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Good Morning. The United States faces a cascade of crises as it waits between a presidential election and inauguration.
In the four months between Franklin Roosevelt’s election and his inauguration in 1933, much of the world fell into chaos.
Adolf Hitler took power in Germany and the Reichstag – the parliament building – burned. Japan has withdrawn from the League of Nations. Hundreds of banks have closed in the US. Lynches grew in the south. “The land, numb and almost broken, was eagerly awaiting liberation,” wrote David Kennedy his Pulitzer Prize-winning story of that time.
Today the time span between a presidential election and inauguration is about six weeks shorter than it was in 1933, and neither the US nor the world is in as dire a situation as it was then. But the current situation is still pretty bad.
The worst pandemic in a century is getting worse. A contagious new variant of the coronavirus is spreading and thousands of Americans are dying every day. The mass vaccination program is behind schedule. Almost 10 million Americans have fewer jobs than a year ago. With the support of dozens of members of Congress, the US president has tried to reverse an election result and stay in power. Hundreds of his supporters overpowered police officers and stormed the Capitol, one of the few times in history that a US government building was violently attacked.
Meanwhile, the country lacks a president who has both the power and willingness to reduce death, disease and chaos.
Instead, President-elect Joe Biden remains To regret President Trump denying the new administration access to vital national security information – and to ask Trump to stop using the violence. Trump, for his part, appears to be detached from the worsening coronavirus crisis.
Most other longstanding democracies have much shorter delays between an election and transfer of power. In the UK, a new government usually comes into office the next day. In Canada, France, India and Japan this happens within a few weeks.
The writers of the US Constitution created the delay to give a new administration time to travel to the country’s capital a problem in winter that obviously no longer applies. And the country has already shortened the period once with the 20th amendment. It was ratified in early 1933, during the chaotic months when Roosevelt waited for office, but not soon enough to shorten his transition.
Many legal scholars say that there is little justification for today’s two and a half month wait. Sanford Levinson of the University of Texas has called it the “mischievous” feature in the constitution.
“There is something deeply worrying,” wrote Levinson in a 1995 journal, “that rejected presidents can continue to exercise the prerogatives of what is commonly referred to as” the most powerful political office in the world. “
THE LATEST NEWS
A reverse major migration: Times columnist Charles Blow recently moved from New York to Atlanta, where more and more black Americans are moving south. He got there in time to see Georgia elect its first black US Senator, and describes the new migration as “Black America’s boldest power game”.
Also in the opinion: Gabby Giffords, a former member of Congress, writes about the 10th anniversary of the assassination – and about this week’s attack on the Capitol.
Modern love: A couple struggling with a cancer diagnosis improvised a wedding and joined a church.
Lived life: Neil Sheehan, who received the Pentagon Papers in 1971 and told the secret government history of the Vietnam War, died at the age of 84. Sheehan, who covered the war for The Times, never explained how he got the documents – until a few years ago when he agreed to an interview on condition that it be published after his death.
An N.F.L. Playoff primer
Much of the country will mark the beginning of the N.F.L. Playoffs this weekend. (Last year were the top five most watched U.S. TV shows of all kinds N.F.L. Playoff games.) Here’s an introduction – whether you’re a fan or just want to understand what people are talking about:
Was that a normal time of year? Yes and no. The league played all 256 scheduled regular season games, but sometimes with delays and missing players. Biggest absence this weekend: The Cleveland Browns will miss their head coach, who tested positive for the coronavirus this week.
What are the big playoff stories? The Kansas City Chiefs are trying to become the first repeat champion in 16 years. The New England Patriots are eliminated from the playoffs for the first time in 12 seasons without their longtime star Tom Brady. And Brady made it into the postseason with his new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, despite his 43rd birthday.
Which team should you choose if you don’t already have one? The Buffalo Bills are a great option. Buffalo, who hasn’t won a sports title in over 50 years, loves his bills. The young quarterback Josh Allen “makes great television with deep throws and bruises,” as our colleague Benjamin Hoffman says. “It’s hard not to be drawn for the bills.”
How can I impress my soccer fan friends? Ask if they think home advantage is important. With few or no fans in the stands, the home teams have lost a little more games than they won this season. That had never happened in modern football, as Nora Princiotti of The Ringer notes.
For soccer fans: The Times answers eight high-level questions.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to cook
Take some time This rich and complex beef stew.
Something to see
The last episode of “Jeopardy!” with Alex Trebek as host will be broadcast tonight. To mark the occasion, Julia Jacobs of The Times interviewed Johnny Gilbert, the 92-year-old announcer who put Trebek on the air for 36 years.
war of stars
For the first time in half a decade, a whole year went by without a new “Star Wars” hit the screen. But YouTube has many films in a galaxy far, far away: that of fans.
The late night hosts talked about Republican officials who have resigned.
Now is the time to play
The pangrams from yesterday’s Spelling Bee were Chop and pooch. Today’s puzzle is up – or you can Play online if you have a Games subscription.
Here’s today’s mini crossword and a clue: [I’m freezing!] (three letters).
And do you like quizzes? Check out our 11-question weekly news quiz that we’ve redesigned to include more visuals. See how you compare to other Times readers.
Thank you for spending part of your morning with The Times. Until tomorrow. – David
p.s. The New Yorker interviewed Astead Herndon, a Times politics reporter, about the Senate drains in Georgia.
You can find today’s printed start page here.
Today’s episode of “The Daily” is about how the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol organized itself online. And in “The Argument”, Times Opinion authors discuss whether the attack on the Capitol can be classified as a coup.
Kitty Bennett, Lalena Fisher, Claire Moses, Amelia Kidneyberg, Ian Prasad Philbrick, David Scull, Tom Wright-Piersanti and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can contact the team at [email protected].
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