The U.S. is once again in a strange place with the pandemic. Vaccinated states are experiencing something similar to what is happening in Western Europe – a significant wave of Delta infections, but with only a modest increase in hospitalization and few deaths. But in conservative states where right-wing media has made them more like poor countries that haven't gotten enough vaccine yet, there is a giant wave of infection, significant hospitalization, and steadily-rising deaths.
There seems to be some mix of cynicism and derangement driving conservative vaccine refusal. On the one hand, you have cynical careerists who see stoking the pandemic as a way to harm the Democrats, and so they spread antivaccine disinformation. On the other, we have genuine lunatics who have convinced themselves the vaccines are no good, many of whom are falling sick or dying. (In practice there is probably some overlap between these two motivations.)
Also there is general American health care dysfunction (see below).
I'm not an epidemiologist, but it seems like the only way we are going to get out of this is to get the vaccination rate up to 90 percent or better. I assume if you're reading this newsletter you've got your shot already, but if not, I strongly urge you to do it.
First, I took on the David Shor school of thought in a longer piece:
In theory, one could imagine a politician that took popular stands on policy, yet took aggressive procedural actions when it couldn't be avoided (as Shor indeed suggests). In practice this does not happen. The reason is that the neoliberal decades have produced a class of wimps: Democratic politicians who are fearful, timid, and hesitant when it comes to pursuing their own interests or confronting Republicans. They are bold and aggressive only when they are fighting internal battles with the nearly-powerless left of their own party, who threaten their cushy post-office consulting gigs.
Second, why the American health care system trains people to avoid seeking care if they can possibly avoid it:
In another Kaiser survey, a third of unvaccinated folks report that they haven't gotten the shot because of cost worries, and it's obvious why. A great many medical providers view the uninsured like a hungry vulture looking at a wounded puppy. Just a few examples out of thousands: one study found that the worst-behaved hospitals charged uninsured people 10 times the cost of care; corrupt providers have reportedly tried to steal people's car accident settlements, deliberately put themselves out of insurance networks so they can bilk the sick out of tens of thousands of dollars, turned ambulance services into extortion rackets, and on and on. Millions and millions of Americans have learned the hard way that going to the doctor for any reason can easily lead to shattering financial burdens.
Third, the arguments against Biden's eviction moratorium extension are a bunch of myopic nonsense:
If the Biden administration has committed any serious offenses against the rule of law, it is failing to hold any of his predecessors accountable for their outrageous crimes thus far — particularly Trump. Bush and Obama's violations of law and Constitution were terrible, but at least they never tried a straight-up putsch. But Biden's choice for attorney general, Merrick Garland, is so far running interference for Trump. He seems to be hypnotized by the chauvinistic, Ivy League lawyer-brained notion that prosecuting ex-presidents for their egregious crimes is something only disgusting poor countries do instead of being the dictionary definition of the rule of law.
Fourth, let's not forget about all of Andrew Cuomo's various horrible lackeys:
Ultimately, these aides are complicit in what happened. It is wrong to participate in a culture of sexual predation, or to try to hide sexual assault accusations, or to retaliate against victims for speaking up. Cuomo's goons are people who made a conscious, deliberate decision to serve as thuggish enforcers for an abusive bully who is one of the worst governors in New York history, and they did it to protect their own power and advance their own political careers.
See everyone next week!