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Ryan Cooper Sat, December 12, 2020, 5:30 AM CST

Let’s review two pieces of news from the last week. First, the American coronavirus pandemic is entering its worst stage yet, with cases and deaths skyrocketing across the country. Last Thursday saw over 3,000 deaths — more than 9/11 or Pearl Harbor — and with ICU beds at or near capacity in most of the country, absent serious change it is possible there will be double or even triple that number per day in a matter of weeks. We may yet top the deadliest day in American history, the Galveston hurricane of 1900 that killed an estimated 8,000 people, very soon. President Trump is doing precisely nothing about this.

Second, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is under investigation for bribery and abuse of office, filed a baldly seditious lawsuit calling for the Supreme Court to overturn the election results in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, and hand their electoral votes to Trump. It was flatly an attempt to overturn the 2020 election, end constitutional government, and install Trump in power. Before the Supreme Court threw the suit out Friday night, 17 other Republican state attorneys general had joined him, along with 126 members of the Republican caucus in the House, while Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has agreed to represent Trump. And this is just one of dozens of attempts that Republicans at all levels of government have concocted to overturn Trump’s loss.

In short, material conditions in this country have not been this bad since 1932 at least, and the political situation has not been this bad since 1860. The logical endgame of the rapidly-accelerating Republican attempt to destroy democracy while the country burns would be civil war — if it weren’t for the high probability that Democratic leaders would be too cowardly to fight.

But it’s worth thinking about what a party seriously committed to preserving democracy would do when faced with a seditious opposition party — namely, cut them out of power and force them to behave. Democrats could declare all traitors ineligible to serve in national office, convene a Patriot Congress composed solely of people who have not committed insurrection against the American government, and use that power to re-entrench democracy.

The reasoning here is very simple. All members of Congress swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, which establishes a republican form of government. The whole point of a republic is that contests for power are conducted through a framework of rules and democratic elections, where all parties agree to respect the result whether they lose or win. Moreover, the premise of this lawsuit was completely preposterous — arguing in effect that states should not be allowed to set their own election rules if that means more Democrats can vote — and provides no evidence whatsoever for false allegations of tens of thousands of instances of voter fraud. Indeed, several of the representatives who support the lawsuit were themselves just elected by the very votes they now say are fraudulent. The proposed remedy — having Republican-dominated legislatures in only the four states that gave Biden his margin of victory select Trump electors — would be straight-up election theft.

In other words, this lawsuit, even though it didn’t succeed, is a flagrant attempt to overturn the constitutional system and impose through authoritarian means the rule of a corrupt criminal whose doltish incompetence has gotten hundreds of thousands of Americans killed. It is a “seditious abuse of the judicial process,” as the states of Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin jointly wrote in their response to Texas trying to steal their elections.

The Constitution, as goofy and jerry-rigged as it is, stipulates that insurrectionists who violate their oath are not allowed to serve in Congress. Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, written to exclude Confederate Civil War traitors, says that “No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress … who … having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress … to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same[.]” How the Supreme Court ruled, or whether Republicans actually believe their lunatic claims, is irrelevant. It’s still insurrection even if it doesn’t work out.

Democrats would have every right, both under the Constitution and under the principle of popular sovereignty outlined in the Declaration of Independence, to convene a traitor-free Congress (also including similar acts committed by Republican senators like Lindsey GrahamDavid Perdue, Kelly Loeffler, and others), and pass such laws as would be necessary to preserve the American republic. That might include a national popular vote to decide the presidency, ironclad voting rights protections, a ban on gerrymandering either national or state district boundaries, full representation for the citizens of D.C. and Puerto Rico, regulations on internet platforms that are inflaming violent political extremism, a clear legal framework for the transfer of power that ends the lame duck period, and so on. States would be forced to agree to these measures before they can replace their traitorous representatives and senators. If the Supreme Court objects, more pro-democracy justices can be added.

This wouldn’t be the first time such a thing has happened, either. Immediately after the Civil War, the Radical Republican Congress refused to seat delegations from the former rebellious states until they were satisfied with the progress of Reconstruction. Southern states were forced to ratify the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments — which guaranteed due process and universal male suffrage — before their congressional delegations would be seated. (As a consequence, those delegations included numerous Black representatives, until Reconstruction was overthrown.)

It is virtually impossible to imagine the ancient, timid fossils that run the Democratic Party even considering this kind of thing (though remarkably, Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey has) because it would require courage, vision, and honestly reckoning with the parlous state of the nation. It would not be illegal, but it would be a step beyond narrow legal proceduralism and into the uncharted waters of aggressive political innovation and raw will-to-power. It could conceivably touch off armed unrest in several states.

But it’s not hard to see where the current conservative trajectory is headed. While elected Republicans have tried to overturn the election using increasingly blatant methods, top conservative pundits are mulling the idea of secession, as their treasonous fire-eater forebears did 160 years ago. The lie that Biden stole the election is now official GOP dogma. By the same token, it is not a coincidence that the Republican Party is ignoring the deadly pandemic (if not actively spreading the virus) while they try to overturn the Constitution. They feel they can safely ignore the welfare of the American people, because they are not accountable to them.

Unless this escalating conservative extremism halts from the inside somehow — which is not remotely in sight anywhere — this can only end eventually in a violent confrontation, or (much more likely) Democrats will simply give up and let themselves be defeated. Still, this country was founded by people who thought it was worth putting their lives at hazard to throw off tyrannical rule. Perhaps some of that spirit can once again be found.

7 criminally funny cartoons about Trump’s potential pardon spree

The Week StaffDecember 10, 2020SIGN UP FOROur free email newsletters10 things you need to know todayToday’s best articlesToday’s top cartoonsThe good news newsletterThe week’s best photojournalismDaily business briefingDaily gossip newsletterParenting newsletterSolving COVID newsletterThe week’s big question NEW

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Ken Catalino Comic Strip for December 11, 2020

Aunty Acid Comic Strip for December 12, 2020
Nick Anderson Comic Strip for December 11, 2020
Stuart Carlson Comic Strip for December 11, 2020
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Only in America can on have the right to speak out against injustice, government overreach (or under reach). The one right we should not have is the right to follow an inept leader into the jaws of death and despair. TOTUS has spent 4 valuable years (ours) promoting himself and his poor policies using “dog whistles” and racial slurs. It is unfortunate that too many citizens have fallen for the old “it’s them not us” theme. It would be wise to recall that as citizens we condoned slavery while relying on those enslaved to help us make progress. The current resident of the White House has no knowledge of government beyond what he “perceives” as wrong but no facts to back it up. He has taken the idea that he is smartest person in the room and isn’t. The reason for a cabinet and other agency heads is to inform the President of world affairs and what is happening in the country. This leader(?) has no patience for meetings that do not aggrandize his ideas and actions. His cadre of aides and assistants rarely go against his wishes or desires for fear of his tweeting about them and firing them via tweet. His appointments of agency heads are many times “acting” positions because he wants to be able to fire them at will. If we were able to “lay” the lies he has put forth end to end we could possible circle the globe. What we have is an entertainer seeking approbation on a daily basis rather than “attempting” to do the job and associated work of the Presidency. His loyalist followers fail to realize what affects one group of people affects us all. The end all (or it should be) is the farce of the recent election being “rigged” against him. His callous actions regarding the pandemic and the subsequent economic downturn should be enough to replace him but his loyal voters fail to see that and follow him unmasked while potentially spreading a deadly infection. With the GOP firmly in hand TOTUS and his allies have brought the country to the lowest level since the “McCarthy Hearings”. The GOP has always been the party of fiscal restraint but this is not the time for restraint with Millions of voters suffering with death, illness, homelessness and economic stagnation. World War II showed us that we (America) can rise out these ashes but not by fiscal restraint. We all need to understand that many times our elected officials are lying to us in order to remain in office. There is no worse crime by elected officials than allowing their constituents to suffer while their paycheck and health care continues unabated. It is incumbent on voters to remember who had their backs in times like these and party affiliation should not be a factor. A persons integrity is more important than their party affiliation.

