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I have COVID for the second time and this time it’s more “challenging” – HotAir

Does he know for a fact that he had COVID before, a la an antibody test that confirmed a prior infection? Or does he just think he had COVID because he had the familiar symptoms?

I mean, every American who had the flu in December 2019 or January 2020 will tell you to this day that they’re a thousand percent sure they were among the first people in the U.S. to have had COVID.

Whatever the truth is with Higgins, it’s bad. Just bad in different ways.

I keep my family’s private business very quiet, because of the evil in the world, yet we are uplifted by the love of God’s children, and quiet privacy does not mean secrecy, so, here’s the update.

I have COVID, Becca has COVID, my son has COVID. Becca and I had COVID before, early on, in January 2020, before the world really knew what it was. So, this is our second experience with the CCP biological attack weaponized virus… and this episode is far more challenging. It has required all of my devoted energy.

We are all under excellent care, and our prognosis is positive. We are very healthy generally speaking, and our treatment of any health concern always encompasses western, eastern, and holistic variables.

The “CCP biological attack weaponized virus,” huh? The lab-leak theory of COVID’s origins doesn’t require, and typically doesn’t claim, that Chinese scientists were trying to weaponize a virus for biowarfare. The fact that Higgins is willing to assert it anyway should tell you which wing of the GOP caucus he’s from.

Like I say, whatever happened in this case is bad. If it’s true that Higgins had COVID in January 2020 and has now been reinfected by Delta, it may mean that anyone who’s been coasting off of natural immunity after being infected early during the pandemic — e.g., Rand Paul — might be at risk of finally losing that immunity. One study has suggested that the immunity you get from vaccination is more comprehensive than the immunity obtained via infection so Higgins’s misfortune may be a cautionary tale for others. Unless you’ve recovered from the virus recently, you may be in the crosshairs of Delta.

Which would be bad.

But what are the odds that Higgins really did have COVID in January 2020? The earliest confirmed case in the U.S. was January 21, 2020, which would put him and his wife among the first Americans to have contracted the virus. Some evidence suggests that the virus was here several weeks earlier, possibly before New Year’s, but … how would Higgins even know that he had been infected in January? There were hardly any PCR tests available at the time. An antibody test taken later could have confirmed that he had COVID at some point, but not necessarily in January. Maybe he was exposed last summer or fall in the halls of Congress and had an asymptomatic infection.

In other words, he very likely had the flu or some other less serious respiratory illness in January 2020 and simply assumed that he’d had COVID. Which means he spent the past six months vulnerable to infection, wrongly believing that he had natural immunity, when he could have gotten vaccinated and protected himself. Given what he says about how his “second” bout with COVID is more “challenging,” it seems especially unlikely that he had the disease once before. Typically reinfection produces a more mild case since the patient already has an immune “memory” of the virus and his system acts more quickly to fight off. Higgins probably never had COVID and didn’t bother to check, leaving him and his family needlessly exposed to infection.

Which would also be bad. Especially since Higgins’s wife has multiple sclerosis and may be at higher risk of a bad outcome.

“I want every American who wants a vaccine to get it. It should be available, and it should be free,” Higgins said back in April. He was unvaccinated due to his belief that he had natural immunity but he endorsed vaccination for those who didn’t, which is to his credit. Unfortunately the advice didn’t take: His home state of Louisiana has only 36 percent of its population fully vaccinated at this point and they’re paying the price in the form of one of the nastiest Delta surges in America. Daily cases have more than doubled over the last few weeks and reached January levels a few days ago. They’re also in the top five of hospitalizations per capita. Vaccine hesitancy is a special problem there because the state is home to two of the most resistant groups in the country, African-Americans and rural Republicans. One doctor in Baton Rouge practically begged Fox News to be more pro-vaccine to try to influence the latter cohort in an interview with Politico:

Doctors and health officials in Alabama and Louisiana say their only hope for getting people vaccinated is if the media outlets that message to these areas, primarily Fox News, start advocating people get the shot, instead of pushing them away from the jab.

“I have people come up to me and say, ‘Why on CNN? Couldn’t you go on Fox?’ They are still very angry over the last couple of years. There’s an irritation. They are super frustrated. They need to hear it from the people that they trust. They need to hear it from where they get their news every day. And I don’t know why not Fox. Why not?,” O’Neal said. “But it has to change this week. Every single show. And it has to be about the community, not the ‘you’ because there’s been too much about the ‘you.’ ‘You’ they got indoctrinated. It is not about ‘you,’ it is about the community. You’re going to kill your community.”

Harry Enten has a piece today too about the Fox News factor in vaccine uptake. There’s a chicken-and-egg causation mystery to it: Are Fox hosts like Tucker Carlson driving viewers to resist the vaccine or are people who are likely to resist the vaccine for other cultural reasons simply more likely to watch Fox? Either way, 62 percent of viewers who get their news mainly from Fox say they’ve had at least one vaccine dose versus 83 percent who get their news from CNN or MSNBC. And that 62 percent has barely budged for months: Enten notes that the share of CNN/MSNBC viewers who got a dose jumped nine percentage points over the past month but the share of Fox viewers rose only one point. Fox’s audience skews old too, which means they should have a high rate of vaccination simply due to their greater risk from COVID. Oh well. I hope Higgins and his family are on the mend and recover soon.

