Sunday, August 8, 2021

Republicans let children sicken and die. And you're surprised?

By Spy Medical Editor Vincent Boom-Batz, M.D. with
Florida Correspondent Jenny Herk

The news out of Florida continues to appall.  While this is an evergreen lede, the current pandemic carnage is especially poignant:

And parents are terrified about sending their under-12 and thus unvaccinated children back to Florida's notoriously sh***y schools without any protection, like masks, from infection, suffering, and death:

The overwhelming majority of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Florida are unvaccinated. Of the more than 10.5 million fully vaccinated Floridians, approximately 0.019% are in a Florida hospital with COVID-19, said Mary Mayhew, president of Florida Hospital Association.

“COVID-19 hospitalizations in Florida have doubled in the last two weeks, with younger, healthier individuals getting COVID-19 and being hospitalized,” Mayhew, who called the vaccine a lifesaver, said.

Despite the surge in cases and hospitalizations, at a news conference Friday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis reiterated his general opposition to restrictions, lockdowns, business closures and mask mandates.

Mayo Clinic scientists spreading
pro-mask propaganda

“In terms of imposing any restrictions, that’s not happening in Florida," the governor said. "It’s harmful, it’s destructive. It does not work.”  

All lies from Gov. Ron DeSantis (R – Death) of course. Masks are not harmful. Masks are not destructive. Masks work.  We know this because real scientists with real expertise backed by real evidence say so:

Mayo Clinic researchers recently published a study that shows the proper use of masks reduces the spread of respiratory droplets. The findings strongly support the protective value and effectiveness of widespread mask use and maintaining physical distance in reducing the spread of COVID-19.

So, whom are you going to believe? A thirsty reactionary Republican or the world-class health professionals located in that well-known hotbed of socialist disinformation, Rochester, Minnesota?

For the Republican base, the answer is easy and obvious.  And that has life-long Republican hatchet men and plug uglies who now can't abide what their beloved citadel of freedom has become pulling out what remains of their hair, including Sarah Palin's former campaign manager:

Oh, really? It reminds us of the scene in Galaxy Quest when the aliens forget to turn on their human image projectors and Tim Allen sees them as they really are:

L to R: Gov. Ron DeSantis, Gov. Greg Abbott, Cancun Ted Cruz

Like you never noticed this before, Steve?

We can help him, because lots of us noticed decades ago the fundamental characteristics of Republican, um, thought that led to the sacrifice of children for the political advancement of white supremacists.

The first and most obvious Republican characteristic is cruelty.  While this has been a feature of Republican policies since the Hoover Administration, it only became a hallmark of Republican political culture under the Former Loser Grifter, whose entire political career and indeed life was built on cruelty to others, whether the women he raped, the contractors he stiffed, or the family members he swindled.

The point to remember is not that the FLG was cruel; it's that his cruelty was the basis of his appeal to Republican voters, like these:

And the anti-FLG Republican gasbags may want to think about their love of violence and torture in the Bush Administration.  We're sure they'll get back to us.

The second is the love of an unyielding batsh*t crazy extremism. As the proud 1964 GOP standard-bearer said: “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice . . .”

That's why Goldwater opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, not to mention:

In December 1961, he told a news conference that "sometimes I think this country would be better off if we could just saw off the Eastern Seaboard and let it float out to sea." That comment came back to haunt him for years, as did remarks about making Social Security voluntary and selling the Tennessee Valley Authority. 

We'll get back to some of these foundational Republican norms.  Speaking of extremism, let's just recall the Republican opposition to gun safety measures in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook and Parkland student massacres:

Even after a horrific event like the school shooting in Florida, where 17 people were killed, more gun control would be compromising those first principles. For them, compromising those principles would be even more horrific and detrimental to society than any shooting. 

When your “principles” are more important that the body count of children slaughtered in their schools, that my friend is extremism. But not just that.

It's a Republican-specific version, which is treating white privilege as freedom.  And the only freedoms that count are the ones enjoyed by privileged white men.  We can't explain this any better than Paul Krugman, so we'll just cut and paste:

the link between vaccine refusal and Covid deaths is every bit as real as the link between D.U.I. and traffic deaths,... But why are people on the right so receptive to misinformation on this subject, and so angry about efforts to set the record straight?

My answer is that when people on the right talk about “freedom” what they actually mean is closer to “defense of privilege” — specifically the right of certain people (generally white male Christians) to do whatever they want. ...

Why, for example, are conservatives so insistent on the right of businesses to make their own decisions, free from regulation — but quick to stop them from denying service to customers who refuse to wear masks or show proof of vaccination? Why is the autonomy of local school districts a fundamental principle — unless they want to require masks or teach America’s racial history? It’s all about whose privilege is being protected.

