File under: people God is preparing a special place in hell for. (Tucker, not your Nana.)
REMEMBER WHEN! We will be spending much of the day throwing at your face some of our favorite old Tucker Carlson posts, or at least the ones Evan linked to yesterday, because that is a nice cheat sheet to start with. This post originally published on May 6, 2021.
Tucker Carlson has a new and vile conspiracy theory lie to tell your impressionable Boomer Republican family members, and it's that COVID vaccines are MURDERING EVERYBODY.
If your old dumb Uncle Bubba watched Tucker last night (and he assuredly did), he heard Tucker tell him that "thousands" of people have died from getting the COVID vaccine. He said that according to some very real doctor he talked to, this is the "single deadliest mass vaccination event in modern history." Yes, just like Fox News fills your grandmother's head with verifiable bullshitabout things that actually are not happening, like antifa terror hordes and Mr. Potato Head's forced castration, Tucker is now telling your misguided yet beloved grandmother that the vaccine kills.
How many exactly have died, according to Tucker's wildest imaginations and lies? Media Matters transcribes.
Carlson inaccurately asserted that thousands of people have died after receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, claiming that "between late December of 2020 and last month, a total of 3,362 people apparently died after getting the COVID vaccine in the United States" and that even though the data was "not quite up to date," we "can assume that another 360 people at that rate have died in the 12 days since. You put it all together, and that is a total of 3,722 deaths. That's almost 4,000 people who died after getting the COVID vaccines. The actual number is almost certainly higher than that, perhaps vastly higher than that."
Between December and last month, 3,362 people "apparently died" after getting the vaccine, says Tucker. Does he say they died OF vaccine? Or did they die WITH vaccine? Because that's how they deny COVID deaths in people who wouldn't have died of some underlying condition if coronavirus hadn't aggravated it. (Speaking of, here's some more evidence from one of America's greatest public health experts that actual worldwide COVID deaths are likely twice as high as the official numbers.) However, in this case, the WITH and not OF thing is a valid construction. Are vaccinated car accident deaths being included here? Gender reveal explosions among the freshly vaccinated? We are just curious.
Tucker said "we can assume" — you know, based on science! — that another 360 people have died since "the data" was updated. And then — using math! — Tucker calculated that "almost 4,000 people" have definitely died, adding that based on his expertise, "the actual number is almost certainly higher than that, perhaps VASTLY higher than that."
Here's a bigger transcription of Tucker's latest deadly lie, and the video:
TUCKER: In just the first four months of this year, the U.S. government has recorded more deaths after COVID vaccinations than from all other vaccines administered in the United States between mid-1997 and the end of 2013. That is a period of 15 and a half years. Again, more people, according to VAERS, have died after getting the shot in four months during a single vaccination campaign than from all other vaccines combined over more than a decade and a half. Chart that out. It's a stunning picture. Now, the debate is over what it means. Again, there is a lot of criticism of the reporting system. Some people say, well, it's just a coincidence if someone gets a shot and then dies, possibly from other causes. No one really knows, is the truth. We spoke to one physician today who actively treats COVID patients. He described what we are seeing now as the single deadliest mass vaccination event in modern history. Whatever is causing it, it is happening as we speak.
We bolded a lot of that to note how Tucker couches his absolute lies in "just asking questions"-type deniability. He uses weasel language when he says the government "has recorded" all these vaccine deaths. (How were they "recorded"?) He says this is "according to VAERS." (Tell us more about VAERS and how these stats are compiled!) He says there's a "lot of criticism" of the reporting system. (Is it because people just don't like it, or is it valid criticism?) He says "no one really knows." (So feel free to spout an uninformed opinion!) But this doctor (what doctor?) says it's the SINGLE DEADLIEST MASS VACCINATION EVENT IN MODERN HISTORY.
As usual, the correct response is to tell Tucker to shut his fucking mouth.
