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Has U.S. Democracy Been Trumped? Bernie Sanders wants to know who owns America?

#15101 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-April-09, 07:05

The downward spiral of democracy and fairness is much deeper than simply Donald Trump:

Quote

The high watermark of the democratized legal and policy regime was the 1960s and 1970s, when numerous consumer and environmental laws were enacted, unions represented almost one worker in three, and courts defended citizen rights.

Beginning in the 1980s, power shifted again. Entire domains were handed back to private entities that were empowered to exercise quasi-state functions and create their own proprietary systems of law.

These developments have been described in mainstream policy discourse as “deregulation” and “privatization,” but those terms are misleading. The term “deregulation” suggests a reversion to a pre-existing system of nonregulation, a realm in which state authority is absent. But this is a fantasy. There is no pre-legal, law-free realm. There is always regulation, albeit sometimes invisible and private, and hence unaccountable.

Similarly, the term “privatization” is misleading. The term suggests a neutral transfer of governmental functions to the private domain for the sake of efficiency. But privatization invariably has distributional as well as civic consequences, since it changes the structure of costs and benefits and obscures public accountability. Privatized water and highway systems raise costs to users. Public parks are generally free; privatized ones charge. The privatized entity can avoid public obligations such as due process, transparency, and nondiscrimination requirements.

Outsourcing of public functions, which gained ground beginning in the 1980s, brought with it outsourcing of jurisprudence. Private prisons turn a quintessentially public function—incarceration for criminal actions—into a profit-making venture with minimal public accountability. In private “voucher schools” (financed by public funds), a private entity makes the rules. Gated residential communities, such as Disney’s Celebration, are privately controlled municipalities that make and enforce their own laws. Private mercenary armies, such as Blackwater (now rebranded as Academi), are hired by the Pentagon so that their “soldiers” will be less accountable for what might otherwise be war crimes. Eminent domain, the inherent public prerogative to claim private property for a public purpose, has been commandeered by private developers. And courts—the ultimate embodiment of law in a democracy—have been privatized by the vast expansion of compulsory arbitration.

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter. / "I need ammunition, not a ride." Zelensky
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#15102 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-April-09, 12:08

Never missing a chance to promote xenophobia:

Quote

Attorney General Bill Barr said Wednesday that the coronavirus crisis presents an opportunity to tighten the country’s borders, suggesting that Americans will welcome “more protective measures.”

“As horrible as this is and as tragic as it is, there are a couple of good things that can flow from this experience,” Barr said in an interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham.

“I’ve felt for a long time ― as much as people talk about global warming ― that the real threat to human beings is microbes and being able to control disease, and that starts with controlling your border,” he said. “So I think people will be attuned to more protective measures.”


Actually, this is quite a good idea as the big beautiful wall to keep out bacteria and viruses need be only a micron high, but we'll have to stop issuing visas to viruses, passports to parasites, and bungling border bacteria breakins.

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter. / "I need ammunition, not a ride." Zelensky
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#15103 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-April-09, 17:35

View PostWinstonm, on 2020-April-09, 07:05, said:

The downward spiral of democracy and fairness is much deeper than simply Donald Trump:

A gazillion x deeper.
If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#15104 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-April-09, 17:38

Linda Greenhouse at NYT:

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The Supreme Court just met its first test of the coronavirus era. It failed, spectacularly.

I was hoping not to have to write those sentences. All day Monday, I kept refreshing my computer’s link to the court’s website.

I was anxious to see how the justices would respond to the urgent request from the Republican National Committee and Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled Legislature to stop the state from counting absentee ballots postmarked not by Tuesday’s election but during the following few days.

A federal district judge, noting that Wisconsin’s election apparatus was overwhelmed by the “avalanche of absentee ballots” sought by voters afraid to show up at crowded polling places, had ordered the extra time last Thursday, with the full support of the state’s election officials. Was I the only one left in suspense on Monday, holding out hope that the five Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices would put partisanship aside and let the District Court order stand?

In early evening, the answer landed with a thud. No, they would not.

