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2020 American Political Scene

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  • The Worst President. Ever.

    Until now, I have generally been reluctant to label Donald Trump the worst president in U.S. history. As a historian, I know how important it is to allow the passage of time to gain a sense of perspective. Some presidents who seemed awful to contemporaries (Harry S. Truman) or simply lackluster (Dwight D. Eisenhower, George H.W. Bush) look much better in retrospect. Others, such as Thomas Jefferson and Woodrow Wilson, don’t look as good as they once did.

    So I have written, as I did on March 12, that Trump is the worst president in modern times — not of all time. That left open the possibility that James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce, Warren Harding or some other nonentity would be judged more harshly. But in the past month, we have seen enough to take away the qualifier “in modern times.” With his catastrophic mishandling of the coronavirus, Trump has established himself as the worst president in U.S. history.

    His one major competitor for that dubious distinction remains Buchanan, whose dithering helped lead us into the Civil War — the deadliest conflict in U.S. history. Buchanan may still be the biggest loser. But there is good reason to think that the Civil War would have broken out no matter what. By contrast, there is nothing inevitable about the scale of the disaster we now confront.

    The situation is so dire, it is hard to wrap your mind around it. The Atlantic notes: “During the Great Recession of 2007–2009, the economy suffered a net loss of approximately 9 million jobs. The pandemic recession has seen nearly 10 million unemployment claims in just two weeks.” The New York Times estimates that the unemployment rate is now about 13 percent, the highest since the Great Depression ended 80 years ago.

    Far worse is the human carnage. We already have more confirmed coronavirus cases than any other country. Trump claimed on Feb. 26 that the outbreak would soon be “down to close to zero.” Now he argues that if the death toll is 100,000 to 200,000 — higher than the U.S. fatalities in all of our wars combined since 1945 — it will be proof that he’s done “a very good job.”

    No, it will be a sign that he’s a miserable failure, because the coronavirus is the most foreseeable catastrophe in U.S. history. The warnings about the Pearl Harbor and 9/11 attacks were obvious only in retrospect. This time, it didn’t require any top-secret intelligence to see what was coming. The alarm was sounded in January by experts in the media and by leading Democrats including presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden.

    Government officials were delivering similar warnings directly to Trump. A team of Post reporters wrote on Saturday: “The Trump administration received its first formal notification of the outbreak of the coronavirus in China on Jan. 3. Within days, U.S. spy agencies were signaling the seriousness of the threat to Trump by including a warning about the coronavirus —the first of many—in the President’s Daily Brief.” But Trump wasn’t listening.

    The Post article is the most thorough dissection of Trump’s failure to prepare for the gathering storm. Trump was first briefed on the coronavirus by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Jan. 18. But, The Post writes, “Azar told several associates that the president believed he was ‘alarmist’ and Azar struggled to get Trump’s attention to focus on the issue.” When Trump was first asked publicly about the virus, on Jan. 22, he said, “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China.”

    In the days and weeks after Azar alerted him about the virus, Trump spoke at eight rallies and golfed six times as if he didn’t have a care in the world.

    Trump’s failure to focus, The Post notes, “sowed significant public confusion and contradicted the urgent messages of public health experts.” It also allowed bureaucratic snafus to go unaddressed — including critical failures to roll out enough tests or to stockpile enough protective equipment and ventilators.

    Countries as diverse as Taiwan, Singapore, Canada, South Korea, Georgia and Germany have done far better — and will suffer far less. South Korea and the United States discovered their first cases on the same day. South Korea now has 183 dead — or 4 deaths per 1 million people. The U.S. death ratio (25 per 1 million) is six times worse — and rising quickly.

    This fiasco is so monumental that it makes our recent failed presidents — George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter — Mount Rushmore material by comparison. Trump’s Friday night announcement that he’s firing the intelligence community inspector general who exposed his attempted extortion of Ukraine shows that he combines the ineptitude of a George W. Bush or a Carter with the corruption of Richard Nixon.

    Trump is characteristically working hardest at blaming others — China, the media, governors, President Barack Obama, the Democratic impeachment managers, everyone but his golf caddie — for his blunders. His mantra is: “I don’t take responsibility at all.” It remains to be seen whether voters will buy his excuses. But whatever happens in November, Trump cannot escape the pitiless judgment of history.

