Friday Reads: May Peace Abide!Posted: December 24, 2021
Good Day Sky Dancers!
Gosh there are so many headlines today that it’s hard to find any major theme other than we’re all dealing with chaos right now. As BB wrote yesterday, the Omicron Virus is proving to be more dangerous than we thought and a huge surge is on the way. Most of the surge will be in the unvaccinated and a serious mask is indicated if you’re out and about. (Via. NPR.)
With another coronavirus variant racing across the U.S., once again health authorities are urging people to mask up indoors. Yes, you’ve heard it all before. But given how contagious omicron is, experts say, it’s seriously time to upgrade to an N95 or similar high-filtration respirator when you’re in public indoor spaces.
“Cloth masks are not going to cut it with omicron,” says Linsey Marr, a researcher at Virginia Tech who studies how viruses transmit in the air.
Omicron is so much more transmissible than coronavirus variants that have come before it. It spreads at least three times faster than delta. One person is infecting at least three others at a time on average, based on data from other countries.
“It’s very contagious,” says Dr. Robert Wachter, chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. “And the kind of encounter that you could have had with prior versions of the virus that would have left you uninfected, there’s now a good chance you will get infected from it.
WAPO reports “White House reporters ask for virtual press briefings during the latest covid surge.” The list of vaccinated Senators and Congress members with COVID-19 positive tests is amazing.
The White House Correspondents’ Association has proposed holding the daily briefings on Zoom or some other online platform to avoid face-to-face contact in the White House’s cramped briefing room.
The WHCA is concerned that reporters face an elevated risk of being infected with the highly contagious omicron variant — or infecting their colleagues with it — while congregating in the 49-seat briefing room or the narrow workspaces behind it.
In a memo sent to members on Tuesday, the group’s president, Steven Portnoy, noted that President Biden himself had said in a speech earlier in the day that omicron cases are likely to be widespread in many workplaces, including at the White House.
This is what a Republican used to look like. I’ve never really been into this guy but this is a nice move on his part.
Then there is this story from Rolling Stone. I really wish Krampus would’ve of drug all these people off in his wooden cart. “MAGA Diehards Melt Down Over Trump’s Pro-Vax Push. Anger and confusion reign as Trump endorses vaccines many followers believe are poison”
In fairness to the boo birds, the pro-booster message was an about-face for Trump, for whom consistency has never been a virtue. Over the summer he dismissed the notion of a third jab as “a money-making operation for Pfizer.” This message vibed with the anti-vax fever swamps, which have long decried Big Pharma for raking in profits by pushing vaccines that (they believe against all evidence) poison patients, instead of protecting them.
As the president’s new, unabashed booster endorsement rippled out across right-wing social media, it was met with an combustible mix of anger, confusion, contorted excuses, and denial so pure it’s as if the former president had never uttered a word.
For a sign of just how severely Trump wrong-footed himself with his base by endorsing boosters, look no further than the editorial cartoonist Ben Garrison. The doodler’s devotion to the 45th president has been slavish, but Garrison’s opposition to the vaccine has also been stalwart. His latest cartoon opus shows Trump riding aboard on the “Big Pharma Vaccine Bandwagon” as he’s booed by the MAGA-hatted masses.
There’s a lot of other weirdness in the news today!
The LAPD have proved themselves craven again. This is from the NYT.
They couldn’t have just nabbed the guy without shooting up a retail store during the last-minute holiday shopping crowd?
The teenager had been in the dressing room with her mother, the Los Angeles Police chief, Michel R. Moore, told LAist.com, adding that the shooting was the “worst thing anyone can imagine.” The police did not immediately release the girl’s name.
Chief Choi described the encounter as a “tragic and unfortunate sequence of events” and said it remained under investigation. He said that the investigation had indicated that the girl had been fatally shot by the police.
“Preliminarily, we believe that round was an officer’s round,” he said.
He said investigators had not yet reviewed body-camera video or the store’s security-camera footage, although it appeared the dressing room had been in the officer’s line of fire.
