Coronavirus Kills Its 1st Democracy

Want to take your mind off the coronavirus, shortages of food and cleaning supplies, being imprisoned in your home and isolated from your friends & family?  Well, I’ve got just the thing for you … here’s something even bigger to worry about …

On Monday, Hungary’s parliament passed a controversial bill that gave Orbán sweeping emergency powers for an indefinite period of time. Parliament is closed, future elections were called off, existing laws can be suspended and the prime minister is now entitled to rule by decree. Opposition lawmakers had tried to set a time limit on the legislation but failed. Orbán’s commanding two-thirds parliamentary majority made his new powers a fait accompli. – Ishaan Tharoor, The Washington Post

Granted, Hungary isn’t the U.S. and Viktor Orbán isn’t Donald Trump.  Orbán had already corroded the state’s checks and balances, cowed the judiciary, encroached on civil society and the free press … much as Donald Trump has done to the United States.

Orbán has his supporters, too. He has been lionized as a nationalist hero for the West’s anti-immigrant populists and welcomed to the White House by Trump.orban-trump-2It should be noted that congressional democrats initially included election reforms such as vote-by-mail, same-day registration and early voting in the $2.2 trillion ‘stimulus bill’ … measures that were struck down by their republican colleagues.  Now, make sure you’re sitting down when you read what Trump had to say about those stricken measures that would have ensured we could all vote in the November 3rd election …

“The things they had in there were crazy. They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again. They had things in there about election days and what you do and all sorts of clawbacks. They had things that were just totally crazy and had nothing to do with workers that lost their jobs and companies that we have to save.”

And now, my friends, I suggest you start to do some serious worrying about the November elections, for it becomes obvious that Trump and the republicans have little or no concern for our right to elect new leadership in November, and that they see voter suppression as their only path to power.  I’ve been concerned all along that Trump would find some way to cancel or postpone indefinitely our elections, and nothing I’m seeing is alleviating those concerns.  I believe that Mr. Trump is seeing the coronavirus pandemic as a very fortuitous event for him and his cronies.

In 1980, Paul Weyrich, an influential conservative activist, said …

“I don’t want everybody to vote. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

Chilling.

We are running out of time to put in place policies and processes that would enable every eligible voter to cast a ballot, even in the event that the coronavirus remains a threat into November.  The republicans are playing a game … a game with our lives, with our freedoms, with our rights to participate in our government.

Look again at what the Hungarian Parliament has handed to Viktor Orbán.  The only thing stopping our own Congress from doing the same is the democratic majority in the House of Representatives.

orban-parliament

It must also be noted that the emergency law also stipulates five-year prison sentences for Hungarians found to be spreading “false” information.  Think on that one a minute.  Who determines what is “false” information?  Think how many times Trump has declared stories published by The Washington Post or the New York Times to be “fake news”.  Or what about us bloggers?  In such circumstances, historically information is considered ‘false’ if it contradicts what the dictator says.  Facts and reality become secondary and eventually are suppressed.

orban-trumpThere are checks and balances to keep what has happened in Hungary from happening in the U.S.  But, many of those have been destroyed in the last three years.  The Supreme Court tends to rule in favour of Trump, even when that ruling is in blatant disregard of the U.S. Constitution.  The Attorney General has decreed that Trump is ‘above the law’ and can operate in whatever manner he sees fit.  And the U.S. Senate basically affirmed Barr’s opinion when they refused to do their job and convict Trump of what were obvious abuses of power and obstruction of justice.

The U.S. Constitution, or any set of laws for that matter, is only as good as the people who enforce it.  This is why the most important thing this year in the U.S. is that we have fair and honest elections on November 3rd as scheduled, no matter what.

About That ‘Stimulus Bill’ …

Let me just start by saying one thing:  No, Donald Trump, you have not done a great job.  Thanks to your bungling and mismanagement, the U.S. is quite possibly in the worst shape it has ever been in.  Thanks.  It speaks volumes that a number of television networks are editing or refusing to air Trump’s daily bragging sessions, otherwise known as ‘updates’ or ‘press briefings’ because they say he is providing too much misinformation.

Yesterday, the House passed and Trump signed the “Coronavirus Aid Package”, aka bailout bill, aka emergency stimulus package.  The U.S. government doesn’t actually … have … $2 trillion … to spend, being $23 trillion in debt (this works out to approximately $69,696,969.69 worth of debt for every man, woman and child in the U.S.), but Donald Trump has always used other people’s money to do what he wants, so that’s nothing new.  But, let’s take a look at that ‘stimulus package’ and what’s actually in it:stimulus-pkgYou’ll notice that big corporations are getting almost as much as individuals.  Funny that, for the CEOs of the big corporations have plenty of money … in fact, they should be giving us money instead of the other way around.  And you’ll also notice that education was just an afterthought.  Close all the schools with no advance planning, no guidance or direction, and then throw them a biscuit.

But the thing I want to talk about today is that $339.8 billion for state and local governments.  Or rather, the strings attached to that money.

  • Trump demanded that governors show deference to the administration during the coronavirus crisis, saying, “I want them to be appreciative. I don’t want them to say things that aren’t true. I want them to be appreciative. We’ve done a great job.”

  • Trump has sparred with a handful of Democratic governors who are asking for aid and medical equipment to help combat their coronavirus outbreaks, most notably Jay Inslee of Washington and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan. On Friday, he called Whitmer “the woman from Michigan” and said “she has no idea what’s going on.”

  • Trump implied that he believed Vice President Mike Pence shouldn’t call them if they did not show the proper appreciation. “You know what I say? If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call,” Trump said.

I ask you, friends, is this the sort of person you really want leading the nation in a crisis (or at any other time, for that matter)?  It isn’t Trump’s money … it is our money!

I remember a time when my children were little, and my son wanted something at the store that I couldn’t afford.  I explained to him that I did not have enough money to buy it for him, and he responded, “But mommy … you gots a checkbook!”  He was probably 3 or 4 at the time, so it was understandable that he did not understand the concept of banking and money.  Donald Trump is 73 years of age and doesn’t it just seem like he should have figured this all out by now?

Another aspect of this ‘stimulus bill’ is that democrats insisted on a newly appointed Inspector General who would provide oversight in the disbursement of funds, especially the loans to businesses.  The democrats intent was to ensure that Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin could not abuse the bailout fund. They feared that Mr. Trump, who has previously stonewalled congressional oversight, would do the same when it came to the corporate aid program.

Now, however, Trump is claiming that he can and will ignore the oversight provision.  Two hours after signing the bill, Trump issued a statement saying that as president, he can gag the special inspector general for pandemic recovery, known by the acronym S.I.G.P.R., and keep information from Congress.

“I do not understand, and my administration will not treat, this provision as permitting the S.I.G.P.R. to issue reports to the Congress without the presidential supervision required.”

Checks and balances???  Congressional oversight???  Not for Donald Trump.  This, folks, is the behaviour of a dictator.  This is a Putin or an Erdoğan.  This is not in any way, shape or form, in accordance with the foundation of law in the United States, the Constitution.

In light of his authoritarian ways, his unconscionable lust for power, and his complete disregard for the laws of the land, it is more imperative today than ever before that this ‘man’ be removed from office.  It is more crucial than ever that we have a fair and honest election on November 3rd no matter what.

Filosofa Is Angry …

Anger can be a good thing, when it motivates and inspires you to do something to change events or circumstances.  If, that is, that which makes you angry is something over which you have at least a modicum of control or influence.  But, when you must simply sit and watch the idiocy around you, anger becomes self-destructive and leads to depression.  I took a break from blogging yesterday, except for my music post, because everything I tried to write was beyond a snarky snippet, was even beyond a rant, but sounded like the ravings of a madman with more expletives than a trucker would use! rantI’m still angry, but I have, hopefully, corralled the worst of it.  Crises bring out the best in some people, the worst in others.  What we see every time we log onto any of the news media are the examples of the very worst of the human species.  And, of course, our own government is making a muckety mess of it all, doing everything exactly wrong, and … we have no control.  It is frustrating, at best, and I won’t say what it is at worst.  So … prepare for a bit of a rant … “Ranty Snippets”?


The bitch …

Gerrity’s Supermarket is a small family-owned chain in northeastern Pennsylvania. Like grocers nationwide, it has been deluged with orders and has struggled to keep basics such as chicken breasts and toilet paper on the shelves. Employees have been working overtime, pausing only for five-second breaks to wipe everything down with disinfectant wipes.

Two days ago, on Wednesday afternoon, a woman entered the store, proceeded to the produce section where she intentionally coughed all over every bit of the produce in the store!!!  ON PURPOSE!!!  Two weeks I tried to buy a damn green pepper and this woman, in a single malicious act, destroyed some $35,000 worth of food … food that we have been struggling to buy!

The store’s co-owner Joe Fasula said that they had no choice but to toss every bit of the produce.

GerritysIt didn’t take long for employees to realize what the woman was doing, and they quickly escorted her out of the store and called police.  Turns out, the woman is known to the local police for having caused problems in the community before.  WHY, in these times of so much grief and trouble, would anybody be so cruel???  But, this isn’t an isolated incident.

  • A New Jersey man was charged with harassment and making terroristic threats after purposely coughing on a Wegmans grocery store employee and saying he had coronavirus.
  • A Carlisle, Pennsylvania man is facing multiple charges after deliberately coughing near an elderly citizen wearing a medical face mask.

