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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 48
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 14,705

Journal Archives

Leaderless Republicans rush headlong toward default

“Unfortunately, Congress consistently brings the government to the edge of default before facing its responsibility. This brinkmanship threatens the holders of government bonds and those who rely on Social Security and veterans benefits. Interest rates would skyrocket, instability would occur in financial markets, and the federal deficit would soar. The United States has a special responsibility to itself and the world to meet its obligations.”

President Ronald Reagan, Sept. 26, 1987

This is not Ronald Reagan’s Republican Party. Neither is it the party of the Republican Revolution of ’94, the tea-party-infused GOP of 2010, nor even the Republican Party that surrendered to Donald Trump in 2016.

No, this new version of the GOP is at once so radical and so lacking in responsible leadership that it is plunging headlong and unified toward forcing default on the full faith and credit of the United States. Congressional Republicans are inviting economic calamity.

Reagan presided over 18 increases in the debt ceiling during his presidency. George W. Bush’s treasury secretary, Paul O’Neill, compared those who opposed raising the limit to “terrorists.” Former Republican House speaker John Boehner called it “insanity” to hold the debt limit hostage — and those who did it “crazies.”

There have been squabbles over the debt limit for decades, including some near misses, but the United States has never defaulted on the debt its two parties have jointly accumulated. Though crazies threatened default, grown-ups in the GOP — Bob Dole, Boehner, an earlier incarnation of Mitch McConnell — pulled them back from the abyss.

Until now. The crazies are in charge. McConnell, the Senate GOP leader, says flatly that he won’t vote to increase the debt ceiling, and he isn’t even negotiating. “That’s their problem,” he says of the Democrats. And Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) has threatened to filibuster any debt-ceiling increase, which means Democrats can’t avoid default unless 10 Republican senators agree.


In reversal, Florida to apply for $820 million in food aid

Source: Tampa Bay Times

A spokesperson used the announcement to take a shot at Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who has criticized DeSantis for not accepting the money.

TALLAHASSEE — In a reversal, Florida announced this week it would tap into $820 million in federal food aid money for children in low-income households.

After weeks of saying the money wasn’t needed, Florida’s Department of Children and Families said Tuesday that it is applying for the no-strings-attached funding after all. That means parents of up to 2.1 million children could receive $375 to pay for food for each child over the summer.

The shift came after months of urging from advocacy groups and food banks, who noted that children are hungrier in the summer. A U.S. Census Bureau survey of Florida households from June and July found that 14 percent of adults reported that their kids were not eating enough because the household could not afford food.

Florida was the only state not applying for the pandemic relief program, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Read more: https://www.tampabay.com/news/florida-politics/2021/09/21/in-reversal-florida-to-apply-for-820-million-in-food-aid/

State asks appeals court to block school board challenges to Gov. DeSantis' mask mandate ban

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration has asked an appeals court to block challenges filed by five school boards against a Department of Health rule aimed at preventing students from being forced to wear masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Department of Health attorneys went to the 1st District Court of Appeal on Monday after an administrative law judge refused to dismiss the challenges filed by the school boards in Broward, Alachua, Orange, Miami-Dade and Leon counties and Leon County Superintendent Rocky Hanna.

In a 28-page petition, the department contended that the school boards don’t have legal authority to challenge the emergency rule, which requires that parents be able to “opt out” their children from any school mask mandates.

“In sum, the Florida Constitution creates a hierarchy under which the state supervises the education system as a whole,” the department’s attorneys wrote. “While school boards administer the day-to-day operations of local schools, they must do so ‘in harmony’ with the state laws and rules they are statutorily required to follow.”


Study: Marijuana Ranks Among Best Treatment For Persistent Existence

NEW YORK—Noting the numerous therapeutic benefits of cannabis, a new study published Tuesday by researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital found that marijuana ranks among the foremost treatments for persistent existence.

“Many of our patients who incorporated marijuana into their daily routine experienced tremendous relief from years or even decades of chronic existence,” said lead researcher Dr. Samantha Park, adding that marijuana consumed as an edible or smoked in flower form had reduced the strain associated with long-term existing across all demographics of participants.

“Without marijuana, the continual burdens of everyday being can often be unbearable. In fact, many wondered if chronic existence could even be treated. Thankfully, we’re finding that cannabis can actually provide temporary relief far surpassing even our best earlier cures such as suicide or cocaine.”

The report added that marijuana also appeared to treat related conditions such as clinical consciousness and acute reality.


Two miscarriages of justice reveal a sickening disparity

Two individuals allegedly made false statements to federal investigators. One now faces trial on a felony charge. The other does not. I defy you to read about their cases and conclude that justice is served in either instance, or that it is being applied even-handedly.

Let’s start with the person who has been let off the hook, because the decision is so infuriating and underscores so dramatically the unfairness of the other prosecution. W. Jay Abbott was the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis field office in 2015, when it received reliable reports that USA Gymnastics physician Larry Nassar had sexually abused multiple gymnasts.

One of Nassar’s victims, McKayla Maroney, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week about describing how Nassar had repeatedly molested her to one of Abbott’s agents, only to have the agent reply, “Is that all?”

What happened next? For months, nothing, as far as the FBI was concerned. Abbott’s office was supposed to refer the allegations to the FBI’s Lansing, Mich., office, the city where Nassar worked. But that never happened — and Nassar went on to abuse at least 70 more young athletes until he was arrested by Michigan state police 16 months later.


