Governor comes out of hiding to suggest Tennesseans think about getting vaccinated to ‘manage’ the ‘health situation’

Republican Governor Bill Lee on Thursday made his first public appearance in two weeks, and suggested Tennessee residents think about getting vaccinated – but insisted it's not the government's role to take any steps beyond providing information and vaccines.

Tennessee is the fifth-worst state in the nation for adults getting their first vaccine dose, and the ninth-worst for being fully-vaccinated. Less than half of Tennesseans have been fully inoculated.

"I think that we want to continue to encourage Tennesseans to get the vaccine," Governor Lee said Thursday, not asking or urging residents to get vaccinated, and not explaining the deadly chance residents are taking by choosing to not be vaccinated.

"It's the best tool be have to manage the COVID situation – the health situation that we have," he said, seemingly correcting himself mid-sentience to avoid saying coronavirus or pandemic.

"We'll continue to provide access, we'll continue to make it available," he said of the coronavirus vaccine, insisting that is the extent of "the government's role."

"The government's role is to provide information, to provide education, to provide access, to provide the vaccine," he continued, unable to think of any other responsibilities he has as the head of the state.

"It's not to mandate, to require, it's not to blame, to shame those who choose not to. It is to create an environment where people can make a personal decision about the vaccine."

WSMV adds that Gov. Lee "also addressed the rapidly spreading Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus and said the state is monitoring the situation."

Lee has been noticeably absent after his politically-ambitious Health Dept. Commissioner fired the state's top official in charge of vaccines, for merely releasing a memo confirming that state law allows minors who wish to get the vaccine to be inoculated without parental notification or consent.

Lee says he supports Dr. Lisa Piercey's decision to fire Dr. Michelle Fiscus, the medical director for vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization programs.


Sarah Huckabee Sanders promises she ‘will not’ take basic steps to fight COVID if elected

GOP candidate for Arkansas governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Friday offered a list of promises of what she would not do to help end the coronavirus pandemic if elected. She did criticize President Joe Biden, saying he should praise his predecessor for "helping get this vaccine created safely, quickly and effectively." Sanders, who served as President Donald Trump's White House press secretary, told Fox News, "If I'm elected governor here in Arkansas, we will not have mask mandates, we will not have mandates on the vaccine, we will not shut down churches and schools and other large gatherings because we believe in personal freedom and responsibility. It's one of the key cornerstones frankly of our country." She did not offer any examples of what she would do to combat the deadly virus that is once again spiking across the country. Arkansas is the country's eighth-worst state in getting its population vaccinated. Just 44.7% of adults 18 and over have been fully inoculated. Sanders then questioned President Biden's and Vice President Kamala Harris' level of seriousness "about helping save lives through the vaccine," insisting "they should admit they were wrong when they cast doubt on Operation Warp Speed at the very beginning, and give President Trump and his administration the credit they are due for helping get this vaccine created safely, quickly and effectively, and into the hands of Americans." Many Americans believed President Trump would force the FDA to certify any vaccine to push it out too quickly in a desperate attempt to get re-elected. He repeatedly claimed the vaccine was coming far sooner than it did, and his own Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, in September claimed the coronavirus vaccine would be available by the end of that month. "I think that would make a huge difference," Sanders claimed, "and I think they should really take some responsibility and step up and fix the mistake that they made by casting so much doubt at the very beginning of this process." She also appeared to blame, falsely, the Biden administration for "politicization" of the vaccine.

Trump’s ‘Save America’ PAC raised $75 million this year as he lies about the election – cash pays for his travel: report

Donald Trump, the erroneously embittered one term former U.S. president has raised $75 million this year through his "Save America" leadership PAC by lying about the 2020 election, an election he and his supporters, surrogates, and allies falsely claim was "stolen." The funds, collected the PAC, can be spent in a wide variety of ways, including to pay for the flailing Arizona recount, or similar efforts in other states, but according to The Washington Post Trump's PAC has not spent a dime on those efforts.

"Instead, the Save America leadership PAC — which has few limits on how it can spend its money — has paid for some of the former president's travel, legal costs and staff, along with other expenses, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of the anonymity to describe the group's inner workings. The PAC has held onto much of its cash," The Post reports.

"Even as he assiduously tracks attempts by his allies to cast doubt on the integrity of last year's election, Trump has been uninterested in personally bankrolling the efforts, relying on an array of other entities and supporters to fund the endeavors, they said."

