The Donalds Dossier: Anti-vaxxer or not?

Rep. Byron Donalds in an Aug. 10 Fox News interview, denouncing vaccination distinctions. (Image: Fox News)

Aug. 15, 2021 by David Silverberg

With the COVID-19 Delta variant rampaging through Florida and with urgent efforts to get the vulnerable vaccinated to halt the spread of the virus, “influencers” of all stripes and positions have taken on new importance, especially public figures and elected officials.

Nowhere is this truer than in Southwest Florida and the 19th Congressional District along the Florida Gulf coast from Cape Coral to Marco Island. Here, vaccination has become an acutely intense and impassioned political act. A vocal, hardcore anti-vaccination (anti-vaxx) constituency is demonstrating against vaccinations and especially fears vaccine mandates.

In all this Rep. Byron Donalds (R-19-Fla.) plays a particularly prominent role. He represents nearly 700,000 people in Congress and has special access to a media megaphone. What he says and does can sway many people in this community.

So is he an anti-vaxxer or a pro-vaxxer? It’s a question that should be easy to answer.

He’s…

Well, let’s examine the context, the politics and the record first.

Summertime

Donalds started off the summer very strongly and looked set to cruise through to Labor Day on top of the world.

There’s no denying that his second-quarter fundraising numbers were impressive: His political campaign took in $1.1 million for his re-election effort, an astounding sum for the otherwise sleepy beachfront district.

His staunchly far-right political positions were playing well with his white, conservative base in the district and gaining him national prominence with conservative elites, aiding his fundraising. The money came in from all over the country. If properly managed, some of it could be used to donate to other candidates, building his support in Congress.

He played the conservative martyr when the Congressional Black Caucus ignored his application to join. He had a greatly exploitable issue in opposing critical race theory, on which he had particular credibility. His adamant denunciations resonated with his base and his donors on the eve of a new school year. He stoked paranoid fear of liberal radicalism, driving donations and advancing the Republican agenda.

He was getting plenty of softball publicity in the right-wing media sphere and when he was critically scrutinized by traditional, mainstream media, he could discredit or dismiss the results. He had some useful pictures showing himself being blessed by Donald Trump, presumably making Trumpers happy.

He was at last showing concern about the district’s water issues, sending out letters to the Army Corps of Engineers regarding Lake Okeechobee releases and participating or hosting conferences on water management solutions. It was gaining him local environmental credibility, or at the very least, publicity.

His longstanding anti-masking efforts seemed justified as COVID receded and the pandemic appeared to be over. He had staunchly supported Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R) opposition to masks, mandates or lockdowns and Florida was booming economically.

What was more, he could piggyback on DeSantis’ popularity. The governor’s polling numbers were very high among Republicans and might provide Donalds some nice coattails to ride in the next election.

Senate seats might also be opening up that Donalds could pursue. Then, who knows? Perhaps Donalds, currently age 42, could reach the presidency as the conservative Obama in 2028 or ’32 or ’36 or ’40—provided, of course, that the elections took place as scheduled.

A smooth and sunny summer stretched before him.

What could possibly go wrong?

From summer to bummer

Donalds won the 2020 Republican nomination for Congress in the 19th District after a strenuous nine-person primary that saw the candidates scrambling to out-Trump each other.

As they competed to be Trumpier than Trump, they aped the former president’s casual and dismissive approach to the COVID outbreak.

Donalds was particularly active in this regard. He opposed masking and took the time and made the effort to show up in person to oppose mask mandates whenever they arose. This included appearances in Cape Coral and before the Collier County Commission.

“You have no authority to mandate what people can put on their body. The fear people are having doesn’t justify it,” Donalds said when he spoke before the Cape Coral City Council on July 6, 2020. “As a council, you have the solemn duty to vote this down and get back to common sense.”

On July 14, when the Collier County Commission first debated a mask mandate, Donalds argued it would put “extensive burdens” on local law enforcement.

“How are you going to have them enforce such a mandate?” he asked commissioners. “Who are they going to decide to enforce it on and who are they not going to enforce it on? There are major issues with such an order.” The commission ultimately voted in a mask mandate.

He also argued against mask mandates when he debated Democratic congressional candidate Cindy Banyai on Sept. 28.

Candidate Byron Donalds during his October 2020 COVID quarantine. (Image: Byron Donalds for Congress campaign)

Given all this, it was richly ironic that Donalds tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 16, 2020 when President Donald Trump came to Fort Myers.

Donalds quarantined at home for two weeks and seemed none the worse for wear when he emerged. In videos he made from his back yard his chief focus was on the different exercise workouts he was trying.

Presuming his personal immunity, Donalds continued taking an anti-mask position through his primary and general races, winning the congressional seat he now holds.

Once in office, Donalds continued to denounce mask mandates and COVID precautions and attacked Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, for his warnings.

“When has the media or Dr. Fauci ever been right?” he asked in a tweet on June 2.

 Unsurprisingly, he also praised DeSantis’ executive order banning mask mandates in schools.

“PARENTS must choose what is best for their child, NOT the federal government!” he tweeted on July 30, starting a petition to “tell the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] they have no right to mask our kids!” He also praised DeSantis’ executive order prohibiting mask mandates in schools, which he stated was “putting the power back into the hands of parents––but we must continue our fight!”

All the fulminations against masking went over well enough in July until the current COVID Delta variant spike could no longer be ignored. Not just Fauci but virtually the entire medical community, the mainstream media and the whole weight of the federal government starting with President Joe Biden began urging and pushing Americans to get vaccinated.

But fighting COVID precautions didn’t just curry favor with the base for Donalds, it was fundraising gold.

“Biden and the radical Left are coming for your freedom,” he wrote in a fundraising e-mail on Aug. 12, which warned that Biden might intervene against DeSantis’ mask mandate ban. “They’re trying to use the federal government to FORCE Anthony Fauci’s anti-scientific mandates and lockdowns on Florida and take away our ability to make our own decisions.”

Some politicians might have considered their previous anti-precautions positions a problem given the magnitude of the COVID threat. But Donalds decided to double down in opposing protections.

