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Name: Don
Gender: Male
Hometown: Massachusetts
Home country: United States
Member since: Sat Sep 1, 2012, 03:28 PM
Number of posts: 60,536

Journal Archives

Biden eyes cuts to Trump nuclear program as critical arms control deadline with Russia looms

By Vivian Salama, CNN

Updated 9:41 AM ET, Tue December 29, 2020

Washington (CNN) - President-elect Joe Biden will explore making cuts to the country's nuclear modernization program, potentially reversing Trump administration efforts to enhance America's nuclear arsenal by developing new weapons. Instead, Biden intends to place greater emphasis on arms control, according to two transition officials and an outside adviser to the incoming administration.

Any significant cuts to the program would likely raise concern among hawkish Republicans and potentially some Democrats who believe that expanding America's nuclear program is critical to US national security, particularly as the clock runs out on a Cold War-era nuclear agreement with Moscow, which is set to expire just 16 days after Biden takes office.

Biden intends to revisit the more than $1 trillion nuclear modernization program and explore whether the development of new weaponry warrants the expenditure, the three sources told CNN. Specifically, Biden and his top advisers will be looking at whether to reduce Pentagon spending in the overall nuclear modernization strategy and will look to reverse efforts by the Trump administration to develop a new warhead, the three people said.

The issue is partly budgetary, experts explain, with the nuclear program eating up a chunk of the Pentagon's budget that might otherwise be allocated to evolving conventional and asymmetric weaponry. Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Biden was looking at trimming funding for nuclear weapons.


Sanders Is Unhappy About Biden's Cabinet

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was on ABC's "This Week" this week, and he expressed his disappointment with the cabinet officers Joe Biden has selected so far. "What I have said many, many times, is the progressive movement itself probably is 35 or 40 percent of the Democratic Coalition," declared the Senator. "And I believe that the progressive movement deserves seats in the Cabinet; that has not yet happened."

Sanders is right that the picks, so far, have had a very centrist tint. However, his complaint immediately raises two questions. The first is: How does he expect this to happen? Undoubtedly, Biden's personal preference is for centrists, because he is one himself. That said, the President-elect has demonstrated that he is willing to make certain that key factions within the party are recognized. He would surely be happy to name at least a couple of outspoken lefties if he thought he could get them past the Senate. But how? The case of Neera Tanden is instructive here. She's centrist enough that Sanders' supporters don't like her, but she's progressive enough that Senate Republicans are already lining up in opposition to her. This suggests that anyone who passes muster with the progressives can't get past Senate Republicans (with Blue Dog Democrats like Joe Manchin, D-WV, and Kyrsten Sinema, D-AZ, also a concern), while anyone who passes muster with Senate Republicans will not be acceptable to the progressives.

That brings us to the second question: Why is Sanders saying this publicly, right now? The only hope for a couple of lefty cabinet officials is if the Democrats win both of the Senate runoffs in Georgia (and then keep Manchin/Sinema on board). If the Senator's goal was to lobby Joe Biden, he could easily do that with a telephone call. When he goes on TV, by contrast, one has to assume his goal is to speak to the voters. But the dilemma is whether "Elect Jon Ossoff/Raphael Warnock, so we can drag the administration leftward" is more likely to motivate voters who think that sounds like a pretty good idea, or to motivate voters who think that sounds like a pretty bad idea. Which group, in Georgia, is larger? Surely it is the latter, given the centrist nature of the state. And so, it certainly looks like Sanders is shooting himself in the foot with his public kvetching.

We cannot help but notice that Biden has left certain cabinet slots, like Labor, unfilled, and that he only needs to hang on for another week to know the outcome of the Georgia runoffs. So, the President-elect may just have a plan here, whether Sanders sees it or not.



Fauci Says U.S. Failing to Meet Vaccine Goals


Trump rages at 'weak' GOP after House overrides his veto: Say goodbye to your forts and treasures!




'It was a missile strike': Trump fans go nuts claiming Nashville bomb was Chinese plot to steal...

'It was a missile strike': Trump fans go nuts claiming Nashville bomb was Chinese plot to steal election

December 28, 2020
David Edwards

Hundreds of followers of QAnon who support President Donald Trump claimed over the weekend that a Nashville suicide bombing was actually a military operation to steal the election.