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Cheney and Kinzinger are “Pelosi Republicans” for agreeing to join the January 6 committee – HotAir

It’s getting chippy out there:

On both sides:

A “Pelosi Republican” is, I suppose, a Republican who’s anti-insurrection. In contrast to McCarthy Republicans, who run the gamut from anti-anti-insurrection to pro-.

A “Pelosi Republican” is also someone who’d accept a committee assignment from her over the objections of their own caucus leader. Cheney and Kinzinger qualify under that definition too:

Some of the MAGA members of the GOP caucus want to see consequences for the “Pelosi Republicans.” And maybe not just the MAGAs:

While the loudest cries have come from members of the hard-right Freedom Caucus, sources say that the sentiment has started to spread beyond the hard-line crew.

“There’s a lot,” said one GOP member about the push to have the pair removed from their other committees. “Supporting Pelosi’s unprecedented move to reject McCarthy’s picks was a bridge too far.”…

Rep. Scott Perry, a Freedom Caucus member, publicly called on Conference Chair Elise Stefanik to call a special GOP conference meeting to “address appropriate measures” related to Pelosi booting two of McCarthy’s chosen picks from the committee. Some members specifically want McCarthy and Stefanik to push for a vote of GOP members to strip Cheney and Kinzinger, who both voted to impeach former President Donald Trump earlier this year, from their other committee assignments. Stefanik’s office did not respond to a request for comment on Perry’s desire for a conference meeting…

“Plenty of people wondering the same things,” another GOP member said. “If they are accepting appointments from Nancy Pelosi rather than the GOP, haven’t they already effectively left? Perhaps they should ask Speaker Pelosi for committee assignments?”

Stripping Cheney and Kinzinger of their assignments is harder than it seems. According to reporter Jonathan Allen, there are two ways McCarthy could do it. One is to force a vote of the full House on whether to remove them, a la what happened to Marjorie Taylor Greene a few months ago. But that’s destined to fail this time since Democrats control the majority. Cheney and Kinzinger will win that vote. The other option is for the House GOP to expel Cheney and Kinzinger from the caucus, making them de facto independents. They’d lose their assignments — temporarily, until Pelosi inevitably rewarded them by reappointing them to their committees.

One way or another, the two aren’t going anywhere over the next 18 months. After that, though? They’re almost certainly going home:

Allen thinks it’s unlikely that the caucus will move to expel Cheney and Kinzinger, as doing so requires a supermajority vote. I … do not share his skepticism:

Two-thirds is normally a high bar but all of the MAGA members of the caucus will vote enthusiastically to expel. Most of the rest, like Nancy Mace, don’t care about anything except surviving their next primary so they’ll vote yes too, to stay on the right side of their MAGA voters. All McCarthy would need is 140 or so R’s to boot both of them. I think he could get a lot more than that, especially since there’s a “neutral” procedural pretext for punishing them for their anti-insurrectionism. (“I’m not against them serving on a January 6 committee, I’m against them going over McCarthy’s head to do it.”)

Which is not to say that either Cheney or Kinzinger will be cowed into leaving the committee. On the contrary:

Cheney, as the committee’s de facto ranking Republican member, even plans to make an opening statement at tomorrow’s first committee hearing. She and Kinzinger know that serving on this panel will cost them their careers and are doing it because it’s the right thing to do. Trying to kick them off their committees for their last 18 months won’t add any extra deterrence at this point. It might even come back to bite Republicans by letting Democrats argue that the GOP is angrier at members trying to investigate what happened on January 6 than it is at the rioters responsible for the attack. McCarthy doesn’t want to deal with that headache, which is why I doubt he’ll ask the caucus to punish Cheney and Kinzinger.

Although once Trump starts demanding it, all bets are off.

Speaking of which, I’ll leave you with Matt Gaetz offering the MAGA view.

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We’ll pay to build you a lunar lander – HotAir

Earlier this month Jeff Bezos flew about 66 miles up on his Blue Origin New Shepard launch vehicle. Today, Bezos is making a play for the next step in Blue Origin’s development. He’s asking NASA to reconsider it’s decision to award Space X the sole contract to bring astronauts back to the moon. Space X won that contract in April:

NASA announced on Friday that it had awarded a contract to SpaceX for $2.9 billion to use Starship to take astronauts from lunar orbit to the surface of the moon.

The contract extends NASA’s trend of relying on private companies to ferry people, cargo and robotic explorers to space. But it also represents something of a triumph for Mr. Musk in the battle of space billionaires. One of the competitors for the NASA lunar contract was Blue Origin, created by Jeff Bezos of Amazon…

The award is only for the first crewed landing, and SpaceX must first perform an uncrewed landing. “NASA is requiring a test flight to fully check out all systems with a landing on the lunar surface prior to our formal demonstration mission,” Ms. Watson-Morgan said.

NASA officials said Blue Origin, Dynetics and other companies would be able to bid for future moon landing missions.

But it appears that Jeff Bezos isn’t content to wait for a chance to compete for a subsequent mission. Today Blue Origin published an offer to NASA saying it would be willing to put up to $2 billion dollars into developing a lunar lander just to get back into the game.

In April (prior to your confirmation as NASA administrator), only one HLS bidder, SpaceX, was offered the opportunity to revise their price and funding profile, leading to their selection. Blue Origin was not offered the same opportunity. That was a mistake, it was unusual, and it was a missed opportunity. But it is not too late to remedy. We stand ready to help NASA moderate its technical risks and solve its budgetary constraints and put the Artemis Program back on a more competitive, credible, and sustainable path. Our Appendix H HLS contract is still open and can be amended.