On July 27, he told CNN’s Chris Cuomo during a contentious interview: “You’re saying that everybody has to get vaccinated to protect everybody. What I’m saying is that if Americans want to get vaccinated, if they want to be protected from COVID-19, whether it’s the Delta variant or the new Lambda variant that’s coming across our southern border as we speak, if you want to be protected, go get the vaccine, I fully promote your doing that. At the same time there are Americans that don’t want to get it; they shouldn’t be forced to do so.”

He also provided some personal perspective.

“I chose not to get vaccinated because I chose not to get vaccinated,” he said. “I already had COVID-19 once, I’m 42 years old, I’m in very good health, I actually get checkups regularly and do all those things. That is a personal decision for myself; members of my family, my wife and three kids, they’ve all had COVID. They’re not getting vaccinated, they’re all healthy. That is a decision they’ve chosen to make.

“If people in the United States are concerned about contracting and being hospitalized and dying, of course, from COVID-19, please go get vaccinated. I will never tell you not to get vaccinated. What I’m saying is: I made a decision not to get vaccinated and it doesn’t matter if it’s you or Joe Biden or anybody else that’s going to stress or want me to get it…I made that decision as a free person.”

The CNN anchor was having none of it: “Everybody should know that about you, Byron Donalds: you’re not telling people to get the vaccine, you are not pushing it and you’re not saying it’s the right choice. You’re saying you’re not doing it and your family’s not doing it and you’re leaving that out of the equation that you can make other people sick as though that doesn’t matter.”

Then, in a head-spinning act of projection, in an Aug. 10 Fox News interview with host Lawrence Jones III, Donalds went on to accuse Democrats of racism and trying to reintroduce segregation based on vaccination status.

“So when you look at what’s going on in the country, yes, the largest percentage of our population has vaccine hesitancy is the Black community,” said Donalds. “At this point I will tell anybody: go talk to your doctor, get the information; if you feel comfortable enough, then go get the vaccine. But the way the Democrats are going is typically what they always do. You see they have no problem choosing segregation; it’s their history. Their way of maintaining power is no different today.”

Then he accused Democrats and the federal government of not giving people sufficient information to make informed decisions whether to get vaccinated.

As he put it: “And so, when you give people credible information, you break it down for them people will actually see: Is their risk of infection higher? Yes. Is their risk of hospitalization higher than someone who is vaccinated? Yes. But the risk of death is still significantly lower than somebody who was in the vulnerable population, whether with the original strain or now with the Delta variant. The White House doesn’t want to give that information ‘cause their entire goal is zero COVID, so Joe Biden can run around saying that he solved the pandemic. Give people real information, they will make decisions for themselves in their own lives.”

Editor’s note: A new study released on Aug. 6 revealed that even those with a previous bout of COVID like Donalds’ should get vaccinated.

“If you have had COVID-19 before, please still get vaccinated,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, stated at that time. “This study shows you are twice as likely to get infected again if you are unvaccinated. Getting the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others around you, especially as the more contagious Delta variant spreads around the country.”

Commentary: Is Donalds an anti-vaxxer?

It’s clear that in his vaccination positions, Donalds is trying to thread the needle between hard-core, fanatical anti-vaxxers who make up a significant part of his political base and the rest of humanity that’s trying to survive.

In his public statements, Donalds argues that he isn’t anti-vaccine per se. He just thinks vaccinations are a personal choice.

That may be true enough. But as he perfectly well knows, the unvaccinated are not only endangering their own lives but those of their families and everyone around them. Defeating the virus is an all-or-nothing effort.

While Donalds may parse his opposition to vaccinations, in fact his actions speak louder than words—but his words are pretty powerful too.

By refusing to vaccinate himself and his family, he is setting a prominent, public example of vaccine resistance. By not verbally endorsing vaccinations, he’s encouraging vaccine hesitancy. These failures to act or speak are helping spread the virus in Southwest Florida.

His criticism of Democrats—and by extension the CDC and the entire government—for somehow not providing the hesitant with enough information is mind-boggling. Since taking office President Joe Biden, his administration and his team have been inundating the airwaves and public spaces with the kind of data, facts, studies and conclusions that were never shared under President Donald Trump. This is an administration of transparency, frankness and encouragement that is trying to defeat the pandemic. It’s people like Donalds who are making that more difficult.

His attacks on Democrats for somehow displaying racism and renewing segregation based on vaccination status are simple, absurd projections that aren’t even worthy of refutation. They’re just pages from Donald Trump’s well-worn book of distractions, projections and narcissistic mind tricks.

What is more, his personal example of getting vaccinated might encourage people in the Black community who might be vaccine-hesitant to get the shot. Instead, he’s giving legitimacy to vaccine resistance that could take Black lives—while turning around and accusing Democrats of racism.

But politically, Donalds is trying to have it all ways: he’s anti-vaxx while not specifically denouncing vaccinations. He is, however, denouncing those, like Fauci, who are desperately attempting to protect people from the pandemic. He presents himself as standing for individual freedom while at the same time standing in the way of public health measures that might preserve lives, especially those of school-age children.

He appears more concerned with protecting his political future and pandering to the most extreme and ignorant elements of his base than saving lives and protecting the public.

This balancing act on the edge of the precipice is not working. Instead, it smacks of moral cowardice and a failure—or inability—to lead.

Ultimately, when the chronicle of this plague is written, Rep. Byron Donalds will go down in history as an accomplice of Death.

That’s not the way anyone should want to be remembered.

Liberty lives in light

© 2021 by David Silverberg

The angst of August: Anti-vaxxers versus the ‘sensible center’ in Southwest Florida

Demonstrators protest a vaccine mandate for employees by the Naples Community Hospital on Aug. 1. (Image: WINK News)

August 12, 2021 by David Silverberg

August is the cruelest month in Southwest Florida. Every year there’s heat, humidity and hurricanes. For school-age children there’s the prospect of returning to drudgery in hot classrooms.

This year, though, there’s also the COVID Delta variant stalking the region, attacking the unvaccinated and driving a spike in severe hospitalizations.

For students, while entering a classroom might be a welcome relief from remote learning, there’s the added danger of COVID infection, heightened by resistance to masking by COVID-denying parents and an anti-mask governor. In one instance, one local parent of an 11-year-old left a school orientation that took place in a crowded cafeteria full of coughing, unmasked parents.

There’s no doubt that current stresses will change the politics of Southwest Florida. But what is the likely final result?

