Monday, March 2, 2020

Last Call For Primary Positions, Con't

Ahead of tomorrow's Super Tuesday primary voting, Sen. Amy Klobuchar is leaving the race and endorsing Joe Biden.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar will end her presidential bid on Monday and endorse Joe Biden, a campaign aide tells CNN. 
The Klobuchar campaign confirmed that the senator is flying to Dallas to join the former vice president at his rally, where she will suspend her campaign and give her endorsement on the eve of Super Tuesday. Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg also will endorse Biden at the rally, a source familiar told CNN. 
Klobuchar's path to the nomination all but closed after she posted sixth-place finishes in Nevada and South Carolina, a sign that the Minnesota senator's surprising showing in New Hampshire would not be nearly enough to propel her toward the nomination. 
A Democratic official told CNN that the Klobuchar campaign was worried that the senator would lose her home state of Minnesota on Tuesday. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the race's front-runner, is holding a rally in the state on Monday night. 
The high point of Klobuchar's campaign came in mid-February, when a strong debate days before the New Hampshire primary led to a third-place finish in the state. But the showing even caught Klobuchar's campaign off guard, and a lack of organization on the ground in Nevada and South Carolina, along with the senator's inability to win over Latino and black voters, ultimately stalled her candidacy.

Former Democratic Senate majority leader Harry Reid also endorsed Biden today, and the timing could not be better for the former VP.

Democratic primary voters appear to be giving former Vice President Joe Biden another look after his victory in the South Carolina presidential primary and ahead of the key Super Tuesday contests.

A Morning Consult poll conducted Sunday found 26 percent of Democratic primary voters nationwide said they’d vote for Biden if the Democratic primary or caucus were held in their state today, up 7 percentage points since polling conducted ahead of Saturday’s first-in-the-South primary in the Palmetto State.

National support for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) fell 3 points, to 29 percent, while former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg remained in third place, with 17 percent.

Sanders saw his first-choice support shrink among black voters, leaving him in a tie with Biden, at 31 percent. Among Hispanic voters, who will play a prominent role in Tuesday’s contests in Texas and California, Biden’s first-choice support increased 9 points, to 21 percent, though he still trailed far behind Sanders, who has more than twice that share of support with the voting bloc.

With 33 percent, Sanders leads in an average of polling from the 14 Super Tuesday states, while Biden saw a 7-point boost, to 24 percent, following his South Carolina victory. Bloomberg, who’s staked his campaign on victories in Tuesday’s contests, is backed by 16 percent of Super Tuesday voters, down 4 points from the previous polling.

The latest poll of 2,656 voters who indicated they may vote in the Democratic primary or caucus in their state, which has a 2-point margin of error, was mostly conducted before former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg of Indiana ended his campaign on Sunday night. Billionaire Tom Steyer, who dropped out of the race on Saturday night, was also included in the poll, coming in with 1 percent of the vote.

The issue for Biden is now Michael Bloomberg is on the ballot in the Super Tuesday states tomorrow, Michigan and 5 other states next week, Big Tuesday states of Florida, Illinois, and Ohio in two weeks, and Georgia in three.  That will be over half the states and nearly two-thirds of delegates decided by then.

How much will Bloomberg cut into Biden's share, and will it be enough to put Bernie in the lead?  Will Warren stay in or drop out and endorse Sanders? We'll find out a big chunk of that picture this week.

They're Coming For Obamacare Again, Con't

The US Supreme Court will take up the Republican lawsuit to invalidate the Affordable Care Act, just not this term that ends in June. Unfortunately, that means they could hear the lawsuit say, right before the election in November.

The Supreme Court on Monday said it will take up a Republican challenge to Obamacare, in a move that boosts Democrats who want to highlight the lawsuit’s threat to health care coverage during campaign season.

The justices said they would hear the case, likely later this year, after turning down an earlier request from Democrats to fast-track a ruling by June. The decision increases pressure on President Donald Trump over health care, a top concern for voters and an issue that has benefited Democrats since the GOP's failed effort to repeal Obamacare during Trump's first year in office.
However, it’s unlikely the justices will rule before the election on the lawsuit, which could wipe out the Affordable Care Act’s insurance protections and coverage for millions of people. The court is expected to hear the case during its next term starting in October, but the court did not yet say when it will hear oral arguments.