The complicated theory began circulating soon after an RV exploded in downtown Nashville. The Trump followers believe that the explosion was actually a missile strike aimed at destroying Dominion voting machines that were allegedly being audited at an AT&T facility.

Lin Wood, an attorney who challenged Trump's loss, advanced the idea that there is a link between AT&T and Dominion Voting Systems.

Because my name is Lucian, I have read about Saint Lucian of Antioch. He was falsely accused of heresy.

Kyle Rittenhouse lives in Antioch, Illinois. Kyle was falsely accused of murder.

Anthony Quinn Warner is under investigation for Nashville bombing. He lives in Antioch, Tenn. pic.twitter.com/aA76xMWbH0
— Lin Wood (@LLinWood) December 27, 2020

Tariq Nasheed pointed out a connection between the owners of Dominion Voting Systems and the owners of the AT&T building.

This might just be a strange coincidence...but

The ATT building in Nashville that was blown up today was owned by Cerebus Capital. Owners of Dominion Voting Systems,(the company many people are accusing of voter fraud) are former executives from Cerebus.

🤔#FelizNavidad pic.twitter.com/JvfJwjeuqf
— Tariq Nasheed 🇺🇸 (@tariqnasheed) December 26, 2020


Differing state responses a "major weakness" in US response, says Fauci

Source: CNN

From CNN's Amy Woodyatt

Differences in how individual US states have responded to coronavirus are a "major weakness" in the US' handling of the pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci has said.

"The states are very often given a considerable amount of leeway in doing things the way they want to do it, as opposed to in response to federal mandates, which are relatively rarely given," the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told BBC Radio 4 in a segment that aired Monday.

"Although that works well for certain things, when you’re dealing with a pandemic, which doesn’t know the difference between the border of New York and New Jersey, or Florida and Georgia, or Texas and Oklahoma ... you have to have a degree of consistency in your response," he said, referencing shutdowns and reopening guidelines.

"What we’ve had was a considerable disparity with states doing things differently in a non-consistent way. There have been a lot of factors that have led to the fact that, unfortunately for us, the United States has been the hardest hit country in the world, but I believe that disparity among how states do things has been a major weakness in our response," he said.

Read more: https://www.cnn.com/world/live-news/coronavirus-pandemic-vaccine-updates-12-28-20/index.html

Note: the link leads to the page carrying the story but, you'll haVe to scroll down the page to get the story (about 2/3s of the way down)


The Hill is also running the story, based on the above article:


Fewer Americans say marriage is important for parents: poll

Source: The Hill

BY MARINA PITOFSKY - 12/28/20 08:37 AM EST

The percentage of Americans who believe it is “very important” for a couple to be married if they have a child has declined in recent years, according to a new Gallup poll.

The poll, released Monday, found that 29 percent of Americans say that it is “very important” for couples with children together to legally marry. Another 31 percent said that it is “somewhat important.”

These findings represent a drop from previous surveys on couples with children. Gallup found in 2006 that 49 percent believed that it was “very important” for couples with children together to marry, with 38 percent agreeing in 2013.

In the survey released Monday, 18 percent say it is “not too” important for couples with children together to legally marry and 22 percent say it is “not at all” important.

Read more: https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/531791-fewer-americans-say-marriage-is-important-for-parents-poll

McConnell thanks Trump for signing coronavirus relief bill

Source: The Hill

BY ZACK BUDRYK - 12/28/20 07:49 AM EST

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) late on Sunday thanked President Trump for signing an omnibus bill that funds the government and provides an additional round of coronavirus relief after earlier suggesting he would veto it.

“I thank the President for signing this relief into law, along with full-year government funding legislation that will continue the rebuilding and modernization of our Armed Forces that his Administration has championed,” McConnell said in a statement Sunday. “His leadership has prevented a government shutdown at a time when our nation could not have afforded one.”


The president signed the $2.3 trillion package Sunday night from Florida. His signature came in time to avert a government shutdown but was hours after unemployment benefits had expired for millions.

He said he would send a "redlined" version of the bill back to Congress with some items to remove.

Read more: https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/531786-mcconnell-thanks-trump-for-signing-coronavirus-relief-bill

Vaccine Hesitancy Is Fading Away, Just Like Donald Trump

Although Donald Trump never pooh-poohed the coronavirus vaccine, he also didn't get a shot on television, as did Mike Pence. To some of his most faithful supporters, that was a sign that it might be dangerous. It's true that he had COVID-19, but Anthony Fauci has recommended getting the vaccine anyway, even if you had the disease.

The good news is that now that Trump has largely gone radio silent and de facto stopped being president (except for furiously exercising the pardon power), people who were against getting the vaccine are having a change of heart. In some cases, that is due to high-profile people getting the vaccine in public (Fauci, Mike Pence, Joe Biden, etc.), and in some cases the "opposition" to the vaccine ("I don't trust big government/big pharma" was abstract and didn't matter since it wasn't available anyway. But now that it is starting to be delivered, people have a very specific choice to make. And with 200,000 people a day getting COVID-19 and well over 3,000 dying from it every day, people who opposed the vaccine "in principle" are now starting to put their own health above abstract principles. Also a factor is that science is "in" again, with Biden repeatedly saying that he will follow the advice of doctors and scientists in areas of their competence. This undoubtedly will influence some people.

Pollsters have noted the change in public opinion. Polls from Gallup, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Pew Research Center have all shown that the portion of the population planning to get vaccinated has grown from 50% in the summer to 60%, 65%, or even 73% in one recent poll. Once Biden takes over and starts urging people to protect their health and get the vaccine, many more will probably drop their objections. Also, Biden will undoubtedly unmuzzle Anthony Fauci, who is widely respected on matters of health, and have him talk to the media constantly. In addition, Biden's choice for surgeon general, Vivek Murthy, who was surgeon general in the Obama administration, will also play a role. Earlier this month, Murthy said: "I am grateful for this opportunity to help end the pandemic." With virtually everyone in the federal government urging people to get vaccinated as soon as that is possible, it is entirely possible that 70% or more of the population will have been vaccinated by the summer. That may be close to enough to achieve a reasonable herd immunity.

There is also some sizable contingent of Americans who might not get the vaccine, if left to their own devices, but who will be compelled to do so by their employers. Many universities, for example, already mandate that faculty and staff get flu shots each year, and COVID-19 shots will surely be added to the list, if they haven't been already. Undoubtedly, many secondary and primary schools will adopt similar measures. Similarly, it is probable that businesses that are public-facing will also require employees to get vaccinated. Can the management at, say, Antonio's Pizzeria and Italian Restaurant really run the risk that one of their wait staff becomes infected and passes the disease on to a bunch of staffers and employees? It is plausible that someone required to get a COVID-19 vaccination in order to keep their jobs could sue, but anti-vaxxers are not a protected class, and besides, they'd be out of a job for two years while the suit was resolved. Probably easier to just bow to reality. Court decisions make it clear that private companies can make reasonable demands on their employees to safeguard other employees and customers. So no, you don't have some "constitutional right" to tell Antonio that you aren't going to get vaccinated and that is his problem. It is your problem trying to explain to your next potential employer why you and Antonio parted ways.


Biden HHS nominee Becerra faces GOP confirmation concerns over abortion, universal health care

"I just don't know what expertise he has in health care," said Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.

Dec. 28, 2020, 6:00 AM EST
By Lauren Egan

WASHINGTON — Xavier Becerra, President-elect Joe Biden's pick for health and human services secretary, the Cabinet member tasked with overseeing vaccinating millions of Americans against the coronavirus as quickly as possible, faces an uphill confirmation battle.

It won't be because of how he'll handle the pandemic, but over his support for abortion rights and universal health care, say Republicans who control the Senate and are already warning that he could be denied confirmation, or see the process take longer.

To be sure, nearly any Democrat nominated for the job would back abortion rights. And while Biden has said he doesn't support universal health care, or Medicare for All, Becerra's support is hardly outside the Democratic mainstream.

Still, it's unclear just how fast Senate Republicans will be willing to move on Becerra's confirmation, meaning he may not be able to get to work on Jan. 20 when Biden takes office. In past transitions, the Senate has lined up the top priority nominations to confirm quickly.

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