Friday, January 31, 2020

Last Call For Hate Spreading Like A Virus

This regime is terrible, will always be terrible, and given any opportunity to not be terrible, it chooses actively to be terrible.  The latest example: turning the Wuhan coronavirus into cover for the regime's latest Muslim travel ban.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar declared a public health emergency in the United States at a White House press briefing on coronavirus Friday.

U.S. citizens returning from Hubei province in the previous 14 days will be subject to up to a 14-day quarantine. Foreign nationals, other than immediate family members of U.S. citizens, who have traveled to China in the previous 14 days will be denied entry into the country. The temporary measures take effect Feb. 2 at 5 p.m.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ordered a federal quarantine order for all 195 people who were evacuated from China and have been voluntarily quarantined at military base in California.

Those people were on a government-chartered flight earlier this week for American consulate staffers and private U.S. citizens from Wuhan. The quarantine, the first order of its kind in 50 years, will last for 14 days from when the plane left Wuhan, health officials said at a news conference Friday.

"We are preparing as if this was the next pandemic," Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said of the quarantine.

"If we take strong measures now, we may be able to blunt the impact of the virus on the United States," she added. "We would rather be remembered for overreacting than underreacting."

Messonnier stressed that Americans should not let panic or fear guide their actions and reiterated the CDC's recommendation that the general public does not need to wear face masks. She also called for people to not discriminate against Chinese Americans amid the outbreak.

This is effectively a standing ban on entry for any Chinese national, and anyone who has been to China, other than exceptions for immediate family members.  There's no indication that this ban will be lifted anytime soon.  That's blocking a couple billion people from entering the US.

But this grants instant cover to the Trump regime's actual permanent travel ban also announced this afternoon.

The Trump administration on Friday announced an expansion of the travel ban -- one of the President's signature policies, which has been derided by critics as an attempt to ban Muslims from the US -- to include six new countries. 
Different immigration restrictions will be placed on Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar (known as Burma), Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania. 
The latest iteration comes three years after President Donald Trump -- in one of his first moves in office -- signed the first travel ban, which caused chaos at airports and eventually landed at the Supreme Court. The announcement also comes at the end of a major week for Trump with the signing of the USMCA trade deal and expected acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial. 
The updated ban has already sparked controversy over its targeting of African countries.
The administration has argued that the travel ban is vital to national security and ensures countries meet US security needs. 
"The restrictions are tailored to country-specific deficiencies, as well as travel-related risks to the homeland," a Department of Homeland Security official told reporters Friday.

Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation, Tanzania is number six, Sudan is number 9.  Those three African nations alone have about the same combined population as the US.  Eritrea is another 6.5 million.

This is just Stephen Miller and his happy squad of racists closing the door to Africa's most populous and most prosperous country for no good reason other than yeah, half the population happens to be Muslim.

How long do you suppose it will take before other countries will start banning Americans?

Ukraine In The Membrane, Con't

As the Senate GOP cult careens towards the dark blessing of the autocracy of Donald Trump with acquittal in the middle of the night, and the very real possibility that the acquittal will forever have the word "bipartisan" in front of it as the ultimate smokescreen, another round of leaks from John Bolton's book reveals Trump called him in on the plan to pressure Ukraine into fabricating an investigation of Hunter Biden all the way back in May of 2019.

More than two months before he asked Ukraine’s president to investigate his political opponents, President Trump directed John R. Bolton, then his national security adviser, to help with his pressure campaign to extract damaging information on Democrats from Ukrainian officials, according to an unpublished manuscript by Mr. Bolton.

Mr. Trump gave the instruction, Mr. Bolton wrote, during an Oval Office conversation in early May that included the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, who is now leading the president’s impeachment defense.

Mr. Trump told Mr. Bolton to call Volodymyr Zelensky, who had recently won election as president of Ukraine, to ensure Mr. Zelensky would meet with Mr. Giuliani, who was planning a trip to Ukraine to discuss the investigations that the president sought, in Mr. Bolton’s account. Mr. Bolton never made the call, he wrote.

The previously undisclosed directive that Mr. Bolton describes would be the earliest known instance of Mr. Trump seeking to harness the power of the United States government to advance his pressure campaign against Ukraine, as he later did on the July call with Mr. Zelensky that triggered a whistle-blower complaint and impeachment proceedings. House Democrats have accused him of abusing his authority and are arguing their case before senators in the impeachment trial of Mr. Trump, whose lawyers have said he did nothing wrong.

