Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Last Call For Biden Goes Viral, Con't

Part of President Biden's State of the Union speech last night was dedicated to the White House's plan on COVID-19 moving forward, and that plan, unlike the Trump "plan" of "deal with it" is "we now have the weapons to fight the virus and we're going to use them".

The White House on Wednesday unveiled a plan to move the nation to a new stage of the pandemic where Covid-19 "does not disrupt our daily lives," while also preparing the nation for any new variants that may emerge.  
The National Covid-19 Preparedness Plan, which will require additional funding from Congress, is focused on spending on treatments for Covid-19, preparing for new variants, keeping schools and businesses open and continuing the effort to vaccinate the nation and the world. 
"Vaccines, treatments, tests, masks -- these tools are how we continue to protect people and enable us to move forward safely and get back to our more normal routines. Going out to eat at a restaurant, taking that trip that's been long delayed, arranging a play date for your kids, attending a sports game, a movie or a concert again," White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters at a White House briefing. 
A major new part of the plan includes a new "Test to Treat" initiative that President Joe Biden announced during his State of the Union address Tuesday night. He said Americans would be able to get tested for Covid-19 at a pharmacy and receive free antiviral pills "on the spot" if they test positive.  
Zients said hundreds of these "One-Stop Test to Treat" locations will open across the country this month. These sites will be at pharmacy-based clinics, community health centers, long-term care facilities and US Department of Veterans Affairs facilities across the country. 
Pfizer's antiviral pill, Paxlovid, has been shown to significantly reduce hospitalizations and severe illness and was authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration last year. Upon its authorization, Biden announced a purchase of 10 million courses. The President has since said the federal government will double its order from 10 million to 20 million treatment courses.  
Zients said Americans who have already received free at-home Covid-19 tests that they ordered through will be able to place a second order starting next week. He said the administration will continue to make hundreds of millions of high-quality masks available to Americans at pharmacies, grocery stores and community health centers across the country. 
The administration will launch a website later this month, Zients said, to help Americans locate vaccines and masks at convenient locations. 
"This plan lays out the roadmap to help us fight Covid-19 in the future as we move America from crisis to a time when Covid-19 does not disrupt our daily lives and is something we prevent, protect against and treat," a summary of the plan shared with CNN reads. 
"We look to a future when Americans no longer fear lockdowns, shutdowns, and our kids not going to school. It's a future when the country relies on the powerful layers of protection we have built and invests in the next generation of tools to stay ahead of this virus." 
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra told reporters that the administration has distributed more than 270 million N95 masks to local pharmacies and community health centers and that 70 million households have received rapid at-home Covid-19 tests.
It's a good start to a plan, but Biden completely fails to address three huge problems:
First, the one-quarter to one-third of American adults who still refuse vaccinations aren't going to give a damn about tests, antiviral treatments, N95 masks, or anything. That guaranteed tens of millions of Americans as a fertile ground for further mutations of COVID-19 well past Omicron.
Second, immune system compromised Americans who can't vaccinate will still face a populace where COVID is rampant, continuous, and a threat.

Third, the rampant mutations could very well lead to a super-strain of COVID that is not affected by our current arsenal, and all of this goes back to the dumbasses who refuse the damn vaccine.

We're definitely into phase four here, moving on from a preventable disease that killed roughly 60,000 Americans in February. We're still in the part where we're averaging 2,000 dead per day.
COVID death denial is like climate denial at this point, she absolutely right.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

The White House is considering sanctioning Russian oil exports over Ukraine as part of the snowballing sanctions by the US and EU.
The possibility of the US sanctioning Russian oil exports is "still on the table" as President Joe Biden looks for more ways to punish the country for its invasion of Ukraine, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday. 
Taking such a step would be an extraordinary measure that could have an intense effect on domestic gas prices, however, and Psaki made clear that the White House's top priority is to minimize the impact at home. 
"What (Biden) does not want to do is topple the global oil markets or the global marketplace or impact the American people more with higher energy and gas prices," Psaki told CNN's John Berman on "New Day." 
"That's something we heavily weigh. It's still on the table. It's not off the table. But again, that's how the President looks at this as we're announcing and pursuing additional steps," she added. 
The US has already announced a slew of sanctions against Russia and President Vladimir Putin since the country's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine last week. But the unprecedented step of sanctioning its oil experts would likely send prices skyrocketing, dealing a painful blow to consumers around the world as Russia is the world's No. 2 oil producer. 
Though the US consumes very little Russian oil -- oil imports from Russia stood at just 90,000 barrels per day in December -- the interconnected global market means supply shocks in one part of the world can impact prices everywhere.