Commenting on the report, MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow mocked the former president on Twitter, saying, "So he's, like, living off the STOP THE STEAL money?"

‘How badly we were spun’: Senate Dems blast ‘misleading’ FBI after learning how it handled Kavanaugh probe

Seven top Democratic Senators are criticizing the FBI and Director Chris Wray after recently learning how the Bureau handled its 2018 special investigation of Brett Kavanaugh, then President Donald Trump's nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) says in a statement, "the FBI gathered over 4,500 tips in relation to the investigation without any apparent further action by FBI investigators. The Bureau also confirmed that tips from the tip line were instead provided to the Trump White House Counsel's office, where their fate is unknown."

Kavanaugh's nomination was almost derailed after he was accused of sexual assault by Christine Blasey Ford during their high school years. Two other women have also accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. The 2018 FBI investigation was prompted by Ford's accusations.

According to Senator Whitehouse, the FBI declined to say if it actually investigated any of the 4500 tips it received on Kavanaugh. It also never opened a criminal investigation because the inquiry was a background check, The New York Times adds.

"The FBI apparently pursued none of these tips," Whitehouse says in his Thursday press release. "Instead, by the FBI's own account, it merely 'provided all relevant tips' to Trump's Office of White House Counsel, the very office that had constrained and directed the limited investigation."

Whitehouse blasted Wray and the FBI:

"It confirms my suspicions that the 'tip line' was not real and that FBI tip line procedures were not followed. There are FBI tip line procedures. They were not followed," Whitehouse added on Twitter.

"So when Wray said they followed procedures, he meant the 'procedure' of doing whatever Trump White House Counsel told them to do. That's misleading as hell," Whitehouse said.

"I charged that the “tip line" was really a tip dump, with all the tips going straight into the dumpster without investigation. In fact it was a tip dump where all the tips went straight to White House Counsel without investigation. Same difference."

The Democrats sent the letter to Director Wray on Wednesday demanding more answers. The FBI sent its letter June 30, prompting today's remarks.

They are: Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chris Coons (D-DE), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Cory Booker (D-NJ).

Madison Cawthorn attacks Dr. Fauci: ‘We want to prosecute this guy to the full ability of the law’

U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) is attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci, saying House Republicans will "prosecute" the esteemed immunologist and director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), as a "pawn of the Chinese Communist Party" and for lying to Congress.

There is no evidence either of those claims are true.

Speaking to former Trump attorney Jenna Ellis, the host of "Just the Truth" on the Real America's Voice website, Cawthorn falsely claimed Dr. Fauci has "directly lied to Congress," echoing a claim made by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) on Wednesday. Ellis, who claims to be a "constitutional law attorney," did not mention to Cawthorn that the House of Representatives does not have the power to criminally prosecute.

"I'll tell you when we take the majority back in 2022, I'll make sure consequences are doled out," Cawthorn promised. "But we want to prosecute this guy to the full ability of the law because I'll tell you to lie to the American people just to get your name in the news just to see your face on the cover of books just to get fame or fortune, I'll tell you, Dr. Anthony Fauci does not deserve either fame or fortune."

On Wednesday Cawthorn told Newsmax, “I think we should indict Jill Biden."


Pelosi swats away McCarthy's attack by saying 'you mistake me for somebody who would care' – internet cheers

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and his fellow House Republicans have been attacking the Democrats – and especially Speaker Nancy Pelosi – all afternoon, after she refused to allow two of his nominees onto the Special Select Committee on the January 6 Attacks.

At one point Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), one of those booted from the committee, claimed Democrats were to blame for the 1/6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

McCarthy is now accusing Speaker Pelosi of "playing politics," according to Punchbowl News' Jake Sherman. McCarthy, within minutes of Pelosi announcing the two Republicans could not join the Committee, pulled all his nominees.

The Speaker was asked about McCarthy's "playing politics" attack.

"Perhaps you mistake me for somebody who would care about that." Pelosi told PBS Newshour's Lisa Desjardins.

Many on social media applauded Pelosi's response, with some showing it reminded them of when she smacked down President Donald Trump.

Madison Cawthorn: 'I think we should indict Jill Biden'

U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) on Wednesday attacked President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, a college English professor and former school teacher, calling for the latter to be "indicted."

"I think we should indict Jill Biden," said Cawthorn, who keeps company with the QAnon and sedition camps of the House GOP.