With that in mind and on behalf of the National Team, we formally offer the following for your consideration:

  • Blue Origin will bridge the HLS budgetary funding shortfall by waiving all payments in the current and next two government fiscal years up to $2B to get the program back on track right now. This offer is not a deferral, but is an outright and permanent waiver of those payments. This offer provides time for government appropriation actions to catch up.
  • Blue Origin will, at its own cost, contribute the development and launch of a pathfinder mission to low-Earth orbit of the lunar descent element to further retire development and schedule risks. This pathfinder mission is offered in addition to the baseline plan of performing a precursor uncrewed landing mission prior to risking any astronauts to the Moon. This contribution to the program is above and beyond the over $1B of corporate contribution cited in our Option A proposal that funds items such as our privately developed BE-7 lunar lander engine and indefinite storage of liquid hydrogen in space. All of these contributions are in addition to the $2B waiver of payments referenced above.
  • Finally, Blue Origin will accept a firm, fixed-priced contract for this work, cover any system development cost overruns, and shield NASA from partner cost escalation concerns.

That’s one hell of an offer. NASA is paying Space X $2.9 billon for this mission and Blue Origin is basically saying it will do the same thing mostly on its own dime. The Washington Post reports NASA did initially plan to have two companies compete but had to settle for one because that was all it cold afford.

The open offer from Bezos marks a significant departure from the normal pace of government procurement, which usually happens behind closed doors through a scripted, bureaucratic process. It is rare for offers and counteroffers to spill into the public domain…

The “human landing system” was initially supposed to involve two manufacturers, something that would let the government benefit from redundancy across systems and also give it leverage in any future negotiations. But the agency said it did not have enough room in its budget to issue more than one contract. The $2.9 billion contract given to SpaceX fit within the agency’s budget only because SpaceX agreed to modify its payment schedule, according to a NASA document obtained by The Post.

Blue Origin already has formally challenged the award to Space X.

There’s no response to this offer from NASA thus far. I just checked Elon Musk’s Twitter feed and he hasn’t said anything about it yet either. But it seems the battle between Musk and Bezos may not be over yet. I’ll update this story if there are any developments this evening.

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I’ve told you the truth on COVID from day one – HotAir

One of the most brazen lies you’ll ever see from a politician.

It’s so brazen that I wonder if it can be explained in terms of simple willful deception.

To lie this shamelessly, I think you need to convince yourself somehow that what you’re saying is true.

The nursing-home cover-up? The underreporting of total COVID deaths in New York State? The secret special priority in testing given to family and cronies early in the pandemic? None of that happened.

He must believe that. He couldn’t have said something this oblivious otherwise, months after the public discovered his mendacity about the extent of the damage from COVID in New York, knowing how jaw-dropping it would be to anyone watching who’s followed the news.

Lockdown critics will also be surprised to hear him say, “I believe in New Yorkers. I believe if they get the truth and they get the facts, they will do the right thing.” If New Yorkers are so reasonable and so well-informed by their governor, why were the mandates and capacity limits of the past 16 months necessary?

Cuomo was interviewed a few weeks ago by the New York Attorney General’s team investigating the claims of sexual misconduct against him. I’m guessing that a few lies were told during the interview too because Team Cuomo has been eager to delegitimize the probe ever since, suddenly demagoging AG Tish James and her staff by claiming that it’s all just a ploy to boost her chances of beating him in a gubernatorial primary:

Nearly five months later, James and the outside attorneys she hired to conduct the work appear close to wrapping up the inquiry after interviewing the governor last weekend. But Cuomo’s top aides no longer seem convinced James will deliver the findings their boss had promised and staked his future on.

In recent days and weeks, the governor’s communications team has sprinkled comments about any investigation-related news with assertions that James — the first Black woman to hold statewide office in New York — is using the probe to launch her own run for governor next year, when Cuomo may seek a fourth term.

“The continued leaks are more evidence of the transparent political motivation of the attorney general’s review,” Rich Azzopardi, Cuomo’s communication director and a senior adviser, said in a statement after news of the governor’s interview emerged in The New York Times.

It’s not just James whom they’re smearing. They’re also pushing a conspiracy theory about former Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara supposedly mulling a primary challenge to Cuomo next year. Bharara is good friends with one of the lawyers investigating Cuomo for James, so Cuomo’s political staff are whispering to local papers that if James comes down hard on him it must be some Machiavellian political set-up to benefit Bharara. Or James. Or … both, maybe?

That’d be weird since they’d be competing in the same primary.

Long story short, that interview must have gone really badly for Team Cuomo for them to be anxiously pre-spinning the findings of the investigation this way. Which is surprising, because we know Andrew Cuomo doesn’t lie. Maybe New Yorkers will be rid of him next year after all.

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After deadly weekend, Seattle’s mayor says it’s time to rebuild police force that has lost 250 officers – HotAir

There were four people killed in Seattle early Sunday, plus at least six more injured in unconnected shootings. That was in addition to another deadly shooting that happened Friday night bringing the weekend total to five deaths.

The shootings continue an ongoing uptick in gun violence that’s already killed or wounded more than 200 people in King County so far this year. The unrelated shootings Sunday morning occurred in the Belltown, Pioneer Square, Chinatown International District and Capitol Hill neighborhoods.

