Saturday, March 21, 2020

Last Call For Trump Goes Viral, Con't

Another dismal Trump press conference, another weekend limit down in Dow futures for Monday, and now news that Trump is seeking to suspend habeas corpus in anticipation of a national martial law declaration

The Justice Department has quietly asked Congress for the ability to ask chief judges to detain people indefinitely without trial during emergencies — part of a push for new powers that comes as the coronavirus spreads through the United States.

Documents reviewed by POLITICO detail the department’s requests to lawmakers on a host of topics, including the statute of limitations, asylum and the way court hearings are conducted. POLITICO also reviewed and previously reported on documents seeking the authority to extend deadlines on merger reviews and prosecutions.

A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment on the documents.

The move has tapped into a broader fear among civil liberties advocates and Donald Trump’s critics — that the president will use a moment of crisis to push for controversial policy changes. Already, he has cited the pandemic as a reason for heightening border restrictions and restricting asylum claims. He has also pushed for further tax cuts as the economy withers, arguing that it would soften the financial blow to Americans. And even without policy changes, Trump has vast emergency powers that he could legally deploy right now to try and slow the coronavirus outbreak.

The DOJ requests — which are unlikely to make it through a Democratic-led House — span several stages of the legal process, from initial arrest to how cases are processed and investigated.

In one of the documents, the department proposed that Congress grant the attorney general power to ask the chief judge of any district court to pause court proceedings “whenever the district court is fully or partially closed by virtue of any natural disaster, civil disobedience, or other emergency situation.”

The proposal would also grant those top judges broad authority to pause court proceedings during emergencies. It would apply to “any statutes or rules of procedure otherwise affecting pre-arrest, post-arrest, pre-trial, trial, and post-trial procedures in criminal and juvenile proceedings and all civil process and proceedings,” according to draft legislative language the department shared with Congress. In making the case for the change, the DOJ document wrote that individual judges can currently pause proceedings during emergencies, but that their proposal would make sure all judges in any particular district could handle emergencies “in a consistent manner.”

The request raised eyebrows because of its potential implications for habeas corpus –– the constitutional right to appear before a judge after arrest and seek release.

“Not only would it be a violation of that, but it says ‘affecting pre-arrest,’” said Norman L. Reimer, the executive director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. “So that means you could be arrested and never brought before a judge until they decide that the emergency or the civil disobedience is over. I find it absolutely terrifying. Especially in a time of emergency, we should be very careful about granting new powers to the government.”

Again, this is a flat-out abuse of power and is wildly unconstitutional, and of course the House will block such nonsense, but at some point Trump will try to use COVID-19 to assume extraordinary emergency powers and move forward with autocratic measures between now and the election.

If there is an election.

Massie In A Mess

I've mentioned a number of times how Rep. Thomas Massie, glibertarian asshole, is a national embarrassment, but his comments on COVID-19 here necessitate his resignation.

Northern Kentucky U.S. congressman Thomas Massie blasted novel coronavirus precautions taken by governments on his social media platforms this week.

His posts from Facebook and Twitter knocked the cautionary steps governments took to slow the spread of the pandemic. He called for the private sector to solve testing issues, said eliminating dine-in options at restaurants would "lead to worse public health outcomes than if they had remained open," and was one of the 17 Republicans who didn't vote on the Coronavirus Relief Bill.

"When this is over, I fear FDR’s internment of Japanese-Americans is going to look like a 'light touch.'" he wrote on Facebook Monday morning. President Trump announced at a press conference later in the afternoon that people should avoid crowds larger than 10 people.

The candidates who want to unseat Massie denounced his comments as the number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases in Kentucky rose to a total to 25, as of Monday evening.

Todd McMurtry, a Republican running against Massie in the rescheduled June 23 primary election, called his actions "shameful," in a statement sent to The Enquirer and added "Frankly, he should resign."

"I stand by all of my social media posts," Massie told The Enquirer.

Massie said McMurtry's comment was "laughable," defended his comments and pointed to the thousands of likes and shares the posts got as a sign that they were well received.

McMurtry said Massie's posts weren't appropriate for a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic.

"He brags about his 'sass,' calling himself 'Sassy Massie,' but these times and our current needs demand someone who is serious," McMurtry said. "What we need from our representative is competence and hard work. Massie has failed us. It’s time for a change."
The two Democrats vying for the Democratic party nomination for the congressional seat, Alexandra Owesnby and Shannon Fabert, also criticized Massie.

A day after he missed the Coronavirus Relief Bill vote, Massie tweeted from his farm in Garrison, Ky., home to 866 people, about the mini ecosystem on his land and his canned pickles and peaches.

Massie told The Enquirer he would have voted no on the bill even if he had been in D.C. because he was concerned the bill would impose hardships on small companies and "put them out of business." He also claimed the bill wasn't fully written yet.
He added that he did vote for the $8 billion coronavirus package in early March, which aimed to combat the spread of the virus. President Trump signed that deal in early March as well.

