Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member Latest Breaking News General Discussion The DU Lounge All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search


Zorro's Journal
Zorro's Journal
December 31, 2020

Trump Fears That His Influence Is Waning

The president is plotting retribution. Not just because he’s mad about his election loss. But because he wants to keep folks in line.

As his days in office come to a close, President Donald Trump has hinted to those close to him that he’s worried his influence within Republican circles may be waning.

Fearful of party stalwarts growing comfortable crossing him, the president has pushed to keep up the pressure and plot possible revenge scenarios against potential turncoats, according to three people who spoke to him as he unwound at Mar-a-Lago and elsewhere over the holiday weekend.

“Why aren’t they just listening [to me]?” one of the sources recalled Trump asking during a diatribe against prominent GOPers who the president felt weren’t fighting for him on his current battle lines: from nullifying the 2020 election outcome, to torpedoing liability law for Big Tech, to sending out $2,000 checks for COVID-19 relief.

The comments came during Trump’s Christmas getaway in Florida this past weekend and for those who heard them they were some of the clearest indications to date that the president has reached an inflection point. Outwardly insistent that he was robbed of a re-election victory, he has privately groused that too many in his party are acknowledging the reality of his actual loss and showing signs of tiptoeing away from him.

December 31, 2020

MAGA Retirement Enclave Is Ground Zero in Florida Vaccine Shitshow

From claims of flagrant partisan favoritism to fears of getting sick in long lines, the rollout is not going smoothly in a state where the governor’s COVID skepticism is legendary.

On Christmas Eve, Dr. Jeff Lowenkron, a top doctor in The Villages, delivered an ominous holiday message to residents about the spread of coronavirus in Florida’s most politically infamous retirement community.

As the chief medical officer for The Villages Health, a health-care provider that operates six clinics in the sprawling central Florida development, Lowenkron has access to real-time stats about new cases and hospitalizations. According to his Dec. 24 weekly email newsletter, a copy of which was shared with The Daily Beast, Lowenkron revealed that the two main hospitals were treating 94 patients with COVID-19, of whom 19 were in the intensive care units.

“Local hospitalization numbers for COVID are at the highest they have been and are rising,” Lowenkron warned. “The Villages Health has seen an increase in positive test numbers in our test sites, as well as among our staff who are treating patients.”

But Lowenkron didn’t give a timetable for when Villagers could expect to get vaccinated. This even though Gov. Ron DeSantis had just days earlier used the Trumpian retiree stronghold as the backdrop for his big announcement that, unlike much of the rest of the country, Florida would be prioritizing senior citizens over essential workers.

On Tuesday, Shirley Schantz, a 73-year-old retired nurse, said she had not gotten any more information about The Villages Health’s vaccine rollout plan since Lowenkron’s mass email. “There seems to be no plan,” Schantz said. “If there is a plan, most of the residents don’t know about it.”

What is certain is that five Republican Villagers who have held elected office or positions within local GOP clubs were among those who received the vaccine last week when DeSantis held the press conference at the UF Health The Villages Hospital. The Republican Villagers’ starring roles ignited criticisms from their Democratic counterparts and the editorial board of the online newspaper The Villages-News, which was the first to report on the quintet’s Republican connections, as well as their ties to Mark Gary Morse.

December 31, 2020

Trump's Embarrassing Electoral College Hustle

It is doomed to fail but would still set a destructive precedent.

By The Editorial Board

President Trump’s last and worst shot at overturning the 2020 election will come on Jan. 6, as the new Congress meets in joint session to tally the votes from the Electoral College. Mr. Trump wants Republican lawmakers to lodge formal objections to Joe Biden’s electors, and this kamikaze mission already has a few volunteers.

Here’s what would happen next, at least according to the Electoral Count Act: If a state’s electors are challenged by both a Senator and a Representative, then each chamber is supposed to retire to consider it. If they rejected the electors of enough states to deny Mr. Biden 270 electoral votes, then the House would choose the President.