Evergrande Gave Workers a Choice: Loan Us Cash or Lose Your Bonus

The Chinese property giant owes $300 billion and is on the hook for as many as 1.6 million apartments. It may owe tens of thousands of its employees money, too.

When the troubled Chinese property giant Evergrande was starved for cash earlier this year, it turned to its own employees with a strong-arm pitch: Those who wanted to keep their bonuses would have to give Evergrande a short-term loan.

Some workers tapped their friends and family for money to lend to the company. Others borrowed from the bank. Then, this month, Evergrande suddenly stopped paying back the loans, which had been packaged as high-interest investments.

Now, hundreds of employees have joined panicked home buyers in demanding their money back from Evergrande, gathering outside the company’s offices across China to protest last week.

Once China’s most prolific property developer, Evergrande has become the country’s most indebted company. It owes money to lenders, suppliers and foreign investors. It owes unfinished apartments to home buyers and has racked up more than $300 billion in unpaid bills. Evergrande faces lawsuits from creditors and has seen its shares lose more than 80 percent of their value this year.


Trump Organization Trial Is Scheduled for Next Summer, Judge Says

Source: New York Times

A Manhattan judge set a trial schedule for Allen Weisselberg and the Trump Organization on Monday that could coincide with the run-up to the 2022 midterm elections.

Former President Donald J. Trump’s family business and its longtime chief financial officer are tentatively scheduled to go on trial for tax crimes at the end of next summer, a time frame that would overlap with the closing stretch of the 2022 midterm campaign season, potentially influencing races where Mr. Trump’s presence could loom large.

A Manhattan criminal court judge set the schedule Monday during a court appearance for the Trump Organization and the longtime senior executive, Allen H. Weisselberg, as one of Mr. Weisselberg’s lawyers suggested that charges against other individuals could be imminent in the long-running criminal inquiry into the business dealings of the company.

“We have strong reason to believe there could be other indictments coming,” said Bryan Skarlatos, a lawyer for Mr. Weisselberg, who has been charged with avoiding taxes on more than $1.7 million in perks that prosecutors said should have been reported as income.

While prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office did not respond to Mr. Skarlatos’s claim, they have been investigating other Trump Organization employees for receiving similarly undisclosed perks, such as rent-free apartments and leased cars.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/20/nyregion/allen-weisselberg-trump-organization.html

Ominous new details about Trump's coup attempt require Democrats to act

In case you need more evidence of how much damage keeping the filibuster might end up doing, add this to the list: It could make a future stolen presidential election more likely.

This is thrust upon us by new revelations about the extent of Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 loss — and by an important new paper by a leading legal scholar warning of future election subversion. Both should prompt new urgency among Democrats.

The revelations come from the new book “Peril,” by The Post’s Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. The headline: Two GOP senators — Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Mike Lee of Utah — took Trump’s lies about election fraud seriously enough to devote real resources to vetting them.

But for our purposes, the more important revelation involves how those lies were supposed to interlock with the broader scheme cooked up by Trump and his co-conspirators.


How Democrats can capitalize on the MAGA crowd's frequent humiliations

Republicans haven’t made many allies nor changed many minds since President Biden took office. To the contrary, they remain invested in opposing overwhelmingly popular measures. Biden’s economic agenda maintains a high level of support (generally 60 percent or more); the GOP’s unfavorable ratings are sky-high; and voters consider Republicans more extreme than Democrats. Republicans have drawn a line in the sand on vaccine mandates — which a large majority of Americans support. Certainly, Biden’s poll numbers are down — but that has not inured to Republicans’ advantage in any noticeable way, in part because they insist on sticking to their unpopular, ludicrous positions (e.g., downplaying or denying domestic terrorists’ Jan. 6 insurrection).

As for the Republicans’ anti-mandate hysteria, the death tolls and misery are practically off the charts in deep-red states. And governors endangering children and other residents by blocking mask and vaccine requirements have seen their popularity plummet.

Meanwhile, the MAGA crowd still fanning the flames of the “big lie” have been on an embarrassing losing streak (though one would be hard-pressed to find “Republicans in Disarray” headlines).

They certainly bombed in the California recall, which proved to be a humiliating loss and infuriating waste of money, strengthening the momentum of the pro-vaccine-mandate majority. A highly motivated minority could not foist its will on the majority (which has become the essence of the GOP playbook).


Republicans maneuver to block vaccine mandates

Republicans maneuver to block vaccine mandates, undercutting a policy widely seen as an effective tool to end pandemic

As covid-19 roared back in Florida over the summer, Gov. Ron DeSantis sounded like a champion of vaccines, declaring that the shots were “saving lives” and that the risk of death while vaccinated was “effectively zero.”

But in recent days, as President Biden and public health experts have embraced broad vaccine requirements as a necessary tool to combat the spread of the coronavirus’s highly infectious delta variant, DeSantis has shifted his focus — devoting much of his time to battling any business or government agency that would require workers to get the shot.

“These big government mandates strip away people’s rights to make the best decision for themselves, but we are going to protect Floridians from federal and local government overreach,” the governor said last week during a stop in Gainesville to denounce that city’s employee vaccine requirement.

DeSantis’s hard-line stance has become the prevailing view of the Republican Party, with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp also stepping forward to oppose local mandates in their states in the name of protecting individual liberty. In the hotly contested race for Virginia governor, Republican Glenn Youngkin said in a debate last week that “individuals should be allowed to make that decision on their own,” while on Sunday Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, whose state leads the country in covid deaths per 100,000 residents, warned on CNN that the country would be in “deep, deep trouble” if a president has “unilateral authority” to impose vaccine requirements.

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