Last week, with the best of intentions, mayors, governors and company executives shifted into “no more Mister Nice Guy” mode. They began requiring workers to get Covid-19 vaccinations. And Thursday, as the highly contagious Delta variant sent Covid case counts surging around the country, President Joe Biden ordered federal employees to get vaccinated — or face consequences such as regular testing for the virus.
The move from gently persuading people to compelling them was a fateful one — but justified, experts said, because of the risk of a worsening pandemic.
Emergency medicine physician Janice Blanchard noted that last year her Covid patients were mostly the elderly and people with underlying conditions. But now, she is mainly treating people who are young, otherwise healthy — and unvaccinated.
Ben Franklin knew best
“Hundreds of Americans are dying every day from a vaccine-preventable illness,” wrote Alex Busko, an ER doctor. “One patient I cared for, an unvaccinated man in his late 30s, was only a few days into his illness and was already severely short of breath and requiring oxygen. Neither his clinical appearance nor his chest X-ray was were particularly encouraging. I told him that there was a good chance he would get worse and that he would need to be admitted to the hospital. He asked me if I could give him the vaccine before he got worse, seemingly unaware that it does not treat the disease or cure you once you become infected.”
Recalling Benjamin Franklin’s statement at the signing of the Declaration of Independence — “We must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly, we shall all hang separately” — Reiner wrote, “The past 18 months have shown us the perils of disunity. More than any other time in the last century, we must now hang together.”
It was a striking moment Wednesday when 67 senators — including 17 Republicans — voted to open debate on an approximately trillion-dollar infrastructure bill. Many people wrote off the chances for such a bipartisan agreement after Donald Trump’s presidency had so worsened the relationship between the parties. As David Axelrod noted, many Democrats treated Biden’s “consensus-seeking as a pointless and nostalgic fetish and grumpily accused the old man of wasting time looking for common ground that no longer existed in Washington.
Historian Julian Zelizer wrote that “unlike other presidents who attract voters through charisma, soaring rhetoric or the promise of bold new agendas, Biden’s selling point was always that he would focus on the task of problem-solving, tackling the nation’s toughest policy challenges and bringing as many people into the conversation as possible.”
Suni Lee’s gold
Before the Tokyo Olympics began, the headlines were all about Simone Biles, Amy Bass wrote. There were endless “predictions about Simone Biles — how many medals, how GOAT is the GOAT, how many moves could be named for a single human?” But when Biles withdrew from competition last week, “the headlines changed. They rightfully started talking about the need to prioritize the mental health of athletes and touted the resilience of the remaining members of the US women’s team, who pulled together to win a silver medal for their team.”
For Jill Filipovic, the world-class women athletes brought to mind “the old line about Ginger Rogers doing everything Fred Astaire did, just backward and in high heels.” Women in sport are “doing most of what the men do (and sometimes more), and doing it while being ogled, booed, scolded, sanctioned, fined and otherwise hyper-policed because of what they wear to compete.”
‘Riveting, disturbing, emotional’
Tuesday’s House select committee hearing brought back the horror of January 6, “the day the attackers came to kill American democracy,” as Frida Ghitis wrote. Four police officers who defended lawmakers from the enraged crowd told their stories.
“It was riveting, disturbing, emotional,” noted Ghitis. “DC Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone, who suffered a heart attack and a concussion, and lost consciousness during the insurrection while being beaten and tased amid shouts of ‘kill him with his own gun,’ strained to maintain his composure as he noted that some members of Congress are downplaying or denying the attack. His eyes burning with emotion, he slammed the table with his hand: “It’s disgraceful!”
Rep. Liz Cheney, who was ousted from her role in the GOP leadership because she blamed Trump for January 6, is now serving on the select committee. Meanwhile, her replacement in GOP leadership, Rep. Elise Stefanik asserted Tuesday that Speaker Nancy Pelosi “bears responsibility” for “the tragedy that occurred on Jan. 6.”
As Michael D’Antonio recalled, on January 6, Republican Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama told the “Save America Rally” at the Ellipse, “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.” D’Antonio added, “Faced, now, with a lawsuit alleging that he incited the violence that ensued, Brooks claimed he never advocated for violence.”
But “thanks to Brooks’ own revelation, made to Slate writer Jim Newell this week, that he wore body armor that day, we know that like so many others Trumpists, he was ready for a rumble.
Brooks told Newell that he had been warned of “risks” and as a result, slept in his office instead of returning to his condo and wore body armor when he spoke at the Ellipse.
Leaving allies behind
Sohail Pardis served as an interpreter for US forces in Afghanistan for 16 months, months shy of the two-year minimum needed to qualify for a special immigrant visa program the US offers to Afghan applicants.
“Pardis’ ruthless killing underscores the need for urgent and bold action to protect allies who President Joe Biden swore would be given a home in the US if they wanted one. Months of advocacy from refugee advocates, veterans, human rights organizations and legislators have moved the administration toward an evacuation, albeit with less urgency and decisiveness than the situation has warranted.”
An ‘Evening with Whitney’
Whitney Houston died more than nine years ago. But this October, a Las Vegas casino will start featuring a Whitney Houston concert — starring a hologram of the legendary singer, along with a live band, singers and dancers. The “Evening with Whitney” has the approval of her estate, but it’s still a betrayal, wrote Holly Thomas.
“Holograms, because they are designed to bring a visual image to life, feel like appropriating someone’s legacy, creating a false echo of their essence and manipulating the new, streamlined version for profit,” Thomas wrote. She also criticized plans, which are currently on hold, for an Amy Winehouse hologram tour and the use of artificial intelligence to “create a model of Anthony Bourdain’s voice for 45 seconds of narration in the documentary ‘Roadrunner’ (produced by CNN Films) about his life and 2018 death by suicide. Many fans were disgusted by the use of AI to turn lines from Bourdain’s writing into soundbites in his voice. ‘In the end I understood this technique was boundary-pushing,’ director Morgan Neville said. ‘But isn’t that Bourdain?'”