But how could lawmakers justify throwing out electors for Mr. Biden? Although Mr. Trump keeps tweeting claims of massive vote fraud, his lawsuits have been rejected in court, sometimes by his own conservative appointees.

Any challenge to Mr. Biden’s electors appears doomed, since upholding the objection takes a majority in both chambers. The Democratic House would use the opportunity to excoriate Mr. Trump a final time on his way out the door, and grown-ups in the Republican Senate are unlikely to play along. Hence the Trump crowd’s latest argument: that the power to invalidate electors rests with the joint session’s presiding officer—Vice President Mike Pence.


When Trump and the Republicans lose even The Wall Street Journal...

(Subscription required)
December 30, 2020

Florida seniors begin swarming coronavirus vaccination sites

Source: Tampa Bay Times

Hundreds of seniors formed long lines outside testing sites — camping out overnight with lawn chairs and blankets — to get vaccinated.

Joel and Susan Pittelman, from Naples wait in line to receive COVID-19 vaccines on Tuesday at East County Regional Library in Lehigh Acres. [ ANDREW WEST/THE NEWS-PRESS (AP) ]

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis begged for patience from anxious seniors waiting their turn to get inoculated against COVID-19, as confusion and frustration arose over the availability of the life-saving vaccine among some of the state’s most vulnerable.

At a testing site in southwest Florida, hundreds of seniors formed long lines outside testing sites — camping out overnight with lawn chairs and blankets — to get vaccinated. Before the sun had even risen Wednesday morning, the county’s vaccine supply for the day was already accounted for, prompting officials to turn down anyone else who was arriving.

Seniors in other parts of the state were frustrated by busy phone lines and websites that would no longer issue new vaccination appointments.

DeSantis has prioritized Floridians older than 65 to be next in line for the state’s stock of vaccine, now that most health care workers and other first responders are protected against the virus that has infected more than 1.2 million Floridians and killed more than 21,000.

More than 82 percent of those who have died from the disease have been older than 65, underscoring the urgency in getting older Floridians vaccinated, the governor said Wednesday.

Read more: https://www.tampabay.com/news/health/2020/12/30/florida-seniors-begin-swarming-coronavirus-vaccination-sites/

December 30, 2020

Trump's $2,000 checks all but dead as GOP Senate refuses aid

Source: Tampa Bay Times

The roadblock mounted by Senate Republicans appears unsurmountable, even as pressure builds to approve the bigger checks.

President Donald Trump’s push for $2,000 COVID-19 relief checks was all but dead Wednesday as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed an alternative approach of loading up the bill with other White House priorities that appeared destined to fail.

The roadblock mounted by Senate Republicans appears unsurmountable, even as pressure builds to approve the bigger checks. Trump wants the Republican-led chamber to follow the House and increase the checks from $600 for millions of Americans. A growing number of Republicans, including two senators in runoff elections on Jan. 5 in Georgia, agree. But most GOP senators oppose more spending, even if they are also wary of bucking Trump.

Senators will be back at it after McConnell blocked a vote Tuesday, but his new bill — which includes the formation of a commission to investigate the 2020 election as well as a complicated repeal of big tech liability protections — does not have enough support to pass.

“What we’re seeing right now is Leader McConnell trying to kill the checks — the $2,000 checks desperately needed by so many American families,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said at the Capitol.

Read more: https://www.tampabay.com/news/health/2020/12/30/trumps-2000-checks-all-but-dead-as-gop-senate-refuses-aid/

This headline should play well in Georgia.
December 30, 2020

Trump's worst pardon is one you haven't heard about

Opinion by Alex Busansky

Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Charles Kushner, Stephanie Mohr. You’ve probably heard about President Trump’s odious pre-Christmas pardons for the first three — and nothing about Mohr, a former Prince George’s County police officer. But Mohr’s pardon — for violating a homeless man’s civil rights by unleashing her K-9 on him — is equally, if not more undeserving. Of all the acts to pardon in a year that witnessed the killing of George Floyd, it is the most insensitive and inflaming.

I know; I was part of the team at the Justice Department’s civil rights division that helped prosecute Mohr in 2001.

