David Rothkopf/Daily Beast:
Joe Biden’s Done More Good in a Week Than Donald Trump Did in Four Years
After just over a week we can safely say that Joe Biden is the greatest president in American history.
I say that only because the last president, who shall remain nameless, repeatedly told us that he was the greatest president in American history. And Joe Biden is clearly better than he was. In fact, looking at the 30 executive orders produced by Biden, his vaccine plan, his restoration of normalcy to foreign policy, the efficiency and effectiveness of his administration to date, the diversity of his team, the transparency he has restored to the White House, the importance of some programs to which he has committed—from raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour to protecting our natural resources from commercial exploitation and systematically working to root out racially-driven inequity from our system—an objective observer would have to say that the Biden-Harris administration has done more good for the country in a week than the previous one had done in four years.
Eric Levitz/New York:
The Democrats’ Civil War Over the Filibuster Has Barely Begun
Joe Manchin said Monday that he will not, under any circumstances, “vote to get rid of the filibuster.” Kyrsten Sinema echoed her West Virginia colleague. Mitch McConnell took the Democratic senators at their word.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should…..
For Democrats who would prefer for their party to not squander its first chance to govern in a decade (and/or last chance to avert America’s descent into semi-permanent minority rule), hope now lies in the incoherence of Manchin’s position: If the West Virginia senator is as unconditionally opposed to altering the filibuster as his recent remarks suggest, then it is not clear why he supported Schumer holding the line against McConnell’s demand in the first place, much less why he would suggest that doing so provides the majority leader with “leverage.”
This may seem like a rather thin reed on which to hang high hopes. And it is. But if the outlook for filibuster abolition looks dim, Blue America’s civil war over the issue is far from over. For the Democratic Party as an institution, the stakes of enacting major reforms over the next two years are nearly existential. And its leadership appears to understand this, even if its marginal senators do not (and/or care not for their party’s fate).
Inside the White House’s new thinking on Covid relief
WHITE HOUSE LOOKS TO SPLIT COVID PACKAGE IN TWO — NEC Director BRIAN DEESE and Covid czar JEFF ZIENTS are scheduled to call into the weekly Democratic Senate lunchtime meeting today.
The two Biden aides will face an increasingly impatient caucus.
Deese has run two meetings with bipartisan groups in both chambers in recent days, one over the weekend with senators and another Wednesday with House members. Progressives are wary that President JOE BIDEN is too eager to cut a deal. Moderates are wondering why Deese hasn’t circled back with information they’ve requested.
Impatient is right. They get that they have to produce.
Vaccinated People Are Going to Hug Each Other
The vaccines are phenomenal. Belaboring their imperfections—and telling people who receive them never to let down their guard—carries its own risks.
The message that vaccines aren’t 100 percent effective in preventing disease, and that the data are still out on how much they reduce transmission, is an accurate and important one. Risk-mitigation strategies are needed in public spaces, particularly indoors, until more people are vaccinated and infections wane. But not all human interactions take place in public. Advising people that they must do nothing differently after vaccination—not even in the privacy of their homes—creates the misimpression that vaccines offer little benefit at all. Vaccines provide a true reduction of risk, not a false sense of security. And trying to eliminate even the lowest-risk changes in behavior both underestimates people’s need to be close to one another and discourages the very thing that will get everyone out of this mess: vaccine uptake.
The Man With the Plan to Beat The Pandemic
I’ve never covered a moment that simultaneously merits so much despair and so much hope. It’s dizzying. The Biden administration takes office with over 25 million Covid-19 cases nationwide, over 420,000 Americans dead, and new, highly contagious variants of the virus stalking our future. It’s as grim a situation as I’ve seen.
But for the first time, we can do more than hide. We can immunize. Getting a population of 330 million to herd immunity is a hellishly difficult undertaking in the best of circumstances, and these are not the best of circumstances. Still, speed matters: Getting to herd immunity a few months faster could save hundreds of thousands of lives.
Dr. Vivek Murthy was surgeon general under Barack Obama, and is Joe Biden’s nominee for the same position. He’s also co-chair of Biden’s coronavirus task force.
‘I was lucky to find this vaccine anywhere’
Stanley Plotkin, legendary vaccinologist, on the historic development and chaotic distribution of covid-19 vaccines
I’ve been so focused on helping to develop these vaccines that I barely thought about the mechanics of getting it myself until this month. How can our process be this complicated? I’ve been calling around now for the last several weeks. I could not find out where, or when, or how to receive a vaccine. I didn’t get anywhere.