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Mitch McConnell waited too long to distance himself from Trump — and now it will cost him: report

October 18, 2020 in Blogs

By Tom Boggioni

According to a report from USA Today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and fellow Republican senators waited too long to put some distance between themselves and unpopular President Donald Trump and that will likely cost McConnell his power and GOP control of the Senate.

With the election a little more than two weeks away and Trump appearing to be heading to defeat, members of the Republican Party have begun to openly suggest they are facing a “bloodbath” on November 3rd. According to the USA Today report, conservatives lawmakers have only themselves to blame for the coming debacle.

According to Jessica Taylor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, “It just shows that these senators are pulled in two different directions. They can’t irritate the very conservative Trump base but they also need independents to win the general election. It’s a no-win situation for them in many regards.”

The report notes that McConnell is pushing through the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett and scheduling a vote of COVID-19 relief this coming week in an effort to give GOP candidates something to brag about while avoiding mention of the president.

“McConnell, known for bringing home the political bacon to Kentucky, looked to give GOP colleagues a way out when he announced the Senate’s schedule was shifting,” the report stated.

“As a general rule, presidential candidates have coattails that help down-ballot candidates of their own party because they help expand the participation of like-minded voters. But that wasn’t the case in 2016 with Trump,” the report continued. “Four years ago, a number of senators publicly disavowed Trump, many of them breaking with him over the Hollywood Access tape in which the then-reality show star Trump was caught on a hot mic bragging about groping women.”

This go-around it appears that Republican Senators from North Carolina, Maine, Colorado, Nebraska, Arizona and Georgia could be out of a job after election day because they failed to disavow the president — thereby handing control of the Senate to the Democrats.

You can read more here.

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Source: ALTERNET

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Senate Democrats try to save federal workforce from Trump's harebrained payroll tax scheme

October 18, 2020 in Blogs

By Elizabeth Preza

Senate Democrats are trying to save federal workers from having big docks in their pay next spring by allowing them to opt out of the mandatory Trump scheme to give them a payroll tax holiday. Trump spent the whole of the year obsessing about “terminating” payroll taxes as stimulus in the coronavirus pandemic, somehow not grasping the basic issue that people who lost their jobs because of the virus aren’t paying payroll taxes anyway. He was so intent on making this thing that no one thought would be helpful that his administration finally just gave in and imposed it on the only people they could—federal workers. The difficulty is that they’ll have to pay the money back in the first quarter of next year, while we’re still going to be in this pandemic.

Democrats want them to be able to opt out and continue to have the withholdings. “During this time of heightened uncertainty, our public servants deserve the ability to choose what makes most sense for them and for their pocketbooks. That’s why the President’s payroll tax deferral must be made optional,” lead sponsor of the bill, Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, said in a statement. These are the payroll taxes that fund Social Security. Trump has vowed to “terminate” payroll taxes entirely, a plan that could “terminate” Social Security by 2023, the chief actuary for the program says. That’s if there wasn’t a substitute funding plan in place. Given that they haven’t managed a substitute plan for the Affordable Care Act in a decade, it’s hard to imagine Republicans coming up with a Social Security plan.

Members of Congress have been urging the administration to allow federal employees to opt out—they’ve done so in both the House and Senate, and private sector employees and employers have been given that choice. Other than the House and Senate, only the semi-governmental, semi-private Postal Service has been given the option. Even Louis DeJoy, Trump’s corrupt toady postmaster general, opted out of suspending withholding. Federal employee unions have also been asking the administration to allow them to give the withholding a pass. Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin said in a hearing last month that that was a “reasonable” request, but he hasn’t acted on it, and he and the Office of Management and Budget have kept the policy in place.

So all federal …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Historian warns America is already in its own 'slow-motion Reichstag Fire'

October 18, 2020 in Blogs

By Salon

Donald Trump continues to make it clear that he does not intend to leave office peacefully if he is defeated by Joe Biden and the Democrats on Election Day. Moreover, Donald Trump considers any election in which he is not the “winner” to be null and void. Trump’s appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the United States Supreme Court is an obvious quid pro quo to secure his “reelection” if his attorneys and other agents can sufficiently sabotage the vote on Election Day and beyond.

On Thursday, Trump again followed the authoritarian’s playbook when he bragged to his supporters at a rally in North Carolina that U.S. Marshalls essentially executed Michael Reinoehl, an anti-fascist activist accused of killing a right wing paramilitary member during protests in Oregon last August.

Celebrating the extra-judicial killings of one’s political “enemies” is a common feature of fascist authoritarian regimes and the types of leaders admired and imitated by Donald Trump.

Donald Trump’s commitment to and use of political violence is a matter of public record. Two of the most recent examples include how Trump’s followers in Michigan allegedly planned to kidnap and possibly murder Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer. During his debate with Joe Biden, Trump also commanded white supremacist paramilitaries to be prepared to attack his and their “enemies” if he loses on Election Day or is otherwise removed from office.

Trump also wants Joe Biden and other leading Democrats imprisoned and perhaps even executed because he deems them to be “guilty” of “treason” and a “coup” attempt against him. Donald Trump and his Attorney General William Barr have also threatened to use the United States military against the American people if they dare to protest the outcome of the 2020 Election if Trump somehow finds some extra-legal (if not outright illegal) way to stay in office.

Because he is a political sadist and master of misery and pain, Donald Trump is using the coronavirus pandemic as a weapon to physically and emotionally abuse the American people in order to make them more compliant and subservient to his regime. Like other autocrats and authoritarians, he is also using the economic and human devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic to personally enrich himself, his family, and allies as a …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Trump Jr. says dad’s ‘next move’ is to ‘break up’ the FBI: ‘He has to get rid of these things’

October 18, 2020 in Blogs

By David Edwards

Donald Trump Jr. on Sunday called on his father to “break up” the FBI if he wins a second term.

During an interview on Fox News, host Maria Bartiromo asked the president’s son what his father would do if the FBI does not do his bidding by smearing the son of Democratic nominee Joe Biden and by preventing Democrats from increasing the use of mail-in ballots.

“We have to keep fighting,” Trump replied. “We’re fighting with one leg and two arms tied behind our back. You know, we don’t have the mainstream media that’s willing to at this point, not even just boost the other side, but literally run cover for what would arguably be the biggest corruption scheme in American political history. This is the stuff that makes Watergate look like kindergarten.”

According to the younger Trump, the FBI tried to “knowingly peddle” information about his father’s connections to Russia.

“They refuse to acknowledge their own corruption,” he explained. “And the reality is, I think, when Donald Trump wins, he has to break up the highest level of the FBI. He has to get rid of these things. And more importantly, maybe break up the swamp in general.”

“You know, why is the Department of the Interior headed out of Washington?” Trump asked. “Why don’t we spread all of those things up throughout America?”

“That’s Donald Trump’s next move,” he predicted, “if I’m him and if he wins, which I think he will. Because what’s going on is disgusting. This is the stuff of communist China!”

Watch the video below from Fox News.


Donald Trump Jr.: Dad’s ‘next move’ is to ‘break up’ FBI

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Source: ALTERNET

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Who decides when vaccine studies are done? These internal documents show Fauci plays a key role

October 18, 2020 in Blogs

By Caroline Chen

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease official, will oversee most of the ongoing COVID-19 vaccine trials in the U.S., but not that of the current front-runner made by Pfizer, documents obtained by ProPublica show.

According to a draft charter spelling out how most of the advanced COVID-19 vaccine trials will be monitored, Fauci is the “designated senior representative” of the U.S. government who will be part of the first look at the results. That puts Fauci in the room with the companies — including Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca — in deciding whether the vaccines are ready to seek approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

Fauci’s role, which has not been previously reported and was confirmed for ProPublica by the National Institutes of Health, could offer some reassurance in the face of widespread concerns that President Donald Trump wants to rush through an unproven vaccine. As Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee for vice president, put it at last week’s debate, “If the public health professionals, if Dr. Fauci, if the doctors tell us that we should take it, I’ll be the first in line to take it.”

But there’s a big caveat. Fauci doesn’t have the same hands-on role for the vaccine that seems poised to show results soonest: Pfizer’s. That’s because Pfizer opted not to accept government funding and participate in the federal program to develop a coronavirus vaccine, known as Operation Warp Speed. (The government did make an almost $2 billion deal with Pfizer to preorder up to 600 million doses of the company’s vaccine, but it isn’t contributing money to the vaccine’s development like it is for other companies.)

“(We) offered opportunities for collaboration with Pfizer,” said a spokesperson for the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a branch of the NIH. “Pfizer chose to conduct their Phase 3 study without Operation Warp Speed or NIH support.”

Pfizer’s CEO, Albert Bourla, said Friday that the earliest his company would be ready to apply for authorization would be the third week of November. While Pfizer might know by the end of October if its vaccine is effective, it would need additional time to gather sufficient safety data to present to the FDA, Bourla said in an open letter …read more

Source: ALTERNET