It’s been almost a year since life here in the United States was completely changed by the coronavirus. Almost a year since we learned how serious things might get. Almost a year since we stopped doing so many of the things that we love.
These have not been easy times for anyone. Over half a million Americans have lost their lives. Many millions have lost people they loved. Millions more have faced serious and debilitating illness. We have felt fear and economic pain and loneliness. Buckets and buckets of loneliness.
But we have vaccines and people are being vaccinated.
My favorite news article of the week was the WaPo one about the people who are administering the vaccine
The happiest place in medicine right now is a basketball arena in New Mexico. Or maybe it’s the parking lot of a baseball stadium in Los Angeles, or a Six Flags in Maryland, or a shopping mall in South Dakota.
The happiest place in medicine is anywhere there is vaccine, and the happiest people in medicine are the ones plunging it into the arms of strangers.
“It’s a joy to all of us,” says Akosua “Nana” Poku, a Kaiser Permanente nurse vaccinating people in Northern Virginia.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had an experience in my career that has felt so promising and so fulfilling,” says Christina O’Connell, a clinic director at the University of New Mexico.
After a year of testing and treating terrified Americans, some of our health care workers are getting the immense joy of working to end this long nightmare.
For health-care workers, the opportunity to administer the vaccine has become its own reward: Giving hope to others has given them hope, too.
What a wonderful fact about human beings: giving hope to others gives us hope. Those of us who revel in these Good News Roundups and sharing them know that well.
Giving others hope gives us hope. Giving others love gives us love. Giving others acceptance makes us feel more accepted.
When we tell people to fight the hate and fear and anger on the right with love, hope, and acceptance from the left, we are not providing empty phrases of unicorn/rainbow philosophy. We are pulling out the strongest and most powerful weapon we have. People may vote for Republicans when they are scared. They may follow Trump when they are angry. They may listen to Tucker Carlson when they are full of hate.
But people vote for Democrats when they are hopeful. People support equality when they feel accepted. People love others when they are loved.
So smile at someone. Give a gift. Send a loving text. Call an old friend. Send a neighbor a card to see how they are doing. Spread love. It will fill your heart. It will spread. It will make us all better.
Last week I shared a video by my friend Tyler Westcott. Someone in the comments mentioned that he needed a fiddle player. So here he is with his band Folkfaces. Check them out when we can all travel and see music live again. In the meantime, enjoy this brief but beautiful 1 minute and 19 seconds that they created 🎵🎶🎻🎙
Great Virus News
Fully vaccinated people can gather individually with minimal risk, Fauci says
Two fully vaccinated people can gather individually with minimal risk, Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN’s Chris Cuomo Thursday.
“You can start getting together as individual people, even though the risk is not zero, the risk becomes extremely low when you have both parties vaccinated,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not released guidelines about gathering with other vaccinated people.
“My professional judgement is that when my daughter wants to come in here and she is doubly vaccinated, I’m going to have her over to the house, and I’m going to give her a big hug that I haven’t been able to do for a year,” Fauci said.
Nursing Homes, Once Hotspots, Far Outpace U.S. in Covid Declines
for the first time since the American outbreak began roughly a year ago — at a nursing care center in Kirkland, Wash. — the threat inside nursing homes may have finally reached a turning point.
Since the arrival of vaccines, which were prioritized to long-term care facilities starting in late December, new cases and deaths in nursing homes, a large subset of long-term care facilities, have fallen steeply, outpacing national declines, according to a New York Times analysis of federal data. The turnaround is an encouraging sign for vaccine effectiveness and offers an early glimpse at what may be in store for the rest of the country, as more and more people get vaccinated.
From late December to early February, new cases among nursing home residents fell by more than 80 percent, nearly double the rate of improvement in the general population. The trendline for deaths was even more striking: Even as fatalities spiked over all this winter, deaths inside the facilities have fallen, decreasing by more than 65 percent.
Biden and the Dems are Doing a Great Job
U.S. State Department creates position of diversity officer
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday announced the creation of a State Department chief diversity officer, an effort to make the diplomatic corps more representative and part of President Joe Biden’s pledge to work to heal U.S. racial divisions.