    Somewhere, a relieved James Buchanan must be smiling.

    As if we needed it spelled out for us...
    "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig


    • Due to coronavirus, Supreme Court will hear oral arguments via telephone for first time

      Responding to the coronavirus outbreak, the Supreme Court announced Monday it would hear oral arguments over the telephone for the first time ever and provide a live audio feed for journalists.

      The health crisis forced the high court to suspend oral arguments on several cases that had been scheduled for March and April. Most justices have been working from home during the outbreak.

      On Monday, the justices said they would proceed to hear arguments on 10 of the cases that had been put on hold, including whether Congress can demand to see President Trump's tax returns.

      "The court will hear oral arguments by telephone conference on May 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 and 13 in a limited number of previously postponed cases," the court said in a statement. The justices have long been resistant to using technology, such as allowing live broadcasts of their proceedings.

      "In keeping with public health guidance in response to COVID-19, the justices and counsel will all participate remotely," the court statement read. "The court building remains open for official business, but most court personnel are teleworking. The court building remains closed to the public until further notice."

      Monday's announcement allows the justices to hand down decisions in the most pressing of the pending cases by the summer.

      Among the most high-profile disputes are a trio of Trump tax cases about whether a House committee or the New York grand jury may subpoena the president's financial records from his accountants.

      The court also said it would decide an urgent matter involving the upcoming presidential election. Lower courts have split over whether little-known state electors — who actually elect the president via the electoral college — have a right to defy the voters of the state they represent and cast their ballot for a different candidate for president.

      The court also says it will rule on two school cases from Los Angeles that will decide whether teachers in religious schools are protected from discrimination by the federal civil rights laws.
      "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig


      • Joe Biden needs a new campaign slogan...
        Attached Files
        Trust me?
        I'm an economist!


        • Trump Defenders Now Argue with Trump Saying He Has “Total” Authority

          In Monday's daily coronavirus press briefing, Donald Trump told reporters that he had the right to force states to withdraw their stay-at-home orders, which were put in place to slow the novel coronavirus outbreak. Trump expressed impatience in getting businesses open as soon as possible, regardless of the public health implications, since the lockdown has tanked the stock market. And Monday, he declared that he had the ability to override the states, saying, "When somebody's the president of the United States, the authority is total."

          This wasn't the first time that day Trump claimed monarch-like power over states. On Twitter Monday morning, he wrote, "For the purpose of creating conflict and confusion, some in the Fake News Media are saying that it is the Governors decision to open up the states, not that of the President of the United States & the Federal Government. Let it be fully understood that this is incorrect. It is the decision of the president."

          Trump, quite obviously, does not have that authority. University of Texas at Austin law professor Robert Chesney told The Washington Post, "This isn’t ancient Rome where there’s a special law that says in the event of an emergency all the regular rules are thrown out the window and one person, whom they called the dictator, gets to make the rules for the duration of the emergency or for a period of time." In an email to CNN, James Hodge, director of the Center for Public Health Law and Policy at Arizona State University, said that while the president can advise states on stay-at-home orders, he "cannot tell sovereign governors to lift these orders all at once just because the federal government determines it is high time to do so."

          But historians and legal scholars correcting the president is almost normal after three years of Trump making autocratic statements. What's remarkable about his comments Monday is that they earned him rare, if terse, rebukes from some of his typically supportive conservatives.

          Wyoming congresswoman Liz Cheney, the highest-ranking Republican woman in the House, tweeted, "The federal government does not have absolute power," before quoting the Tenth Amendment: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Editor of the Daily Wire Ben Shapiro similarly tweeted, "The Constitution would beg to differ." And a more recent defender of the president, Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, wrote on Twitter, "The Constitution was written precisely the [sic] deny that particular claim."