Massie is not self-quarantining, he told The Enquirer, even after learning one of the attendees of the Conservative Political Action Conference tested positive for novel coronavrius.

"I do think people should exercise caution," Massie said.

Caution he's not willing to engage in himself.

The man is not just a joke, but a dangerous example of what not to do, and he has no business being anywhere near Congress. It really takes something to get both Republicans and Democrats in NKY on the same side, but there you go.

And if you want proof Massie is 100% wrong, you have only to look next door in Tennessee.

Resign, Congressman Massie.

Do the right thing for the first time in your career.

The USA's In The ICU

Unless Congress gets their shit together fast, there's not going to be an American economy left after COVID-19 lockdowns.

The U.S. economy is deteriorating more quickly than was expected just days ago as extraordinary measures designed to curb the coronavirus keep 84 million Americans penned in their homes and cause the near-total shutdown of most businesses.
In a single 24-hour period, governors of three of the largest states — California, New York and Illinois — ordered residents to stay home except to buy food and medicine, while the governor of Pennsylvania ordered the closure of nonessential businesses. Across the globe, health officials are struggling to cope with the growing number of patients, with the World Health Organization noting that while it required three months to reach 100,000 cases, it took only 12 days to hit another 100,000.

The resulting economic meltdown, which is sending several million workers streaming into the unemployment line, is outpacing the federal government’s efforts to respond. As the Senate on Friday raced to complete work on a financial rescue package, the White House and key lawmakers were dramatically expanding its scope, pushing the legislation far beyond the original $1 trillion price tag
With each day, an unprecedented stoppage gathers force as restaurants, movie theaters, sports arenas and offices close to shield themselves from the disease. Already, it is clear that the initial economic decline will be sharper and more painful than during the 2008 financial crisis.

Next week, the Labor Department will likely report that roughly 3 million Americans have filed first-time claims for unemployment assistance, more than four times the record high set in the depths of the 1982 recession, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. That is just the start of a surge that could send the jobless rate spiking to 20 percent from today’s 3.5 percent, a JPMorgan Chase economist told clients on a conference call Friday.

Estimates of the pandemic’s overall cost are staggering. Bridgewater Associates, a hedge fund manager, says the economy will shrink over the next three months at an annual rate of 30 percent. Goldman Sachs pegs the drop at 24 percent. JPMorgan Chase says 14 percent.

Amazingly enough, despite everything I've been warning about since Trump took over, the reality is far, far worse.  Unless Congress passes the mother of all stimulus packages and mobilizes things within days, not weeks or months, we're in a no-shit depression that will last years.

We're talking hundreds of small businesses go away for good, they don't come back, and 25% of the workforce is out of work, and the solution at that point is going to be "as much stuff gets automated as possible because it'll be cheaper."

So either we take a deep breath and take the plunge into a multi-trillion dollar economic rescue package, or the economy collapses and we use that as the starting point once COVID-19 is dealt with.

The NY Times makes is very clear:

Any bailout plan will come too late to avoid a large increase in unemployment. The federal government’s failure to prepare for the arrival of the coronavirus, particularly the lack of large-scale testing, has forced policymakers to shut down many kinds of commercial activity. California and New York have ordered most workers to stay home.

A proposal to send $2,000 to every American would help, but the government needs to do more for those who lose jobs by expanding unemployment benefits. In most states, the benefits cover about 45 percent of lost wages for low-income workers, and a lot of workers don’t qualify. Congress can get help to those who need it most by requiring states to raise the minimum benefit and to expand eligibility, both at federal expense. The government also should offer partial unemployment benefits: Companies could shift some workers to part-time arrangements, and the government could supplement their salaries.

There is no need to choose among the various kinds of aid that Congress is considering. The abrupt plunge in the nation’s economic fortunes has no obvious precedents; it requires a massive response. Send checks to every American. Lend money to every business. Strengthen the social safety net. The risk of doing too much is greatly outweighed in this moment by the consequences of failing to do enough.

The correct answer right now is D) All of the Above

But remember and keep in mind the most critical part of this disaster: Donald Trump is in charge.  He's lost control, and as I've said for weeks now, he's going to overreact with astonishing federal emergency powers and some sort of national quarantine order, or worse, do nothing more than what the GOP is offering, a mealy-mouthed bailout where the rich get the money and tens of millions get nothing whatsoever, because doing anything more would be a tacit admission of his place as the absolute worst leader in the country's history.

Some people aren't going to survive the national lockdown, should it come to that. Shortages and being unable to deal with the new normal are going to cause hardships for those with no ability to adapt, and it's going to be something people aren't going to be able to handle. Even without COVID-19, they're going to be evicted, lose everything, and end up on the streets in the middle of a depression caused by a pandemic with no safety net.

And they will be lost.

Good luck, everyone.

We're going to need a miracle.

Odds are very good that the cost of that miracle will be mind-numbing.
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