Saturday, November 14, 2020

Last Call For Mitch Finally Gets Infrastructure Week

A semi-truck hazmat accident on the lower decks of the Brent Spence Bridge has closed one of America's busiest bridges and wrecked traffic in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, with the bridge now closed for weeks

The Brent Spence Bridge closure isn't going away anytime soon so it might be time to find a permanent detour.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear told Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky residents to prepare for its primary river crossing to be closed into December.

"We are looking at weeks, perhaps more than a month," Beshear said Thursday. "We have repairs that will take weeks to execute."

Beshear offered some relief for local travelers in Northern Kentucky Friday afternoon.

One lane of I-75/I-71 north between I-275 and the Brent Spence Bridge will be opened sometime Friday night, Beshear said in a Facebook video.

“This lift in traffic restrictions will help local traffic get closer to Downtown Covington on I-75,” Beshear said.

Beshear also announced the Roebling Suspension Bridge would be reopened to traffic at 8 p.m. Trucks will not be allowed.

Governors in both states said the bridge won't reopen until it's safe enough for them to transverse the river.

Beshear said he believes the bridge can be repaired, but he is not sure how long that will take.
Mitch McConnell has failed to get funding to replace the Brent Spence Bridge for his entire Senate career. He's used it as a stalking horse to repeal government reform, or as a ploy to attack Democratic political opponents, and he's always blocked any real effort to replace the bridge
FOX News famously accused President Obama as using the bridge as a prop when he introduced his 2011 JOBS act and McConnell couldn't wait to sneer at him over it...and the JOBS Act never got a vote.
Amy McGrath made replacing the bridge one of her major policy issues and she was destroyed in the election anyway. She lost Campbell and Kenton counties by double digits and Boone County by almost 30 points and McConnell frankly admitted that he would never help get funds from Washington, and that Kentucky taxpayers are going to have to pay every penny themselves.

Politicians have spent more than a decade campaigning on the promise of a replacement for the Brent Spence Bridge connecting Cincinnati to Northern Kentucky. Speaking Wednesday in Florence, Sen. Mitch McConnell said Kentuckians should look for a solution from Frankfort — not from offices like his in Washington.

“There’s never been an earmark big enough in the history of America to build that bridge,” he told the small crowd of mayors, business leaders and journalists who gathered at Kona Ice headquarters Wednesday afternoon.

McConnell, who hopes to win a seventh Senate term on Election Day, said the federal government will not set aside the funds necessary to replace the ailing span. If commuters want a replacement, he said, the money will have to come from inside their state. Gas taxes, maybe. The current plan involves tolls.

His opponent, retired Marine Corps pilot Amy McGrath, disagreed in an interview the week before.

“Brent Spence Bridge is America’s number one infrastructure emergency,” she said on Oct. 25. “We have to fix this, and we can do it without tolls, and that is what I am saying I will do.”

She said she sees the Brent Spence as a national issue that should be remedied with national funds — potentially by a cut of the Moving Forward Act, a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill passed by the House of Representatives on July 1.

The Senate, under McConnell’s leadership, has not held a vote on the act. On the day it was passed by the House, he criticized its broad scope, which includes funding for roads, water projects, and affordable housing while pushing for “deep reductions in pollution.”
Matt Bevin lost Boone, Kenton, and Campbell counties last year to now Governor Andy Beshear over this, promising Kentuckians would do just that, in particular Northern Kentucky, and Beshear's margin of victory came from winning here on this issue. 

And a year later, the same voters happily voted for McConnell saying the same thing.
The bridge is getting emergency repair relief funds now, but it took a devastating accident that may have damaged the bridge beyond its safety capacity and is going to hurt businesses all around the region when we're already in the middle of the worst pandemic in decades.

But that's how it goes here in the NKY. We line up around to block to vote for the guy abusing us, promising to tax and toll us to the tune of $3 billion in one of the poorest states in the nation.

Waiting In The Wings

President Donald Trump said Friday that the U.S. government would not deliver a coronavirus vaccine to New York if and when one is available.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo “will have to let us know when he’s ready for it because otherwise, we can’t be delivering it to a state that won’t be giving it to its people immediately,” Trump said during a press conference from the White House Rose Garden.

“He doesn’t trust where the vaccine is coming from,” Trump added. “These are coming from the greatest companies anywhere in the world, greatest labs in the world, but he doesn’t trust the fact that it’s this White House, this administration, so we won’t be delivering it to New York until we have authorization to do so, and that pains me to say that.”

