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Zorro's Journal
Zorro's Journal
December 20, 2020

Accountability After Trump

How can America rebuild democracy’s guardrails and hold the past administration to account for its lawlessness?

By The Editorial Board

After any major national disaster or failure of government, it’s essential to study what happened and why, if for no other reason than to enact laws and policies aimed at preventing the same thing from happening again. From the Warren Report on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to the Church Committee in the wake of the Watergate scandal, from the commission on the Sept. 11 attacks to the commission on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a thorough official reckoning makes for good government.

What could accountability look like in 2021? How does American democracy confront the scale of the damage wrought by the departing president — the brazen obliteration of norms, the abundant examples of criminal behavior, the repeated corruption and abuses of power by the highest officeholder in the land, even after he was impeached?

In short, how does America prevent the next Trump administration if it can’t properly hold the current one to account?

This is the task facing the country and the next administration, as Joe Biden prepares to assume the presidency after running, and winning, on a platform of national unity and healing. Does restoring the soul of America require an exorcism of the past four years? Or would that only deepen the nation’s divisions, making it impossible to move forward?

In a country as polarized as the United States in 2020, making even incremental progress on pressing issues would be a win. We’ve urged Mr. Biden to champion an agenda based on decency. The first step is to dial down the culture wars wherever possible, then pursue a policy agenda where there is ample common ground. But Mr. Biden should also champion accountability after four years that tested the outer limits of what America’s democracy could handle.

December 20, 2020

History Will Agree That Trump Used Americans as Lab Rats

Remember the morally abominable Tuskegee experiments? They were conducted on 600 men. But Donald Trump just Tuskegeed an entire nation.

Wednesday was a bad day in the fight against COVID-19. The government announced a record number of deaths, more than 3,600. Meanwhile, a House committee released internal Trump administration messages, which demonstrated that Americans were unknowing lab rats in the president’s grail-quest for herd immunity.

In a July 4, 2020 email, Paul Alexander, a political appointee at the Department of Health and Human Services, spelled it all out. In his words, infants, young adults, and middle-aged folks with no conditions had “zero risk,” and were there to take the hit as America marched off a cliff. “We want them infected,” declared Alexander.

Unfortunately, the administration never asked their permission to become human guinea pigs. Indeed, as fate would have it, younger Americans are now dying at historic rates, according to a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. As for herd immunity, it’s a lot like waiting for Godot.

But then again, Alexander is the same fellow who also tried to muzzle Anthony Fauci and criticized the CDC as alarmist. In fact, he even commented that the agency’s COVID warning to pregnant women read as if it were designed to frighten as opposed to inform. As Alexander saw things, the agency was portraying the president and his administration as if they “can’t fix this” and that things are “getting worse.”

December 20, 2020

Pence Worries That Sight of Bare Arm Will Make Him Irresistible to Women

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Posing for cameras to receive the covid-19 vaccine, Mike Pence expressed his fear that the sight of his bare arm would drive women wild.

Pence, who has lived daily with the burden of being irresistible to females, worried that unveiling his bicep would be “like pouring gasoline on a fire.”

“I know it’s important that I set an example by getting the vaccine in public, but it comes with a steep price,” he said. “Now there are going to be even more ladies out there desperate to get a piece of Mike.”

Resigned to the consequences, Pence rolled up his sleeve to reveal his naked arm. “Here we go,” the Vice-President said. “Tickets to the gun show.”


December 19, 2020

End-of-life care has boomed in California. So has fraud targeting older Americans.

Martin Huff was 67 when he fell off his bicycle, banged up his knee and spent a couple of hours in a Riverside County emergency room before walking out under his own power.

Ten days later he was in hospice care, diagnosed as terminally ill by a small Covina provider of end-of-life services that said he was weak and wasting away, with six months or less to live.

Five years after that grim prognosis, however, Huff was still very much alive. He testified in federal court that no one from California Hospice Care had ever given him a medical exam before claiming he was dying.

“I really never knew exactly what the deal was on the hospice,” he said.

Huff is among a legion of mostly older Americans targeted for audacious, widespread fraud in an industry meant to provide comforting care in their final days, a Los Angeles Times investigation found.

Like Huff, many are unwitting recruits by unscrupulous providers who bill Medicare for hospice services and equipment for “terminally ill” patients who aren’t dying.


December 19, 2020

He promised his wife he'd keep the house. Then he took out a reverse mortgage.

By Steve Lopez

There is nothing grand about the white one-story house in the middle of Roxbury Drive in San Bernardino, particularly in its current state of disrepair.

But to Juan Gutierrez, that house is home. As a young man he worked in construction, saved up for a down payment and, in 1968, bought the three-bedroom house where he and his wife raised their three children.

And then, in 2014, he was evicted as part of a dispute with his reverse mortgage lender that continues to this day. It’s a kind of dispute that could become more common in coming months, as COVID-19 pushes more seniors to the brink of financial disaster, prompting some to resort to reverse mortgages even as others default on them.

