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Ammon Bundy and other far-right extremists in Idaho vow to defy GOP governor’s social distancing order: report

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President Donald Trump now joins Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx (two key members of his coronavirus task force) in acknowledging that according to some projections, COVID-19 could ultimately kill 100,000-240,000 people in the U.S. alone — and that’s even with aggressive social distancing measures. Yet there are others on the far right who continue to absurdly claim that the dangers of COVID-19 are being exaggerated, from white evangelical Christian fundamentalists to patriot groups and militias. And the New York Times’ Mike Baker is reporting that in Idaho, some on the far right are vowing to openly defy social distancing rules ordered by a Republican governor.

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Last week near Boise, Baker reports, Ammon Bundy (who once led an armed takeover of a wildlife refuge in Oregon) spoke to “a few dozen people” and encouraged Idaho residents to defy the social distancing orders of Gov. Brad Little. Bundy told the crowd, “If it gets bad enough and our rights are infringed upon enough, we can physically stand in defense in whatever way we need to. But we hope we don’t have to get there.”

Baker adds that Bundy is not alone in encouraging Idaho residents to defy social distancing.

“The opposition is coming not only from people like Mr. Bundy, whose armed takeover of the Oregon refuge with dozens of other men and women in 2016 led to a 41-day standoff, but also, from some state lawmakers and a county sheriff who are calling the governor’s statewide stay-at-home order an infringement on individual liberties,” Baker reports.

Dr. Hans Hurt, who practices emergency medicine at Bonner General Health in Sandpoint, Idaho, warned that opponents of social distancing are not only endangering their own health, but also, the health of Idaho residents in general.

Hurt told the New York Times, “Even if it’s just a small group that wants to exercise their right to assemble, it puts the community at large at such a high risk.”

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Little, now 66, is by no means a liberal or a progressive: he’s a hard-right Republican in a deep red state who had been serving as lieutenant governor when, in 2018, he defeated Democrat Paulette Jordan in Idaho’s gubernatorial race by 21%. And yet, some Idaho Republicans are highly critical of his stay-at-home order — including Heather Scott and Tim Remington, both of whom are serving in the Idaho House of Representatives. Remington, a pastor, led a March 29 church service in defiance of Little. And in Bonner County, Idaho, Sheriff Daryl Wheeler declared in an open letter, “In the spirit of liberty and the Constitution, you can request those that are sick to stay home. But at the same time, you must release the rest of us to go on with our normal business.”

Hurt, however, maintains that the lives of health care workers and coronavirus patients in Idaho are being endangered by those who defy social distancing.

“If we stop doing what we’re doing, it could deteriorate so quickly — and our resources could be overwhelmed so quickly,” Hurt told the New York Times. “It’s scary for the people in this community and scary for us as hospital workers to be inundated with that.”

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‘Malignant’ GOP voters will keep backing ‘dumber and angrier’ candidates no matter what happens in November: Conservative

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Even if the Republican Party suffers crippling losses in November's election, that won't solve the problem of the "malignant Republican voter."

President Donald Trump's conservative opponents have been publicly debating whether the GOP deserves to survive, but The Week columnist Damon Linker says reducing the party to cinders and ash won't root out the party's rotten core.

"The head of the party is a corrupt and malicious imbecile," Linker wrote. "Republicans in Congress are a mix of Trump enablers, obstructionist-demagogues out to maximize the wealth of their donors, know-nothing conspiracist loons, and a few reformers experimenting with the most politically palatable way to blend nationalism with socialism. All of them are primarily motivated by the drive toward self-promotion within the right-wing media complex. And when we move further down the Republican hierarchy to the state and local level, things only get worse."

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2020 Election

‘Survival of organized human society’ at risk: New campaign rallies progressives to vote Trump out

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"As progressives and leftists, we are not going to minimize our disagreements with Joe Biden. But we're also clear-eyed about where things stand. We have a moral responsibility to defeat Trump."

With the goal of boosting progressive voter turnout in swing states that could play a decisive role in November, advocacy group RootsAction.org on Wednesday launched a grassroots campaign aiming to prevent another disastrous four years of President Donald Trump's "war on truth, on decency, on our planet, and on working people."

Organizers of the new "Vote Trump Out" initiative argue that while progressives have major substantive differences with Joe Biden on a number of key issues, "supporting the Democratic nominee in swing states is the only means we have to defeat Trump."

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Another government watchdog resigns — months after Trump fired the old one: report

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On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that the State Department inspector general is resigning — just four months after Trump brought him on to replace the one he previously fired.

"Stephen Akard’s departure, which will be effective Friday, was announced to staff by his deputy, Diana R. Shaw, who told colleagues she would temporarily become the acting inspector general in his stead," reported John Hudson.

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