Today Mayor Jenny Durkan gave a press conference about the weekend violence in which she pointed out that lack of police staffing was part of the problem. “Over the past 17 months the Seattle Police Department has lost 250 police officers,” Durkan said. She continued, “We’re on path to losing 300 officers. We are creating meaningful alternatives but as I said last year the city has an obligation to still continue constitutional policing and respond to 911 calls.

“Not unexpected, losing these number of officers, when city leaders talk about cutting the department by 50 percent. You will lose employees. Families need security. Workers, even police officers, need working conditions that support them. We cannot just cut. We need a plan.”

Durkan went on to say that next month she would submit plans to the city council to recruit more police officers to make up for those the city has lost. After she spoke, Police Chief Diaz also had some comments.

“Our city is experiencing the highest number of shots fired in recent history and just a few weeks ago we had over two dozen shots fired in a week alone,” Chief Diaz said. He said it represents a 40% increase in shots fired compared to last year. The city has also seen a 100% increase in drive-by shootings.

Then he repeated what Mayor Durkan had said noting the city was down nearly 300 officers in the past two years. He noted that five days a week officers are only able to respond to priority one 911 calls, meaning a call where there is an imminent threat of violence.

“I need more officers,” Diaz said. He said he can work on hiring but that it requires “making it clear to officers, current and prospective…that they will have our support, financially and otherwise, to do this job well and know they will not be laid off due to budget cuts.” In other words, the city needs to reject the defund the police nonsense being pushed by Black Lives Matter.

Earlier today the Post published a piece by Megan McArdle making the case that a decline in officers and rising crime creates a vicious cycle where fewer people are held accountable:

a higher crime rate makes further crimes even more likely — the aforementioned vicious circle. Conversely, lowering the crime rate can create a virtuous cycle in which committing crime becomes less attractive.

Those vicious or virtuous cycles can be further exacerbated by other factors. When crime is high, people may not even bother telling the police; when I was growing up in New York City, few people bothered reporting crimes unless they involved grievous bodily harm or needed to be claimed on insurance. Deprived of information about the community, police become even less effective…

The kinds of alternative strategies that Democrats, including our mayor, like to talk up — from housing supports to pilot programs to assisting recently released inmates — may help. But in the short term, there is no substitute for police on the street to deter crime and track down any offenders. And if we don’t take care of the short term, we’ll find it much harder to handle the long run.

It seems to me that Seattle has been learning that lesson the hard way since the CHOP was set up last year. Hiring more officers is a good idea but as Chief Diaz points out, you can only do that if you can convince the prospects that the city has their back. I’m not sure the city can do that given the current member of the City Council.

Here’s a local news report on the violence. Below that is the full press conference featuring Mayor Durkan and Chief Diaz.

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Costa Rican gymnast ends Olympic routine in BLM protest pose – HotAir

You probably have never heard of her but an 18-year-old gymnast from Costa Rico showed the world her support of Black Lives Matter at the end of her floor routine Sunday. She finished her performance in a pose of support, taking a knee and raising a clenched fist. Luciana Alvarado in Costa Rico’s lone gymnast. She failed to move into the finals of the competition.

Alvarado is trying to make her mark among international competitors by making a political statement instead of relying on her competitive skills. She is the first Costa Rican gymnast to qualify for the Olympics so it’s too bad she didn’t just revel in that distinction. That accomplishment alone made history. Instead, she is being heralded for making history with a BLM protest worked into her routine. Frankly, if she had not made a big deal about it in a GymCastic podcast afterward, most people may not have even realized what she was doing.

Take a look for yourself.

I guess that is why she explained what she was doing afterward. At first glance, it doesn’t look like anything special, not like an aggressive move made by political activists. Maybe that’s just me. Women’s gymnastics is one of my favorite Olympics sports. If I had seen her performance in real-time, I don’t think I would have made the connection. She says her cousin does the same move.

“My cousin and I, we both do it in our routines,” she said. “And I feel like if you do something that brings everyone together, you know, and you see that here, like ‘Yes, you’re one of mine, you understand things,’ the importance of everyone treated with respect and dignity and everyone having the same rights because we’re all the same and we’re all beautiful and amazing so I think that’s why I love to have it in my routine and I love that my little cousin does it on her routine too.”

She said it was choreographed to pay homage to the Black Lives Matter movement. She said Friday she performed the same move at training.

That’s quite the word salad. She’s somewhat misguided, though, about the BLM movement. It’s a Marxist movement, founded by self-avowed Marxists, who have the goal of destroying capitalism and the American way of life. It’s not at all about love and peace and warm hugs. Many of the protests organized by BLM activists turn violent and destructive. Innocent bystanders have been killed and injured during their protests and marches. The protests do not show respect to innocent shopowners or retail outlets that are looted and vandalized. The BLM protesters do not treat others in a dignified way as they assault and threaten others. They burn down their own neighborhoods.

After this confession (or boast), Alvarado will probably not be penalized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The IOC has relaxed some parts of Rule 50, which prohibits political gestures from Olympic athletes during the games. This year, athletes can protest but not during a competition or on the medal stand. Alvarado won’t be continuing on in the competition so there is no chance she’ll receive a medal. And her protest gesture isn’t as blatant as, say, raising a clenched fist during an awards ceremony a la 1968 Olympics Black Power salute during the national anthem. Some soccer squads, including the U.S. women’s soccer team, took a knee before their opening matches last week but none of them have been disciplined for that. The U.S. women’s team lost their opening match, breaking their long winning streak. Maybe that was comeuppance enough.

