Negotiations continue but two sides still far apart;
DEMS propose $3 trillion, Greedy Old Plutocrats (GOP) $1 trillion
The Swamp Report
3 August 2020
The Pond becomes a cesspool
Plutocrats give bird to the unemployed
It was an eventful week;
historians will wonder
why we didn’t see
the train wreck coming.
WASHINGTON—Last week was the week we learned just how costly Our Leader’s Narcissism and preference for quackery over science have been. Those Americans who listened to Dr. Fauci wore face masks and sheltered in place between April 1 and June 30; those who listened to Sorcerer Trump, did not. During the second quarter, the value of goods and services produced in the United States plummeted by a staggering 9.5 percent.
The cost, in terms of lost jobs and bankrupt businesses, was as great or even greater than any 3-month period during the Great Depression. Yet it would have been worth it, had we been able to contain the spread of the virus, as Europe did. But the numbers don’t lie. What happened was, the Sorcerer and his Greedy Old Plutocrats (GOP) enablers refused to listen to the CDC and other expert advice.
During the month of White House corona crisis briefings in April, we all heard the Sorcerer say one thing, Dr. Fauci, when he was allowed to speak, another. Because half the country took what Dr. Fauci said seriously, while the other half was misled by Our Sorcerer’s delusional misinformation, we didn’t get what we paid for.
Fauci was right. Time has proven the masks the Sorcerer refused to wear and politicized as a symbol of freedom, were essential to our collective freedom. As was strict sheltering in place.
But, hey, we’re great again. We now have the greatest number of unemployed, the greatest number infected, and the greatest number who’ve died from COVID-19, than any other country in the world.
The Sorcerer took our dollars and promised gold. What we got, instead, were ventilator machines and lots of people needing them.
Remember the briefing when he suggested we drink Lysol? As a cure for the virus? It was a classic moment, emblematic of the Trumpian Age. Take a(nother) listen. You’ll laugh so hard, and then you’ll cry. (Click here)
Yes, sir! We’re the Greatest! We’re #1!
Last week was also the week the $2.7 trillion CARES Act expired, and with it the $600 a week federal supplement for the 30 million workers who’ve lost their jobs since March. The moratorium on evictions that saved millions of American families from becoming homeless because they didn’t have the money to pay the rent or their mortgage payments, also expired.
Democrats in the House passed a second relief bill months ago, the $3 trillion HEROES Act, that could have taken effect this weekend, immediately after the CARES Act expired. Our President and Mitch didn’t lift a finger, though, to get a companion bill through the Senate because they believed the economy would be humming again by now.
Why they didn’t see what was happening and recognize the gravity of the situation for the unemployed, is something of a mystery. A mystery that, if it isn’t solved with a new stimulus package pronto, is likely to put an end to any chance Trump has of reviving his campaign and winning re-election.
If the election is free and fair.
Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and the Sorcerer’s chief of staff will meet with Speaker Pelosi and Chuck Schumer again today. But if the Republicans don’t get their act together this week, there’s going to be looting and an upsurge in crime sooner rather than later because people who are hungry and homeless become angry and desperate.
It’s possible the Sorcerer wants there to be unrest before election day so he can show what a tough guy he is. Or maybe he thinks his partner, Vlad, will rescue him, as he would a Russian agent in distress. (SEE FOLLOWING STORY).
Last week was historic for another reason, too. It was the week Our Leader secured his place in one of the dark corners of our history. First, by presiding over the country when it entered its second Great Depression; and second, by suggesting we postpone a presidential election for the first time in our history. He claims not to trust mail-in ballots but I think the real reason is his Narcissism and his fear that he’ll be arrested the minute he’s no longer president. So much has happened since the 2016 election that a lot of people forget he was Conspirator A in the hush money case Michael Cohen went to jail for. Cohen hasn’t forgotten and I doubt the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York has, either.
Our Leader loves the idea of being a strong man, like Vlad. But he’s an insecure bully, not a strong man. And floating the idea of postponing the election was a sign that he’s desperate because he knows no matter how many African American votes are suppressed; how many Biden mail-in votes are disputed; how many ballots get lost or found at the post office; and even no matter what Putin has promised to do to help him, Donald Trump knows he’s not going to win if the election takes place on November 3, as scheduled.
Which doesn’t mean the issue is settled in his mind or that he won’t try something else before or after he loses. And what might that something be? It could have something to do with the secret powers presidents have been given in case of a national emergency, the secret powers Gary Hart warned us about. It could also have to do with 30 million Americans who have no jobs because of the pandemic. If Congress doesn’t pass another income “enhancement” close to the $600 a week the unemployed were receiving for the past four months, our cities are going to become like Rio and Sao Paulo, where it’s basically unsafe to walk anywhere and where drivers are robbed by gangs of teenage boys when they stop for traffic signals. A situation like that might fit the definition of national emergency that would allow the President to postpone or cancel an election. I don’t think Gary Hart’s warning has been taken seriously enough.
Also last week, we learned more about the way our shameless Attorney General views his job and the law when he finally testified before Congress, for the first time in over a year. To no one’s surprise, he was excoriated by Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee, for good reason.
For those who watched and managed to stay awake, his performance was kind of a master class in walking as close to the fine line between not telling the truth and lying under oath as possible, without crossing the line and getting caught. He talks slowly, chooses his words carefully and gives away little of substance and doesn’t get trapped into answering “yes” or “no” when asked to do so.
He managed to get through the questions about why he unilaterally reduced the Justice Department’s own sentencing guidelines for Roger Stone (before Our Leader commuted Stone’s sentence altogether) but wasn’t convincing and almost certainly wasn’t telling the whole truth when he said he didn’t talk to anyone at the White House before he dropped the perjury charges that Michael Flynn had twice pleaded guilty to. He escaped without admitting he did what he knew the President wanted him to do only because, I think, none of the questions were quite tight enough for him not to wiggle out of.
What I found most troubling were his answers to questions about George Floyd’s murder, Black Lives Matter and the secret police tactics the Feds have been using to break up demonstrations in the cities they’ve occupied since Our Leader announced that Law and Order would be one of his big campaign issues in the election he now wants to postpone.
Barr clearly has very little use for the kind of people who exercise their First Amendment right to assemble to petition the Government to redress grievances he doesn’t agree with. For example, once he denied seeing evidence of institutional racism in many (or any) of the country’s police departments, he could logically characterize those who were protesting the institutional racism that contributed to George Floyd’s murder as “anarchists” and “armed mobs.”
The latter is a term he uses rather indiscriminately to brand hundreds or thousands of peaceful protesters who may be unknowingly infiltrated by a handful people “armed” with firecrackers or sometimes by right wing provocateurs armed with guns they are legally permitted to carry because of the Administration’s refusal to consider stricter gun control laws. He also defended the use of tear gas and pepper balls to disperse the “anarchists” who were engaged in a Constitutionally-protected demonstration in Lafayette Square on June 1 when Trump, accompanied by Barr, crossed the square for a photo op in front of St. John’s church.
Barr’s testimony was preceded by an FBI memo, leaked to The New York Times and written by David Bowdich, the FBI’s deputy director, which demonstrated institutional paranoia as deeply troubling as Barr’s broad brush descriptions of the protests that followed the Floyd murder and general disregard for tactics used by Homeland Security forces against Americans that violate what the State Department used to call “human rights” and denounce when countries with governments we didn’t like used these same terror tactics against civil society protesters we approved of.
The Bowdich memo, written on June 2nd, the day after the protesters in Lafayette Square were dispersed, called the wave of protests then underway in cities across the country, “national crisis.” His memo urged FBI field agents to “think out of the box” when thinking about how to disrupt or repress these protests.
The way the protests were handled and the memo were enough for me, and I’m sure others, to wonder if there will ever come a day when we’ll have a President, Attorney General and/or top officials at the FBI who will actually commend and encourage Americans who are willing to bestir themselves to protest abuses of power and instances of racism by state and local police, demanding the kind of color blind and non-coercive law enforcement which the White House, Justice Department and FBI presumably believe in and wish to encourage.
Why do these kinds of protests need be viewed as a threat by our government?
As discouraging as things are this wretched summer, when going to the beach is considered a health hazard and our government’s response to the virus that’s hazardous has made it more likely we’ll be infected by it, not less, there was also an event last week that offered relief from the perils we face and a path out of the swamp we’re in, back to the land we were promised and thought we once knew.
I’m thinking of John Lewis’s funeral, of course, during which, if I’m not mistaken, we witnessed a moment of truly historic significance: and that was the passing of the torch of freedom that Martin Luther King Jr handed to John Lewis, and that, last Thursday, the day he was laid to rest, John Lewis handed to Barack Obama.
Again, if I’m not mistaken, the former President’s eulogy was a sign he accepted the honor and the burden; and that his best, most challenging and most fruitful years, may be yet to come. Our country has huge challenges ahead of it post-Trump, including racial equality, income inequality and serious political reform, to name a few.
It gives me hope that Barack Obama has returned from exile…and appears ready to carry the torch he’s been given. Because, by now, we should recognize the status quo is not only unjust, it’s also untenable.
Black lives do matter…to all of us.
Political suicide or political ploy?
WASHINGTON: It seemed like a foregone conclusion that Our Leader and the Greedy Old Plutocrat (GOP) majority in the Senate would find a way to extend the two sections of the CARES relief act that have, since April, put food on the table and kept a roof over the heads of some 30 million pandemically unemployed workers and their families.
Especially in an election year, when even a small fraction of those 30 million unemployed workers could decide who becomes our next president, it seemed unimaginable the Plutocrats wouldn’t try to “buy” their votes with plentiful assistance to get them through the pandemic, which has already infected 4.5 million Americans, claimed upwards of 150,000 lives and devastated the economy.
But last Thursday, the unimaginable happened when Mitch McConnell, the Greedy Plutocrats’ Senate Majority Leader, gave up trying to fashion a second economic stimulus package that would include money for the unemployed and renew the moratorium on evictions.
Instead, he adjourned the Senate until tomorrow, packed up his Vuitton bandouliere and left the Capital for a long weekend campaigning in Kentucky—24 hours before the CARES Act expired Friday night.
Why the negotiations broke down was a matter of much conjecture and speculation over the weekend. Part of the reason was said to be disagreement among Plutocrats in the Senate as to the need for another relief package and, if needed, how many trillions should be in it.
Then the President got belatedly involved, undercutting McConnell, who left town in a huff.
It seems the President lost confidence in Mitch after he pooh-poohed the President’s insistence that a $1.5 billion appropriation to begin construction on a new FBI headquarters building, to be located on the same Pennsylvania Avenue site as its current headquarters, be included in whatever relief package is finally approved.
In what would have been a major scandal in any other recent administration, Trump has rejected study after study which recommended building the new FBI headquarters in either Maryland or Virginia, then selling its current site to developers who would likely build high end condominiums, shops and a luxury hotel on the FBI site in the vibrant Penn Quarter section of the District.
Despite studies which estimate it will be significantly more expensive to tear down and rebuild the headquarters on its current site, Trump has insisted the headquarters remain right where it is, to protect the value and profitability of the Trump International Hotel two blocks away.
With Mitch gone for the weekend, the President decided his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin should resume negotiations with the Democratic leaders, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
The four of them met Friday and were scheduled to meet again today. It’s unlikely the FBI appropriation will make it into the 2nd stimulus package but the dust-up over it slowed the negotiations, at the expense of the 30 million workers who’ve lost their jobs and now the 600 breadcrumbs per week they’ve been receiving since April.
Until last week, neither Trump nor Plutocrats in the Senate even wanted to discuss a second stimulus package because they continued to hope, ignoring all evidence to the contrary, the virus would magically disappear this summer on its own.
House Democrats, meanwhile, approved a new, $3 trillion relief package to replace the CARES Act, months ago. Called the HEROES Act, it includes an extension of both the moratorium and income supplement, at the same 600 breadcrumbs a week as the CARES Act.
The best McConnell could come up with, before he left town, was a $1 trillion package that would cut the income supplement to 200 breadcrumbs a week, which Pelosi and Schumer rejected out of hand, saying what McConnell and his Plutocrat colleagues were offering was literally, and figuratively, for the birds.
Meadows said over the weekend that if an agreement isn’t reached by Tuesday, when McConnell returns from Kentucky, it could be weeks before a new relief package that includes the moratorium and income supplement is passed by Congress and signed into law by the President.
At first glance, it would seem to be in the President’s interest to avoid the spectacle of 30 million hungry workers, thousands of them forced out of their homes during however long it takes to reinstate the moratorium. If not resolved quickly, it could become the issue that decides the election, in Biden’s favor.
Looked at this way, not getting a new stimulus package quickly, with close to the same $600 a week the unemployed have gotten used to, would be committing political suicide by the President.
But it’s also possible to see how he might try to turn an army of 30 million hungry and homeless unemployed workers, looting supermarkets and demonstrating in front of federal buildings in cities across the country, to his advantage—just as he tried to turn the Black Lives Matter protests to his advantage by posturing as the guarantor of law and order against what his attorney general called “an assault on the government of the United States.”
The overblown rhetoric and heavy handed tactics of the federal agents sent to Portland and Seattle backfired. Instead of being welcomed, the federal agents were seen as an occupation army sent by a hostile foreign government.
But presenting himself as the hero of a crisis he, himself, has created, is one of Trump’s standard tricks. It’s worked before. And it might work, next time.
What both parties risk is, the longer it takes them to provide for the 30 million workers and their families, the more combustible and unpredictable the situation is likely to become.
Copyright © 2020
CHARLES KRAUSE/REPORTING All rights reserved.
1300 13th Street NW / Washington, DC 20005