Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal
The Week of Saturday, January 9 through Friday, January 15, 2021 [Vol.2 No.26]
The Week’s Most Notable
Trump’s second impeachment, the only president so dishonored, in itself settled little, but exposed the fateful divide between the defense of democracy (the presidential election), political tribalism (Republicans and the Big Lie), and the potential for violent authoritarian government (Trump’s call for insurrection). Awash in the emotion and the growing awareness of potential catastrophe in the Capitol riot – with the background noise of the ever-escalating coronavirus pandemic – this was a unique impeachment in many ways. For example, the 10 Republicans who voted for impeachment constitute the most impeachment votes from the opposition in our history; on the other hand, they were opposed by 142 fellow Republicans who not only voted against impeachment but continued to push the Big Lie that the election was stolen.
Eventually the impeachment process moves to the Senate for trial. The trial will not begin until after the inauguration and not until control of the Senate formally passes to the Democrats. Transition to a 50-50 Senate is going to take some tricky negotiations, harkening back to the Daschle/Lott agreement of 2001, which required several weeks. The trial won’t begin until Pelosi sends the article of impeachment from the House, which she will probably delay for at least a week or two, if not more. The Democrats are going to try to keep the trial from mucking up Biden’s fantastically ambitious first 100 days. If circumstances allow, the Democrats would like to delay trial activity until April.
While conviction is the goal, since Trump will already be out of office the underlying goal is to pass a second item of remedy – permanently forbidding him from holding any federal office. The initial conviction requires 67 votes, 17 of them Republican; the second vote needs only a simple majority. At first glance, getting 17 Republicans to vote against Trump seems unlikely; but, if evidence arising from the Capitol riot is striking, if McConnell actually decides to support conviction, if Trump’s numbers continue tanking (some polls are already under 30%), and if enough Republicans want Trump out of the way to clear a path for 2022 and 2024, conviction is not impossible.
The great race: Vaccines vs Variants. In theory, an orderly rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations – something like a million people a day – should reach the point where more people are vaccinated than not and the rate of infection should drop. But what if a new strain of the virus appears which is 50% to 75% more infectious? To stay ahead of this virus the health system would need to vaccinate 1.5 million people a day. Otherwise, the rising rate of infection would continue, and more people would be hospitalized and more would die – at least until a maximum of the population has been reached. That’s what’s happening in Great Britain, Ireland, Spain, and very soon the U.S. Right now, it’s a race to bring vaccines online and get them into people’s arms before the new COVID-19 strains (UK, South Africa, Brazil, and possibly others) get ahead of our ability to immunize people. According to the director of the CDC, if we don’t do this – if we can’t vaccinate fast enough and don’t practice solid mitigation efforts – the U.S. will see up to 10,000 deaths a day by the end of spring. We better hope that Biden’s massive emergency vaccination program really works.
Saturday, January 9
[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases: 22,709,949; Deaths: 381,423
[Election – 2020] Trump Continues Pressure on Georgia Officials to Overturn Vote – At least two more phone calls by Trump, one to Atlanta’s top prosecutor and another to the top investigator for Georgia’s Secretary of State had the same intent as the original phone call to the Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger – “find” 11,760 votes so that Trump could win the state of Georgia. Apparently, the calls were not successful; however, they could be added to the list of impeachable offenses or possibly criminal activity. Need proof that Trump is irrationally desperate?
[U.S. – Taiwan] Pompeo Ends Restrictions on U.S. Contact with Taiwanese Diplomats – This last-minute move by Pompeo is guaranteed to piss off the Chinese, since it was American policy for decades to not have official contact with the Taiwanese. Pompeo has been making moves like this with Iran, North Korea, Israel, and other sensitive areas to set policy that will be at best difficult for Biden to reverse. It’s the diplomatic equivalent of scorched-earth. [Update: EU officials refused to meet with Pompeo on last-minute trip, because he had not recognized Biden’s election win.]
[Capitol Riot – Investigation] FBI Continues Intensive Research and Arrest Efforts – Using facial identification software, witness testimony, public recognition, and other forensic techniques, the FBI has opened files on more than 250 people involved in the January 6 Capitol riot. Officials say that eventually hundreds of people will be identified and charged with everything from trespass on federal property to sedition. Will this have a chilling effect on the plans for continued militia-based violence, especially during the upcoming inauguration?
[Social Media] Parler Silenced by Tech Giants – Parler collected right wing groups and Trump supporters as they left standard social media such as Facebook and Twitter. It eventually accepted the highly inflammatory rhetoric of the neo-Nazis and hosted planning for violence against the government. This brought the attention of Apple, Google, and Amazon, who had distributed the Parler app. Following the Capitol riot they decided to shut down their support and services, effectively ending Parler (at least for now). Parler was funded by a group of right-wing billionaires led by the Mercer family. Most right-wing participants will now migrate back to less public services such as 4chan and 8chan.