          For all of Vice President Mike Pence's invoking of federalism in coronavirus press conferences, the Trump administration has shown little interest in states' powers. It has repeatedly sued states like California when the president has disliked local laws. He's boasted, "I have the absolute right to PARDON myself" and claimed he could order an investigation of Hillary Clinton, saying, "I have the absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department." His administration told the Supreme Court that the president has "absolute immunity" from being investigated by Congress while in office. And in defense of his effort to bribe Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky into opening a politically motivated investigation into former vice president Joe Biden, Trump again claimed he had the "absolute right" to do so. But when the House voted to impeach Trump over that abuse of power, Cheney came out hard in opposition, saying it would "permanently damage our Republic" to hold the president accountable. Shapiro, a Sometimes Trump conservative, has also defended the president against impeachment, improbably claiming that he was incapable of acting with intent. Turley, who once argued for the impeachment of Bill Clinton, also defended Trump against impeachment, and has previously defended Trump's invoking of emergency powers to spend more on a border wall than Congress appropriated, despite Congress's constitutionally allocated power of the purse. There has been little to limit Trump's move to consolidate power on the right.

          Meanwhile, despite aggressively pushing to "re-open America" and end shelter-in-place orders, the Trump administration has provided so little support to the states that some are giving up altogether on the hope that the federal government might eventually come around. Two groups of governors on the East and West coasts are banding together to pool resources and coordinate the reopening of businesses in a fashion that is responsible to public health considerations—and not on Trump's timetables.

          Seems to be a pattern here...
          "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig


          • Trump, Head of Government, Leans Into Anti-Government Message

            First he was the self-described “wartime president.” Then he trumpeted the “total” authority of the federal government. But in the past few days, President Donald Trump has nurtured protests against state-issued stay-at-home orders aimed at curtailing the spread of the coronavirus.

            Hurtling from one position to another is consistent with Trump’s approach to the presidency over the past three years. Even when external pressures and stresses appear to change the dynamics that the country is facing, Trump remains unbowed, altering his approach for a day or two, only to return to nursing grievances.

            Not even the president’s reelection campaign can harness him: His team is often reactive to his moods and whims, trying but not always succeeding in steering him in a particular direction. Now, with Trump’s poll numbers falling after a rally-around-the-leader bump, he is road-testing a new turn on a familiar theme — veering into messages aimed at appealing to Americans whose lives have been disrupted by the legally enforceable stay-at-home orders.

            Whether his latest theme will be effective for him is an open question: In an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Sunday, just 36% of voters said they generally trusted what Trump says about the coronavirus.

            But the president, who ran as an insurgent in 2016, is most comfortable raging against the machine of government, even when he is the one running the country. And while the coronavirus is in every state in the union, it is heavily affecting minority and low-income communities.

            So when Trump on Friday tweeted “LIBERATE,” his all-capitalized exhortations against strict orders in specific states — including Michigan — were in keeping with how he ran in 2016: saying things that seem contradictory, like pledging to work with governors and then urging people to “liberate” their states, and leaving it to his audiences to hear what they want to hear in his words.

            For instance, Trump did not take the opportunity to more forcefully encourage the protesters when he spoke with reporters Friday.

            “These are people expressing their views,” Trump said. “They seem to be very responsible people to me.” But he said he thought the protesters had been treated “rough.”

            In a webcast with Students for Trump on Friday, a conservative activist and Trump ally, Charlie Kirk, echoed the message, encouraging a “peaceful rebellion against governors” in states like Michigan, according to ABC News.

            On Fox News, where many of the opinion hosts are aligned with Trump and which he watches closely, there have also been discussions of such protests. And Trump has heard from conservative allies who have said they think he is straying from his base of supporters in recent weeks.

            So far, the protests have been relatively small and scattershot, organized by conservative-leaning groups with some organic attendance. It remains to be seen if they will be durable.

            But Trump’s show of affinity for such actions is in keeping with his fomenting of voter anger at the establishment in 2016, a key to his success then — and his fallback position during uncertain moments ever since.

            In the case of the state-issued orders, Trump’s advisers say his criticism of certain places is appropriate.

            Stephen Moore, a former adviser to Trump and an economist with FreedomWorks, an organization that promotes limited government, said he thought protesters ought to be wearing masks and protecting themselves. But, he added, “the people who are doing the protest, for the most part, these are the ‘deplorables,’ they’re largely Trump supporters, but not only Trump supporters.”

            On Sunday, Trump again praised the protesters.

            “I have never seen so many American flags,” he said.

