Political Bullsh!t

COVID and Omicron continue to lead the news

James Surowiecki/Medium:

You Shouldn’t Have to Pay $24 for a 2-Pack of At-Home Covid Tests

Getting tested for Covid is a social good. It only makes sense for governments to help pay for it.

Local governments are trying to step up to help fill the shortfall, since the Biden administration’s plan to distribute 500 million free rapid tests (which it announced last week) has yet to be put in place. Washington D.C. is distributing tests daily at local libraries. Colorado will send Binax tests to people’s home upon request. And Connecticut was supposed to begin distributing 3 million tests (most of which will go to schools) today, though that’s now been delayed by supply shortages. These programs are accomplishing two things — they’re giving people access to tests that are otherwise hard to find, and they’re making normally pricey tests available for free.

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Lev Facher/STATnews:

3 big questions about the Biden administration’s Covid response in 2022

1. Will the government broaden its focus beyond vaccines?

2. Will people who feel sick have better options for tests and treatments?

3. Forget a third vaccine dose — will Americans need a fourth, too?

NY Times:

Why Covid Death Rates Are Rising for Some Groups

The higher vaccination rate for older people has helped to protect them. Although more older than younger people still die from Covid-19, the virus is now responsible for a smaller share of all deaths among people 65 and older than it was before vaccines became available to all adults. For those younger than 65, Covid-19 has risen as a cause of death.

Check out that piece for some stunning graphics. Where the deaths occur post availability of vaccination is something to see.

NY Times:

On the Slaughterhouse Floor, Fear and Anger Remain

Workers say factories are still glossing over virus safety, as the meatpackers that dominate beef production harvest record profits.

In crucial ways, much has changed for workers inside the long, low-slung slaughterhouse in Greeley, a city of roughly 100,000 people on the high plains of northern Colorado. In a new contract secured last summer, the union gained substantial raises from JBS, the Brazilian conglomerate that owns the plant. Colorado passed legislation mandating paid sick leave, after the state shut the plant for more than a week last year. Inside the slaughterhouse, dividers and partitions have been installed to help maintain social distancing.

But workers complain that many of the changes have been aimed at managing perceptions, while stubborn problems remain: not enough distance between people stationed at some parts of the assembly line, inadequate stocks of hand sanitizer, and subtle pressure to come to work even when they are ill.

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Jose A Del Real/WaPo:

‘An American Tradition’: Lessons from a year covering conspiracy theories

A reporter reflects on conflicts over truth, trust and belonging in America

I have spent this year thinking and writing about the draw to conspiracy theories, the perverse comfort they provide and the damage they can cause. Today in the United States, we are living in an era of segregated belief, of divergent realities, at a time when social media has brought us nearer to one another than ever before. It is not just that there is disagreement. Certified and recertified elections are in dispute. Viruses and their lifesaving vaccines are in dispute. So often, facts themselves are in dispute. My focus has been on telling intimate stories about people navigating these conflicts within their families and communities.

Now I see a grander lesson about truth in Dealey Plaza, one I have been circling for years. That The Truth is not something merely to be found and disclosed, but rather that, in the broader sense, it is something that is negotiated, something that is mediated over time through credibility and trust. That, in the absence of those things, evidence can be so very easily overtaken by fantasy, and stay that way.

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More in storified form here.

Jennifer Rubin/waPo:

Trump idolatry has undermined religious faith

While lovers of democracy around the world view these developments in horror, we should not lose track of the damage the MAGA movement has wrought to religious values. Peter Wehner, an evangelical Christian and former adviser to President George W. Bush, explains in a column for the Atlantic how a recent speech from Donald Trump Jr. reflects the inversion of religious faith. “The former president’s son,” Wehner writes, “has a message for the tens of millions of evangelicals who form the energized base of the GOP: the scriptures are essentially a manual for suckers. The teachings of Jesus have ‘gotten us nothing.’ ”

It’s worse than that, really; the ethic of Jesus has gotten in the way of successfully prosecuting the culture wars against the left. If the ethic of Jesus encourages sensibilities that might cause people in politics to act a little less brutally, a bit more civilly, with a touch more grace? Then it needs to go. Decency is for suckers.

Understanding this phenomenon goes a long way toward explaining the MAGA crowd’s very unreligious cruelty toward immigrants, its selfish refusal to vaccinate to protect the most vulnerable and its veneration of a vulgar, misogynistic cult leader. If you wonder how so many “people of faith” can behave in such ways, understand that their “faith” has become hostile to traditional religious values such as kindness, empathy, self-restraint, grace, honesty and humility.



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