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I so wish I were making this up. Our glorious Governor, Ron DeSantis (R-Covid), has hatched a new plot to spread the pandemic in Florida: he’s inviting all the law enforcement officers from other states who got fired for not getting a COVID vaccine to come on down and infect us here.
The reasons why cops and other first responders need to be vaccinated are obvious: they come into contact with a lot of people, which makes them higher risk to contract and then spread the virus. Plus many of the people police come into contact with have no choice about the contact, be a stop for questioning, a stop-and-frisk, or an arrest. Vaccinating police officers vastly reduces the chance they will become both ill and if ill, seriously ill, which is good for public safety because it means they are far less likely to be infectious and because it means they are available for duty.
In hopes of attracting these viral vectors to Florida DeSantis stated that he’ll ask his the state legislature to pass a law giving a $5000 bonus to any out-of-state police officers who relocate to Florida.
As to the argument that vaccinated police officers might be dangerous to our lives, DeSantis has an answer, albeit one utterly detached from reality:
“On a scientific basis, most of those first responders have had Covid and have recovered,” DeSantis claimed without evidence. “So they have strong protection and so I think that influences their decision on a lot of this that they have already had it and recovered.”
DeSantis delivered this fantasy on Fox News of course.
(It’s true that five times as many police officers have died of COVID as have been killed in the line of duty, but that’s a far cry from saying they all have natural immunities. It is also true that the evidence of the relative merits of natural immunity and vaccination immunity levels and reinfection rates are confusing and even contradictory. But where the idea that cops have all had COVID comes from, I have no idea.)
Imagine you are the Governor of the great state of Florida. You look out at the state from your perch in Tallahassee, and consider how to make best use of your control of gerrymandered majorities in both houses of the state legislature. What problem in the State might catch your eye, one so serious and immediate that it requires a special session of the legislature in November — rather than waiting until the regular session two months later?
If you are Governor DeSantis, it seems you decide that Florida’s #1 urgent problem is that not enough people have died from COVID-19. And, having made this observation, you set right out to solve the problem.
This is, most horribly, neither a joke nor an exaggeration: Governor DeSantis announced today that he plans to call a special session of the Florida legislature in order to pass laws that would ban any local government from imposing a vaccination mandate, and create incentives designed to discourage businesses from doing so.
The original trial balloon suggested a ban on private businesses demanding that workers get vaccinated, but perhaps claims that this was dictatorial socialism caused a mild retreat: now we’ll just have a law that makes businesses liable for any medical harm that results from a mandatory vaccination, and a removal of existing protections for businesses from coronavirus-related liability if the businesses mandates vaccination for their employees.
You may think I’m being over the top here, in saying that DeSantis wants more people to die, presumably to allow more posturing to further his Presidential ambitions. But don’t take it from me. Take it from State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-Orlando), whom the Sun-Sentinel quoted as saying DeSantis’ plan is “disgusting”:
“It’s so nakedly political,” Smith said. “And Floridians will die because of DeSantis’s political ambitions. Gov. DeSantis is more than happy to trade the lives of Floridians for GOP votes in Iowa and campaign contributions in Utah. In 2021, being a Florida Republican is more about being anti-vax and pro-COVID-19 than anything else. … Welcome to Florida, where politics have become deadly.”
In any functioning polity we would impeach DeSantis; in Brazil they might indict him for mass murder. Instead, here, we take him seriously as a candidate first for re-election, then perhaps for President or Vice-President. That is our #1 urgent problem.
In general, I’m of the view that we have too many jails and prisons (and far too many private prisons!), and that this is an industry, or social practice if you prefer, where supply tends to create demand for reasons economic and social.
But I’ve learned that we are short of one jail we need. In today’s New York Times explainer on executive privilege (a non-constitutional doctrine invented by courts, but don’t get me started), author Charlie Savage has an aside in his explanation of the convoluted and uncertain way in which Congress enforces its finding of contempt by non-cooperating witnesses:
(In theory, lawmakers could also direct the House sergeant-at-arms to arrest recalcitrant witnesses and detain them until the end of its session, but that “inherent contempt” authority is viewed as obsolete; the Capitol has no prison cell and lawmakers have not tried to use this power since 1935.)
So here’s my very modest proposal: Congress should either build its own little jail, or it should contract with a nearby jurisdiction–or a private prison company–to guarantee to hold anyone arrested by the Sergeant at Arms. I doubt they would actually have to use it; rather, having this capacity on tap would provide a much greater in terrorem effect than the current system which requires first that the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia take up the case, and second that the court fights over it happen quickly–the latter being highly unlikely.
Surely a contingency contract with a per diem per prisoner if required would be a very minor budget item. Stick it in the reconciliation bill please.
If you missed any part of We Robot 2021, or you just want to enjoy it again, you’ll be pleased to know we’ve got recordings of the sessions available on line. If you want to read the paper before hearing the discussion (highly recommended!) see the We Robot 2021 program page for links to everything.
This vile fundraising text-message did not come from some fringe group. It came from the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Let’s count just a few of the ways in which this is disgusting:
- It misuses the term “traitor” to suggest that not supporting a politician can ever be treason.
- It implicitly identifies fealty with The Leader with loyalty to the United States.
- It suggests that it is unpatriotic to fail to support a man who
- encouraged a seditionist mob to storm the Capitol of the United States in order to prevent the certification of an election he had lost and
- tried to subvert the Justice Department to undermine the election result
- when in fact the reverse is true: supporting the seditionist is what is unpatriotic.
- It says those who don’t send the NRCC money right now will be “branded a deserter”. And creates a totally bogus 17 minute deadline to fork over.
- Appeals like this work.
I knew House Republicans had gone pretty far over to the Dark Side, but this…