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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 50
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 12,796

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White House looks at domestic travel restrictions as virus variant surges in Florida

Source: Tampa Bay Times

Two federal government officials underscored that no policy announcements are imminent, and that any move to restrict travel or impose new health measures would be taken in partnership with state and local governments.

The Biden administration is considering whether to impose domestic travel restrictions, including on Florida, fearful that coronavirus mutations are threatening to reverse hard-fought progress on the pandemic.

Outbreaks of the new variants — including a highly contagious one first identified in the United Kingdom, as well as others from South Africa and Brazil that scientists worry can evade existing vaccines — have lent urgency to a review of potential travel restrictions within the United States, one federal official said.

“There are active conversations about what could help mitigate spread here, but we have to follow the data and what’s going to work. We did this with South Africa, we did this with Brazil, because we got clear guidance,” one White House official said.

“But we’re having conversations about anything that would help mitigate spread,” the official said, referring to discussions about new travel restrictions that could target the spread of the U.K. mutation in Florida.

Read more: https://www.tampabay.com/news/health/2021/02/11/white-house-looks-at-domestic-travel-restrictions-as-virus-variant-surges-in-florida/

Trump Replaces Legal Team with Eric and Don, Jr.

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Infuriated by his lawyers’ miserable performance on the first day of his impeachment trial, Donald J. Trump has replaced them with his two adult sons, Eric and Don, Jr.

Although neither of the Trump boys has a law degree, Don, Jr., called their lack of legal education “our secret weapon.”

“All Dad’s lawyers talked about yesterday was the effing Constitution!” he said. “It was effing boring! No one cares about that bullshit!”

For his part, Eric Trump said he had “no intention” of cracking any law books before serving as his dad’s attorney.

“I’ve never read a book in my life, and I’m, like, super successful,” he said.

Don, Jr.,’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, expressed optimism about the Trump boys’ performance as defense attorneys. “THE BEST IS YET TO COME,” she predicted.


Nearly half the Republicans who will judge Trump bolstered the falsehood that drove the Capitol riot

By Philip Bump

It’s convenient for defenders of former president Donald Trump to suggest that the impeachment trial underway in the Senate centers on the speech he gave on the morning of Jan. 6 before a mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. By isolating that speech as the point of incitement alleged in the article of impeachment passed by the House, Trump’s defense can better argue that Trump’s verbiage was inconsequential to the violence that erupted.

The House impeachment managers arguing for Trump to be convicted by the Senate are instead framing that day as the culmination of months of incitement by the former president. Before the Nov. 3 election, Trump claimed that he could lose his reelection bid only if rampant fraud occurred; once he lost, that’s precisely what he alleged. Week after week, Trump elevated any random allegation of fraud in an effort to show that something suspect had occurred, to create a miasma of uncertainty aimed at rationalizing his effort to peel back Joe Biden’s win. It was successful: Most Republicans still falsely believe that the election was marred by fraud.

Trump had a lot of assistance in pushing that case, including from the conservative media and his campaign team. But he was also assisted by a large segment of the Republican Senate caucus, the group that is currently being asked to see his behavior after the election as part of an effort to overthrow the results of the presidential election.

Nearly half of the Republican caucus, in other words, is being asked to judge that the falsehood they helped propel was an instrumental part of an attempted insurrection against the U.S. government.


The horror show Republicans want to ignore

Opinion by Jennifer Rubin

Before the second day of the impeachment trial began on Wednesday, we learned that there may be a forum in which former president Donald Trump is actually held accountable: an investigation by Georgia prosecutors into efforts to overturn their state’s election.

The Post reports: “In a letter Wednesday to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and other state officials, Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis did not mention Trump by name but stated that her office is examining a raft of potential criminal charges related to ‘attempts to influence’ the administration of the 2020 election in the state.” Specifically, the inquiry will determine “whether anyone illegally solicited election fraud, made false statements to state and local government officials, made threats or participated in a criminal conspiracy.”

Underscoring the seriousness of the charges and the urgency of action to hold accountable anyone who has attempted to subvert our elections, Willis directed the preservation of “all records” and said the case “will go before a grand jury as soon as March.”

The benefit of this inquiry is three-fold. First, the law and the facts — not the former president’s Senate toadies — will determine his guilt or innocence. Second, in a Republican-controlled state, the claim of political persecution will fall flat. Finally, the opening of a serious, obviously urgent criminal investigation underscores the gap between the seriousness of the former president’s misconduct and the lack of seriousness among Republican senators determined to acquit him.


How Republicans plan to sink Xavier Becerra's nomination

In an era when opposition lawmakers instinctively use confirmation hearings to hobble new presidencies, disqualifying at least one Cabinet nominee in the first 100 days of every administration since George H.W. Bush took office, Republicans are confident they have a ripe target in Xavier Becerra.

The GOP is fixated on rejecting President Biden’s pick to helm the Department of Health and Human Services, but not for the type of personal failings that typically doom early nominees. It is Becerra’s perceived political and policy sins that are fueling the bid to block him. His California credentials aren’t helping in a Senate where Republicans have no shortage of hostility toward the state, particularly after Becerra led the filing of more than 100 lawsuits against the Trump administration.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) recently ripped into the nominee on the Senate floor, calling Becerra a “famously partisan” abortion advocate who is unqualified for the job. Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford called Becerra’s policy pursuits “bizarre,” accusing the California attorney general of “encouraging the death of children.” Sen. John Thune of South Dakota said Becerra is on the “extreme left.”

As other Biden nominees cruise to confirmation, Republicans are maneuvering to slow down the process for Becerra, who has declined interview requests. They are building their case in caucus meetings, in the Senate chamber and in the media.


Rush Limbaugh is ailing. And so is the conservative talk-radio industry.

Rush Limbaugh, the most successful talk-radio host in history, is ailing. And so is the medium he helped revolutionize over the past 30 years.

Faced with aging and shrinking audiences, competition from newer technologies and financial problems for the biggest station owners, talk radio is in decline — both as a business and a political force. Once a leading platform for popularizing conservative candidates and policies, talk radio is on the verge of becoming background noise, drowned out by a cacophony of voices on podcasts, cable TV and social media.

The format’s crisis comes as its biggest star is battling to stay on the air — indeed, he is battling for his life. Limbaugh, 70, has been frank about his struggle with what he said last year is advanced lung cancer. “I wasn’t expected to make it to October, and then to November, and then to December,” he said on the air just before Christmas. “And yet, here I am.”

Limbaugh’s uncertain future confronts the talk-radio business, and conservatism generally, with the prospect of losing its most galvanizing figure. Since leaping from a local station in Sacramento to nationally syndicated stardom in 1988, Limbaugh has been the bullhorn behind every important conservative initiative, from the Contract With America in the mid-1990s, to the tea party movement of the Obama era to the ascent of Donald Trump.


Russian hack used a technique experts had warned about for years. Why wasn't the government ready?

Hackers got long-term, wide-ranging access to government and private networks by manipulating the software that vouches for those allowed inside.

The disastrous Russian hack of federal government networks last year relied on a powerful new trick: Digital spies penetrated so deeply that they were able to impersonate any user they wanted. It was the computer network equivalent of sneaking into the State Department and printing perfectly forged U.S. passports.

Cybersecurity researchers had warned for years that such an attack was possible. Those from one firm, FireEye, even released hacking tools in 2019 showing exactly how to do it — in hopes that the revelation would spur the widespread deployment of better defenses.

It didn’t.

Now there is urgent debate within cybersecurity circles about how best to respond to the hack, which was so extensive that experts describe it as historic.

Some are calling for stronger walls to keep out would-be intruders or better burglar alarms to alert network administrators that a hack had begun. Others, arguing that there’s no practical way to keep the most sophisticated hackers from breaking into important networks, say the smarter investment would be in building better tools for hunting and ejecting intruders once they inevitably get past security perimeters.


Josh Hawley's Despicable Smear Is a Perfect Specimen of GOP Bullshit

This is the next phase in the GOP’s war on reality: to make the Democrats seem like the party of violence.

Yes, it’s amazing how much calmer life is now that we don’t have to listen to Donald Trump all the time. And it’s simultaneously amazing that Republicans continue to stick to the crazy at such a head-spinning rate that we can’t keep up.

Lauren Boebert and her guns. Mary Miller and her “Hitler was right.” Marjorie Taylor Greene and exhibits A through double-Z. Kevin McCarthy and his bottom that knows no bottom. McCarthyism used to mean guilt by association. Now it means providing cover for fascism, which is worse if you ask me. At least Joe McCarthy wasn’t one of his party’s top two national leaders.

Which brings us to someone who’d like to be a top dog, and who you might have lost track of amid all this insanity. Remember when Josh Hawley was top of the pops? Well, he’s just provided another reminder of why we should never forget that he’s around. He’s playing the old false moral equivalence game in a particularly disgusting and dishonest way.

He’s out there trying to fundraise off of Trump’s impeachment trial. No, they don’t all do that. To do that, you have to decide that the precipitating event of the impeachment, the Jan. 6 terrorist riot on the Capitol, was an event that you can and should exploit for personal gain. They don’t all think that way. Even Republicans.