On MSNBC shortly after Trump’s comments, Cuomo said, “None of what [Trump] said is true. Surprise, surprise.”

“I have been an outspoken opponent to many of Trump’s policies over the last four years,” he said, adding that Trump lost in New York in the presidential election by “huge margin” and state prosecutors are also investigating the president for tax fraud.

“So, he has issues with New York and he likes to point to New York,” Cuomo said. “But this is his issue. It’s his credibility issue. It’s the fear that he politicized the health process of this nation, which is a well-founded fear.” 
Knowing full well why New York state was singled out (as opposed to say, California or Illinois), NY AG Letitia James made it very clear she will not be blackmailed into dropping her ongoing investigation into the Trump crime family

Attorney General Letitia James released a response Friday evening, saying:

“This is nothing more than vindictive behavior by a lame-duck president trying to extract vengeance on those who oppose his politics. Once there is a fully-developed COVID-19 vaccine, we are confident that a Biden-Harris Administration will provide New York with the proper number of doses so that our state’s residents can achieve immunity. If dissemination of the vaccine takes place in the twilight of a Trump Administration and the president wants to play games with people’s lives, we will sue and we will win.”
Steve M. does bring up a good point though. Where could Trump be tried in New York that won't immediately devolve into chaos or deadly violence by his terrorist cultists? New York City hasn't exactly shined when it comes to the "Trials of the Century".

It all has me thinking back to a moment in early 2010
The Obama administration on Friday gave up on its plan to try the Sept. 11 plotters in Lower Manhattan, bowing to almost unanimous pressure from New York officials and business leaders to move the terrorism trial elsewhere....

... resistance had been gathering steam.

After a dinner in New York on Dec. 14, Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, pulled aside David Axelrod, President Obama’s closest adviser, to convey an urgent plea: move the 9/11 trial out of Manhattan.

More recently, in a series of presentations to business leaders, local elected officials and community representatives of Chinatown, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly laid out his plan for securing the trial: blanketing a swath of Lower Manhattan with police checkpoints, vehicle searches, rooftop snipers and canine patrols.

“They were not received well,” said one city official.

And on Tuesday, in a meeting [Mayor Mike] Bloomberg had with at least two dozen federal judges on the eighth floor of their Manhattan courthouse, one judge raised the question of security. The mayor, according to several people present, said he was sure the courthouse could be made safe, but that it would be costly and difficult.
I thought this was outrageous at the time -- we should have been able to show that we could try these people in U.S. courts, as a demonstration that the Bush's administration's approach to them was preposterous -- but I acknowledge that securing the area would have been difficult.

I think a trial of Donald Trump in Manhattan -- or anywhere in America -- could pose similar security risks. I'm not sure there's as much reason to fear MAGA Nation if Trump is put on trial as there was to fear Al Qaeda sympathizers a decade ago, but I couldn't really guess at the relative risk.

I think opponents of stateside 9/11 trials overestimated the possibility of violence. But I think we underestimate the risk of a Trump trial. There'll certainly be Trumpers in the streets. And there might be worse trouble than that.

So try him -- and convict him -- but be vigilant
Sure hope Biden's willing to provide US Marshals for security, because the NYPD hates Mayor DeBlasio, hates Cuomo, hates James, and loooooooves them some Donald Trump.  If anything, they'll be working with the Trump cultists when Tisha James's hammer falls.

The Mask Of The Lone Governor

Republican governors are already signalling to the incoming Biden-Harris administration that they will not support, much less enforce, any sort of federal mandates involving COVID-19 and masks.

President-elect Joe Biden says he'll personally call red state governors and persuade them to impose mask mandates to slow down the coronavirus pandemic. Their early response: Don’t waste your time.

Almost all of the 16 Republican governors who oppose statewide mask mandates are ready to reject Biden’s plea, they told POLITICO or declared in public statements — even as they impose new restrictions on businesses and limit the size of public gatherings to keep their health systems from getting swamped.

South Dakota’s Kristi Noem, Oklahoma’s Kevin Stitt and Nebraska’s Pete Ricketts, whose states are engulfed by new cases, say mask wearing should remain a personal choice, not a legal obligation — despite recommendations from health officials and updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control stressing that masks protect the wearer, not just people nearby, from infection.

“Governor Noem has provided her people with the full scope of the science, facts, and data regarding the virus, and then she has trusted them to exercise their personal responsibility to make the best decisions for themselves and their loved-ones,” Noem spokesperson Ian Fury wrote in an email. “She will not be changing that approach.”

