As Christmas approaches, we are beginning to see the aftereffects of Thanksgiving travel and get-togethers. Today The New York Times reports: The U.S. has recorded over 250,000 cases in a day for the first time.
As the United States welcomed the news Friday that a second vaccine, by Moderna, had been authorized by the federal government for emergency use, the country confronted another stark reminder of how desperately vaccines are needed: a single-day caseload of over 251,000 new coronavirus cases, a once-unthinkable record.
It’s been only a week since the Food and Drug Administration first approved a Covid-19 vaccine, the one created by Pfizer and BioNTech. As trucks have carried vials across the country and Americans began pulling up their sleeves for inoculations, more ominous numbers have piled up:
Monday: 300,000 total dead in the United States.
Wednesday: 3,611 deaths in a single day, shattering the previous record of 3,157 on Dec. 9.
Thursday: Over 1 million new cases in just five days, pushing the country’s total of confirmed cases past 17 million.
Three months ago, new cases were trending downward and death reports were flat, but those gains have been lost. Now there are nearly six times as many cases being reported each day, and three times as many deaths, according to a New York Times database.
The South is on a particularly worrisome trajectory. Georgia, Arkansas and South Carolina have all set weekly case records. Tennessee is confirming new cases at the highest per capita rate in the country.
As cases continue to spike, officials are warning that hospitals, which now hold a record of nearly 115,000 Covid-19 patients, could soon be overwhelmed. More than a third of Americans live in areas where hospitals are running critically short of intensive care beds, federal data show. A recent New York Times analysis found that 10 percent of Americans — across a large swath of the Midwest, South and Southwest — live in areas where I.C.U.s are either completely full or have less than 5 percent of beds available.
On Wednesday, the US reported a record of 3,448 deaths. In total, more than 312,000 have died in the country since the beginning of the pandemic (though that’s almost certainly an undercount).
This week alone, two school teachers in Texas who’d been married 30 years died together, holding hands. A convent in Wisconsin lost eight nuns. COVID-19 claimed a Chicago paramedic — the fire department’s third coronavirus death. An elder of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe died of the virus, just a month after his wife.
This unprecedented and tragic surge in fatalities is, in part, a product of pandemic fatigue, cold weather that has led people indoors, and the patchwork nature state policies on masks and closures — many of which are quite lax. But these recent record-breaking days of death, in particular, are the result of infections contracted around Thanksgiving.
Despite CDC warnings to the contrary, an NPR analysis of mobile phone data found that 13% of Americans ventured more than 31 miles from home on Thanksgiving Day. That’s not a huge drop from last year, when it was 17%.
But it’s common knowledge that the most Thanksgiving travel comes in the days before and after the holiday. The Transportation Security Administration screened 9.5 million airline passengers during the 10-day Thanksgiving travel period. That’s less than half of what the TSA reported in 2019, but it still included some of the busiest days since the pandemic began.
Cases generally take about two weeks to appear in official tallies, since the virus incubates in the body for an average of five days, then people usually wait a few days to get tested after symptoms appear. Then there’s the multiday wait for results, and the subsequent process of reporting them to health agencies.
Deaths, in turn, generally follow one to three weeks after a rise in cases.
Like clockwork, that is what we’re seeing now.
Read much more–with individual stories–at the BI link.
More on the horrific situation in California at The Guardian: California sees record 379 coronavirus deaths as ICU capacity plummets. State has 1.7m cases, nearly as many as Spain, with ICU capacity in southern California at 0%.
The coronavirus toll in California reached another frightening milestone on Thursday, with health officials announcing a one-day record of 379 deaths and a two-day total of nearly 106,000 newly confirmed cases.
The most populous US state has recorded more than 1,000 deaths in the last five days. Its overall case total now tops 1.7m, a figure nearly equal to Spain’s and only surpassed by eight countries. The state’s overall death toll has reached 21,860.
Many of California’s hospitals are running out of capacity to treat the severest cases, and the situation is complicating care for non-Covid patients. ICU capacity in southern California hit 0% on Thursday.
“It’s pretty much all Covid,” said Arlene Brion, a respiratory therapist at Fountain Valley regional hospital in Orange county, where she is assigned six or seven patients rather than the usual one to three. “There’s probably two areas that are clean but we’re all thinking eventually it’s all going to be Covid.”
