March 25, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 7:03 PM


Retired Supreme Court Justice Joins Opinion Shooting Down Trump's Attack on Sanctuary Cities (MARK JOSEPH STERN, MARCH 25, 2020, Slate)

Trump's Department of Justice has long sought to punish "sanctuary" jurisdictions, those hundreds of cities, counties, and states that refuse to enforce federal immigration laws. Most sanctuary jurisdictions prohibit local law enforcement from asking about immigration status, arresting people because of their immigration status, or informing the federal government when it detains a person who happens to be undocumented. These jurisdictions also forbid jails from extending the detention of unauthorized immigrants so federal agents can take them into custody.

The DOJ has no constitutional authority to simply commandeer local police into enforcing immigration law. So, instead, the agency sought to cut off sanctuary jurisdictions from the leading source of federal funding to local law enforcement, the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, if they did not explicitly agree to cooperate with immigration enforcement. This move would deprive these jurisdictions of millions of dollars in federal funding each year, potentially coercing them into abandoning their sanctuary policies.

Before Tuesday, the 3rd, 7th, and 9th U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals had already found that the Justice Department has no authority to slash funding for sanctuary cities and states. Only the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the DOJ rule in a frightening decision that suggested the federal government can require local cops to serve as immigrant enforcers. The 1st Circuit rejected that logic, siding against the DOJ rule in an opinion by Judge Bruce Selya (a Ronald Reagan appointee) joined by Judge David Barron (a Barack Obama appointee) and Souter. (Justices can sit on federal courts of appeals after they retire from the Supreme Court.)

The fundamental problem with the Justice Department's attack on sanctuary jurisdictions, Selya explained, is that it's totally unauthorized. Federal agencies don't have the power to impose new conditions on funding to the states. Rather, Congress must authorize those conditions, within constitutional limits that bar the "commandeering" of state officials. 

Posted by orrinj at 7:00 PM


Fox News' Brit Hume: "Entirely reasonable" for elderly to risk getting coronavirus to save economy (MATTHEW ROZSA, MARCH 25, 2020, Salon)

Brit Hume told his Fox News colleague Tucker Carlson that it was "an entirely reasonable viewpoint" to propose that older Americans risk their lives in order to save the economy. And the network's senior political analyst suggested that anyone who disagrees does so because they dislike President Donald Trump. 

After all, they're just a bunch of cells...
Posted by orrinj at 6:56 PM


Its coronavirus response provides more evidence of Israel's racism (Motasem A Dalloul, March 25, 2020, MEMO)

[O]n 20 March, the Times of Israel reported that Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan had decided to release 500 Israeli prisoners into house arrest in an effort to reduce the risk of a coronavirus outbreak in the country's prisons. Erdan apparently accepted the recommendation of acting Israel Prison Service chief Asher Vaknin. Not a single one of the 5,000 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel -- including 180 children, 43 women and 430 detained with neither charge nor trial --is being released, though, not even those with critical health conditions.

Posted by orrinj at 6:04 PM


Republicans Seem to Think They Can Decide Who Dies (DAHLIA LITHWICK, MARCH 24, 2020, Slate)

Republicans who once decried the Affordable Care Act as a harbinger of "death panels" are now toying with cutting out the middleman and sentencing the country's oldest to death without bothering with any panels at all. Yes, the same Republicans who once soberly asserted things like "there is a provision in [Obamacare] that anyone over the age of 74 has to go before what is effectively a death panel" are now cheerfully suggesting that a few dead elderly people would be a small price to pay to protect the U.S. economy in the coming weeks.

Having abandoned Christ in favor of Donald it's a short step to embracing Mammon and Moloch.

Posted by orrinj at 6:00 PM


New York City hospitals are running out of room in their morgues (Dave Mosher, 3/25/20, Business Insider)

New York City is running out of room to store the bodies of those who've died from COVID-19, a respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus that emerged less than 3 months ago.

The city has become an epicenter for the spread of the novel coronavirus due its role as a global hub of travel, tourism, and commerce.

On Wednesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a press conference that the state has more than 30,000 confirmed cases -- in part due to dramatically expanded testing -- of which about 17,000 are from NYC.

"We're not slowing it, and it is accelerating on its own," Cuomo previously said, in another press conference on Tuesday. He added that the state's projection for hospital beds it will need at the peak of the outbreak will be around 140,000 -- though it currently has only 53,000.