There have been hundreds of such reports.  The Carlisle man was 57 years old, and the New Jersey man was 50 … not some teenagers pulling a prank that they thought funny, but full-blown adults!  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.


First Amendment is still alive, yes?

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

I understand that for three long years and two long months, Donald Trump has been trampling the U.S. Constitution.  However … we will not allow him to completely remove, destroy, reverse, or otherwise restrict our 1st Amendment rights!!!

The latest …

Donald Trump’s re-election campaign sent cease-and-desist letters to local television stations on Wednesday, threatening them with legal action and potentially their broadcast licenses if they continue to air an ad from a Democratic group, Priorities USA.  The ad plays audio of Trump downplaying the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic over a chart of the mounting number of cases in the U.S. — now at more than 85,000 — but the Trump campaign objected only to one clip, of Trump saying “this is their new hoax.”

That quote comes from a Feb. 28 rally at which Trump repeatedly called his handling of the epidemic “one of the great jobs” and compared the Democrats “politicizing” of the coronavirus to the Russia investigation and Ukraine scandal.  HE SAID IT!  There’s no denying that it is a fact, it is the truth, it is on tape for all to hear!  The president’s re-election campaign does not have the right to stifle free speech or free press!  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.


The loons are coming out of the woodwork! 

Rick Wiles is an American far-right conspiracy theorist and non-denominational senior pastor at Flowing Streams Church in Vero Beach, Florida.  Mr. Wiles claims that God is spreading the coronavirus in synagogues because he is “dealing with those who oppose his son, Jesus Christ.” And here is where those epithets really, really want to come out, but I am biting my tongue in the interest of professionalism and of not stepping on any toes.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

While schools and college campuses around the country remain closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Liberty University is set to allow the return this week of up to 5,000 students. The plan was announced by the private evangelical university’s scandal–plagued president, Jerry Falwell Jr., an ally of President Trump.  Falwell’s ‘University’ is located in Virginia, a state that recently closed all schools for the rest of the school year.  Members of the community are not happy with Mr. Falwell, but he claims their concerns are ‘overblown’.  Nevertheless, the campus is said to resemble a ‘ghost town’.


Say WHAT???

On a final note, before I throw my laptop at the nearest wall, as of midnight tonight, Trump’s overall approval rating has reached an all-time high of 45.3%.  His previous high was reached on February 18th at 44.9%. 538 pollWould somebody PLEASE tell me what this jackass has done that people are approving of???  Since we first heard of the coronavirus back in January, Donald Trump has risked our lives every single bloody damn day by taking every single wrong turn he could take!!!  WHAT THE HELL are people approving of???  Oh … is it that whopping $1,200 check?  Well friends, guess what?  You will pay that back in spades.  Oh yeah … YOU the taxpayer will pay it back.  The United States does not have $2 trillion … it is effectively bankrupt.  It is borrowing that money and the day of reckoning will come.  Remember, the wealthy and corporations don’t pay their fair share in taxes, so you, the average taxpayer, will pay that $1,200 back with interestGrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.


And now, my heart rate has once again traveled into that danger zone, so I shall stop for tonight.  Hope you are all well and safe, my friends.  Stay tuned this afternoon for Part XI of mine and Jeff’s project, Discord & Dissension.

The 1st Amendment vs Donnie Trump

Imagine, if you will, President Barack Obama, ready to give a press conference, telling his aides that only people who agree with him completely are to be allowed in.  Or, better yet … imagine George W. Bush giving a televised address to the nation after 9/11, but insisting that media companies black out his address to all democratic households.  Fantasy, right?  Silly at best.  And yet, that is exactly what Trump has tried to do.  His preferred venue for communicating his … er, um … thoughts … is Twitter.  I honestly think he must spend 4-5 hours per day tweeting from his throne (bet there’s no shortage of toilet paper there!) 

In 2017, within months of taking the Oath of Office (remember that oath, Donnie?) Trump began blocking Twitter users who dared to disagree with him.  Seven of those users felt that if that is the only means by which he is going to communicate, then We the People must be able to question and yes, even disagree with or criticize him.  And so, those seven convinced the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University to file a lawsuit on their behalf.  Well, the wheels of justice turn pretty darn slowly sometimes, and the case was first heard by Judge Naomi Buchwald in May 2018.  Her 75-page ruling, in a nutshell, said that,  “No government official — including the President — is above the law.”  Hmmmm … perhaps Attorney General William Barr could learn something from her.

Well, Trump and his cadre of lawyers, naturally, appealed the case and in July 2019, a New York-based appeals court upheld Judge Buchwald’s ruling, saying that public officials who take to social media for official government business are prohibited from excluding people “from an otherwise open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees.”

Judge Barrington D. Parker wrote for a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit …

“In resolving this appeal, we remind the litigants and the public that if the First Amendment means anything, it means that the best response to disfavored speech on matters of public concern is more speech, not less.”

