Editors’ Blog

COVID Notes #9 (Special Antigen Test Edition) Prime Badge

So many people are getting COVID, trying to figure out whether they have COVID or trying to figure out how long to isolate whether they have COVID or suspect they might. So I wanted to share with you some examples of positive and negative antigen tests. There’s nothing surprising or groundbreaking about what I’m going to show you. But it can just help to see some examples if you’re trying to make sense of this stuff in your own home, workplace or family.

These are six tests from a COVID infection that was antigen positive for 9 days.

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Where Things Stand: Biden Deploys The Military To Fight COVID As SCOTUS Helps Pandemic Linger
This is your TPM evening briefing.

The White House’s latest COVID-19 mitigation efforts are a contrast to the Supreme Court’s ruling today.

President Biden announced Thursday that his administration would double its previous promise to hand out free at-home COVID-19 tests, with plans to send out one billion to Americans’ homes. Along with that, the Biden administration will distribute N95 masks to the public as the country faces an unprecedented spike in COVID infections.

Biden is also deploying more military personnel to hospitals. Speaking from the White House the President said that next week he will send 1,000 military medics to hospitals across the country that have become overrun with patients dangerously sick with the coronavirus. The spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant has left the nation’s hospitals overburdened and short-staffed in recent weeks.

Biden didn’t mince his words in his address announcing the drastic moves.

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A Telling Sign Prime Badge

Notwithstanding Sen. Sinema’s speechlet this afternoon I certainly hope they will still force a vote on the rules change itself. But another point occurs to me, one we’ve discussed before: there will never be another Democrat elected to the Senate who supports the current filibuster. This is obvious for a number of reasons. But I was reminded of it when I got a fundraising email from Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) who’s running for the open Ohio Senate seat. Like you, I get a million of these. Ryan’s just one. But here’s how the email starts …

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Listen To This: Looking to the Court

A new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast is live! This week, with the Senate all but paralyzed, Josh and Kate discuss the Supreme Court’s posture on the Biden administration’s use of agency power.

You can listen to the new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast here.

This Is Why You Call the Vote Prime Badge

Newsflash: perfidious silly person Kysten Sinema has now told a friendly reporter at Politico that she’s “weighing” or “considering” or some other chin-scratch-full but meaningless gerund that she may go to the floor of the Senate and give a speech denouncing any changes to Senate rules that will allow Democrats thin majority to do anything. This as President Biden goes to the Senate to press his case for a rule change that will allow democracy-protecting legislation to come to a vote.

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McCarthy Refuses to Testify About Trump’s Confession Prime Badge

Kevin McCarthy has now refused to appear voluntarily before the select committee investigating the January 6th insurrection. What’s important about this is that McCarthy is likely one of the few people with direct knowledge of Trump’s efforts to assist the insurrectionists as they were ransacking the Capitol building. According to numerous published reports, the ultimate source of which is almost certainly McCarthy himself, Trump told McCarthy in real time that he was barring the US military from stopping the insurrection in order to give his violent supporters time to ransack the Capitol and bring the official vote tabulation to a halt.

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Where Things Stand: Greene Tiptoes Up To The Line Of Arguing That Guns Should Be Used Against Dems
This is your TPM evening briefing.

It may be the 21st century, but the QAnon congresswoman is urging folks to take up arms against their sea of troubles.

During a podcast interview with none other than the bombastic former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) loudly nodded at the “Second Amendment” as a solution to the far-right’s problems — in this case the “tyrannical government,” aka (for her) Democrats. Greene suggested Democratic lawmakers are currently doing exactly what the founders feared when James Madison proposed the inclusion of Second Amendment rights in the Constitution.

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The Administration’s Flawed COVID Messaging

One area of policy where I hoped the new Biden administration would excel was in its handling of the pandemic, but it has not done so. It wasn’t prepared for either the Delta or Omicron variants; it failed initially to acknowledge waning vaccine immunity and delayed access to boosters; it still doesn’t have an accurate count nationally of infections; and its public messaging on masks, tests, and vaccines has been confusing and sometimes misleading. That was epitomized by a statement from acting Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Janet L. Woodcock in the Senate hearings yesterday.

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Where Things Stand: ‘Grim Reaper’ Won’t Retire, Yet
This is your TPM evening briefing.

Or so he says.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters today that he plans to run for majority leader again after the midterms, on the assumption that Republicans will be able to take back the upper chamber in November.

“I’m going to be running again for leader later this year,” he said, putting to rest rumors of his possible retirement, at least for the time being.

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Readers on Schools #7 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader JS

I’m sure you get a lot of people emailing you who don’t know what they’re talking about. I’m sure I have written on topics I’m in the Dunning-Krueger zone on, and many where I seem that way. I’m a strange guy. Right now, I’m a high school teacher. I am also a lawyer. I now only practice law for family and as a guardsman for the military. I was also involved in politics, have been elected to office, and was on California’s Democratic Central Committee.