In more than four decades of studying and writing about the Supreme Court, I’ve seen a lot (and yes, I’m thinking of Bush v. Gore). But I’ve rarely seen a development as disheartening as this one: a squirrelly, intellectually dishonest lecture in the form of an unsigned majority opinion, addressed to the four dissenting justices (Need I name them? Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan), about how “this court has repeatedly emphasized that lower federal courts should ordinarily not alter the election rules on the eve of an election.”

Let’s think about that. “Ordinarily not alter”?

There are quite a few things that should not ordinarily be happening these days. People shouldn’t ordinarily be afraid of catching a deadly virus when exercising their right to vote. Half the poll-worker shifts in the city of Madison are not ordinarily vacant, abandoned by a work force composed mostly of people at high risk because of their age.

Milwaukee voters are not ordinarily reduced to using only five polling places. Typically, 180 are open. (Some poll workers who did show up on Tuesday wore hazmat suits. Many voters, forced to stand in line for hours, wore masks.) And the number of requests for absentee ballots in Milwaukee doesn’t ordinarily grow by a factor of 10, leading to a huge backlog for processing and mailing.

I wonder how Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh understand the word “ordinarily.” And I wonder why the opinion was issued per curiam — “by the court.” Did none of the five have the nerve to take ownership by signing his name?

That the dispute that reached the Supreme Court was the result of intense partisan rancor in a state with a history of Republican-devised voter suppression should have been reason enough for the conservative bloc to stay its hand. Instead, it seems to have been catnip: The Wisconsin Republicans, after all, needed the Supreme Court’s help if they were to keep voter participation as low as possible.

As the pandemic crisis mounted and other states started postponing their elections, Wisconsin’s Republican-gerrymandered State Legislature blocked efforts by Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, to go to all-mail balloting or to defer the election until June. This was an important election, including not only the Democratic presidential primary but also a highly charged state Supreme Court election, plus elections for 139 other judicial offices and more than 3,000 local positions. The stymied Democrats eventually went to court, seeking an order to postpone the election or, failing that, at least grant relief to those absentee voters who could not possibly get their ballots in on time.

In his ruling last Thursday, the District Court judge, William Conley, declined to take what he called “the extraordinary step of delaying a statewide election at the last minute.” Nonetheless, he said, he was persuaded that “the asserted harm is imminent and a timely resolution is necessary if there is any hope of vindicating the voting rights of Wisconsin citizens.”

Tens of thousands of voters who requested their ballots on time faced little prospect of even receiving them until after Election Day. Consequently, Judge Conley ruled, ballots did not have to be postmarked by Election Day. As long as election officials received a ballot by the afternoon of Monday, April 13, six days after the election, it would still count, no matter the postmark. (In a subsequent order, Judge Conley barred release of the election returns until that date so that late absentee voters would be as ignorant of the outcome as those who cast their ballots on Election Day.)

In fashioning his order, Judge Conley noted that the head of the Wisconsin Election Commission had assured the court that moving the deadline “will not impact the ability to complete the canvass in a timely manner.” He also observed that “the amicus briefs from various local governments suggest that an extension of the deadline would be heartily welcomed by many local officials.” The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit denied the Republicans’ request for a stay. The urgent appeal to the Supreme Court followed.

I’ve described the reasoning in the judge’s 53-page opinion in this detail because anyone reading only the Supreme Court’s majority opinion would come away thinking that the order was the act of a rogue judge, cramming an extreme remedy for a nonexistent problem down the throat of a resistant public. There is barely a hint in the opinion of the turmoil in the country. Did it not occur to these justices to wonder why they were working at home rather than in their chambers? It was left to Justice Ginsburg in her dissenting opinion to point out that “the District Court was reacting to a grave, rapidly developing public health crisis.”

While the rest of us are obsessed with the dimensions of that crisis, the justices in Monday’s majority were for some strange reason obsessed with the notion that the Democratic plaintiffs had not asked the judge for the precise remedy he ordered; the opinion mentions this on each of its four pages. But as the plaintiffs told the justices in their brief, and as Justice Ginsburg concluded from reading the transcript of the District Court hearing, that wasn’t true. The plaintiffs “specifically requested that remedy at the preliminary-injunction hearing in view of the ever-increasing demand for absentee ballots,” she wrote.