The Los Angeles mayor, Eric Garcetti, who is quarantining after his daughter was exposed, gave a stark briefing to city residents, warning that within days LA county may declare a systemwide crisis, with all hospitals out of usual space and staffing. The hospitals are planning by identifying areas such as parking lots and conference rooms that can be used for patient care.
He also reminded residents that the governor earlier announced the state had ordered 5,000 additional body bags and has dozens of refrigerated trucks ready to use as temporary morgues to handle bodies too numerous for existing morgues. “That frightens me, and it should frighten you,” Garcetti said.
The Washington Post has a video and photo essay on a struggling California hospital. Is this what other states will face soon? Overwhelmed: Covid patients are treated in parking lots, hallways and lobbies of a California
hospital that, like the nation, is struggling to keep pace with the pandemic.
APPLE VALLEY, Calif. — The hospital spreads over a block along Happy Trails Highway, which splits this high-desert town in half as it runs low and wide down a gentle hill.
All around St. Mary Medical Center is a new silence.
Fat Jack’s Bar & Grill is shuttered, never to reopen. The Chamber of Commerce, featuring a rearing, life-size model of the mid-century movie-star horse Trigger, is empty.
“Intermission,” reads the marquee of the High Desert Center for the Arts, which sits at the edge of this longtime home of antique Hollywood royalty, the singing cowboy Roy Rogers and his co-star wife, Dale Evans.
The hospital, though, is alive with the dying.
Head over to the WaPo to experience it.
I wonder how many people boarded planes to visit relatives last month? How many of those people were carrying the virus? Check out this story at The New York Times: United Helps to Contact Passengers After Possible Covid-19-Related Death on Flight.
United Airlines said on Friday that it was working with health officials to contact passengers who might have been exposed to the coronavirus by a male passenger who died after a medical emergency on a recent flight.
The four flight attendants who responded to the emergency on board the flight, United 591, also went into quarantine for 14 days after the plane landed at its destination in Los Angeles, the flight attendants’ union said.
The flight, which took off from Orlando, Fla., and was diverted to New Orleans, prompted widespread alarm on social media after reports indicated that the man’s wife had told emergency medical workers that he had tested positive for the virus.
United Airlines said on Friday that the man’s wife was overheard telling an emergency medical worker that her husband had symptoms of Covid-19, including loss of taste and smell.
But United officials said medical professionals did not confirm at the time that the man had tested positive for the virus, and they are still not sure if he was infected. When the flight was diverted to New Orleans, the airline said, it was told that the passenger had experienced cardiac arrest.
Nevertheless, United Airlines said it had been contacted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We are sharing requested information with the agency so they can work with local health officials to conduct outreach to any customer the C.D.C. believes may be at risk for possible exposure or infection,” the airline said.
But the U.S. Government is coming to the rescue with vaccines, right? Wrong.
As Vice President Mike Pence sat for his COVID-19 vaccine shot on Friday morning, governors’ offices across the country were fuming, confused as to why their states were set to receive significantly fewer Pfizer doses than originally expected.
For months, states worked with the federal government to iron out plans for how many doses they’d receive, where and when they’d be distributed, and who would get the shots first. Senior officials with Operation Warp Speed, a public-private partnership to fast-track a vaccine, touted the administration’s planning as a success, saying that the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) had worked with states to make the distribution go smoothly.
But within days of declaring an unambiguous triumph, things have gone seriously awry.
As vaccines have made their way from warehouses to hospitals across the country, state officials from Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Georgia, and Washington State, among others, have been notified that they will receive thousands fewer doses than expected. Officials with two states told The Daily Beast that they would receive 30 percent less vaccine than planned. And when officials approached the federal government for answers, they said they were greeted with more confusion.
The search for answers extended up the ranks of the Trump COVID task force as well, where top members copped to being unaware as to why there were discrepancies between the numbers originally communicated to states and the number of doses shipped. As of Friday, the task force has not convened to discuss the issue, according to people familiar with the matter, even as a second vaccine from Moderna received its own emergency-use authorization.
Click the link to read the rest.
USA Today says they know what the problem is: States were left scrambling after finding out they’d get 20-40% less vaccine than promised. We now know why.
States were given estimates that turned out to be based on vaccine doses produced, not those that had completed quality control and were releasable.Only on Wednesday and later were states informed of the actual numbers.
“The ripple effect is huge,” said Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers. “The planning piece is critical. We cannot roll this vaccine out on the fly.”
