By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Friday, February 20, US Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), a probable 2016 Republican presidential candidate, spoke to the Alabama Republican Party 2015 ALGOP Victory Celebration and Winter Dinner.
Paul told the gathered Alabama Republicans, “I have good news and bad news. The good news is your government is open and working. The bad news is your government is open and working.”
Sen. Paul said that when he proposed cutting spending and balancing the budget Washington acted like he was an extremist, then he went home to Kentucky and the people said that that would be a good start. The people are not just concerned about the deficit, but “In the real world they want us to do something about the $18 trillion debt.”
Paul said that during 2013’s government shutdown the administration was worried no one in America would notice so did thing like close the scenic overlook to Mt. Rushmore and decided to close the World War II monument and had to wrap it with barricades. “The image of the shutdown was World War II veterans cutting down the barricade and throwing them the barricades down in the lawn of the White House.
Paul said that during the government shutdown we learned that 90 percent of the workers at the IRS are nonessential and over 95 percent of the EPA is unessential. There are over a hundred thousand government workers make over $100,000 a year and most are unessential.
Paul recounted how it is so difficult to fire a federal employee that you can’t fire people who steal from you. You can’t fire people who lie to you. In the VA scandal people were leaving veterans on a waiting list to die and then lying about it. You still could not fire them even with veterans dying. We had to pass a law so that you could fire a VA employee for falsifying records and allowing veterans to die. One EPA worker had been caught stealing from us for 11 years. We asked about him and they said he had been fired. Then found out that he was still on the payroll. Then EPA administrator McCarthy told us that they were allowing him to retire but last we found out that he had decided not to retire and was still getting paid. Paul said that the federal governments is, “Absolutely and utterly out of control.”
Paul said that during the Ebola scare we heard that Congress had not appropriated enough money to fight infectious disease at the CDC. Then we looked at it and found that the CDC was spending only a small amount of its money on infectious disease. “They spend a million dollars trying to determine if male fruit flies liked younger female fruit flies.” They spent money on origami condoms. I don’t even know that is.
Sen. Paul said that NASA spent half a million dollars studying what menu we are going to serve on Mars. They sent a bunch of college kids to Hawaii at a cost of $5000 to study the issue and then do you know what they decided? Pizza. NASA spent $125,000 on a 3d printer that makes pizza.
Paul said that Admiral Mullin said that the number one threat to our national is the national debt.
Paul lamented, “The utter disaster we have had for the last six years,” and warned of the usurpation of power by the executive branch of Congress. Sen. Paul said that the Founders created a system where, “The ambition of Congress would be pitted against the ambition of the President,” so that there would be a balance of power, but for 100 years more and more power has been gravitating to the President.
Only Congress has the authority to take us into war. “George Bush had us in two wars and Congress voted both times.” We have been fighting for six months in Syria without any vote of Congress.
The Obama Administration has had a “I will do what I please” attitude. They changed immigration law by executive decree, they changed Obamacare by order. Separation of powers is a fundamental principle in the Constitution that we are losing.
Paul attacked Hillary Clinton for her role in the Benghazi attack where four Americans were killed. Paul accused Hillary of spending lavish amounts of money on non-essential things like new crystal for our embassies while ignoring pleas for more security in Libya.
Paul was introduced by US Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama). Sen. Paul said that you look to see how Senator Shelby is on an issue, because that is usually the right side.
If Paul enters the 2016 Republican Primary it will likely be a crowded field with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker being two of the early favorites. Because Alabama’s presidential primary is relatively early in the process, this state is expected to see a lot of presidential attention. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee was recently in the state on his book tour. Other possible candidates include former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, former Alaska Governor Sara Palin, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Dr. Ben Carson with others likely to consider getting in the race to succeed President Obama who is term limited from running again.
The ALGOP Winter Meeting followed on Saturday. The Alabama GOP’s Executive Committee elected Terry Lathan to be the new Chair on Saturday. Troy Towns is the new Vice Chairman. David Wheeler is the new Alabama Republican Party Chairman. Lynn Mitchell Robinson was elected Secretary. State Representative Ed Henry was elected the new Vice Chair for Districts 4 and 5. Dr. Galen McCullough was elected Vice Chair for Districts one and two.
