Today is Tuesday January 5th. Kia ora katoa.
What an interesting two days it has been. For me, the most interesting aspect was the phone call by Trump to the Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, asking him to “find” 11,000 odd Republican votes. More about this later. I then listened to Jake Tapper’s speech on CNN, in which he spoke very strongly, about growing Republican support for Ted Cruz’s efforts to subvert Biden’s win. He noted that no elected Republican states people are contesting their own recent success.
Monday was very interesting too. One of the first things I saw was the Washington Post’s article about Trump’s hour-long phone call. Very frightening. I watched the Rev Al Sharpton’s programme. Tim Miller, from the Bulwark, was a spokesperson. I had listened to Jake Tapper’s statement – this was before the now infamous phone call. I listened to Chuck Todd talking to Anthony Fauci, who said emphatically that the death toll from Covid 19 was not exaggerated (in contrast to Trump’s claim). How nice it is to see Dr Fauci unleashed and able to speak his mind. I also listened to Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest, speaking in the UK. What a beautiful voice he has! My friend in Auckland who passed away in August also listened to him. His basic message was one of love, divine and human, and that the secret to happiness lies within oneself.
Meanwhile, now that there are approved vaccines, a most welcome Christmas present, there is all kinds of confusion about administering them. How frustrating is this! Generally two doses are required. In the US, distribution is chaotic. There seems to have been no plan. There is a significant anti-vaccine movement. In Florida, elderly folk have been queuing up for vaccines, and facing huge challenges in making appointments – where is the care for the elderly now? In Wisconsin, a health worker deliberately allowed 6,000 doses to be destroyed, by not keeping them refrigerated. How crazy is that? In the UK, people are being vague about the need for second injections, saying it’s better to get a vaccine into people anyway. Dr Fauci does not agree with this approach. So we have been hanging out for an approved vaccine, and now that we have Pfizer and Moderna and perhaps more, but their distribution and input has not been thought through properly. This is just crazy!
In New Zealand, my husband and I both had flu vaccines. The Johnsonville Community Centre had been set aside for vaccines; I came at the appointed time, and waited in the car for 30 minutes afterwards. The only other human beings I saw were a receptionist and the nurse who administered the jab, both masked. JD had his flu vaccine at the chemist, which was similarly careful about distancing, and safety precautions. The Medical Centre was kept free of vaccines and Covid 19 testing, something I greatly admired.
New Zealand has responded to the variant Covid 19 by requiring travellers in MIQ to be free of Covid symptoms for three days before they leave a managed isolation facility in New Zealand. There are no plans to co-opt new MIQ facilities. There is now a waiting period of at least 2 months for a place in an MIQ facility; travellers must have a voucher for MIQ before they book flights to New Zealand.
In the UK, Boris Johnson has called for a third lockdown. While this is hugely frustrating, his mixed messages are equally annoying. Will schools close? Who knows. Will there be confusion? Almost guaranteed. Bojo reminds me of the old adage used when punishing someone: ” This hurts me (the punisher) more than it hurts you (the punished)”. This was always a ridiculous claim. For Bojo to worry more about his personal reaction than that of millions of Britons is just stupid. A New Zealander writes in the Guardian bemoaning the UK’s response to the pandemic compared with New Zealand’s. I saw Jacinda Ardern on Youtube this morning talking about the fear she saw, when walking from the Prime Minister’s official residence in Tinakori Road to the Beehive. That was a very scary time back in March. Fast action was required, to keep people safe, and it was delivered.
Returning to Trump’s infamous phone call to Brad Raffensperger: it would be fair to say this has sparked a huge reaction. The Bulwark published an article by Bill Kristol within an hour of the recording being released (by Raffensperger’s office), entitled “It’s Time to Speak for America”. (Apparently the recording was released after Trump tweeted false claims about it). Others have seen this as another, pathetic, desperate attempt to overthrow the election results, again. Most commentators are terrified. They wonder how many similar calls have been made.
Several former defence secretaries (including Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld) have spoken strongly against this, as have several republican politicians. We are now at last seeing growing opposition to Trump from some republicans. Did the president knowingly break the law? Really, who would ask that question? I listened to the recording, and he claimed that he didn’t have to follow the law, while threatening and bullying Raffensperger, who stood his ground, and pointed out that the President’s facts were wrong. I listened to The Bulwark podcast this morning, and they played the theme from The Godfather movies in the background to Trump’s phone call. Many said it reminded them of the phone Trump made to the President Zelensky of Ukraine.
As a result, there is infighting amongst Republicans! They are divided over tomorrow’s run-off election in Georgia, with voices variously claiming that a republican vote is a vote wasted; Kelly Loefler has joined the “Dirty Dozen” (now 13) planning to challenge Joe Biden’s win at the session on January 6th.
I listened to an MSNBC programme anchored by Kasie Hunt. This featured Senator Tim Kaine quoting W B Yeats from memory! What a nice person he seemed to be – well-read, charming, and intelligent. Why were we so quick to write him off in 2016? He’s really too nice for the cut and thrust of politics.
The next few days promise to be eventful. There’s the Georgia election, and then the Senate/ Congress review to certify election results, combined with a right-wing protest in Washington DC. One resident commented how Washington has been taken over by Trump, and the residents feel a tad displaced. Residents have been asked by the mayor (who’s both a democrat and a woman) to stay in their homes. I guess most people hope there won’t be violence, and no cause for Trump to claim some kind of emergency and call out troops. There have now officially been 354,000 deaths from coronavirus. Although he minimises the death rate, he appears to do nothing to assist with fighting the virus. In fact, he’s increased work rates for meat and chicken processing plants, a change that will be difficult for Biden to undo. Indeed, it’s been commented, and I have remarked, that it would be remarkable if he put his efforts in overturning the election result into fighting the coronavirus.
I am very happy to have my new phone operational now. It has a few things new to me, but we’re getting to know each other. It has masses of storage space and lasts longer when charged, so I can listen to my favourite podcasts again. Stitcher (the new version) works fine again. One forgets how nice it is to have a working phone.