I made the change because teaching was the first job I had that I really liked. I avoided it because everyone in my family is or was also an educator. I also have degrees in stuff unrelated to what I teach now, which is Calculus and Spanish, another weird combo. I’ve done peer-reviewed, published research on language acquisition. Most of this comes up if you Google me.

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Readers on Schools #6 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader DT

I am also an educator, teaching at a R1 university as a research active professor. Last year at this time, I was one of a select group told that I was teaching in person whether I liked it or not (I didn’t) and managed to make it to the other end of that experience intact thanks to sparse attendance and an enormous room to teach in. I have very complicated feelings about that experience: it left me with a very big grudge against the admin, but I also realized that in-person education is truly best for the students. That being said, CN‘s letter struck a couple of nerves that I have to let loose on:

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Readers on Schools #5 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader TH

I have a take on this from a slightly different POV. My wife & I have 2 young children in daycare. A week ago, the older one was found to be exposed to COVID by his teacher, who took a regular and precautionary at-home test that night (she was/is asymptomatic). We live in PA (Philly burbs), and per the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), his whole classroom had to be shut down and everyone quarantined for 5 days. Yesterday (Sunday), I gave him a precautionary (he’s asymptomatic) home test which came back positive. We informed his daycare, who thanked us for the extra step, and reiterated new guidelines for return to daycare from OCDEL – specifically, he needs to have a negative test along with a signature from a Dr or CNP certifying it. We call his healthcare provider today to set up what will hopefully be a negative test later this week. Welp, they don’t do that (and this is the preeminent childrens’ healthcare provider in the region). They just say to quarantine for 10 days from symptoms or positive test. Why 10 days when OCDEL is 5 days? Reasons.

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Where Things Stand: It’s Long-Time Giuliani Bud Bernie Kerik’s Turn Before The Jan 6 Committee
This is your TPM evening briefing.

Longtime Rudy Giuliani ally Bernie Kerik plans to show up for a deposition in front of the Jan. 6 select committee this week. But he might not answer every question that is asked of him.

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Readers on Schools #4 Prime Badge

TPM Reader GE‘s emails started with a headline “pandemic of the working class” and then referenced a tweet that referenced the same argument …

I am a 69 year old physician who my hospital “aged” me out of in-patient care at beginning of pandemic. I still have frightening outpatient exposures, and I saw/see my younger colleagues recover after they get sick, despite vaccines.  I also have 4 children, 2 of whom are in-classroom teachers, and grandchildren attending in-person classes.   There is a huge element of unfairness in the workforce today, and I foresee a future bitterness that could explode.

I had a back and forth with GE over this to try to frame the point. What we’re describing here isn’t ‘working class’ precisely, a phrase usually defined in occupational and educational terms while also signifying a set of cultural values. After all, a physician is definitionally not ‘working class’. What we’re describing here is a stark divide between people who can relocate their work and in most cases work from home and those who – in the nature of the work – cannot. In that sense, physicians and really all health care workers, educators and various caregiving and mission-driven jobs fall on the ‘in person’ side of this divide – even though some are highly educated and highly paid. However you define it or what labels you use it is a stark divide in terms of how people have experienced the pandemic, what life or political lessons they’ve drawn from it and how those views impact the future.

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Readers on Schools #3 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader CN

I wanted to respond to your recent email from a reader LF, published in your editorial piece “Warzone Workplace.”

First, some background on myself – I taught third grade during the pandemic at a private school in the SF Bay Area. When the pandemic hit in March of 2020, like public schools across the state, we immediately were mandated to stop meeting in-person. Unlike California’s public schools, however, our administration pursued an aggressive policy of returning to in-person teaching as soon as we were allowed to do so, and we were back meeting in person in September of 2020, six weeks into the new school year, for those who were comfortable with it, while those who were not attended an online program we also offered. I and the other instructors asked to teach in person did our best, and at the end of the 2020-2021 school year our campus was recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School.

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Readers on Schools #2 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader EA

I’m sure you’re getting a lot of good responses. I think that mostly the problem here is Twitter and when you actually talk to most people you get a lot more nuance in the conversation on both sides.

Big Amen to your writer. I think he/she articulates a completely just and fair position. There’s nothing really to disagree with.

The “other side” of this debate is me – I am a parent of two young kids and I desperately need them to be in school. Even if I were to concede that remote and in-person education are equivalent developmentally (I wouldn’t concede that – they are not), there’s still the matter of how the hell am I supposed to do my job?