Income and Spending Gains Are Latest Sign of Economic Recovery
Personal income and spending both surged in January as a new round of government checks hit Americans’ bank accounts.
Spending last month increased by a healthy 2.4 percent, largely because of purchases of goods, while purchases of services lagged as the pandemic continued to weigh on the leisure and hospitality industries.
It was the biggest jump in personal income since April, when the figure rose by 12.4 percent, lifted by nearly $3 trillion in government transfer payments. That was mostly in the form of $1,200 checks that millions of households received from the federal government.
Equality Act with LGBTQ protections passes House
the House of Representatives passed sweeping legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity, though it faces an uncertain future in the Senate.
Lawmakers passed the legislation on a 224-206, mostly party-line vote. Three Republicans voted with all Democrats.
The bill is one of President Joe Biden’s top legislative priorities, one he wants passed in his first 100 days in office.
The legislation amends civil rights laws including the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which had banned discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion and national origin, to include protections on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity. It also would prohibit such discrimination in public places, on transportation and in government-funded programs.
Biden actually has a strategy for the Middle East, not just a Twitter account
Last week I noted that President Biden was facing early tests in the Middle East, and the world would be watching how he responded. It’s too early for a final grade, but so far he is passing his early tests with flying colors.
if Biden did nothing in response to the latest Iranian provocations, he would have risked sending a message of weakness that would have further emboldened Tehran — and played into unfair Republican accusations that he is appeasing the mullahs. On Thursday, Biden ordered the right response: an airstrike on a Syrian base used by Iranian-backed militias, including Kataib Hezbollah and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada.
Notably, and mercifully, absent was any of Donald Trump’s bloodthirsty rhetoric or juvenile taunts. Instead the White House left it to the Pentagon to announce the airstrike with a low-key statement
This is exactly the right tone to strike. Biden is laying down important red lines by telling Tehran that it cannot attack the United States or its allies with impunity, and it certainly cannot kill U.S. personnel. But Biden is also signaling that he does not want war, and he wants to resume nuclear negotiations. Indeed, this is the only way to deal with the Iranian threat: We need a two-track approach that tries to reassemble an international agreement to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons development while engaging in a policy of active containment and deterrence to curb Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region.
Biden is said to nominate three to USPS board of governors
President Biden will nominate a former U.S. Postal Service executive, a leading voting rights advocate and a former postal union leader to the mail service’s governing board, according to three people briefed on the nominees, a move that will reshape the agency’s leadership and increase pressure on the embattled postmaster general.
Lawyers make progress in locating parents of children split from families at the border, latest court filing says
Lawyers are still trying to locate the parents of 506 children who had been split from their families at the US-Mexico border by the Trump administration, according to a new court filing — down from a month ago, when attorneys were looking for the parents of 611 children.
Wednesday’s filing is the first under the Biden administration, which is now responsible for the reunification of families separated at the US-Mexico border as a result of former President Donald Trump’s controversial “zero tolerance” immigration policy.
Biden shifts his operation to DNC ahead of 2022 midterm elections
President Biden has shifted the remnants of his campaign operation, including the donor and volunteer network that got him elected and several key staff members, over to the Democratic National Committee as part of a broader effort to build up the party before the 2022 midterm elections and a potential 2024 reelection campaign.
The decision to house his operation at the national party, and to continue fundraising and organizing efforts there, is intended to signal his commitment to Democratic candidates at all levels, including members of the House and Senate who are supporting his legislative efforts, according to senior White House officials.
Top advisers say Biden is not expected to create a committee for his own reelection until after the midterm elections next year. That means that the money he raises between now and then will go to broader party-building efforts and other candidates, a departure from the precedent-breaking approach taken by President Donald Trump, who filed paperwork to began fundraising for own his reelection on the day he took office in 2017.
Biden readies his first major penalties on Russia
The U.S. is preparing to respond to Russia’s poisoning and jailing of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and is expected to coordinate a sanctions rollout with European allies in the coming weeks, according to people familiar with the matter.
