Masks Off! Now Bring On The Vaccine Passports.

Plus: Liz Cheney does Fox

That strange feeling that you experienced yesterday afternoon? Liberation? Euphoria? Actual excitement?

Shortly after 2 EDT, the director of the CDC, Rochelle Walensky, declared:

If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic. We have all longed for this moment, when we can get back to some sense of normalcy.

It’s been so long since we’ve had this kind of news that it took a while to process it: Doing what things? Pretty much anything. When? Now.

Here’s the way the Washington Post reported it: “Americans who are fully vaccinated can go without masks or physical distancing in most cases, even when they are indoors or in large groups, federal officials said Thursday, paving the way for a full reopening of society.”

Full stadiums, concerts, festivals, summer camps, vacations, movie theaters, restaurants, bars, the whole steamy glory of our suspended lives.

President Biden underlined the notion that happy days were here again, when he said that if you are fully vaccinated “you’ve earned the right to do something that Americans are known for all around the world: greeting others with a smile — with a smile.”

What difference a year makes: from talking about injecting bleach to what our colleague Tim Miller calls Hot Joe Summer.

And yet.

The pandemic remains, and there are still hold-outs, recalcitrants, and questions. 

Masks off for the vaccinated. But what about the unvaccinated? They are still among us as both hesitancy and Foxitis have proven difficult to eradicate.

Within minutes of the announcement, I got a press release from the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the union representing 1.3 million e food and retail workers. “While we all share the desire to return to a mask-free normal, “ the union said, “today's CDC guidance is confusing and fails to consider how it will impact essential workers who face frequent exposure to individuals who are not vaccinated and refuse to wear masks.”

And it included this reality check:

“Millions of Americans are doing the right thing and getting vaccinated, but essential workers are still forced to play mask police for shoppers who are unvaccinated and refuse to follow local COVID safety measures. Are they now supposed to become the vaccination police?”

So what is to be done? Two things: (1) keep on bribing, and (2) bring on the vaccine passports.

Carrot meet stick.

Let’s start with the bribes, including shots, beers, cash, and other free stuff:

In Long Beach, Calif., the mayor is promoting free aquarium tickets for those who get vaccinated.

In New York, the immunized can grab free fries at Shake Shack — an effort that Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday while digging into his own meal.

Leaders nationwide are increasingly turning to incentives as demand for coronavirus vaccines slows. In the most dramatic offer so far, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) said this week that vaccinated residents would be eligible for $1 million lottery prizes and full-ride college scholarships

Yes, yes, I get it. We should not have to use gimmicks like lotteries to induce people to do the right thing. But we should continue to use whatever works. Think of it as a stimulus program for people who are bad at math.

Polls suggest that bribes work:

Then bring the stick; require proof of vaccination for adults. The more businesses, venues, sports teams, offices, stores, and airlines require vaccine passports, the faster we will get our lives back. The passports provide reassurance, while creating a powerful incentive because they are the tickets to our hot summer of liberation.

And, no, passports are not an assault on our freedom. Until about five minutes ago, it was a principle universally acknowledged that the right to swing your fist stops at another person’s nose.

As Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law, wrote last year: “With coronavirus, your freedom stops when it endangers others….”

Not getting jabbed is a choice. But choices have consequences; and the rest of us are free to shun those who make stupid and dangerous choices that put us at risk.

In the 1905 case, Jacobson vs. Massachusetts, the United States Supreme Court upheld mandatory smallpox vaccinations, ruling that: “Upon the principle of self-defense, of paramount necessity, a community has the right to protect itself against an epidemic of disease which threatens the safety of its members.”

As Chemerinsky noted: “The court explicitly rejected the claim that ‘liberty’ under the Constitution includes the right of individuals to make decisions about their own health in instances where those decisions could endanger others.”

But this may be beside the point, because COVID vaccine passports are most likely to be required by non-governmental entities, exercising their own constitutionally protected rights.