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Readers on Schools #1 Prime Badge

From TPM Reader AN (not their real initials) …

I’m a public school educator in Wisconsin and I offer this perspective:

When we shut down in March of 2020, we fundentally broke what it means to go to school in this country. All the years building and refining and trying new things . . . broken. We attempted to pivot, but the results were uneven at best and everyone was sacred and we didn’t know what else to do.  We did what we thought was best under terrifying circumstances.

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A Report from the Schools Prime Badge

Yesterday we discussed the ‘schools must never close’ diehards who dominate much of the current COVID policy debate. I wanted to give you an update on the situation in the New York City public schools because I think it illustrates some Omicron-specific dynamics which haven’t really become part of that discussion. I don’t know precisely how far New York City and DC and other parts of the Northeast are ahead of the rest of the country right now. Maybe it’s like this everywhere. If not, likely it soon will be. But I know it’s like this here and in much of the Northeast. I’m going to reference some personal experiences but only to illustrate things I know are widespread if not universal throughout the city and region.

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Warzone Workplace Prime Badge

A follow-up from TPM Reader LF

In your recent post about Covid and school closures, I think you get something very right when you talk about the PhD and elite scolds demanding schools remain open no-matter-what. There is one element in all of this that I think you do not fully appreciate—the anger and legitimate fear that teachers have been living with for the entirety of the pandemic.

I am a college teacher, my partner teaches high school, my friends teach at every level of the educational system. During the pandemic, many have retired early or quit, many of those who have stayed have only done so because they are too young to retire and too old to do something else. Just to be clear, the kids are alright. Almost all teachers love teaching–given how shitty the job is, why else would we do it?

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Where Things Stand: Some News Amid The Commemorations And Noise
This is your TPM evening briefing.

A decent chunk of what would’ve been the right’s blusteringly distasteful counter-programming to Congress’ introspective coup-versary commemorations today were canceled last minute.

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Who Are the Ivy League Glossy Mag Freedom Fighters Lecturing You About Schools? Prime Badge
The conventional wisdom about liberal influencers clamoring for school closures is all wrong.
Students and parents wait outside Perry Elementary School on the first day of school. At Perry Elementary School in Shoemakersville, PA Thursday morning August 27, 2020 for the first day of in person school of the school year. The Hamburg School District, which Perry Elementary is part of, is the only school district in Berks County that is opening 5 days a week for in person instruction during the coronavirus / COVID-19 outbreak.

There’s a deep conventional wisdom out there which has it that liberal Twitter and the broader Blue State commentariat is a hotbed of demands for school closures. The reality is almost diametrically opposed to this. From mid-2020 the country’s most esteemed and prestigious liberal/cosmopolitan publications, electronic broadcasts and university programs have been dominated by voices of highly educated, affluent and mostly white people demanding schools never close, even for brief periods, and almost always in the name of students from minority and/or marginalized communities.

But there is an upside down character to the image these demands create. In fact, during the pre-vaccine period, when significant sections of the country remained in remote leaning, it was precisely these communities which were most resistant to going back to in-person education. The blunt reality is that the staunchest voices against school closures of any sort for any duration are people with PhDs working from home. That’s just the fact.

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Where Things Stand: J.D. Vance’s ‘Last Straw’ Was As Shallow As Any Trump Grievance
This is your TPM evening briefing.

J.D. Vance’s initially-praised memoir, “Hillbilly Elegy,” was celebrated as a pioneering work when it was first published in 2016. Pundits and conservative intellectuals lionized Vance for his supposed ability to explain a certain type of blue-collar Republican to confused Ivy Leaguers and “establishment” elites who had never met one.

But the once anti-Trump venture capitalist-turned-social commentator has since turned over yet another new leaf, and can be found embracing some of the most bombastic styles of Trumpism as he seeks to elevate his primary race for a Senate seat in Ohio’s crowded primary. As Washington Post writer Simon van Zuylen-Wood outlines in this new in-depth profile on Vance, the author’s descent into MAGAland was complex, and years in the making.

But, per WaPo, the “last straw” that finally thrust Vance into the raging faux-populist arms of Trumpism was about as shallow as some of the former president’s pettiest grievances: the mainstream masses made fun of him.

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Look What We Got By Not ‘Amplifying’ Trump Prime Badge

Follow-on overnight reporting suggests that ex-President Trump canceled his January 6th celebration event because top lackeys and toadies lobbied him hard against it and he gave way. I doubt it was any fear of legal jeopardy – it’s hard to say Trump and his top supporters have ever pursued a legal strategy per se. They were just smart enough to see that the spectacle of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago celebration and cheering for freedom and vindication for the insurrectionists wouldn’t be helpful. It would put members of Congress in an awkward position. But the biggest insight was from TPM alum Benjy Sarlin, now of NBC News. As he put it, “I don’t think people quite get how far out his daily comments are already mainly because outlets are reluctant to publicize them.”