            But Trump’s advisers are divided about the wisdom of encouraging the protests. At some of them, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, a Democrat, has been compared to Adolf Hitler. At least one protester had a sign featuring a swastika.

            One adviser said privately that if someone were to be injured at the protests — or if anyone contracted the coronavirus at large events where people were not wearing masks — there would be potential political risk for the president.

            But two other people close to the president, who asked for anonymity in order to speak candidly, said they thought the protests could be politically helpful to Trump, while acknowledging there might be public health risks.

            One of those people said that in much of the country, where the numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths are not as high as in places like New York, New Jersey, California and Washington state, anger is growing over the economic losses that have come with the stringent social-distancing restrictions.

            And some states are already preparing to restart their economies. Ohio, where Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, took early actions against the spread of the virus, is planning a staged reopening beginning May 1.

            Still, as Trump did throughout 2016, as when he said “torture works” and then walked back that statement a short time later, or when he advocated bombing the Middle East while denouncing lengthy foreign engagements, he has long taken various sides of the same issue.

            Mobilizing anger and mistrust toward the government was a crucial factor for Trump in the last presidential election. And for many months he has been looking for ways to contrast himself with former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and a Washington lifer.

            The problem? Trump is now president, and disowning responsibility for his administration’s slow and problem-plagued response to the coronavirus could prove difficult. And protests can be an unpredictable factor, particularly at a moment of economic unrest.

            Vice President Mike Pence, asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” about the president’s tweets urging people to “liberate” states, demurred.

            “The American people know that no one in America wants to reopen this country more than President Donald Trump,” Pence said, “and on Thursday the president directed us to lay out guidelines for when and how states could responsibly do that.”

            “And in the president’s tweets and public statements, I can assure you, he’s going to continue to encourage governors to find ways to safely and responsibly let America go back to work,” he said.

            With the political campaign halted, Trump’s advisers have seen an advantage in the frozen-in-time state of the race. Biden has struggled to fundraise or even to get daily attention in the news cycle.

            But Trump himself has seemed at sea, according to people close to him, uncertain of how to proceed. His approval numbers in his campaign polling have settled back to a level consistent with before the coronavirus, according to multiple people familiar with the data.

            His campaign polling has shown that focusing on criticizing China, in contrast with Biden, moves voters toward Trump, according to a Republican who has seen it.

            “Trump finally fired the first shot” with his more aggressive stance toward the Chinese government and its leader, Xi Jinping, said Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist. “Xi is put on notice that the death, economic carnage and agony is his and his alone,” Bannon said. “Only question now: What is America’s president prepared to do about it?”

            Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, has advocated messages that contrast Trump with Biden on a number of fronts, including China.

            But inside and outside the White House, other advisers to Trump see an advantage in focusing attention on the presidency.

            Kellyanne Conway, the White House counselor, has argued in West Wing discussions that there is a time to focus on China, but that for now, the president should embrace commander-in-chief moments amid the crisis.

            Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey and a friend of Trump’s, said on ABC’s “This Week” that he did not think ads criticizing Biden on China were the right approach for now.

            Ultimately, Trump’s advisers said, most of his team is aware that it can try to drive down Biden’s poll numbers, but that no matter what tactics it deploys now, the president’s future will most likely depend on whether the economy is improving in the fall and whether the virus’s spread has been mitigated. Those things will remain unknown for months.

            “This is going to be a referendum,” Christie said, “on whether people think, when we get to October, whether or not he handled this crisis in a way that helped the American people, protected lives and moved us forward.”

            Schizophrenic? Two-faced? Or just plain batshit crazy....
            "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig


            • Originally posted by tbm3fan View Post
              ...They are growing almonds for export...
              Almonds also make heavy use of available european honey bee resources (apiculture), and those resources have been in increasingly short supply over the last 15 years. But also, those almonds have been a major source of profits to the apiarists. Almond growers have been renting annually 1.5 million colonies of european honey bees at a cost of $300 million. Declining population of european honey bees could get expensive, as a large fraction of our non-grain food supply depends on those as pollinators.


              Last edited by JRT; 21 Apr 20,, 02:23.


              • Trump's Excuse For Holding Rallies Amid Growing Pandemic: He Can't Remember Them

                President Donald Trump on Monday resorted to questioning whether a campaign rally he held in March had actually taken place after he was caught in a lie claiming that he hadn’t left the White House in months.

