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Zorro

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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 50
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 13,905

Journal Archives

Presidents are expected to set the national tone. What we got with Trump has been catastrophic.

Opinion by the Editorial Board

President of the United States is a special office. Unlike the constitutional monarchs or prime ministers of European and other systems, the president is neither head of state exclusively nor head of government, but performs both roles — fusing two aspects of national leadership, symbolic and substantive, in a single person.

The Founders of this country anticipated, in short, that the president would not just execute national laws but also set a national tone. They understood that obedience to written laws could only do so much to perpetuate a republic; citizens would have to follow unwritten norms of civic virtue as well, and would be more likely to do so if their leaders modeled them. They designed the presidency with their epitome of personal integrity and decency, George Washington, in mind.

The great fear of these early Americans was that the presidency could fall into the hands of a demagogue: someone like the current incumbent, Donald Trump, whose impact on the nation’s political culture over the past three-plus years has been, if anything, more damaging than his impact on public policy. Where past occupants of the office have at least paid lip service to its inspirational aspects, and where both of his immediate predecessors, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, actively campaigned on themes of unity, Mr. Trump lives by a different credo: “When someone attacks me, I always attack back . . . except 100x more.” This is a formula for upwardly spiraling conflict. Consistent with it, Mr. Trump has used the bully pulpit — magnified by social media — to debase public discourse.

He has broken taboos — against personal insults, questioning the motives of one’s opponents and delegitimizing the political process itself — that historically enabled Americans to compromise when it is possible and to co-exist when it is not. Think of it: From the highest office in the oldest electoral democracy on the planet, he has referred to the free press as “truly the enemy of the people,” and repeatedly spread the canard that the next election will be “rigged.” Earlier this month, Mr. Trump broadcast to the entire world, on Twitter, this about Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) of New York: “Cuomo killed 11,000 people in nursing homes alone. Crooked & Incompetent!” The remark was typical — not even close to his basest outburst while in office.

This is a president who does not so much govern the country as harass it. In fact, the flow of invective is so constant that it can become overwhelming, almost numbing — but must not be normalized just the same. This is especially true with respect to his repeated use of xenophobic, racist and misogynistic themes and tropes. Amid times of tension and disorder, where other presidents would call for calm, he traffics in violent words (“when the looting starts, the shooting starts”). On one notorious occasion in 2017 — doubly shocking to recall in light of subsequent events, including the death of George Floyd under a policeman’s knee — Mr. Trump told an audience of law enforcement officers on Long Island: “When you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough, and I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice.’ ”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/09/04/presidents-are-expected-set-national-tone-what-we-got-with-trump-has-been-catastrophic/

'Tell The World I Also Had Asthma,' Conservative Begs Doctor Before Dying Of Coronavirus

JACKSON, TN—Insisting through coughs that he refused to let the physician politicize his death, local conservative man Paul Welles reportedly begged his doctor Friday to “tell the world I also had asthma” before dying of coronavirus.

“Tell everyone who will listen that it wasn’t coronavirus that killed me—it was asthma, and high cholesterol, and blood pressure!” the dying Trump supporter reportedly told the hospital staff between gasps for breath, demanding that they write down his cause of death as heart failure or respiratory issues.

“I refuse to die from coronavirus. Tell them that I didn’t take my health seriously, I smoked for nearly 20 years, and I didn’t eat a very healthy diet. Any of those things is bound to be more responsible for my death than the coronavirus. I refuse to be a statistic. Promise me—goddammit, promise that you’ll tell everyone it was a pre-existing condition and coronavirus had nothing to do with it. Tell them I was statistically more likely to get hit by a bus.”

At press time, the conservative man’s dying words were reportedly “I am old.”

https://local.theonion.com/tell-the-world-i-also-had-asthma-conservative-begs-d-1844932197

It's the Onion, folks...

Trump Blasts Supporters Who Plan to Vote for Him Only Once

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In a withering critique of his own voters, Donald J. Trump on Thursday blasted supporters who plan to vote for him only once.

Speaking to reporters, Trump called supporters who intend to cast only one vote for him “disgracefully low-energy,” claiming that they are “like Jeb Bush and Sleepy Joe put together.”

“I like supporters who have stamina,” he said. “Stamina means you keep voting for me until someone tells you to stop.”

He said that voters should vote for him once by mail, again in person, and “maybe even more than that.”

“Let’s say you vote in person,” he said. “Go away, put a mustache or wig on, and try to vote again.”

Asked about the legality of Trump’s suggestions, Attorney General Bill Barr said, “As Attorney General, I try to stay out of things involving laws.”

https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/trump-blasts-supporters-who-plan-to-vote-for-him-only-once

Trump Urged to Take Improv Class to Make His Invented Stories Richer in Detail

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Donald Trump should take an improv class to make the stories that he creates out of thin air richer in detail, a leading improv expert advised.