Dr. Rand Paul is the junior United States Senator for Kentucky. Senator Paul was elected in 2010 and still is in his first Senate term. Sen. Paul has proposed: cutting $500 billion in federal spending and a plan to balance the federal budget in just five years. He has since introduced similar bills with growing support. Senator Paul serves on the Senate’s Foreign Relations, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Homeland Security and Government Affairs, and Small Business Committees.
Dr. Paul is an ophthalmologist and is a graduate of the Duke University School of Medicine. In 1995, he founded the Southern Kentucky Lions Eye Clinic, an organization that provides eye exams and surgery to needy families and individuals. Today, even as a U.S. Senator, he continues to provide pro bono eye surgery to Kentuckians in need of care.
Rand Paul supports term limits, a balanced-budget amendment, a Read the Bills Act, and an audit of the Federal Reserve. Sen. Paul has been married for 23 years to Kelley Ashby of Russellville, Ky., and they have three sons.
Senator Paul’s father, Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas), was a GOP Presidential candidate in 2012 and 2008 and was the Libertarian Party presidential nominee in 1988.
USDA is seeking rural energy grant applications
The deadlines to apply for grants is Feb. 1, 2021, and March 31, 2021. Applications for loan guarantees are accepted year-round.
United States Department of Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand on Wednesday invited applications for loan guarantees and grants for renewable energy systems, and to make energy efficiency improvements, conduct energy audits and provide development assistance.
The funding is being provided through the USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program, which was created under the 2008 Farm Bill and reauthorized under the 2018 Farm Bill. This notice seeks applications for Fiscal Year 2021 funding.
The deadlines to apply for grants is Feb. 1, 2021, and March 31, 2021. Applications for loan guarantees are accepted year-round.
REAP helps agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs and consumption by purchasing and installing renewable energy systems and making energy efficiency improvements in their operations.
Eligible systems may derive energy from wind, solar, hydroelectric, ocean, hydrogen, geothermal or renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters).
USDA encourages applications that will support recommendations made in the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to help improve life in rural America.
Applicants are encouraged to consider projects that provide measurable results in helping rural communities build robust and sustainable economies through strategic investments.
Key strategies include achieving e-Connectivity for rural America, developing the rural economy, harnessing technological innovation, supporting a rural workforce and improving quality of life. For additional information, see the notice in the Federal Register.
Trump says that coronavirus vaccine deliveries will begin within two weeks
Trump said that front-line workers, medical personnel and senior citizens would be the vaccine’s first recipients.
President Donald Trump said Thursday that coronavirus vaccine deliveries will begin as early as next week.
“The whole world is suffering, and we are rounding the curve,” Trump said. “And the vaccines are being delivered next week or the week after.”
Trump made the announcement during a special Thanksgiving holiday message to U.S. troops overseas via teleconference. Trump said that front-line workers, medical personnel and senior citizens would be the vaccine’s first recipients. He also argued that his election opponent, President-elect Joe Biden, should not be given credit for the vaccines, which were developed during the Trump administration.
Trump referred to the vaccines, which were developed and tested in less than ten months as a “medical miracle.”
Regulators at the FDA will review Pfizer’s request for an emergency use authorization for its vaccine developed with BioNTech during a meeting on Dec. 10. The director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research says a decision is expected within weeks, possibly days after that key meeting.
The latest trial data for Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine showed that it was 90 percent effective.
The CDC plans to vote next week on where the distribution of approved vaccines will begin and who will be allowed to get the first vaccines when they become available.
Dr. Celene Gounder, a member of Biden’s COVID Advisory Board, warned against rushing a vaccine to market.
“The single biggest risk of rushing an approval would be Americans’ distrust the vaccine,” Grounder said. “It’s essential people feel confident this is a safe and effective vaccine.”
Moderna said that its vaccine is 94.5 percent effective in preventing COVID-19.
AstraZeneca says its preliminary results showed its vaccine ranged from 62 percent to 90 percent effective depending on the dosage amount given to participants. AstraZeneca is having to launch a second round of global trials to clear up the discrepancies.
Many Americans appear to have ignored CDC warnings to scale back Thanksgiving holiday plans. More than six million Americans flew over the holiday week, raising fears by public health officials that the surge in coronavirus cases we are experiencing now will be followed by a bigger surge in the next three weeks.
As of press time, there have been 62 million diagnosed cases of coronavirus cases in the world, including nearly 13.5 million in the United States, but many cases are mild and go undiagnosed.
A CDC researcher estimates that the real number of infections in the U.S. has topped 53 million since February. More than 1.4 million people have died around the world since the virus first appeared in China late last year. The death toll includes 271,029 Americans and 3,572 Alabamians.
