Despite a new purchase of doses by the federal government, supply of the vaccine isn’t keeping up with demand, as states broaden the eligibility requirements and open up the vaccine to millions more people.
Meanwhile, the Senate’s predictable but infuriating decision to acquit Donald Trump has reinvigorated pressure from the left to finally do away with the filibuster, as the GOP’s hold over half of Congress threatens to stymie most of Biden’s first term.
And lastly Trump’s handpicked postmaster general Louis DeJoy is still in charge, busy sabotaging his own department as much as possible, because Biden is still blocked from firing him by some bloated bureaucracy.
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Once again, we’ve got good news and bad news in the battle with COVID-19. The good news is that many states have broadened their eligibility standards to let millions more Americans with pre-existing conditions to access the vaccine. The bad news is that right now, there just isn’t enough vaccine to keep up.
The New York Times reports that large states like California and New York have already almost exhausted their initial supply of the vaccine, even as they make more appointments available.
That doesn’t mean everything will grind to a halt, however: More doses are on the way, as the government is buying them up as quickly as possible, but right now, it appears that available supply is quite a bit lower than demand. Some states are taking the opposite tact in this situation, and keeping their eligibility requirements strict.
But either way, increasing the rate of vaccination is one of the most crucial things we should be looking to the government for right now. Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines at wide use in the U.S. have been shown to be effective on the more contagious British variant of the virus, which is quickly becoming the dominant strain in the country.
The WHO recently added to this vaccine arsenal, certifying the AstraZeneca vaccine on Monday. That vaccine could alleviate some of these supply concerns, as it requires less delicate handling than the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines do. The more vaccines, the better at this point.
Trump Acquitted, But Will the Filibuster Get Off Easy?
By now you’ve surely heard the news. Over the weekend, the Senate voted to acquit former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment case.
In all, a total of 57 Senators voted to convict Trump -- a clear majority but still well short of the two-thirds vote needed to succeed. Crucially, the Senate also failed to even call witnesses in the case, a development that Senate Democrats basically passed up in favor of delivering the predictable result just a bit faster.
There are a couple ways the grand case against Trump could go from here. As Common Dreams notes, it’s still technically possible for charges to be filed against Trump in the nation’s usual criminal justice system.
That could be popular: one recent poll showed that 60 percent of Americans think the Senate should have convicted Trump -- so why not a normal court? Still, that option is probably a long shot, as politicians in power on both sides seem more interested in getting Trump out of the public eye as quickly as possible.
The second after-effect of the Senate’s failure could be a little more promising. Activists hope that the failure to secure a supermajority to convict Trump could be the final straw that pulls the Senate toward ending the filibuster, the procedural roadblock that could let Republicans jam up the Democrats’ legislative agenda.
To do so, they’ll have to convince hold-outs like Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema that tossing the filibuster is the only way to go, which is still a tall order. But still -- the failure of Donald Trump’s second trial is a pretty compelling argument as to why Democrats should seize the reins for real.
Biden Can't Fire Trump's Mailman
Thus far, Joe Biden has done a pretty good job at rooting out Trump loyalists from the ranks of the supposedly nonpartisan civil service. He made short work of Peter Robb, the Trump flunkie who was running the National Labor Relations Board, but over at the U.S. Postal Service, Trump’s man in charge is proving a bit harder to dislodge.
That’s Louis DeJoy. You may remember him from his last minute shenanigans around voting by mail, and his general cost-cutting policies that have crippled the department he’s supposed to be running. Now, the Washington Post reports that DeJoy is moving to institute more policies that would further slow down regular mail _and_make it more expensive.
DeJoy’s goal, of course, is to chop up the USPS and hand conservatives a chance to further privatize it. That’s what they’ve always wanted.
The problem is, Biden can’t toss DeJoy as easily as he did Robb over at the NLRB. Slate explains that federal law actually prohibits the president from firing the postmaster general for any reason. Instead, the postmaster general reports to a board of directors that the president can appoint, which is currently still dominated by Trump appointees, because of, get this, Senate Republicans blocking Obama’s nominees way back before Trump.
Biden is surely putting pressure on DeJoy to quit behind the scenes, but attempting to force him out could cause severe legal problems. There are three vacancies on the board, which means Biden could technically flip it with new appointments, but it’s anyone’s guess as to how long that will take. And all the while, Louis DeJoy will continue to slow down the mail.
AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:
After more than a month offline, the controversial social media site Parler is back, with a new CEO who is, surprise, a member of a far-right group called the Tea Party Patriots. Sounds like more of the same over there.
A sudden cold snap and snowstorm in Austin, Texas has crippled infrastructure throughout the city as frozen wind turbines and limited gas supplies caused rolling power blackouts and some long-term outages around the city and surrounding areas, leaving thousands without consistent heat and over a million without power.
In Myanmar, protests against the recent military coup continue even in the face of brutal repression. The latest tactic is widespread work stoppages, as government employees have led a semi-organized campaign of walkouts and skipped work that have limited the new military leaders’ ability to govern.
And finally, in Afghanistan, Taliban advances around major cities have once again pushed the country to the breaking point, according to the New York Times. The final 2,500 U.S. troops are set to leave the country in May, giving the Biden administration basically a no-win scenario for the country’s future.
FEB 16, 2021 - AM QUICKIE
HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner
WRITER - Jack Crosbie
PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn