Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Republicans Are Still Up To No Good-- Sabotaging America In Advance Of The Change Of Administrations



Transfer of Power by Nancy Ohanian

Today McConnell adjourned the Senate until after the election-- so that there can be no debate and no vote on a compromise pandemic relief bill.

Yesterday I went for my first "joy ride" since March. Not really a joy ride in the classic sense but my first trip outside my house that wasn't essential. Once every 10 days I go to the grocery story and once a month I go to the bank. I filled my car up once and I've been to the post office twice. Then yesterday I decided to go check out the new Erewhon that just opened in my neighborhood. I suited up with my N-99 mask, my surgical goggle and my one-use latex gloves and drove the 2-3 miles to the new store in Silverlake. It was a beautiful place and not crowded at all-- more employees than customers. Everything looks so sparkling clean and everything is organic. Only problem is that it is incredibly expensive-- more so than any of the other places in the area to buy organic food. They had the best selection-- but when I say "more expensive," I don't mean a few cents more. I mean really expensive-- everything, from turnips to tamari to raw cheddar. I asked 3 employees if they shop there. Two laughed and one was too embarrassed to answer.

I can't believe I even went. There was no real reason to-- although I did spend over $170 on groceries. But it wasn't really anything I needed-- pickled ginger, various kinds of seaweed, chickpeas, rice-- you can always use more chickpeas and rice-- shiitake mushrooms, a big daikon root... Really I just wanted to get out of the house. I noticed that the neighborhoods were hustling and bustling. People were out-- ever single one of them with a mask, but out. The restaurants and cafes were packed with outdoor diners and stores were open and the streets were full. I was surprised. I've basically been in the house since March.

Reporting for the Wall Street Journal Monday morning, Stacy Meichtry, Joanna Sugden and Andrew Barnett wrote that pandemic fatigue-- collective exhaustion with coronavirus restrictions-- is taking root-- everywhere. The problem, of course is that as cases spike gigantically in the U.S. and Europe and governments are easing back into restrictions, many of their citizens aren't having it. New cases reported on Sunday ---> and Monday:
USA +63,510 ---> 69,841
France +52,010 ---> +26,771
India +45,158 ---> +36,838
Italy +21,268 ---> +17,012
U.K. +19,790 ---> +20,890
Belgium +17,709 ---> +15,622
Russia +16,710 ---> +17,347
Brazil +12,904 ---> +17,422
Poland +11,742 ---> +10,241
Netherlands +10,202 ---> +10,343
Germany +9,829 ---> +12,621
Argentina +9,253 ---> +11,712
And among U.S. states, the dozen worst in terms of cases per million, so a different metric, but one that more accurately measures how badly each state has been hit. Anything over 20,000 cases per million is considered extremely dangerous and basically out-of-control. These are based on Monday's reports; you'll notice that these are all states where majorities voted for Trump in 2016 and all states that have generally eschewed masks and social distancing:
North Dakota- 50,181 cases per million residents
South Dakota- 44,922
Mississippi- 38,897
Louisiana- 38,735
Alabama- 37,796
Iowa- 36,999
Tennessee- 36,588
Florida- 36,410
Arkansas- 35,366
Wisconsin- 34,530
South Carolina- 33,309
Idaho- 33,598
In the midst of this nightmare, Meichtry, Sugden and Barnett reported that "Hospital staff world-wide are demoralized after seven months of virus-fighting triage. The wartime rhetoric that world leaders initially used to rally support is gone. Family members who willingly sealed themselves off during spring lockdowns are suddenly finding it hard to resist the urge to reunite."
[C]ollective exhaustion-- known as pandemic fatigue-- has emerged as a formidable adversary for governments that are counting on a high degree of public cooperation with the latest rounds of restrictions to flatten the infection curve. Too much pandemic fatigue, authorities say, can fuel a vicious cycle: A tired public tends to let its guard down, triggering more infections and restrictions that in turn compound the fatigue.

That is part of what is driving the recent spate of policy reversals. Bars and cafes that reopened after the spring lockdown are suddenly off limits again. Workers who were told to return to their offices are now being asked to work from home if possible. In France, authorities recently halved the length of quarantines to one week, believing it would boost compliance.

“It’s a matter of balance. To be able to enforce a new rule, we need to make sure first that people can accept it,” French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said in an interview.

Surveys on both sides of the Atlantic show people are better at keeping up with the latest rules and advice when it comes to personal hygiene, like hand-washing and masks. Weekly Gallup polls of between 2,714 and 9,353 people in the U.S. found that 91% of respondents said they had worn a mask in the past seven days as of Sept. 27, compared with 80% as of May 10.

Problems begin when the rules run up against the need for social connection. Gallup polling over the same May-to-September period showed the number of Americans avoiding small gatherings with family and friends had fallen from 71% to 45%.

A government survey in France found that 72% of people said they were avoiding gatherings and face-to-face meetings as of mid-May, right after the country’s lockdown ended. By Sept. 23, that figure had fallen to 32%. In the same time frame, the percentage who said they greeted others without shaking hands or embracing fell from 88% to 69%.

The resolve to wear masks also appears to weaken in certain social settings. A U.K. survey found that 98% of people reported wearing a mask over a seven-day period ended Oct. 11. That figure dropped to 19%, however, when it involved one-on-one social activity.

That is a problem, epidemiologists say, as winter sets in. More people will socialize indoors, where the virus spreads most efficiently, and at close quarters.
Alas, an out of control pandemic isn't the only disaster Trump is leaving America with. You may have read that he plans to fire the top officials-- all appointed by himself-- at Defense, the FBI and the CIA, among many others. Axios' Jonathan Swan and Alayna Treene reported that Christopher Wray (FBI) and Gina Haspel are "despised and distrusted almost universally in Trump's inner circle. He would have fired both already, one official said, if not for the political headaches of acting before Nov. 3. A win, no matter the margin, will embolden Trump to ax anyone he sees as constraining him from enacting desired policies or going after perceived enemies. Trump last week signed an executive order that set off alarm bells as a means to politicize the civil service. An administration official said the order "is a really big deal" that would make it easier for presidents to get rid of career government officials... While Trump has also privately vented about Attorney General Bill Barr, he hasn't made any formal plans to replace him, an official said. Trump is furious that Barr isn't releasing before the election what Trump hoped would be a bombshell report by U.S. Attorney John Durham on the Obama administration's handling of the Trump-Russia investigation... Trump soured on Esper over the summer when the Defense secretary rebuffed the idea of sending active-duty military into the streets to deal with racial justice protests and distanced himself from the clearing of Lafayette Square for a photo op at St. John's church."

I don't care that much about these political appointees. No one working for him and propping up his fascist regime deserves any mercy anyway. But the really bad thing the Trumpists seem to be plotting-- as I briefly mentioned yesterday-- is the sabotaging in advance of the incoming Biden administration. And, of course, aside from the assault on the civil service, the spend-thrift Republicans are ready, now that a Democrat is coming into office, to get back into full-on Austerity mode. Over the last couple of months, the New Republic ran three posts on it: The Preachers of the Austerity Gospel Are Back by J.C. Pan, Zoë Hu's A New Age of Destructive Austerity After The Coronavirus and, most recently, The Republicans’ Familiar, Troubling Plan to Torpedo Biden’s Presidency by Bruce Bartlett. Barlett quoted former Trumpist chief-of-staff in a moment of honesty: "My party is very interested in deficits when there is a Democrat in the White House. The worst thing in the whole world is deficits when Barack Obama was the president. Then Donald Trump became president, and we’re a lot less interested as a party."
One reason Republicans are far more successful than Democrats in implementing their agenda is they have a long-term plan that actually anticipates Democratic victories from time to time; in fact, the occasional Democratic victory is essential to its success. The basic strategy here is called “starve the beast”: it involves big tax cuts when Republicans are in power and hardline deficit reduction when Democrats are in charge. (Occasional Democratic control is actually essential to give Republicans political cover for spending cuts that might otherwise prove politically painful for them.) It worked perfectly during the administrations of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump, and Republicans are now preparing to keep it going through an almost-inevitable Joe Biden administration.

Pelosi's insistence on PayGo, is part of the GOP strategy, which is why so many Democrats are bridling at it right now. But Biden has been a doctrinaire Austeritarian for his whole career, so I'm guessing the GOP won't have to fight too hard for it this time around. Bartlett continued that "Bob Woodward wrote a whole book, The Agenda, about how Bill Clinton pretty much abandoned all his campaign promises immediately upon taking office in favor of deficit reduction. Clinton forced a number of Democrats in Congress to cast agonizing votes in favor of spending cuts, tax increases, and budget controls that led many to defeat in 1994-- a move that helped immeasurably in putting Republicans in control of Congress for the first time in 40 years. Republicans voted against Clinton’s deficit-reduction package, all the while proclaiming their fealty to a balanced budget and eternal opposition to budget deficits. Later, when the 1993 budget bill eliminated the deficit and created budget surpluses, Republicans falsely took credit. The minute George W. Bush took office, his first order of business was a big tax cut. Fortunately for him, Clinton had bequeathed him projected budget surpluses that Bush could simply draw down to pay for the tax cut. It was possibly Clinton’s worst mistake in office to simply hoard the surpluses rather than using them to pay for Social Security or health reform, thus taking them off the table when Republicans regained power. A long-term Democratic strategy would have locked up the surpluses so that Republicans couldn’t piss them away on tax cuts.
The extraordinarily hypocritical Republicans treated the vast rise in debt as if it were entirely Barack Obama’s fault when he took office in 2009. They even blamed him for spending programs they themselves had created, such as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which helped keep the economy afloat during the recession that began in December 2007-- during the Bush administration-- and didn’t end until June 2009. Republicans also voted en masse against Obama’s stimulus program in February 2009, illogically insisting that budget cuts would be more stimulative. (Notice that no Republican suggested that budget cuts would be stimulative when the coronavirus tanked the economy in early 2020.)

To his everlasting shame, Obama allowed himself to be railroaded into a budget deal in 2011. Vice President Joe Biden was his chief negotiator. At times, Obama and Biden were willing to go even further than Republicans toward the longtime conservative goal of cutting Social Security by altering the inflation formula that automatically increases benefits. In the end, Obama acceded to Republican demands that there be no increase in taxes. The Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner later said that he got 98 percent of what he wanted in the deal.

During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump promised to pay off the national debt. As someone who had often stiffed those who lent him money and declared bankruptcy, he asserted that he was uniquely qualified to tame the national debt. But once Trump was in office, he quickly abandoned this promise as he splurged on higher defense spending and a huge tax cut in 2017. (Trump asserted that the government could simply print money to pay off the debt.)

Republicans nevertheless proclaimed their fiscal responsibility by consistently lying about it, saying the tax cuts would pay for themselves through faster growth and simply denying that the national debt had in fact risen. The only honest thing Trump has ever said on the subject was when he said he wouldn’t be around when the chickens came home to roost.

I repeatedly warned Democrats that they needed to put up a stronger fight against the tax cut to lay down a marker for when Republicans inevitably demanded spending cuts to pay for it during the next Democratic administration. Now the chickens are coming home to roost.

Republicans are preparing once again to make the deficit a major issue, to pin all the blame for it on the Biden administration-- and to browbeat Democrats into putting aside their agenda and embrace deficit reduction.
They have perfect working partners in Biden, Pelosi and Schumer, three timid political cowards who look kindly on the whole concept of Austerity to begin with.

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At 1:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is what America has come to under Trump:

Utah hospitals could start rationing health care at overwhelmed facilities, hospital association says

"To triage care, the proposal would take into account a patient's age, health, situation and ability to survive, Greg Bell, president of the Utah Hospital Association, told the Salt Lake Tribune. "At the end of the day, some senior person, versus some healthy young person, probably would not get the nod," Bell said."

And no Democrat anywhere is even picking up on this.

Think of how THIS could play in Texas right now:

El Paso issues curfew to help curb Covid-19 as cases surge and hospitals reach full capacity

But NO! "Democrats" still play like it's 1992 (Kyle Kulinski). This post is why the Republicans hold as much power as they do today. Despite 40 years of experience with being abused by Republicans, the fucking feckless "Democrats" still haven't learned how this game is played.

I am DONE with them. I MAY still support individual progressive Democrats, but the Party can die and decrease the surplus idiot population. The Whigs are getting lonely and could use the company.

At 6:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

someone finally sees it too:

"One reason Republicans are far more successful than Democrats in implementing their agenda is they have a long-term plan that actually anticipates Democratic victories from time to time; in fact, the occasional Democratic victory is essential to its success. The basic strategy here is called “starve the beast”: it involves big tax cuts when Republicans are in power and hardline deficit reduction when Democrats are in charge."

The reason is more that the nazis actually *do* what they say and the democraps NEVER
The democraps have no long-term plan except to try to win an election occasionally when a nazi is perticularly horrible, so much so that even nazi voters become under-enthused. And to serve their loyal DONORS.
Another note on the nazis' austerity side of the coin: it requires the democraps to collaborate. Special note on the 2009 congress which had numbers which would have made the nazis irrelevant: the nazis still got almost everything they wanted, including more tax cuts disguised as obamanation's STIM. They also got obamanation/biden to offer to cut SSI, Medicare and Medicaid as part of deals to keep the govt. funded, but demurred fearing voter backlash because the nazis had retaken the house by then.

Another note on why the constitutional remedy for cheney and trump are never applied: if they remove the worst nazis who get elected, the democraps cannot run against them and, possibly, win the odd election.

Sooooooooo, all you potted plant democrap voters, THAT ocean of flaming pig shit is what you are voting FOR.

enjoy your austerity. you'll deserve it.


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