About time, too!
The Biden administration announced Thursday it will purchase 500 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, to share with 92 countries around the world through the World Health Organization's COVAX initiative — the international effort to get vaccines to low- and lower-middle-income countries that Donald Trump couldn't be bothered to join. The White House announcement noted this would be the "largest-ever purchase and donation of vaccines by a single country and a commitment by the American people to help protect people around the world" from the COVID-19 pandemic. Biden also called on other wealthy nations to do their part, too, which is one of those "American leadership" things that disappeared from the world for four years.
The administration plans to get at least 200 million doses shipped out by the end of 2021, with the rest of the 500 million shots being delivered by June of next year. The 500 million dose commitment comes on top of an initial plan to donate 80 million doses, announced earlier this year. Biden announced the initiative after meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson before this weekend's G-7 summit in Cornwall, Britain-Land:
Pfizer is selling the 500 million doses to the US at a "not-for-profit" price, and in his announcement, Biden emphasized that the vaccines would be distributed to other countries with "no strings attached," which means he's going to send out the vaccines without even pressuring Ukraine to dig up dirt on his son Hunter.
CNBC reported Wednesday that the US is also negotiating with Moderna to get additional doses of its vaccine to distribute through COVAX.
The announcement, timed to come just before the summit, is expected to goose other well-off nations to take similar action. Even with billions of vaccine doses, it's going to take at least through 2022 to get vaccines distributed across the world.
Biden has also said he favors waiving intellectual property restrictions so that pharma companies in the rest of the world can produce their own vaccines, although that's still waiting on an international agreement; French President Emmanuel Macron said this week he favors IP waivers as well, so there's one more thing for the G-7 to talk about, non? Germany and the UK have so far opposed any such waivers, while Japan and Canada seem to be on the fence.
One very big reason for the developed world to haul ass on getting vaccines to the rest of the world is that controlling the spread of the virus will reduce the chance that new variations will evolve and bite us. Next time your awful wingnut neighbor complains that Biden's being played for a fool and giving handouts to the world, maybe remind them that US America has a perfectly selfish interest in preventing some possible mutation from coming back here.
Then let your dog poo in their roses late at night.
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For sale or rent.
Today we bring you the first in what we hope won't be a terribly long series on the weirdness of the COVID economic recovery, in which we'll pretend to blame Joe Biden for supply chain disruptions due to the pandemic. Today, it's the recreational vehicle industry, which actually did pretty well in 2020 because one way to travel fairly safely was to drive your own hotel room around the country, as long as you masked up at the gas station. Problem is, now at least one of the biggest RV manufacturers has more orders than it can fill! Darn it, Joe Biden!
Thor Industries - which owns RV brands like Jayco and Airstream - first began seeing a boost in sales in May and June of 2020, especially with RV newcomers, Thor Industries' president and CEO Bob Martin told Insider in May 2020. This boom in popularity only continued to grow: Thor achieved $3.46 billion in net sales in Q3 2021, the strongest in the company's history, Martin said in the earnings report. This is a 105.7% increase compared to Q3 2020.
The downside is that Thor now has a great big backlog of some $14 billion in orders that it's having trouble filling, and RV dealers are saying, "You're Thor? I'm completely thold out!"
On CNBC, Martin explained that Thor's RV brands are already "pretty much sold out for the next year," which is creating problems for the retail networks:
We have backlogs that are full of retail orders, so those will hit the dealer's lot and then leave, and so we're still not able to build inventory at our dealer's lot.
He also said he believes the trend during the pandemic is bringing a lot of younger customers into the RV lifestyle, which means they'll keep upgrading to bigger RVs through their lifetime, so "we see this as a long-term trend." Sure sounds like he's selling something, although maybe that'll turn out to be true. It's like they say, your first RV is free and then once you're hooked ... wait, they don't say that at all.
In an earnings report, Martin wrote that "Since a significant number of units in our backlog have already been retail sold, we currently believe the restocking cycle will extend well into calendar 2022," so the company will continue boosting production to meet the demand.
This all sounds like really good news for one industry, apart from how the shortages are probably all Joe Biden's fault or something.
Gosh, we sure hope that it doesn't turn out that the RV business is some kind of cyclical thing; we keep thinking of that time in 2009 when Barack Obama went to promote his recovery plan in Elkhart, Indiana, home to many RV factories, and there was a lot of Fox News grumbling about how he had tanked the economy while George W. Bush was in office. Then when Obama returned to Elkhart in 2016 to campaign for Hillary Clinton and point out that jobs had returned, Indiana voted instead for Donald Trump, after which the air conditioner manufacturing jobs went to Mexico anyway.