This is right on the mark. Booted off social media and mostly ignored in the mainstream press, Trump’s comments and positions have radicalized greatly over the course of 2021. In a sense it’s hard to say he’s “radicalized” in his increasingly explicit support for January 6th when after all, he led it in the first place. But Benjy’s right: most people don’t get how wild his regular comments are. His biggest supporters on Fox and Capitol Hill would prefer to keep it that way. Yes, Trump is still covered in the political news media. But you don’t generally hear directly what he’s saying.

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Morning Omicroning Prime Badge
COVID testing

Times columnist Zeynep Tufekci has a good column this morning running through a number of key Omicron related pandemic issues, especially the continuing poor messaging and guidance on rapid tests and masks. This is more detail and commentary on issues we’ve discussed – how do you know which mask is best to use, shouldn’t we be using rapid antigen tests to tailor shorter isolation periods, how is it that we’re still facing widespread test shortages two years into this?

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Where Things Stand: Hate When One Coup Gets In The Way Of My Other Coup
This is your TPM evening briefing.

Thanks to Peter Navarro’s new memoir, we now have a first-person account of just how President Trump and his closest friends planned to do a coup on Jan. 6.

But it’s not, Navarro claims, the one we saw violently come into fruition.

TPM detailed some of the latest reports on Navarro’s new book as well as recent interviews with the former White House trade adviser here. But a reasonable conclusion to draw about the purpose of Navarro’s latest press tour is a relatively simple one: He’s attempting to signal that Trump and his team couldn’t possibly be blamed for the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection because that attack actually scuttled their plans for a different, friendlier coup.

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Are We Back to This? Prime Badge

This again? After months of categorically ruling out any changes to the Senate legislative filibuster, Manchin is now saying any changes to the filibuster would be a “heavy lift” and that his “absolute preference” is to get Republican buy-in for making changes that would prevent Republicans from preventing any Democratic legislation other than budget reconciliation bills from coming to a vote. (Got that?) This comes after Democrats seem back to negotiating over the President’s Bill Build Back better bill which died back in December but is now back as some kind of zombie legislative discussion with Joe Manchin. The only thing that makes me think this might be kind of something real is that Mitch McConnell thought it was necessary to roundly denounce the idea today.

So is this real? Are we back to this?

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The Stories Are Endless

Just last month GOP activist and Orange County Deputy DA Kelly Ernby was speaking at an anti-vaccine rally put on by local Turning Point USA chapters in Irvine. “There’s nothing that matters more than our freedoms right now,” she told the small but enthusiastic crowd. “Our government for the people and by the people is not going to exist without action of the people.” In 2020 Ernby had run unsuccessfully for a state Assembly seat as a Republican.

This week Ernby died of COVID-19 at age 46.

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More on the CDC Prime Badge

I wanted to share this note from TPM Reader CD (not their real initials). The person’s background will become clear through the note itself. I do not and am not in a position to endorse the viewpoint. But this is one of those readers backgrounders I pass along not because I’m in a position to vouch for all the viewpoints but because they are knowledge and providing an informed personal perspective that helped me deepen my understanding of an important issue – in this case the evolution of the CDC in recent decades.

It’s hardly the main point of it. But I was intrigued CD‘s point that the “CDC, unlike FDA, operates through soft power—making clinical recommendations and setting up surveillance and case definition systems that often are adopted by professional orgs, international bodies, other federal agencies etc.” This wouldn’t be a new point to people like CD who come out of this world. And it’s actually an implicit in most of the reporting on the pandemic over the last two years. But I hadn’t quite understood this point before or had it explained to me in that way. This must be in large part due to the firmer statutory footing of the FDA which goes back to the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. The CDC has a more evolutionary or agglomerative history, as we noted here.

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Where Things Stand: Rand Paul Has A New Years Resolution, Too
This is your TPM evening briefing.

It probably doesn’t look like yours, though.

Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) home state was devastated by natural disaster in the waning days of 2021. But his primary focus heading into the New Year is not on federal disaster relief or combatting climate change (he’s never really believed in that hoax to begin with), but rather the most important news of the hour: dismantling Big Tech’s Big Bias against conservatives.

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Jan. 6 One Year Out Prime Badge
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: President Donald Trump is seen on a screen as his supporters cheer during a rally on the National Mall on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Donald Trump

PBS Newshour and Marist have a poll out headlined as “Americans don’t agree on what to call Jan. 6 attack.” Unsurprisingly the actual details of the poll tell a somewhat different story, which might be summarized as “Republicans now mostly support the Jan. 6 insurrection.” The data show a less wishy washy verdict. About half the public, overwhelmingly Democrats and left-leaning independents, call it an insurrection while 25% says it was 1st Amendment-protected protest. The critical segment in the middle, 19% of respondents, agrees that “it was an unfortunate event, but in the past.” I’d call this the “not great but let’s not rock the boat” group.

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