The other three dissenting justices all signed Justice Ginsburg’s opinion; she spoke for them all. Her final paragraph is worth quoting in full:

“The majority of the court declares that this case presents a ‘narrow, technical question.’ That is wrong. The question here is whether tens of thousands of Wisconsin citizens can vote safely in the midst of a pandemic. Under the District Court’s order, they would be able to do so. Even if they receive their absentee ballot in the days immediately following Election Day, they could return it. With the majority’s stay in place, that will not be possible. Either they will have to brave the polls, endangering their own and others’ safety. Or they will lose their right to vote, through no fault of their own. That is a matter of utmost importance — to the constitutional rights of Wisconsin’s citizens, the integrity of the state’s election process, and in this most extraordinary time, the health of the nation.”

My point is not that the mess in Wisconsin, on full display on Tuesday night’s newscasts, was the Supreme Court’s fault; most of it wasn’t. It’s that five justices were unwilling to do what they could to help. Instead, they intervened, with 12 hours to go before the polls opened, to upend the common-sense solution that a federal judge had devised with the support of the officials who actually had to carry out the election. (President Trump has been candid about his reason for disliking mail-in ballots. They have “tremendous potential for voter fraud and for whatever reason don’t work out well for Republicans,” he tweeted Tuesday as disarray escalated in Wisconsin.).

The court’s behavior this week raises the question whether the empowered conservative majority has the situational awareness to navigate the dire situation that faces the country, and whether it can avoid further displays of raw partisanship that threaten to inflict lasting institutional damage on the court itself. It’s a moment that calls on everyone in a position of power to display vision and a generosity of spirit. I’m not using the word “leadership,” which I would apply to the elected branches of government, because we don’t necessarily want the Supreme Court to lead us. But we certainly don’t want it to get in the way.

As we see not only from the Wisconsin Republicans but from the governors who are cynically and shamelessly using the pandemic as a cover for banning abortion, there are those who will exploit a crisis, even this one, for crass political gain. The American public may well be divided on what it wants from the Supreme Court, but I’m naïve enough to suppose that at least it expects the court not to ally itself with the exploiters.

In her speech last week to the British people, Queen Elizabeth II expressed the hope that “in the years to come, everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this crisis.” That goes for the Supreme Court too: History will judge us all. The Supreme Court this week failed not only the voters of Wisconsin. It failed all of us.

If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#15105 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2020-April-10, 09:43

Quote

The Supreme Court this week failed not only the voters of Wisconsin. It failed all of us.

Continuing a tradition they began with Citizens United.

#15106 User is offline   hrothgar 

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Posted 2020-April-10, 11:25

Be interesting to see how this gets received

https://youtu.be/UHjJydZO99A
Alderaan delenda est
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#15107 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2020-April-10, 13:38

View Posty66, on 2020-April-09, 17:35, said:

A gazillion x deeper.

I have to respectfully disagree. A gazillion x wider, not much deeper.
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#15108 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-April-10, 15:08

This is going around in family email:

Captain Trump of the RMS Titanic said:

There isn't any iceberg.
There was an iceberg but it's in a totally different ocean.
The iceberg is in this ocean but it will melt very soon.
There is an iceberg but we didn't hit the iceberg.
We hit the iceberg, but the damage will be repaired very shortly.
The iceberg is a Chinese iceberg. We are taking on water but every passenger who wants a lifeboat can get a lifeboat, and they are beautiful lifeboats.
Look, passengers need to ask nicely for the lifeboats if they want them.
We don't have any lifeboats, we're not lifeboat distributors.
Passengers should have planned for icebergs and brought their own lifeboats.
I really don't think we need that many lifeboats.
We have lifeboats and they're supposed to be our lifeboats, not the passengers' lifeboats.
The lifeboats were left on shore by the last captain of this ship.
Nobody could have foreseen the iceberg.