                “I don’t know about rallies, I really don’t know about rallies,” Trump said at his press briefing when PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor mentioned his continued campaign events during the worsening coronavirus pandemic.

                “I know one thing, I haven’t left the White House in months, except for a brief moment to give a wonderful ship, the [USNS] Comfort,” he said.

                When Alcindor pointed out that he had held a campaign rally on March 3, Trump said: “I don’t know, did I hold a rally? I’m sorry, I hold a rally. Did I hold a rally?”

                Trump held five campaign events in February and one in March.

                The exchange occurred after Alcindor asked Trump to acknowledge whether he believed his downplaying of coronavirus in the early stages of the outbreak had resulted in people getting sick. She cited an interviewee who said they’d attended a funeral in mid-March and their family members fell ill because they were following cues from the president, who wasn’t taking it seriously, wearing a mask or telling people to stay home.

                Trump responded to this question by saying: “A lot of people love Trump, right?” He then patted himself on the back for issuing travel restrictions on China on Jan. 31 and declared that “people should say I acted very early.”

                Critics noted that the Jan. 31 move, which banned foreigners who had been in China in the last 14 days from entering the United States, made sense, but required a simultaneous effort to establish widespread testing, equip hospitals with proper medical supplies and limit the spread of the virus.

                Yet in late February, Trump labeled the virus a “hoax” during a South Carolina rally. On March 9, when more than 500 people had been diagnosed with COVID-19, he compared coronavirus to the “common flu.”

                The outbreak was declared a global pandemic two days later and Trump subsequently canceled his upcoming rallies “out of an abundance of caution.”

                Getting harder and harder to explain away his dementia symptoms. Oh wait, he's just trolling the libz...that explains it.

                Also, how do you "give a wonderful ship the Comfort?" Can you also "give a wonderful ship the Roosevelt"?
                "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig


                • Originally posted by JRT View Post
                  Almonds also make heavy use of available european honey bee resources (apiculture), and those resources have been in increasingly short supply over the last 15 years. But also, those almonds have been a major source of profits to the apiarists. Almond growers have been renting annually 1.5 million colonies of european honey bees at a cost of $300 million. Declining population of european honey bees could get expensive, as a large fraction of our non-grain food supply depends on those as pollinators.


                  Being a Californian, and like many other Californians, I feel they are a poor use of a limited resource we have...water. Those tress weren't there in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and early 90s. The tress have been planted in what many would consider marginal land as it was/is bone dry. Ag gets 80% as I said and it wants more. So either the general population gives up some of our 20% or, even better, we build more dams and destroy more California rivers for some damn nut. Too bad about the bees but that market for them wasn't there some decades ago. Besides what about all the native fauna displaced by the artificial environment of the trees and bees?


                  • Trump Faces Test of Power in Court Clash Harking Back to Nixon

                    The Trump administration will square off against House Democrats on Tuesday over a crucial question: Is a congressional subpoena of White House officials a formidable weapon or an empty threat?

                    The battle, which is likely to reach the Supreme Court, could shape legal fights ranging from the quest for President Donald Trump’s tax returns to a conflict over his proposed border wall with Mexico. More broadly, it will help determine the extent of his and future presidents’ power.

                    The case, in federal appeals court in Washington, stems from the Democrats’ subpoena of former White House counsel Donald McGahn. The demand for his testimony came in the wake of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference with the 2016 U.S. election and in the run-up to last year’s impeachment hearings.

                    But while those struggles ended in the president’s acquittal and now seem a world away, Tuesday’s court clash goes far beyond them.

                    The dispute “hits at the core of the constitutional separation of powers,” said Richard Pildes, a constitutional law professor at New York University. “When high-level executive officials refuse to comply with a congressional subpoena, this case will determine whether Congress can turn to the courts to resolve that conflict.”

                    The Supreme Court has scheduled a May 12 hearing on Trump appeals that raise sweeping questions about government’s investigative powers, including the president’s claim of immunity from local criminal probes while in office. That case, in which the Manhattan district attorney is seeking the president’s financial records, “is probably more of a threat to President Trump personally,” Pildes said.

