. But even that is just one part of what makes this so notably wrongheaded.

Just to make it clear how unjustified this ruling is, Judge Schelp provides two examples of why the mandate is dangerous. One is a single Nebraska anesthesiologist who says he will quit rather than take a shot. The second is a Missouri nursing home where Republican AG Schmitt claims that the administrator says “out of about sixty-five employees, twenty have indicated that they are opposed to taking the vaccine, and if the mandate is imposed, that they will quit.”

The same kind of claim was made about tens of thousands leaving the New York City Police Department. It didn’t happen. And thousands more abandoning the military. It didn’t happen. And planes grounded by crews leaving the airlines. It didn’t happen. In the widely publicized case of a healthcare system in Houston, where headlines blared those 150 workers who quit, they failed to mention that over 99% of workers did not.

If that Missouri nursing home actually lost workers at the same rate as Houston Methodist, which was subject to months of Republican-supported protest and lawsuits, they would lose … not a single person. But judges are still making rulings supported by this kind of claim.

Schelp’s ruling will halt the implementation of mandates across 10 states: Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. This includes some of the states with the lowest vaccination rates, and not surprisingly, the highest rates of COVID-19 deaths.

COVID-19 vaccines work. That effectiveness has been demonstrated both in the thousands who participated in controlled trials and in the relationship between rates of vaccination and rates of serious illness worldwide and within the United States. Multiple long-term surveillance studies continue to show that vaccines are highly effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths, even in the face of delta and other variants.

Vaccine mandates work. That’s been demonstrated from the airlines to education to the military, where vaccine requirements have all but eliminated anti-vax holdouts. Despite dire predictions that thousands would walk off the job rather than take a jab, in New York City, only 34 out of over 35,000 police actually went on unpaid leave when they failed to meet vaccine deadlines. A company mandate resulted in at least 99% of United Airline employees getting vaccinated. Schools across the country have seen that mandates increase vaccination for both students and staff.

Mandates have also made a huge difference among health care workers. As NPR reported in September, health care workers were not immune to being influenced by vaccine misinformation and disinformation. As a result, 27% of those on the front lines of the crisis remained unvaccinated just three months ago. Then companies began enforcing mandates. While The New York Times ran headlines such as “Over 150 Texas Hospital Workers Are Fired or Resign Over Vaccine Mandate,” that headline deliberately obscured was the fact that the 153 fired or suspended came from a system that employed just under 25,000. Thanks to a vaccine mandate, Houston Methodist hospitals went from 75% vaccinated, to 99.4% vaccinated. That change absolutely saved lives.

Around the world, differences in vaccination rates are among the biggest factors in determining the number of COVID-19 deaths. In Russia, where vaccination rates are below 40%, despite the home-grown and widely trumpeted “Sputnik” vaccine, death rates have continued to rise dramatically as the delta variant became dominant. Currently, Russia is seeing case fatality rates well above 3%—twice that of the United States. On the other hand, even during the worst of the delta surge, the rate of deaths in Israel, where vaccine rates are higher than in the U.S., stayed well below 1%. And while the daily rate of cases in the U.K. may seem terrible, a combination of widespread testing and a vaccination rate 10% higher than the U.S. means that the case fatality rate there has remained around 0.4% throughout the delta surge.

Around the world, the World Health Organization estimates that between 115,000 and 180,000 health care workers have died from COVID-19. Kaiser Health News found over 3,200 U.S. health care workers had died in just the first year of the pandemic. That number was as of March, well before the delta surge. With a quarter of those workers still unvaccinated as of this fall, misinformation means that thousands more are likely to die—and that’s not considering their families, friends, or others who become infected from contact with these unvaccinated workers dealing directly with COVID-19 infections.

The “burden” imposed by mandates is fantastically small. That’s been demonstrated again and again. However, Republicans—including Judge Schelp—ignore that truth to maintain a pretense that vaccines will either cause massive disruptions or generate widespread walkouts. Neither of which is at all true,

The success enjoyed by Republican attorney generals appealing mandates to Trump-appointed judges will open the floodgates on lawsuits from former employees against companies, universities, hospitals, and local governments that imposed vaccine mandates. The result is likely to be a legal chaos that goes on for years.

The specific means by which Republicans have been fighting these mandates—by arguing that federal agencies don’t have the right to set the rules how such steps are implemented—has much broader implications. Rulings such as those from Judge Schelp are another step in making it impossible for executive branch agencies to effectively implement policy, whether it comes from legislation or executive order.