The suit, brought by more than a dozen red states, emerged as a threat to Obamacare in December, when a panel of federal appeals court judges found the law unconstitutional. Instead of ruling on the entire law, the appellate panel sent the challenge back to a federal judge in Texas who previously invalidated the entire law, jolting Democrats who feared the move would extend the legal fight over Obamacare for years.

Democratic state attorneys general and the Democratic-led House of Representatives, who are defending the law in court, quickly asked the Supreme Court to intercept the case. The Trump administration, which supports the Texas-led lawsuit, and the states challenging Obamacare urged the justices against intervening right away.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who's leading the Democrats' Obamacare defense, hailed the court's decision to take the case.

"As Texas and the Trump Administration fight to disrupt our healthcare system and the coverage that millions of people rely upon, we look forward to making our case in defense of the ACA. American lives depend upon it,' he said in a statement.

Although the justices last month rejected Democrats’ request to expedite a ruling on the case by June, at the time they left open the possibility they would take the case on a regular schedule.

Though the court doesn’t disclose how justices vote on whether to review a case, legal observers believed the bench’s four liberal members likely supported Democrats’ petition. To accept a case, at least four justices must agree.

Still, it's rare that justices review a case before it's received full consideration in lower courts — and the decision to do so underscores the monumental stakes of a case could upend coverage for millions of people and create chaos across the health care system.

Republican states want out of Obamacare because they want their people with no private health insurance to, you know, go away.  The problem is now, ten years later, Obamacare is popular among even Republican voters.

A Kaiser Family Foundation poll finds that 55 percent of the public views the health law favorably, the highest level since KFF began polling the question about 10 years ago. Just 37 percent said they view it unfavorably.
ObamaCare was long viewed more unfavorably than favorably, especially during the troubled rollout of the website in late 2013.

But that changed with President Trump’s election in 2016, when favorability began rising amid the Republican push to repeal the law in 2017.

The health care law has now become a political asset for Democrats, who highlighted Republican repeal attempts to help win back the House in 2018. The law's protections for people with pre-existing conditions have been particularly popular.

The push by the GOP to get rid of Obamacare in 2017 set the stage for them losing the House in 2018.  The push in 2020 to do the same through the courts will hopefully help cost Trump his current job.

We'll see what the Roberts Court decides, but don't expect a decision on this until June 2021.

Trump Goes Viral, Con't

Minutes before President Trump was preparing Wednesday to reassure a skittish nation about the coronavirus threat, he received a piece of crucial information: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had identified in California the first U.S. case of the illness not tied to foreign travel, a sign that the virus’s spread in the United States was likely to explode.

But when Trump took to the lectern for a news conference intended to bring transparency to the spiraling global crisis, he made no explicit mention of the California case and its implications — and falsely suggested the virus might soon be eradicated in the United States.

“And again, when you have 15 people — and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero — that’s a pretty good job we’ve done,” he said.

Trump’s playing down of the California patient at his news conference underscores the administration’s slapdash and often misleading attempts to contain not just the virus, but also potential political damage from the outbreak — which has tanked financial markets, slowed global commerce and killed some 3,000 people worldwide, including the first U.S. death, announced Saturday.

Since Trump touched down from a two-day trip to India early Wednesday morning, the administration struggled to cope with the fallout from the crisis — shaking up and centralizing its coronavirus response team under the leadership of Vice President Pence, floating plans to stabilize the markets and publicly seeking to minimize the threat posed by the potential pandemic.

Interviews with nearly two dozen administration officials, former White House aides, public health experts and lawmakers — many speaking on the condition of anonymity to share candid assessments and details — portray a White House scrambling to gain control of a rudderless response defined by bureaucratic infighting, confusion and misinformation.
“It’s complete chaos,” a senior administration official said. “Everyone is just trying to get a handle on what the [expletive] is going on.” 

I don't agree at all that the Trump regime is in chaos on this.  They absolutely have a message for the American people and a unified front.  And what is the message coming from the White House on COVID-19?  That the "alarmist" coverage is a plot to hurt Donald Trump and that Democrats want millions of people to die.

When Donald Trump Jr said Democrats hope coronavirus “kills millions of people” in the US because they want to bring his father down, he was merely “pushing back” at politicisation of the viral outbreak by Trump opponents, Mike Pence claimed in an interview broadcast on Sunday.

“It’s time for the other side to turn down the volume,” the vice-president told NBC’s Meet the Press.