Justice Department lawyers defending Trump said in court that @realDonaldTrump is a personal account on a privately owned digital platform and that Trump may block followers he “does not wish to hear.”  Sounds rather like censorship to me.

And … sigh … of course the lawyers picked up their briefcases and headed back to court to file yet another appeal.  Yesterday, the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit denied the Trump administration’s request to revisit the July 2019 ruling.  Of the nine judges who considered the Trump administration’s request, only two said they would have revisited the earlier decision.  The two are both Trump appointees, Judge Michael H. Park and Judge Richard J. Sullivan.  Judge Park wrote in his dissenting opinion …

“The First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech does not include a right to post on other people’s personal social media accounts, even if those other people happen to be public officials.”

Sea ditz.

The last sentence of the article I read … “The Justice Department is reviewing the ruling, a spokeswoman said.”  Translate that as … Trump’s legal eagles will file yet another appeal to a higher court — United States Supreme Court.  Remember something, folks … you and I are paying for all the time these lawyers are wasting, we are paying the judges salary and all their clerks who must review and type their 75-page rulings, we are paying for both legal teams … we are paying through the nose for Trump to have his hand slapped time and time and time again.  And, what happens when the case reaches the U.S. Supreme Court?  Well, let’s see … there are the two Justices he leads around using the rings in their noses – that would be Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.  Then there is  Chief Justice John Roberts who, ever since a few private tête-à-têtes in the Oval Office, has been just as much a Trump boot-licker as Kellyanne Conway.  So, I give you three guesses.

Now, Filosofa, though no legal scholar, is going to weigh in on this one just for a minute.  In the first ruling on this case, Judge Buchwald said that no one, not even the president, is above the law.  And yet, Attorney General William Barr has said that as long as Trump’s fat arse is sitting in the Oval Office, he is above the law.  My best guess is that this will be the argument the high-paid DOJ lawyers will use at the Supreme Court level, and because Bill Barr said it’s so, then … gasp … of course it must be so.

But back to the starting point.  Trump’s attorneys argue that @realDonaldTrump is a private account.  However, I would argue that by default it has become a government account, since Trump conducts nearly all communication with his portion of the public, his 62 million Twitter followers, via Twitter using that account.  The 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives We the People the absolute right to speak out against our government officials.  If I attend a speech in another venue, I certainly can express my own opinion, so … why not on Twitter.

If the case goes to the Supreme Court and if the Court rules in Trump’s favour, We the People must engage in a very forceful protest.  Coronavirus be damned … this is the future of all Americans that is at stake here, for centuries to come.  We simply cannot let him continue chipping away at our Constitutional rights, my friends … it’s really all that remains between us and a full-blown dictatorship.

Sneaky

This, my friends, is how democracies die …

“The Justice Department has quietly [emphasis added] asked Congress for the ability to ask chief judges to detain people indefinitely without trial during emergencies — part of a push for new powers that comes as the coronavirus spreads through the United States.

Documents reviewed by POLITICO detail the department’s requests to lawmakers on a host of topics, including the statute of limitations, asylum and the way court hearings are conducted.

[…]

The move has tapped into a broader fear among civil liberties advocates and Donald Trump’s critics — that the president will use a moment of crisis to push for controversial policy changes. Already, he has cited the pandemic as a reason for heightening border restrictions and restricting asylum claims. He has also pushed for further tax cuts as the economy withers, arguing that it would soften the financial blow to Americans. And even without policy changes, Trump has vast emergency powers that he could legally deploy right now to try and slow the coronavirus outbreak.

The DOJ requests — which are unlikely to make it through a Democratic-led House — span several stages of the legal process, from initial arrest to how cases are processed and investigated.”

You can read the rest of the article here, but let’s talk a bit about what this could mean.

This could mean, if somehow either Congress passed it, or failing that, Trump took his ‘executive power’ to an unprecedented level, that you might be arrested for any or no reason.  Say your state is under a mandated “lock down” (something that is outside of the law to begin with), and you are out for a walk in your neighborhood.  A police car is patrolling the area, sees you, stops and the officer arrests you simply for being outside.  He couldn’t do that under normal circumstances, and if he did, you would be able to appear before a magistrate, explain the situation, and almost certainly be released immediately.  But, if this suspension of constitutional rights were to fly, you could be arrested, tossed in jail, and not go before a judge “until this crisis is over” … possibly months or even as long as a year.

That scenario is frightening enough, but let’s project a bit.  If allowed to suspend constitutional rights, what other areas of our civil liberties might be affected?  The one that worries me the most is the 1st Amendment, our rights to freedom of speech and freedom of the press.  Already, our right to peaceful protest has been suspended by default with the ruling that no more than ten people are allowed to gather in one place.  What next?  Could it become unlawful to … say, speak against our government, to call Trump out on his lies and ignorance?

