Abbreviated pundit roundup: Recall effort in California, the deadly cost of disinformation, and more

We begin today”;s roundup with Dan Morain, former editorial page editor of the Sacramento Bee, and his piece on today”;s recall attempt in California:

Republican fantasies of evicting Gavin Newsom from the California governor”;s office are about to be dashed. Despite some recent polls indicating potential trouble for Newsom, actual turnout in early voting –; as well as patterns in candidate fundraising –; suggest that he is all but certain to survive the Republican-backed recall effort. […]

This should prompt soul-searching among California”;s Republicans, whose failure would make their nemesis almost untouchable in his 2022 reelection campaign, and would have needlessly tarnished some of their own most promising leaders for naught.

It”;s no surprise that Republicans are already crying fraud. After all, their new rule is if a Democrat may win, it must be fraud. From Damon Linker at The Week:

In what must be the least surprising (but nonetheless demoralizing) story of the week, The New York Times reports that Republicans in California have begun to make accusations of voter fraud ahead of Tuesday’s gubernatorial recall election. The story is unsurprising because all political observers are by now well aware that, thanks to the lies of Donald Trump and the self-serving gullibility of millions of Republican voters, the GOP has actively embraced the position that American elections are systematically and unfairly rigged against them.

This is hands down the most dangerous political development in recent American history –; a civic time bomb placed smack dab at the center of American democracy.

Speaking of elections, Elie Mystal at The Nation warns of another undemocratic move in Texas:

While most eyes were focused on Texas”;s illegal abortion ban, the Lone Star State continued its assault on the Constitution last week, when Governor Greg Abbott signed into law SB1–;Texas”;s voter suppression bill. The new law makes it harder to obtain mail-in ballots, prohibits drop boxes to turn in those ballots, limits early voting times, and eliminates drive-through voting.

At The New York Times, Emma Pierson, Jaline Gerardin and Nathaniel Lash crunch the numbers and find that anti-vaccination campaigns have cost an excess of at least 16,00 deaths in the July/August wave alone:

We modeled each state separately and modeled people ages 18 to 64 and people 65 and up separately, since they have very different mortality rates and vaccination rates. Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data does not allow for more granular age modeling. The results are striking: During the latest coronavirus wave, in July and August, at least 16,000 deaths could have been prevented if all states had vaccination rates as high as the state with the highest vaccination rate. The number of lives that could have been saved will grow unless vaccination rates in lagging states improve.

On the issue of President Biden”;s vaccine or test mandate, John Cassidy at The New Yorker explains why such a framework is necessary for economic recovery:

In March of last year, when the emergence of the covid-19 pandemic had knocked the American economy into an unprecedented free fall, Austan Goolsbee, an economist at the University of Chicago who served as chair of the Obama White House Council of Economic Advisers, pointed out what he called the first rule of virus economics: “;slowing the virus is the way to fix the economy.”; At the time, Donald Trump and other Republicans were criticizing the lockdowns that New York, California, and other Democratic-run states had introduced, citing their punishing impact on the economy. To test this claim, Goolsbee and a colleague examined activity in roughly 2.25 million businesses across the country, comparing consumer behavior across cities to different lockdown responses.

They found that the main force driving people”;s economic behavior wasn”;t the lockdown but the spread of the coronavirus. Wherever death rates increased, people cut back their visits to businesses at pretty much the same rate–;regardless of whether there was a local lockdown order in place. For example, visits to beauty salons in Bettendorf, Iowa, where there was no lockdown restriction, fell by about the same amount as visits to beauty salons across the border in Illinois, where there was a statewide stay-at-home order. “;It really is not about the lockdown order, it”;s about people getting scared,”; Goolsbee explained at a conference last December. “;So, what that tells us now is that if the virus starts really spreading again, it could seriously undermine consumer activity.”;

On a final note, speaking of the economy, Catherine Rampell explains how Democrats are now the pro-growth party:

Thanks to President Biden”;s vaccine mandate for employers –; and the GOP”;s response –; Democrats have taken over the mantle of the pro-business, pro-economy, pro-growth party.

It is Democrats, after all, who have a plan to get the economy humming again, by controlling the coronavirus and thereby making it safe for Americans to work, shop, attend school and otherwise resume their pre-pandemic economic lives.

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