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We can solve homelessness with affordable housing – HotAir

I’m not familiar with the author of this piece. Ned Resnikoff is the “policy manager for the Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative at the University of California, San Francisco.” Today he has an opinion piece in the NY Times which argues along the typical lines you hear from activists, i.e. homelessness is about lack of affordable housing. He mentions drug abuse and mental heath once but only to dismiss them as significant factors.

It should never have gotten this bad. Homelessness is solvable. Its primary driver is housing unaffordability (not a sudden recent increase in mental illness or substance use disorder, despite claims to the contrary), and so the solution has always been more housing, particularly for those who don’t currently have it. But California has allowed homelessness to metastasize over the past few decades. As the humanitarian crisis has gotten worse, it has become a political crisis. Homelessness is one of the major themes in this year’s campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom, and a growing number of commentators have cited it as evidence that the “California dream” is dying.

I’ve been through all of this before. Activists routinely argue that the majority of homeless are people down on their luck who just couldn’t make rent for one reason or another. To some extent that’s true. Most people who are homeless are only homeless for a relatively short period of time. They move in with a friend or relative and sleep on a couch or in their car until they get another job and a new place to live. Most people cycle in and out of homelessness and never resort to pitching a tent on a sidewalk.

Then there are the chronic homeless that you encounter on the street, often people who’ve been on the street for more than a year or two. Here again, you can find all sorts of official data showing that only about 1/3 of these folks have drug/alcohol/mental health problems. This is often presented by homeless activists to push the point that drugs and mental health aren’t driving the problem.

But there’s reason to be skeptical of that data. Back in 2019, the LA Times did it’s own analysis of the data on homeless people in LA County. The data given to the county by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority showed the usual 1/3 of homeless people on the streets had drug/mental problems. But when the Times did it’s own analysis they found something very different:

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which conducts the annual count, narrowly interpreted the data to produce much lower numbers. In its presentation of the results to elected officials earlier this year, the agency said only 29% of the homeless population had either a mental illness or substance abuse disorder and, therefore, 71% “did not have a serious mental illness and/or report substance use disorder.”

The Times, however, found that about 67% had either a mental illness or a substance abuse disorder. Individually, substance abuse affects 46% of those living on the streets — more than three times the rate previously reported — and mental illness, including post-traumatic stress disorder, affects 51% of those living on the streets, according to the analysis…

The findings lend statistical support to the public’s frequent association of mental illness, physical disabilities and substance abuse with homelessness.

The Times even pointed out that these numbers contradict the claims often made by activists.

Advocates for homeless people tend to not focus their messaging on mental illness, disabilities or substance abuse out of concern that doing so unfairly stereotypes and stigmatizes those without a home.

Briefing The Times on this year’s homeless point-in-time count prior to its release, Peter Lynn, executive director of the homeless authority, defended the agency’s statistics on homeless people with disabilities and substance abuse issues. He attributed the idea that the numbers should be higher to perception bias.

Like other local and state officials, he has portrayed the homeless population as being much like the wider population of housed Angelenos.

The author of the Times Opinion piece goes on to argue that the real danger is that California’s failure to address this problem could be very bad for Democrats:

Even as the homelessness crisis has grown out of the same factors as the crisis of democracy, it has directly contributed to democratic decay. California’s continual failure to make inroads against widespread homelessness risks fomenting anger, cynicism and disaffection with the state’s political system. A state that appears powerless to address fundamental problems does not make a very persuasive case for its own survival. As such, state and local policymakers need to take homelessness seriously as not only a humanitarian disaster, but a threat to liberal democracy.

He’s probably right about that but it’s not necessarily a crisis to have the people who are failing to deal with the problem thrown out of office. In fact, that’s how democracy is supposed to work.

In any case, people were quick to point out in the comments on this article that there’s more to this issue than building more homes and changing zoning laws. Someone from Oakland writes:

Housing affordability is a huge factor for 1 segment of the homeless population; those with jobs/families living discreetly out of cars, RVs, garages or overcrowded in a bedroom or on the couch of a relative. The homeless, however, are a diverse group. The people we tend to identify as homeless are the mentally ill drug addicts. Housing affordability is not the main issue for them. We are burying our head in the sand if we think hard-core drug addicts (who have used to the point of destroying their bodies and minds) simply need housing and everything will be fine. We are also burying our heads in the sand if we think hard-core drug addicted homeless people will voluntarily seek out care. We need conservatorship laws and forced treatment for their health and safety and for the health and safety of everyone else. My brother was a drug addict and we begged the courts to force treatment to no avail. He had a place to stay (with our dad), but he died on the streets. His drug addiction was far stronger than any desire to sleep on a bed in a house. I live next to an encampment of people in Oakland that look like my brother. They are filthy, trash everywhere, open fires. They are so far gone that they can’t think logically about moving to a shelter. Their only thoughts and actions involve getting drugs that their bodies desperately crave. It is not humane to give people who are incapable of taking care of themselves the “freedom” to live in their own excrement.

Another comment with over 500 upvotes:

After living around the unhoused for years here’s what I’ve been able to discern.