                    The McGahn case is important because it will affect the continuing struggle between the legislative and executive branches, he said.

                    It began in August when the House Judiciary Committee sued after Trump directed McGahn not to comply with the subpoena. The Justice Department argued that as an immediate adviser to the president, he was “absolutely immune from compelled testimony before Congress.”

                    In November, U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson in Washington ordered the lawyer to appear. Jackson, an appointee of President Barack Obama, said “compulsory appearance by dint of a subpoena is a legal construct, not a political one.”

                    The administration appealed Jackson’s decision, and a three-judge panel of the D.C. appeals court ruled in Trump’s favor in February. It narrowed the instances when the judiciary can resolve disputes between Congress and the executive, requiring that a member of the public, and not just part of the government, suffer some harm. Otherwise, the panel wrote, those two branches would be “swallowed up” by the courts.

                    Now, a larger panel of the appeals court’s judges will hold a rare “en banc” rehearing of the whole case (rarer still because it will be held by phone). The court has consolidated the McGahn case with a House lawsuit challenging Trump’s diversion of military funds to the border wall, another of the many clashes that have erupted between the two branches.

                    The composition of the court doesn’t bode well for the president. Seven of its active judges were appointed by Democratic presidents. The four named to the bench by Republicans include two appointed by Trump himself, Neomi Rao and Gregory Katsas. Both have recused themselves, without saying why.

                    The Judiciary Committee has urged the judges to uphold the district court’s decision compelling McGahn to appear and disputed the three-judge panel’s finding that the judicial branch has no business stepping into the case.

                    “That conclusion -- which no other court has ever reached -- is wrong,” it said in an April 16 filing.

                    The committee noted that presidents starting with George Washington had complied with congressional demands for information. That changed with the Watergate scandal, when the Senate had to sue for evidence it sought from President Richard Nixon’s administration, the House said. The case reached the Supreme Court, which in 1974 required Nixon to turn over the secret Oval Office tapes that would lead to his resignation.

                    Since then, the Democrats say, Congress has turned to the courts when necessary, and “this court and others have uniformly held that committees have standing to do so.”

                    The lawmakers sought McGahn’s testimony to show that the president had tried to obstruct the Mueller probe. Trump’s assertion of absolute immunity is “a particularly egregious and transparent attempt to avoid revelation of acts of misconduct,” a group of Watergate scholars not involved in the case said in a brief in support of the House.

                    The Trump administration has vigorously defended the three-judge panel’s ruling.

                    “For the first two centuries of this nation’s history, the political branches of the federal government resolved disputes between themselves through political contest and compromise, not by asking the judicial branch to pick a side in zero-sum litigation,” it argued in a March 30 brief.

                    That’s how Hans von Spakovsky, a lawyer at the conservative Heritage Foundation, sees it.

                    “When it comes to disputes between the executive branch and the legislative branch, that really is a political issue, and the courts should not get into it,” he said in an interview. “This has traditionally been handled through negotiations and accommodations.”

                    The administration argues in its brief that no legislation explicitly gives Congress the right to sue over claims of executive privilege. Allowing that “would shift power from the executive to the legislature while politicizing the judiciary,” it warned.

                    Congress has other recourse if an administration refuses to cooperate with an investigation, the Trump team contends, such as declaring it in contempt or blocking funding for the White House. The three-judge panel said as much in its February ruling.

                    “For a variety of reasons, I think that’s really not a useful tool for Congress and not something Congress would ever want to do,” said Jonathan Weinberg, a law professor at Wayne State University. “If there is no judicial recourse, when a president says ‘no,’ then no matter what, there’s really nothing that can be done.”

                    Funny how Trump turns to the courts at the drop of a hat, but when someone else does so, it's all wrong. Or something.
                    "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig


                    • Jared Kushner Is the “De Facto President of the United States” Says Former White House Official

                      By now, Jared Kushner's White House résumé is quite extensive. His father-in-law, Donald Trump, tasked him with brokering peace between Israel and Palestine, completing an environmentally destructive wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, reforming the criminal justice system, and building an "Office of American Innovation," dedicated to making the government run like a business.

