Daily Blog April 2020

April 30

  • The Morbid Ideology Behind the Drive to Reopen America
  • How to Reopen Congress Quickly, Safely and Remotely
  • They Were Warned Not to Take Sick Days — Then Six Workers at Their Warehouse Died of Coronavirus
  • Trump v Fox News: why the president is furious at the conservative network

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  1. The Morbid Ideology Behind the Drive to Reopen America

    The right has mobilized a small army of true believers willing to die in the defense of a less just world.

    Drew Angerer/Getty Images

    Photos of the small “reopen America” protests, which have made the rounds on social media over the past week, have revealed a spectacle as cartoonish as it is macabre: a rogue’s gallery of right-wing groups coming together to share in the spirit of defiance and, presumably, tiny droplets of mucous and saliva. The protests (and their backing by deep-pocketed funders) invited many comparisons to the Tea Party movement of a decade ago. Unlike that movement, these small protests are likely to die out soon. Nevertheless, they have captured something vitally important about how the right is responding to this fraught moment in our recent history.
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    As jobless claims have soared past an astonishing 26 million with no end in sight, the Covid-19 pandemic may well push the United States into a profound and long-lasting economic crisis. The countless indices of human misery will put enormous pressure on political institutions that are ill-equipped to adequately respond. The onset of this immiseration has begun to propel bold ideas and movements from the left to demand a reorganization of the economy and a fundamental shift in political power. But the right is swiftly establishing its own morbid template for how to interpret and respond to both the pandemic and its economic effects.

    Republican politicians and right-wing pundits endlessly echo a central claim: “The cure is worse than the disease.” In other words, you can either risk dying from the virus or face certain economic ruin, as if there are no other choices. Their hope is that people already conditioned by an ideology centered on the marketplace, the individual, and the nation will be more likely to believe that their lives and livelihoods are under greater threat from state-ordered economic shutdowns and coercive social measures than they are from the disease. For them, the idea that Covid-19 could ultimately be overcome–even if at great human cost–by working and shopping is more appealing, and even more imaginable, than a new politics of mutuality that might redistribute power and resources in an egalitarian way.

    The Covid-19 pandemic amplifies political feelings around healthcare, race, and class that have been growing on the right over the last decade. Recall the Tea Party’s origins during the Great Recession. The movement emerged and quickly grew first in response to the election of a black president and then that president’s proposed healthcare plan, as protesters mobbed townhalls across the summer of 2009, loudly declaiming against any form of socialized medical coverage. Those two animating features of the movement—antiblack racism and opposition to the Affordable Care Act—defined a movement that in essence chose investments in whiteness over the assurance of at least some semblance of healthcare.

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  2. How to Reopen Congress Quickly, Safely—and Remotely

    The people’s branch must start using proxy votes and virtual oversight hearings so they can do their job.

    Ambulance in front of the US Capitol. (Alex Edelman / AFP via Getty Images)

    Congress was upended in mid-March when the coronavirus pandemic forced most of its members to join their constituents in staying home from workplaces. While millions of Americans are now Zooming into their jobs, using readily available technologies for communicating and deliberating, the House and the Senate remain offline.

    That suits a lot of Republicans just fine. They don’t choose to serve as anything more than backstops for President Trump, who has dominated the discourse with a steady stream of “don’t blame me” press briefings and tweets. Members of the House Republican caucus are objecting to basic oversight of how the administration is responding to the crisis—even as Congress consents, with scant debate, to trillions of dollars in new spending to address health care demands and mass unemployment.

    Things got especially ugly last week, when one of the president’s most outrageous defenders, Ohio Republican Jim Jordan, blew up during a rare and sparsely attended session of the House Rules Committee. Jordan attacked a Democratic proposal for a select panel to oversee the federal coronavirus response. “This is just one more attempt by the Democrats to go after the president,” grumbled Jordan.

    Jordan’s over-the-top performance drew a rebuke from Maryland Democrat Jamie Raskin. “I cannot accept the counterfeit outrage of people upset about the fact that we’re creating a committee to conduct oversight over the trillions of dollars of the taxpayers’ money that’s going out the door to try to clean up after the messes created by the government,” said Raskin. “I would so love to hear how my friends would have reacted if President Obama had brought our country to its knees economically, in public health, and constitutionally, the way this president has. Can you imagine what they’d be saying if we were wearing masks up here under President Obama?”

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