Deadly denial

Delta, Delta, Delta—it’s the one dominant story. But then, it’s literally a matter of life and death.

With the Florida Department of Health only issuing statistics weekly and those being highly suspect, local media and concerned citizens have to hunt for something resembling reliable numbers to see the extent of the contagion in their communities. (Two reliable sources are The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID Data Tracker).

It’s fair to say, though, that the state of Florida is experiencing a roaring contagion that, as of this writing, has led to it being widely characterized as the epicenter of the current outbreak.

Though the available vaccines have been shown to be effective, Southwest Florida remains a stubborn stronghold of anti-vaccine (anti-vaxx) sentiment.

That sentiment was in evidence at the beginning of July, when the Naples Community Hospital (NCH) sent a letter to employees encouraging them to vaccinate. That brought a strident anti-vaxx reaction.

“Look at this disgraceful letter that is being sent out by communist NCH to all of the employees that did not take Fauci’s experimental cocktail…” Alfie Oakes, the extremist conservative farmer and grocer stated in a July 9 Facebook post.

At the end of July NCH changed its encouragement to a requirement for employees.

On Aug. 1 anti-vaxx demonstrators gathered outside NCH in North Naples to protest the hospital’s mandatory vaccine policy.

Rather than cowering before the protests, NCH hit back in a defiant riposte:

“The NCH Medical Executive Committee unanimously endorsed NCH Healthcare System’s new vaccination policy on Friday. NCH leads the region in implementing this policy in order to take steps to further safeguard the health and wellbeing of our staff and patients. The new COVID variants are much more transmittable and at least 5x more contagious than previous COVID variants. Over 90 percent of COVID inpatients are unvaccinated and 100 percent of ICU patients are unvaccinated. We are seeing younger people sicker and this has become an unvaccinated pandemic.

“NCH is a leader in SWFL with this decision. However, we are seeing the vaccination support among large employers outside of healthcare like Google, Publix and Disney. NCH joins more than 75 health systems nationally who now require employees to be vaccinated. The Mayo Clinic is requiring all employees to be vaccinated by September 17.”

NCH’s dismissal of the anti-vaxxers and the rising defiance of the Lee and Collier County school districts to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R) prohibition of mask mandates indicate a quiet determination by Southwest Floridian officials to respect science and follow health protocols. They are taking stands regardless of opposition, no matter how emotional the protests or how highly-placed the political dictates from Tallahassee.

For a politically conservative region it’s a rare instance of dissent that may have a lasting impact.

Desperation and fragmentation

Alfie Oakes takes aim: “I pray we have election integrity in 2022…. if we don’t we must prepare for the worst!
Our second amendment right is specifically to revolt against a a tyrannical government!
Prepare for the worst and pray for the best.” (Photo: Facebook)

As the Delta variant proves its reality and the country forges ahead under President Joe Biden, the pronouncements and protests of local Trumpers and anti-vaxxers are sounding more strident and desperate.

The next local Trumpist event takes place on August 20 and 21 in Naples—the days before what has been a rumored reinstatement of the former president on Aug. 22.

The event is the “We the People Fight Back Event” scheduled to be held at the Naples Hilton Hotel. Twenty-five far-right conservative speakers are on the program, although unannounced speakers have been known to show up for such occasions.

“America is in a state of emergency with a radical Democrat leading us further into the dark abyss as he rips out every thread of Conservative values that is woven into the fabric of our nation,” proclaims the event’s website. “Cowering to the liberal left isn’t an option and hiding in fear of cancel culture will not save the future of our country.”

The event is organized by former Republican congressional candidate Christy McLaughlin of Ave Maria, along with John DiLemme, founder of the Conservative Business Journal. It promises 25 speakers including McLaughlin and Oakes. It also has 10 business sponsors.

But despite being listed as a speaker at the Hilton, Oakes also felt the need to organize his own one-day “Patriot Fest” to do essentially the same thing—or perhaps the Hilton event wasn’t extreme enough. His Fest is scheduled for Sept. 18 at his farm in Naples and has four business supporters and 10 speakers including Shemane Nugent, wife of extreme conservative musician Ted Nugent. In April Nugent announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19 a week after playing before an unmasked crowd at Seed to Table.

The Hilton event charges $247 to attend and $124 per night to stay at the hotel. Oakes is charging $200 for VIP tickets and $25 general admission for his one-day event.

Oakes, however, faced a unique problem: “the liberals at eventbrite [sic] just unpublished our Patriot Fest and refunded everyone’s tickets because apparently a bunch of patriots getting together doesn’t follow their ‘community standards,’” he complained on Aug. 6 —leaving him to scramble to find a new way to collect admission fees.

Oakes has called vaccines “Fauci’s poisonous cocktail” and guests at such gatherings are unlikely to have been vaccinated.

While not explicitly stated, neither the Hilton conference nor the Patriot Fest is likely to require masks, distancing or take any other COVID precautions.

They should be the superspreader events of the season.

Analysis: The rising sensible center

In the short term, given the transmissibility of the Delta variant and its lethality, much of the hard-core anti-vaxx population is likely to self-select itself out of existence in the coming days.

From a strictly political calculation, this will mean fewer conservative voters and a diminution of extreme anti-vaxx agitation as these voices are permanently silenced.

But the really interesting phenomenon in Southwest Florida is seeing relatively apolitical people and officials who might have previously acceded to the passion and insistence of extremist activists begin to resist, however quietly and subtly.

This was also in evidence in July when the Collier County Commission voted down a “Bill of Rights sanctuary” ordinance that sought to nullify federal authority in the county, despite vocal support by a small core of residents.

All these are indications that the old Trumpist trinity of denial, dismissal and delusion is being demolished.

The stakes are so high and the consequences are so dire that thinking people simply can’t go along to get along any more. After all, going along with a far-right, extremist anti-vaxx agenda is a death sentence.

Bit by bit, mask by mask, shot by shot, vote by vote, decision by decision, what former general Colin Powell once called “the sensible center” is reasserting itself.

All this will find political expression at the voting booth in 2022. Will this sensible center have enough heft, enough persistence and enough memory to vote for sane and science-supporting candidates and parties?