Finally, the pliancy demonstrated by these Trump-appointed judges is another huge warning for what comes next, when these same attorney generals stand in front of the same judges, to restrict voting, defend gerrymandering, and overturn any election that doesn’t fall their way.

House Republican comes out and says it: Forcing tax cheats to pay up would 'cost' them billions

Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace, inflicted on us by the state of South Carolina, has been running a bold new online ad condemning Democratic plans to boost funding for the Internal Revenue Service. Why, you might ask?

"Biden's policy will double the size of the IRS at the cost of billions of dollars in unpaid taxes. We should stabilize our nation's economy first."

While @z3dster has done us the solid of parsing out what the hell Mace's word shrapnel was meant to actually mean, it's still worth stewing on that odd language. "At the cost of billions of dollars in unpaid taxes?" At the ... cost? But going after tax cheats is widely recognized as being a net federal win, because just a little money allocated to investigating the most prolific tax-dodgers results in much larger revenues when the dodged taxes actually get paid, so—ooh. Ooooooh.

Right.

What the House Republican is saying here is, of course, boosting IRS capabilities will "cost" the wealthiest tax dodgers in the country billions of dollars, and forcing rich tax cheats to pay what they owe will harm the economy so very much that we shouldn't even think about it until we've "stabilized" everything else first.

You've heard of trickle-down economics? This is trickle-down tax fraud. If we don't let rich Americans who have more offshore bank accounts than you have spoons get away with their current level of financial crimes it is all of you who will suffer, because that money being paid in taxes won't be going to buying new yacht chandeliers, or underwater television sets, or the spiffy new uniforms the upper classes want you to wear while hunting you for sport.

Instead, that money will be going to the government, and the government will probably waste it on stupid things like rebuilding roads in places you don't live, or saving coastlines you don’t visit, or giving you better childcare options after your name comes up in the to-be-hunted-for-sport lottery.

In any event, what Mace is suggesting is that American financial criminals have been hiding so very damn much money that attempting to collect it could destabilize our nation's very economy. Shouldn't be done! Too dangerous!

Oooookay?

See, our problem here is that we're taking a Republican message literally instead of treating as the propagandistic word salad it is intended as. It’s not meant to make sense. Mace may or may not distance herself from the premise of her own self-promoted statement after she's gotten sufficient mockery for it, but it was crafted not to make an actual argument but to burp scary-sounding words at Republican base members primed to react to them without thought. "At the cost of billions" is meant to invoke the notion that it will be costing the nation money, rather than bringing it in. "Stabilize" is meant to invoke the notion that the nation's economy is currently not stable, when all the facts and figures suggest that the economy is now actually in pretty darn good shape.

Things are so good, in fact, that ports are being clogged with the stuff Americans are now wanting to buy and (mostly anti-labor) economic grumps are warning that if we keep raising wages and recovering from pandemics then we'll summon the Inflation Monster, so central banks need to start taking a few good golf swings at worker knees before things get out of hand. And that’s all while the pandemic is still raging around us.

The "Biden's policy" bit is also rote party schtick: While nigh-on everybody who is not personally evading taxes or being lobbied by people who do all agree that returning IRS funding to something approaching normal is both necessary to curb now-rampant tax dodging by the wealthy and an enormous government gain, calling it "Biden's policy" is intended to portray the move as partisan rancor, or spreading socialism, or otherwise controversial.

It's all gimmick. Republicanism may no longer have policies of its own, but each new congresscreature is in tune with the larger movement's dictionary of cult phrases and contrarian phrasing. Going after tax dodgers will "cost" you money. Doing the "Biden policy" on anything will further "destabilize" the glorious f--king paradise of corpses and lines for toilet paper gifted to us by Dear Crabby-Ass Leader in his final year.

Rep. Nancy Mace may be new to town, but she and every other newly elected House Republican gained their current position by telling the ever-outraged base whatever they wanted to hear. She's in a bit of hot water over that at this precise moment, in fact, being roundly mocked for a particularly comical Sunday show circuit that saw her both undermining vaccination efforts on Fox News while claiming to support them on CNN.

