[guest post by Dana]
Here are a few news items to get you started. Please feel free to share anything that interests you. Make sure to include links.
First news item
U.S. Senator Mitt Romney on Friday urged the U.S. government to immediately enlist veterinarians, combat medics and others in an all-out national campaign to administer coronavirus vaccinations and slow a surging rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths…The Utah Republican…called for greater action as the Trump administration fell far short of its goal of vaccinating 20 million Americans with a first of two required doses by the end of 2020…As of Friday…an estimated 2.8 million vaccine doses have actually been given, mostly to front-line healthcare workers as well as staff and residents of nursing facilities.
“That comprehensive vaccination plans have not been developed at the federal level and sent to the states as models is as incomprehensible as it is inexcusable,” Romney said in a statement…
Romney called for deploying veterinarians, emergency medical workers and medical students to help deliver vaccinations and set up inoculation clinics at sites such as school buildings that are largely empty because of the pandemic.
He also recommended establishing a clear order for Americans nationwide to receive their shots according to priority groups and birthdays, while welcoming other ideas from medical professionals. Prioritizing vaccine recipients is currently being handled state by state.
Second news item
William Cohen, a former Republican senator from Maine…suggested the formation of a new political party.
Cohen called [Josh] Hawley’s actions “shameful” but warned that Republicans are just following President Trump’s lead, calling him the party’s “ringmaster.”
“We have to remember that the current occupant of the White House is a ringmaster and what he expects to do is snap his whip and all the elephants hop up on chairs,” Cohen said. “What they have to understand is he is going to continue to snap the whip whether he’s in office or out of office. And every time they’re going to have to jump up and sit on that stool to satisfy him and his supporters.
For Trump it is pathological, for those who are jumping up to support him, it’s diabolical and I don’t think it’s diabolically clever. I think they will find they will be hostage for the rest of their time in the Senate and going forward if they are only there to appease the Trumpsters.
Maybe it’s time for a new party. One that abides by the rule of law. But also faithful to the people of this country, who vote to elect them.”
Third news item
President Trump is trying to convince his followers that the Senate special election in Georgia is “both illegal and invalid” because of a bizarre election conspiracy theory, a move that could spell trouble for the two Republicans hoping to win re-election on Jan. 5. In a series of tweets late Friday, Trump falsely claimed that state legislatures were “not in any way responsible for the massive changes made to the voting process” and that the special elections for Georgia’s two Senate seats are therefore invalid.
Fourth news item
A federal judge in Texas threw out a Hail Mary lawsuit filed against Vice President Mike Pence by a Republican congressman who argued the vice president has the authority to unilaterally reverse Donald Trump’s election loss during a joint session of Congress Wednesday. U.S. District Judge Jeremy Kernodle on Friday dismissed the suit by Representative Louie Gohmert, ruling the Texas congressman hadn’t suffered a specific injury caused by any action of Pence and therefore didn’t have legal standing to sue. The judge didn’t rule on the merits of Gohmert’s argument, which would have radically reshaped a vice president’s role.
“Congressman Gohmert’s alleged injury requires a series of hypothetical — but by no means certain — events,” said Kernodle, a Trump appointee. “Plaintiffs presuppose what the Vice President will do on January 6” and “which electoral votes the Vice President will count or reject from contested states.”
Gohmert’s not done with this.
Fifth news item
[T]he United States is in a permanent state of emergency and had been for years before the coronavirus arrived on our shores. Congress has long abandoned the “regular order” of constitutional lawmaking, with Washington lurching from crisis to crisis on the support of a series of continuing resolutions, last-minute omnibus-spending slop buckets, and other ad hoc measures. We have seen a steady series of emergency economic-stimulus and -stabilization packages passed in the past 20 years — the post-9/11 airline bailout and New York–oriented stimulus measures, the 2008 Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (TARP), the subsequent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and the unprecedented $2 trillion CARES Act, as well as a sustained Federal Reserve effort to keep interest rates in the neighborhood of 0.00 percent.
Having conducted itself as though in a state of emergency when it wasn’t, the U.S. government has shown itself unable to treat a genuine emergency as such. Instead, we have been carried forward on the shoulders of Amazon, FedEx, and UPS, as well as churches and community groups (the actual sources of resiliency in our country), and may yet be carried to safety by the hated pharmaceutical companies, with critical support from university-based researchers.
Sixth news item
Trump-supporting Sen. Josh Hawley will set off hours of debate that won’t change the election results.
Despite there being virtually no chance of overturning the 2020 presidential election, at least 140 House Republicans plan to vote against the certification of President-elect Joe Biden…The 140 House Republicans need the support of one senator in order to force two hours of debate in Congress and an official individual vote count. The process will not change the election results, but it will force each member of Congress to go on record.
Seventh news item
Let me suggest two direct happiness resolutions for 2021: forgiveness and gratitude.
In this difficult period in our history, from the pandemic to the culture of political contempt, there is a lot of potential for bitterness in our lives. Open up social media and you will see nonstop Olympics-level grudge matches. Even worse, estrangement between family members is strikingly common; one study published in 2015—even before the polarizing political period following the 2016 U.S. presidential election—found that about 44 percent of people were estranged from at least one relative, nearly 17 percent from someone in their immediate family.
One of the most frequent questions I get from readers is about how to deal with family conflict and estrangement. My answer is a New Year’s resolution to forgive. In experiments on forgiveness interventions—helping people forgive those who have harmed them—scholars have found clear evidence that forgiveness has direct happiness benefits. Forgiveness increases hope and self-esteem, while lowering anxiety and depression. This astounded me personally, but my wife found it blindingly obvious. “To refuse to forgive is to cling to something unpleasant,” she reminded me. “It is like hugging garbage.” I had to concede that it’s nice to let go of garbage.
Easy to say, hard to do, of course.
Have a good weekend.