DeSantis, his political allies, the Trumpers and the anti-vaxxers are betting that in the year, two months and 27 days before the 2022 election the pandemic will be over and the vast mass of voters will forget the death and disease currently ravaging Florida. Instead, like amnesiacs, voters will celebrate anti-science, anti-health policies as great economic successes.

It is as though Florida is a casino and DeSantis and the COVID-deniers are playing a poker game with Death as the dealer, using Floridian lives as chips.

They may think the odds are in their favor. But more likely, as in any casino, the house always wins.

Liberty lives in light

© 2021 by David Silverberg

How many hard-core anti-vaxxers are in Southwest Florida?

A Collier County, Florida resident receives the second shot of the Moderna COVID vaccine in February 2021. (Photo: Author)

July 23, 2021 by David Silverberg

The COVID-19 Delta variant has begun its grim swing through Southwest Florida as it has throughout the rest of the nation and the world, taking aim at the unvaccinated.

“The Delta variant is more aggressive and much more transmissible than previously circulating strains,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told reporters at a briefing yesterday, July 22. “It is one of the most infectious respiratory viruses we know of, and that I have seen in my 20-year career.”

In Collier County, Florida, as of July 22, the COVID infection rate was running at 8.4 percent, according to the Naples Community Hospital (NCH), well above the 5 percent considered safe for reopening.

In Lee County, Florida the 14-day rolling average positivity rate is at 22 percent, approaching last July’s peak, according to NBC-2 News. Lee Health, the county’s largest health provider, has re-activated its COVID-19 Incident Management team due to the spread and influx of new cases.

(Unfortunately, since the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) stopped issuing daily COVID statistics, the Florida Department of Health is no longer the prime authoritative source of the latest information regarding the spread of the disease.)

Getting vaccinated is the best defense—and yet, despite all the convincing, cajoling, coercing or complaining, the media coverage and the pronouncements of doctors and health care experts from the top of the government pyramid to grassroots family practitioners, there is a hard-core, die-hard population who absolutely will not get shots.

Why they’re so adamant is less important than trying to determine how large a population they represent because as the summer wears on and the Delta variant spreads, they are likely to start filling the hospitals and the intensive care units (ICUs) and spread the disease to other unvaccinated people.

How many of these hard core anti-vaccinationists (anti-vaxxers) are in Southwest Florida? How many are likely to need urgent care? How can the health systems of Southwest Florida prepare for what is already an influx of cases?

Unfortunately, there is a dearth of scientific polling and surveying in Southwest Florida. Hospitals and health care systems can only measure the number of cases that come in already infected. So making a determination has to rely on more anecdotal indicators.

Fanning the flames

Perhaps the region’s leading and most vocal anti-vaxxer is Francis Alfred “Alfie” Oakes III, a farmer and owner of the Seed to Table market in North Naples. From the beginning of the pandemic he characterized COVID as a “hoax” and a “sham.”

A sign on the front of Seed to Table. The pictures are of Collier County commissioners who voted for a mask mandate in July 2020. (Photo: Author)

Oakes is now well-known throughout Southwest Florida for his extreme political positions and his adamant resistance to masking and vaccinations. He has written Facebook posts that have created enormous controversy on a variety of issues and led to canceled contracts for Oakes Farms.

But whatever one thinks of Oakes’ anti-vaccine posts, his following and the responses to his posts do provide a potentially useful snapshot of the possible size of the anti-vaxx population, although this is, of necessity, a very rough estimate. Oakes’ Facebook page is followed by 14,520 people, according to Facebook, and lists 4,939 friends

A prime example of Oakes’ following came on July 9. Oakes cited a letter sent to employees of NCH by the hospital’s vaccination administrator encouraging employees to get vaccinated and listing places in NCH where vaccines were available.

“Look at this disgraceful letter that is being sent out by communist NCH to all of the employees that did not take Fauci’s experimental cocktail…” Oakes wrote on his Facebook page. The post received 192 comments, most supportive of Oakes.

A posting yesterday, July 22, displayed a banner: “Imagine if there was a 99.7% chance you wouldn’t get cancer, But you were forced to go on chemo just incase…” [sic]. That post received 184 comments.

(When reader James Snyder pointed out: “Taking medical advice from a produce salesman is probably not a good idea FYI!” Oakes responded: “Taking advice from someone who has 3200 employees with over 8000 patrons coming through daily and not a single employee dying… and very few getting sick for more than a few days.. Everyone eating healthy and living happy without fear and without masks loving one another enjoying their lives for the last year and a half may be someone you should consider taking advice from….Just sayin’.” It is also worth noting that musician Ted Nugent tested positive for COVID a week after playing a packed, unmasked performance at Seed to Table.) 

Another potential indicator of the anti-vaxx population’s size came during the Collier County Commission debate on July 13 over a failed “Bill of Rights sanctuary” ordinance. The proponents claimed to speak for 5,000 residents, based on a petition in favor of the ordinance.

While the ordinance concerned the Bill of Rights, it was based on an earlier petition launched in April by The Alamo gun range and store to pass a “Second Amendment Preservation Act.” As of this writing, that petition attracted only 1,338 signatures.

While worry over guns and rights is hardly the same as fear of vaccinations, the concerns overlap somewhat among these residents, so it may be something of an indication of the size of the anti-vaxx population in Collier County.

While Lee and Charlotte counties also have anti-vaxx populations there are fewer indicators for the size of their anti-vaxx cohort.

Based on these extremely rough and unscientific indicators, the number of hard-core anti-vaxxers in Southwest Florida may range from the mid-hundreds to perhaps the low thousands.

We’ll all know soon enough as the ICUs fill up.

The history of anti-vaxxing

An English cartoon from 1802 lampoons fears of the smallpox vaccine.

In their rejection of scientific evidence, today’s anti-vaxxers join a long line of past opponents.

Opposition to vaccinations predates the practice of vaccination itself. Before there were vaccines, doctors in Africa, China, India and the Ottoman Empire practiced “variolation”—inoculating an uninfected person with pus from someone with smallpox to induce immunity.

However, in the West, particularly England, it was Dr. Edward Jenner’s use of cowpox in the late 18th and early 19th centuries to create immunity to smallpox that led to what is now called vaccination—and created the first controversy over its use.