U.S Senator Joe Manchin is calling for President Joe Biden to halt oil imports from Russia, following its invasion of Ukraine last week.

The West Virginia Democrat said it was "hypocritical" to ask other countries to, "do what we can do for ourselves."

"If there was ever a time to be energy independent, it is now," Manchin said. "While Americans decry what is happening in Ukraine, the United States continues to allow the import of more than half a million barrels per day of crude oil and other petroleum products from Russia during this time of war."

Manchin has been openly critical of Biden's efforts to scale back U.S. oil production in a bid to address climate change at the same time he has called on OPEC+, of which Russia is a member, to pump more crude to offset recent price increases.
Senators ranging from Kansas Republican Roger Marshall to Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey want to ban Russian oil imports, and that seems like a bill that will be on Biden's desk with a veto-proof margin before the end of the month, if not in the next week or two.
On the other hand, Biden knows this will drive gas prices higher, especially international sanctions on Russian oil, but the US blocking imports will still force oil higher. It's already at $110 a barrel. It's a trap and Republicans will blame Biden in every commercial from now until November 2024 if he does, even if Republicans are forcing him.

On the gripping hand, of course we're in the middle of a European Land War™ so all bets are off.

The Road To Gilead, Con't

Legislation passed y the House last November to legalize abortion healthcare services in all 50 states was of course killed in the Senate by Republicans, and of course, by Joe Manchin.
Republicans on Monday blocked the Senate from taking up sweeping abortion rights legislation as Democrats sought to put lawmakers on the record on the issue in advance of the midterm elections and a coming Supreme Court ruling on access to abortion.

Democrats fell 14 votes short of the 60 needed to bring the Women’s Health Protection Act to the floor for consideration after the House last September passed it on a narrow party-line vote. One Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, joined all Republicans in opposition to beginning debate on the measure.

Lawmakers said it was the first time that the Senate had voted on a separate bill to enact the constitutional protections of Roe v. Wade into law. The outcome was anticipated, but Democrats were determined to hold the vote as members of both parties draw battle lines over what is expected to be a major election-year issue. The conservative-dominated Supreme Court is set to rule later this year on a case that could undermine or overturn the landmark abortion decision.

“We want Americans to know where their legislators stand on this important issue,” said Senator Patty Murray of Washington, the No. 3 Democrat and a leading backer of the abortion rights bill.

The measure would codify in federal law abortion rights that have long been protected by the 1973 court ruling. It was pursued by Democrats and abortion rights groups as a way to counter the increasingly severe abortion restrictions being enacted at the state level as well as the prospect of a high court ruling upholding tough new abortion limits in Mississippi and leaving in place a Texas law that has severely limited abortion in that state.

“People are counting on the Senate to do what the Supreme Court will not,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

About two dozen states have readied legislation that would immediately restrict abortion rights if the court upholds the Mississippi law, which bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, about two months earlier than Roe and subsequent decisions allow.

During Supreme Court arguments in December, conservative justices indicated a willingness to scale back, if not undo, the federal abortion protections and leave most of the regulation up to individual states. Democrats say the measure is needed to guarantee that women around the nation have equal access to abortion and to prevent states from imposing restrictions that are not medically necessary as a way to unconstitutionally curtail abortion
So, as with voting rights, Democrats both don't have the votes to change the filibuster, and don't have the then necessary 50 votes to pass the Senate anyway, thanks to the same Dems blocking filibuster reform.
By 4th of July, medically safe abortion procedures will be illegal in roughly half of the US. Your rights to your womb will depend entirely on where you live.
And I'm pretty sure a large enough percentage of women voters, especially white women, will not give a shit in November that Republicans will control Congress again. (We already know that the vast majority of men won't.) 

I just don't think either letting half the states ban abortion or banning it altogether in the country will create a enough of a backlash against GOP control. If that were true we'd be seeing signs of it now, but I guess joni Mitchell is right. Don't know what you've got til it's gone.
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