Harland Dorrinson, a founding member of Yes/And TheatreWorks, the legendary improv group in St. Louis, said that a grounding in improv would help Trump craft stories that “at least sound like they could be true.”

Dorrinson said that he recently watched a scene performed by Trump and Laura Ingraham, of Fox News, that demonstrated just how much the President could benefit from taking a beginners’ improv workshop.

“Laura Ingraham was giving him great prompts, but he didn’t build on them,” he said. “She asked him to describe the thugs on planes, and he had nothing.”

“He said that they were wearing ‘dark uniforms, black uniforms with gear and this and that,’ ” Dorrinson said. “Then he said that they came from ‘a certain city’ and that he heard all of this from ‘a person.’ If you did an improv that lazy on our stage, the audience would demand its money back.”

Despite his criticism, Dorrinson believes that Trump “has what it takes” to be a solid improv performer.

“He has a wild imagination and a truly demented stage presence, but he needs to get serious and put in the work,” he said.

https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/trump-urged-to-take-improv-class-to-make-his-invented-stories-richer-in-detail

The real lawless extremist in the race is Trump. And he has William Barr's help.

Opinion by Greg Sargent

How can it be that the nation’s chief law enforcement officer is openly supporting President Trump’s most flagrantly lawless efforts to corrupt the election? The easy answer: Attorney General William P. Barr is party to Trump’s scheme to maintain power via illicit means if necessary, and is corrupt enough to employ his power over law enforcement toward that end.

But there’s another, equally disturbing answer to this question, one rooted in a deeper worldview articulated by Barr and even by Trump himself: The idea that the political enemy is so ruthless and existentially threatening that employing extraordinary and extralegal means to crush that enemy is justified.

Barr gave a shocking interview to CNN late Wednesday that left zero doubt about his intentions. Barr refused to denounce Trump’s suggestion that people should try to illegally vote twice (by mail and in person), supposedly to test vote-by-mail’s validity. Trump brazenly repeated this on Thursday.

Barr also repeated his frequent claims that vote-by-mail elections have been riddled with fraud and that a foreign power could fabricate thousands of mail ballots. Both are utter nonsense. But in saying them, Barr is telegraphing his willingness to legitimize Trump’s eventual effort to try to invalidate untold numbers of mail ballots, which Trump has already told us is coming.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/09/03/only-one-candidate-is-lawless-extremist-he-has-william-barrs-help/

This entire administration is a criminal enterprise. It is blatant and is in your face.

A government shutdown is looming. Congress must make a deal in time.

Opinion by Editorial Board

AS THOUGH the country did not have enough trouble, in about a month the federal government’s authority to spend money runs out. The current law expires on Sept. 30, and with both the House and the Senate currently on recess until Sept. 8, the remaining time on the legislative calendar is only some 15 days. Given the overlap with the final days of the election campaign, and the political costs President Trump paid from the last partial government shutdown between Dec. 22, 2018, and Jan. 25, 2019, you’d think he’d want to avoid another. Democrats, too, probably have an interest in not risking the blame for such a mess. We can only urge both parties to summon the minimal agreement necessary at least to pass a continuing resolution as soon as possible. A bit of good news: A suspension of the debt ceiling through next July was set in a July 2019 compromise, so that issue shouldn’t have to be relitigated.

The real sticking point between the White House and Democrats in Congress, though, is a new round of support for the U.S. economy, still reeling from the coronavirus and related necessary public health measures. Negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Trump administration representatives are essentially at an impasse, with Republicans reportedly contemplating a new “skinny” offer that Ms. Pelosi is sure to reject: The roughly $500 billion concept would include enhanced unemployment benefits, small business loans and money for schools and covid-19-related health needs.

Those are good priorities, but Ms. Pelosi has said, correctly, that the dollar amounts are far too small. Also, no deal should be done that fails to provide funds for election administration and state and local governments.

Mr. Trump’s attempt to compensate for the failure to compromise by issuing executive orders is bound to fall short. The private sector has generally balked at his offer to postpone payroll tax deductions for their employees, due to technical and logistical issues and potential difficulties paying the funds back to the government next year. As for his use of federal disaster money to supply an additional $300 per week in unemployment benefits, 40 of the 50 states have been approved to participate, of which six have actually started delivering money. But the $44 billion available would last only six weeks if all states and D.C. participate by the Sept. 10 deadline, according to the Century Foundation.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-government-shutdown-is-looming-congress-must-make-a-deal-in-time/2020/09/01/fa4a56dc-e957-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html

Livestock ship carrying 42 crew, 5,800 cows sinks off Japan's coast

Source: LA Times

Japan’s coast guard was searching Thursday for a livestock ship carrying more than 40 crew members and nearly 6,000 head of cattle, rescuing at least one survivor who said the vessel sank during rough weather a day earlier off a southern Japanese island.

The Filipino crew member was rescued late Wednesday after Japanese navy surveillance aircraft spotted him wearing a life vest and waving while bobbing in the water.