Media Matters has a full explanation of how this lie was formed, with answers to all our parenthetical questions above, noting that this conspiracy theory has been going around the wet bowels of the rightwing internet for a while now.
VAERS is the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, and it's run by the CDC, but it's a tool for researchers, and not a tool for your Nana, unless your Nana is a scientist. As Politifact explains, it "helps researchers collect data on vaccine after-effects and to detect patterns that may warrant a closer look."
The key thing to get here is that VAERS is all self-reported. In other words, Wilma Wingnut can literally get on there and say somebody died because they had just gotten their second shot the day before, even though Wilma Wingnut is a documented moron. Then the researchers will check to see if Wilma Wingnut's report fits with any emerging patterns, or if she's just full of shit again.
Politifact adds these two bullet points:
- The CDC cautions that VAERS results are not enough to determine whether a vaccine causes a particular adverse event.
- For the COVID-19 vaccines, VAERS has received a flood of reports and become especially potent fuel for misinformation.
Got it? VAERS isn't for random Joe Shitbags on the street, and it's not for Tucker Carlson.
That's why there's "criticism" of the reporting system, because it allows literally the stupidest and worst people God ever made to use its reports to create whatever "truth" they want to create. The system is open because CDC needs people to submit legitimate reports — even if they're morons — so that scientists can pore over the data to find real and legitimate patterns.
Media Matters notes that VAERS is quite upfront about how its data should and should not be used:
VAERS' own data guide states that "a report to VAERS," including reports of death, "generally does not prove that the identified vaccine(s) caused the adverse event described. It only confirms that the reported event occurred sometime after vaccine was given. No proof that the event was caused by the vaccine is required in order for VAERS to accept the report."
And this, also from the VAERS website:
"While very important in monitoring vaccine safety, VAERS reports alone cannot be used to determine if a vaccine caused or contributed to an adverse event or illness. The reports may contain information that is incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental, or unverifiable. In large part, reports to VAERS are voluntary, which means they are subject to biases. This creates specific limitations on how the data can be used scientifically. Data from VAERS reports should always be interpreted with these limitations in mind."
This shit is literally all over the VAERS website, screaming at you that it's incomplete and unverified and that you shouldn't extrapolate based on your own lack of understanding of Science, What Is THAT? Apparently, according to Media Matters, "users [of VAERS] are required to acknowledge twice" that they have read and understand this. Not just people submitting reports, but people who merely want to play with their data. Maybe they should add a thing that clarifies that dilettante Swanson frozen dinner heirs who host Fox News shows should zip their fucking wordholes and go cry about gay dudes in the bathroom some more.
Media Matters also points us to this thread from radiologist Dr. Pradheep Shanker, about the good and the bad of VAERS data. They note that Dr. Shanker actually writes for National Review, so no commie Deep State plot here:
So who got some real data Tucker coulda used? The CDC got some real data Tucker coulda used!
Let's copy/paste everything CDC says about what science actually has determined about the COVID vaccine causing deaths. Surprise, they even explain here why Tucker Carlson shouldn't be playing on the VAERS website without adult supervision, in case they haven't screamed that enough:
CDC uses the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) to closely monitor reports of death following COVID-19 vaccination.
FDA requires healthcare providers to report any death after COVID-19 vaccination to VAERS.
Reports to VAERS of death following vaccination do not necessarily mean the vaccine caused the death.
CDC follows up on any report of death to request additional information to learn more about what occurred and to determine whether the death was a result of the vaccine or was unrelated.
CDC, FDA, and other federal agencies will continue to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.
Over 245 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States from December 14, 2020, through May 3, 2021. During this time, VAERS received 4,178 reports of death (0.0017%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine. CDC and FDA physicians review each case report of death as soon as notified and CDC requests medical records to further assess reports. A review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records has not established a causal link to COVID-19 vaccines.
However, recent reports indicate a plausible causal relationship between the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine and a rare and serious adverse event—blood clots with low platelets—which has caused deaths.
That's the science. Fuck you, Tucker.