Naturally, any such requirement will spark fustian and outrage from the anti-vaxxer right. Proof of vaccination, they will insist, is the mark of the beast, or at least incipient tyranny.

But (as I have written previously), wait until they hear about driver’s licenses, photo IDs to vote, Social Security cards, TSA screening, employer drug tests, birth certificates, proofs of residence and citizenship, real passports, and the certificates of vaccination we ALREADY require.

Via Kate Brannenhere's a list of the required vaccinations children in Florida must have to attend school:

In case you are wondering: “The Form DH 680, Florida Certification of Immunization, must be used to document receipt of immunizations required for entry and attendance in Florida schools, childcare facilities, and family daycare homes.”

Bring it on.

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Trump’s plumbers.

Don’t miss this wild-ass story in the NYT:

WASHINGTON — A network of conservative activists, aided by a British former spy, mounted a campaign during the Trump administration to discredit perceived enemies of President Trump inside the government, according to documents and people involved in the operations.

The campaign included a planned sting operation against Mr. Trump’s national security adviser at the time, H.R. McMaster, and secret surveillance operations against F.B.I. employees, aimed at exposing anti-Trump sentiment in the bureau’s ranks.

The operations against the F.B.I., run by the conservative group Project Veritas, were conducted from a large home in the Georgetown section of Washington that rented for $10,000 per month. Female undercover operatives arranged dates with the F.B.I. employees with the aim of secretly recording them making disparaging comments about Mr. Trump.

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Let them fight. Via Politico.

Texas Rep. Chip Roy is jumping into the race for House GOP conference chair, teeing up a two-way showdown between him and New York Rep. Elise Stefanik.

Roy, a member of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus, has criticized not only Stefanik’s voting record but also how speedy House Republicans are moving to replace the newly deposed Rep. Liz Cheney. Multiple Republicans have complained that they feel boxed in by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who they say put his finger on the scale for Stefanik.


I’m going to keep pushing the meth analogy until morale improves:

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Quick Hits

1. ICYMI: From JVL’s Newsletter Yesterday:


2. Not My Party: Liz Cheney Unchained

“We cannot be dragged backward by the very dangerous lies of the former president.” [Rep. Liz Cheney]

Liz Cheney has been cast out from her position in Republican leadership and is facing a Trump-backed primary challenge next fall, for thought crimes against the orange god-king.

Yes, that Liz Cheney: daughter of Dick, conservative hardass, military hawk, voted with Trump 93 percent of the time. Liz is so “severely conservative” that in her first campaign, she came out against gay marriage, selling out her own sister fergodssakes. So why would Republicans want to break up with her so badly?


3. The Racist Roots of the Anti-Immigration Tanton Network

Mario H. Lopez in today’s Bulwark:

The three most influential anti-immigration groups in politics today are the Federation for American Immigration Reform, NumbersUSA, and the Center for Immigration Studies. All three groups were founded in part by John Tanton).

Tanton was an anti-population crusader who founded local chapters of Planned Parenthood and was president of the group Zero Population Growth. As global fertility rates fell, he focused more on opposing immigration. Bankrolled by a similarly obsessed heiress, Cordelia Scaife May, Tanton established a propaganda machine devoted to criticizing immigration from a perspective that mixed radical environmentalism and white nationalism.

Tanton and May didn’t just want to keep people out of their back yard. They wanted to keep them off their planet.


4. Military Officers Should Stay Out of Politics

Jim Golby writes in the Bulwark:

It is irresponsible for “Flag Officers 4 America” to leverage their rank and the public’s esteem for those still on active duty to gain the relevance most of them lost long ago. And it is irresponsible for elected officials, serving military leaders, and citizens to not criticize and discourage them when they abuse their service for personal or partisan gain—even, and perhaps especially, when their personal and partisan gain aligns with our own.

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Cheap Shots

You hate to see it.


Ouch. We admit that this did not age well.