1. There’s a lot of people that need medication and help.
2. There’s a large portion of young men and women that are homeless by choice, it’s a lifestyle. Why is this being rewarded?
3. Certain cities are enabling this.
4. No it’s not not just high rents. It wouldn’t matter if the rent was $50 or $500 a month, they aren’t capable or of a sound mind to pay.
5. There’s little concern for law abiding people that want to live in peace and not have folks using the sidewalks as a restroom or yelling at them walking down the street.

Someone from SoCal writes:

Our experience with the homeless is quite different. First, there is barely any enforcement of private property rights, nor public camping statutes. Around Newport, the homeless can let their dogs run free while residents are given citations, they are free to litter wherever, and their tents block beach access. So one can argue homelessness is de facto encouraged. Second, mandatory treatment for mental health issues is basically prohibited by the state, and many of the homeless are unwilling to be treated. Third, and perhaps most importantly, many if not most of these folks do not have the resources (they aren’t working) to support themselves anywhere, regardless of affordability. Homelessness is not a threat to democracy, the breakdown of civil order is the threat.

This one was anonymous:

Anyone that’s living near encampments knows this narrative is false.

It’s still possible that housing first is the best, maybe the only, option we have for dealing with this problem long term. But a lot of the chronic homeless will still need counseling for the mental health and substance abuse problems that put them on the street in the first place. Minimizing those factors in the discussion and pretending that building more apartments will solve the problem isn’t helpful.

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Why is the White House still refusing to lift travel restrictions? – HotAir

There are two questions hidden in the headline, actually. Why isn’t the White House lifting travel restrictions generally when we’re already up to our snouts in Delta? It’s hard to believe admitting visitors from abroad will make the trajectory of the pandemic here much worse at this point. We could (and should) require proof of vaccination upon entry. Simple enough.

But if the White House wants to err on the side of limiting travel from abroad, why not at least make country-by-country determinations depending upon the state of the pandemic in each? The State Department is already keeping tabs on COVID around the world and naturally not everyone is an equal risk. If anything, we’re doing foreign countries with low case counts a favor by barring their citizens from landing here and bringing a Delta souvenir back with them.

Jen Psaki announced this afternoon that restrictions will remain in effect until further notice. I can think of obvious political reasons to continue barring travel but not obvious scientific ones.

The decision comes after a senior level White House meeting late on Friday. It means that the long-running travel restrictions that have barred much of the world’s population from the United States since 2020 will not be lifted in the short term…

The announcement almost certainly dooms any bid by US airlines and the US tourism industry to salvage summer travel by Europeans and others covered by the restrictions. Airlines have heavily lobbied the White House for months to lift the restrictions and some say the industry may now have to wait until September or later for a possible revision.

The United States currently bars most non-US citizens who within the last 14 days have been in the United Kingdom, the 26 Schengen nations in Europe without internal border controls, or in Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil…

The Biden administration has refused to offer any metrics that would trigger when it will unwind restrictions and has not disclosed if it will remove restrictions on individual countries or focus on enhancing individual traveler scrutiny.

Nonessential travel from Mexico and Canada is still prohibited until August 21 at the earliest even though (a) Canada is one of the most highly vaccinated countries in the world, zooming past the U.S. recently, and (b) they’re admitting vaccinated Americans again starting August 9.

What is Biden doing? Vaccinated foreigners won’t bring much COVID with them but they will bring money.

The political reason for keeping restrictions in place is the White House not wanting to feed GOP claims that Biden’s effort to end the pandemic is backsliding due to Delta. If he opens the borders to foreign travelers, he’ll be accused of being cavalier about the risk of visitors importing the virus and making the situation worse. President Trump understood the importance of borders and banning travel to try to slow the spread, Republicans will say. (Never mind that Trump moved to lift some restrictions during his final days in office, at the height of the winter wave.) Biden told us during the campaign that he’d “shut down the virus, not the economy,” but letting people in needlessly during a wave of the most transmissible variant yet proves he’s not doing everything he can to shut it down. I assume that’s the message the White House is worried about.

But again, we could demand proof of vaccination as a condition of entering. And, more absurdly, Biden is already deeply compromised on the charge of being cavalier about foreigners bringing in the virus. The RNC is right about this:

Legal nonessential travel from Mexico is closed but of course many thousands of illegals have entered the U.S. since January with the Border Patrol preoccupied having to process asylum claims under Biden’s “let the kids in” policy. How many migrants, legal or otherwise, have brought COVID into the U.S. as a result? “If you’re worried about COVID-19 and the Delta variant, the reverse policy would make the most sense — allow people in who are verifiably vaccinated by a country whose government we trust, while barring those who are unvaccinated or who cannot prove their vaccination status,” says Jim Geraghty, correctly.

The best I can do by way of a scientific explanation for barring travel is that the feds are worried about someone bringing in an as-yet-unidentified killer new variant that’ll end up fully puncturing vaccine immunity. If that were to happen and it turned out that Biden had allowed travel from the killer variant’s country of origin, Republicans would accuse him of having brought disaster to the U.S. through his lax border policies. (Biden could counter by saying that he’s just trying to boost the economy, which has been the GOP’s top priority since March 2020.)

But if that’s the play here by the White House, to avoid exposing Americans to a hypothetical variant, then travel can never resume. Until much more of the planet is vaccinated, we’ll face that risk every hour of every day.

And to make matters worse, Americans are permitted to travel to some countries whose citizens still aren’t allowed to travel here. If we’re worried about someone bringing in something super-nasty from abroad, that someone could just as easily be an American citizen who went overseas and came back as someone who lives overseas and is here briefly on vacation.

