What’s Love Got To Do With It?

In an interview with Rachel Maddow, Chuck Schumer said the Democrats will not let Mitch McConnell dictate the agenda because he is the minority leader, not majority. We saw just yesterday Schumer win the first roadblock of this Senate, the holdout from McConnell and the Republican over the preservation of the filibuster. McConnell caved because two Democrats noted their opposition to ending the filibuster. Schumer, however said the caucus was united and ready to get “big, strong, bold things done.” So, we’ll see. But at least for now, that particular issue is on hold and Schumer got out of it without taking a stance either way on the filibuster. That counts as a win. The Senate however, at the moment has bigger fish to fry, say the Stimulus package and the impeachment trial of former President Trump. So, Get to Work!

Show Me the Tubmans

Harriet Tubman 20 dollar bill Credit: Bureau of Engraving and Printing

“The Treasury Department is taking steps to resume efforts to put Harriet Tubman on the front of the new $20 notes,” Ms. Psaki said. “It’s important that our money reflect the history and diversity of our country.”

Jen Psaki, White House press secretary

President Biden and Janet Yellen, first female Treasury secretary are looking into ways to speed up adding Harriet Tubam to the $20 bill. The Trump Administration let the initiative, first introduced during the Obama administration, lapse. Trump’s Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin stopped work on the redesign and said that it would not be put into circulation until 2028 and thus left it to a future Treasury secretary. Well, that future secretary is Janet Yellen. 

First Black U.S. Congressman

“Why cannot we stop at hotels here without meeting objection? Why cannot we go to restaurants without being insulted? We are here enacting laws of a country and casting votes upon important questions; we have been sent here by the suffrages of the people, and why cannot we enjoy the same benefits that are accorded to our white colleagues on this floor?”

Representative Joseph Hayne Rainey (R-SC), 1873

The Smithsonian Magazine published a great article about Joseph Rainey, the first African American in the United States House of Representatives and the first member of Congress born a slave.  It is well worth the read. The article discusses that Rainey and several other black congressmen were critical parts of Reconstruction, as they served during the decade after the Civil War. Yet, this history was not taught in school. Rainey and his colleges served until, some white people from the South and Republicans who wanted to maintain power, used violence and illegal tactics to force them out. 

After Black politicians were driven out of Washington D.C., their contributions were deliberately hidden. Popular histories and textbooks reported that formerly enslaved people had voting power they were unprepared to exercise. “According to that story—taught for generations in schools North and South—the experiment of giving African Americans the vote had been a dismal failure, marked by incompetence and corruption.”

Current Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-SC), who today represents part of Rainey’s old district, “lobbied the House to commission a portrait of Rainey, which was unveiled in 2005 on the second floor of the Capitol. The portrait is now part of a newly launched exhibition at the Capitol, commemorating the 150th anniversary of Rainey’s December 1870 swearing in. The exhibition, which will remain on the walls for about three years, ends with a portrait of Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to Congress, in 1968.”

The article takes you through the life of Rainey and his struggles and obstacles being the first of, what ended up being 16 Black Congressmen that served during Reconstruction. He fought hard for equal rights and many of his efforts were mirrored during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s.

Was That in the 19th Century?

If you don’t know, Bridgerton is a Netflix alternative history period drama produced by Shonda Rhimes set in the 1800s. For the Bridgerton fans out there, some of you are a little too perceptive. Fans of the show have found a number of modern day touches that were not edited out of show. These include:

  • A painted yellow traffic line on the road used by horse-drawn carriages
  • A Telecoms manhole cover
  • A Parking sign on a lamppost
  • Seedless grapes
  • A Primark poster 
  • Down pipes on the front of buildings 
  • A Modern day doorbell.

Regardless of these slight blunders, Netflix has renewed the show for Season 2 which they will shoot in London this Spring. 

VID/VAC Update

Moderna: Moderna is testing whether a booster shot improves immune responses to the South African variant of Covid-19. Moderna also says this is a precaution as its current vaccine appears to protect against emerging variants in lab tests. This was shown because the vaccine produced an immune response when tested against both the U.K and South African virus strains. So, is this necessary or a play for more money? Because it is strange to say the vaccine is sufficient and in the same breath be working on a booster.

CDC: The CDC has no clue how many vaccines we have. Just Great! Rochelle Walensky, the newly appointed director of the CDC said,

“One of the biggest problems right now is I can’t tell you how much vaccine we have, And if I can’t tell it to you, then I can’t tell it to the governors, and I can’t tell it to the state health officials.” 

Well, Biden did say it would get worse before it gets better.

Travel Restrictions: In an effort to slow the spread of the virus, many countries, including the United States, Britain and New Zealand have imposed stricter travel limitations.  For its part. the U.S. has extended a ban on travelers from Brazil, the United Kingdom, Ireland and 26 other European countries. Visitors from South Africa will be banned from entering the United States starting Saturday.

Seychelles: One country that thinks differently on travel restrictions is the Seychelles, which is the first nation to welcome vaccinated travelers from all over the world. “The Seychelles government also announced that anyone who tests negative for Covid-19, vaccinated or not, may be able to enter as early as mid-March. This decision is based on the belief that Seychelles will have vaccinated almost 75% of its adult population by that time.” To go, you must have an authentic certificate that shows that you have taken a complete dose of the vaccine at least 2 weeks prior and a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of traveling. Also, vaccinated travelers must stay in the hotels certified for them. Additionally, Seychelles allows unvaccinated travelers if they arrive via private jet or come from a list of 48 permitted countries as long as they have a negative PCR test result before arriving. So, fire up the jet…no wait the U.S. is NOT on the approved country list.

Minnesota: The first case of the Brazil variant has been identified in Minnesota. This variant is known as P.1 and was first discovered in Manaus, Brazil. The research shows that at the time 76% of Manaus population was already infected with COVID-19 and should have had herd immunity. But the new surge of the P.1 variant raises concerns that it can evade the immune system. Evidence to support this, however, is very limited. So, it’s unknown for now. 

Obamacare: President Biden plans to  reopen, by executive order, federal marketplaces selling Affordable Care Act health plans, for a few months. This is in an effort to increase access to healthcare for millions of Americans.