                      Despite his failing to follow through on any of these tasks, Trump also put Kushner in charge of the U.S. coronavirus response, complete with his own "shadow" task force made up of equally unqualified friends, which caused confusion about competing power structures.

                      Speaking to TIME for a January profile of Kushner, Brad Parscale, the Kushner-appointed manager for Trump's campaign, said, "Nobody has more influence in the White House than Jared. Nobody has more influence outside the White House than Jared. He’s No. 2 after Trump."

                      Parscale may actually have been underselling Kushner's influence there. In a new story for Vanity Fair, Gabriel Sherman details how Kushner has filled the vacuum left by Donald Trump's general lack of interest in governing:

                      "Jared is running everything. He’s the de facto president of the United States," a former White House official told me. The previous chief of staff John Kelly, who’d marginalized Kushner, was long gone, and Mick Mulvaney, a virtual lame duck by that point, let Kushner run free. "Jared treats Mick like the help," a prominent Republican said.

                      Current and former White House officials described to Vanity Fair a Kushner who is as vindictive and myopic as Trump himself. After the Senate acquitted Trump of impeachment charges without calling a single witness, Kushner reportedly pushed for a sweeping purge of officials who weren't deemed loyal enough during the hearings. A New York business executive recounted a fall 2019 meeting with Kushner, saying, "I told Jared that if Trump won a second term, he wouldn’t have to worry about running again and you can really help people. Jared just looked at me and said, 'I don’t care about any of that.’ ”

                      Also like Trump, when it comes to fighting the coronavirus outbreak, Kushner appears more concerned with the stock market than with public health. One Republican briefed on the administration's coronavirus response told Vanity Fair that, as early as mid-January, advisers were sounding alarms, but "Jared kept saying the stock market would go down, and Trump wouldn’t get reelected." Another source said that on March 11, as the World Health Organization declared the outbreak officially a pandemic, Kushner still pushed Trump not to declare a national emergency, freeing vital funds and resources for states, because "it would tank the markets." The markets tanked soon after, and Trump was forced to declare a national emergency.

                      All of this—the bad calls, lack of interest in expertise, and "arrogance," as one source put it—is in line with Kushner's track record from well before he ever entered politics. But what else to expect from a man who got into Harvard after his father donated $2.5 million, even though his grades and SAT scores were middling. In 2007, after taking over his family's real estate empire when his father went to jail, Kushner spearheaded the purchase of 666 Park Avenue, a skyscraper of luxury apartments, for the record-breaking cost of $1.8 billion at the top of the real estate market. When it failed to turn a profit, the debt nearly destroyed the family business, and Kushner couldn't unload the thing until after he nabbed a job in the White House. When he acquired The New York Observer, according to former editor Elizabeth Spiers, he was obsessed with "cost-cutting impulses from the commercial real estate world" that didn't translate to other industries. Kushner gutted the once-venerated paper, believing that laying off enough staff would increase the profit margins from advertising but apparently not understanding that fewer articles meant fewer ads.

                      As of Wednesday morning, the U.S. officially has more than one million confirmed cases of coronavirus and nearly 60,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins (although that bleak total may be an undercount, by as many as 9,000 deaths by CDC estimates). But that grim reality hasn't deterred Kushner from trying to juice the Dow Jones with sunny spin—even though 73 percent of Americans believe there will be a second wave of coronavirus cases and that social distancing should continue, meaning the vast majority of Americans are unlikely to risk lives to "reopen" the economy. In a Wednesday appearance on Fox & Friends, he told the hosts, "We’re on the other side of the medical aspect of this...this is a great success story."

                      Echoing his father-in-law, who said the pandemic would "miraculously go away" by April due to the warmer weather, Kushner added, "I think you’ll see by June a lot of the country should be back to normal, and the hope is that by July the country’s really rocking again."

                      60,000 Americans could not be reached for comment.

                      Remember Trump claiming Google was building a website for COVID19 and it would be up and running within a week? That line was written by Kushner.
                      "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig


                      • Originally posted by TopHatter View Post
                        60,000 Americans could not be reached for comment.

                        Remember Trump claiming Google was building a website for COVID19 and it would be up and running within a week? That line was written by Kushner.
                        Mmm, I see a possible political commercial...