If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#15109 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2020-April-10, 18:12

Snowflake Republican politicians want to spread Coronavirus

Texas AG Upset After Coronavirus Limits Access to Colorado Vacation Homes

WTF??? The snowflake Texas AG needs to stay in his lane. What part of shelter in place does he not understand?

Quote

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton took umbrage at the order. In a letter to Gunnison County Health Director Joni Reynolds on Thursday, Paxton stood up for the rights of oppressed Texans who own second homes in wealthy mountain enclaves.

Paxton specifically highlighted the U.S. Constitution’s Privileges and Immunities Clause and accused Gunnison of treating Texans not “as a welcome visitor” but “an unfriendly alien.”

“While the Order contains other laudable measures aimed at protecting public health,” Paxton wrote, “its patent discrimination against non-resident homeowners — including Texans who own homes in Gunnison County — runs afoul of the United States Constitution.”

Hmmm, shouldn't the Texas snowflake be a believer in state rights? I guess it only applies to Texas B-)
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#15110 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-April-11, 16:39

Massive American Graveyard Additions

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The United States became the first country to report more than 2,000 coronavirus deaths in a single day



USA? USA? USA?
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter. / "I need ammunition, not a ride." Zelensky
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#15111 User is offline   hrothgar 

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Posted 2020-April-11, 17:27

View Postcherdano, on 2020-April-05, 10:37, said:

You claim a lot more than what TPM claims. I did know about the seizure of PPE shipments. Where is the evidence that they are handed over to PP partnerships, ran by Kushner's friends?



https://www.nbcnews....dustry-n1180786


Quote

The two priorities that officials say have not been sacrificed by Trump or his supply chain task force, dubbed “the children” inside FEMA’s headquarters, are private profit and the ability of the White House to choose where supplies go.

Members of the team include friends and close allies of Kushner, who is also the president’s son-in-law. Brad Smith, described as a “volunteer” because he is on loan from his job as deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is a Kushner friend who has been involved in its work.

The supply chain task force leaders pushed aside the existing federal emergency management response teams that had long-established methods for engaging assistance from the public and private sectors. Instead, they first reached out to personal contacts, according to people familiar with their operations. To the extent that they have absorbed some of the old practices over the course of time, with the help of career officials intent on bringing their actions in line with protocol, it has taken time to figure out their own system.

"Jared and his friends decided they were going to do their thing," said the senior government official involved in the response effort. "It cost weeks."

The senior administration official familiar with the task force’s work described a race to procure supplies of ventilators, test kits and protective equipment in the midst of a chaotic moment in which governors, mayors and hospital systems were demanding more than they needed. The supply-chain team had the ability to win bids and then either distribute the goods to directly, allocate them through the federal share of purchases or simply turn over contracts to states, this person said.

Alderaan delenda est
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#15112 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2020-April-11, 17:50

More WTF moments courtesy of right fringe Republican politicians

GOP lawmakers: Fauci may be doing more harm than good

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Biggs and Buck said they are skeptical of the doctors' expertise, noting their estimates have fluctuated in terms of projected deaths, spanning from a high of 240,000 deaths estimated in the past weeks to a recalibrated estimation of 60,000 deaths most recently.

Fauci has said that the reason the estimation has dropped is due to Americans' efforts to self-isolate and social distance.

"Surely, more revisions are to come," the lawmakers said, adding that their method of counting coronavirus deaths, which include those who have the virus and died as a result of pre-existing health issues " almost sounds as if she is trying to boost the fatality rate."

The article doesn't say whether Biggs and Buck have advanced degrees from Trump University, or whether they just paid for BA's.

Amazing that these incompetents can't figure out why the US death estimates have decreased. If they stopped watching Fox Propaganda, they would have at least read and heard that deaths are down because of social distancing and the shutdown of major parts of the economy. And that projections are constantly changing based on new numbers from the real world. And they can't comprehend that once things get back to normal, there is going to a huge spike in new cases without adequate testing and disease tracking. At least as members of Congress they can get tested for COVID-19 anytime they want.