“Pro-inoculators tended to write in the cool and factual tones encouraged by the Royal Society, with frequent appeals to reason, the modern progress of science and the courtesy subsisting among gentlemen. Anti-inoculators purposely wrote like demagogues, using heated tones and lurid scare stories to promote paranoia,” according to the 2019 book Let’s Talk Vaccines, by Dr. Gretchen LaSalle.

Ever since then, opposition to vaccination has waxed and waned, usually paralleling epidemics and pandemics. England imposed mandatory smallpox vaccinations in 1853 for infants up to three months old and then extended that in 1867 to children up to 14 years. These laws imposed penalties for failures to vaccinate.

The mandates faced fierce resistance and riotous protests. While an 1896 commission studying the vaccines found that they prevented smallpox, it recommended removing the penalties and an 1898 law provided for exemptions for religious or conscientious objectors.

In the United States, despite the presence of an Anti-Vaccination League founded by a visiting Briton in 1879, there was a widespread acceptance of vaccination. This was bolstered by the 1905 Supreme Court decision Jacobson v. Massachusetts, which upheld a state’s right to mandate vaccines. Today it remains the precedent for state vaccine mandates.

Between 1920 and 1970 American scientific breakthroughs produced highly lauded vaccines against diphtheria, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps and rubella and their administration was widely accepted by the public.

Beginning in 1982, however, the public consensus began to fray, with the national airing of a television documentary, “DPT: Vaccine Roulette” that emotionally alleged ill-effects from a diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus vaccine. Although the documentary detailed what were known to be side-effects from the vaccine and long-term study reported no permanent ill-effects, it began an anti-vaxx movement that gained momentum over the years as celebrities, lacking any medical education or training, joined the anti-vaxx chorus.

In 2014 anti-vaxx sentiment led to resurgence of measles, prompting the state of California to remove parents’ options to opt out of measles vaccinations. The measles problem has persisted to the present.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, though, has overshadowed all other vaccine fears. The first COVID vaccines were announced by Pfizer and BioNTech in November 2020 and have since received Food and Drug Administration approval.

As of this writing 339 million Americans have received vaccine doses and 162 million, or 49.3 percent of the country has been fully vaccinated.

Southwest Florida resistance

In Southwest Florida resistance to all vaccines was already causing concern prior to the pandemic.

In March 2019 the national measles resurgence prompted local NBC2 News to ask: “Is the anti-vax movement impacting Florida’s vaccination rates?

It found that vaccine hesitancy was prompting an increase in the number of religious exemptions being requested by parents of schoolchildren at the state level. In the 2017-2018 school year the state of Florida was aiming to have 95 percent of all kindergartners vaccinated against measles. Religious exemptions jumped to 2.4 percent, 10 percent more than 10 years previously.

In Collier County the religious exemptions went from 2.6 percent in 2015-2016 to 3 percent in 2017-2018.

So clearly there was a growing, although still small resistance to vaccinations prior to the COVID pandemic. But then, when the pandemic began hitting the United States in a big way in 2020, the political controversy over the response mounted exponentially, exacerbated by President Donald Trump’s dismissal of the COVID danger.

Trump’s denigration of all responsible media reporting as “fake news” and his attacks on Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also served to reduce acceptance of COVID information among segments of the population. This led to reliance on anti-vaxx rumor and conspiracy theories, spread in many cases on social media.

In Southwest Florida this manifested itself in resistance to mask mandates, fed in particular by individuals like Alfie Oakes and Byron Donalds, then a Republican congressional candidate, who opposed masking in person every time a mask mandate was debated. He caught COVID in October 2020 but recovered and was elected to Congress in November.

Liberty and death

While Southwest Florida is widely acknowledged as politically, socially and culturally conservative, the extreme brand of Trumpist conservatism now includes rejection of science and vaccinations. Given the properties of the COVID-19 Delta variant, a refusal to vaccinate appears to be a virtual death sentence but there are people who hold out—and will continue to do so come what may. They disbelieve all journalistic reporting on the pandemic, they reject all public health efforts and many feel that any precautions of any kind infringe on their personal freedom and liberty.

They bring to mind Virginia patriot Patrick Henry who in 1775 said: “Give me liberty or give me death.”

He was thinking of a line of patriots facing a line of redcoats. Those Americans had a better chance of surviving a musket volley than anti-vaxxers do facing the Delta variant today.

They may think anti-vaxxing brings liberty—but they’re much more likely to get death.


To read more about the history of vaccine resistance:

Liberty lives in light

© 2021 by David Silverberg

BREAKING NEWS: Anti-masker Byron Donalds tests positive for COVID-19 – UPDATED

President Donald Trump is greeted by Byron Donalds at a conference in October 2019.

Oct. 16, 2020 by David Silverberg

5:50 pm – added comments from Cindy Banyai, corrected date in caption.

Republican congressional candidate Byron Donalds, a fierce opponent of mask mandates who has spoken out against them and ostentatiously refused to wear a mask in public, has tested positive for COVID-19, he announced on his Facebook page today.

Donalds is running in Florida’s 19th Congressional District against Democrat Cindy Banyai.

“Before today’s event with the President, I was give [sic] a COVID-19 quick test, per White House staff protocol, and results were positive,” he wrote. “I proceeded to take a PCR antigen test, and those results have come back positive as well. My wife and oldest son were both tested today and their results are negative. I currently feel fine, but am taking all necessary precautions and will be quarantining at home. We have notified the organizers of the events I have attended in recent days. I look forward to recovering fully and earning the support of voters on November 3rd.”

Donalds was to have attended President Donald Trump’s event in Fort Myers today.

Donalds has repeatedly denigrated mask mandates in debates with Banyai and argued that local governments do not have the authority to impose them. He spoke against them when the Cape Coral City Council and Collier County Commission considered them. After he met unmasked with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office on Sept. 23, Banyai called on him to quarantine, which he said he didn’t have to do because he had tested negative.

On her Twitter feed, Banyai wished Donalds well: “I wish him and his family well as he recovers,” she tweeted. In another tweet she stated: “This reaffirms that I made the right decision for myself, my family, and #OurCommunity to cancel my participation in the Estero debate last week. That debate was directly after a MAGA event in Collier that may very well become our very own #SWFL super-spreader event.” And she added: “Please, for your health and for the vulnerable in #OurCommunity, continue to social distance, wear masks, and sanitize hands. We care about you.”

