Weekend Open Thread
[guest post by Dana]
Here are a few news items to chew over. Feel free to include anything you think might interest readers. Please remember to include links.
First news item
The character of the Republican Party:
In an expletive-laced phone call with House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy while the Capitol was under attack, then-President Donald Trump said the rioters cared more about the election results than McCarthy did.
“Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,” Trump said, according to lawmakers who were briefed on the call afterward by McCarthy.
McCarthy insisted that the rioters were Trump’s supporters and begged Trump to call them off.
Trump’s comment set off what Republican lawmakers familiar with the call described as a shouting match between the two men. A furious McCarthy told the President the rioters were breaking into his office through the windows, and asked Trump, “Who the f–k do you think you are talking to?” according to a Republican lawmaker familiar with the call.
Rep. U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler confirms the call between McCarthy and Trump:
— Jaime Herrera Beutler (@HerreraBeutler) February 13, 2021
But of course Trump didn’t want to stop the melee. Why would he? He got the ball rolling, egged on his loyal MAGA supporters, and incited the resulting and deadly chaos at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. No way was he going to put a stop to it.
And yet, just a few weeks after the attempted insurrection at the Capitol:
I caption this photo: Proverbs 26:11 (As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool repeats his folly)
Second news item
Foul birds of a feather flock together:
President Trump’s impeachment defense lawyers said on Friday that Trump was unaware Vice President Mike Pence had been evacuated from the Capitol on Jan. 6 when he sent a tweet attacking Pence. In response to a question submitted by Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Susan Collins (R-ME), Trump’s lawyer said “at no point” was he aware “that the vice president was in any danger.”
But, Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) said on Wednesday that he phoned Trump, at around 2:15 p.m., and informed him, in real-time, that the VP was being whisked away by Secret Service. “They just took the vice president out, I’ve got to go,” Tuberville says he told Trump. Footage of violent Trump supporters storming the Capitol, where Pence was presiding over a joint session of Congress, was also being widely aired by that time. Nevertheless, at 2:24 p.m., Trump tweeted that Pence didn’t have “the courage” to overturn a legitimate election result.
Trump knew what he was doing:
2of4:#Trump used a violent response to peaceful protestors for a law & order campaign moment. He made calculated efforts to play up the Antifa/Law & Order narratives last summer. There were WH mtgs where it was discussed how violence/show of force would help his re-election…
— Olivia of Troye (@OliviaTroye) February 12, 2021
4of4:Trump incited the insurrectionists; they killed a cop. He put the lives of Pence/Congress/Staff/Police in danger. It’s the culmination of months & months of his rhetoric-Trump set it all up w/o remorse & did nothing to stop it.#Republicans need to convict.#ImpeachmentTrial
— Olivia of Troye (@OliviaTroye) February 12, 2021
Third news item
The NY Post broke this story, but it’s odd that the New York Times, that enormously far-reaching “newspaper of record” sitting right in Cuomo’s backyard, didn’t know this before the Post did. Or did they know it and chose to sit on it because Cuomo:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top aide confessed privately this week that the administration suppressed the true COVID toll in the homes. She also offered an apology — not to the thousands of New York families who needlessly lost loved ones thanks to her boss’s mismanagement but to Democratic lawmakers put in a difficult “political position with the Republicans” by the coverup.
Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor, made the stunning statement on a video call with Democratic state lawmakers as she “explained” why the administration ignored since August their demands for nursing-home death data. It began when then-President Donald Trump “directs the Department of Justice to do an investigation into us,” she said. “And basically we froze.”
“Because then we were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we give to you guys, what we start saying, was going to be used against us while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation,” she said.
In an awful bit of irony, Cuomo was crusading for transparency in government per his memoir American Crisis, which was published October 2020:
“As of this writing, we do not know what the CDC and NIH knew about COVID and when they knew it,” Cuomo points out. “We do not know the source of information to the White House in January 2020 that led Peter Navarro, a senior aide to the president, to write a memo suggesting apocalyptic consequences from COVID-19. We must demand answers to these basic questions to understand why such an early warning by a senior administration official was ignored at the highest level of the federal government.”
Fourth news item
Waste not, want not. Even more so during a pandemic:
A Houston doctor was fired and charged with stealing ten doses of the ModernaCovid vaccine after rushing to administer the doses before they were about to expire. Dr Hasan Gokal was let go from the Harris County Public Health department and charged with the theft at a total value of $135, a charge that was later dismissed as groundless by a judge.
In late December, Dr. Gokal had to find 10 eligible people to vaccinate as a vial of the Moderna vaccine had been opened and had to be used within 6 hours before it expired. He told people to come to his house outside Houston, Texas. He also drove around and vaccinated acquaintances and complete strangers.
One of the receivers was a bed-bound person past 90 years old. Another was a woman with dementia in her 80s. A third was a mother in her 40s whose child is on a ventilator. After midnight, minutes before the vaccine was about to become unusable, Dr Gokal gave the last dose to his wife, who has a lung disease.
Dr. Gokal said that the guidance from state health officials was to vaccinate people in the eligible categories but after that, the advice was: “Just put it in people’s arms. We don’t want any doses to go to waste. Period.”
