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Zorro's Journal
Zorro's Journal
March 14, 2020

Hunter attorneys seek home confinement instead of federal prison

Attorneys for former Rep. Duncan Hunter said he should serve any sentence he receives next week in his home, rather than in a federal prison.

Hunter, who fought a 60-count indictment for 18 months before pleading guilty to a conspiracy charge late last year, should be given home confinement because he’s a first-time offender and a military veteran, his attorneys argued in a new court filing late Tuesday.

The nearly six-term Republican congressman, who with his wife and former campaign manager, Margaret, was accused in a sweeping 2018 indictment of misusing more than $250,000 in campaign contributions, faces sentencing before U.S. District Court Judge Thomas J. Whelan on Tuesday.

Both Hunters pleaded guilty to a single conspiracy count in separate plea agreements last year. Each faces up to five years in prison, though they are expected to receive much less time behind bars based on recommendations in their plea deals.


This asshole better receive some real prison time instead of hanging around the house.

March 13, 2020

Matt Gaetz Voted Against Paid Sick Leave in Florida But Takes Paid Leave From Congress

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., decided to self-quarantine this week after coming in contact with an individual who tested positive for a novel coronavirus, which causes the disease Covid-19, at the Conservative Political Action Conference late last month.

But Gaetz’s decision to take time away from his job at Congress without the fear of losing pay or being fired is a right few Americans share. In fact, Gaetz voted to prohibit Florida residents from sharing that right.

Gaetz’s office did not respond to a request for comment. The lawmaker has since tested negative for the SARS-CoV-2 virus but is continuing to self-quarantine “in an abundance of caution.” Members of Congress get paid a salary of $174,000 or more no matter what. They do not have to vote or be present in D.C., and Gaetz has missed votes all week.

Gaetz initially sought medical treatment from the Capitol’s Office of Attending Physician, the in-house government health clinic for high-level federal officials, alongside two other lawmakers, Reps. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and Doug Collins, R-Ga., who also attended CPAC.


March 13, 2020

Donald Trump has someone new to blame for the coronavirus response ... Joe Biden

On Thursday morning, Donald Trump took aim at Joe Biden with a fresh series of tweets that blamed Barack Obama and Biden for “complicating” the CDC and for an H1N1 flu response that was a “disaster.” Trump then had the absolute audacity to claim that since taking the White House he had cut “all the red tape,” making the CDC and other agencies better able to meet a pandemic threat.

The idea that Barack Obama is somehow to blame for what everyone agrees is a completely bungled response to the novel coronavirus is handy, especially for a White House where assigning blame is often the top priority in any situation, and even more so when Joe Biden looks set to win the Democratic nomination. But it’s also completely ridiculous. And the idea that Trump has done anything that improved the situation is more ridiculous still.

Trump begins by claiming that his “closing the borders” slowed the progress of coronavirus in the United States. It’s a fiction that Trump has used over and over, in an effort to draw a connection between his xenophobic anti-immigration policies and the pandemic. It’s the same reason that Trump described the novel coronavirus as “a foreign virus” in his address to the nation, before putting in his utterly arbitrary ban on some Europeans from some nations flying to the U.S. It’s also the reason many Republicans have begun referring to COVID-19 as “Wuhan flu.”

Of course, Trump didn’t close any borders “early.” In fact, he still hasn’t closed any borders. He restricted some flights directly from China—which, shocker, doesn’t have a border with the United States—and that was it.


March 12, 2020

Trump Throws Surveillance Bill Into Chaos With Implicit Veto Threat

Source: New York Times

President Trump suggested on Thursday that he might veto a bipartisan surveillance bill, potentially disrupting an agreement to resolve a debate over national security and privacy before three F.B.I. tools for investigating terrorism and espionage expire on Sunday.

“Many Republican Senators want me to Veto the FISA Bill until we find out what led to, and happened with, the illegal attempted ‘coup’ of the duly elected President of the United States, and others!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter.

Mr. Trump’s comments came a day after the House passed a bipartisan bill to extend the expiring tools while also adding safeguards to national-security wiretapping under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA.

Several of the president’s most vocal allies backed the legislation, and Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, enthusiastically urged swift passage of the House’s bill.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/12/us/politics/trump-surveillance-bill.html

March 12, 2020

Coronavirus: Who Trump supporters blame for virus 'hysteria'

Conservative radio host and three-time congressional candidate Dan Bongino had a message for the almost 2,000 Donald Trump supporters gathered in an airport hotel convention room in the toney town of Palm Beach, Florida, on Tuesday night.

The president, he said, had made stopping the spread of the coronavirus his highest priority. He had the "finest minds" in the world working on it 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Vice-President Mike Pence, charged with heading the virus task force, was focused "like I've never seen him before in my life".

Despite these efforts, Bongino acknowledged, the president's power had limits - and that the virus was "very dangerous" and "highly contagious". "He's not the Messiah," he said. "He can't just wave a wand and make this go away."

That the president is not an omnipotent political deity who leaves adversaries, human and viral alike, trembling in his wake was perhaps an unusual admission in a room full of supporters decked out in Donald Trump gear, surrounded by vendors hawking Donald Trump hats, t-shirts, hot sauce and posters of a beaming Trump family that proclaimed "God, Life, Trump".

