Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal
The Week of Saturday, January 1 through Friday, January 7, 2022 [Vol.3 No.25]
January 6 Remembered
The Week’s Most Notable
Consider the Trump-Republican Party as a juggler with three balls in the air: Ball one – the election was stolen from Trump; Ball two – the event at the Capitol on January 6 was a peaceful expression of patriotism and beyond criticism; Ball three – the coronavirus, and all the fuss about it, such as vaccines and masks, is exaggerated and threatens our freedoms. This is not an easy set of balls to juggle, the principal problem being a persistent gravity known as truth. For example, the coronavirus pandemic has been around for more than two years, has killed nearly 900,000 Americans, and at this very moment is sickening up to a million people a day. It’s the rare person who doesn’t know somebody that has been infected or even died from COVID. As for mitigation – vaccines, masks, and such – more than 200 million Americans have been vaccinated but so far less than 10 deaths are directly attributable to a vaccine. Even if that number were 10,000, that would be five thousandths of a percent (0.005%). Of course, misinformation is rampant.
It’s becoming harder and harder to deny the reality of the coronavirus pandemic, something in the range of defending the flat Earth theory. Similarly, the assertion that Biden stole the election – a.k.a. the Big Lie – has been put through the ringer of the courts (60 losses), independent audits, state government reports, and Republican officials’ testimony. It always comes out the same: Biden won by a large popular vote majority, and won by electoral votes even in closely contested states. That makes the attack on the Capitol a set of violent illegal acts based on a flagrant lie. Those illegal acts are being exposed by the 750 arrests and subsequent convictions still in process, and what promises to be months of testimony and reports by the House Jan. 6 select committee that will play out in the media.
None of this will be accepted, or possibly even believed, by GOP politicians, most Republicans, and of course all the MAGA faithful. But it’s still a juggling act, if remarkably gravity defying. Gravity wins in the end; but the question here is whether it will win by November 8. It could be hoped that no matter where they turn, the precarious juggling act is questioned and subjected to fact. The non-right-wing media is finally catching on to the dogged principle of adherence to the facts. Maybe over the next months it can gradually bleed away the antigravity spin provided by Fox News and the rest of the right-wing media.
1,082,549 new U.S. coronavirus cases on Monday. Needless to say, a world record. Where were the headlines? Probably because the official media line is that Omicron is “milder” and that raw numbers of infections aren’t important any more, the number was quietly . . . diffused. Still, the U.S. numbers pushed toward half a million or more a day all week. Since many people now use at-home testing but don’t necessarily report positive results, the number is probably much higher. Many of them – millions of people – didn’t go to work or to school. The hit on the economy has already got economists wondering how big the negative impact will be in the first half of 2022. By the end of the week, reports of stressed hospitals and medical services appeared all over the country. What many fear is that although the magnitude of this wave may be handled, the weakening of the U.S. medical structure – doctors and nurses quitting for example – will have long-lasting repercussions.
Saturday, January 1
[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases: 56,984,697; Deaths: 847,921
[Coronavirus] Coronavirus, Winter Storms Create Flight Schedule Chaos – In the best of times New Year’s Day is not a good day to fly; this year, with the onrush of Omicron cases and the series of winter storms, particularly in the East, airlines have found it challenging to keep crews and planes in the air. Over 4,000 flights were canceled on New Year’s Day, often stranding passengers.
[Nuclear Power] Germany Decommissions Three of Its Last Six Nuclear Power Plants – The German government committed to denuclearizing its energy system following the 2011 Fukushima reactor disaster in Japan. Its last three plants will be closed later this year. Germany, the fourth largest economy in the world, will rely on alternative energy sources and (Russian) natural gas.
Sunday, January 2
[Coronavirus] Schools at All Levels Are Adjusting to the Omicron Onslaught – In a process that is expected to go on for at least another two weeks, schools all over the country (and indeed all of the world) are grappling with their planned opening of classrooms to in-person teaching – only to find that Omicron is making huge dents in the numbers of returning students and especially faculty. The spread of Omicron, with its vast numbers of infected, is challenging the desire of parents to keep their kids in school, which in the U.S. quickly translated into political conflict.