The response would mark a break with the previous administration, which prepared a sanctions package following Navalny’s poisoning but never implemented it, the people said. It would also constitute the new administration’s first major step in holding Russia accountable for human rights abuses, which Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have listed as a key pillar of their foreign policy agenda.
We’re one month and change into the Biden presidency, and let’s just say it. He’s been staggeringly good. He has way surpassed my expectations. And it’s small wonder he has a 63 percent approval rating. Most people like what they see.
What’s he done, in big-picture terms? Three things. First and foremost, he and his team are not letting themselves be bullied by the economic supply-siders and neoliberals who’ve spent the last few decades transferring $50 trillion in wealth from the middle class to the rich.
Second, the Biden team understands that the standard Beltway definition of bipartisanship is useless with today’s Republican Party.
Third, they don’t have contempt for Democrats to their left, which is a great thing to see.
An activist named Melissa Byrne was pressuring the Biden team on student loan debt via Twitter and even big ads in the Wilmington newspaper. She expected that she was raising some hackles.
Instead, according to the Times, Chief of Staff Ron Klain “told her to keep up the pressure, inviting her to more Zoom meetings with the transition team.” That’s the social-media era version of FDR’s famous challenge to labor leaders of his time to “go out and make me do it,” and it was so encouraging to read.
I see Klain’s steady hand in all the above. He’s just a mensch.
You probably could not have convinced me two years ago that Joe Biden would be this man. You definitely could not have convinced me 20 years ago that he would be this man. But he seems to understand very well the historical moment he’s in. It’s just a month, but wow, what a month.
Tides are Turning
You Need to Take the Religious Left Seriously This Time
The religious left is growing and already transforming the conversation about major political issues.
to look at America’s religious left at this moment is to see something genuinely different. Places of worship are participating in demonstrations for civil rights larger than any protest movement in American history. Democrats like the Rev. Raphael Warnock and Joe Biden—political leaders whose faith isn’t just incidental to their public personas, but is a core component of both their identities and their appeal to voters—are staging important victories. The National Congregations Study, an annual survey of America’s places of worship, found 41 percent of self-identified liberal congregations lobbied or marched about immigration in 2018–19; in 2012, it was only 5 percent. Long locked out of power, a growing religious left is pounding on the door. And it has the potential to remake not only American politics, but the way we think about big questions of fairness, justice and what Americans owe to one another.
Liberal group targets Republicans who voted to overturn 2020 election
A liberal voting rights group is pledging to spend at least $1 million to oust 20-plus Republican members of Congress who voted to contest the presidential election results.
The list, which the organization dubs the “Treason Caucus,” includes Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), Josh Hawley (Mo.) and Rick Scott (Fla.). Reps. Devin Nunes (Calif.), Darrell Issa (Calif.), Scott Perry (Pa.) and Jeff Van Drew (N.J.) are among the House members the PAC is looking to unseat.
“These are people who perpetuate the big lie [that] this election was stolen from Donald Trump,’” said Andrew Janz, founder of the Voter Protection Project, who ran against Nunes in 2018. “These are people who — after insurrectionists and domestic terrorists tried to overthrow an election — these are the same members of Congress, same politicians, who went back on the House floor, on the Senate floor, and voted in support of these insurrectionists by trying to invalidate a legal and fair election.”
‘Repeal and replace’ is dead. Republicans can’t figure out what comes next.
Former President Donald Trump is gone and so are his promises to throw out Obamacare. Now the Republican Party is left with figuring out what comes after “repeal and replace.”
“The ACA has become sort of embedded in popular consciousness, whether people realize it or not,” said Nicole Huberfeld, an expert on health law at Boston University. Given that Republicans couldn’t repeal the law when they ran the government, she added, “Maybe they’ve learned to move on.”
No amount of disaster can shake the GOP loose from Trump
The damage inflicted on Republicans since 2016 cannot be overstated. Even before his disastrous handling of the pandemic, Trump’s impulsiveness, ignorance, racist screeds and gratuitous personal attacks offended enough suburban Republicans and swing voters nationwide to cause disastrous election results for the party in the 2018 midterms. In 2018 and 2019, Democrats won gubernatorial races in the bright-red states of Kansas, Louisiana and Kentucky.
