One of the features/bugs of Gov. Phil Scott’s twice-weekly Covid-19 briefings is that a lot of reporters beyond The Usual Suspects get to participate. Sometimes this is a good thing; scribes from Vermont’s many local weeklies often ask solid questions.
And then there’s Steve Merrill aka “Steve from the Kingdom” and Guy Page, two hard-core right-wingers known for asking irrelevant questions that go nowhere.
Well, today they outdid themselves. Page brought a QAnon-inspired question to the party, and Merrill tried to provoke an argument with Scott. (Page and Merrill appeared back-to-back near the end of the briefing; Page begins around the 1 hour, 46 minute mark of the video, viewable at the above link.)
For those unfamiliar with the weedier patches of the Vermont media ecosystem, Page is a longtime fixture around the Statehouse and a genuinely nice guy. He used to lobby for nuclear power; now he’s kind of a one-man band of right-wing partisan journalism. He operates a couple of websites and, during legislative sessions, he produces an occasional newsletter.
Merrill is the volunteer host of a little-known and seldom-viewed talk show on NEK-TV, the Kingdom’s community access service. Which is enough to get them on the briefing list.
What follows is their “contribution” to today’s briefing.
Meet Ellie Martin, dedicated Trumper, devout pro-lifer, resident of Underhill, organizer of the CovidCruiser bus that carried 51 Vermonters to the Trump-inspired riot of January 6. Has a passing acquaintance with grammar and spelling. She posted the above message on her Facebook page the day after the Capitol riot.
I’m sure Ellie is a nice person in non-political life. I’ve known people like her, and they’d greet you warmly, be sincerely interested in your problems, bake you a casserole or sincerely offer to pray for you.
But in politics, she’s a nutball inflamed by Trump and far-right media — and by whatever totalitarian impulse lies hidden in many a Christian heart. And if you think “totalitarian” is a stretch, how about this:
That’s the stuff! You think we’re exaggerating the motives of the Capitol storm troopers? You think VTDigger was a little permissive with its article referring to “a friendly mob” and freely quoting from CovidCruiser participants without much of a pushback?
Look, there are always a few crazies willing to believe anything and prepare for The Final Battle. What’s really dangerous is when the “nice people” like Ellie Martin start believing trash like this.
That’s right. Donald Trump, habitual liar, racist, thrice-married cheater, con man, is God’s representative on Earth. Because Jesus just couldn’t cut it with all that “love they neighbor” and “blessed are the poor” weaksauce.
After the jump: More goodies from Ms. Martin’s Facebook page.
Friday’s Scott-free* Covid briefing featured multiple questions about the CovidCruiser, which took a busload of Vermonters down to Washington for Wednesday’s pro-Trump rally turned riot. And the answers revealed a surprisingly laissez-faire attitude toward the dozens of participants who were clearly shown violating public health guidelines. During a 10-hour one-way trip in an enclosed space, which seemed ideal for superspreading.
*The governor was not present. His absence had been planned for days; it was not an attempt to duck questions about the Trump-encouraged D.C. riots.
Essentially, the state wagged its finger at the travelers.
Health commissioner Dr. Mark Levine labeled the trip as “a high risk enterprise,” and said the state issued very clear guidance on testing, mask wearing, social distancing and quarantining requirements upon returning to Vermont. But, he added, “we don’t really have the regulatory power to enforce somebody being quarantined when they are not yet a [Covid-19] case… But we’ve been very strong with the information about quarantining and testing.”
He didn’t specifically say he was concerned or disappointed, but he was obviously following the Susan Collins approach to non-ideal developments.
Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling was asked if the state had obtained a list of travelers, for purposes of communication and possible contact tracing. “We do not have a comprehensive list of the folks that were on the bus,” he replied. He said the state had no intention to get such a list. He added that the state did contact the bus company, which “graciously agreed to make an announcement to all of the folks that were on the bus to reinforce the quarantine guidelines.”
In all, a remarkably passive response to a clear superspreader threat. I mean, you’ve got a busload of people who were clearly shown on video riding in close proximity with nary a mask in sight. I’d think that would warrant a more robust response. Not mandatory quarantining, but getting that list and closely following the occupants for signs of illness. And something more than a mere suggestion to get tested.
The majority’s action was inspired by none other than Vermont Republican Party vice-chair (and former candidate for attorney general, thank God she lost) Deborah Bucknam.
You heard right. A top official of Phil Scott’s own party is peddling this brand of intellectual snake oil. Maybe someone will ask him about this at his next coronavirus presser.
And look who showed up to push this nonsense: Kevin Hoyt, Bennington’s number-one conservative nutcase. In a Facebook post, he said the vote makes Stamford “One of the first conservative autonomous zones in the Nation.” Love the brazen self-aggrandizement there.
Stamford’s action came after Bucknam posted an essay on — wait for it — True North Reports, arguing that Scott’s action violates the state constitution. Trigger Warning: You Might Lose a Few Dozen IQ Points By Reading This.
Vermont Statute Section 13(3) of Title 20 provides that the governor “shall” declare the state of emergency terminated in a municipality when the “majority of the legislative body of a municipality affected no longer desires that the state of emergency continue within its jurisdiction.”
… The terms “shall” mean that the governor has no discretion in this matter. He must terminate the state of emergency in the municipality when the majority of the selectboard or other legislative body no longer “desires” to be under a state of emergency.