I don’t know where this will go, and I hope that the Democratic-majority House of Representatives will put a stop to such nonsense, but I do not have a crumb of trust in our government at this time – not Donald Trump, not William Barr and his Department of ‘Justice’, not the Republican-led Senate under Mitch McConnell.  I don’t trust our law enforcement agencies, nor our Departments of Labour, Education, Health and Human Services … none of them.  They are led by people who do not care about the people of this nation but will do almost anything to enhance their own profits and power.  Just something to think about.  Let’s keep our eye on the ball and hope our free press does the same.


And just one little snippet that I found humorous in a macabre sort of way …

“In Rhode Island, among businesses cited for ignoring social-distance warnings was Wonderland, a strip club, where customers were still receiving lap dances last weekend.”

Gotta get your priorities straight, y’know!

Hampered by Hubris

I was pondering a post similar to this, but then Grump, aka Jerry over at On the Fence Voters, wrote this one. I’ve long followed that old saying, ‘Why re-invent the wheel’, and so I am sharing Jerry’s thoughts here, as they mirror my own. We cannot, must not become complacent … the future of this nation and the 330 million people in it depend on our actions November 3rd. Thanks Jerry!

On The Fence Voters

He had the almost-perfect con game going. But then his narcissism and ambition took him too far. I’m tempted to refer to it as “The Peter Principle” played out on the world’s most public stage—except that the moment Donald J. Trump stepped out from his wealthy father’s shadow, he already had reached his level of incompetence.

Donald Trump should have known he was not up to the monumental task of leading the world’s most-advanced nation. He should have known his shot at glory would go horribly awry, causing grave damage to his reputation and, worse by far, to the country he claims to love.

But, as is common among self-centered people, Donald Trump is ignorant of his ignorance. He knew more about the military than the military’s generals. He knew more about NATO than NATO’s leaders. He knew how to hire all the right people. He alone could fix the…

View original post 266 more words

Angst-Driven Snarky Snippets

One can hardly live in this nation today without feeling a need to vent a certain amount of snark on a near-daily basis.  My ‘Snarky Snippets’ feature started out as a one-off, just a few things that were driving my angst back in January 2018.  Then, it became almost an every week thing, and now, it’s multiple times a week.  In truth, it could be a daily feature, but I do try to find other things to write about as well.  At the current level of incompetence in our federal and state governments, though, I won’t be surprised if the snark boils over soon.  I warn you, my snark is deep and cutting today.


Uncle Mitchie strikes again …

Sen Mitch McConnell (R-KY) There are worse pictures of him.Mitch McConnell is back in the news (when you can find some actual news, that is).  He has been personally reaching out to judges to sound them out on their plans and encourage them to give up their seats on the various courts in the nation.  Why, you ask?  Because, he wants Trump to appoint, and the Senate to confirm, as many conservative judges as possible in the next 10 months.  The judges being contacted by Mitch and other republican senators are conservative judges … those nominated under Presidents Reagan, Bush, Sr., and Bush, Jr. … who will likely reach retirement age within the coming decade.

What this tells me is that McConnell & Co are fairly certain Trump will be ousted in the November elections, and retiring judges will be replaced by more moderate, fair judges.  Is his interference legal?  Well, in our government today, anything that the republicans do is legal, but is it moral and ethical?  No, it is not.  It is yet another example of the far right’s determination to turn the federal government, including the courts, into an anti-democratic regime.

Somebody ought to make Mr. McConnell sit down and read the U.S. Constitution, read how the Judicial branch of our government is to be independent and non-partisan.  Better yet, vote him out of office on November 3rd … please, Kentuckians, do this for your own sakes, and the sake of whatever is left of this nation by then.

McConnell


Speaking of the Court …

The Supreme Court has decided to put their docket on hold for the foreseeable future, due to … what else … coronavirus.  Apparently, life is to be put on hold “indefinitely”.

Isn’t it convenient, though, that three of the cases that were on the docket being delayed pertained to granting the U.S. Congress access to Donald Trump’s financial records?  The cases, involving Trump’s objections to demands from House committees and a New York grand jury, were scheduled to be heard on March 31.  Now postponed indefinitely.

The court said it plans to remain open for official business and is maintaining filing deadlines in all cases.  Am I alone in my confusion here?  They’re open for business, but won’t be hearing cases?  At the risk of sounding like a moron, will the Justices continue accepting their pay?  The pay that those of us who work for a living provide to them?  It’s rather like an average employee saying to their boss, “I’ll come here every day, but I won’t do my job.”  How long do you think that employee will have said job?