Who's going to be the first litigant to be granted standing to sue Tucker for every cent he'll ever make because one of their loved ones listened to Tucker and died?
Because if we were a creative wrongful death lawyer right now ... Oh hell, Fox News would just argue again that no reasonable person would think Tucker was telling the truth, and they'd probably win again.
Follow Evan Hurst on Twitter RIGHT HERE, DO IT RIGHT HERE!
If you happen to have some extra money right now, we would take it.
There was a thing, children, it was called 'pandemic.'
The Food and Drug Administration has approved a second dose of the updated COVID booster shot that came out last fall, for older people and folks with compromised immune systems. That would be the "bivalent" boosters that were developed to protect against the original virus and the Omicron variant of the virus. The booster will be available to people over the age of 65 four months after their last dose, and to those with weakened immune systems two months after their last shot. Those guidelines apply to both the Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech boosters.
On top of that, the FDA authorized making the updated vaccines the standard for all COVID vaccines from here on in, which means that anyone who hasn't been vaccinated yet will get a single dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine instead of the two-dose vaccines that were originally rolled out in December 2020.
Next, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet with its vaccine advisory panel on Wednesday; once the CDC signs off on the new second dose plan, boosters can begin being given immediately.
As always, anti-vaxxers are still recommended to take a daily helping of STFU.
So far, the CDC says that only around 42 percent of Americans over 65 have received a first dose of the bivalent booster, and while virtually all Americans are able to get it, fewer than 17 percent of us have done so.
The Washington Post notes that the health agencies "will not formally urge that people get a second booster. Instead, the 'permissive' policy says they may get a second dose if they want."
Experts have expressed differing views on the necessity of a second bivalent dose. While some say little data exists to justify it, others believe the extra shot is a good option for high-risk individuals. The United Kingdom and Canada already are offering spring booster shots for vulnerable individuals.
Since the effectiveness of the COVID vaccine wanes over time, you may as well get the second bivalent booster if you qualify, and you should definitely get a first one if you haven't yet, since the vaccine has a good safety record and does a good job of protecting against hospitalization and death.
NBC News points out that while the two Omicron subvariants the bivalent vaccines were designed to protect against are no longer circulating in the US, the vaccines still offer pretty good protection against the current prevalent strain, another Omicron subvariant called XBB.1.5:
A CDC report published in January found that the updated Covid boosters reduced the risk of Covid infection from the XBB.1.5 subvariant by nearly half. Another study, published by Israeli researchers in the Lancet this month, found that the Covid boosters reduced the risk of hospitalization in people 65 and older by 72%. Neither study, however, looked at the effects of receiving two doses of the bivalent booster.
Going forward, the Post says that the FDA still plans to recommend that people get a COVID vaccine annually, in the fall when they get their flu vaccine:
The FDA and its advisers hope the simplified schedule will encourage more people to get coronavirus vaccine doses. Officials will select a reformulated dose in coming months based on which coronavirus strain scientists think is most likely to be circulating in fall and winter.
Under that blueprint, most people, whether vaccinated or not, would be urged to receive a single annual dose of a coronavirus shot.
Even though Congress hasn't authorized updated funding for COVID programs, the Post reports the shots will remain free of cost regardless of whether eligible people have insurance or not, since the "government has an ample supply." Should that supply be exhausted, people with health insurance will still get free shots, but people on private insurance will want to make sure their providers are in network. The uninsured may have to pay, though, unless more funding comes from Congress. Freaking America, man.
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Just puzzling this over, and it really feels like it might be the fascism.
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) announced last Friday that it would appoint conservators to take over the Austin Independent School District. Supposedly, the state education agency hadda do it because the Austin district had "systemic issues" in providing services to students in special education classes.
Two weeks ago, the agency also appointed a "board of managers" to take over the schools in Houston, shitcanning the superintendent and the elected school board. In that case, the move was prompted by what TEA said was years of low academic achievement in the majority-minority district.