The politicization of mask-wearing shows how difficult it will be for Biden to build consensus around even basic public health strategies after he’s sworn in.

Though President Donald Trump is on his way out, he’s poised to hold strong influence over GOP officials and voters who’ve largely backed his efforts to downplay the pandemic.

While some of the same governors expressed frustration earlier in the pandemic about the Trump administration’s lack of support on testing and protective gear, most side with Trump on his aversion to mask mandates. They’ve argued that neither Washington nor state capitals should dictate policies like face coverings, saying they are both onerous and unenforceable. And they’re digging in, even with the virus putting 65,000 people in hospitals and infecting more than 1.2 million people since Nov. 1.

“If President-elect Biden is indeed confirmed to be the next president, and he approaches me about a mask mandate, I would not be going along with a mask mandate,” Ricketts said during a press briefing on Tuesday.

“As far as a mandate, I’ve been very clear I don’t think this it’s the right thing to do,” Stitt, who was infected with the coronavirus earlier this year, said at a briefing on Tuesday. “This is a personal responsibility."

Several of the Republican holdouts, including Ricketts, have required face coverings for employees and patrons of certain businesses while others, like Stitt, have instead allowed their largest cities to decide on mask orders.

Other Republican governors, like Eric Holcomb in Indiana and Kay Ivey in Alabama have had mandates for months, while Utah Gov. Gary Herbert imposed a statewide order on Sunday night when it became clear this month that his state's hospitals were overwhelmed.

Asked about the possibility of a mask mandate, a spokesperson for Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee told POLITICO that “nothing’s off the table.” Counties can implement their own orders and so far nearly two dozen, representing two-thirds of the state population have opted to do so. The state reported a record number of new hospitalizations and deaths this week.

“We need to be nimble in our decision-making, but for the time-being, he’s confident the local-based approach is the most effective,” Gillum Ferguson, Lee’s spokesperson, wrote in an email.
The problem is that a local-based approach doesn't work. It has to not only be statewide, it has to be national, and it has to be simultaneous and enforced.
Not only that, there has to be federal support for businesses and people to survive a 4-6 week lockdown like this, rent relief, stimulus checks, job support, the whole nine yards. If we had done it right in the first place, we'd be in much better shape now.
Democrats had a plan for this.  Not just the HEROES act in May and again in October, but the FEED Act as well.

Chef José Andrés, along with Senators Kamala Harris and Tim Scott, and Representatives Mike Thompson, Jim McGovern and Rodney Davis announced the creation of the FEED Act, a piece of legislation that “allows the Federal government to pay 100 percent of the cost to states and localities so that they can partner with restaurants and nonprofits to prepare nutritious meals for vulnerable populations, such as seniors and underprivileged children.” In a video on Twitter, Andrés, whose World Central Kitchen is one such nonprofit that has been providing these meals, says the act will ensure no part of the country “is without the ability to offer a meal to those who need it the most.”

The act, the full text of which is available here, allows the Federal government to “cover 100 percent of the cost of disaster-related expenses, instead of the typical 75 percent.” Some states have already considered similar aid, as food banks and grocery stores struggle to stay in stock, and as shuttered meat processing plants threaten a meat shortage. Governor Newsom of California recently announced the High Roads Kitchen program, in which independent restaurants will be given funding to provide meals to health care workers and others in need.

With many independent restaurants struggling, the FEED Act could provide another lifeline. “This bill helps utilize our restaurant industry, which has been hit hard during this pandemic, in a way that’s never been done before,” said Representative Rodney Davis. “By creating these partnerships between local governments and local restaurants, we can help get meals to people in need more quickly and help the food industry, which is a major employer and a critical part of our economy, during this difficult time.” 
But we didn't, because Trump was in charge. 
But we didn't, because Mitch McConnell refused to allow a vote on any of it.

But we didn't, because these Republican governors refused every step of the way.  Not every Republican did. Mike DeWine in Ohio did the right thing, as did Eric Holcomb in neighboring Indiana. But the states having the skyrocketing numbers now are the states that refused before.

Here in Kentucky, there's hope, at least.  The state Supreme Court has finally issued a unanimous decision on Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear's COVID-19 executive orders, siding with Beshear.

In a major victory for Gov. Andy Beshear, the Kentucky Supreme Court unanimously ruled Thursday that the Democratic governor’s emergency regulations to slow the spread of COVID-19 are legal.

The state’s highest court ruled in a 103-page decision that Beshear properly declared a state of emergency in March and validly invoked powers granted to him under the state constitution.