A Harris County public health official gave him the okay to find 10 people for the remaining doses to avoid having them go to waste in the evening of 29 December. About the people he initially reached out to, Dr Gokal said they were, “No one I was really intimately familiar with. I wasn’t that close to anyone”.
Apparently, the problem was that too many brown people received the soon-to-be-expired vaccine. Wait, isn’t that a good thing:
After filing the paperwork for the inoculations, he was asked a few days later by a supervisor and the human resources director if he had given the vaccines outside of the scheduled event on 29 December where the vial had been opened and the clock had started ticking.
He said he had and was immediately fired. He was told he had violated protocol and should have returned the doses to the office or thrown them away.
The “equity” of the people Dr. Gokal had vaccinated was questioned by one of the officials. Dr Gokal said he asked: “Are you suggesting that there were too many Indian names in that group?”
Exactly, was the response he said he got.
It should be noted that the CDC has said that the vaccine should not be wasted:
The CDC says vaccine providers should avoid wastage and disclose when it happens.
“If there is excess vaccine, clinic staff should do everything possible to avoid wasting the dose…,” said CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund…
In the meantime, federal officials have begun to urge that priority guidelines not get in the way of using vaccines. “It’s more important to get people vaccinated than to perfectly march through each prioritized group,” Alex Azar, secretary of health and human services under President Donald Trump, said at a briefing on Jan. 6.
This means that a pharmacist should use a dose that’s about to expire on any available person — even someone who isn’t in a priority group — rather than letting it go in the trash. “There’s always someone in line. The whole nation is in line,” said Lori Freeman, chief executive officer of the National Association of County and City Health Officials. “There’s no reason for any vaccine to go to waste.”
Fifth news item
President Biden’s promise on Jan. 20, 2021 :
“But I am not joking when I say this, if you are ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect… talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot,” the 46th president of the United States said on Wednesday. “On the spot. No ifs, ands or buts. Everybody… everybody is entitled to be treated with decency and dignity. That’s been missing in a big way the last four years.”
[White House Press Secretary Jen] Psaki’s deputy TJ Ducklo threatened Politico reporter Tara Palmeri when she looked into his relationship with Axios reporter Alexi McCammond. Ducklo, Ecarma writes, “tried to intimidate Palmeri by phone in an effort to kill the story,” threatening her by saying ” “I will destroy you,” and accused her of being jealous that 1) “an unidentified man in the past had ‘wanted to fuck’ McCammond ‘and not you”; and also said Palmeri was “’jealous’ of his relationship with McCammond.”
Was the employee, TJ Ducklo, fired for his obvious disrespect, and failure to treat a colleague with decency and dignity, as well as threatening her? Not exactly:
Jen Psaki said Friday that one of her deputies, TJ Ducklo, had been suspended for one week without pay after a Vanity Fair story revealed Ducklo had threatened a reporter who was working on a story about his romantic relationship with another reporter.
“This in our view was an important step to send the message that we don’t find this acceptable,” Psaki told reporters at the White House press briefing
Politico Editor in Chief and Editor released a statement in response to the kerfuffle:
We raised our concerns about the incident directly with the White House at the time. No journalist at POLITICO – or any other publication or network – should ever be subjected to such unfounded personal attacks while doing their job…
Say what you mean, and mean what you say, President Biden. If you’ve changed your policy in less than a month’s time, I would like to know what your new policy is. Because if Ducklo didn’t meet your stated criteria for termination, then I don’t know what would.
P.S. Oh. Ducklo has stage IV lung cancer. I am reading that perhaps this is why Biden decided not to fire him.
Sixth news item
Last April, Alain Finkielkraut—one of France’s leading public intellectuals and a member of the prestigious Academie Française—was invited by a student group to give a lecture on “modernity, heritage and progress” at the elite Paris university Sciences Po. Mr. Finkielkraut, who has forcefully defended Western traditions and criticized cultural relativism, drew the wrath of far-left activists who denounced him as “profoundly reactionary,” a “racist and misogynist” whose ideas “put our own existence in danger.”
In response, his lecture was first canceled and then surreptitiously rescheduled, to mislead the protesters who wanted to disrupt it. “When P.C. culture arose in the U.S., I thought it would always remain specifically American. Now I have to observe that France is also contaminated by it. Many students have adopted the posture of cancel culture, preventing people they don’t agree with from speaking,” Mr. Finkielkraut told me last month.
Now…go have some fun:
Humans during a snowstorm:
*hibernating and staying inside as much as possible*
📹: nola_and_izzy on Instagram pic.twitter.com/EDmrF3rRsO
— Some Good News (@somegoodnews) February 4, 2021
UPDATE BY PATTERICO: The Dr. Gokal story will be a major focus of my newsletter tomorrow; I thank Dana for bringing up this important topic. Also, I think part of the weekend discussion has to revolve around the disgraceful decision of the Democrats not to call Jaime Herrera Beutler as a witness in the trial, choosing instead to read her statement into the record. They have made former president Trump a very happy man with that decision. Shouldn’t that tell them something?