                        • “I Will Never Lie To You”: New White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany Holds Her First Briefing

                          White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Friday did something her predecessor never did: She held an official press briefing.

                          “I will never lie to you. You have my word on this,” she said in response to a question from Associated Press correspondent Jill Colvin.

                          She also told reporters that they do plan to continue the briefings and she will announce “timing forthcoming.”

                          She said that she is “normally with the president in the Oval Office” in response to a query of how she will relay how President Donald Trump is thinking on certain issues.

                          McEnany succeeded Stephanie Grisham as press secretary last month. Grisham never held an official briefing, and the last one was held was in March, 2019. As CNN noted, that was 417 days ago. As they asked questions, a number of reporters thanked McEnany for holding one.

                          Trump held his own briefings, night after night, with the coronavirus task force through much of March and April. But those were scaled back this week, in the aftermath of the president’s suggestion that injecting disinfectants could be tested as a coronavirus treatment. He later said that he had been sarcastic.

                          One of the first questions that McEnany was asked was about Trump’s comments about the coronavirus originating in a lab in Wuhan, and whether it is in conflict with a National Intelligence assessment that was less conclusive.

                          “Let me remind everyone, intelligence is just an estimate, and it’s up to policymakers to decide what to do with that intelligence,” she said.

                          For about 40 minutes, McEnany swiftly answered questions, and her experience as a cable news commentator, as one of the president’s staunchest defenders, was clear. But some of the same concerns among the members of the media remained: Her criticism of the way that China handled the early outbreak of coronavirus ignored the president’s own praise of Beijing.

                          Not too surprisingly, she was asked about allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault that have been made against Trump. Earlier in the day, Trump told podcast host Dan Bongino that Tara Reade, who is accusing Joe Biden of sexual assault, is “far more convincing” than Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Biden appeared on Morning Joe on Friday and denied Reade’s claims.

                          “Leave it to the media to really take an issue about the former Vice President and turn it on the president and bring up accusations from four years ago,” she said. But there are other accusers since then, including E. Jean Carroll, who claimed last year that Trump assaulted her in a Bergdorf Goodman store in the mid-1990s. He has denied the claim.

                          Posted without comment
                          "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig


                          • here's a definite post without comment.


                            President Trump on Sunday complained that he has been treated worse by the media than any previous president, including Abraham Lincoln.

                            Trump defended his frequent clashes with the press during a Fox News virtual town hall after a woman thanked him for his work and then asked why he avoids directly answering reporters' questions during coronavirus press briefings and instead opts to "speak of past successes and generally ramble."

                            "I am greeted with a hostile press, the likes of which no president has ever seen," Trump said, sitting in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial. "The closest would be that gentleman right up there. They always said Lincoln, nobody got treated worse than Lincoln. I believe I am treated worse."

                            "They come at me with questions that are disgraceful, to be honest. Disgraceful," he continued. "Their manner of presentation and their words — I feel if I was kind to them, I’d be walked off the stage. I mean, they come at you with the most horrible, horrendous, biased questions."

                            Trump rattled off a list of accomplishments during his administration, all of which were unrelated to the coronavirus. He cited funding for the military, improvements to the Department of Veterans Affairs and operations to kill terrorists.

                            "All of the things we’ve done, and yet we have a very hostile press," he said. "I really appreciate the question, and I very much appreciate the sentiment behind the question. But I’m standing up there, and instead of asking me a normal question — the level of anger and hatred. I’ll look at them. I’ll say, 'What's your problem?'"

                            Advisers to the president urged him in recent weeks to curtail his appearances at White House coronavirus briefings, warning that his tendency to spar with journalists, defend his record and attack his critics was hurting him politically.

                            The White House in the past week has shifted its messaging away from the public health aspect of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 67,000 people in the U.S., and has instead focused on efforts to revitalize the economy.
                            There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov


                            • Actually this is the point where the kid says they are going to take their ball and go home. Please, go away and take the ball...


                              • Originally posted by tbm3fan View Post
                                Actually this is the point where the kid says they are going to take their ball and go home. Please, go away and take the ball...
                                This is a particularly stupid and spoiled child who thinks that he owns the sandlot.
                                "Donald Trump and his supporters and allies are a clear and present danger to American democracy" ~ Judge J. Michael Luttig