EDITORS' BLOG
Where Things Stand: Progressives Issue Emotional Plea For Dems To Do Something About Boebert
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Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) introduced a resolution today, asking the House to kick Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) off her committee assignments for repeatedly and brazenly attacking Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) with racist and hateful anti-Muslim remarks.

It’s the culmination of weeks of frustration for Omar and fellow progressives, as congressional leadership does next to nothing to discipline the far-right Boebert for making racist jokes about Omar, who is a Muslim, and insinuating that the Minnesota Democrat’s religion somehow makes her a terrorist.

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Is Omicron More Mild? (Probably Not)
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You’ve probably heard reports that Omicron COVID in South Africa has generally been causing milder forms of the disease. The caution on these reports is that they are early, anecdotal, haven’t given enough time to generate severe outcomes and have been disproportionately among the young. Each of these points remains true. But over the last couple days the data has become sufficiently detailed that it does seem like people presenting with Omicron COVID are relatively less sick than those who presented with Delta at the same point in earlier waves. So, definitely still too early to say for sure but probably too far along to dismiss it as merely anecdotal or just an artifact of distorted early data.

So doesn’t that suggest that Omicron is a milder version of COVID? Here’s why it doesn’t.

Based on the evidence we have to date the key distinguishing feature of Omicron is that it has much greater immune evasion. It may be more transmissible. It could be a lot of things. But this feature has been clear from the beginning and new lab evidence has only confirmed this distinguishing feature.

I noted earlier that South Africa has relatively low rates of vaccination and extremely high rates of prior infection. So virtually every immune system in South Africa has some experience with COVID.

What appears to be happening is not that Omicron itself produces milder illness. It’s that it is much better at causing infection and illness among the vaccinated or those who already had COVID. And because those people already have some immunity – though not enough to prevent them from getting sick – they’re getting milder forms of the disease.

We know this from breakthrough infections in the US. Illness in people who’ve been vaccinated tends to be mild. It’s the same principle.

It’s also possible that Omicron is milder. It could also cause more severe illness. We simply don’t know. The immune evasion feature is more than enough to explain any observed reduction of disease severity relative to earlier waves and strains. And it makes it hard to disentangle anything that might be milder or less mild about the new version of the virus itself.

More Data on Omicron and Vaccines; Get the Booster
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Earlier I flagged two studies on Omicron vaccine evasion which were released last night. Now we have an additional study conducted under the auspices of PFIZER/BIONTECH which appear to show complementary results. I say ‘complementary’ because they test a different question but the results appear broadly consistent with those other two studies. I’m told that this study was done in the BioNtech labs and looked at a pseudo-virus version of Omicron against samples from people who received two doses and three doses.

The gist is that protection against Omicron goes down a lot if you’ve just had two doses. But with three doses it’s much higher. The key line is this: “According to the companies’ preliminary data, a third dose provides a similar level of neutralizing antibodies to Omicron as is observed after two doses against wild-type and other variants that emerged before Omicron.”

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It’s Time For The 2021 TPM Reader Survey

Hey TPM Readers! It’s time for our annual survey.

The objective of this survey is for us to get to know you — our readers — better. Whether you’re a member, a long-time TPM reader or this is your first time on the site we’d like to hear from you and learn more about your preferences. The survey takes about 5 to 10 minutes and is a huge help. Your answers will help us make key decisions, shape the future of TPM, and in the process serve you better. 

You can find it here.

Thank you! We really appreciate your time and your feedback.

First Lab Studies of Omicron
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You’ve probably been hearing that we’re waiting on the first lab studies of the Omicron variant’s transmissibility and immune evasion. Yesterday evening two of the first of those studies came out. Given the urgency of the situation the lead researchers released details immediately on Twitter while also publishing pre-print versions of the data. You can read one of the threads here and the second here.

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Where Things Stand: Crenshaw Wants You To Know He’s Not Buying The Gaetz/MTG Act
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But he’s also not willing to plant a flag in any particular place.

The once-novel divide between various flanks of the Republican Party during the earliest days of the Trump era was a ripe area of fascination for many in the media, as various scandals forced longtime conservatives to speak out — and coin him or herself a Never-Trumper — or as old guard lawmakers flocked to the faux-populist corners of the party’s once-fringe Trumpian movement. Now that divide has reemerged, as establishment Republicans grapple with the future of their party and pundits hand-wring about how far-right the GOP’s ideology and messaging must go in order to win elections in 2022.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) has tried to have it both ways for some time. And he’s still squirming to this day.

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Trump’s New Bribe Mill
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This is probably obvious to many of you. But Donald Trump’s new ‘Truth Social’ media company, formed with a blank check SPAC vehicle, is essentially an open invitation to foreign bribes and payoffs. It’s no surprise the investor list is secret. The one constant in Trump’s business history is that investors get screwed and he walks away unscathed. Given Trump’s political following a social and media venture seems like it could be quite profitable. But most people can succeed with casinos too. Just not Trump. And those were the days of formal investments, prospectuses, business plans, formal commitments. A SPAC is a blank check. Invest now. Find out what you’re investing in later. No one with big money would invest in such an enterprise with the hope of financial returns.

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Daddy Said Time to Come Home

It looks like Donald Trump put his foot down and told Mark Meadows to stop cooperating with the January 6th committee. Is this an effort to get back into Trump’s good graces after the COVID positive test revelation that had Meadows calling his own book “fake news”? Presumably Meadows can now expect an indictment imminently.

Where Things Stand: Schumer Sticks With BBB Timeline In Face Of Endless Hurdles
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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) lit a fire under some of his colleagues today, stating in a letter to colleagues his ongoing expectation that the Senate will pass the Biden administration’s sweeping Build Back Better package via reconciliation “before Christmas.”

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Putting Jan 6th in Perspective
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I want to recommend to you this new article in The Atlantic about the Jan 6th insurrection and the preparation for the next one in 2024. It doesn’t contain any big exclusives. If you’ve been following ours and others coverage of the insurrection, the effort to pass new election subverting laws at the state level and the campaign of harassment of local election officials you’ll be broadly familiar with most of it. But I don’t think I’ve seen anyone pull the different moving parts together so effectively, either retrospectively or prospectively.

I have a bit of a quibble with Bart on just how much Trump was methodologically pursuing a clear plan to overturn the election once Biden was declared the victor a few days after election day. But this is mainly a matter of emphasis rather than disputes over detail.

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| News

As state legislators across the country continue to push for so-called “audits” and other investigations into the 2020 election, some independent groups are taking it upon themselves to hit the pavement — going door-to-door and asking people about their vote in the last presidential election. 

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| News

A new filing suggests deep flaws in a key prosecution brought by the Bill Barr-appointed special prosecutor John Durham, who is charged with investigating the investigators of the Trump-Russia scandal.

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A new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing that prices rose in October and are hovering at a notably high point has triggered a full-on Democratic panic attack over the fate of the reconciliation bill. 

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