After three days of confusion, the source of the problem was finally clarified Friday night by Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington state. He tweeted he’d had a “very productive” conversation with Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer for Operation Warp Speed, the administration’s COVID-19 treatment and vaccine program.
“That discrepancy was the source of the change in allocations,” Inslee tweeted. “It appears this is not indicative of long-term challenges with vaccine production.”
The sudden shift represents a huge headache for states as they scramble to adjust their vaccination programs.
A letter sent to governors Friday night from Heath and Human Services explained the discrepancy as confusion.
“We want to provide further perspective on the planning numbers generated in mid-November that are being compared with official weekly allocations. Official allocation numbers are only made available the week prior to distribution as they are based on the number of vaccine doses that have met FDA certification standards and have been released to the U.S. government,” it said.
“We hoped it was clear that those figures and the underlying projections from the companies were for planning purposes and could be refined, and that if the number of releasable doses from a manufacturer changed, the allocations to jurisdictions would change, too,” the letter went on to say.
That was in fact not clear to states. Governors nationwide have been asking for details and explanations since Wednesday.
Whatever. The truth is we don’t have a president right now, and even when the Trump people were paying attention, they didn’t really know what they were doing. Guess who was allowed to tell the CDC what to do during the pandemic?
Bess Levin at Vanity Fair: Ivanka Trump, Famed Public Health Expert, Screened CDC Guidance to Make Sure It Was Nice to Her Dad.
In an interview with The New York Times about how the administration manipulated the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two former Trump political appointees say what they saw during their time at the Atlanta agency shocked them, the newspaper writes: “Washington’s dismissal of science, the White House’s slow suffocation of the agency’s voice, the meddling in its messages and the siphoning of its budget.” According to Kyle McGowan, a former chief of staff at the CDC, and his deputy, Amanda Campbell, the White House insisted on reviewing, and often editing, the agency’s COVID-19 guidance documents, “the most prominent public expression of its latest research and scientific consensus on the spread of the virus.” The guidance was not just vetted by the administration’s coronavirus task force but “an endless loop of political appointees across Washington.” The White House, McGowan says, was obsessed with the economic implications of the public health crisis. For example, the White House’s budget director took issue with the agency’s specific spacing guidelines for restaurants. “It is not the CDC’s role to determine the economic viability of a guidance document,” McGowan told the Times. That battle ultimately led to the agency simply offering a vague recommendation of “social distancing,” which could, really, mean anything, instead of strongly suggesting restaurants ensure six feet between patrons.
And then there were the times the CDC’s scientists were screened by a former purveyor of shoes and purses, Ivanka Trump, in addition to the White House’s undersecretary for lies, Kellyanne Conway:
Part of Campbell’s job was to help get approval for the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report—a closely watched and previously apolitical guide on infectious diseases. However, political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services repeatedly requested that the CDC “revise, delay, and even scuttle drafts” they thought might be viewed as somehow critical of Donald Trump. “It wasn’t until something was in the MMWR that was in contradiction to what message the White House and HHS were trying to put forward that they became scrutinized,” Campbell said.
One more from The Daily Beast: History Will Agree That Trump Used Americans as Lab Rats.
Wednesday was a bad day in the fight against COVID-19. The government announced a record number of deaths, more than 3,600. Meanwhile, a House committee released internal Trump administration messages, which demonstrated that Americans were unknowing lab rats in the president’s grail-quest for herd immunity.
In a July 4, 2020 email, Paul Alexander, a political appointee at the Department of Health and Human Services, spelled it all out. In his words, infants, young adults, and middle-aged folks with no conditions had “zero risk,” and were there to take the hit as America marched off a cliff. “We want them infected,” declared Alexander.
Unfortunately, the administration never asked their permission to become human guinea pigs. Indeed, as fate would have it, younger Americans are now dying at historic rates, according to a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. As for herd immunity, it’s a lot like waiting for Godot.
But then again, Alexander is the same fellow who also tried to muzzle Anthony Fauci and criticized the CDC as alarmist. In fact, he even commented that the agency’s COVID warning to pregnant women read as if it were designed to frighten as opposed to inform. As Alexander saw things, the agency was portraying the president and his administration as if they “can’t fix this” and that things are “getting worse.”
For the record, Alexander got it wrong on both counts. Donald J. Trump and his minions failed to fix things, and the situation has gone from bad to horrific. The CDC’s worries were borne out.
