White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany appeared on state media to share with the good comrades on "Fox & Friends" her insights into state and local guidelines for doing Thanksgiving while also preventing the spread of illness. She said that many local commissars had issued doubleplusungood orders that threatened freedom and liberty here in Airstrip Two. In fact, she said, they were downright "Orwellian."

Here, watch this Telescreen snippet, while it watches you:

I think a lot of the guidelines you're seeing are Orwellian. Let me start by saying the CDC has put out considerations as we prepare to go about Thanksgiving, about socially distancing, wearing masks, doing what you can. There's a whole list, a page of very good considerations, and in that, they say, "We're not recommending a certain number of people, but we are giving considerations that you should put in place."

And I think that's the Oceanian* Way, the Oceanian* people know how to protect their health. We've dealt with Covid for many months. But it's Orwellian, in a place like Oregon, to say, "If you gather, in numbers more than six, we might come to your house and arrest you and you get 30 days of jail time? That's not the Oceanian Way, we don't lose our freedom in this country, we make responsible health decisions as individuals.

At the risk of being accused of Thoughtcrime, we'd like to say McEnany's claims are weaker than Victory Coffee. And she certainly shouldn't be putting George Orwell's good name in her filthy lying mouth.


First off, since Orwell believed truth is one of the most fragile things in an autocracy, let's clarify that yes, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has indeed put in place a two-week "freeze" order for the state, limiting bars and restaurants to takeout service and temporarily closing other businesses. Violations could result in a warning, a citation, or even an arrest, though as with the state's earlier lockdown near the start of the pandemic, the goal is to make people aware of the safety regulations, not to scoop people up and put them in jail, which is a disease vector anyway.

The order also limits social gatherings to no more than six people, but while Fox News and other rightwing outlets have been hyperventilating about mean cops clapping people in irons if they have one too many Thanksgiving guests, the restrictions are really aimed at preventing large parties, like a Halloween party superspreader event last month that allegedly attracted more than 100 people. There will not be a Thanksgiving Police Squad breaking down doors and counting the number of table settings.

As for McEnany's contention that Americans do best when they make up their own minds about what safety measures to take, we'll just point toward the current Covid Exit Strategy map (47 out of 50 states with "uncontrolled spread") and look disapprovingly over the tops of our glasses at her.

And while McEnany is correct that the CDC's Thanksgiving suggestions don't proscribe much of anything, that probably has more to do with the Trump administration's political interference to water down the CDC than anything else. The guidance does, at least, point out repeatedly that the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is with your own household, with lots of safety precautions if you have people from other households over. Similarly, the CDC notes that it's best just to stay home instead of traveling, but if you decide to travel, then please take precautions like social distancing and wearing masks.

We really would love to see what the agency's earliest drafts might have looked like, free of any Trumpian demands to open everything up.

The "Fox & Friends" segment was also a bit notable for the pushback the hosts offered McEnany, limited though it was. Steve Doocy did at least point out that "cases are spiking" across the country, and that COVID-19 is a "super-contagious disease." He also pointed out that the White House itself has left coronavirus policy up to the states: "Ultimately, didn't the White House say, 'Do what you want to do?'"

McEnany hinted that autonomy is nice and all, unless you're a state that makes Trump mad by doing too much to control the disease:

"Yeah, of course. It's up to every state to do what they want to do, but there are consequences for those states," McEnany replied. The American people, she added, "are a freedom-loving people. We can make good decisions. We can wash our hands, wear masks, socially distance. But we can also decide in our own personal domicile, our own home, whether we can have our family members present at any given time. That is the American way. That is freedom."

And no, McEnany didn't specify what "consequences" states might face for combatting the pandemic more aggressively than the administration prefers, which we're sure Eric Arthur Blair, that kindly old socialist who couldn't stand petty tyrants and bureaucratic threats, would certainly have appreciated.

Say, you know who might have appreciated aggressive public health orders aimed at preventing the spread of a deadly, incurable pulmonary infection? Maybe a guy who practically coughed himself to death while writing his masterpiece, and who died of tuberculosis. We bet he'd like to see other people spared such a fate.

* She said "American," because she has obviously never read Orwell, not even Animal Farm, which is for babies.

OPEN THREAD!

[Politico / CDC Thanksgiving guidelines / Oregonian / Covid Exit Strategy]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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