That Republicans ever saw Donald Trump as their ticket to a governing majority is damning enough. The fact that 76 percent of Trump supporters would vote for him again in 2024, according to the Suffolk/USA Today poll — even after he lost the White House and surrendered Congress to Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) — proves again how destructive their obsession is with this political loser.
As Biden’s approval rating rises toward the upper 50s, Trump’s Republican Party plummets ever closer to catastrophe. And yet, even as their plane disintegrates, Trump’s passengers keep celebrating every wrong move, every wrong turn and every pilot error that will seal their party’s fate.
Donald Trump Jr. deposed by DC attorney general as part of inaugural funds lawsuit
Donald Trump Jr. was deposed as part of the Washington, DC, attorney general’s lawsuit alleging the misuse of Trump inaugural funds, according to a new court filing, the latest investigation in which the former President’s children have surfaced.
In a court document dated Tuesday, DC Attorney General Karl Racine’s office revealed the former President’s son was deposed on February 11.
One person said prosecutors are asking “about everything under the sun about Donald, Ivanka, Don Jr and Eric, [and] Allen Weisselberg,” the chief financial officer.
Trump’s Judges’ Let Him Down. Now He’s in Truly Deep Sh*t.
And so it begins. Trump’s post-presidency promises to be a cascade of humiliating episodes: financial disclosures, embarrassing personal revelations, additionally damning evidence of conspiracy-mongering and insurrection-stoking, possibly even bankruptcy and criminal prosecution. Yes, maybe even jail time. Trump’s legal troubles will make Cersei’s walk of shame look like a warm Sunday in the park.
Just the Manhattan case, led by district attorney Cyrus Vance, raises a host of issues that could land Trump in hot water: fraudulent tax returns, doctored business records, and mismatches between those tax returns and documents that overvalued his business holdings in order to secure loans from Deutsche Bank. Vance has already deposed witnesses from Deutsche Bank and the Aon insurance company, and Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer, has testified under oath that Trump would manipulate his net worth upward to lenders (to get attention and perhaps to secure credit) and downward to the government (to avoid taxes). Vance’s response to the Supreme Court ruling was elegant in its brevity: “The work continues.”
Yes, Donald Trump is in very *real* legal jeopardy
The Manhattan District Attorney investigation is far from the only legal matter in which Trump currently finds himself entangled. Consider:
5. Two investigations
into Trump’s attempts to pressure Georgia elected officials to overturn the state’s election results.
On the lighter side
IF you enjoyed that 1 minute tease of Folkfaces at the beginning and want more, here is 20 minutes of bliss!
Enjoy all the great news!
But also keep in mind that Republicans are going to republican.
The only way they can win is by keeping people from voting. They are working like heck to make that happen and we need to do all we can to keep 2022 from being a year when they grab the Senate and House back from us.
How do we do that? Fight voter suppression!
What can you do?
- Contact your local representative NOW to encourage them to pass the For the People Act. This link makes it easy to do!
- The ACLU plays a key role in filing lawsuits that often stop voter suppression. Get involved with them at this link.
- The League of Women Voters work year-round to combat voter suppression through advocacy, grassroots organizing, legal action and public education. You can get involved with them at this link
- Volunteer with Black Votes Matter at this link. They have on the ground work in 10 states and people from other states can write postcards, phone bank, fundraise, and text.
- Spread The Vote works to get voters IDs before voting begins. You can volunteer with them at this link.
- Finally, when it comes time to pass HR1 (the new voting rights act) the Democrats will have to end the filibuster to do it. It will not pass without that. 10 Republicans will not vote for it. So, when the time comes, you will need to call, call, call and call your Senators to push them to do this. If you live in Arizona, Montana, or West Virginia, you may want to put in for some vacation time to really devote yourself to it. It will be the only option. Get ready!
I am so lucky and so proud to be in this with you ❤️ ✊ ❤️