By Robert A. Vella
Yesterday, the United States recorded the highest number of new COVID-19 cases since the start of the global coronavirus pandemic. The contagion has triggered a public health crisis of unprecedented proportions since the deadly “Spanish flu” of World War I; and, it has caused the greatest economic collapse since the 1930s Great Depression. However, the excruciating severity of this crisis wasn’t unavoidable. It was a direct result of failed governance and a consequential result of growing sentiment among anti-democracy fascist and anti-government anarchist ideologies. Now, more than ever, can we see the fatal flaw in such thinking.
Government is absolutely necessary. Modern civilization cannot exist without it. And, it is crystal-clear that functional democracy is eminently preferable to any autocratic form despite its inherent imperfections.
Americans are learning this lesson the hard way, and that’s why they are rejecting the narcissistic and divisive president Donald Trump. But, they must also reject Republicans in this year’s pivotal elections because it was the GOP who empowered the megalomaniacal Trump in 2016 and continue to support him today. A new book details how and why Republicans sold their souls to the devil in pursuit of power and now represent an existential threat to the nation’s health, well-being, and its constitutional norms based on democracy and the rule of law:
For decades, American voters innocently assumed the two major political parties were equally mature and responsible governing entities, ideological differences aside. That belief is due for an overhaul: in recent years, the Republican Party has undergone an astonishing metamorphosis, one so baffling and complete that few have fully reckoned with the reality and its consequences.
Republicans, simply put, have quit governing. As MSNBC’s Steve Benen charts in his groundbreaking new book, the contemporary GOP has become a “post-policy party.” Republicans are effectively impostors, presenting themselves as officials who are ready to take seriously the substance of problem solving, but whose sole focus is the pursuit and maintenance of power. Astonishingly, they are winning–at the cost of pushing the political system to the breaking point.
Here’s today’s news. Please note how a Republican childishly tried to drown-out yesterday’s congressional testimony on Attorney General William Barr by making noise, how Vice President Mike Pence recently urged state governors to paint rosy pictures of the pandemic, and how a Republican governor fired a public health official for telling the truth about coronavirus infections.
Former deputy attorney general Donald Ayer preceded Barr in that role in the George H.W. Bush administration, and he has since been one of Barr’s most high-profile critics. He began his testimony Wednesday with some particularly stinging remarks.
“I am here because I believe that William Barr poses the greatest threat in my lifetime to our rule of law and to public trust in it,” Ayer said. “That is because he does not believe in its core principle that no person is above the law. Instead, since taking office, he has worked to advance his lifelong conviction that the president should hold virtually autocratic powers.”
He added later, “I think we’re on the way to something far worse than Watergate, where you had a problem of public distrust, because it’s becoming very transparent that many things are being done essentially for reasons that are completely unrelated to the merits of the case.”
RICHMOND, Va. — Vice President Mike Pence is encouraging the nation’s governors to tell their citizens “there’s a lot of really, really good news” about current efforts to fight the cornoavirus pandemic.
In a private call with governors Monday, the audio of which was obtained by The Associated Press, Pence said that with the exception of a few localities, the country is seeing strong dropping virus-related hospitalization and mortality rates, as well as low and steady positivist rates in testing.
“I encourage you, as appropriate, with the proper gentleness and respect, to share the progress that we are making,” Pence said.
West Virginia governor forces out top health official amid outbreaks – [Republican governor Jim Justice forced out the commissioner of his public health bureau on Wednesday hours after he publicly questioned the accuracy of the state’s coronavirus data and detailed growing outbreaks in the state]
A new Government Accountability Office report out Thursday highlights how unprepared the US government was to tackle coronavirus and deal with the corresponding economic crisis that required Congress to get trillions in federal stimulus dollars out the door.
The report — which is just the latest look at the US government’s response to the coronavirus — lays out how the US fell short on everything from testing to ensuring hospitals and states had adequate supplies. It also looks closely at how agencies struggled to ensure billions in stimulus dollars got to American struggling with an economic crisis.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture did not evaluate the accuracy of worker safety data it used to make its case for a new hog inspection system that allows plants to run processing lines at unlimited speeds, the Office of Inspector General has concluded.
The report, which was released Wednesday, also found that USDA was not transparent about the raw data it used in its worker safety analysis, making it impossible for outside experts to evaluate the agency’s conclusions.
The new system, which was finalized in October, shifts many food-safety tasks from federal inspectors to pork industry employees and reduces the number of USDA inspectors on slaughter lines in some plants by 40 percent, records show.
Prompted by the Inspector General report, a nonprofit group opposed to the new system said it will ask a judge to set aside the rule that created it.
Racial and ethnic terrorism, particularly white supremacist threats, are “on the rise and spreading geographically” according to a State Department report released Wednesday.
“The threat posed by racially or ethnically motivated terrorism (REMT), particularly white supremacist terrorism, remained a serious challenge for the global community,” the report reads.
In 2019, the world experienced an uptick in white terrorism, such as the Christchurch, New Zealand, mosque shooting in March and the El Paso, Texas, shooting in August.
White terrorist groups “increasingly target immigrants; Jewish, Muslim, and other religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or intersex (LGBTI) individuals; governments; and other perceived enemies,” the report found.
In April, the State Department designated a white supremacist group, the Russian Imperial Movement, as a “foreign terrorist organization” for the first time.
President Trump has lost significant ground in the six battleground states that clinched his Electoral College victory in 2016, according to New York Times/Siena College surveys, with Joseph R. Biden Jr. opening double-digit leads in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Mr. Trump’s once-commanding advantage among white voters has nearly vanished, a development that would all but preclude the president’s re-election if it persists. Mr. Biden now has a 21-point lead among white college graduates, and the president is losing among white voters in the three Northern battleground states — not by much, but he won them by nearly 10 points in 2016.
Republicans say President Trump should make a course correction and shift his strategy after a series of dismal polls showed him badly trailing presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Republican senators thought Trump was cruising to reelection only a few months ago but they now worry his relentless focus on revving up his party’s base is hurting his chances, as well as their own of staying in control of the upper chamber.
“I think right now obviously Trump has a problem with the middle of the electorate, with independents, and they’re the people who are going to decide a national election,” Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said Wednesday.
[U.S. Supreme Court] Justices rule for Trump administration in deportation case – [initial asylum seekers can be deported without allowing them to make their case to a federal judge]