Ron Johnson isn’t a Republican outlier
A political movement will either police its extremes or be defined by them.
Disapproval from opponents is easy to dismiss as mere partisanship. It is through self-criticism that a political party defines and patrols the boundaries of its ideological sanity.
This is the reason the case of Sen. Ron Johnson (Wis.) remains so instructive and disturbing. Johnson is a Republican who prefers his racism raw. He recently described the majority-White crowd protesting on Jan. 6 (some of whom stormed the Capitol and assaulted police officers) as “people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law.” Meanwhile, he would have been “concerned” by an approaching crowd of “tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and antifa protesters.” So: Whites who propagate a destructive lie, attack the democratic process and commit violence are Johnson’s kind of people; African Americans who protest a history of injustice are a scary horde.
Satisfaction With U.S. Vaccine Rollout Surges to 68%
With well over 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered, the public’s satisfaction with the rollout has surged 24 percentage points to 68% in the last month.
Satisfaction with the COVID-19 vaccine process has doubled since January and is now at the majority-level among all major demographic subgroups. It is particularly high among adults aged 65 and older (77%), a group that has been prioritized for vaccines, those who have received at least one vaccine dose (75%) and Democrats (73%), whose satisfaction has more than tripled since President Joe Biden took office.
Virus Surge in Michigan Is a ‘Gut Punch’ to Hopes of Pandemic’s End
The U.S. has entered a disconcerting phase: Vaccines are rolling out quickly, but upticks in cases raise the prospect of a new surge.
In a rural stretch of Michigan along the shore of Lake Huron, coronavirus outbreaks are ripping through churches, schools and restaurants where the virus has infected line cooks and waitresses. For more than a week, ambulances have taken several hourlong trips each day to rush severely ill coronavirus patients to hospitals in Detroit, Saginaw or Port Huron, where beds in intensive-care units await.
Even as the pandemic appears to be waning in some parts of the United States, Michigan is in the throes of a coronavirus outbreak that is one of the largest and most alarming in the country. Infection levels have exploded in recent weeks, in big cities and rural stretches alike.
Ann Hepfer, a health officer for two counties, is racked by worries: about spring break trips that are underway, and about the Easter gatherings that will take place this weekend, when families are fresh off their travels out of state.
“It makes me shudder,” she said. “I never thought we would see this at this time. I thought we would be over the hump.”
How many anti-vaxxers does it take to misinform the world? Just twelve
How many conspiracy theorists does it take to change a lightbulb? QAnon won’t let me tell you. I can, however, reveal that it takes only a dozen anti-vaxxers to spread dangerous misinformation to millions of people. According to a report from the NGO Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), up to 65% of anti-vaccine content on Facebook and Twitter can be traced back to just 12 people. Although Facebook has disputed the report’s methodology, the 12 have been nicknamed the “disinformation dozen”, and include Robert F Kennedy Jr, the nephew of John F Kennedy. A few of the 12 have been removed from at least one social media platform, but are still free to post on others.
While big tech may facilitate and profit from the spread of misinformation, we ought to remember that Facebook and the others don’t have magical powers. They have nifty ways to hijack your attention, but they can’t wave a magic wand and force you to believe that Bill Gates engineered the pandemic so that he can implant trackable microchips in people. We must push technology companies to act in more ethical ways, but we can’t bank on a bunch of self-interested CEOs suddenly developing a conscience. Misinformation is never going to go away; it isn’t just a Big Tech problem, it’s an education problem. Instead of just yelling at tech companies, politicians should be focusing on what Taiwan’s digital minister calls “nerd immunity” – the government should be investing in education so people have the skills to identify fake news.
Dems could dethrone Iowa
The party, uncomfortable with the overwhelmingly white state’s sway, is thinking about blowing up its presidential primary calendar.
Democratic Party leaders are considering overhauling the 2024 presidential primary calendar, a transformation that would include ousting Iowa and New Hampshire from their cherished perches as the first states to vote.
Senior party leaders and Democratic National Committee members are privately exploring the idea of pushing South Carolina and Nevada to the front of the primary election schedule, as well as the possibility of multiple states holding the first nominating contest on the same day.
Biden’s Evangelical Foes Set Aside Satan Fears, Cash Aid Checks
Evangelical Christians and small-government activists, among the fiercest critics of President Joe Biden and the Democratic Congress, are finding solace in $1,400 stimulus checks that some are sharing with churches and political causes.
In a January Bible study livestream, Virginia pastor E.W. Jackson said a pair of Georgians headed for the U.S. Senate were “demoniacally possessed” and their fellow Democrats were “cursing” the country by supporting abortion access and gay rights. Newly minted senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff were key to Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which passed the evenly divided Senate with no Republican support.
But as the stimulus checks they enabled arrive, Jackson, said his followers should have no qualms about accepting the Democrats’ largess — and passing 10% to his ministry, the 100-member Called Church of Chesapeake.
“They tithe the income they have coming in. That includes the stimulus,” said Jackson, 69, the founder of a conservative political-action committee and an unsuccessful candidate for U.S. Senate and Virginia lieutenant governor. “Whenever God gives us increase, whatever the source might be, we give some to God to acknowledge that it comes from him.