"I'm not saying indict in terms of criminal. But I'm saying that we should call her out for being so cruel to her husband."

Cawthorn, on the far right media outlet Newsmax, mocked President Biden by saying "I don't think he could find his way to Congress," an attack on the Commander in Chief's age and mental acuity. The right regularly and falsely claims Biden is not cognizant of his actions and is incapable of basic thought, claims reinforced on the right through manipulated video.

"The man is clearly mentally unstable," said the freshman congressman who first gained notoriety when he was still a candidate after bragging that visiting Adolf Hitler's summer home had been on his "bucket list for awhile" and "did not disappoint."

The North Carolina Republican who not only is not a gerontologist, neurologist, or medical doctor, went on to claim Biden "is having some form of degradation of his mind."

"They are putting him up there to be assaulted by the greatest debater the country has to go against him," he added. It was not clear who he was referring to.

"As much as I want to question Joe Biden I want to question who's really calling the shots right now," he continued down his conspiracy theory-formed claim. "I don't think Congress or the American people truly know who's behind the scenes pulling the strings."


Jim Jordan blames Democrats for 1/6 insurrection after Pelosi boots him from investigation: They 'normalized anarchy'

U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) attacked nearly half of American adults Wednesday, falsely claiming Democrats "normalized anarchy," after Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to allow him on the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack.

Jordan suggested because Democrats supported the Black Lives Matter protests against police killing of unarmed Black people, Trump supporters had every right to break federal laws, damage federal property, attempt to overturn an election, and threaten the lives of duly-elected House and Senate representatives, and the vice president of the United States.

Jordan insisted the "fundamental question" the January 6 Select Committee should investigate is not who lied to the American people, who incited the insurrection, and the attempted coup – but "why wasn't there a proper, proper security presence at the capitol that day."

That is one of many questions that must be answered, but Jordan claims to already have the answer, which is straight out of far right wing extremist social media posts.

"My answer is because what happened all last year," Jordan said Wednesday at a press conference. "The Democrats normalized anarchy. They normalized rioting and looting and rioters and looters attacks on law enforcement personnel, when rioters and looters destroyed small businesses, what did Democrats did? They went out and raised money to bail them out of jail and they continued to talk about defunding the police," Jordan said.


White Alabama Republican calls Black city council colleague ‘N’ word and refuses to apologize or resign

Tarrant, Alabama Republican city councilman Tommy Bryant is under fire after standing up during Monday night's meeting and asking, “Do we have a house n***er in here? Do we? Do we? Would she please stand up?"

Bryant was referring to fellow city council member Veronica Freeman, and claims he was just repeating what Tarrant Mayor Wayman Newton, the city's first Black mayor, had called her, reports.

Alabama Democratic Party executive director Wade Perry is calling Bryant “a racist unfit to serve," and demanding he resign.

“Alabama still has a long way to go when it comes to race, but cozying up to the KKK and using the N word should make you unfit to serve," Perry said in a statement. “These racists belong in the history books with Bull Connor and George Wallace, not on the taxpayer's payroll."

Even the Alabama Republican Party's Chairman, John Wahl, denounced Bryant's racist remarks, calling them "completely unacceptable in any setting."

“The Alabama Republican Party is deeply troubled by the racially charged outburst and disrespect shown by Councilman Tommy Bryant. Such language is completely unacceptable in any setting, and even more concerning coming from an elected official."

Bama Politics adds that "Bryant has been defiant since his outburst, refusing to resign and saying that he now plans to run for Mayor instead."

New Mexico Catholic Diocese criticizes Democratic lawmaker for ‘politicizing’ its refusal to allow him communion

A New Mexico diocese is criticizing a Democratic lawmaker after it banned him from accepting Holy Communion. The Diocese of Las Cruces told state Sen. Joe Cervantes to not present himself for Communion after he voted for a bill that repealed the state's outdated 1969 law banning abortion. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled abortion is a civil right in 1973.

On Saturday Senator Cervantes posted this tweet:

On Monday a church spokesperson told the Catholic News Agency that it is “unfortunate that a pastoral issue with a member of the local Church be publicized."

“In terms of the diocese, we regret the decision of Sen. Cervantes to politicize this issue," Christopher Velasquez, director of communications for the Diocese of Las Cruces added.

The National Catholic Register reports Velasquez says "that both Senator Cervantes' pastor and local ordinary tried to contact him several times previously regarding his support for an abortion bill, warning him he should not receive Communion. 'It did not happen on the spur of the moment,' Velasquez said of the denial of Communion."