Early administration projections of no more than 70,000 dead now read like fantasies or wishful thinking. Come Joe Biden’s inauguration—a month away, as we’re losing around 3,000 Americans every day—the death toll may even surpass 400,000.
I’ve seen projections of 500,000 deaths by spring. And I doubt that will be the end of it, despite the vaccines.
I know this is a long and depressing post, but it’s important to understand how bad things are and how much worse they may get over the upcoming long winter. Take care, Sky Dancers. Please stay home as much as possible and wear your masks when you have to go out.
Arthur Hughes (27 January 1832 – 22 December 1915) was an English painter and illustrator associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
To see more of Arthur Hughes work click here.
Happy Christmas, stay safe… this is an open thread.
I hope everyone had a lovely day despite the self-absorbed asshole living in the White House and his mountain of grievances. Here’s a bit of his so-called Christmas message to the troops today. CNN reports:
In President Donald Trump’s Christmas Day telling, the drugs are flowing over the border, the Federal Reserve is imperiling the economy and the Democrats are preparing to harass him with oversight requests.
“It’s a disgrace, what’s happening in our country,” Trump fumed, seated behind the Resolute Desk on Tuesday, after decrying Democrats as hypocrites and recalling — unprompted — his firing of former FBI Director James Comey.
“But other than that,” he said, his hands gesturing outward, “I wish everybody a very merry Christmas.”
Celebrating the holiday at the White House instead of his Palm Beach estate, Trump used a phone call session with American troops to advance his case for a border wall, his isolationist foreign policy views and his insistence that his campaign did not collude with Russia.
Trump acknowledged the standoff with Democrats over funding for his long-promised border wall has no foreseeable end date.
“I can’t tell you when the government is going to be open. I can tell you it’s not going to be open until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they would like to call it,” he said.
I’m sure the men and women serving overseas found that very edifying . . . not. Here’s mash-up of his public whining:
Remember when we had a real president? It’s hard to believe it has only been two years since the Obamas sent out their final Christmas message.
I just got home after spending the day with family. I thought I’d share a few stories that have caught my attention tonight.
The New York Times: Trump’s King Minus Touch.
The New Yorker: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Nephew on Winning the Aunt Lottery.
Scientific American: There Is No Such Thing as Conscious Thought.
Happy Holidays, Sky Dancers!!
Frankly, I’ll be very glad when this holiday season is over. It goes on way too long. This year I saw Christmas stuff at Halloween! At least I don’t get depressed at this time of year anymore, and I’m very happy for people who enjoy the celebration. I’ll probably have a nice time at Christmas dinner, but why do we need a two month build-up? Please forgive my grumbling…. I’ll get to the news, such as it is.
MSNBC’s First Read reports that Boehner and his merry men in the House “punted” on the payroll tax cut bill last night; supposedly they’ll vote on it today.
House Republican leaders emerged following a meeting with rank-and-file members to say that the House would take up their votes on Tuesday. Lawmakers had planned to vote around 6:30 p.m. ET on Monday evening, but the 6 p.m. meeting of GOP lawmakers lasted longer than expected, over two hours.
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said that the House Rules Committee, which sets the parameters for votes in the House, would meet tonight to set the stage for tomorrow’s series of votes. Those Tuesday votes would include a measure to reject the Senate’s two month extension, and instead instruct lawmakers to meet in a conference — the formal process of resolving differences with legislation in the Senate.
“Our members do not want to just punt and do a two-month, short-term fix where we have to come back and do this again,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told reporters at the Capitol.
House Republicans prefer legislation to extend the expiring tax cut by a whole year, and produced legislation to that effect. But Democrats in the Senate rejected that proposal because of some of the cuts used to offset the cost of the bill, which also includes an extension of unemployment insurance.
Meanwhile, Jake Tapper is reporting that the two month extension passed by the Senate and backed by President Obama cannot be implemented in it’s current form.
Officials from the policy-neutral National Payroll Reporting Consortium, Inc. have expressed concern to members of Congress that the two-month payroll tax holiday passed by the Senate and supported by President Obama cannot be implemented properly.
Pete Isberg, president of the NPRC today wrote to the key leaders of the relevant committees of the House and Senate, telling them that “insufficient lead time” to implement the complicated change mandated by the legislation means the two-month payroll tax holiday “could create substantial problems, confusion and costs affecting a significant percentage of U.S. employers and employees.”
ABC News obtained a copy of the letter, which can be read HERE. Isberg agreed that it would be fair to characterize his letter as saying that the two-month payroll tax holiday cannot be implemented properly.
