Republicans don’t govern, they perform

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CBS News:

Most give Biden good marks for handling outbreak

Three in four Americans approve of Congress passing the economic relief package as it continues to draw wide support. Large majorities of Democrats and independents, along with nearly half of Republicans, approve of passage.

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This was a heart to heart with America, not a victory lap. It’s the talk we needed.

Jennifer Horn/USA Today:

What Republicans don’t get: Biden’s oversized COVID relief package is a new start for America

Republicans are evaluating COVID relief through the same cynical, partisan filter of the past. They assume voters will forget the pain of the last year.

Biden’s primetime address, his first, came hours after he signed a $1.9 trillion COVID relief law, historic in its breadth and cost, that represents the largest anti-poverty package in generations. It includes direct assistance to most Americans and an expanded Child Tax Credit that could cut child poverty in half, as well as billions for towns, schools and small businesses. And most importantly, it will expedite access to the COVID-19 vaccines that are so desperately needed to save lives and bring this pandemic, finally, to its knees.

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Paul Kane/WaPo:

Biden’s party-line approach in Congress has worked so far. But Sen. Joe Manchin wants bipartisanship.

The Senate is split 50-50 by party caucus with tie votes broken by Democratic Vice President Harris, who presides over the Senate.

“I think we need some floor experience first. Bring some bills to the floor. Let’s see what happens,” Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) said Tuesday. He suggested that Democrats should move an infrastructure bill next because GOP lawmakers have bad roads and old bridges just like Democrats.

“I think what Joe [Manchin] is looking for is Republican buy-in, participation. And I’m all for that. If there’s one bill that should do it, it’d be infrastructure,” Durbin said.

FiveThirtyEight:

How To Convince People The Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Is As Good As The Others

maggie (Maggie Koerth, senior science writer): We had a really interesting pre-conversation to this conversation yesterday, and I think it encapsulates some of the trouble with how to talk about this stuff. We were debating whether there should be a graphic showing the efficacies of the different vaccines.

anna.rothschild (Anna Rothschild, host of PODCAST-19): Yes. And then we realized that might be a fool’s errand.

maggie: There’s basically no way to do it without wildly misleading people.

neil (Neil Lewis Jr., professor of communication and social behavior at Cornell University): And that’s complicated by the fact that different people care about different things.

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Molly Jong-Fast/Daily Beast:

The COVID-Denying ‘Party of Life’ Finds a New Way to Kill Roe

It was a bill so bad it wasn’t written to ever be enacted. Instead, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed Senate Bill 6 with the hopes that it would be overturned and begin a legal battle that could theoretically lead to overturning Roe v. Wade and making abortion illegal in the United States.

You’d think Republicans might be a bit sheepish about protecting the lives of embryos since they’ve shown such apathy toward protecting the lives of actual living people. But 530,000 Americans have died of COVID, and still Republicans are largely indifferent toward masking and other restrictions. On Wednesday, Texas ended its mask mandate despite only having vaccinated 8.5 percent of the state.

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Jon Ward/Yahoo:

As GOP lawmakers look to pass new voting restrictions, some conservatives are pushing back

Many GOP lawmakers have doubled down on the lie that the 2020 election was stolen and are using that false narrative as a pretext for restricting or eliminating early voting and vote-by-mail in the name of preventing future cheating. In Georgia, for example, the Republican-controlled Legislature is looking to eliminate early voting on Sundays, which critics say is a clear effort to stymie the ability of Black churches to get congregants to the polls after services.

But some Republicans believe making it harder to vote will actually backfire at a time when the GOP base is becoming more diverse and dependent on working-class voters. Although Donald Trump lost the presidential election by some 7 million votes, Republicans note that he overperformed among people of color — including immigrants and their immediate descendants. He also did surprisingly well among Black men, in addition to the working-class white voters who powered him to victory in 2016.

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Noga Tarnopolsky/Daily Beast:

Bibi’s Trumpian Election Freakout Has Experts Worried

Ignoring the admonitions of his own scientific advisers, Netanyahu rushed to fully reopen Israel’s restaurants, bars, gyms, and schools just two weeks before the ballots are set to be cast. Meanwhile, he has consistently asserted that voters will reward him for the country’s unparalleled anti-COVID-19 vaccination drive, a saving grace for citizens after a long year of lockdowns and economic woes.

Unfortunately for Netanyahu, the polls show otherwise, and many observers believe he is assiduously preparing to undermine the legitimacy of the March 23 vote if it does not bring him a clear victory. If the direst predictions do come true, and COVID-19 infections resurge around Election Day, the ensuing mayhem could help maintain his grip on power.

The all-out effort to win has taken many forms. Im Tirzu, an extremist right-wing group close to Netanyahu, was caught trying to infiltrate the vote-counting staff. His party, the Likud, has been fined for its wanton use of the official prime minister’s residence to host political events.

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Anna Russell/New Yorker:

The Fight Against Vaccine Misinformation

Society’s return to normal depends on widespread acceptance of the vaccine. Distrust stands in the way.

As the rollout continues, vaccine hesitancy threatens to sink efforts to reach herd immunity. In a September study by University College London, about a fifth of respondents in the U.K. said that they were “on balance more unlikely than likely” to “very unlikely” to accept a vaccination. A study published in Nature last month showed that misinformation had a significant effect on vaccine uptake. The number of Brits who said they would “definitely” accept the vaccine dropped by 6.2 percentage points after they were exposed to common conspiracies—that Bill Gates was plotting against his fellow-Americans, for instance. A critical mass of a population needs to adopt the vaccine for herd immunity to be reached. As Heidi Larson, who worked on the study, put it, “Vaccines only work if people take them.”

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