The account in Mr. Bolton’s manuscript portrays the most senior White House advisers as early witnesses in the effort that they have sought to distance the president from. And disclosure of the meeting underscores the kind of information Democrats were looking for in seeking testimony from his top advisers in their impeachment investigation, including Mr. Bolton and Mr. Mulvaney, only to be blocked by the White House.

In a brief interview, Mr. Giuliani denied that the conversation took place and said those discussions with the president were always kept separate. He was adamant that Mr. Cipollone and Mr. Mulvaney were never involved in meetings related to Ukraine.

“It is absolutely, categorically untrue,” he said.

Neither Mr. Bolton nor a representative for Mr. Mulvaney responded to requests for comment. A White House spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Bolton described the roughly 10-minute conversation in drafts of his book, a memoir of his time as national security adviser that is to go on sale in March. Over several pages, Mr. Bolton laid out Mr. Trump’s fixation on Ukraine and the president’s belief, based on a mix of scattershot events, assertions and outright conspiracy theories, that Ukraine tried to undermine his chances of winning the presidency in 2016.

As he began to realize the extent and aims of the pressure campaign, Mr. Bolton began to object, he wrote in the book, affirming the testimony of a former National Security Council aide, Fiona Hill, who had said that Mr. Bolton warned that Mr. Giuliani was “a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up.”

Mr. Trump also repeatedly made national security decisions contrary to American interests, Mr. Bolton wrote, describing a pervasive sense of alarm among top advisers about the president’s choices. Mr. Bolton expressed concern to others in the administration that the president was effectively granting favors to autocratic leaders like Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Xi Jinping of China.

To recap, Donald Trump's impeachment defense lawyer was a material witness to Trump's criminal acts, who lied about that fact for the last week on the Senate floor.

It's just so darkly comical that I can't take much more.

And yet we know there will be much, much more.  The truth will come out, but at this point does it even matter anymore?

If the answer is no, then we are in an autocracy and America is lost.

Impeachment Reached, Con't

Maybe this weekend will finally disabuse the Democrats of the notion that there are still good Republicans out there.  There are none left, because they are all gone.

For nearly two weeks, Democrats took to the floor of the Senate in the hopes that GOP lawmakers would support the call for additional witnesses as part of impeachment proceedings of President Donald Trump.

To a person, party members believed that the evidence they gathered and case they presented was compelling and nearly flawless in its execution. Their convictions only hardened after several rounds of massive news breaks—from audio recordings of the president to seeming confirmation from his former National Security Advisor, John Bolton, that Trump sought a quid-pro-quo with Ukraine.

But as the days rolled by and Republican after Republican publicly declared they’d heard enough, a sense of dismay has begun to set in. Increasingly, Democrats believe and concede, there was simply no argument they could have made that would have moved the needle.

“The arguments that have been asserted by the White House are nonsense,” said Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA). “There's plenty of evidence to move anyone who's listening. But I think what we're seeing is there is no amount of evidence that will move the Senate Republicans in this political environment. I think we expected that if they followed their constitutional oath, they would actually have a real trial. I think it's really just a failure of courage.”

Asked whether there was any frustration in the Democratic ranks about the lack of movement to call witnesses, Scanlon joked, “What? I don’t sound frustrated?”

A final vote on whether to hear new evidence or witnesses is set for Friday. Publicly, Democrats on both sides of the Capitol had held out hope that four GOP senators will side with them on, among other things, a need to call Bolton as a witness.

Increasingly, however, Democrats acknowledge that their efforts are likely to fail and that the impeachment proceedings will be wrapped up shortly thereafter. An announcement late Thursday night from Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) that he would vote against calling more evidence basically sealed the deal, leaving no path for a prolonged trial.

“It’s more than frustrating—it's pathetic,” said Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO). “If you had any regard at all for the prerogatives of the legislative branch, to allow the White House to stonewall the House of Representatives in a completely unprecedented way, and then accept a set of rules … that are just a cover up for what the President has done, I think demonstrates a complete lack of regard for what this institution is supposed to be about.”

So my friends, it is now up to us to fix the problem.

It always was up to us as Americans.  We had a chance in 2016 and failed.

The problem is as Americans, as a people, as a body politic, we created this problem in the first place.

Not all of us are going to make it out to the other side, either.

What comes next remains up to us, but do we have the will to do what is necessary to correct the problem?

America has ended up in worse places before. Slavery. Civil war. Internment of citizens. assassinations and riots.  But his feels fundamentally different.

This feels like it won't get better.


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