Why on earth can’t those morons on Capital Hill just extend the unemployment insurance for Pete’s sake? The Congressional Republicans make Scrooge look like a piker when it comes to mean-spiritedness. Aren’t most of them supposed to be “Christians?” Good grief!
Please, can’t someone force Boehner and Cantor to visit some homeless shelters and perhaps some parks and street corners in Washington D.C., where no doubt some of the 1.6 million homeless children in the U.S. reside? One out of every 45 kids in this country were homeless last year! And these evil bastards are trying to make this horrendous situation worse!
A huge winter storm was pounding the Southwest and the lower Great Plains States last night.
Interstates and highways were shut down Monday night as a large winter weather system brought heavy snow, fierce winds and ice to at least five states in the West and Midwest.
There were blizzard conditions in parts of western Kansas and southeast Colorado, with visibility of less than a quarter-mile, said Ariel Cohen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.
A blizzard warning was in effect for those areas along with northeastern New Mexico, the northwest Texas panhandle and the Oklahoma panhandle, he said. The severe weather was starting to affect Missouri late Monday, with a winter weather advisory in effect for the northwest corner of the state.
Roads were closed in Texas and New Mexico because of blizzard conditions. Wow, some of those people rarely see snow. If you live in the storm area, please stay inside and don’t drive!
The New York Times calls handling of Kim Jong Il’s death “an extensive intelligence failure.”
Kim Jong-il, the enigmatic North Korean leader, died on a train at 8:30 a.m. Saturday in his country. Forty-eight hours later, officials in South Korea still did not know anything about it — to say nothing of Washington, where the State Department acknowledged “press reporting” of Mr. Kim’s death well after North Korean state media had already announced it.
For South Korean and American intelligence services to have failed to pick up any clues to this momentous development — panicked phone calls between government officials, say, or soldiers massing around Mr. Kim’s train — attests to the secretive nature of North Korea, a country not only at odds with most of the world but also sealed off from it in a way that defies spies or satellites.
Asian and American intelligence services have failed before to pick up significant developments in North Korea. Pyongyang built a sprawling plant to enrich uranium that went undetected for about a year and a half until North Korean officials showed it off in late 2010 to an American nuclear scientist. The North also helped build a complete nuclear reactor in Syria without tipping off Western intelligence.
As the United States and its allies confront a perilous leadership transition in North Korea — a failed state with nuclear weapons — the closed nature of the country will greatly complicate their calculations. With little information about Mr. Kim’s son and successor, Kim Jong-un, and even less insight into the palace intrigue in Pyongyang, the North’s capital, much of their response will necessarily be guesswork.
Not good. Maybe the CIA and NSA should concentrate on actual intelligence gathering rather than bugging Americans phone calls and reading their e-mails and tweets and Facebook postings.
Did you notice that Jeb Bush had an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal yesterday? With Gingrich tanking and Ron Paul rising in Iowa, are the Republicans getting ready to push another Bush for president? Charlie Pierce of Esquire thinks it looks that way:
He was supposed to be the savvy one, the presidential one, not that dolt of a brother who ducked his National Guard duty, ran several businesses into the dust of west Texas, got drunk and challenged the Auld Fella to a fistfight, and kept driving his car into the bushes. But the dolt got Daddy’s money and Daddy’s lawyers behind him and got installed as president, where he did his utmost to lodge the family brand somewhere between those enjoyed by Corvair and leprosy. Meanwhile, the golden child got to be governor of Florida for a while longer.
And now, in the widening gyre, slouching toward Manchester to be born, our moment of… Jeb (!)
Make no mistake. You don’t write an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal at this point in the Republican primary process unless somebody, somewhere wants to make people think you’re an legitimate option. You certainly don’t write one as stuffed full of free-market banana-oil as this one unless somebody, somewhere wants to raise enough money to make the world think you’re a legitimate option. There was enough Jeb (!) buzz over the weekend that it’s becoming plain that some very important someone’s have looked over the current Republican field and decided that, by god, it’s just bad enough that there’s room in there to bring back the most discredited surname in American politics. The slogan writes itself:
“Jeb! This time, let’s try the smart one.”
I don’t know. I don’t think any of the Bushes are all that bright. They’re way too inbred. Maybe another Bush presidency is what the Mayans predicted as the world-ending event?
I’ll end with an upbeat story. Remember Jessica Lynch? She just graduated from college.
