Trump's last day: At 8 a.m. tomorrow Donald Trump will walk out with a 34% approval rating (narrowly escaping Harry Truman's all-time low of 32% approval) and a "record-low" average of 41% approval, according to Gallup's "last" Trump poll. (If the Senate doesn't vote to convict, Trump might return in 2024 to battle cyborg Joe Biden.) These numbers make him "the least-positively evaluated president in the Gallup polling era." He's also going out on a record personal low approval rating "thanks largely to a sharp decline in public support during a lame-duck period marked by controversy." Among Republicans, however, he was king. They liked him more than they liked Reagan, and just as much as they liked Eisenhower.
Expect a parting video and a bunch of pardons today, the Washington Post reports.
Biden's and Harris's first day will kick off around 8:00 a.m. PDT Wednesday morning, with a swearing-in scheduled for around 9:00 a.m., reports NBC. Biden plans to take the oath on "his 127-year-old, 5-inch-thick family Bible." Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem. 2017 youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman will read a poem. J-Lo and Garth Brooks will perform. The country will heal immediately after Biden delivers his "America United" speech, and the "Celebrating America" party—a 90-minute telecast scheduled for 5:30 p.m. PDT—will wash away all the indignity, pain, and trauma from the last four years with performances from "rock legend Bruce Springsteen, Foo Fighters, John Legend, Jon Bon Jovi, Justin Timberlake, Demi Lovato, Ant Clemons and Lin-Manuel Miranda." My god, he really is trying to take us back to the pre-Trump era.
Five of Biden's cabinet picks sit for Senate confirmation hearings: After delay due to Trumpian nonsense and the Georgia runoffs, the Senate is rushing to consider Biden's national security team, including "Avril Haines for director of national intelligence, Alejandro Mayorkas for homeland security secretary, Antony Blinken for secretary of state, Janet L. Yellen for treasury secretary and Lloyd J. Austin III for defense secretary." Republicans will push back against Mayorkas for "using an immigrant visa program to secure investments for political allies’ pet projects," which Mayorkas has denied, and Austin will need a waiver from Congress to serve, the Washington Post reports. Watch the grilling live:
Speaking of nominations: Biden nominated Pennsylvania health secretary Rachel Levine for assistant secretary of health at the Department of Health and Human Services, Politico reports. She'll be "the first openly transgender federal official to be up for Senate confirmation."
Democrats may finally make Infrastructure Week a reality: In an interview over the weekend DINO Sen. Joe Manchin, who now has outsized power in the new 50/50 Senate, expressed his interest in spending "$2, $3, $4 trillion over a 10-year period on infrastructure." The remark revealed the selective fiscal conservatism of the party's "moderate" wing, and suggests the Democrats might ultimately fulfill one of Donald Trump's many unfulfilled promises.
Important policy news this weekend: @Sen_JoeManchin went on Inside West Virginia Politics and kept the door open to higher stimulus checks up to $2,000 (he prefers they be targeted but didn't draw a red line) and called for spending as much as $4 trillion (!) on infrastructure. pic.twitter.com/yG0aBBcxve
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) January 19, 2021
The $8 Billion Keystone XL Pipeline is canceled: Gotta say, I've been loving cancel culture lately. The latest victim comes courtesy of the incoming Biden administration. According to the New York Times, the President-elect announced plans to pull the plug on the pipeline via executive order on day 1. The pipe would have carried crude from Canada down to Texas and Louisiana.
In mind-numbing "culture war" news: As if it needed any help cementing its place among America's most notoriously racist institutions, on Martin Luther King Day the Trump administration released "The 1776 Report," a story of America's founding that aims to compete with Nikole Hannah-Jones's 1619 Project, which tells the story of America starting with the year slavers brought the first African slaves to these shores. Jim Grossman, president of the American Historical Association, described the White House's report as "a hack job" and a "work of contentious politics designed to stoke culture wars," according to the Washington Post.