At a White House press conference on Saturday, Trump was forced to defend his use of the word “hoax” in reference to the outbreak. Harshly criticised by contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, the president said he had been referring to politicisation of coronavirus, not the outbreak itself.

In the interview broadcast on Sunday, NBC host Chuck Todd played Pence clips of Trump allies discussing the outbreak which on Saturday claimed its first US death, a man in Washington state.

Rush Limbaugh, the conservative shock jock to whom Trump gave the Presidential Medal of Freedom, said: “The coronavirus is being weaponized, as yet another element to bring down Donald Trump.”

Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel said: “Democrats are using this for their political gain to try and stoke fear in the American people, which is shameful, wrong, and I think un-American.”

And Donald Trump Jr, appearing on Fox News, said: “For them to try to take a pandemic and seemingly hope that it comes here and kills millions of people so that they could end Donald Trump’s streak of winning is a new level of sickness.”

On CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, host Jake Tapper twice asked Pence if he agreed with Trump Jr’s claim that Democrats want coronavirus to “kill millions of people”.

Pence avoided the question, instead saying people need to set politics aside in the response to the outbreak and insisting Trump, who at his Friday rally claimed “the Democrat policy of open borders is a direct threat to the health and wellbeing of all Americans”, was directing all sides to take politics out of the equation.
Pence is in charge of White House efforts in response to the outbreak. Saying he was leading “decisive action to protect the American people”, he told NBC: “And when you see voices on our side pushing back on outrageous and irresponsible rhetoric on the other side, I think that’s important, and I think it’s justified.”

That's why Mike Pence is in charge of both the response and the messaging about the response.  The Trump regime response to COVID-19 is "Blame the Democrats when people die, and take your rage, anger, and vitriol out on them."

But in red states especially, states that have already trashed science, health, and preparedness program, the misinformation from the Trump regime is only compounding the problem, places like Anniston, Alabama, population 22,000.

Not long before local leaders decided, in the words of one of them, that federal health officials “didn’t know what they were doing" with their plan to quarantine novel coronavirus patients in town, a doctor here set out in a biohazard suit to stage a one-man protest along the highway with a sign. “The virus has arrived. Are you ready?” it asked.

The town didn’t think it was. Residents already were unnerved by strange stories posted on Facebook and shared via text messages about helicopters secretly flying in sick patients, that the virus was grown in a Chinese lab, that someone — either the media or the government — was lying to them about what was really going on.

The quarantine plan hastily hatched by the federal Department of Health and Human Services was soon scrapped by President Trump, who faced intense pushback from Alabama’s congressional delegation, led by Republican Rep. Mike D. Rogers. Americans evacuated after falling ill aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan would not be coming to Anniston, a town of 22,000 people in north-central Alabama, after all. They would remain in the same Texas and California sites where they were taken after leaving the cruise ship.

What happened here over the past week illustrates how poor planning by federal health officials and a rumor mill fueled by social media, polarized politics and a lack of clear communication can undermine public confidence in the response to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease named covid-19. The rapidly spreading virus has rattled economies worldwide in recent weeks and caused the deaths of more than 2,900 people, mostly in China.

The panic and problems that burned through Anniston also provided a preview of what could unfold in other communities, as the spread of the virus is considered by health experts to be inevitable.

“Their little plan sketched out in D.C. was not thought out,” said Michael Barton, director of the emergency management agency in Calhoun County, where Anniston is located.

As local officials learned more, Barton added, “We knew then —”

“We were in trouble,” said Tim Hodges, chairman of the county commission.

In Anniston, local leaders were stunned to discover serious problems with the federal government’s plan for dealing with patients infected with the virus — starting with how the patients would get to Alabama, according to interviews with county and city officials, along with business leaders who dealt with the federal response.

“I was shocked,” Anniston Mayor Jack Draper said. “I was shocked by the lack of planning. I was shocked by the manner in which it was presented to us.”

Be very, very scared of what the Trump regime will do once things start going very badly for this country in the weeks and months ahead.  Should we survive this intact, it will be in spite of Trump, not because of him.

But if you thought the violations of the Constitution were bad before, just wait until we're deep into a pandemic scenario.  Places like Anniston aren't going to be given a choice about where to house the sick.  The Trump regime will use the full force of the federal government against the very people who voted for them and won't hesitate to use it against the rest of us.

After all, Trump's inevitable autocratic and dictatorial response will be justified because the Democrats said bad things about him.

All of us will suffer, sick or not.


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