The Vatican earlier this year told the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to not politicize or "weaponize" communion or other sacraments.

“The concern in the Vatican," Antonio Spadaro, a Jesuit priest and close ally of Pope Francis told The New York Times, “is not to use access to the Eucharist as a political weapon."

Fox News host goes on angry rant ‘undermining’ vaccines – and mocking Dems to do it

While a few Fox News hosts on Monday sprinkled bits of begrudging encouragement or support for Americans to get vaccinated, one Fox News host Tuesday morning was fully on board with attacking the COVID-19 vaccine.

"What is this to also say the vaccine is not nearly as effective against this delta variant, as they say if you look at what's happening in Britain, they say 70% of the new cases are fully vaccinated people with the Pfizer vaccine, nobody talks about that," host Brian Kilmeade said angrily on "Fox & Friends."

Kilmeade is spreading false information.

The British Government on Monday announced that 60% of coronavirus patients requiring hospitalization were not vaccinated. NCRM could find nothing to support Kilmeade's claim that "70% of the new cases are fully vaccinated people with the Pfizer vaccine," which may be why "nobody talks about that."

It is true that as greater numbers of people get vaccinated more vaccinated people will contract the coronavirus, as Britain's chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance said Monday.

"As a higher proportion of the population is double vaccinated, it's inevitable that those 10% of that very large number remain at risk and will therefore be amongst the people who both catch the infection and end up in hospital."

In the UK 68% of all adults are fully vaccinated, and 88% have had one shot.

Kilmeade was using the news that several Texas Democrats who traveled to D.C. subsequently tested positive for coronavirus. He mocked them for being on "Beta O'Rourke's private jet that his foundation financed," and implied that because they tested positive the vaccines don't work, which is false, and don't work as well against the highly-contagious delta variant, which is even more reason to get vaccinated.

On Monday Kilmeade insisted no one had any right to insist people get vaccinated and said it is not the job of the federal government to protect Americans, which is also false.

Media Matters' Director of Media Intelligence Lis Power posted this video of Kilmeade from Tuesday morning:

‘Maybe you have that information to provide?’: Jen Psaki expertly dismantles reporter’s pro-Trump anti-vaxx claim

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Monday politely explained to a reporter insisting anti-vaxx Trump voters are refusing to get inoculated because the former president allegedly did not get enough "credit" for the vaccine.

The reporter wanted to know if the White House would "consider highlighting or acknowledging, in a greater way," Trump's "role in creating the vaccines," as a means "to assure the rural voters who still support President Trump and are hesitant to get the vaccine."

Psaki was not buying the reporter's claims, which did not appear to be based on any facts.

"Do you have data to suggest that that's the issue that's preventing people from getting vaccinated?" she calmly asked.

The reporter, refusing to let go of a losing argument, offered that, "the communities that have the lowest vaccination rates did seem to vote for President Trump."

Again, Psaki was unconvinced, and decided to give a lesson in basic logic.

"Okay, but I what I'm asking you is if information related to whether or not the former president got credit is leading people not to get vaccinated, or is it information like 'microchips in vaccines,' and it causing fertility issues, causing health issues, because you're drawing a few conclusions there that I haven't seen in data but maybe you have that information to provide?"

"I think it's just it's an issue," the reporter continued. "I mean I think it's a common sense that these are people who supported him. These are people who are hesitant to get vaccinated. I don't think it takes a lot to draw the conclusion."

It actually does, and Psaki was not going to go along with the demand that the Biden administration hand Trump unearned credit for developing the vaccine.

"Our objective is to ensure all Americans will get vaccinated, that would be of course, we love that, Democrats, Republicans, independents, It's not a political issue to us the virus does not look at people's party affiliation, we recognize that the President's going to govern for all people. What I'm conveying to you is you're jumping to a few conclusions that I don't think data backs up in terms of what the impacts are and what we're seeing is that misinformation, traveling in a range of means, whether it's social media platforms some forms of media, some elected officials, is having the biggest factor as it relates to individuals not getting vaccinated because people don't have access to accurate information, go ahead.


'#FreetheFentanyl': Internet asks if GOP lawmaker 'openly rooting' for illegal drugs is 'working for the cartels'

U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), one of the pro-insurrection Republican members of Congress, is being mocked after expressing outrage that the Biden administration seized a huge amount of an incredibly deadly opioid, fentanyl.

Biggs, the chairman of an extremist group of House Republicans known as the Freedom Caucus, tweeted: "Under Joe Biden, enough fentanyl to kill 238 million Americans was seized at the southern border last month."

"Where's the outrage in the media?" he demanded to know.

It was unclear why the Republican from Arizona would expect the media to be outraged that the Biden administration did its job and prevented a massive amount of the drug which in 2018 was rated the top opioid overdose killer from entering the U.S.

Biggs is one of the 147 House Republicans who voted to overturn the free and fair election of President Joe Biden. Later, he voted against awarding three members of the Capitol Police Congressional Gold Medals. In January his two brothers in an op-ed called for his removal from Congress, saying he is “at least partially to blame" for the January 6 insurrection.

Noted political scientist and contributing editor for the Atlantic Norman Orenstein and CNN's John Harwood were among those weighing in:

As did many others:

Fox News host serves up vaccine meltdown: Not the federal government’s job to protect anybody

For weeks Fox News has been ramping up its anti-vaxx attacks on the U.S. public, even using medical doctors and its own hosts to spread false claims, disinformation, and doubt about the COVID-19 vaccines.

On Monday morning in a surprise move one Fox News host actually urged Americans to get vaccinated – to the anger of another, Brian Kilmeade.

"If you didn't get a vaccination, that's your choice," Kilmeade told "Fox & Friends" viewers Monday morning. "And if you did, like I did, and they did," he added, revealing the vaccination status of his two co-hosts, "and maybe you did, then you should not wear a mask."

"And if you didn't" get the coronavirus vaccine, "and you want to go cliff diving this weekend, you don't have to check with me. It's a little dangerous, but I'm not going to judge you."

"And if you go and put yourself in danger, if you feel that this is not something for you," Kilmeade said of getting vaccinated, "don't do it, but don't affect my life."

Kilmeade revealed to Fox News viewers that he has yet to understand that anyone who is not vaccinated poises a potential threat to not only those who have yet to get vaccinated, but to those who have – as breakthrough cases are being seen given that the vaccine is close to but not 100% effective. They also create a greater likelihood of new and potentially even more deadly coronavirus variants will develop.

"99% of the people who are dying from COVID are unvaccinated," co-host Steve Doocy interjected, as Kilmeade appeared to roll his eyes.

"That's their choice," Kilmeade, a 57-year old father of three insisted.

"They don't want to die," retorted Doocy, in a rare smack-down of his colleague. "So they are, the administration and the government are saying, we need the mask mandate to protect the unvaccinated."

Kilmeade, who has written five books on the Founders and American history, almost prayerfully clasped his hands together and declared falsely, "That's not their job, it's not their job to protect anybody!"

Three in 10 Trump voters believe the federal government is using the vaccine to microchip Americans

A new poll reveals a stunning political divide among Americans who are willing to protect themselves and their families against the deadly coronavirus versus those who believe conspiracy theories and lies propagated by malignant actors on Facebook, Fox News, or other far right wing media.

In the latest Economist/YouGov poll, a whopping three out of every ten Republicans, Trump voters, and conservatives say they believe the U.S. Government is microchipping Americans through COVID-19 vaccine inoculations. There is no basis for the absolutely false and delirious claim.

And while right wingers are not alone in this belief, only a small percentage of those identifying as Democrats, Biden voters, or liberals also claim it to be "definitely" or "probably" true.

Overall, 20% – that's one in five Americans – believe the microchip lie. Within the 20% who believe that lie, half (51%) say they "will not" be vaccinated.

42% of Republicans and 35% of independents say they "will not" get vaccinated. Just 10% of Democrats share that same position. Overall that's 29% of U.S. adults, which means herd immunity is a long way away.

The level of ignorance among those refusing to be vaccinated is tremendous.

"90% of those who reject vaccination fear possible side effects from the vaccine more than they fear COVID-19 itself," YouGov reports, noting that "only 16% of them believe most of the new cases of COVID-19 are occurring among the unvaccinated."

Reports across the country and from the federal government say 97% of COVID hospitalizations and 99% of COVID deaths are people who are unvaccinated.

"For the most part, they think the virus is spreading equally among the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, or they admit they just don't know. In contrast, more than three in four of the fully vaccinated know that new infections come mostly from those who have not yet received the vaccine."

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