The Iron Bowl is today
Alabama will have to play without head football coach Nick Saban who has tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Auburn University college football team will play the University of Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa on Saturday with the game kicking off at 2:30 p.m. Attendance is strictly limited because of COVID-19 restrictions. The game will be televised on CBS stations.
Alabama will have to play without head football coach Nick Saban who has tested positive for the coronavirus and is experiencing mild symptoms. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will coach the Crimson Tide in Saban’s absence. He has a 46-35 record as a head coach at USC and Washington.
Auburn will be coached by Gus Malzahn, who has a 67-33 record as a head coach. He is the fifth winningest coach in Auburn history, trailing only Shug Jordan, Mike Donahue, Pat Dye and now-Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville.
Alabama has a 7-0 record and is currently the No. 1 team in the country in the college football rankings. Auburn is 5-2 but with a win could still win the SEC West with wins in its remaining two games, and if Alabama were to lose another game down the stretch. Alabama is just one game ahead of Texas A&M for first place in the SEC West, but the Tide has the tiebreaker by virtue of having defeated the Aggies in head-to-head competition.
In addition to team honors, there is a lot riding for individual players in today’s game. Alabama redshirt junior quarterback Mac Jones has thrown for 2,426 yards and 18 touchdowns in Alabama’s first seven games. Jones’s strong performance has made him a Heisman contender and has earned him consideration as a possible first-round or high second-round draft pick by the NFL if he were to leave Alabama early.
Auburn quarterback Bo Nix has thrown for 1,627 yards and ten touchdowns over seven games.
Alabama and Auburn played their first football game against each other in Lakeview Park in Birmingham on Feb. 22, 1893. The game is called the Iron Bowl because historically the game was played on a neutral site: Birmingham’s historic Legion Field. Birmingham at the time was best known for the iron that was mined there and then made into steel and other metal products.
The game is now played as a home and home series, but the Iron Bowl name has stuck with the rivalry.
Alabama leads the series with 46 wins to Auburn’s 37. There has been one tie. Auburn defeated Alabama 48 to 45 in last year’s high scoring contest.
Vaccines should protect against mutated strains of coronavirus
Public health experts say it will be some time before vaccines are available to the wider public.
Multiple vaccines for COVID-19 are in clinical trials, and one has already applied for emergency use authorization, but how good will those vaccines be against a mutating coronavirus? A UAB doctor says they’ll do just fine.
Dr. Rachael Lee, UAB’s hospital epidemiologist, told reporters earlier this week that there have been small genetic mutations in COVID-19. What researchers are seeing in the virus here is slightly different than what’s seen in the virus in China, she said.
“But luckily the way that these vaccines have been created, specifically the mRNA vaccines, is an area that is the same for all of these viruses,” Lee said, referring to the new type of vaccine known as mRNA, which uses genetic material, rather than a weakened or inactive germ, to trigger an immune response.
The U.S. Food And Drug Administration is to review the drug company Pfizer’s vaccine on Dec. 10. Pfizer’s vaccine is an mRNA vaccine, as is a vaccine produced by the drug maker Moderna, which is expected to also soon apply for emergency use approval.
“I think that is incredibly good news, that even though we may see some slight mutations, we should have a vaccine that should cover all of those different mutations,” Lee said.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Wisconsin-Madison found in a recent study, published in the journal Science, that COVID-19 has mutated in ways that make it spread much more easily, but the mutation may also make it more susceptible to vaccines.
In a separate study, researchers with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation found that while most vaccines were modeled after an earlier strain of COVID-19, they found no evidence that the vaccines wouldn’t provide the same immunity response for the new, more dominant strain.
“This brings the world one step closer to a safe and effective vaccine to protect people and save lives,” said CSIRO chief executive Dr. Larry Marshall, according to Science Daily.
While it may not be long before vaccines begin to be shipped to states, public health experts warn it will be some time before vaccines are available to the wider public. Scarce supplies at first will be allocated for those at greatest risk, including health care workers who are regularly exposed to coronavirus patients, and the elderly and ill.
Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, speaking to APR last week, urged the public to continue wearing masks and practicing social distancing for many more months, as the department works to make the vaccines more widely available.
“Just because the first shots are rolling out doesn’t mean it’s time to stop doing everything we’ve been trying to get people to do for months. It’s not going to be widely available for a little while,” Harris said.