The last shred of dignity left to the Trumpbots was an ostensible claim to care about life.

Posted by orrinj at 5:03 PM


Posted by orrinj at 4:54 PM


Ben Sasse: Coronavirus Bill Would Promote Unemployment Over Full Paychecks (JOHN MCCORMACK, March 25, 2020, National Review)

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer has hailed the unemployment-benefits provision in the coronavirus economic relief bill as paying furloughed and unemployed workers their full salaries for four months, but several GOP senators are sounding the alarm that in some cases unemployment benefits would exceed full salaries of workers and therefore encourage unemployment.

Posted by orrinj at 2:27 PM


Posted by orrinj at 2:16 PM


Thousands of Liberty University students expected to return to campus amid coronavirus outbreak (Richard Chumney, Mar 23, 2020 , News Advance)

In an interview Sunday night, Falwell said somewhere between several hundred to more than 5,000 students are expected to live in campus dorms, where they will continue coursework online rather than in classrooms.

Meanwhile, hundreds of professors and instructors without a valid health exemption will come to campus to hold office hours.

"I think we have a responsibility to our students -- who paid to be here, who want to be here, who love it here -- to give them the ability to be with their friends, to continue their studies, enjoy the room and board they've already paid for and to not interrupt their college life," Falwell said.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Trump to New York: You've Been Mean to Me, Drop Dead (Asawin Suebsaeng, Erin Banco, Sam Stein,  Mar. 25, 2020 , Daily Beast)

The latest evidence of the delicate, sometimes impossible, line that these governors have been forced to walk came on Tuesday, when the president took swipes at New York Governor Andrew Cuomo during a televised town-hall-style program with Fox News.

"I watched Gov. Cuomo [today] and he was very nice," the president said of the man steering the state hardest hit by the virus. Cuomo had, moments earlier, conducted a press conference in which he scoffed at how insufficient the administration's help in procuring ventilators had been. 

"He had a choice... He refused to order 15,000 ventilators," Trump said, referencing a recent column by Betsy McCaughey, a hardened Trump supporter and longtime health-care policy crusader on the right. "It says that he didn't buy the ventilators in 2015 for a pandemic, established death panels and lotteries instead." 

Trump would go on to insist he was not blaming Cuomo. But the magnanimity was short lived. "It's a two-way street," Trump said of having the feds help states with a coronavirus response policy. "They have to treat us well, too." 

Under normal circumstances, such a screed would be cast aside as a classic bit of Trumpian shit-talking and thin-skinness. But these aren't normal times. And Trump's comment resonated not only for how callous it seemed but also for how manufactured the evidence was that he was citing.  

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


White House, Senate reach deal on $2 trillion stimulus package (ALEXANDER BOLTON AND JORDAIN CARNEY, 03/25/20, The Hill)

Senate Republicans on Tuesday were characterizing the direct assistance as "snap loans" instead of grants, to avoid the stigma of the proposal being called a bailout, but it has yet to be determined how the government would be compensated.

The bill bans stock buybacks for any corporation that accepts government loans during the term of their assistance plus one year.

Schumer added a provision to ban businesses owned by the president, vice president, members of Congress and the heads of federal executive departments from receiving loans or investments through the corporate liquidity program. The prohibition also applies to their children, spouses and in-laws.

The legislation creates an inspector general and oversight committee for the corporate assistance program, similar to what was done for the Troubled Asset Relief Program of a decade ago, according to the senior administration official. [...]

Republicans were furious when the negotiations dragged past McConnell's stated goal of passing a bill on Monday and Democrats twice blocked procedural motions to move on to a largely GOP-drafted stimulus plan. Democrats temporarily blocked Republicans from speaking on the Senate floor, a tactic Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) could be overheard calling "bull----."

"Are you kidding me?" a visibly enraged McConnell asked from the Senate floor. [...]

The Fed loan program, which Democrats bashed as a corporate bailout program and Mnuchin's "slush fund," was one of the biggest sticking points during the late rounds of the negotiations. 

Republicans argued the Treasury Department needed $500 billion to help the Fed inject enough liquidity into the economy, while Democrats were enraged over a provision they said would let Mnuchin provide loans and guarantees and then wait six months before disclosing who got the assistance. Schumer noted in a letter to his caucus on Wednesday morning that they were able to get that provision removed. 

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) touted that Democrats were able to get "better oversight," including that "you can't just ... go ahead and give all your corporate executives, based on the back of the taxpayers, free carte blanche."