Several civil rights groups, including the NAACP of Texas, the ACLU of Texas, the League of United Latin American Citizens, and the Greater Houston Coalition for Justice, sued in federal court last week, arguing that in taking over Houston's schools, the state had violated what's still left of the Voting Rights Act by overruling the rights of voters of color, who kind of chose the leadership they wanted for the schools.
“The state takeover is not about public education but about political control of an almost entirely Black and brown student body in one of the country’s most diverse cities,” Ashley Harris, an attorney at the ACLU of Texas, said in a news release announcing the complaint.
The complaint says that the TEA could hold “indefinite power” over Houston ISD without any structures in place for voters to hold the agency and its appointed board members accountable.
Well yes, that does seem to be the point.
Texas: The One-Star, One-Party State
As for the takeover of Austin schools, state Rep. Gina Hinojosa (D) said in a press release that, as the parent of a son who's in special education, she's aware of the district's problems with special education, but added that the district — and voters — were already addressing the matter, with the election of four new board members in November, and the district's hiring of a new interim superintendent. She wrote,
They have briefed me on their plans to turn around the special education department in AISD. I believe that we were finally on track to do right by our kids.
I am dismayed by [TEA Commissioner Mike] Morath’s decision to install a conservatorship in our school district at this time.
Pointing out that the federal Department of Education has had the TEA itself under oversight since 2018 for "its failings regarding special education," Hinojosa said she hadn't heard from Morath "how or why the TEA is better equipped to address our pressing challenges." She said that the Austin district's problems were mostly due to understaffing, a teacher shortage exacerbated by the state shortchanging AISD's special education program "by close to $80 million annually." She added that the district's challenges "will not be solved by consolidating power in the hands of Governor [Greg] Abbott's appointed commissioner."
As the Texas Tribune explains, the Education Department found in its 2018 investigation that Texas
had been effectively denying students with disabilities the tools and services they need in order to learn, in violation of federal law. In 2020, the federal government found that the TEA had not done enough to serve all special education students.
“It's shocking — with both Houston and AISD — that the commissioner, who has failed in the area of special ed, would take over Austin ISD for special education reasons when he is greatly to blame,” said David DeMatthews, an associate professor at the University of Texas Austin's College of Education.
You know, we can't help but think there's some sort of trend here. Remember back during the pandemic, when Abbott used his emergency powers as governor to ban Texas cities and counties from mandating face masks, and vaccines? And now the school systems in two of the state's biggest — and most Democratic-leaning — cities are under state control. For their own good, of course.
Not that the pandemic was the first such instance of Texas overruling local voters; way back in 2014, the state's oil-bidniss regulator announced she would railroad right past the voters of Denton, Texas, after they voted to ban fracking in their fair community. You could probably find earlier examples, too. Once Greg Abbott was elected governor — even before he was sworn in — he pledged to put a stop to such "California style regulations that cities are imposing on people." for freedom.
One Florida Man, One Vote
Still, much of the current fuckery with local level democracy got rolling during the pandemic, as state legislators sought to curb county public health offices or school districts from mask orders and even infection tracking. We're really going to be screwed when the next airborne viral pandemic hits. But we'll be "free"!
The pandemic gave Gov. Ron DeSantis an excuse to go after Florida school districts, taking extreme measures to prevent them from mandating masks. Since then, he's been getting his grimy hands all over various parts of government that aren't really part of the state executive branch. He fired four members of the Broward County school board and replaced them with loyalists, creating a new, unelected conservative majority on the school board for one of the state's most Democratic metro areas. Thirty DeSantis-endorsed candidates won school board elections in 2022, and he's already targeted 14 more seats for 2024, a number expected to grow.
In 2022, DeSantis fired Hillsborough County's elected prosecutor Andrew Warren for saying he wouldn't pursue criminal charges in abortion cases, because prosecutorial discretion is for loyalists, loser. (Warren is still pursuing a lawsuit to be reinstated.) DeSantis has to run everything, including the curricula of state colleges, which must be rescued from their own wokeness.