So what we're saying is that the economic news for Thor looks promising, but you probably should judge the economy by watching long-term growth, not just the trailer.
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Slow and steady wins the race.
Hooray, it is Infrastructure Week! Again. Just like every week in the Trump administration, except this time we're actually moving toward a real goal, instead of just throwing a bunch of confetti in the air and congratulating ourselves on all the shit we're never going to accomplish. Same-same, but different!
Last night, the weeks-long infrastructure talks between the White House and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito's merry band of timewasters collapsed. Spokesperson Jen Psaki put out a statement yesterday saying that President Joe Biden "offered his gratitude to her for her efforts and good faith conversations, but expressed his disappointment that, while he was willing to reduce his plan by more than $1 trillion, the Republican group had increased their proposed new investments by only $150 billion."
Capito was marginally gracious, thanking the president for his "willingness to devote so much time and effort to these negotiations" but complained that he "continued to respond with offers that included tax increases as his pay for, instead of several practical options that would have not been harmful to individuals, families, and small businesses." Guess she liked it better when the White House just dummied up some magical math that said cutting taxes would actually increase government revenue. It didn't.
Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, chair of the Republican conference, was significantly less gracious.
"The president has made it clear that he has no intention of agreeing to a plan that addresses core, physical infrastructure," he lied on his website. "President Biden and his team are trying to satisfy an insatiable far-left agenda that demands massive tax hikes and spending trillions of dollars on things unrelated to physical infrastructure."
In reality, the White House put out a highly detailed breakdown of its proposal, which allocates upwards of a trillion dollars for "core, physical infrastructure." The problem is that Republicans would rather watch our bridges collapse and allow Americans to drink untreated swamp water than to raise corporate taxes from 21 to 28 percent — which would still be 7 percent lower than it was under Obama, when the economy was humming along just fine. Republicans are also pissed about money to upgrade longterm care facilities, transition to clean energy sources, and expand rural broadband.
Hey, who represents those people in rural America still using dial-up to connect to the internet? Oh, right.
Anyway, here's Politico's Ryan Lizza with an excellent breakdown of Biden's plan and where we're at in the negotiations.
The White House set a June 9 deadline for the Capito talks, and now it's moving on to negotiate with a bipartisan group led by Republican Sens. Rob Portman and Bill Cassidy and Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer, head of the House Problem Solvers caucus, whose 58 members are split evenly between Democrats and Republicans. Whether this round of negotiations will lead to anything that can gain 60 votes to pass a filibuster is unclear — Sen. Mitt Romney is already saying he won't vote for anything paid for by tax hikes, and progressives have already said they're not going to accept a crappy, insufficient bill just so they can call it bipartisanship.
But, as Politico Playbook points out, Biden can hardly count on support from Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema if he blows off the group they're working with.
Meanwhile, Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders is already working on a bill to go through via reconciliation (the one weird trick to beat the filibuster with a simple majority comprising senators who represent a supermajority of Americans). Which means, at the end of the day, we're likely to wind up breaking Biden's larger package for jobs and infrastructure into two bills: one put through the regular process with bipartisan support, and one via reconciliation. And that would be a HUGE win for Biden and the Democrats, so you can bet your bottom dollar Minority Leader Voldemort is going to work like hell to make sure it never happens.
Luckily there are still a few Republicans who actually care about the country.
"I'm trying to figure out a way that we can get an infrastructure package that can find support, so let's make this happen," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski told the New York Times. "Around this place there's a lot of things that appear to be dead that take on a life of their own afterward."
But if patriotism doesn't work, there's always good, old-fashioned pork barrel spending to grease the skids. Playbook reports that Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy told Biden "the way to his heart is 'flood resiliency and energy provisions.'"
And if that's what it takes, laissez les bontemps rouler, bébé!
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We have faith in Fox News like that.
Vice President Kamala Harris just finished her first trip abroad, first to Guatemala and then to Mexico, as she has been tasked with addressing the root causes of the migration crises that keep Fox News idiots shitting the bed at night.
Here's how Fox News assessed Harris's trip yesterday.
KATIE PAVLICH: This is what happens when you choose your vice president based on gender and skin color rather than actual talent and expertise. We're seeing that disaster unfold right now.