Do the math …

The Federal Reserve has now reduced interest rates … to zero.  This is what Trump has been whining for them to do for months now, and in light of the stock market plunges, Chairman Jerome Powell caved.  The ploy was intended to re-ignite consumer confidence and keep the market from tanking any further.  It didn’t work.  It couldn’t have worked, and I’m disappointed that the people who are supposed to be so smart, far smarter than you or I in matters of the economy, thought for a single minute that it would work.  And even if it had worked, even if the market had re-bounded, it was a stupid, stupid move.

Think, if you will, for just a minute about this.  The United States national debt is more than $23 trillion.  Trump, in all his ignorance, cut the U.S. revenue significantly in 2017 when he demanded, and Congress caved, a tax cut for the wealthy, ensuring that some of the nation’s most profitable businesses pay zero in income taxes.  WHERE the Sam Hell does our government think we’re going to get the money to do such things as pay the military, pay our elected officials, or anything else???  Think about your household budget … if you quit your job, and you have no savings, you cannot pay your bills.  You will lose your home, and be living on the streets, begging for food.

We should all demand that the salaries of every federal official in a decision-making role, such as judges, members of Congress, cabinet members, and most definitely the president, should cease, effective immediately, and until further notice.  We cannot afford to pay these people who are making the most disastrous decisions for our future (or lack thereof).

This would be a good time for some of those millionaires and billionaires to say, “Hey, you know what?  The government is bankrupt, but I’ve got plenty of money.  Let me just use my vast riches to help the poor people who have been laid off, to help people who are struggling to buy food, pay their rent, etc.”  Yeah, right … don’t hold your breath for that to happen.  Somehow, the wealthy will find a way to profit from this, while the rest of us will never recover from the financial impact.

Oh, and by the way … this just in … the U.S. airlines are asking the federal government for $50 billion to compensate them for lost revenue during this crisis.  How much do you want to bet they’ll get every bit of it?  GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.


And, to end this post with some small bit of levity …

tp

November 3rd Election?

When I heard on Thursday that Louisiana had postponed the Democratic primary election that was to have been held on April 4th over coronavirus concerns, the first thought that jumped uninvited to my mind was the November 3rd election.  We all know that Donald Trump would do anything, if he feared losing the election, to postpone or cancel it.  My concerns were such that they cost me most of a night’s sleep.  So, I was greatly relieved, though not completely, when I came across this by New York Times political correspondent Alexander Burns, that puts to rest at least some of my concerns.  Mind you, I still don’t trust Trump, don’t trust our federal government period, given that he has the entire Department of Justice and a majority of the United States Senate in his pocket, and isn’t that a damn shame?  But this provided some clarity and relief.

Could the 2020 Election Be Postponed? Only With Great Difficulty. Here’s Why.

With Louisiana delaying its primary vote, we answer six key questions about holding elections in a crisis. And no, a president cannot cancel an election with executive authority.

Alexander-BurnsBy Alexander Burns

March 14, 2020, 8:00 a.m. ET

The coronavirus outbreak is inflicting new disruptions on the 2020 presidential campaign by the day, but few compare to Louisiana’s decision on Friday to reschedule its upcoming primary election.

It was a highly unusual development in an American political campaign, though not an entirely unprecedented one.

So how much disruption can voters expect in the coming months? And how freely can local, state and federal authorities switch up the timing and other details of elections? We took a crack at answering some of the questions that may be on your mind.

Why is Louisiana moving its primary election?

Louisiana’s secretary of state, R. Kyle Ardoin, a Republican, asked Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, to postpone the state’s April 4 primary by about two months because of concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

The two men are permitted to do so by a Louisiana law that allows the governor to reschedule an election because of an emergency, so long as the secretary of state has certified that an emergency exists.

Have other states changed their primaries in response to the coronavirus?

No. Or at least, not yet.

The four states with elections coming up on Tuesday — Florida, Ohio, Arizona and Illinois — have taken other precautions to make voting safer without shifting the date of their primaries. It is possible, however, that some later-voting states could follow Louisiana’s example.

While a last-minute change like Louisiana’s is highly unusual, states have broad autonomy to define the timing and procedures for primary elections. The exact process for setting primary dates varies from state to state. That is why a number of states changed the dates of their primaries and caucuses between 2016 and 2020, and why Republicans in several states were able to cancel their 2020 primary elections to minimize intraparty competition for President Trump.

But the Democratic Party also has its own rules requiring that all primary elections be completed by June 9, and that all delegates to its national convention in Milwaukee be selected by June 20. Any states that defy that timetable — including Louisiana — could be penalized by the national party with a reduction in their delegate count.

Could the general election be postponed or canceled?

Only with enormous difficulty.

The date of the general election is set by federal law and has been fixed since 1845. It would take a change in federal law to move that date. That would mean legislation enacted by Congress, signed by the president and subject to challenge in the courts.

To call that unlikely would be an understatement.