So deep is Gutierrez’s pain over the loss of his house that on some days he travels from his nearby apartment to Roxbury Drive just to sit outside the abandoned, vacant house. He watches the comings and goings on the street, imagining himself back home.


Lopez is an outstanding LA Times reporter, and this article highlights some of the gotchas with reverse mortgages that a lot of seniors probably didn't understand when signing up for one.

December 19, 2020

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell Is Throwing Down Big Money to Fuel Pro-Trump Election Challenges

He says he’s “not just some pillow guy” to be mocked. He knows Trump is the chosen one because he’s familiar with “numbers and charts” and soon even “Trump-haters” will see.

With a month to go until Inauguration Day, Mike Lindell, the MyPillow CEO and a personal friend and diehard MAGA supporter of Donald Trump, says he’s poured more than a million dollars of his own money into bankrolling efforts to nullify Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential race.

According to Lindell, who served as Minnesota co-chair for Trump’s re-election campaign, he’s been in direct contact this month with pro-Trump attorneys and conservative luminaries like Michael Flynn to talk “all about fraud.” He’s launched his own private “investigations and due diligence” into voting machines. And he is financially backing the post-election work of several legal teams and Trumpist lawyers, including Lin Wood and Sidney Powell, the latter of whom is a former top member of the president’s legal team.

“For Sidney, Lin, and the other legal teams and experts [examining allegations regarding Dominion voting machines], that’s about $650,000 total over the past month, and another $450,000 I put into the rallies in DC and elsewhere, for the ‘March for Trump’ tour and the Jericho March and Prayer Rally,” the MyPillow inventor and TV spokesman told The Daily Beast.

As of Friday, Lindell says he’s convinced the sitting president will get a second term come early 2021, despite the Electoral College confirming President-elect Biden this week.

December 19, 2020

The Complete Harvard Classics

For those with a Kindle, this seems to be a real bargain for $1.99.


December 19, 2020

Appeals court issues stay, halting judge's order reopening San Diego County restaurants

Lawyers for the state asked a San Diego appeals court Friday for a stay of a Superior Court judge’s ruling that allowed restaurant and live entertainment venues in the county to reopen, citing “critical public health issues at stake” during the surging COVID-19 pandemic.

Just before 5 p.m. the 4th District Court of Appeal in San Diego issued the stay. That means restaurants must, again, shut down.

The filing by lawyers for Attorney General Xavier Becerra argues the order from Judge Joel Wohlfeil issued Wednesday was an overreaching of his authority, and imperils the health of county residents because it undercuts public health orders aimed at mitigating the spread of the disease.

Wohlfeil’s ruling, which went into effect immediately on Wednesday, came in a lawsuit filed by owners of two San Diego strip clubs who challenged the orders largely shuttering their businesses. But the judge took the step of not only siding with the clubs and prohibiting the state from enforcing the restrictions, but applying that order to all restaurants in the county — even though no restaurants were involved in the lawsuit.


December 18, 2020

'I am not ashamed of what I did': Proud Boys leader admits burning church's Black Lives Matter sign

The leader of the Proud Boys says he is “not ashamed” of burning a Washington DC church’s Black Lives Matter sign.

The right wing group’s chairman Enrique Tarrio says he was responsible for setting the banner on fire after a MAGA rally in the city last weekend.

The disturbing incident is being investigated as a potential hate crime and a religious leader has compared it to “cross burnings.”

The BLM sign was taken from the Asbury United Methodist Church, one of the oldest Black churches in Washington DC, during a night of violence after the pro-Trump rally.

Mr Tarrio took to conservative social media site Parler to post a picture of himself and other men using lighters to torch the sign.


December 18, 2020

The most important company you've never heard of is being dragged into the U.S.-China rivalry

It’s been called Taiwan’s Silicon Shield, and without it much of modern life would cease.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., or TSMC, makes more than half the world’s contracted semiconductor chips and lies at the center of the technology supply chain, churning out circuitry found in iPhones, Amazon cloud computers, graphics processors that power popular video games and even military drones and fighter jets like Lockheed Martin’s F-35.

But TSMC is confronting problems it had never anticipated when a Taiwanese American engineer, who spent 25 years at Texas Instruments and is revered here like a hometown Bill Gates, founded it in the late 1980s. The company has been drawn into an increasingly bitter — and at times dangerous — rivalry between the U.S. and China that is forcing nations and corporations to choose sides in an era that is redefining the global order.

The competition for technology and geopolitical sway between the two superpowers is a threat to TSMC and this self-ruled island democracy of 24 million, which Beijing considers part of China and has hinted it might invade to reclaim. The company has encountered cyberattackers and had its engineers wooed away in a strategy by China to accelerate its own technological growth.


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