I’ll leave you with this chart showing the pace of vaccinations in the U.S. After months of only briefly interrupted decline, daily doses have leveled off and actually rose yesterday to their highest single-day number since July 3. Maybe there’s a cohort of vaccine-hesitant people who thought/hoped that COVID would disappear once enough Americans had been immunized, averting the need for them to be immunized as well. You don’t need to get your shots if everyone else has gotten theirs, right? Then the new super-contagious variant came along and foiled that plan, promising weeks or months of rampant infection to come, so the holdouts threw in the towel. Delta scared some people straight.

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Which way will DeSantis go on mandating vaccines for public-school teachers? – HotAir

I’m not picking on him by asking that question. He’s the second-most important Republican in the country right now and he’s made sensible state management of COVID his signature issue. On a day when blue cities, states, and agencies are telling public servants to get vaxxed or get lost, it’s natural to wonder how the GOP’s rising star might approach the same question.

The politics are more complicated than they might seem.

Start with what DeSantis said two weeks ago about schools. In keeping with his brand, he’s anti-mandate — for students, at least:

Gov. Ron DeSantis told reporters Tuesday morning he expects a “normal school year” and promised no penalties for violators if a district should enact a mandate.

“No mandates for anything,” DeSantis said. “I think it’s very unfair for some of the youngest kids who are the least susceptible, least likely to spread it, that they have the mitigation imposed on them more severely than a lot of adults do.”

“No mandates for anything” is a concise summary of his approach to the pandemic circa summer 2021. It wasn’t the DeSantis approach to the pandemic in spring 2020, as Kristi Noem would happily remind you, and DeSantis knows he’ll be attacked for that in a 2024 primary. Any top-down regulations he issues to slow the spread of COVID at this late stage especially will be held against him by the base.

So he’s trying to find an accommodation between swing voters and MAGA. He’ll endorse vaccination, which pleases the former, but he’ll stridently oppose vaccine passports, including for cruise lines, to signal his sympathy for anti-vaxxers among the latter. He resisted state-ordered lockdowns last year after the initial spring surge, endearing himself to righties, but also allowed local officials to crack down, easing the concerns of less conservative supporters who were worried about the spread of the virus.

Viewed that way, we can guess how he’ll handle questions about requiring public-school teachers to get vaccinated. I strongly endorse them getting the shot, DeSantis will say, but I refuse to order it. No mandates for anything.

I think that’s the way he’ll end up going, another example of him triangulating between anti-vax populists and everyone else.

But.

Although the righties whose votes he’s coveting in 2024 are both strongly anti-mandate and … “vaccine-ambivalent,” let’s call them, there’s at least an argument that requiring vaccination in these narrow circumstances is a better play for him. Start with the polling from June, before Delta erupted in the U.S., that I mentioned this morning. Seventy percent of parents with school-aged children, including 56 percent of Republicans, thought vaccination should be mandatory for public-school teachers. And why wouldn’t they? There’s only one group across the entire U.S. population that’s still ineligible to be immunized right now, children under 12. The risk to kids from infection was exceptionally low with previous variants of the virus but we don’t know if that’s still true with Delta. It stands to reason that they face some increased risk given that unvaccinated adults are producing one thousand times more virus now than they did when they were infected last year.

And so it’s a matter of basic care. By what right should employees of the public-school system risk exposing your children in their custody to infection when that risk can be all but eliminated with a free, widely available shot? Because kids can’t be vaxxed and the adults with whom they’re spending most of their waking hours can be, we should require those adults to do everything they can to shield kids from the virus. DeSantis could and would frame a mandate in those exact terms: “My first job as governor is to protect the people of this state, starting with Florida’s children. Because the vaccines haven’t been approved for kids yet, they can’t protect themselves. We have no choice but to make our public-school teachers take every precaution on their behalf.”

There’d be other benefits. With adults in schools fully immunized, it’d be easier to ignore CDC advice to have all students mask up this fall. (Although that would depend on how much infected kids pass along Delta to each other.) And in case there’s a nasty fall surge of the virus and teachers start complaining that the state should switch to remote learning out of an abundance of caution, having them all vaccinated by the time school begins would head off that argument before it gathers any steam. There’s no need to go remote when all of the grown-ups in the school building — the most infectious group — have been immunized already.

And of course, having all public-school teachers in Florida immunized will also help reduce transmission in the communities where they live and work. Every extra vaccination helps.

The key point politically here for DeSantis is that public-school teachers and especially their union henchmen are a progressive special interest to which the populist righty base is naturally hostile. (Probably not a lot of DeSantis voters among them either.) And if post-Trump Republican politics means anything, it means “fighting” with the base’s enemies. DeSantis already did that once with Florida’s public-school teachers when he battled them in court to force public schools to reopen last year, with wild success. If he fought them over vaccine mandates it’d be easy enough for him to frame the dispute as a case of him once again standing up for the right of kids to be in class and to be as safe as possible while the selfish unions and their members clamor for their right to infect students by avoiding mandates.

The head of the Florida Educational Association complained when DeSantis said “no mandates for anything” a few weeks ago, demanding that local school boards, teachers, and staff have the power to decide whether kids should mask or not. DeSantis could turn that around on him. If it’s mandates they want, he’s happy to oblige them: Go out and get vaccinated or don’t teach this fall. How’s that?

