A calm before the Omicron storm as counting pauses for the holidays

0
31


x

We don’t know what’s coming next amidst the good (suggestion of less virulence) and bad (increasing numbers mean increased strain on health care workers). But come it shall. 

x

NY Times:

First They Fought About Masks. Then Over the Soul of the City.

In Enid, Okla., pandemic politics prompted a fundamental question: What does it mean to be an American? Whose version of the country will prevail?

From lockdowns to masks to vaccines to school curriculums, the conflicts in America keep growing and morphing, even without Donald Trump, the leader who thrived on encouraging them, in the White House. But the fights are not simply about masks or schools or vaccines. They are, in many ways, all connected as part of a deeper rupture — one that is now about the most fundamental questions a society can ask itself: What does it mean to be an American? Who is in charge? And whose version of the country will prevail?

Social scientists who study conflict say the only way to understand it — and to begin to get out of it — is to look at the powerful currents of human emotions that are the real drivers. They include the fear of not belonging, the sting of humiliation, a sense of threat — real or perceived — and the strong pull of group behavior.

Well, it’s not economic anxiety. I suppose that’s a step forward.

x

WaPo:

Anger over mask mandates, other covid rules, spurs states to curb power of public health officials

Republican lawmakers pass laws to restrict the power of health authorities to require masks, promote vaccinations and take other steps to protect the public health.

The city line between Columbus and suburban Hilliard crosses right through the strip mall, Mill Run Square. In Columbus, where the Lowe’s Home Improvement Store lies, the city council early in the coronavirus pandemic created a mask requirement that remains in place. In Hilliard, where Hales is located, the city council has not imposed a mask rule, despite entreaties from the top county health official as coronavirus cases spiked.

Under a new law in Ohio — one of at least 19 states this year that have restricted state or local authorities from safeguarding public health amid the coronavirus pandemic — Franklin County’s health commissioner Joe Mazzola can no longer intervene. The county health department was stripped of its power to compel people to wear masks even as the omicron variant fuels a fifth coronavirus surge in the United States.

“We’ve not been able to put in place the policy that would protect our community,” Mazzola said.

x

Walter Shapiro/TNR:

Joe Biden Said All the Right Things on Omicron. But Will Unvaccinated America Listen?

The president’s bully pulpit isn’t too powerful if people are tuning him out

So Biden, in his latest Covid-19 speech, was forced to confront the darkest fears of all—that this was a replay of the frightening early days of the pandemic when the wail of ambulance sirens became the sound of America. “No, this is not March of 2020,” Biden declared. “Two hundred million people are fully vaccinated. We’re prepared. We know more. We just have to stay focused.”

The problem with Biden’s speech was not his words, but his audience.

The Americans most in need of hearing his urgent plea for vaccinations and booster shots were probably the least likely to tune in on a Tuesday afternoon. A mid-December Axios poll found that only 15 percent of Americans possess “a great deal” of confidence in Biden as a messenger on the pandemic and another 29 percent have a “fair amount” of confidence in the president. That means that for more than half the nation, the president’s words are little more than background noise.

Jennifer Rubin/WaPo:

The media has given Republicans a free pass on assaulting democracy

Voter suppression is called “tighter voting requirements.” The Republican’s descent into authoritarianism and its dalliance with violence is explained away as “polarization.” Meritless cases to overturn the election are described as “lawsuits stemming from the 2020 election,” and rarely is it made clear that “concerns about fraud” is a red herring or that the 2020 election was the most reviewed and reaffirmed in history (thanks to the slew of audits).

The media talks about the “lack of civility” in politics. But when do Democrats post videos depicting violence against Republicans? When do they follow Republican members down the halls of Congress to harass and scream at them?

x

John Harwood/CNN:

Biden’s struggles shouldn’t eclipse GOP’s year of dangerous falsehoods

America’s running political conversation defaults to the sitting president. Today, Joe Biden’s legislative struggles, pandemic management and weak approval rating drown out most everything else.

But in 2021, the performance of his partisan adversaries mattered at least as much to the nation’s future. And in Washington and state capitals alike, Republicans have compiled a record of dishonesty and aggression that threatens American democracy itself.

The January 6 insurrection, incited by then-President Donald Trump to overturn his election defeat, offered them a different path. Deadly violence that endangered their own lives gave Republican lawmakers the strongest possible justification for separating themselves from Trump’s disfiguring pathologies.

For a moment, they did. Shaken congressional leaders condemned him and returned to the vandalized capital to affirm Biden’s victory.

x

Business Insider:

Psaki says the Biden administration ‘saved Christmas’ as most gifts arrive on time for the holidays

  • WH press secretary Jen Psaki praised the administration’s efforts to reduce supply chain bottlenecks.
  • “Good news, we’ve saved Christmas,” Psaki said.
  • “Packages are moving, gifts are being delivered and shelves are not empty,” Biden said.

Okay, totally unrelated to anything; it’s a palate cleanser. Judy knew how to tell a story:





Source link

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here