Wow. Even Geraldo was like "that's so mean!" We assume he meant "racist." Pavlich responded, "Oh it's mean?" It's actually true," just continuing with the casual white supremacy that keeps Fox News's 86-year-old white supremacist viewers tuning in.
So that happened.
As for the trip itself, it's been a decent first outing for the vice president, despite what you might have heard from watching idiot TV pundits.
In Mexico City, after meeting with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Harris said she will go to the border at some point, in response to Fox News and other rightwing screaming about sHe hAsN'T eVeN bEeN tO tHe bOrdeR!1!!!!!! Ever since President Biden made Harris the administration's point person on immigration and migration issues — again, specifically tasking her with working with the "Northern Triangle" countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras to address the root causes that make people flee their homes and trek across Mexico to look for asylum — Republicans have been lying and saying she's the "border czar" and that she's neglecting her responsibilities to czar the border.
So Harris explained it yet again to reporters in Mexico City yesterday:
"You can't say you care about the border without caring about the root causes," Harris said.
However, she also described the situation at the U.S. southern border as a "legitimate, correct" concern.
Of course, Fox News and others aren't looking to give substantive constructive criticism to Harris's efforts. They're just looking for something racist to scream about. Wingnuts have been particularly pissed about an interview Harris gave to NBC News's Lester Holt, where she said she didn't quite understand the point of his asking why she hasn't been to the border.
Meanwhile, Harris has also taken flak from some on the Left for saying, on the Guatemala leg of her trip, "do not come" to potential migrants. And indeed, that was a little bit jarring! But there was also context:
"The goal of our work is to help Guatemalans find hope at home," Harris said in a press conference with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei.
"At the same time, I want to be clear to folks in the region who are thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border: Do not come. Do not come," she added. "I believe if you come to our border, you will be turned back."
How many times does she have to say "root causes"?
That said, we understand why some of the Left might have, as Politico put it, "heard an echo of the Trump administration's hardline immigration policies and warned Harris was discouraging the legal right to seek asylum." But Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas expanded on that this week, speaking to the "tragic consequences" of the journey and trying to reassure people that America is working to strengthen its "lawful processes" for migration, "so people do not have to take the perilous journey." This is not the Trump administration, people. It's just not.
And again! ROOT CAUSES!
The Biden administration sees migrants launching their journeys primarily from economic desperation, endemic violence and weak governmental institutions in Central America — "what is happening at our, America's southern border" deserves "equal weight and attention to what is causing that to occur," Harris said in Mexico City.
"I'm really clear: we have to deal with the root causes and that is my hope. Period," she told reporters as she prepared to depart for Mexico City Monday night.
Which root causes? Here are some she talked about in Guatemala:
"We don't have time for glossing over concerns that we have, and so we did have a very frank conversation about the importance of an independent judiciary. We had a conversation about the importance of a strong civil society," Harris said, nodding to areas where Giammattei and his allies have faced criticism.
Later, at a roundtable with human rights activists and other civil society leaders, Harris spoke of the "impact that the lack of judicial independence can have on civil society, especially with regard to the highest courts in the land," a not-so-subtle dig at Guatemala's president, who recently defended the move by Congress here to block a judge, a leading anti-corruption figure in the region, from the country's Constitutional Court earlier this year.
Hey, did we mention ROOT CAUSES? She's working on some of those:
"I want to be very clear that the problem at the border in large part, if not entirely, stems from the problems in these countries," Harris told reporters in Mexico City on Tuesday. "I cannot say it enough. Most people don't want to leave home."
Harris continued, saying if migration is a priority for the US, "we have to understand. If it is a priority to us to be concerned about what is happening at our border, then it must be a priority for us to understand why people leave."
"If you want to address the needs of a people, you must meet those people. You must spend time with those people," she said, "because the only way we can actually fix the problem is to understand the problem."
But how is there room for Fox News's lazy racism if you are actually trying to fix and understand problems?
Also, WHAT ABOUT BORDER?
"The reality is we need to prioritize what's happening at the border and we have to prioritize why people are going to the border," she said. Harris said that she has "spent a lot of time on the border both going there, physically, and aware of the issues."
"I think it is short-sighted for any of us who are in the business of problem solving to suggest that we are only going to respond to the reaction as opposed to addressing the cause," she added.
So that is that.
But don't worry, Fox News. She's gonna go to the border at some point. And you will find a way to racistly complain about that too, because you're shit human beings.
Here, watch the vice president's presser in Mexico yesterday if you're so inclined.
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