It might not be MAGAs’ favorite DeSantis policy but they’d enjoy seeing liberal union tears flow.

The complication if he were to do that would be mandate advocates demanding that he extend his logic to other vulnerable groups. If the potential vulnerability of children is enough to justify a mandate for teachers, why shouldn’t the state do everything in its power to require vaccination by all health-care and nursing-home workers? That’d be a much more ambitious mandate, and suddenly DeSantis would be taking shots from the likes of Noem again for being a big-government Republican or whatever if he agreed to it. Maybe there’s a compromise available to him, one suggested earlier today by his nemesis, Andrew Cuomo, ironically. Instead of the governor ordering or not ordering mandates, he could simply defer to local governments on issuing rules the same way he did last year with respect to restrictions on businesses. That would mean fewer teachers being forced to vaccinate since red counties would be more reluctant than blue ones to take advantage of their mandate authority, but it’d be something.

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Maybe we shouldn’t follow California’s example on electric cars – HotAir

Two months ago, the New York Times and CNN raised warning flags on the environmental costs of transitioning to electric cars. Last week, the Los Angeles Times followed suit, although in this case it’s the California dog that doesn’t bark that should be of greatest interest to that question. Even without the obvious questions about energy for recharging, however, the LAT raises a series of environmental issues with the necessary mining to sustain production of EVs.

The platform is as notable as the reporting in this case:

The drama playing out in the deep sea is just one act in a fast unfolding, ethically challenging and economically complex debate that stretches around the world, from the cobalt mines of Congo to the corridors of the Biden White House to fragile desert habitats throughout the West where vast deposits of lithium lay beneath the ground.

The state of California is inexorably intertwined in this drama. Not just because extraction companies are aggressively surveying the state’s landscapes for opportunities to mine and process the materials. But because California is leading the drive toward electric cars.

No state has exported more policy innovations — including on climate, equality, the economy — than California, a trend accelerating under the Biden administration. The state relishes its role as the nation’s think tank, though the course it charts for the country has, at times, veered in unanticipated directions.

Ahem. Other parts of the country have their own thoughts on “Californication,” including my newly adopted state of Texas, which are nowhere near as positive as this suggests. That is, though, one reason why it matters that the LA Times makes this deep dive into the adverse environmental and national-security impacts of EVs. They are more inclined to cheer on such “policy innovations” rather than think deeply about their implications, and this bracing look at the environmental toll of necessary mining probably comes as a surprise to a significant amount of their readership.

The “point of pride” that the LAT describes next is somewhat debatable in context:

The success of electric cars is a point of pride for not just California, but the Biden administration, which is trying to meet the commitments in the Paris climate accord. But it is also a point of panic. The administration warns the transition threatens to leave the nation vulnerable to the whims of countries that control supply chains. President Biden in June ordered the Departments of Energy and the Interior to help industry bolster mining and processing of battery materials.

China controls most of the market for the raw-material refining needed for the batteries and dominates component manufacturing; industry analysts warn the monopolization presents not only an economic risk, but also a national security one.

The cost of finding new sources for raw materials and loosening China’s grip on the supply chains is large. That much is clear in Thacker Pass, a windswept pocket of northern Nevada where the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe has for centuries hunted sage grouse, collected plants for medicine, and gathered for ceremonies. It is also the largest reserve of lithium in the United States.

Neither CNN nor the NYT mentioned Thacker Pass by name, but their coverage appears to have focused on it as well. The native tribe leadership involved claims to have been somewhat misled by mining operations hoping to extract the mineral sources in the area. In one way, tribal secretary Daranda Hinkey may have been misled by the entire enviro movement:

Hinkey, 23, studied environmental policy at Southern Oregon University, examining transportation emissions and climate change and the green economy. “But we did not talk about things like this,” she said. “We never talked about, ‘Look at how much they are extracting.’ We talked about sustainability, but this does not seem sustainable.”

Surprise! “Sustainable” is in the eye of the mining beholder, and mining “victim” if you will. It’s the NIMBY impulse all over again: cheering “sustainability” feels very good, right up to the point where it requires exploitation of land you actually value. It’s a replay of the fight over offshore windmills in Maryland, Massachusetts, and other places where otherwise-liberal communities suddenly resent the intrusion of “sustainable” infrastructure.

In this case, however, Hinkey’s more correct than she knows, and not just because of the mining operations that will be required to transition all personal vehicles to the power grid. The LAT never gets around to addressing the obvious question: how does a state that cannot sustain power to homes expect to generate the necessary extra energy needed to recharge millions of vehicles every day? California can’t even meet the demand it has now, thanks to regulations barring or severely restricting the use of fossil fuels in the state for electricity production. The state now has regular rolling blackouts to keep from crashing its grid during high-demand periods and has to buy energy from neighboring states at higher rates to keep those as limited as possible.

How sustainable is that model? Why is California pushing policies that will vastly expand electricity demand while requiring environmentally destructive operations — especially in pursuit of “environmentalism”? For understandable reasons, the LAT doesn’t even raise that issue, avoiding it just as did CNN and the New York Times, and likely for the same reason. To raise the question in this case is to answer it, and to admit that the state has Californicated itself. The Biden administration may be intent on Californicating the rest of us, but perhaps the recognition of the environmental costs of extraction (not to mention disposal, which the LAT also avoids) might end up stalling the process long enough for wiser heads to prevail.