This report will be updated as new information becomes available.

Liberty lives in light

©2020 by David Silverberg

Trump campaign acknowledges risk of rally COVID spread–but avoids responsibility

Preparations under way for the Trump rally in Sanford, Fla., scheduled for tonight. (Image: News6)

Oct. 12, 2020 by David Silverberg

The re-election campaign of President Donald Trump acknowledges that his rallies may spread COVID-19—but requires attendees to sign away any rights to compensation should they come down with the virus.

Trump, who was diagnosed with coronavirus on Oct. 2, will hold a rally at Orlando Sanford International Airport in Sanford, Fla., tonight at 7:00 pm. It is the first rally outside Washington, DC since his diagnosis.

On the Trump-Pence campaign website, would-be attendees are told: “By registering for this event, you understand and expressly acknowledge that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. In attending the event, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19, and waive, release, and discharge Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; the host venue; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors, or volunteers from any and all liability under any theory, whether in negligence or otherwise, for any illness or injury.”

A White House gathering on Sept. 26 to introduce Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett has been characterized by Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as a “superspreader” event for infecting at least six people present, who then spread the virus among numerous other White House staff and administration officials.

Liberty lives in light

©2020 by David Silverberg

Banyai blasts Donalds for COVID carelessness at Trumper superspreader event in Golden Gate

A tightly-packed, mostly unmasked crowd gathers at the Golden Gate Veterans of Foreign Wars hall yesterday. (Image: NBC2 News)

Oct. 9, 2020 by David Silverberg

Cindy Banyai, Democratic congressional candidate in Florida’s 19th Congressional District, blasted her opponent, Republican Byron Donalds, for potentially spreading COVID-19 at a largely maskless rally for Donald Trump in the Golden Gate area of Naples yesterday, Oct. 8.

“My opponent took part in this MAGA event in Naples today,” she tweeted. “Many people crowded together, hardly anyone wore a mask. We can pretend COVID-19 isn’t real or we can work to stop it. I acknowledge science, mitigate the risk, and work to protect the vulnerable.”

Donalds, who addressed the crowd of roughly 250 Trump supporters, said those not wearing masks believe in freedom, Dave Elias, political correspondent for NBC-2 News reported.

“You should not be ridiculed if you wear one or you choose not to wear one,” he said. Donalds has consistently opposed mask mandates.

The crowd at the Golden Gate Veterans of Foreign Wars hall (which is in the neighboring 25th Congressional District) was also addressed by Corey Lewandowski, the campaign manager fired by Trump in June 2016 for his erratic and divisive behavior, and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R), whose state is a current coronavirus hotspot, with 26,441 cases.

Cindy Banyai with mask.

Banyai chose to drop a scheduled, in-person debate with Donalds at the Estero Republican Club last night due to the risk of catching coronavirus.

She said the Republican Club had refused to take basic safety measures like spacing out seats, requiring masks, doing temperature checks and putting partitions between the candidates.

“I was looking forward to connecting with members of our community and a lively exchange of ideas, but your health and that of my family, including my youngest daughter who has a history of health issues, are more important than any single event,” she stated. “The health and safety protocols requested are particularly important because Byron Donalds was potentially exposed to COVID19 during his recent visit with Trump. He has not released a secondary test to indicate he is in the clear. Mr. Donalds was also at a rally earlier today that did not observe pandemic public health measures.”

Yesterday Banyai also began running a paid advertisement on local television stations.

The night before, Banyai and Donalds had starkly different reactions to the debate between Vice President Mike Pence (R) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).

“The moderator is doing a great job tonight. Just let the candidates speak. They will tell us who they are, and they have to answer for their records. The records of @JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris is destructive of our economy and our country,” tweeted Donalds, who issued three tweets during the debate.

Banyai maintained a running commentary throughout the debate. “Seriously, Kamala channeled every woman whoever tried to get her point across while being interrupted by a lesser qualified man with #imspeaking,” she tweeted.

Liberty lives in light

© 2020 by David Silverberg

Roundup: COVID, masks and Byron Donalds; a ‘no’ to stimulus and QAnon; and a loud silence

Maskless State Rep. Byron Donalds and President Donald Trump in the Oval Office on Sept. 23. (Photo: White House by Joyce N. Boghasian)

Oct. 4, 2020 by David Silverberg

On Saturday, Oct. 3, in the wake of President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis and quarantine, Cindy Banyai, Democratic congressional candidate in the 19th Congressional District called on her opponent, Republican state Rep. Byron Donalds (R-80-Immokalee), to quarantine himself, having met with the president.

“Given the current skyrocketing rate of infection among White House staff and event attendees, and considering Mr. Donalds is still in the potential incubation period of 14 days, I think it would be in the best interest of our community if he quarantined until that window has passed,” she said in a statement. “He should also get tested for COVID-19 and release the results, so anyone he may have exposed to the virus in the interim can have the best information possible to take care of themselves and their loved ones. This is especially important because of Mr. Donalds’ stance against mask wearing, which is effective in reducing transmission rates of the virus.”

Donalds met with the president in Washington, DC on Sept. 23, where he was photographed in the Oval Office. He told the Fort Myers News-Press that he had been tested for the virus on Friday, Oct. 2, and the results were negative. He said he had also tested negative prior to his meeting with Trump.

“After you’ve had two negative tests within 10 days, that’s sufficient,” he told reporter Amy Bennett Williams. “I have no symptoms … That puts it to rest. I’m fine.”

“I was disappointed to see Mr. Donalds attend indoor events without social distancing or masks in Southwest Florida over the past week, including events after the announcement of the president testing positive for COVID19,” stated Banyai. “It seems like he is not taking the risk seriously and doesn’t care about the people in our community.”

Donalds has vociferously opposed mask mandates by local governments, arguing that mask wearing should be an individual decision. He appeared at the Cape Coral City Council to oppose masking when that body debated a mandate on July 6.

“You have no authority to mandate what people can put on their body. The fear people are having doesn’t justify it,” Donalds said at the time. “As a council, you have the solemn duty to vote this down and get back to common sense.”

On July 14, when the Collier County Commission first debated a mask mandate, Donalds argued it would put “extensive burdens” on local law enforcement.