Does this list contain anyone with a PhD in US History? I don't recognize anyone on the list with those qualifications. One needn't have a PHD to have expertise, but you'd think they'd want at least one or two such people involved. pic.twitter.com/zjip2cCgUB
— Seth Cotlar (@SethCotlar) January 18, 2021
LA man on trial after allegedly living in secure area of Chicago airport for three months: The BBC reports that the man used a found staff badge to hide out in O'Hare because he was "scared to go home due to Covid." Prosecutors say "he managed to live on handouts from other passengers." The story baffled the judge, who summed up the story thusly: "So if I understand you correctly, you're telling me that an unauthorised, non-employee individual was allegedly living within a secure part of the O'Hare airport terminal from 19 October 2020 to 16 January 2021, and was not detected?" Yes, in fact he was.
Russia arrested and imprisoned Alexey Navalny: The bravest blogger in the world flew home to the mother country after recovering in Germany following an assassination attempt last year. According to Al Jazeera, Russia’s "prison service" arrested him at the airport upon landing for allegedly violating "the terms of a suspended prison sentence he was handed in 2014." He faces over three years in prison. If he ends up going to jail, by the time he's out I still will not be over the fact that he pranked the people who allegedly tried to poison him and got them to confess:
If you're over 65, go get the vaccine: Following new guidelines from the feds, in a press conference on Monday Gov. Inslee moved Washington into a more "flexible" version phase 1B, according to the Seattle Times. Now all those over 65 are eligible to get the jab, which raises the number of vaccine-eligible Washingtonians to 1.5 million. Inslee also announced a new public-private partnership to stand up more vaccine distribution centers across the state. He hopes those centers will help achieve his goal of administering 45,000 vaccinations a day, which would "more than triple the current number" and rely on the feds to triple the number of doses they send per week as well.
King County Council to present "accelerated vaccine rollout plan:" The Council will unveil "a detailed and robust plan to deliver the vaccines countywide, lower barriers to access, and have most King County residents vaccinated by June," according to a press release. Tune in live at 1 p.m. if you want to watch them talk it out.
I'm not eligible for the vaccine yet: But maybe you are? Check out the state's new PhaseFinder survey to see if you meet the requirements. Content warning: if you don't qualify, then the survey will simply tell you that. It won't tell you where you stand in line, or when public health officials expect you'll be able to shoot up. For that sort of info, you'll have to rely on this chart.
ER Nurse calls out cop for not wearing mask in hospital: The Office of Police Accountability opened up an investigation into the matter, and SPD called the cop's alleged behavior "unacceptable," according to King 5.
I'm an ER Nurse in Seattle. Last night @SeattlePD officers came to the ER to obtain a statement from an assault patient. One officer, Eric Whitehead, blatantly refused to put a mask on while standing in a high-traffic hallway. There were covid positive pts in nearby rooms. 1/
— casual weekend mom (@B20e) January 17, 2021
MLK marches in Seattle: The Seattle Times writes of "hundreds" gathering on Monday at Garfield High School for the 39th year in a row to march in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights leader (and very good writer) who was assassinated by a white supremacist. Organizers required masks and encouraged social distancing as the group stopped occasionally to watch musical performances and hear speeches calling for the release of children from prison and an end to pervasive inequities at all levels of society. Cops arrested 12 people and impounded two cars after participants in another MLK march spread across I-5 to and chalked "BLM" across the highway. The demonstration backed up traffic from the James St. exit to I-90, the Associated Press reports.
Two shot, one dead in Tacoma: A 22-year-old man said he and his 20-year-old friend were shot while sitting in their parked car, KIRO reports. Only the 22-year-old lived to tell the tale.
Might snow a little at the end of the week: Forecast shows Seattle could see between trace amounts and two inches of snow, King 5 reports.
Just in time to enjoy the weather: "Golden Gardens, Carkeek, Medina, and Richmond Beach" are now open after "over 11 million gallons of sewage and stormwater poured into Puget Sound" after water treatment stations lost power due to last Tuesday's gusts, My Ballard reports.
Restaurants around town are starting to open up for limited indoor dining: A new “open air” provision in Gov. Jay Inslee's COVID-19 guidelines allows restaurants who can keep "carbon dioxide levels below 450ppm2" to open up at 25% capacity. CHS Blog reports on a few of them.
Someone splashed beige paint on a family of color in a mural: According to the the West Seattle Blog, the vandalized mural on the post office at the Junction "will need professional repair."