[Jan. 6 Investigation] Trump Played Spectator to January 6 Insurrection – The House Jan. 6 Committee opened the week of the January 6 commemoration with vice chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) describing a picture of then president Trump watching television coverage of the Capitol riot, while staff and family pleaded with him to end the violence. Throughout the week, Democrats seized the narrative, and uncharacteristically launched what appears to be a long-term plan to frame Trump and the Republicans within the reality of what they did on January 6.
[Twitter] Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene Permanently Suspended from Twitter – Reason given: Spreading misinformation on COVID-19 (“extremely high amounts of COVID vaccine deaths”). This was her so-called fifth strike, the result being permanently banned from the service. Shortly thereafter Facebook applied a temporary ban.
Monday, January 3
[Voting Rights] Schumer Initiates Procedural Strategy on Voting Rights Act – By announcing that the Senate would vote on January 17 about changing the filibuster rules to allow a vote on the Voting Rights Act, he has put the Senate Republicans on notice that their votes will be recorded. It’s assumed they will unanimously vote No. What is not known is whether Democrats Manchin and Sinema will vote for it either. If not, they will be in the same position as the Republicans. Does this lead to stalemate with no outcome about voting rights? Whatever happens, this is high-stakes legislative maneuvering.
[Trump Taxes] New York AG Subpoenas Trump Jr. and Ivanka – At issue is the family and corporate valuation of properties. either lowering them to avoid taxes or inflating them in order to secure loans. The issue was highlighted and thoroughly documented by the New York Times, and has since received numerous additional reports and bits of evidence. The current case is a civil suit. The Trump lawyers are trying to quash the subpoena on the basis that testimony in a civil suit could be used in a criminal case. (Trump’s son Eric has already given a deposition to the AG office.)
[Coronavirus] FDA Approves Pfizer Booster for Children Ages 12 to 15 – The plan is to provide recommended booster shots for Americans of all ages. The FDA also shortened the wait time for a booster from 6 to 5 months after the first two shots.
[Apple] Apple First Company to Top $3 Trillion Value – Apple is now worth more than Walmart, Disney, Netflix, Nike, Exxon Mobil, Coca-Cola, Comcast, Morgan Stanley, McDonald’s, AT&T, Goldman Sachs, Boeing, IBM, and Ford combined.
[Holmes Trial] Elizabeth Holmes Convicted on Four Charges of Fraud – One of the marquee fraud trials, involving her management of the highflying med-tech company Theranos, her conviction included three counts of wire fraud and one of conspiracy to defraud. The other four counts the jury found indigestible. There is debate whether this result will have lasting impact, probably depending on the sentencing; she is unlikely to receive the max 80 years (or anything like it).
Tuesday, January 4
[Jan. 6] Trump’s Anti-January 6 Press Conference: CANCELED – There’s no way around it: A colossal egg-on-face. Trump hyped the show for weeks, promising it would be the ultimate antidote to Democrats’ lies. Legal experts said it would be “boneheaded.” GOP colleagues said it would be “not a good idea.” Trump blamed the media and the House select committee for cancellation.
[Economy] Another Record: 4.5 Million Quit Jobs in November – The Great Resignation continues. Five straight months of a record number of people quitting their jobs, for the most part in search of something better. Rising wages provide the fluidity, work dissatisfaction another big motivator, and the massive ad hoc culture of job migration – all have economists and employers stunned. The numbers are staggering: More than 15 million employed workers have quit since July.
[Coronavirus] Chicago Public Schools Cancel Classes – Igniting a political firestorm, the Chicago teachers union voted to not show up for work because of the dangers inherent in the Omicron coronavirus outbreak.
[Jan. 6 investigation] Jan. 6 Committee Invites Sean Hannity to Cooperate – The Fox News host played a prominent role in motivating and encouraging the January 6 insurrection, so why not ask him to say what he knows about the event? You say something about hell and freezing? Probably, but give the committee bonus points for asking.