“How are you going to have them enforce such a mandate?” he asked commissioners. “Who are they going to decide to enforce it on and who are they not going to enforce it on? There are major issues with such an order.” The commission ultimately voted in a mask mandate.

Donalds repeated his positions during his televised debate with Banyai on Sept. 28 at the studio of WGCU.

Donalds has not worn a mask at public events he has attended.

There is no indication that Donalds has changed his position on mask mandates given the president’s diagnosis and the spread of COVID-19 among high-level officials and presidential intimates.

On Oct. 2, The Paradise Progressive sent the following questions to the Byron Donalds for Congress campaign:

1. In light of the president’s contracting coronavirus, have you changed or altered your position against government mask mandates?

A. If you have made any changes, please state your current policy position.

2. What is your position on wearing masks in general?

No answer has been received to date.

President Donald Trump leaves the White House wearing a mask on is way to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Oct. 2.

No on stimulus, yes on QAnon

Southwest Florida congressional representatives, Reps. Francis Rooney (R-19-Fla.), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.) and Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.) all voted against a second stimulus package in Congress last week.

Called the HEROES Act (House Resolution 925), the bill passed late Thursday, Oct. 1, by a vote of 214 to 207.

The bill provides $2.2 trillion in relief to people, businesses, states and local governments hard hit by the pandemic. It is a follow-on to a previous $3.4 trillion HEROES Act passed in May that propped up a badly damaged economy.

Passage of the bill occurred following a stalemate in talks between House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The administration had proposed a $1.6 trillion package and the two were unable to resolve their differences, so Pelosi proceeded with the House version.

None of the Southwest Florida congressmen issued statements explaining their votes.

The bill is not expected to make any progress in the Senate.

The same day, the House of Representatives passed House Resolution 1154, “Condemning QAnon and rejecting the conspiracy theories it promotes.”

While not a law, the bill explicitly condemned the online QAnon conspiracy theory as well as “all other groups and ideologies, from the far left to the far right, that contribute to the spread of unfounded conspiracy theories and that encourage Americans to destroy public and private property and attack law enforcement officers.” It called on federal agencies and the intelligence community to investigate and “uncover any foreign support, assistance, or online amplification QAnon receives.”

This bill passed by an overwhelming vote of 371 to 18.

Of Southwest Florida’s representatives, Diaz-Balart and Steube voted for it. Rooney was absent.

No endorsement here

On Sept. 29 the News-Press and on Oct. 4 the Naples Daily News published an op-ed by Rep. Francis Rooney and Michael Whittaker, a conservation activist, titled, “Climate is on the ballot in Florida this November.”

It argued that voters should elect environmental champions this November given the urgency of climate issues facing Southwest Florida. It made the case that political conservatives have to take the lead in devising market-based solutions to environmental threats.

“As constituents of Southwest Florida, when we head to the ballot box this fall, we need to remain vigilant and strong to ensure that our principles are upheld and our environment is protected,” they wrote.

Politically, what was most interesting about the op-ed was what it didn’t say: it didn’t endorse any candidates running and most especially did not mention Byron Daniels, whom Rooney might have been expected to anoint as a fellow Republican seeking to fill his seat. Rooney has not made any endorsements of any candidates to date.

Liberty lives in light

©2020 by David Silverberg

Editorial: Everything Trump touches dies—and right now that means Florida

07-14-20 Charlie ChaplinCharlie Chaplin in the movie ‘The Great Dictator.’

Everything Trump touches dies: it’s the title of a book and never was a title more accurate, more appropriate and now more literal, especially here in Florida.

Trump has really touched Florida. He’s an official resident, he has his second White House in Florida as well as a golf club in Doral. He dominates the Republican political landscape, the Party and its two senators. He also handpicked the state’s governor.

And sure enough, his touch is killing Florida and Floridians. His incompetence, delusions and arrogance at the national level in handling the pandemic have, as of this writing, resulted in 3,361,042 confirmed American coronavirus cases and 135,582 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

In his adopted state 4,381 Floridians have died since March 1 and 295,312 have been infected to date, according to Florida’s Community Coronavirus Dashboard (the one posted by dissident scientist Rebekah Jones). On Sunday, July 12, Florida hit a record 15,300 new cases; the next day it reached 12,624.

All this would be bad enough but Trump’s disastrous mismanagement at the national level has been imitated on the state level by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

Florida’s path from haven to hotspot starts with Trump’s denial of the seriousness of the coronavirus threat, his characterization of warnings of it as a Democratic hoax and his dismissive assurances that it would disappear “like a miracle.” Then, when its devastation couldn’t be denied, he resisted strong measures to contain it and rushed to open the economy for the sake of his re-election.

DeSantis mirrored the president’s performance almost word for word and gesture for gesture. He denied the seriousness of the threat, failed to prepare for it and dismissed warnings as exaggerations. Then he failed to provide statewide guidance for responding and rushed to re-open the economy. When infections and deaths began to spike, he accused the media of using the spectacle to gain ratings.

Now two events in Florida are threatening to turn the spike into an eruption: unrestricted re-opening of schools—an all-caps demand that Trump made on Twitter—and bringing the Republican National Convention to Jacksonville. There is no telling what the rate of infection will be and how many deaths will result if these two events occur as Trump demands.

Trump is on his way to causing more American deaths from coronavirus than Americans killed by Adolf Hitler during World War II.

(Between June 1944 and May 8, 1945, there were 552,117 US casualties in the European theater of operations, of which 104,812 were killed in action, according to the US Department of Defense.)

The question that arises from all this is: Given Trump’s glaring incompetence, the demonstrated danger of his delusions and the clear path to disaster that he continues pursuing, how long will Florida politicians in positions of power—or aspiring to positions of power—allow themselves to be led by a man whose course clearly leads to catastrophe? How long will they blindly follow him?

Certainly, there seems no answer in Florida where the governor, better educated than his mentor, shows no signs of independent thought. In Southwest Florida the Republican candidates up and down the ballot make a point of going to ever greater extremes in their praise and defense of this person whose decisionmaking seems insane.

Every day, every person who dies from this plague rebukes this man and his tweets. But throughout the peninsula of Florida there’s only silence from the members of his party and the people scratching and scrambling to get votes.

In 1940 Charlie Chaplin released his anti-Nazi film, The Great Dictator. In it, Chaplin as an imposter dictator gives a final speech against dictatorship that sounds hauntingly relevant today.