Question: If Dr Fauci is trying to reduce the number of Americans who die from COVID-19, what are these right fringe goons trying to accomplish?
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#15113 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2020-April-11, 21:54

The election is coming up in November and we are in the middle of a terrifying pandemic, but should a 2nd impeachment be off the table?

Trump Reportedly Weighed Letting COVID-19 ‘Wash Over’ U.S., But Was Warned Of Grim Toll

Quote

In his haste to jumpstart the economy, Trump posed a frightening scenario to Dr. Anthony Fauci during a task force meeting in the Situation Room. No COVID-19 countermeasures would be taken so that people would quickly become infected, with some recovering to create a protective herd immunity, sources told the newspaper.

“Why don’t we let this wash over the country?” Trump asked, a question others told the Post the president has raised repeatedly in the Oval Office. Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, realized with surprise that Trump was serious, the Post reported.

“Mr. President,” Fauci responded, according to the Post. “Many people would die.”

Trump’s public comments during that time also indicate he was considering such a scenario to get the economy moving again — despite the toll. He said repeatedly that the “cure cannot be worse than the problem itself,” implying that saving lives could be less important than saving the economy. He has claimed without evidence that more people would die from a weak economy than from a pandemic.

The Psychopath in Chief is a clear and present danger to the USA.
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#15114 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-April-11, 23:27

View Postjohnu, on 2020-April-11, 21:54, said:

The election is coming up in November and we are in the middle of a terrifying pandemic, but should a 2nd impeachment be off the table?

Trump Reportedly Weighed Letting COVID-19 ‘Wash Over’ U.S., But Was Warned Of Grim Toll


The Psychopath in Chief is a clear and present danger to the USA.


The real problem is his narcissistic (or circular) reasoning. 1). I am Trump, and no one knows more about anything than me 2) If no one knows more than me, whatever I believe to be true at any given moment must be true. 3. Therefore, that the cure cannot be worse than the problem must be true as I believe it.

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter. / "I need ammunition, not a ride." Zelensky
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#15115 User is offline   shyams 

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Posted 2020-April-12, 06:28

View Postjohnu, on 2020-April-11, 21:54, said:

The election is coming up in November and we are in the middle of a terrifying pandemic, but should a 2nd impeachment be off the table?

Trump Reportedly Weighed Letting COVID-19 ‘Wash Over’ U.S., But Was Warned Of Grim Toll

The Psychopath in Chief is a clear and present danger to the USA.

I'm not a fan of your president but the mere act of asking such a question is not in itself a horrible thing.

The English Chief Medical Officer (and "senior leaders" advising the UK Govt) suggested something similar to Boris Johnson at the start of the pandemic here. Leaks to the press suggest that scientists advising these " senior leaders" were strongly opposed to allowing the pandemic to wash over the population.
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#15116 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2020-April-12, 14:45

View Postshyams, on 2020-April-12, 06:28, said:

I'm not a fan of your president but the mere act of asking such a question is not in itself a horrible thing.

The English Chief Medical Officer (and "senior leaders" advising the UK Govt) suggested something similar to Boris Johnson at the start of the pandemic here. Leaks to the press suggest that scientists advising these " senior leaders" were strongly opposed to allowing the pandemic to wash over the population.

The Grifter in Chief had already been advised by top health official and others in the administration, as early as late December or early January, that the COVID-19 pandemic could kill potentially millions of US residents. The date of the discussion was apparently sometime in March, when he probably had hundreds of briefings about how serious the outbreak was, and the steps that were being taken to contain it. It had already taken months to convince him that the Coronavirus was a serious thing :o .

The Ditherer in Chief has a long history for being swayed by whoever last has his ear, no matter how valid their arguments are. In this case, a bunch of right fringe demagogues on Fox Propaganda and other right fringe media figures who are not part of the government and have no authentic credentials were braying for a return to business as usual because COVID-19 isn't a real threat. Even in mid April with well over 20,000 deaths in the US, these same people are questioning whether COVID-19 is really that deadly and complaining how top health officials have somehow plotted against the president's and Republican interests to shut down the economy.