Less surprising, however, was that Bongino placed the blame for the growing crisis at the feet of the mainstream media, which he said "engaged in a pathetic disgusting pile-on" to damage the president's political standing by making it appear that his administration was not doing enough to combat the spread of the virus and help those infected.


March 11, 2020

Sessions swats back after Trump endorses his opponent

Jeff Sessions insisted on Wednesday that nothing will stop him from supporting President Donald Trump's agenda, even if Trump doesn't support him.

The president announced on Tuesday his endorsement of former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville in his run-off race against Sessions for the Senate seat that the former attorney general vacated in 2017. But Sessions, an early Trump backer who has fallen out of favor with the White House, signaled he will continue to run on his support for the president.

"I'm one of the architects of the Trump agenda — I’ve always supported it and always will. Nothing the President can do will deter me from supporting this agenda, because my principles, just like my faith, are fundamental to who I am and immovable," Sessions said in a pair of tweets.

He added defiantly: "We are Alabama. Nobody tells us how to vote or what to do."


Can't fix stupid.

March 11, 2020

NASA watchdog takes aim at Boeing's SLS rocket; Trump's moon mission could cost $50 billion

The rocket and spacecraft NASA plans to use to get astronauts to the moon could cost $50 billion, according to a government watchdog report released Tuesday — far more than the space agency had said it would need to meet a White House mandate to return to the lunar surface by 2024.

The report, by the NASA Inspector General, painted another grim picture of the troubles that have long plagued the Space Launch System rocket as Boeing, NASA’s prime contractor on the rocket, struggles to get the unwieldy program under control. It said that more schedule delays were likely and that the space agency might not be able to meet the goal of landing people on the moon by 2024 or orbiting Mars by the 2030s.

It was the second time in less than a week that Boeing’s work for NASA has been criticized. On Friday, NASA officials said an investigation of the marred test flight of the company’s Starliner spacecraft in December, when the spacecraft was unable to dock with the International Space Station, had identified major problems with Boeing’s testing procedures. Officials said the investigation led to 61 corrective actions and identified 49 gaps in Boeing’s testing procedures. NASA also determined that it would need to embed its own software experts with Boeing’s team to more rigorously oversee its work and testing.

The new IG report blames both NASA’s lax oversight of the program and Boeing’s poor performance for costly delays that would ratchet up the price beyond the $35 billion NASA previously had said it would cost to land astronauts on the moon by 2024. Earlier this year, the White House proposed increasing NASA’s budget significantly, to $25.2 billion for the next fiscal year, with annual increases after that.


March 10, 2020

Man who threatened to kill Ilhan Omar given lighter sentence after she asks for compassion

A man who threatened the life of Rep. Ilhan Omar has been given a lighter sentence after the politician asked for leniency.

Patrick Carlineo Jr. was sentenced on Friday to 12 months and one day in prison alongside three years of supervised release for threatening to assault and murder a United States official, and for being a felon in possession of firearms, according to The Department of Justice.

Carlineo Jr admitted to making comments about Omar to a member of her staff, including threatening to “put a bullet in her f*****g skull”

The 37-year-old politician asked for leniency with a letter to Hon. Frank P. Geraci Jr. detailing why she doesn’t think long prison sentences are the answer.


March 10, 2020

True number of U.S. coronavirus cases is far above official tally, scientists say

An analysis of the novel coronavirus’ spread inside the United States suggests that thousands of Americans are already infected, dimming the prospects for stomping out the outbreak in its earliest stages.

Researchers estimate that by March 1, the virus had already infected about 1,000 to 10,000 people who have not yet been accounted for. At the start of this month, about 80 U.S. cases had been confirmed and officials were still expressing confidence they could contain the new virus.

Quarantines, contact tracing and other public health measures have likely tamped down the COVID-19 outbreak here, the researchers said. But from the start, a group of infected travelers just big enough to fill an elevator likely has been expanding the virus’ reach, largely undetected.

Released into a country of about 330 million, each of these travelers was assumed to have passed the virus to 2 to 2.5 people, each of whom in turn infected another 2 to 2.5 people, and so on. Tote up the nodes on this rapidly branching network of contacts and the number of victims balloons quickly, the researchers wrote.


This is no surprise.

March 10, 2020

Trump Dismisses His Administration's Briefing on Russian Interference

Source: New York Times

President Trump attacked a leading House Democrat on Tuesday over upcoming classified intelligence briefings by members of his own administration on the issue of election interference, suggesting his political opponents were exaggerating the threat from Russia.

Mr. Trump has previously issued derogatory statements about his intelligence chiefs after congressional hearings, but even before Tuesday’s briefings, he posted on Twitter that he “wouldn’t expect too much.”

Mr. Trump incorrectly said the first of two briefings, to House members, would be led by Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. The briefing on Tuesday was arranged by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, not Mr. Schiff. The Senate will receive an identical briefing later Tuesday afternoon.

Mr. Schiff fired back, noting that the officials briefing lawmakers were the president’s “own people” including several agency heads.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/10/us/politics/election-interference-briefing-trump.html

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