Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal
The Week of Saturday, January 29 through Friday, February 4, 2022 [Vol.3 No.29]
“Trump is Wrong”
The Week’s Most Notable
There were many significant political developments this week, but it is instructive to consider three of them together: While stepping out to raise his media profile, Trump admitted he wanted to overturn the election; the Republican National Committee officially stated that the January 6 insurrection was “legitimate political discourse”; and former VP Mike Pence said of Trump’s notion that Pence should’ve overturned the election, “President Trump is wrong.”
Trump admits: As Liz Cheney succinctly put it, “Trump uses language he knows caused the Jan. 6 violence; suggests he pardon the Jan. 6 defendants, some of whom have been charged with seditious conspiracy; threatens prosecutors; and admits he was attempting to overturn the election.” Trump has now publicly defined his intent for the attack on the Capitol: overturning the election. His stated instrument for that overturning, VP Pence.
RNC makes it official: The Republican Party believes the election was stolen from Trump (the Big Lie), any Republican who does not publicly believe that this is true, is not a Republican. Representatives Cheney and Kinzinger, by serving on the January 6 Committee, are censured for not being loyal to the Republican Party (Trump). The Republican Party believes that the committee is persecuting “ordinary citizens engaged in a legitimate political discourse.” (To wit: investigating the event, and the people involved, is illegitimate and the events of Jan. 6, including deaths and violent injury, were normal political discussion.)
Pence makes a very public statement: He made it clear that the vice president does not have the power to change the outcome of the election, and that Trump “is wrong.” In so saying, Pence denies that Trump’s arguments for a tampered election should override the normal certification of the election. (That is, it’s not the VP’s job to make such a decision at that or any other point.)
Trump, the RNC, and Pence expressed all of the above in their own words. It’s important to take them literally. There are some conclusions to be drawn: All Republicans, especially those elected – or up for election – must believe that Trump won (embrace the Big Lie). They must also believe or publicly state that the events of January 6 were not significant. In truth, the events of January 6 were a deliberate effort to obstruct and overturn the certification of the election (that’s called sedition). Even Pence recognizes that trying to involve him in overturning the election was “wrong.” None of this was novel, but it was unusual to hear it all stated in clear English in just one week. It could be expected that the media, and especially Democrats, should fall all over these newly explicit points. So far, that doesn’t seem to be happening.
Pres. Biden reminded us that more than 900,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.
Saturday, January 29
[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases: 76,040,550; Deaths: 909,973
[Coronavirus] Coronavirus Protest Convoy Reaches Ottawa – Turning the pandemic into a political statement is not unique to the U.S. Dubbed the “Freedom Convoy,” several thousand trucks jammed into the city of Ottawa to protest the government’s COVID-19 policies, especially those involving lockdowns and vaccine mandates. The protest caused security concerns, enough to motivate the Prime Minister’s removal from the city. [Update: By the end of the week, the protests are still in full swing and causing the government to decide if the military should be involved.]
[Jan. 6 Investigation] Trump Suggests Pardons for Jan. 6 Participants – During a Texas rally Trump said, “If I run and if I win, we will treat those people from January 6 fairly. And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons.” This is a classic empty promise; three years from now, the insurrection cases would be totally irrelevant. Still, his statement reinforces the general Republican policy to downplay sacking the Capitol, or more aggressively, as Trump said in the rally, “These prosecutors are vicious, horrible people. They are racists and they are very sick – they are mentally sick.”
Sunday, January 30
[Jan. 6 Investigation] Trump Statement Reveals He Intended to Change Election Results – In a written statement released to the media, Trump wrote: “Actually, what they are saying, is that Mike Pence did have the right to change the outcome, and they now want to take that right away. Unfortunately, he didn’t exercise that power, he could have overturned the election!” In so many words, Trump wanted him to change the election results. This is called intent and it’s rare for someone to cite their intent, in writing, in a criminal situation. Trump was complaining that a bipartisan group in Congress wants to tighten up the language in the Twelfth Amendment and the Electoral Count Act of 1887 to make such maneuvering as contemplated by Trump explicitly not possible; that is, the VP’s role is to open the envelopes and announce the count.
Monday, January 31
[Jan. 6 Investigation] Trump Made the Rounds to Get Voting Machines Seized – According to reports by the New York Times and CNN, Trump went to the DOJ, then to Homeland Security, and indirectly to the military to see if any of them would use their forces to confiscate voting machines in key electoral states. Apparently, the plan was to declare a state of emergency, seize the machines, and then claim they had records of voter fraud, etc. However, none of the federal agencies would cooperate. The report expands the picture of Trump’s personal involvement in pulling every known thread and lever to get the election results overturned.
[Ukraine] U.S., Russia Clash over Ukraine in UN Security Council – It’s called taking the issues to the world stage. Ukraine becomes a sock puppet (it’s not in the Security Council); Russia says the U.S. is provoking aggression (which Russia denies is in preparation), the U.S. asserts that Russia is looking for an excuse to invade Ukraine. Lots of hot words.
[Coronavirus] FDA Provides Full Approval for Moderna Vaccine – It took a while, over a year, but the FDA approval did arrive, much to the relief of about 100,000,000 people who have already been jabbed.
Tuesday, February 1
[Economy] Not Another Record: 4.3 Million Quit Jobs in December – The Great Job Migration rolls on, just a couple hundred thousand less than last month. Economists continue to piece together an explanation.
[Senate] New Mexico Sen. Ben Ray Luján Has a Stroke, Dems Temporarily Have 49 Votes – The Democratic margin in the Senate was one, temporarily it’s none. Nothing much will pass for about six weeks. It’s a warning, this case is lucky.