It's all a game; there is little effort being put into attempting to discern what policies would best serve the nation here, and flopsweat-level effort being put into selling the base on the nation that whatever policies actual experts come up with are most certainly an effort at "socialism," an attempt to abridge your "freedoms," or a flat-out conspiracy to harm you because the "elites" will do nigh-on anything to oppress you, whether it be bamboo-laced ballots or firefly chemicals in your vaccines or arresting "patriots" whose only crime was attacking the U.S. Capitol during a joint session of Congress in a seditious attempt to cancel the results of a United States election.

All that said, we're not going to get anywhere if we ignore it all and let the Maces of new Republicanism fire off chaff meant to invoke primal reaction while breezily evading the part where nothing they said made any actual sense. So we're all ears, Rep. Nancy Mace.

You say going after tax cheats will "cost billions"—who ya aiming that statement at, representative?

Because the only people who will see a "cost" when going after prolific tax fraud are the folks doing the actual crimes. Is that who you're going to bat for here? Did they send someone to your office to make that case?

And you're saying American tax cheats are costing the rest of us so much money that making them actually pay it would threaten to destabilize the entire economy?

Oh, do tell. That one's worth a floor speech. We all really want to hear you explain that going after institutionalized tax evasion by people who can hire more lawyers than the IRS has available investigators would threaten our very way of life. There haven't been many Republicans with the guts to make that argument in public, but you made it a sponsored online ad.

Please explain, representative. Give it your best shot.

Anti-mask parent attacked school board chair by outing her 8-year-old trans daughter

As Daily Kos continues to chronicle, school board meetings across the nation have been steadily picking up both local and national media attention, and for an important reason. Why? If it’s not people protesting mask mandates, it’s people speaking up for (or, sadly, against) trans rights. In both of these cases, the people affected are students and the people who work with them—teachers, janitorial staff, bus drivers, and so on. As reported by CNN, a school board election in the small town of Hastings, Minnesota, involves conservative hysteria on both masks and trans rights—and led to an 8-year-old trans girl being outed. After she was outed, she was allegedly bullied by her peers.

Who did the outing? According to CNN, anti-mask parents took it upon themselves to attack and out the little girl, who is the daughter of Kelsey Waits, the school board chair, because they disagreed with COVID-19 policies at the school. Waits, interestingly, is also a conservative but has enough decency to be pro-mask and supportive of her daughter. Now, she says she and her family are leaving the town altogether due to the harassment.

Waits, the mother of two children, was elected to the school board in 2016 even though she actually homeschooled her older child. Still, she won her election and served for two years before becoming chair. Waits ultimately lost her recent reelection bid. Waits told CNN she feels “betrayed” by her community—not because she lost her reelection by just over 400 votes, but because “not only did people attack a child, but so many of them sat by and allowed it to happen."

Waits became aware of a secret Facebook group where conservative folks in her town talked local politics, including their stance against mask mandates. Given the current political climate, that’s not surprising, but what did ultimately surprise—and horrify—Waits is that someone allegedly posted revealing her daughter is trans. While Waits told CNN she and her husband affirmed their daughter’s identity and supported her, their child’s gender identity had been kept private.

One parent reportedly posted to the group saying Waits should be “locked up” for “child abuse” because she and her husband were affirming their child’s identity. Someone else commented and suggested the Waits had pushed their “woke” views on their child. From there, Waits said people started using the wrong pronouns for her daughter.

"You out a kid before they're ready, you're subjecting them to that sort of behavior that's going to increase their risk of suicide," Waits told CNN, adding that being on the school board is not about her kid, but about “protecting all kids.”

And now? The Waits family is moving. Not all families have the means to relocate due to abuse or harassment, and while the Waits are clearly doing their very best to support and protect their children, it’s deeply, deeply disturbing that mean-spirited adults in a Facebook group opened up a very young child up to this sort of harassment.

People are really, really letting their cruelty show when it comes to trans folks, and especially trans youth. We’ve seen stories about libraries having to cancel events for kids because of violent threats just because a facilitator happens to be trans, or because the books include marginalized identities. We’ve seen trans kids testify on behalf of their own rights—something that’s both incredibly brave and incredibly sad. Parents have spoken up on behalf of trans youth, thankfully, but community members have also taken the chance to stomp down on them, too.

There is absolutely no harm done by treating people—including children—with dignity and respecting their name, pronouns, and giving them fair access to bathrooms, sports teams, and so on. It’s basic. It’s truly the bottom of the barrel when it comes to actually being inclusive. But of course, Republicans will do whatever it takes to distract from their own failures—even when it means attacking little kids.

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