No Federal Solution
But we need a solution!
I don’t know if it is the end of the year, the spirit of the season, or my repeatedly telling you about the many non-paying millionaire and billionaire readers of Wide World of News, but the numbers of December conversions from free subscribers to those who voluntarily have become paid subscribers or contributors are really quite something.
I’m very grateful to those of you have kicked in.
Let’s keep things going today and through the weekend, please.
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Monday brought a watershed moment for Red America in the political war over the pandemic, when President Biden said this:
Both of the nation’s COVID-era presidents knew some hard truths about governance, hard truths that for obvious political reasons can’t typically be uttered out loud.
Governors and states do indeed need to carry a lot of the burden of dealing day-to-day with the nonstop emergencies of the pandemic, while at the same time presidents have to pretend that Washington can solve things. And Washington has to try — hard.
Of course, there are indeed some functions of government related to public health, border security, and national standards on which the Feds really have to run point.
Blue readers ask me all the time why I seem to be among those who think President Biden should be held accountable for his administration’s efforts to combat the virus.
Well, for one thing, it was like his main promise as a candidate.
For another, it is a major problem facing the country.
There have been many successes by Team Biden in confronting this medical menace.
But if you were asleep for the last 300 days and woke up to ask the person sitting next to you about the progress made in various areas, how would you rate the job of the federal government in the following areas in 2021:
1. The efficient and sensible allocation of resources to protect the elderly and others most vulnerable to the disease?
2. A development of a policy regarding mask wearing that is scientifically driven and socially realistic?
3. The effort to get a much higher percentage of Americans vaccinated?
4. The advent of a theory of the case, put into practice, about how to keep schools both open and great, healthy places to learn? (Check out what the teachers unions in Chicago are up to….)
5. The promulgation of sensible rules governing large gatherings in public and at private homes?
6. The creation of sensible rules for eating in restaurants?
7. A development of a policy regarding air travel that is scientifically driven and socially realistic?
8. A development of a policy regarding quarantining that is scientifically driven and socially realistic? (The new policy announcement notwithstanding.)
9. The elevation of credible, respected, communicative spokespeople?
10. The ability to efficiently manage hospital capacity?
11. Putting in place an actual tracking and tracing system?
12. And, I could go on, the building of an actual robust, universal testing capacity?
On that last one, read the all-too-familiar-but-still-frightening story of Elisabeth Rosenthal, the editor in chief of Kaiser Health News, about her inability to find a timely COVID test.
Team Trump developed the vaccines but fell far short of perfection in managing the pandemic. Team Biden has accomplished a lot in less than a year in office.
But there is much left to do.
The governors and their staffs are flat-out exhausted.
Most everyone in the White House and in the state capitols signed up as volunteers to get this done.
The right can feel free to keep up its field day regarding what President Biden said about the states on Monday.
But let’s set about solving this with determination and optimism.
Kids need to be safely in school in January.
The Washington Post has another essential read on the work of the 1/6 committee, including some current details on timing and scope:
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol plans to begin holding public hearings in the new year to tell the story of the insurrection from start to finish while crafting an ample interim report on its findings by summer, as it shifts into a more public phase of its work.
The panel will continue to collect information and seek testimony from willing witnesses and those who have been reluctant — a group that now includes Republican members of Congress. It is examining whether to recommend that the Justice Department pursue charges against anyone, including former president Donald Trump, and whether legislative proposals are needed to help prevent valid election results from being overturned in the future….
“We want to tell it from start to finish over a series of weeks, where we can bring out the best witnesses in a way that makes the most sense,” a senior committee aide said. “Our legacy piece and final product will be the select committee’s report.
The rough timeline being discussed among senior committee staffers includes public hearings starting this winter and stretching into spring, followed by an interim report in the summer and a final report ahead of November’s elections.
But this next section on scope is perhaps the most important element about important/essential work in the press this news cycle:
Investigators said they are also pursuing questions outside of these lanes, including how Trump has been able to convince so many of his supporters that the election was stolen despite having no evidence to support that claim.
“I think that Trump and his team have done a pretty masterful job of exploiting millions of Americans,” said the second senior committee aide. “How do you get that many people screwed up that deeply? And continue to screw them up? Right? And what do we do about that? So there are some big, big-picture items that go well beyond the events of [Jan. 6] that the committee is also grappling with.”
That would be performing quite a vital national service if the committee got that done.
One more on this: The Guardian exclusive on Trump comms with the Willard war room(s) around the assault on the Capitol is much discussed.
Thanks to the many of you who have already written in with ideas about how to make this 1/6 a day of national unity, rather than one of partisan division. The mulling continues….
Two essential reading Wall Street Journal pieces on inflation:
Everything from coffee to mustard is getting more expensive next year.
Many food manufacturers say they plan to raise prices in 2022 for a range of products from macaroni-and-cheese to snacks, the latest sign that consumers will continue to face higher costs at the supermarket.
“There’s nothing immune from price increases,” said Tony Sarsam, chief executive officer of food retailer and distributor SpartanNash Co. SPTN 3.63% , adding that produce, dairy and packaged food such as bread and juice are among many items set to become more pricey next year.
Food prices are estimated to rise 5% in the first half of 2022, according to research firm IRI, though the level of increases will vary by grocers and regions.
One of the major inflationary forces of 2021 has been the weather.
Wild weather around the world wreaked havoc on markets for raw materials, lifting prices for everything from electricity and heat to houses and breakfast cereal.
Policy makers and investors have debated the effects of fiscal and monetary policy on inflation, but a big reason for rising prices this year have been factors that neither lawmakers nor central banks can do much about. Prices for natural gas, lumber, corn, soybeans, wheat and other building blocks of modern commerce surged to multiyear highs—in some cases records—because of fire, freezes, flood, drought, hurricanes and some of the hottest weather ever.
Over to you, Mr. Klain.
William McGurn speaks for all of the Red precincts (and some of the Blues) of the Gang of 500 in writing that Joe Biden might be too much of a senator to be an effective president.
Two things are true at the same time:
1. You can take the pol out of Delaware but he will always go back.
2. You can take the pol out of the Senate, but you can’t take the Senate out of the pol.
Another essential Wall Street Journal read, this one with a compelling “Reading, PA” dateline, about how and why Republicans are doing better with Hispanic voters, with potentially seismic impacts on the 2022 and 2024 elections.
I will watch the trailer for the new Batman movie; I will find it compelling; there is ZERO chance I will ever watch this film, let alone go to a movie theater to see it.