[Coronavirus] Pfizer Seeks FDA Approval of Vaccine for Children under Five – Authorization is requested for the first two shots of a three-dose vaccination sequence. There are an estimated 19.5 million children between six months and five years old, and the infection rate among them is soaring. As is usually the case with vaccines, they do not prevent infection, especially by Omicron, but they can greatly reduce the danger of hospitalization and death.
Wednesday, February 2
[Coronavirus] Army to Begin Discharging Unvaccinated Soldiers – Mandates (orders) in the military have teeth, in this case affecting about 3,300 soldiers. The Army is the last branch of the military to discharge the COVID unvaccinated.
[Facebook] Facebook in Tailspin, Losing Daily Users and More – There’s also an upswing in schadenfreude, as plenty of people, even Facebook users, are unhappy with the tech giant’s evasions, greed, and arrogance. The parent company, now called Meta, said that Facebook lost daily users for the first time in its 18-year history. The stock market was not pleased and proceeded to wipe out $250 billion of Meta’s market value.
[Cancer] Biden Launches Updated Cancer “Moonshot” Campaign – Both Biden and VP Harris have personal reasons to accelerate cancer research. Unfortunately, although the augmented program sounds good, the details are vague and the funding sources unclear.
Thursday, February 3
[ISIS] Biden Announces Death of ISIS Leader – Under attack by U.S. special forces, Islamic State leader Abu Ibraham al -Hashimi al-Qurashi blew himself up. Biden gets brief “tough guy” PR blip and a headache over civilian casualties.
[Great Britain] Five Boris Johnson Aides Resign – The Prime Minister is on shaky ground, or as some put it, a “dead man walking.” The resignations were prompted by the ongoing “Partygate” scandals involving Johnson and other Conservative members enjoying Christmas parties while the general public were being arrested for having similar events. Johnson will be gone as soon as the timing and the replacement become clear – which could be months, or next week.
Friday, February 4
[Olympics] Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Begin – Diplomatic clouds, artificial snow, biting cold, no audiences (thanks to COVID) failed to dampen Olympic spirits – or so the story goes. At least one old story continues; the Norwegians are already atop the medal board with two Golds.
[RNC Censure] Republican National Committee Censures Cheney and Kinzinger for Not Being Loyal to Trump – That was the essence of it, although the immediate reason given was their participation in the January 6 Committee, which the RNC deems wholly illegitimate, as opposed to the insurrection at the Capitol, which the RNC now officially recognizes as a “legitimate political discourse.” Perhaps the most interesting question is how much damage this will do to the Republican cause as it reveals the utter extremism and political arrogance of the Trump-GOP.
[Jan. 6 Investigation] Mike Pence Bombshell: “Trump Is Wrong”: “I Had No Right to Overturn the Election” – At the beginning of the week, Trump bemoaned Pence’s failure to overturn the election results of 2020. In a week where Pence’s former Chief of Staff testified extensively before the House January 6 Committee, Pence chose to lower the boom on Trump by calling into question Trump’s entire “stolen election, Pence can fix it” strategy. Pence’s statement before the highly influential conservative Federalist Society, “The presidency belongs to the American people, and the American people alone. And frankly there is no more un-American idea than the notion that any one person could choose the American president,” drew standing applause.
[Economy] January New Jobs: 467,000 Surprises Many – With Omicron rampant and reports of job migration, absenteeism, and a slowing economy, the new numbers were surprisingly good and the unemployment rate dropped to 4%. Republicans and Fox News sycophants had been lining up to crow about the awful job numbers, but wound up eating crow while repeating Biden’s cheery report. Apparently, despite right-wing propaganda that has affected many people’s attitudes toward the economy, the economy actually isn’t doing that badly.
[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases: 77,966,691; Deaths: 924,604
Liberty! COVID is kaput! Countries are calling for opening up and fewer controls. The right-wing everywhere calls for the end of oppression, let’s be like Denmark! Even normally quiescent Canada has a ton of truckers crying for cease-and-desist of COVID mitigation. If Denmark can do it, why can’t we? Well, the U.S. is not Denmark. We have 330 million people; they have 6 million. We have 64% of the population fully vaccinated; Denmark has 82%. In the U.S. 27% have had a booster shot; Denmark 81%. We have 300,000+ new cases a day; Denmark 25,000. The U.S. has more than 3,000 deaths a day; Denmark about 20. The Danes have decided that Omicron cannot be stopped, so that public policy should be oriented to effective treatment. They can do that because the government, medical workers, and the general population agree that it is time to do it. They have universal healthcare, top-class medical facilities, an educated population, and a trust in the country’s medical establishment. Is the U.S. ready to match that? And, by the way, none of the countries currently opening up mention Long COVID, which affects anywhere from 10% to 30% of those who contract COVID-19, nor do they emphasize that a new, and worse variant, is more likely the more people who get sick.
Politics, Legislation, Election Notes
Polls and surveys show January 6 insurrection low on the public attention totem pole. Yes, it’s a slow rolling story with far too many complications. But it’s persistent, as new facts and political revelations appear almost every week. What to watch for: In the not-too-distant future, the January 6 Committee will need to put a dramatic face on all of it.
Pinned Point: Until the filibuster rules are modified, most of the Biden agenda will not pass the Senate.
Quote of the Week
[The Republican National Committee] also changed a rule so that the Republican Party can fund [Rep. Cheney’s] primary opponent in Wyoming and try to kick her out for good. That’s unprecedented stuff (since one of the whole points of a political party is to protect its elected members).
Amber Phillips, “The 5-Minute Fix,” The Washington Post, 2/4/2022.
[The IUY Weekly Journal assumes readers are at least casually familiar with names and events. For more details, check with internet search.]