“You are not machines!” he tells his listeners. “You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate—the unloved and the unnatural!”

It’s time for Florida’s leaders and voters to stop being machines and start thinking hard and independently about what’s best for themselves, their state, their nation and humanity—and not just what’s best for Donald Trump.

Liberty lives in light

© 2020 by David Silverberg

 

 

For the record: The candidates on whether to mask or not–UPDATED

07-11-20 Mask tantrum 5Dan Maples lashes out in a Fort Myers Costco when videoed without a mask.   (Image: Twitter)

July 12, 2020 by David Silverberg.

Updated at 5:30 pm with David Holden comment.

Mask madness has reached Southwest Florida.

Whether or not to wear a mask is no longer a question of a medical and hygienic precaution but a political statement, thanks to President Donald Trump’s politicization of the issue and stubborn refusal to set an example—before yesterday.

Of course, in Southwest Florida, a coronavirus hotspot, mask wearing has become a raw, emotional issue. It was in a Fort Myers Costco that Dan Maples had an anti-mask tantrum that went viral and cost him his job. Local towns and counties are debating mask mandates in meetings ringing with rage. Individual businesses have to decide whether to require customers to wear masks.

Where do the people who are seeking to represent Southwest Florida stand on masks and mandates?

The Paradise Progressive surveyed the tweets, websites, Facebook posts, news reports and statements of local congressional candidates regarding masks and compiled the following list of their positions—in addition to sending questions in direct messages. The results are presented here, for the record, along with some context. All names are listed by alphabetical order.

Democrats

Cindy Banyai: “Masks slow the spread of COVID19 and everyone should wear one when while they’re out and can’t social distance. With cases across Florida spiking and Lee Health system nearing 100% staff capacity we should all care about one another and wear a mask. It’s the most patriotic thing you could do right now–care about your fellow Americans.”

David Holden: “Since the vigorous resurgence of the virus around June 24th, I’ve been calling for a state-wide mask mandate. I believe that mandate should not be criminalized, as those penalties will only dig regular folks further in the hole–but I do know we need universal mask wearing and clear leadership. As ironic as it may seem, individual mask wearing will increase freedom as it will slow the spread and help us return to normal more quickly and safely.”

Republicans

Darren Aquino: Asked by NBC2’s Political Reporter Dave Elias in an interview broadcast on July 10, if the President should wear a mask, Aquino differed from Trump’s longstanding refusal and stated: “Different times, he should be, yeah. I would say he should put one on when it’s necessary.”

Casey Askar:  NBC2’s Dave Elias, reported on July 9 that Askar told him that Askar does not believe in wearing a mask in public and he doesn’t expect people to be forced to do so.

State Rep. Byron Donalds (R-80-Immokalee): Donalds told the Cape Coral City Council during its debate on a mask mandate: “Do not issue such an order when it is not clear you have the power to do so,” according to the News-Press.

State Rep. Dane Eagle (R-77-Cape Coral): Approvingly retweeted a July 7 tweet from Gov. Ron DeSantis (R): “I urge all Floridians to continue social distancing to help protect our state’s most vulnerable and slow the spread of #COVID19. Avoid the ‘Three Cs’ and high-risk environments. Wearing a facial covering when you can’t social distance may also help reduce transmission.”

Dr. William Figlesthaler: The only medical doctor among the candidates, Figlesthaler has not commented on mask-wearing on any of his platforms. Questions on the need for individuals to wear masks and mask mandates by local governments have been sent to his campaign e-mail address. As of this writing, no response has been received.

Mayor Randy Henderson: On July 9, following a vote of the Fort Myers City Council, Mayor Randy Henderson tweeted: “Today I proudly voted against a #MandatoryMasks policy for the @cityftmyers. Look, I agree with @realDonaldTrump – it is not feasible and a gross overreach of government. The individual must take responsibility for their health and respect others decision when they do the same.”

Daniel Kowal: No postings or positions on masks on his media platforms. As of this posting, no response to a direct question.

Christy McLaughlin: On July 7, at a Cape Coral City Council meeting on a mask mandate as reported by Fox4 News, where she went to oppose a mask mandate: “We do have the personal responsibility and ability to make our own choices with the autonomy of our own bodies.”

Daniel Severson: No postings or positions on masks on his media platforms. As of this posting, no response to a direct question.

Independent

Antonio Dumornay: In a July 8 Facebook post: “So people are happy about mandated mask 😷 to breathe in your own toxins (that you exhale called carbon dioxide) when only sick people need them! Like what are we doing!? Yes people get sick but your not sick.” As of this posting, no response has been received to a direct question for clarification of the post.

Liberty lives in light

© 2020 by David Silverberg

 

US House votes to enhance healthcare in defiance of Trump; Rooney absent, Diaz-Balart, Steube oppose

US_Capitol_west_side 3-2-19

June 30, 2020 by David Silverberg.

Yesterday, June 29, by a vote of 234 to 179, the US House of Representatives passed House Resolution (HR) 1425, expanding and enhancing the Affordable Care Act, generically referred to as Obamacare.

Of Southwest Florida’s representatives, Rep. Francis Rooney (R-19-Fla.) was absent, while Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.) and Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.) opposed the measure.

The bill, informally called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act, built on legislation introduced in February that increased subsidies to help people afford healthcare. Under the bill, individual Obamacare recipients would see their premiums go down. The bill also increases funding for Medicaid expansion and requires the federal government to negotiate prescription drug prices, reducing them for individual users.

The bill was a House response to the administration’s renewed attempt to kill Obamacare by filing a brief against it in the Supreme Court on Thursday, June 25, at the direction of President Donald Trump.

“You would think that in the middle of a pandemic the President of the United States would uphold the law instead of going to overturn the law, which provides affordable care to so many millions in our country. ” House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12-Calif.) said in a CNN interview. “So, as we are enhancing the Affordable Care Act, the President is overturning it, at a time when we have over 125,000 Americans who have died from the pandemic, and the President is overturning one of their lifelines.”

None of the Southwest Florida representatives issued statements explaining their actions.

The bill now goes to the Republican-dominated Senate where it is not expected to be passed and may not be considered.

Liberty lives in light

© 2020 by David Silverberg