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COVID relief takes a step closer to passage

todayFebruary 27, 2021 5

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Megan Garber/Atlantic:

American Cynicism Has Reached a Breaking Point

The nation’s politics is in dire need of earnestness. Can its culture meet the moment?

Lies are not semantic. Lies can lead to violence—in some sense, they are violence. They are as destabilizing to the social environment as guns can be to the physical: When someone is armed with a willingness to deceive, nobody else has a chance. And cynicism, that alleged defense against duplicity, can have the upside-down effect of making the cynic particularly vulnerable to manipulation. One of the insights of Merchants of Doubt, Erik Conway and Naomi Oreskes’s scathing investigation into the American tobacco industry’s lies about its products, is that the deceptions were successful in part because they turned cynicism into a strategy. Faced with a deluge of studies that made the dangers of smoking clear, tobacco firms funded their own—junk research meant not to refute the science, but to muddle it. The bad-faith findings made Americans less able to see the truth clearly. They manufactured doubt the way Philip Morris churned out Marlboro Lights. They took reality and gave it plausible deniability.

Trump’s Big Lie worked similarly. He understood, with the fabulist’s blithe intuition, how many people had a vested interest in unseeing the election’s obvious outcome. He took for granted that Fox and other outlets would repeat the fantasies so dutifully that soon, in their hermetic worlds, the fictions would seem like facts. Trump’s legal team filed 62 lawsuits alleging election fraud and lost 61; the resounding defeats made notably little sound. In early December, The Washington Post reported that 220 Republican lawmakers were refusing to say who had won the election. In mid-January, a poll asked likely Republican voters whether they continued to question the election’s results; 72 percent said they did.



About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says

The big picture: The Biden administration has previously said it has secured enough doses to vaccinate most of the American population by the end of July.

  • On Thursday, the Biden administration said 50 million doses have been administered since Biden took office.
  • Slavitt said Friday that the milestone puts the country ahead of schedule for meeting its goal of 100 million doses in 100 days.


Robert M Kaplan/USA Today:

COVID-19 cases are falling. This could be the beginning of the end of the pandemic.

Herd immunity may already be taking hold, but this is not the time to back away from vaccines, masks and social distancing. Extinguish all the embers.

Why are we paying so little attention to natural immunity? Perhaps it is because natural herd immunity came to be identified with a political ideology that also advocated reckless behavior. There are very dangerous consequences to encouraging people to get infected as a pathway to immunity. But we should not neglect the possibility that herd immunity might already be taking hold.

To be clear, this is not the time to back away from vaccines, social distancing and mask wearing. Just as firefighters should not leave the forest while the fire still smolders, we need to double down on proven medical and public health tools until all embers are extinguished. But we should also recognize that the vaccines are arriving at a time when cases are rapidly declining. Medical historians offer several examples of vaccines and treatments that became available after a pandemic was on its way to resolution. When all is said and done, vaccines will deservedly be given credit. But it is not clear they should be given all of the credit.



FDA advisory panel endorses Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine

Authorization of J&J’s vaccine could be a potential game changer, at least in some areas. Made by J&J’s vaccine division, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the single-dose vaccine does not need to be frozen when it is shipped and distributed. The vaccine is what’s known as “fridge stable,” meaning it can be shipped and stored at the temperature of a regular refrigerator. Both those characteristics will make this vaccine much easier to deploy if the FDA authorizes its use. The two vaccines already in use in the United States, from Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech partnership, are both two-dose vaccines with onerous cold-chain requirements.

Richard Parker/Politico:

‘Look What You Did to Us’: The Big Chill of Texas Politics

After the devastating freeze, Texans in blue cities blame the state GOP leaders for leaving them in the cold.

The hardest breach to repair, however, might be between Texans and their elected officials. Over the course of the cascading humanitarian crisis high-ranking Texas politicians didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory.

First, Austin falsely blamed renewable energy, even assailing a policy proposal that hadn’t even become law yet. One GOP member of Congress sent a letter to constituents with a link to warming centers before closing with a warning that “radical ideologies have politicized energy policy at the state and federal level in recent years.” Then they went after the utility industry that was once the state’s pride.


Michael Kruse/Politico:

‘Nobody Listened To Me’: The Quest to Be MTG

All Marjorie Taylor Greene ever wanted was someone to pay attention to her.

In some respects, she’s supercharged: Trump, after all, had half a century of built-up fame to propel his improbable run; Greene, on the other hand, armed with anger, opinions and time, spun her policy-light bid out of little more than a deep need to be seen and heard, showing that Trump-style national political figures can be minted with an almost industrial speed. Greene, like Trump, willed herself into the role of a star in 21st-century American politics’ nonstop, social-media-shared, pick-a-side, ill-tempered spectacle. Greene declined to comment for this article, but Nick Dyer, her communications director, responded in a terse email: “You are a scumbag, Michael.”


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