I don’t really like to talk about what it took to get here. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me, or to think I don’t know how fortunate I am. Everyone else in my vehicle in Iraq was killed. My best friend, Lori Piestewa, died as a prisoner of war. I’m still here.
I’m also incredibly proud of this moment. I always dreamed of becoming a teacher, ever since my own kindergarten teacher took me under her wing when I was frightened on the first day of school. We are still in touch today. That’s the kind of teacher I want to be.
In the eight years since my captivity, I’ve had 21 surgeries. I have metal parts in my spine, a rod in my right arm, and metal in my left femur and fibula. My right foot is held together by screws, plates, rods, and pins. I have no feeling in my left leg from the knee down, and I wear a brace every day. Sometimes I’ll get a flash of pain, or feel upset because I can’t run, and then I’ll remind myself: I’m alive. I’m here. Take some ibuprofen.
Go read the whole thing. It’s not very long, and it’s a nice, inspirational story.
Now what are you reading and blogging about today?
Good morning everyone! Wonk the Vote here, wishing you a merry and a happy on this Saturday, December the 25th, 2010.
Whatever you celebrate or do not celebrate. I hope your inner child is finding a little peace, a little hope, and a little laughter this holiday season and that as we edge closer to 2011, we are able to keep on keeping on–with a little help from our family and from our friends.
In some ways, blog communities feel like a little of both family and friendship. We have been through a lot side-by-side in the past three years since we gathered together around Hillary 2008.
As a token of gratitude to each and every one of you, I want to share my all-time favorite holiday carol youtube with y’all — Rosemary Clooney’s rendition of “Let It Snow”:
I cannot help but be happy watching that footage! I hope if that doesn’t do the trick for you, you share what makes you happy downthread in the comments.
And, speaking of pure happiness–I am typing this from a brand new MacBook Air! Santa came a little early in the Wonk household, so I got my present on Christmas Eve. My laptop woes are over. Hooray! I can finally get back into the swing of all things news junkie.
Before I get to the news though, let’s take a look back on Christmases past.
On this day, December 25th, in history:
When I went to Italy, I visited a lot of churches. I won’t lie. They all started to blur together for me. Assisi was the one place that really stood out for some reason. Something about St. Francis I guess. Probably also has a lot to do with the first time I ever heard this prayer:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Doubt is as important to me as faith. That’s just the way I am. I do, however, like the idea of reframing all the destructive energy in this world–in other words, turning oneself into an instrument for the universe’s creative energy. I also think that reflexive doubt, just like blind faith, is a corrosive force. It blinds us as individuals and as a populace. It makes us deaf to our own inner voices. I feel that in some ways, this is where America is at right now.
At any rate, St. Francis’ prayer always seems to me a sort of prototype for cognitive-behavioral therapy before its time, as portions of religious texts and prayers often do. I would add one more line to it…
Where there is pain, let there be healing.
All this mythos stuff–in all its purest forms, unadulterated by institutionalism and authoritarianism–reads like one big self-help section on how to understand the world around us and how to do life. We human beings love to understand our world through storytelling–different stories pull us in, but we are all trying to understand some pretty universal themes when it comes down to it–human bonding, suffering, loss, and resilience. That’s what ties us all together. And, we want to hear our human story retold over and over again, in as many ways as possible, until it makes some sort of sense. It’s just the way we are.
Alright, enough of my existential ramblings. I want to touch on some actual newsy items in my holiday roundup.
First, a moment of remembrance for Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated on December 27, 2007. CNN has this clip up of an interview with Duane Baughman, director of the recent documentary Bhutto.
Now, for some quick headlines that caught my eye from the top of my news feeds at the moment–keep in mind that between computer chaos and holiday mayhem, I’ve been out of the news junkie loop for about a week, so some of this might be old news to you by now… Karl Rove: Hillary Clinton Will Be A Presidential Candidate In 2016 – Huffington Post December 23, 2010:
“I suspect she will be a candidate. I suspect she is going to think about being a candidate in 2016, and we’ll know by about 2014,”Rove said on Fox News. “If she leaves the administration in 2014 or 2015, in order to give herself a chance to write a book about her experiences and reconnect with the grassroots, then she might entertain it.”
We’ll see about that. I know I’m like a broken record on this one, but it’s all I can think: I can’t blame Hillary if she never runs again.