The reality of what the right means by freedom also, I think, explains the special rage induced by rules that impose some slight inconvenience in the name of the public interest — like the detergent wars of a few years back. After all, only poor people and minority groups are supposed to be asked to make sacrifices.

Or, as Republicans would call it, a waste of money
Any action, no matter how reprehensible, can be framed as a freedom: the freedom to tie tin cans to dog's tails, the freedom to run red lights, the freedom to grope your State Police bodyguard. This perversion of the concepts of freedom and liberty led Samuel Johnson to remark at the time of the American Revolution: “How is it we hear the loudest yelps about liberty from the drivers of negroes?” We've been wresting with that one since 1619. 

But it's not just race; it's class, money, and power as well.  It's no accident that while Floridians suffer and die, DeSantis has been out of town auditioning for dark money from Republican plutocrats sucking down gin in green and pleasant white havens like Petoskey, Michigan, suburban Milwaukee, San Diego, and Las Vegas.  DeSantis knows that the hard-eyed money men, in Russell Baker's famous expression, want to invest in a white Republican who will protect their pocketbooks against the claims of the undeserving poor.  If DeSantis can ignore the pleas of parents terrified about sending their children into super-spreader schools, they can be sure he will not spend a dime of their pelf to feed, house, and succor the poor and unfortunate.

Which may explain the long-held article of Republican faith that government is the problem.  If government could work, then folks might start asking why billionaires shouldn't kick in a portion of their vast wealth the way middle-class homeowners pay a property tax.  Ever since St. Ronald of Bitburg declared that government wasn't the solution, it was the problem, the Republican plutocrats have cheered.

They know full well that this claim is just a distraction for the rubes angered over insults like a Black President.  Government works great for them: its courts and police protect and defend their property, while high-priced lawyers manipulate the legal system to insure the predatory rich never have to answer for their evil deeds.  Just ask the Sacklers.

It also explains why those plutocrats lavishly fund a series of dark money institutions designed to promote their pro-rich policies as nothing more than good ol' American libertarianism.  They succeeded, albeit with the invaluable assistance of the orange-faced FLG who disdained masks because they would smear his greasy bronzer.  Now Americans loyally parrot the line that forcing them to wear masks indoors is an attack on liberty.  We should just be glad that so far they have not reached the same conclusion about wearing pants.

While they love the parts of government that defend their interests, like the paramilitary police and fully militarized National Guards that spring into action to defend their property and generally keep the poor in the their place, there are parts they hate.  Republican hatred of public schools goes back generations, originally based on the fears that they will have to pay taxes to pay for those schools.   More recently, they have attacked public schools because their unionized but still modestly paid teachers tend to vote and worse yet organize Democratic, so that defunding the schools has the tonic side effect of starving a key pillar of Democratic support.

Thus it came as no surprise when the Republican Florida Board of Education decided to undermine school districts with sensible public health measures like masking by letting parents get state money to pull their little bricks out of those schools and into segregation academies, uh, private schools.  

He's right - the Southern Border is wide open!
In addition to the interlocking ideologies of white supremacy, bent libertarianism, hatred of government, and exalting protecting the rich, there are at least two political factors.  The first is the scorched-earth opposition that Republicans have employed to frustrate Democratic-led government.  This first erupted in 1993, when, after an era in which Republicans occupied the White House for 20 of 24 years, Republicans decided that anything else was a perversion of the natural order.

Soon we got screaming Republican Newt “Polish that Rocket ” Gingrich whipping up his party into a frenzy of angry and total opposition.  Matters only got worse when the next Democratic President rode into town like Sheriff Bart.  Today it is an article of Republican political strategy that Democrats must be treated with contempt.  Thus DeSantis said he didn't want to hear criticism about his life-threatening COVID decisions until President Biden had secured the Southern border.

Now we've been to the Southern border of Florida and it's pretty wet and mucky.  We aren't sure who is invading from there besides pythons and alligators, and there's no way Biden can stop them.  

Finally explaining why DeSantis has gotten away with his reckless if not batshit crazy opposition to sane public health measures is the inability of supposedly reputable practitioners of journalism to call him out.  A recent analysis in the New York Times faithfully spoon-fed the threadbare rationalizations of DeSantis flacks for his bizarre decision to do nothing while Florida burns with disease.

But don't worry – according to the New York Times, it's all good for DeSantis.  As long as not every child in Florida sickens and dies, he'll be able to claim that the casualty list is a small price to pay for freedom and full strip clubs.  In a piece that could have been written about the political acumen of Vlad the Impaler, the Times concluded:

If, however, Florida comes through another virus peak with both its hospital system and economy intact, Mr. DeSantis’s game of chicken with the deadly pandemic could become a model for how to coexist with a virus that is unlikely to ever fully vanish.

Not since Neville Chamberlain have so many died for peaceful coexistence.

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