“The governor’s orders were, and continue to be, necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of all Kentucky citizens,” the court said in a decision written by Justice Lisabeth T. Hughes. “This type of highly contagious etiological hazard is precisely the type of emergency that requires a statewide response and properly serves as a basis for the governor’s actions ...”

The decision means dozens of emergency orders from the governor, ranging from a requirement for most Kentuckians to wear a mask in public to class sizes in child care centers, will remain in effect.

Fighting the regulations were several businesses represented by Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron and Northern Kentucky attorney Chris Wiest. State Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, a Republican, supported their efforts. They questioned how Beshear’s restrictions were implemented.

Read more here:

Of course, the battle is far from over. Voters handed Kentucky Republicans a massive margin in the state House and Senate last week, and the first order of business in January is to strip as much power from the Governor's office as possible. Kentucky, as I've said time and time again, is one of the few states where only a 50%+1 margin is needed to override a governor's veto. Republicans will have more than three-quarters of the total seats in both the state Senate and House come January.

They can do whatever they want to Beshear and unless the state Supreme Court intervenes, Kentucky will have no COVID-19 restrictions at all by the time Biden takes office.  Hell, Beshear will be lucky if he has an office by Easter Sunday.

And now we're seeing numbers grow in all 50 states.  We've got to go back to a national lockdown, or we're going to have a national month of mourning instead.

But Republicans will make sure that never happens.

And millions will die.

Retribution Execution, Con't

With Donald Trump believing he's won and will have a second term (in whatever fantasy universe he's residing in, anyway) you'd figure he'd be in Georgia right now campaigning for David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in the state's January 5 runoff Senate elections so that he would continue to have a GOP Senate covering for him. You would of course be completely wrong, because Trump is instead infuriated at Georgia Republicans for not doing enough to help along his little coup.
Georgia is at the center of a battle for Senate control. Yet President Donald Trump, America’s omnipresent political commentator, has remained mum.

Two runoff Senate races in Georgia, set for Jan. 5, will determine which party controls Congress’s upper chamber. Marquee political names like Vice President Mike Pence and former President Barack Obama are willing to make Georgia trips to rally supporters. Big donors from both parties are funneling money into the races. The state is even embarking on a hand recount of its presidential ballots as the Trump campaign challenges Georgia’s election results in court.

But back in Washington, Trump has been all but silent on the subject. Outside of a few scattered tweets and retweets about specious claims of voter fraud in Georgia, Trump has made no public remarks about the state or the Senate runoffs there. And there are no plans for him to visit Georgia until at least after the state’s recount is complete. In fact, apart from a silent appearance at Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day, Trump hasn’t appeared in public since two days after the election, and it’s unclear when he’ll resurface.

His avoidance of the Georgia runoffs has left some Republicans around Trump frustrated that the GOP’s preeminent figure is leaving his party in the lurch at a critical moment. Trump’s rallies and appearances, they argue, are a guaranteed way to drive interest in the state’s two GOP Senate candidates: Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. And, they noted, the Trump campaign’s focus on legally challenging the presidential election has spread out GOP resources and money that some wish would be funneled into Georgia.

“Several people have told him it’s important Loeffler and Perdue win because they will help keep his legacy intact. We’ve made the point to him that Republicans slowly dismantled parts of Obama’s legacy when we had control of the Senate in 2016 and a Democratic Senate would do the same to Trump,” said a Republican close to Trump.

“I’ve told the campaign his only priority should be holding onto the Senate,” the person added. “Frankly, he is losing credibility the more and more we have this fraudulent ballot fight.”
Indeed, the White House is all but giving the game away: unless the Georgia GOP can deliver the state to him and help him stay in the White House somehow, Trump won't lift a finger to help Perdue or Loeffler.
But Jason Miller, a Trump campaign senior adviser, said for now, there are no plans for the president to get involved in the Senate races.

“I would not expect anything prior to his race being decided, but he’ll be supportive to ensure Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue win those races,” Miller said. “If the reported irregularities and concerns with illegally harvested ballots aren’t dealt with ahead of Jan. 5, that could impact Republican chances as well.”

On Thursday morning, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany confirmed Trump had no plans to head to the state.

He hasn't made any determinations on that thus far,” she said, adding that the country would “be hearing from him at the right moment.”

You'll be hearing from Trump at the "right moment" alright, when he openly blames Georgia Republicans for failing him, and tells his cultists to stay home because the state's Republicans are corrupt and fixing elections.

Which they are through massive voter suppression of Black and Native voters, but that's another story.

Won't this be fun?
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