Wednesday, January 5
[DOJ] AG Garland Promises to Hold All Jan. 6 Perpetrators Accountable – In what was marginally heralded as a major policy speech to DOJ employees, Garland did say “We will follow the facts wherever they lead.” This is equivalent to saying the DOJ will do its job. What Garland did not do is set out a framework for investigation and prosecution, specifying the kinds of things it was looking for, or assuring the public (at least Democrats) that the DOJ is in the process of looking at the entire chain of culpability for the January 6 insurrection.,. In other words, it was not a very reassuring speech on the eve of the first anniversary of Jan. 6.
[Kazakhstan] Russia Sends Troops (Peacekeepers) to Quell Kazakhstan Riots – Two things: This may be a useful face-saving diversion from the crisis at the Ukraine border and it demonstrates that the leadership in Kazakhstan has thrown its chips into the Russian pot. China will not be happy with that.
[Jan. 6 Investigation] Pence Aides Talking to Jan. 6 Committee – The group includes Mark Short, Pence’s former Chief of Staff, who presumably would not be doing this without Pence’s approval. The committee continues to reveal the scope of its queries with those involved, giving the impression that it is amassing details and confirmatory testimony about what happened before, during, and after the insurrection.
Thursday, January 6
[Jan.6 Investigation] Biden Speech Punches Hard on Jan. 6 Insurrection– – “For the first time in our history, a president . . . tried to prevent a peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol.” Biden did not refer to Trump by name, calling him the former (or defeated former) president, and called out his web of lies. It was a blistering speech, one of Biden’s best. (GOP presence at the speech: Two Cheneys.) Question is: What will the follow-up be? Some say Biden and the House committee plan a comprehensive rollout of the case against Trump and the GOP, scheduled to run strong prior to the midterm elections. Others worry that, as is often the case with Democrats, the strong start peters out to an ineffectual dribble.
[Coronavirus] WHO Reports a Record 9.5 Million COVID Cases Last Week – It helps to understand that the U.S. is not alone in its struggle with the Omicron variant. Great Britain, France, Denmark, Spain, Australia, and Argentina are among the many countries with a huge spike of cases. Dealing with its impact on public services, including police, air travel, schools, and hospitals is a worldwide challenge.
[U.S. Mortgage Rates] As Expected U.S. Mortgage Rates Are Rising – The key 30-year mortgage rate rose from 3.11% last year to 3.22% last week. The boom in housing has not been affected so far. Inflationary pressures have kept housing prices high in most of the country, counteracting the historically low interest rates.
[Coronavirus] Former White House Advisors Call for Change in Approach to Pandemic – Based on acceptance that coronavirus cannot be eradicated and is going to be with us more or less permanently, four former health advisors offered a plan that consolidates mitigation and prevention for a number of ongoing viruses, including COVID.
Friday, January 7
[Arbery Case] Ahmaud Arbery Killers Get Life in Prison – Greg McMichael, Travis McMichael and William Brian were convicted of murdering Arbery, a 25-year-old black man jogging on a community road. The McMichael’s were sentenced to life without possibility of pardon. The verdict will be appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court, but not likely to change.
[Coronavirus] SCOTUS Conservatives Seem Hostile to Biden’s Vaccine Plan – Normally, oral arguments are not reported as very significant, but in this case, which may receive a fairly quick turnaround, it appears that the conservative members of the court are more interested in limiting the power of government than supporting it during a health crisis.
Sidney Poitier [1927 – 2021 (94)] American/Bahamian actor, director, and ambassador. First black actor to win The Academy Award for Best Actor, had a highly influential career that spanned five decades. Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2009).
[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases: 60,485,947; Deaths: 858,377
New variants: France “IHU”, Cyprus “Deltachron” (appears to be a combination of Delta and Omicron variants). Very early observations of limited cases.
Pinned Point: Until the filibuster rules are modified, much of the Biden agenda will not pass the Senate.
Quote of the Week
[Sweden], home to about 10 million people, established the Swedish Psychological Defense Agency on Jan. 1, in a bid to safeguard its ‘democratic society’ and ‘the free formation of opinion.’ . . . As the country heads into elections this year, the agency will work alongside the Swedish military and government on the new battleground of fake news and misinformation.
Adela Suliman, “Sweden Sets Up New Psychological Defense Agency to Fight Fake News, Foreign Interference,” The Washington Post, 01/06/2022.
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