And even if all of that happened, there would not be much flexibility in choosing an alternate election date: The Constitution mandates that the new Congress must be sworn in on Jan. 3, and that the new president’s term must begin on Jan. 20. Those dates cannot be changed just by the passage of normal legislation.

After Louisiana’s announcement on Friday, Marc Elias, the prominent Democratic election lawyer, knocked down what he described as a wave of queries about whether the November election could be similarly revised.

“I am getting a lot of questions about the November election,” Mr. Elias wrote on Twitter. “While states can set their own primary days, the federal general election is set by federal statute as the the [sic] Tuesday following the first Monday in November. This date cannot be changed by a state nor by the President.”

Can the president cancel or postpone an election with an executive order?

No. The president has a lot of power, but when it comes to elections he is far more constrained than the governor of Louisiana.

What about the procedures for voting in the November election?

While the date of the presidential election is set by federal law, the procedures for voting are generally controlled at the state level.

That’s why we have such a complicated patchwork of voting regulations, with some states allowing early and absentee voting; some permitting voting by mail or same-day voter registration; others requiring certain kinds of identification for voters; and many states doing few or none of those things.

So it is possible that states could revise their voting procedures in response to a public health crisis, perhaps by making it easier to vote by mail or through various absentee procedures that would not require people to cluster together on one particular date.

Washington State, a focal point for the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, has conducted elections by mail for years, and its presidential primary on March 10 was able to unfold without disruption.

The federal government could also take steps to mandate or encourage different voting procedures, without changing the timing of the election. Richard L. Hasen, an election law expert and professor at the University of California, Irvine, has proposed that Congress require states to offer “no excuse absentee balloting” for the general election, so that anyone can opt to vote by a method besides in-person voting on Election Day.

Have American elections been moved because of emergencies in the past?

Yes, at the state and local level.

Perhaps most notably, the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks came on the morning of a municipal primary election in New York City, and the state Legislature passed emergency legislation postponing the election by two weeks. In 2017, some municipal elections in Florida were briefly delayed because of Hurricane Irma.

It was reported in 2004 that some Bush administration officials had discussed putting in place a method of postponing a federal election in the event of a terrorist attack. But that idea fizzled quickly, and Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, said that the United States had held “elections in this country when we were at war, even when we were in civil war. And we should have the elections on time.”

It Couldn’t Happen Here … Could It?

In Russia, the term for a president is twelve years (compared to four years in the U.S.), with a limit of two terms, or twenty-four years total.  But that may soon be changing … and no, not for the better.  Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is serving his 20th year as president, has announced his support for a constitutional amendment that would allow him to seek another two terms in the Kremlin.  This would mean that Putin could serve as long as 48 years in total and would be 95 years old when he finally stepped down from the throne.PutinThe proposal began in parliament, where a member of Russia’s ruling party, Valentina Tereshkova, proposed amending the constitution in a way that would reset Putin’s presidential term count back to zero, meaning Putin could run twice more for the presidency.

“I propose that we either lift the restriction on the number of presidential terms or indicate in an article of this bill that the incumbent president, just like any other citizen, has the right to run for president after the updated constitution takes effect.”

Parliament, of course, needed Putin’s approval to move forward with the proposed amendment, and he was more than happy to comply in a 30-minute speech before Parliament.

Now, I hear you saying, “So what?  We’ve got troubles enough here at home, so why should we worry about Russia?”  But now, I ask you to think back … how many times has Trump made statements like …

“He’s [Chinese President Xi Jinping] now president for life. President for life. No, he’s great. And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day.”

“The disastrous IG Report on James Comey shows, in the strongest of terms, how unfairly I, and tens of millions of great people who support me, were treated. Our rights and liberties were illegally stripped away by this dishonest fool. We should be given our stolen time back?”

Or this tweet he posted last summer …Trump-foreverSure, we have a Constitution that says he is limited to two terms.  So does Russia.  Sure, we have a Congress that would have to pass such a measure.  So does Russia have a Parliament.  Sure, we have safeguards in our system of checks and balances, separation of powers … or do we?   The system is only as good as those who enforce it … such as the likes of Attorney General William Barr.

As long as there is a democratic majority in at least one chamber of Congress, as there is at the moment, then no, I do not think it could happen here.  But, just ponder for a moment.  What if, as was the case for Trump’s first two years in office, there was a republican majority in both the House and the Senate?  And what if that majority was large enough to garner a super majority (67%) in both chambers?  Then are we so certain it couldn’t happen?  I’m not.

Our system works only so long as everyone agrees to abide by the law.  As we have seen over the past three years, Trump not only refuses to abide by the law, but openly flaunts it on a day-to-day basis.  Not only that, but he has loaded his administration with sycophants who will do his bidding, and is on a mission to purge any who might be given to an attack of conscience.