Longtime Democratic operative Guy Cecil will serve as executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the 2012 cycle, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) announced Wednesday. Cecil succeeds J.B. Poersch and is tasked with helping Democrats keep their tenuous majority in the Senate given a tough 2012 map for the party. […] Cecil served as national political director for then-Sen. Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Interesting little shift of the Democratic political winds there. Something to keep an eye on, methinks.
Christmas came early for song man Steve Tyrell and his glam fiancéKaren Pulaski when former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton popped in at the Cafe Carlyle in New York on Thursday night to catch the holiday show by Tyrell, one of the former president’s favorite singers. The Clintons, including daughter Chelsea, had primo seats, posed for photos with the Tyrell/Pulaski clan and wished the couple all the best with their wedding, which will take place at the Carlyle Hotel on Sunday. Yes, the day after Christmas. When Tyrell dedicated The Way You Look Tonight to the Clintons, Chelsea moved to sit next to her father. They held hands, and according to Tyrell, the former president wiped a tear from his eye. You might remember The Way You Look Tonight as the song that Tyrell sang inFather of the Bride and it was his version of the tune that Bill and Chelsea chose as their first dance at her wedding.
So that’s a little of what the Clintons have been up to for the holidays. Sounds delightful! Check out the links for a few nice photos.
I’m not even going to excerpt on that one. Mostly my reaction is no comment. It’s an Examiner article, so grains of salt and all that.
Fierce Urgency of Inevitably Sometime? Via memeorandum.com:
Another story I saw pop up on memeorandum:
Kamala Harris: Democrats’ anti-Palin (Ben Smith/The Politico)December 25, 2010
I really wanted to read the profile on Kamala, but the constant defining of her as “the anti-Palin” or “the female” Obama made me tune out before I could get past the first page. The genius messengers of the Democratic party just don’t quit, do they?
Going to switch from memeorandum to Raw Story for the next few stories…
From the link:
“When told of the Pentagon’s statement that he did indeed receive exercise, Manning’s reply was that he is able to exercise insofar as walking in chains is a form of exercise,” House wrote.
Firedoglake was also featuring an online petition asking supporters to demand an improvement to the conditions of Manning’s detention.
Sigh. What continues to go on in our names is a disgrace to all the hope this season is supposed to bring. I’m not sure a petition is enough to make a dent here, but at least it’s something.
Also from Raw Story:
New rules to allow Blackberries, iPads on House floor December 24, 2010 David Edwards
One more RS link:
Device uses sunlight to make liquid fuel December 24, 2010 Eric W. Dolan
I’m intrigued. I’d love to hear from someone with some expertise.
Like I said, I’m just playing catch up here. Y’all can probably add some fresher links of what’s going on in the world in the comments.
Moving away from the headlines back to a holiday link, here’s a concise history on Thomas Nast’s Christmas illustrations, including “Santa Claus and His Works,” featured in Harper’s Weekly on December 1866. (via the Gray Lady):
Nast was instrumental in standardizing and nationalizing the image of a jolly, kind, and portly Santa in a red, fur-trimmed suit delivering toys from his North Pole workshop. This was accomplished through his work in the pages of Harper’s Weekly, his contributions to other publications, and by Christmas-card merchants in the 1870s and 1880s who relied heavily upon his portraiture.
As Nast’s own children entered and left their teen years, knowing that Santa was really their father, the artist’s illustrations finally showed direct communication and interaction between Santa Claus and the pictured children. In a postdated January 1879 issue, a girl drops a letter to Santa in a mailbox (the first time the artist depicted a letter from a child to Santa), and in December 1884, Santa and a girl are able to speak with each other by using a relatively new invention, the telephone. In the January 1879 issue, another Nast cartoon portrays Santa Claus in the midst of a group of gleeful children who he embraces affectionately. Santa is now recognized as part of the family, whose shared love is the greatest gift. Nast’s Santa makes his last appearance in Harper’s Weeklythe next year when the jolly old (man-size) elf offers himself as a present. Nast’s last two Christmas illustrations in Harper’s Weekly appeared in December 1886, when he resigned from the newspaper, but his impact on the popular image of Santa Claus continued and remains potent to this day.
Well, that’s all I’ve got! I know today is busy for lots of people, so if you made it all the way to the end, thanks for reading and here’s wishing you a day of whatever brings you peace and joy. I’ve got to get going. I’m out of town and have a Christmas breakfast to go to this morning. As always, treat this as an open thread to share your Saturday reads and thoughts.