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New Phone, Who Dis?

Day 3 of the Biden administration and everyone is acting Brand New. No one lied about the size of the inauguration crowd. Dr. Fauci is laughing and telling the truth at press conferences. Nancy Pelosi is thanking God, Trump is gone in her weekly briefings. The President is creating a National pandemic response plan based on science that requires masks on federal land and during interstate travel. Mitch McConnell is asking for permission to do things. The President hasn’t lied in a tweet. The President has not insulted anyone or called them a name. What is this strange and bizarre land?

Impeachment Trial Delay

Senate MINORITY leader Mitch McConnell is asking to delay the start of Trump’s impeachment trial to allow Trump’s legal team time to prepare a defense. What has Trump’s legal defense been doing? Apparently, not watching the news. The world knew this was coming. At any rate, with regard to actual vote, McConnell says he’s undecided and House Minority leader McCarthy, who initially said Trump “bears responsibility,” now says Trump did not incite the insurrection. Not sure what is really going on here, but it’s really up to Chuck Schumer.  

Not So Fast

Just when Hawley and Cruz thought they were safe. Senate Democrats have filed an ethic complaint against Senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz because they objected to the certification of the presidential election results. The allegations state that by objecting to the certification they “lent legitimacy” to the violent mob of pro-Trump supporters that stormed the Capitol. The letter was sent to the Senate Ethics Committee Chairman Chris Coons (D-Del.), and Vice Chairman James Lankford (R-Okla.).  Six other Democrats signed on to the letter wanting more information on their role during the insurrection. Hawley’s response: the Democrats are trying to silence dissent. 

The Constitution provides that Congress has exclusive power to disciple its members. They can expel or censure members, but expulsion requires a two-thirds vote and censure a majority vote.

Unnecessary Nerd Fact: Since 1780, only 15 Senators have been expelled, most for supporting the Confederacy during the Civil War.  Between 1811-1990, nine Senators have been censured for conduct that brings the Senate into dishonor and disrepute. Recent cases have involved improperly accepting gifts or the misuse of campaign funds. 

You Get A Waiver

With overwhelming bipartisan support, a waiver was granted for Army General Lloyd Austin to serve as Secretary of Defense. A waiver was required because he has only been retired from the military for four years and the law requires seven years or a waiver. The Senate is expected to vote on confirmation today. If confirmed, Austin will be the first Black Pentagon chief.

Unnecessary Nerd Fact:  He is only the third defense secretary to require a waiver from Congress. Who else? George Marshall, retired Army general, nominated in 1950 by President Harry Truman, and retired Marine Gen. Jim Mattis, nominated by President Donald Trump.

Flint Water Crisis

In Flint, toxic water was delivered to 100,000 people for 18 months before the state said there was a problem. Recently, a federal judge granted a preliminary settlement to a class action suit for $641 million. The Judge said it will provide for “every person exposed while a minor child; every adult exposed with a resultant injury; every residential property owner, renter, or person responsible for paying Flint water bills; and certain business owners.” But that’s not really true. 

The $641 million class-action settlement, while the largest in the state’s history is likely not enough. For context, there was a $500 million settlement two years ago that went to gymnasts abused by Dr. Larry Nassar. But that covered 332 survivors. Flint water affected many more people. Currently, there are 95, 538 people still living in Flint. 

The settlement follows the indictment of nine public officials including former Governor Rich Snyder. They were indicted on 42 counts of wrongdoing involving their alleged roles in the water crisis. For more information and background see this Pro Publica article, The Unfinished Business of Flint’s Water Crisis.

And You Thought It Was About Biden

The best thing to come from inauguration was NOT a new administration. It was something funny. Come on, you’ve seen them. He’s seen them, the Bernie Sanders memes. Bernie said he was just trying to keep warm. He not only kept warm, he brought joy to millions for many days following the transfer of power. Take a look:

VID/VAC Update

South Africa. There is another new variant of COVID-19 in South Africa that is causing a spike in new cases. This is different from the UK variant and has some different mutations. It is unknown if the vaccine will work against this strain. There have been no cases in the US. 

U.S. Dr. Fauci in his first press conference in months warns that there are new signs of more infectious versions of the viruses in South Africa and Brazil ( so there’s another one). There are concerns about the mutations, but Fauci is optimistic that while they “may diminish the effectiveness of the vaccines, there would be considerable cushion effect and will still provide strong protection.” Sorry, but that is not comforting at all. 

CDC. For some reason, the CDC issued guidance that the second dose of COVID vaccine can be taken up to 6 weeks after the first.  Dr. Fauci, however, says that is a risk because the trial results were based on 28 days. The CDC and the White House need to get on one accord. Contradicting information and making up deadlines is dangerous. Let’s get it together people.

NBA.  The Miami Heat will use coronavirus-sniffing dogs to screen guests, fans, and employees.  Seriously, they say the dogs have been trained to detect the active presence of the virus, and will not react to the vaccine. If one person in a party is flagged by a dog, the entire party will be denied entry. COVID sniffing dogs… you can’t make this up.

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