Orange Caligula has taken his plea for hiding his complicity in the Insurrection to SCOTUS. The committee has zeroed in on his stalling during the insurrection and is considering criminal charges. This is from MSNBC: In bid for Jan. 6 secrecy, Trump asks Supreme Court for help. Two weeks ago, Donald Trump said he has “nothing to hide” about Jan. 6. Today, he asked the Supreme Court to help him hide Jan. 6 materials. This was written by Steve Benen.
A couple of weeks ago, Donald Trump appeared on Fox News and was asked about the investigation into the Jan. 6 attacks. “Honestly, I have nothing to hide,” the former president said. “I wasn’t involved in that.”
For a guy who has nothing to hide, the Republican continues to invest a lot of effort into keeping Jan. 6 materials hidden. NBC News reported this afternoon:
Lawyers for former President Donald Trump on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to block the National Archives from turning over White House records to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. In a petition filed with the high court, lawyers for Trump said the Washington, D.C., Court of Appeals erred in its ruling earlier this month directing the records to be turned over, and urged the Supreme Court to intervene.
For those who may need a refresher about how we arrived at this point, it was two months ago when the bipartisan House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack requested extensive materials from the White House, prompting Trump to demand absolute secrecy.
In fact, the former president and his team have tried to exert “executive privilege” to block the select committee’s requests. As NBC News recently noted, as a matter of tradition, sitting presidents have shielded White House materials at the request of their predecessors. But not this time: President Joe Biden and his team concluded that there are “unique and extraordinary circumstances” surrounding the insurrectionist attack on the Capitol.
Trump and his team sued both the committee and the National Archives, which houses presidential records.
In November, a federal district court ruled against the Republican, reminding him, “Presidents are not kings.” Two weeks ago, a unanimous federal appeals court came to the same conclusion.
As regular readers may recall, the ruling was unsparing in its rejection of the former president’s arguments. “President Trump bears the burden of at least showing some weighty interest in continued confidentiality that could be capable of tipping the scales back in his favor…. He has not done so,” the three-judge panel wrote. “He has not identified any specific countervailing need for confidentiality tied to the documents at issue, beyond their being presidential communications. Neither has he presented arguments that grapple with the substance of President Biden’s and Congress’s weighty judgments. Nor has he made even a preliminary showing that the content of any particular document lacks relevance to the Committee’s investigation.
The Republican assault on free and fair elections instigated by Donald Trump is gathering pace, with efforts to sabotage the normal workings of American democracy sweeping state legislatures across the US.
A year that began with the violent insurrection at the US Capitol is ending with an unprecedented push to politicize, criminalize or in other ways subvert the nonpartisan administration of elections. A year-end report from pro-democracy groups identifies no fewer than 262 bills introduced in 41 states that hijack the election process.
Of those, 32 bills have become law in 17 states.
The largest number of bills is concentrated in precisely those states that became the focus of Trump’s Stop the Steal campaign to block the peaceful transfer of power after he lost the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden. Arizona, where Trump supporters insisted on an “audit” to challenge Biden’s victory in the state, has introduced 20 subversion bills, and Georgia where Trump attempted to browbeat the top election official to find extra votes for him has introduced 15 bills.
Texas, whose ultra-right Republican group has made the state the ground zero of voter suppression and election interference, has introduced as many as 59 bills.
“We’re seeing an effort to hijack elections in this country, and ultimately, to take power away from the American people. If we don’t want politicians deciding our elections, we all need to start paying attention,” said Joanna Lydgate, CEO of the States United Democracy Center which is one of the three groups behind the report. Protect Democracy and Law Forward also participated.
One of the key ways that Trump-inspired state lawmakers have tried to sabotage future elections is by changing the rules to give legislatures control over vote counts. In Pennsylvania, a bill passed in the wake of Trump’s defeat that sought to rewrite the state’s election law was vetoed by Democratic governor Tom Wolf.
Anyway, I don’t go back to the podium until next year and I’m celebrating my 4th day in pjs. I hope you get a chance to relax and that the expectations of what should be this time of year don’t overwhelm you! Whatever your plans are, be kind to yourself and the ones around you.!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?