Today David Leonhardt posted two tragic charts in his NYT newsletter, The Morning. They are tragic because they reveal the grim consequences of media illiteracy and politically motivated disinformation. Those who follow Donald Trump and believe in the GOP have sickened and died at much higher rates than those who don’t.
I think it was Stalin who said one person’s death is a tragedy, 100 deaths are a statistic. Leonhardt reveals the tragedy by focusing on a representative unvaccinated couple in New Jersey’s very pro-Trump Ocean County. The woman suffered for months in intensive care with Covid. Both are now vaccinated. The charts above show how much more likely people like them were to suffer the worst impacts of Covid-19.
Here in Bucks County, a “purple” county politically, Covid deaths have averaged five a day in recent months. It wasn’t front page news. I had to dig for the statistic. If the national trends hold true here, most were unvaccinated. Most unvaccinated people lean right politically. Many who lean right see compliance with mask requirements as a blue political statement.
If a serial killer was targeting five unmasked people a day, regardless of their politics there would be a massive mobilization of law enforcement to stop the carnage. So far I see no such reaction to our political mass killers, the ones who fuel anti-vax and anti-mask sentiment with the obvious lethal consequences. Nobody’s accusing those of railed against masks of murder.
What you believe can kill you. if you support Republican politicians, listen to what they say, what they avoid saying, and watch how they actually vote. Are they representing your family’s wellbeing? The public interest?
Well, yes. But not in the way they may have intended. Here is a “survey” they posted to their mailing list recently. I was registered as a Republican for a time, so I am on that list.
Those who know me well will recall that market research was one of my early careers. I know how to construct a survey intended to discover facts and opinions in an unbiased way. This one is carefully crafted to do exactly the opposite, and I doubt that the “results” are ever actually tabulated, except for the amount contributed.
As of November 163,000 preventable deaths were attributed to unvaccinated Americans succumbing to Covid. That is a staggering average of 900 people a day. While only 10% of those who identify as Democrats have not been vaccinated, 40% of Republicans haven’t. All the posturing and political theater by GOP leadership has fostered this tragic consequence of fear and ignorance.
If you doubt the statistics, check the source:
COVID-19 preventable mortality and leading cause of death ranking
This updated issue brief examines COVID-19’s effect on mortality rates, and estimates that in November 2021, COVID-19 was number three on the list of leading causes of death in the U.S. As recently as January 2021, COVID was the number one leading cause of death, though COVID rank had briefly dropped to the 7th leading cause of death in July 2021 before the delta variant, relaxed social distancing and inadequate vaccinations led to a surge in new cases and deaths.
The analysis also estimates that nationally at least 163,000 deaths from COVID-19 between June and November could have been prevented with vaccines.
One has to ask what motivates the party solidarity that tolerates so many flagrant affronts to values we once thought to be sacred: character, integrity, respect for other’s lives, and the principles of democracy. The GOP fancies itself to be the party of law and order, conserving and protecting the national interest. Where is the evidence in recent events that either GOP leadership or the rank and file care a whit for anyone but themselves?
For decades our best and brightest have warned of the disasters that we now grapple with. Those who knew better spent millions on media to dissuade us from doing much about it lest corrective action hurt profits. (They still do! Politicians exploited resistance to reform. (They still do).
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Americans are being played. Reality is catching up with the big lies and it is grim indeed.
Friday night I remarked to Marguerite about how nice it was not to have had some gut-wrenching news bomb dropped by our President late Friday afternoon and how good it was to go to bed confident that the ship of state was in competent hands.
This morning the L. A. Times reminded me not to go to sleep…
Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, May 15, 2021.
Let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.Two weeks ago, judging by your emails, I upset a number of readers by writing this in the newsletter: “At best, today’s Republican Party is a dwindling reactionary faction bereft of workable ideas; at worst, it is a nationalist, race-baiting, Trumpist sect that threatens American democracy.” The observation then was pegged to news that the movement to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom had gathered enough signatures to force an election, but now it applies just as neatly to the spectacle that played out in Washington this week over Rep. Liz Cheney’s (R-Wyo.) unremarkable yet heretical honesty about Donald Trump’s dangerous mendacity.
Cheney, as you may know by now, was removed from her House Republican leadership position because of her continuing insistence that Trump is lying about the 2020 election being stolen and that he deserved to be impeached for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection. Your mileage may vary on whether it was Cheney’s embrace of the truth or her inconvenient stridence in telling it that got her removed from leadership — a topic explored by former GOP operative Scott Jennings. But there should be no mistaking what this means for the party: It is a movement devoted not to an ideology or an approach toward governing, but almost solely to Trump. It is a party about its leader and not about any ideas. In other words — and to borrow Masha Gessen’s phrasing — the Republican Party is an autocratic party.
Some have found different ways to say this; many L.A. Times readers prefer to describe today’s GOP as a cult, language that was used in a Times editorial referring to a Trumpist cult within the party. I prefer Gessen’s language here, mostly because cults tend to direct their predatory energy inward and close themselves off to the world (except to gain new followers). Describing the Republican Party as an autocratic movement acknowledges the cultishness that exists while also conveying the threat to democracy it poses.
If you love truth, justice, liberty, and American democracy, don’t get too relaxed. Those who thirst for power and those whose interests are not aligned with the common good are busy at their nefarious work.
At least forty percent of us are being played with great success. Paul Thornton’s opinion is well grounded.