All of which points up the necessity … nay, the urgency … of the upcoming elections.  Vote to ensure that our laws, our Constitution, will hold, that the foundation will not crumble.  Vote as if your life depends on it … for just maybe it does.

Back With More … Snarky Snippets

Today, I woke already filled with residual snark from last night.  Then, the day added it’s own dose, and the net result is that Filosofa is once again grrrrrrrowling.  Wait … did I ever stop growling?


You call this a debate???????????

Last night’s debate was a most disgusting display, and if this is an indicator of things to come, please shoot me now.  These debates … they are not opportunities to hear the candidates’ platforms and ideologies.  They are naught but popularity contests … a chance to see and be seen, to be heard, to see who can scream the loudest, who can …  get the best dig in at one or more of the other candidates.  They are a chance for the people of this country to see what a shamble we have devolved into. debate-2Arm-waving, fist-shaking, yelling and talking over one another … it reminds me more of a neo-Nazi rally than a political debate.  I did not watch past the 20-minute mark, so I don’t know who was the ‘winner’.  In my book, based on what little I saw, there were no winners … only a bunch of losers on the stage.

This nation has been without a leader for more than three years now.  We have had no president, or one in name only.  And, it appears that we will have none for the next four years if what I saw last night on the debate stage was any indication.  Whatever happened to the days when politicians spoke well and in a reasonable tone of voice, when they acted like humans instead of hyenas?

The remaining three or four candidates who still stand some chance of winning the nomination in July damn well better get their act together, better re-think their strategy and stand above the fray, for if they don’t, they will be responsible for putting the final nail in the coffin of the United States.eyes-2020


He demands what????

Even while Donald Trump, along with his family, was enjoying a two-day vacation in India (at our expense), he didn’t let that stop him from meddling in Supreme Court business.  Please note that the Executive branch (president, vice-president, and cabinet) is completely independent from the Judicial branch (courts) as per the U.S. Constitution.  However, Trump took it upon himself to practically demand that two members of the Supreme Court, Justice Sandra Sotomayor and Justice Ruth Ginsburg, recuse themselves from any cases that involved him.

His beef with Justice Sotomayor was her dissenting opinion last Friday when the court ruled 5-4 to allow Trump & Co. to deny green cards to immigrants who might likely need some form of assistance, who do not meet a certain “wealth test”.  Well, first of all, immigrants coming to this country left their homeland with little other than the clothes on their backs and of course they will need a bit of a leg up!  Second, the Court’s decision was strictly along party lines … something that is happening more and more these days and that should give us all cause for concern.

Trump seems to have picked up his outrage on Sotomayor’s opinion from none other than the ridiculous Laura Ingraham of Fox ‘News’ fame:

“‘Sotomayor accuses GOP appointed Justices of being biased in favor of Trump.’  This is a terrible thing to say. Trying to ‘shame’ some into voting her way? She never criticized Justice Ginsberg when she called me a ‘faker’. Both should recuse themselves on all Trump, or Trump related, matters!  While ‘elections have consequences, I only ask for fairness, especially when it comes to decisions made by the United States Supreme Court!”

And, of course his antagonism toward Justice Ginsburg goes all the way back to 2016, when she called him a ‘fake’ and said she could not imagine him as president.  She was so spot on!  I still cannot imagine him as president!

This is unprecedented behaviour and cause for grave concern. It is my hope that Chief Justice John Roberts will, once again, admonish Mr. Trump and remind him of the separation of powers as per the U.S. Constitution … a document Trump took an oath to uphold, yet has never read.  As I said in my first snippet, we have no president.  We have a pathetic excuse for one.


Junior is out for bear

Donald Trump Jr has been granted the right to hunt a grizzly bear in north-western Alaska.  You all know how I feel about hunting beautiful animals (or even ugly ones, for that matter), so this has me growling anyway, but there’s more …

grizzly-bearFor the license to go out and brutally murder an innocent creature, Junior paid exactly $1,160!  That is as much as some families spend on food for a four-month period!  That is a full month’s rent for my family!  If the Trump clan have nothing better to do with their riches than use them to buy a permit to kill an animal … grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.  I hope the bear eats Junior.


A day to remember …

Trayvon-MartinIt was eight years ago on this day that young Trayvon Martin was murdered by a trigger-happy man named George Zimmerman.  Martin, a young black man had gone to a convenience store to buy a soda, was on his way home, doing nothing wrong other than … being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Zimmerman saw him, decided a black teenager didn’t belong in the neighborhood, wrestled him to the ground, and ultimately shot and killed him.

George Zimmerman, a white man, got off scot-free.  Had the tables been turned, Trayvon Martin would be on death row today.  This should be a reminder, folks, that justice in the United States is not colour-blind, but is still very much tilted toward white privilege.  Equal justice for all?  I think not.