Politics The Virus is Back. So is Trumpism | Opinion
Masks are back, as Delta variant forces dramatic reversal in US
The US reverses mask guidance, extends travel restrictions and weighs up vaccination mandates as it fights rising cases and vaccine hesitancy.Less than a month ago, the United States seemed to be shaking off the shackles of the coronavirus pandemic. A sense of achievement was in the air. At a Fourth of July celebration, President Joe Biden said America was roaring back to life and "closer than ever" to declaring its independence from the virus.
Despair is worse after hope is briefly ignited. I don't know about you, but I was elated earlier this spring when it seemed as if Trump and COVID were gone, and Biden appeared to be getting the nation rapidly back on track.
Now much is sliding backwards. It's not Biden's fault. It's Trump's ongoing legacy.
The new Delta strain of the virus requires, according to the, that we go back to wearing masks inside in public places where the virus is surging, even if we're fully inoculated.
'Leave the Rest to Me'
The full contours of Trump’s effort to overturn the election are coming into view.But the House Oversight Committee shed more light this week on just how and why January 6 happened, releasing handwritten notes by Richard Donoghue, a top Justice Department official in the waning days of the Trump administration. The violence of the day has taken center stage, but these notes help put it in context: The angry crowd was just one part of President Donald Trump’s long-running effort to overturn the results of the election in the House of Representatives.
This would be little more than a small disappointment and inconvenience were it not forusing it as another opportunity to politicize public health. Last week, House Minority Leader responded to the new CDC recommendation with the kind of unhinged hyperbole Trumpers have perfected: "The threat of bringing masks back is not a decision based on science but a decision conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state," he said.
He was not alone; Republicans politicizing of public health will only escalate if the Delta variant continues to surge. At some point, vaccines will have to be mandated because being inoculated is not solely a matter of personal choice. Herd immunity is a common good. If infections mount, that common good can only be achieved if nearly everyone is vaccinated.
Trump tax returns to be released to Congress: DOJ
The Office of Legal Counsel for DOJ said that the U.S. Congress, specifically the House Ways and Means Committee, made a “legitimate request” to review the former president’s tax records. © JIM WATSON Former President Donald Trump Former President Donald Trump (JIM WATSON/) The 39-page Justice Department opinion found that, under federal law, there is “ample basis” for the Department of Treasury to hand over the returns to the committee for the “stated objective of assessing the IRS’s presidential audit program — a plainly legitimate area for congressional inquiry and possible legislation.
But those eager to exploit the virus's resurgence—the know-nothings, the Trump wannabes, the vilely ambitious political upcomers, thes and similarly cynical entertainers—are already howling about "personal freedom" threatened by "socialism."
It's nothing more than opportunistic treachery. And the investigation into the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 is further evidence of how far the Republican Party has descended into it.
We need to know what happened and why if we are to have half a chance of avoiding a repeat. Just as with the history of systemic discrimination and brutality against Black people in America—what Republicans are calling "critical race theory" and trying to ban from classrooms—the truth shapes our responses to the future. And when it comes to January 6, the Republicans have committed themselves to denial and obfuscation.
GOP report says evidence 'proves' COVID emerged from Wuhan lab
House Foreign Affairs Committee Republicans released their report on COVID-19’s origins, pointing to evidence of a lab leak, genetic modification, and a cover-up, making the case the virus accidentally emerged from the Wuhan lab in the fall of 2019. © Provided by Washington Examiner The report concluded that “the preponderance of evidence suggests SARS-CoV-2 was accidentally released from a Wuhan Institute of Virology laboratory sometime prior to September 12, 2019,” and “the virus, or the viral sequence that was genetically manipulated, was likely collected in a cave in Yunnan province, PRC, between 2012 and 2015.
Officer Michael Fanone suffered traumatic brain injury on Jan. 6 when rioters attacked him. He testified at the start of the hearings last week that "What makes the struggle harder and more painful is to know so many of my fellow citizens— including so many of the people I put my life at risk to defend—are downplaying or outright denying what happened."
With the exception of Rep. Adam Kinzinger and Rep., whom I never expected to hold up as a model of integrity, Republicans are eager to divert the public's attention. Republican Conference Chair declared at a press conference that "Nancy Pelosi bears responsibility, as speaker of the House, for the tragedy that occurred on January 6."
This is absurd on its face. The Speaker of the House shares responsibility for Capitol security with themajority leader, who at the time of the attack was . If Pelosi was negligent, McConnell was as well.
Stefanik and other Republican leaders don't want the public to know about Republican members ofwho were almost certainly involved in the travesty, either directly or indirectly. The list includes Representatives Jim Jordan, Mo Brooks, Paul Gosar, , , Lauren Boebert, Andrew Biggs, and McCarthy himself. And then there's Trump himself, cheerleader and ringleader.
Donald Trump tax returns: Biden's Justice Department says IRS 'must' hand over docs to Congress
The Justice Department told the Treasury Department that it "must" turn over former President Donald Trump's tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee, which first requested them more than two years ago. © CNN Illustration/Getty Images The direction came in an opinion released Friday by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, which provides legal advice to the executive branch. "The Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has invoked sufficient reasons for requesting the former President's tax information.
All should be subpoenaed. All, presumably, will fight the subpoenas in court.
Meanwhile, Trump continues to fulminate, as he did at a recent rally in Phoenix, where he declared, "Our nation is up against the most sinister forces... This nation does not belong to them, this nation belongs to you."
Wrong. America belongs to all of us. And we all have a responsibility to protect its public health and its democratic institutions.
The real sinister force is the Trump Republicans' cynical exploitation of lies and anti-scientific rubbish to divide and divert us. Even with Trump gone from the White House, Republicans continue to tell lies that were a hallmark of his presidency.
Months ago, it seemed as if this darkness was behind us. It is not.
Robert B. Reich is an American political commentator, professor and author. He served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Reich's latest book, The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It, is out now.
The views in this article are the writer's own.
Doctor: Don't mock the vaccine hesitant. Sympathy saves more lives than schadenfreude. .
We want people to live, don't we? Cruelly mocking COVID patients who didn't get vaccinated might make you feel good, but it won't save lives.In a June 22 Twitter post, Valentine included a link to "Vaxman" – a musical parody set to the tune of George Harrison's "Taxman" – which opens with the following lines: