Monday, August 30, 2021

Dr. Fauci Rightly Blasts Flori-DUH Governor DeSANTIS over selling anti-vax, anti-mask merchandise

 Florida's Dull Republican Governor, erstwhile hit-and-run Fox News Congressman from St. Johns County, the estimable RONALD DION DeSANTIS, is selling anti-vax, anti-mask merchandise to Reichwing, KKK and other lugubrious goobers in Flori-DUH.

Thanks to Dr. Fauci for noticing, and criticizing.

Governor DeSANTIS belongs in history's dustbins.

We will vote him out in 2020.

From Huffington Post:

Fauci Rips Ron DeSantis Fundraising Site Selling Anti-Vax Shirts Amid COVID Crisis

“There’s no place” for “that kind of politicization” in a health crisis, the nation’s top infectious disease expert told Jake Tapper.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci attacked a fundraising website for Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis that is selling merchandise mocking COVID-19 vaccines and other health measures amid the state’s deadly COVID crisis.

“We have an extraordinary problem that’s killing people in the United States — killing us and putting us in the hospital,” the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “There’s no place” for “that kind of politicization” when “you’re dealing with a public health crisis,” he added.

The DeSantis campaign team website raising funds for the governor is currently selling T-shirts and drink coolers featuring the phrase “Don’t Fauci My Florida.” Vaccines against COVID-19 are often referred to as the “Fauci-ouchie” in a humorous nod to the man who has relentlessly encouraged them — as well as other COVID-19 safety precautions like social distancing and masks.

One of the beverage coolers for sale features DeSantis’ photo and his own quip: “How the hell am I going to be able to drink a beer with a mask on?”

After the merchandise triggered an uproar last month, an unrepentant DeSantis declared: “Florida chose freedom over Fauci-ism. I wasn’t about to let the state get Fauci’d.”

Helen Aguirre Ferre, executive director of the Republican Party of Florida, called the merchandise — particularly callous in the face of Florida’s skyrocketing COVID-19 cases — “lighthearted fun,” in a statement to Newsweek.

“While this isn’t an official campaign website, as Gov. DeSantis hasn’t filed papers for his re-election, we view it as a great opportunity to have some lighthearted fun and give his supporters a chance to feel even more connected with his message of keeping Florida free,” she said.

She insisted that DeSantis’ “official staff” wasn’t involved with the site, Newsweek reported.

Florida is tallying the highest daily case numbers and deaths of the entire pandemic. The states’ cases jumped nearly 152,000 over the week ending Aug. 26, and deaths increased more than 1,700. 

Hospitals are running out of ICU beds and are now being overwhelmed with bodies. Fourteen portable morgues have been sent to hospitals in central Florida to help, and some have already rented refrigerated units to store the dead.

Tapper asked Fauci about the DeSantis merchandise in light of his state’s COVID crisis.“Just in the six weeks since the governor’s reelection campaign launched those products, more than 5,000 Floridians have died of coronavirus,” Tapper stated. “What do you make of the way some of these governors and politicians are attacking you?” 

Fauci said he’s attacked because he’s highly “visible,” but emphasized that he’s “merely articulating the proper public health practices that are recommended” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“They like to pick out a certain person because they can make that person the personification of political divides, which is so unfortunate. We should put all of that aside,” Fauci said.

Just over 52% of Floridians have been fully vaccinated. DeSantis has instead been pushing the monoclonal antibody treatment Regeneron, which can only be used once people are sick with COVID-19. He also issued an executive order banning mask mandates in schools which were intended to protect children who can’t yet be vaccinated.

A Florida judge on Friday blocked his ban, ruling that DeSantis had overstepped his authority and violated the state constitution.

In his interview, Fauci also discussed COVID-19 boosters and vaccines for schoolchildren on the horizon. He supports mandating COVID vaccines for children in schools, just as other vaccines are required before they can attend.

He also warned people not to take ivermectin — a drug commonly used to deworm livestock and is currently being peddled on Fox News — to fight COVID-19.  Some poison control centers are being overwhelmed with concerned calls about dangerous effects from the drug.

Check out Fauci’s full interview in the video clip up top. Tapper asks about the DeSantis merchandise beginning at 6:25.

The Snake Oil Theory of the Modern Right. (Paul Krugman, NY Times)


Nobel Prize laureate Paul Krugman rightly blasts our right-wing friends for their anti-science, pro-death flummery, dupery and nincompoopery.  From The New York Times:

The Snake Oil Theory of the Modern Right

Credit...The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

You don’t hear much these days about “economic anxiety.” Most observers acknowledge that the rise of the Trumpist right was driven by racial and social antagonism, not economic populism.

Yet there is an economic element to political extremism, just not what you’d think. Right-wing extremists, and to some extent even more mainstream conservative media, rely on financial support from companies selling nutritional supplements and miracle cures — and that financial support is arguably a significant factor pushing the right to become more extreme. Indeed, right-wing extremism isn’t just an ideological movement that happens to get a lot of money from sellers of snake oil; some of its extremism can probably be seen not as a reflection of deep conviction, but as a way of promoting snake oil.

Consider where we are right now in the fight against Covid-19. A few months ago it seemed likely that the development of effective vaccines would soon bring the pandemic to an end. Instead, it goes on, with hospitalizations closing in on their peak from last winter. This is partly due to the emergence of the highly contagious Delta variant, but it also crucially reflects the refusal of many Americans to take the vaccines.

And much of this refusal is political. True, many people who are refusing to get vaccinated aren’t Trumpists, but there’s a strong negative correlation between Donald Trump’s share of a county’s vote and vaccinations. As of July, 86 percent of self-identified Democrats said they had had a vaccine shot, but only 54 percent of Republicans did.


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But vaccine refusers aren’t just rejecting lifesaving vaccines, they’re also turning to life-threatening alternatives. We’re seeing a surge in sales of — and poisoning by — ivermectin, which is usually used to deworm livestock but has recently been touted on social media and Fox News as a Covid cure.

OK, I didn’t see that coming. But I should have. As the historian Rick Perlstein has pointed out, there’s a long association between peddlers of quack medicine and right-wing extremists. They cater to more or less the same audience.

That is, Americans willing to believe that Barack Obama was born in Kenya and that Italian satellites were used to switch votes to Joe Biden are also the kind of people willing to believe that medical elites are lying to them and that they can solve their health problems by ignoring professional advice and buying patent medicines instead.

Once you’re sensitized to the link between snake oil and right-wing politics, you realize that it’s pervasive.

This is clearly true in the right’s fever swamps. Alex Jones of Infowars has built a following by pushing conspiracy theories, but he makes money by selling nutritional supplements.


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It’s also true, however, for more mainstream, establishment parts of the right. For example, Ben Shapiro, considered an intellectual on the right, hawks supplements.

Look at who advertises on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show. After Fox itself, the top advertisers are My Pillow, then three supplement companies.

Snake oil peddlers, clearly, find consumers of right-wing news and punditry a valuable market for their wares. So it shouldn’t be surprising to find many right-leaning Americans ready to see vaccination as a liberal plot and turn to dubious alternatives — although, again, I didn’t see livestock dewormer coming.

The interesting question, however, is to what extent the connection between right-wing politics and snake oil marketing has shaped the political landscape.

Put it this way: There are big financial rewards to extremism, because extreme politics sells patent medicine, and patent medicine is highly profitable. (In 2014 Alex Jones’s operations were bringing in more than $20 million a year in revenue, mainly from supplement sales.) Do these financial rewards induce pundits to be more extreme? It would be surprising if they didn’t — as conservative economists say, incentives matter.

The extremism of media figures radicalizes their audience, giving politicians an incentive to become more extreme.

So you can see how vaccination became such a flash point. Getting shots in arms is a priority for a Democratic president, which automatically generates intense hostility among people who want to see Joe Biden fail. And such people were already primed to reject medical expertise and believe in quack cures.


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Surely everyone on the right noticed that even Donald Trump got booed recently when he told attendees at a rally that they should get vaccinated. He probably won’t say that again, and would-be future Trumps definitely won’t.

None of this would be happening if there weren’t a climate of anger and distrust for unscrupulous pundits and politicians to exploit. But the fact that extremism sells patent medicine creates a financial incentive to get more extreme.

You could say that if American democracy is in danger, that’s partly because sellers of snake oil — not bad policy ideas, but actual bad medicine — have been pulling off this one weird trick.