Come Tennessee What Democrats Made Republicans Do
Oh, let's do more! In March, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill slashing the size of Nashville's City Council from 40 members to 20 members, just an hour after the state Senate passed it, because it was so important to teach Nashville voters a lesson for electing too many Democrats. Tennessee Republicans were mad at the Nashville council for blocking an effort to hold the 2024 Republican National Convention in Nashville. The city is suing, arguing that the move violates the state constitution, and that the change will create chaos ahead of Nashville's City Council elections set for August. The bill only gives the city until May 1 to draw new district lines.
And of course today, the Republican supermajority in the state House is almost certain to expel three Democrats who committed the unspeakable crime of taking the dais without being recognized, in support of Nashville students who were protesting in favor of gun control. Many of the same Republicans chose not to expel a Republican state representative in 2019 after three women accused him of sexually assaulting them in the 1980s, when they were minors and he was their high school basketball coach.
Wisconsin: Nice Supreme Court You Got Here. For Now.
In Wisconsin, Democrats are rightly celebrating Tuesday's election of Janet Protasiewicz to the state supreme court, giving the court a liberal majority that's likely to protect abortion rights and undo the Republican gerrymander that gives the GOP huge majorities in the state Legislature in a basically evenly split populace. But even before the balloons and confetti were cleared away from the victory party, Republicans were already discussing what a great idea it would be to impeach Protasiewicz, simply because they can.
You see, kids, the same special election that put Protasiewicz on the court also filled a vacant seat in the state Senate. That seat in the Milwaukee exurbs was won, narrowly, by Republican Dan Knodl, giving Republicans a supermajority in the Senate. Near the end of the campaign, Knodl said that if he won, he would support impeaching Protasiewicz from her current job as a circuit judge in Milwaukee County.
So hey, now that she'll be on the state's highest court, there's speculation that Republicans might just get busy impeaching Protasiewicz and other statewide Democratic officeholders now that they have the power to do it. Knodl, who's moving up from the state Assembly after his victory Tuesday, was among the Wisconsin Rs who called on Mike Pence to not certify the 2020 election. He's got a solid record of not being overly concerned about voters' wishes.
Georgia, Where The Lights Went Out
Finally — although we're sure we could list examples all day — there's Georgia, where the state Legislature sent to Gov. Brian Kemp a bill to create a commission with the power to remove local elected prosecutors. It's a transparent effort to crack down on Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis for the sin of maybe holding Donald Trump responsible after he tried to reverse the 2020 election results in Georgia. But the bill was also driven by Republican anger at another local DA, Deborah Gonzalez, who said she wouldn't make a priority of prosecuting low-level marijuana charges.
As Yr Wonkette's Evan Hurst explained at the time, all this state usurpation of local voters' choices is fairly easy to explain. Having managed to win power, whether through gerrymandering, voter suppression, more rural than urban votes, or various combinations of those, Republicans in state legislatures
resent that the more liberal residents of big cities elect officials who aren't right-wing hacks. This was a big issue during the COVID-19 pandemic when Kemp regularly fought local officials over sensible COVID-19 policies. We're not going to insult your intelligence by pointing out how Republicans used to go on about "local control." That was just their excuse to get their Jim Crow on without federal intervention.
White rightwing nominally "Christian" nationalists can see that they won't win over voters by persuasion, so they're going all in on negating the political power of anyone who gets in the way. At a national level, that's why you still have Republicans talking about a federal ban on abortion rights, because even after the Dobbs decision, those damn blue states are still letting women have control over their bodies.
Oh yes, on that note, a bit more late democracy-breaking news: Yesterday, Idaho Gov. Brad Little quietly signed into law that "abortion trafficking" bill aimed at criminalizing adults (including family members other than parents) who help minors travel to free states to get abortions, or who help them get abortion pills.
Your papers, please?
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