The man, who is in good health, told rescuers that the ship capsized before sinking, coast guard regional spokesman Yuichiro Higashi said.

The survivor, a chief officer, said he quickly put on a life jacket and jumped into the sea, following an instruction in an onboard emergency announcement. He has not seen any other crew members since then, Higashi said.

Read more: https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-09-03/livestock-ship-crew-sinks-off-japan-coast

It's not just Trump. All Republicans must go.

Opinion by Jennifer Rubin

The argument for keeping House and Senate Republicans rests on the premise they somehow lack the disqualifying characteristics (e.g., congenital lying, racism, constitutional illiteracy, conspiracy-mongering) that addle President Trump. Think again.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) used to be considered a middle-of-the-road Republican — before she exonerated Trump for plainly impeachable conduct. Now, she sounds just like him. Iowa Starting Line reports that Ernst now seems to embrace "a thoroughly-discredited QAnon conspiracy theory about U.S. deaths from covid-19 being a mere fraction of what has been reported.” Without any factual support — and with massive data to the contrary — the senator insists it’s all a plot:

“They’re thinking there may be 10,000 or less deaths that were actually singularly covid-19,” Ernst said, seemingly referring to the debunked conspiracy theory that only around 6% of covid-19 deaths were due to the virus. “I’m just really curious. It would be interesting to know that.”

Going even further, however, Ernst also suggested that doctors were intentionally falsifying coronavirus cases in order to receive more money for caring for the patient.

“These health care providers and others are reimbursed at a higher rate if covid is tied to it, so what do you think they’re doing?” she questioned the crowd.

What may have started as a debunked conspiracy theory — that doctors are conniving to over-count patients — is now seriously propounded by a U.S. senator (as FactCheck.org reported: "multiple experts told us that such theories of hospitals deliberately miscoding patients as covid-19 are not supported by any evidence”). If anything, the number of official coronavirus cases, as Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has explained, is a fraction of the actual cases.

Meanwhile, Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) has followed Trump’s lead in espousing racist gibberish. This week, he put up a Facebook post (later removed by the social media platform) that included a photo of armed Black men and protesters and declared, “If this shows up, we’ll consider the armed presence a real threat. We being, We the People, of Louisiana. One way ticket fellas. Have your affairs in order.” By deploying the word “this,” Higgins dehumanized the individuals depicted, reducing them to mere objects. The response? No rebuke. No censure. No expulsion from Congress. Is it any surprise? A party that welcomes two QAnon-embracing congressional nominees has become a cesspool of hate and conspiracies.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/09/03/its-not-just-trump-all-republicans-must-go/

Girl, 6, survived dangerous journey to US. She now is Florida's youngest coronavirus victim.

Described as a loving and caring daughter, Astrid Reyes, 6, started feeling ill on Aug. 16. Three days later she passed away from COVID-19.

TAMPA — Astrid Reyes was a brave girl when her mother brought her to the United States a year ago to escape poverty and violence in Honduras.

The journey took a month. Both mother and daughter evaded the dangers immigrants face in their quest to reach the United States and apply for asylum. They endured inclement weather and the stalking of criminals, slept in the open and went hungry until they reached the Mexican city of Reynosa, in the state of Tamaulipas. From there, they crossed the Rio Grande to Texas.

Of the group of 30 immigrants who tried crossing, only Astrid and her mother, Suny Galindo, weren’t intercepted by border patrol agents.

Astrid never complained. She never shed a tear. She was 6 years old.

“She was a very intelligent and mature girl for her age,” says Galindo, 24. “She was my only daughter and she told me: Mom, I will always be here to take care of you.”

On Aug. 19, Astrid died in the emergency room of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, three days after she was admitted unresponsive and with seizure activity.

https://www.tampabay.com/news/health/2020/09/01/girl-6-survived-dangerous-journey-to-us-she-now-is-floridas-youngest-coronavirus-victim/

Trump Isn't Here to Serve the People

He has shown that we need new laws to constrain an executive who seeks unchecked power.

By Susan E. Rice

Desperate to salvage his presidency, Donald Trump is inciting racial violence by encouraging armed vigilantes to confront protesters angry over the killing and maiming of unarmed Black people by the police. The president is stoking civil conflict to distract voters from his failed leadership and strengthen his electoral prospects.

Deadly as it is, Mr. Trump’s latest tactic reflects his view of the presidency as the tool of one man. Rather than serve the people, Mr. Trump is trying to extend his time in office while undermining any constraints on his power.

Across the executive branch, Mr. Trump and his appointees have flouted long-honored norms and violated laws with relative impunity. They have succeeded largely because Senate Republicans have sacrificed oversight and accountability on the altar of subservience to this president so long as it preserves their majority control.

Under Donald Trump, the abuses have touched almost every corner of government, suggesting the president views democracy itself as his opponent.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/01/opinion/trump-corruption-democracy.html
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