In the middle of the night on Sept. 21, 1995, a local Prince George’s County police burglary stakeout unit found two homeless men on the empty roof of a business, eating food they had found in the trash in Takoma Park, Md. Ordered down from the roof, Ricardo Mendez and his friend willingly climbed down. Lit by a police helicopter above and facing a brick wall, the two men were surrounded by police officers, some with guns drawn, and Mohr holding her German shepherd on a leash. Both men obeyed commands and stood facing the wall with their hands up.

It should have been over. It wasn’t.

A police sergeant later testified that he was approached by Mohr’s supervising officer who said, “Hey Sarge, we got a new dog. Mind if it gets a bite?” The sergeant gave consent, and Mohr set her dog to attack Mendez, an undocumented immigrant whose only crime was seeking a safe place to eat and sleep. Mohr testified that she was doing her job as trained, and the victim needed “only 10 stitches.”

Think about that: only 10 stitches. Mohr disregarded her training to give her dog a taste of flesh and blood.


December 30, 2020

San Diego home prices have biggest gain in 6 years; third highest in nation

All cities in the S&P Dow Jones index reported higher price increases than the year before

San Diego home prices continued their climb in October, rising 11.6 percent — the highest in more than six years.

Prices in America’s Finest City increased the third fastest annually in the nation, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices reported Tuesday. Only Phoenix, up 12.7 percent, and Seattle, up 11.7 percent, had bigger gains.

The last time prices in the San Diego metropolitan area increased so rapidly was 12.4 percent in May 2014. Still, it is nothing compared to housing boom times when, in July 2004, prices were up 33.37 percent in a year (only to crash more than 26 percent four years later).

San Diego was not an isolated case in October. Substantial home price gains were reported throughout the nation. Prices were up 8.4 percent nationwide and all 19 metro areas in the index had faster increases than the same time last year.

December 29, 2020

2020 Was the Year Reaganism Died

The government promised to help — and it did.

By Paul Krugman

Maybe it was the visuals that did it. It’s hard to know what aspects of reality make it into Donald Trump’s ever-shrinking bubble — and I’m happy to say that after Jan. 20 we won’t have to care about what goes on in his not-at-all beautiful mind — but it’s possible that he became aware of how he looked, playing golf as millions of desperate families lost their unemployment benefits.

Whatever the reason, on Sunday he finally signed an economic relief bill that will, among other things, extend those benefits for a few months. And it wasn’t just the unemployed who breathed a sigh of relief. Stock market futures — which are not a measure of economic success, but still — rose. Goldman Sachs marked up its forecast of economic growth in 2021.

So this year is closing out with a second demonstration of the lesson we should have learned in the spring: In times of crisis, government aid to people in distress is a good thing, not just for those getting help, but for the nation as a whole. Or to put it a bit differently, 2020 was the year Reaganism died.

What I mean by Reaganism goes beyond voodoo economics, the claim that tax cuts have magical power and can solve all problems. After all, nobody believes in that claim aside from a handful of charlatans and cranks, plus the entire Republican Party.

December 29, 2020

Home equity wealth in America is booming

Homeowners enjoyed the largest year-over-year home equity gain in six years during the third quarter.

Americans with mortgages (roughly 63% of all properties) saw their home equity increase by an average of $17,000 between July and September 2020 as compared to the same quarter a year ago, according to a quarterly report from mortgage data and analytics firm CoreLogic.

Home equity for those homeowners rose by a total of $1 trillion over the year, with the average home equity in the U.S. sitting at $194,000 by the end of September.

“One of the biggest drivers of home equity is price growth over the last several months,” CoreLogic Chief Economist Dr. Frank Nothaft told Yahoo Money. “We saw a huge shortage of homes and the Federal Reserve dropping mortgage interest rates, which led to an acceleration of home prices.”


December 29, 2020

Marketing the Messiah

Although not everyone's cup of tea, I found this irreverent look at the roots and spread of Christianity to be both interesting and entertaining.

Now streaming free on Amazon Prime.

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 48
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 15,850
Latest Discussions»Zorro's Journal