But Hawley does. And that’s only the beginning. What’s worse is the way that he does it, with a sleazy lie about Joe Biden that tries to make Biden sound as if he, too, advocated violence against political foes.


Trump's Impeachment Trial Offers a Chance to Seize the Initiative on the Future of Free Speech

When Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial opens this week, the prosecution and defense will spend much time debating whether it is unconstitutional to try a President no longer in office—a dodge Republicans have seized upon to avoid taking responsibility for Trump’s actions on January 6th and to avoid his wrath. With conviction now unlikely, the trial offers Democratic senators and the handful of open Trump skeptics among the Republicans a chance to engrave Trump’s assault on the Constitution into the historical record. But the trial will also be a forward-looking political forum—a preview of how January 6th will figure in electoral competition between Democrats and Republicans, and among Republicans, in the months ahead.

Trump’s lawyers and acolytes have already made plain some of the political ground they prefer to fight on: the defense of the First Amendment. Impeaching Trump for mobilizing the January protesters with false claims about election rigging “is a very, very dangerous road to take with respect to the First Amendment, putting at risk any passionate political speaker,” one of Trump’s impeachment lawyers, David Schoen, told Sean Hannity on Fox News last week. The initial fourteen-page brief that Schoen and his co-counsel Bruce Castor filed in Trump’s defense mentions the First Amendment five times, aligning its arguments with the “cancel culture” protestations so prominent in conservative discourse: “If the First Amendment protected only speech the government deemed popular in current American culture, it would be no protection at all.”

As a defense against the House’s impeachment charge, however, the legal protections afforded by the First Amendment are largely irrelevant. The Constitution has designed impeachment as a political process, not a judicial one; what the House charges and what the Senate decides cannot be appealed to federal courts, for example, and the antiquated standard of “high crimes and misdemeanors” has been left to dangle for more than two centuries without clear definition. In criminal law, Trump’s incendiary speech on January 6th, at the rally that preceded the assault on the Capitol, raises the question of whether his words are prohibited by the very narrow “incitement” exception under the First Amendment; free-speech scholars disagree about whether he crossed the legal line. But, at the impeachment trial, it doesn’t—or shouldn’t—matter, since “the First Amendment does not shrink the scope of the impeachment power or alter what conduct” warrants a Senate conviction, as the House impeachment managers wrote in their trial memorandum, quoting Keith E. Whittington, a Princeton politics scholar.

There is no doubt that Trump’s abuse of office—his lies about election fraud, his strong-arming of state election officials including Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, his advocacy for unconstitutional interventions in the Electoral College, and, finally, his incitement of protesters to march on the Capitol—warrant impeachment and conviction. The House prosecution brief prominently quotes Republican Representative Liz Cheney’s emphatic judgment: “There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”


Tucker Carlson Suggests MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace Wants to Drone Strike Trump Supporters

“A prominent news anchor is now suggesting drone strikes against American citizens who have the wrong politics,” Carlson exclaimed on Monday night.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson claimed on Monday night that MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace is “now suggesting drone strikes against American citizens who have the wrong politics,” further wondering if she thinks Trump supporters “deserve Hellfire missiles raining down on their homes.”

Late last month, in a segment discussing the upcoming Senate impeachment trial, Wallace wondered aloud how Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell could potentially be leaning against convicting former President Donald Trump for inciting the insurrectionist Capitol riot.

After noting that the Department of Homeland Security has issued a bulletin warning that there’s a persistent threat that “ideologically motivated violent extremists” may carry out domestic terror attacks “around this belief that the election was fraudulent,” Wallace brought up the tactics used in the war on terror.

“But my question for you is around incitement,” she said to her panel. “We had a policy, and it was very controversial, it was carried out under the Bush years, and under the Obama years, of attacking terrorism at its root. Of going after and killing, and in the case of Anwar Awlaki, an American, a Yemeni-American, with a drone strike for the crime of inciting violence, inciting terrorism.”

Circling back to McConnell, Wallace—who was President George W. Bush’s communications director—added: “Mitch McConnell was in the Senate then. He was in the Senate after 9/11, too. How does Mitch McConnell—who understands that the way you root out terrorism, is to take on, in the case of Islamic terrorism, kill those who incite it—how does he not vote to convict someone that he said, on the floor of the Senate, incited an insurrection?”

On Monday night, Carlson joined a slew of right-wing blogs in seemingly accusing Wallace of wanting to blow up Trump supporters. Teasing the upcoming segment before a commercial break, the conservative Fox star wondered aloud “how crazy are things getting” before answering his own question.


I'm liking Nicolle Wallace more and more these days.
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