These are the people that the Grifter in Chief listens to for most of his policies. Except for almost daily national TV campaign rallies COVID-19 press briefings, he has almost completely abdicated his responsibilities to marshal the strengths of the Federal government to lead the country.

If you've ever had a chance to watch a US Secretary level cabinet meeting, most of the meeting consists of each Secretary and the VP kissing his feet and ass, heaping praise, promising fealty, and giving a testimonial on how great the president is, and how lucky and honored they have been to serve under him.

Fortunately, this time, the health officials, who are non-partisan, were able to get him to change his mind and avoid doing something disastrous for the country. Maybe next time, we won't be so lucky. It could be another epidemic, or maybe a military matter where he is swayed by what he watches on TV to start a war (and we barely avoided a war with Iran after he ordered an assassination that almost all the intelligence people say was reckless and could have led to war), or launch nuclear missiles.
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#15117 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2020-April-12, 14:56

View Postshyams, on 2020-April-12, 06:28, said:

I'm not a fan of your president but the mere act of asking such a question is not in itself a horrible thing.

The English Chief Medical Officer (and "senior leaders" advising the UK Govt) suggested something similar to Boris Johnson at the start of the pandemic here. Leaks to the press suggest that scientists advising these " senior leaders" were strongly opposed to allowing the pandemic to wash over the population.

I seriously question the expertise and/or judgement of all of those people.

March 14:
Britain takes different approach to coronavirus outbreak, leaving some asking why


Quote

Thursday brought a major shift in its government strategy, moving from the "contain" to the "delay" phase of its plan. That effectively concedes that the virus is here, that it will spread rapidly and widely through society, and the focus should be on slowing it down.

Quote

But still, the government did not introduce measures to close schools, ban large gatherings or sporting events, or impose restrictions on travel, like some had predicted it might.

Still, one huge mistake isn't a pattern so maybe you can have hope that it was a one-off aberration. Most of us in the US have no such hope.
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#15118 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2020-April-12, 16:25

In the US, local groups and individual citizens usually fund, supply, and service food banks. Sometimes there are regional or even national groups that coordinate a number of food banks.

San Antonio Food Bank ...
10,000 FAMILIES, HUGE LINE OF CARS


Posted Image

My link

These scenes are being played out from coast to coast, and everyplace else in the US. Since this is a national problem, once might think that the Federal government might step in and help out, or perish the thought, take the lead. After all, the Grifter in Chief has proclaimed that he is "America's Cheerleader" during this crisis. We don't need a Cheerleader, we need a leader.

I have donated to a local food bank but there is unprecedented demand for food help. In this crisis with so many people who cannot work because their jobs were shut down, and they have run out of money to pay for food, we need the Federal government to take the lead and distribute cash and food to the front line food bank organizations. Unfortunately, the It's Not My Job Grifter in Chief says he is not a "Shipping Clerk" so where is the Federal response?

Maybe if those needing food would sign a pledge to vote for the Manchurian President in November, they could get a voucher for a bag of food (maybe including bottles of Trump Ice, and some Trump Wine, billed to the Federal government with only a 50% markup over full retail). :rolleyes:
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#15119 User is offline   Chas_P 

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Posted 2020-April-12, 18:17

View Postjohnu, on 2020-April-11, 21:54, said:

should a 2nd impeachment be off the table?


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Posted 2020-April-12, 19:59

View Postjohnu, on 2020-April-11, 17:50, said:

More WTF moments courtesy of right fringe Republican politicians
GOP lawmakers: Fauci may be doing more harm than good

Unfortunately, this is a common paradox when disaster management works.

If the experts predict a huge problem, but after the fact it wasn't so bad, all the opponents of the people in charge will claim that the problem wasn't really so big, and we didn't need to implement those extreme measures. They don't realize that the reason the predictions were wrong is because these measures mitigated it. not that there was no need for them.

The disastrous predictions are about what will happen if we don't do a good job preventing them.

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