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Sotomayor says Supreme Court’s Covid decision will ‘exacerbate’ suffering in fiery dissent

Raul A. Reyes  3 days ago


Sotomayor says Supreme Court’s Covid decision will ‘exacerbate’ suffering in fiery dissent

In a Supreme Court ruling just before midnight on Thanksgiving eve, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor penned another of her fiery dissents — this time warning, in her view, of the dangers of the Court’s majority position on New York state’s Covid-19 restrictions.Sonia Sotomayor sitting on a table© Provided by NBC News

The high court, in a 5-4 vote, blocked restrictions on religious services that Governor Andrew Cuomo had introduced to fight the spread of the coronavirus. The majority found that Cuomo’s restrictions violated the First Amendment’s protection of free exercise of religion. These restrictions specified that, depending on infection rates, the number of worshippers at religious services could be limited. Justice Neil Gorsuch concurred, writing, in effect, that it was unconstitutional to have laws regulating churches and synagogues while allowing liquor stores and bike shops to reopen.

Sotomayor, the nation’s only Latina Supreme Court Justice and a native New Yorker, was not having it.

“Free religious exercise is one of our most treasured and jealously guarded constitutional rights. States may not discriminate against religious institutions, even when faced with a crisis as deadly as this one,” she wrote. “But those restrictions are not at stake today.”

In her dissent, in which she was joined by Justice Elena Kagan, she wrote: “Justices of this Court play a deadly game in second guessing the expert judgment of health officials about the environments in which a contagious virus, now infecting a million Americans each week, spreads most easily.” The Court had rejected challenges to similar measures in California and Nevada earlier this year, and she saw no reason for its apparent change of heart. The Court’s ruling, she noted, “will only exacerbate the Nation’s suffering.”

As the Court has increasingly shifted to the right, Sotomayor has emerged as its strong progressive voice. She has taken aim at what she saw as improper actions by the Trump administration, as well as what she considered improper behavior by the Court itself.

In her dissent in the Covid-19 restrictions case, Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Andrew M. Cuomo, Sotomayor took aim at Gorsuch’s comparison of New York’s treatment of religious institutions to liquor stores and bike shops. In the latter venues, she reasoned, people do not gather inside for more than an hour to sing and speak to one another.

Sotomayor brushed aside allegations that Governor Cuomo had made anti-religious statements, which would mean that his coronavirus orders be subjected to strict scrutiny by the Court. Just a few years ago, she pointed out, the Court declined to consider President Trump’s remarks and comments in its evaluation of the so-called “Muslim Ban,” limiting immigration from Muslim-majority countries. In her opinion in the DACA case earlier this year, she likewise noted that the majority did not give weight to Trump’s comments (about Mexicans) in that decision, either.

The Court’s decision in the Covid-19 restrictions case is important because it holds broad implications for other states and localities that may try to limit attendance at large events, like religious services. Sotomayor’s dissent can be viewed as a strong rebuttal to the Court’s conservative majority; in a footnote, she mentioned that “ironically” the plaintiff diocese is no longer subject to Cuomo’s numerical caps on attendance, “due to the success of New York’s public health measures.”

The coronavirus has killed over 260,000 Americans since the end of February. New York, New Jersey, California, Texas, and Florida have seen the most deaths — and these are all states with significant Latino populations.

Sotomayor made it clear that she considered Cuomo’s Covid-19 actions as reasonable and legally sound.

“The Constitution does not forbid States from responding to public health crises through regulations that treat religious institutions equally or more favorably than comparable secular institutions,” wrote Sotomayor, “particularly when these regulations save lives.”

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With TOTUS and his miscreants continuing a losing battle to overturn the election, exhorting his base to do harm to anyone who defies him, the GOP and many Heavy weights in the party have said and done nothing until it appears that there’s a chance they may lose the Senate majority. When those voices should have been loud was all through these 4 years of mishandling of Governance. This is a stance that “patriots” would have put forth on a non partisan basis. Each Party has their own general ideals and that is fine but as loud and influential voices there should have been as loud a hew and cry as there was during President Obama’s administration and he did a much better job than the current (for the next40 or so days) White House occupant. It should be noted that these are folks who influence your vote but do nothing to improve the country and it’s residents. They do well in the “lining of their own pockets” while extolling the virtues of the party which is devoted to it’s own preservation at any cost. This includes both major parties. While TOTUS wrote executive orders the GOP installed judges that lean to their side instead of judges who neutrally administer the law. The question of “why now” is relevant especially when it is time to re elect members of the House and the Senate. As voters we have a simple obligation and that is to “vet” anyone seeking elective office for the first time or as an incumbent. Remember some have been in office too long to be effective and some should not be there at all!

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Natalie Colarossi  46 mins ago, Newsweek

So it appears that we (voters and Citizens) are being “Madoffed” by the trump Organization


tOver $3.65 Million in PPP Loans Given to Businesses With Ties to Trump Organization, Kushner Properties

An analysis of data released by the Small Business Administration (SBA) shows that properties owned by the Trump Organization and Kushner Companies were given over $3.65 million worth in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans – raising questions about the fairness and distribution of loans intended to aid small businesses during the pandemic.Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: Donald Trump boards an elevator at Trump Tower in New York City on January 16, 2017. According to data released by the SBA, properties owned by Trump's family and the family of Jared Kushner were major beneficiaries from COVID relief loans.© DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Donald Trump boards an elevator at Trump Tower in New York City on January 16, 2017. According to data released by the SBA, properties owned by Trump’s family and the family of Jared Kushner were major beneficiaries from COVID relief loans.PauseCurrent Time 0:28/Duration 1:00Loaded: 50.95%Unmute0Fullscreen500 Delta staff have tested positive for COVID-19 and 10 have diedClick to expand

Following months of litigation, including lawsuits from 11 news organizations, the SBA released a dataset on Tuesday of every small business that received a PPP or Economic Injury Disaster (EIDL) loan.https://products.gobankingrates.com/r/d9360ea31bf06ea8b9d0ef49288e28fb

An initial review of the data by NBC News found that a number of businesses with ties to President Donald Trump‘s family and the family of Jared Kushner – Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser – were major beneficiaries of the program.

PPP loans were originally meant to support small businesses and allow them access to funds that could help with payroll, rent, utilities and mortgage interest payments. Over $700 billion worth of the forgivable loans were approved by Congress and the Trump administration under the CARES Act, and rolled out in the Spring.

But the SBA data shows that businesses tied to the president received millions of dollars in aid, and many reported that the money did not go to retaining any jobs.

According to NBC News, over 25 PPP loans were given to Trump and Kushner real estate properties, paying rent to those owners. Among those, only fifteen properties self-reported that they only retained one or zero jobs with the money.

One of those loans included a $2,164,543 loan to the Triomphe Restaurant Corp., at the Trump International Hotel & Tower in New York City. The company reported the loan did not go to keeping any jobs, and later it closed altogether.

A Kushner property in New Jersey called LB City Inc, received a loan for $505,552.50 that it used to keep 155 jobs, while four tenants at a Kushner-owned New York City property received more than $204,000 combined, and retained only six jobs.

Furthermore, two tenants at Trump Tower received more than $100,000 and kept only three jobs.

These figures add to a slew of criticisms from government watchdogs and small business owners who feel the loans were not distributed in a fair and equitable way.

“Many months and broken promises later, the court-ordered release of this crucial data while the Trump administration is one foot out the door is a shameful dereliction of duty and flagrant mismanagement of a program that millions of workers and small businesses needed to get through this pandemic,” said Kyle Herrig, president of the government watchdog group, Accountable.US, according to NBC News.

In response, Christopher W Smith, General Counsel for Kushner Companies said that the notion that Kushner Properties improperly benefitted from the loans is “completely untrue and amounts to nothing more than politically motivated nonsense.”

“Exactly two Kushner Companies’ hotel operations affiliates received PPP loans. Every provision of the PPP program has been comprehensively abided with respect to each of the two loans – and every penny of the funds received from the program was utilized to fund employee payroll and benefits costs to maintain jobs imperiled by the COVID pandemic and associated lockdown measures,” Smith said in a statement given to Newsweek.

The SBA data also suggests that over half of the intended PPP funds went to just 5 percent of recipients, with larger businesses benefitting more than their small business counterparts.

Watchdogs have also warned that several billion dollars may have gone to fraudsters and ineligible businesses, while small businesses owned by people without strong banking relationships faced limited access to funds.

Accountability groups have since set up publicly searchable databases like SearchPPP.com so people can see how the loans were used themselves.

But the SBA defended its handling of the pandemic assistance on Tuesday.

“SBA’s historically successful COVID relief loan programs have helped millions of small businesses and tens of millions of American workers when they needed it most,” an SBA spokesman said in a statement.

Newsweek attempted to reach out to the Trump administration and Trump Organization for additional comment, but did not hear back in time for publication.

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What is it in a lie that attracts the attention of people? This ongoing diatribe and tweetstorm by TOTUS has become more than a distraction. It has been joined by several members of Congress who have a track record of misleading their constituents. I am wondering if those constituents are really paying attention and understand that their representatives are working for TOTUS and not them (the people who elected them). The ongoing and failing lawsuits over “phantom” election fraud are expensive and time consuming. All of this takes time and funds from the proper operation of the Government. It should be clear that the current and temporary White House occupant has failed for years to deliver on his boasts of better governance and “winning”. We need a stable Federal government and we will not get it by retaining loyalists to a party rather than the voters. There will never be a perfect government but we can get better government by limiting the ability of elected officials to stay in office longer than their usefulness to the public. There comes a time when elected officials who get re elected time after time become comfortable and act against the good of the country and the voters while espousing their devotion to us (the voters), much like a 2 timing lover.

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Separation of Church and state is what allows a person to worship as they want without Government interference but not to the point of Religion altering the Government for the sake of religious beliefs. That being said the push for the installation of the new High court justice who is a conservative republican and catholic. The hope is to keep the court conservative for years to come. This shift shows how unconcerned the GOP is about the needs of the voters (all of them) and the country. Their aim is to consolidate and maintain their big money donors, many of whom are Conservative Christians whose narrow focus on religion is closing the gap on separation of Church and state. This gap allows for individual worship choices and the medical choices of the individual citizen. The bottom line is that the GOP has shown that they are for sale and will sell out the country as required.

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TOTUS’ unwillingness to concede the election has left the country in a vulnerable position at home and aboard. The transition is not taking place and the administration is blind to existential threats. The pandemic is still uncontrolled and the government is in free fall. This blatant and not unexpected resistance to making this transition is indicative of TOTUS’s lack of ability to govern. In my opinion TOTUS (Trump) is directly responsible for each and every death due to the Corona virus which he denied existed and continued to downplay on twitter and at rallies with no masking or distancing. In the same vein of his administration he has denied the virus’s scope and danger. He has stated the progress on a vaccine multiple times with no facts to back his claims. His ” bout” with the virus could very well have been yet another falsehood abet his re election bid. Now that it is proven that he has lost his reelection bid, he is stalling the transition of the President elect and at the same time condemning more voter’s (including his followers) to exposure and possibly death. This should be a time when voters unite no matter their beliefs to get a handle on this disease. The GOP in general has failed to do the job they were elected to do for fear of the TOTUS who is on the way out and leaving a wake of failed governance causing harm to the country and the voters whom they are supposed to represent. Reject the proven stream of lies from TOTUS and we may all just survive his Miscreancy and Covid19 .

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In the past 160 years or so the political parties have changed names, attitudes, goals and ideals. What is especially interesting is the shift of Republicans to Democrats and Democrats to Dixiecrats. These are the most notable party switches or perhaps the most known. These switches have to do with a change in ideals and personal political feelings. This does not change the person! The same miscreants or people of integrity will still be the same. To put a face to this lets look at Mitch McConnell: Moscow Mitch has spent his time in Congress embellishing and shoring up his own brand. He has consistently used race as a lever to continue in office, convincing the Coal miners who are dying from poor health regulations that he is working for them and the “Democrats” are killing the coal industry. The real reason for the coal decline is the use of other fossil fuels which are less expensive, the resistance of Mine owners to maintain a better work environment and pay scale. Many of the closed mines are the result of the owners closing through bankruptcy, leaving nothing for the workers (pensions, unemployment, etc.). Meanwhile Mr. McConnell has continued to push the lies that will keep him in office no matter the consequences to his constituents. He is at once a Racist, misogynist and general miscreant out to feather his own nest with gilded feathers even to producing a Conservative Judicial system that will hurt us all. Botch has no qualms in doing what benefits him while “Madoffing” the rest of us.

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