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The new politics of the poor in Joe Biden’s and Mitch McConnell’s America

November 17, 2020 in Blogs

By TomDispatch

In the two weeks since Election 2020, the country has oscillated between joy and anger, hope and dread in an era of polarization sharpened by the forces of racism, nativism, and hate. Still, truth be told, though the divisive tone of this moment may only be sharpening, division in the United States of America is not a new phenomenon.

Over the past days, I’ve found myself returning to the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who, in 1967, just a year before his own assassination, gave a speech prophetically entitled “The Other America” in which he vividly described a reality that feels all too of this moment rather than that one:

“There are literally two Americas. One America is beautiful… and overflowing with the milk of prosperity and the honey of opportunity. This America is the habitat of millions of people who have food and material necessities for their bodies; and culture and education for their minds; and freedom and human dignity for their spirits..

“But tragically and unfortunately, there is another America. This other America has a daily ugliness about it that constantly transforms the ebulliency of hope into the fatigue of despair. In this America millions of work-starved men walk the streets daily in search for jobs that do not exist. In this America millions of people find themselves living in rat-infested, vermin-filled slums. In this America people are poor by the millions. They find themselves perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.”

In Dr. King’s day, that other America was, for a time, laid bare to the nation through mass social unrest and political change, through the bold actions of the freedom fighters who won the Voting Rights Act and then just kept on fighting, as well as governmental programs like the “War on Poverty.” And yet, despite the significant gains then, for many decades since, inequality in this country has been on the rise to previously unimaginable levels, while poverty remained locked in and largely ignored.

Today, in the early winter of an uncurbed pandemic and the economic crisis that accompanies it, there are 140 million poor or low-income Americans, disproportionately people of color, but reaching into every community in this country: 24 million Blacks, 38 million Latinos, …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Biden's big mistake: Trump can't be allowed to escape legal consequences

November 17, 2020 in Blogs

By Daily Kos

President-elect Joe Biden is privately telling his advisers that he doesn’t want investigations of Donald Trump to dominate his presidency, according to NBC News. Biden fears wide-ranging inquires would both serve as a distraction from his agenda and alienate Trump’s base at a time when Biden hopes to unify the country.

The discussions come amid growing pressure from some Democrats intent on launching investigations into Trump’s time in office, his many violations of law, and those who committed illegal acts at his direction. To be clear, the potential violations are too numerous to even list and more infractions will almost certainly surface once Biden appointees take over the various agencies and get a look under the hood. Other illegal activity also includes Trump’s conduct outside of government related to his family business, tax returns, and more.

Biden could potentially affect how rigorously Trump is investigated on several levels, including by seeking to set the tone for the Democratic House majority and his own Justice Department. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will also take part in shaping how much energy is devoted to reviewing Trump’s tenure with a scaled down Democratic majority and competing factions within her caucus.

Whether Democrats manage to regain a majority in the Senate could also play a role in shaping House Democrats’ overall agenda. Having a functional Democratically controlled Senate that might actually pass much of Biden’s agenda rather than simply leaving bills to die in the upper chamber would surely motivate the House caucus to focus more heavily on passing critical legislation that can actually help the country dig out of Trump’s COVID-19 recession hole.

But Biden has also signaled that he intends to reestablish the wall that existed between the White House and the Justice Department before Trump came in and decided the department was there to serve his every whim—be it defending him and his friends, threatening his political enemies, or fabricating investigations of his political rivals.

In some ways, it makes perfect sense that Biden doesn’t want his entire presidency consumed by probes into Trump, his minions, and an inevitable cycle of recriminations. But Donald Trump so misused and abused the federal government that his entire tenure represents an assault on American democracy itself, not to mention a series of crimes against humanity, ranging from literally ripping children away from their parents and caging them to intentionally slaughtering hundreds of …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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MSNBC host torches Trump adviser as 'responsible for more death than any single policymaker in recent memory'

November 17, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Dr. Scott Atlas, President Donald Trump’s most prominent adviser on the coronavirus crisis, has been an aggressive proponent of a “herd immunity” approach — essentially, letting COVID-19 infect as many people as possible. MSNBC’s Chris Hayes slammed Atlas’s approach to the pandemic this week on his “All In” show, denouncing him as a leading cause of the United States’ recent surge in COVID-19 infections.

Hayes declared, “COVID’s best ally in the White House outside the president: Scott Atlas — a name that will live in infamy, I have no doubt. A right-wing radiologist with zero public health expertise who…. managed to take over the nation’s entire COVID strategy and push the entire country towards an approach in which the virus would be left to burn through the populace.”

The liberal MSNBC host showed a clip of Atlas, on August 31, saying that while “high-risk” Americans needed to be protected, “the goal of policy is absolutely not to stop all spread of COVID-19 to asymptomatic or very low-risk individuals.”

Hayes, however, stressed that Atlas’ approach has been a failure, saying, “Guess what’s happening to the high-risk people right now. Who do you think is in those hospitals and in those long-term care facilities? Who do you think constitutes the names of the dead, over 1000, day after day? Scott Atlas — I mean, this guy is probably more responsible for our record cases and hospitalizations, for a spike in deaths, than any other policymaker in America.”

Hayes also laid-out a “strong case” against Atlas in a Twitter thread:

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Trump's brash pre-election prediction has proven wrong — can he take COVID seriously now?

November 17, 2020 in Blogs

By Amanda Marcotte

In the weeks leading up to the election, Donald Trump made a promise: That “on Nov. 4, you won’t hear” anything more about what he sarcastically called “COVID COVID COVID.” He loved this line and repeated it over and over again at rallies, to raucous cheers from crowds of conservatives who, despite rising rates of coronavirus infection and death, wanted dearly to believe the pandemic was being overblown to hurt Trump’s re-election chances — or even that the whole thing has been a hoax from the start.

Like most things that Trump says and his followers believe, of course, this was not true. The election came and went — and Trump lost, whether or not he admits it — but the coronavirus pandemic remains in the news as pretty much the top story, is as jaw-dropping new records in transmissions are set nearly daily and hospitals are overflowing. In fact, the U.S. had over a million transmissions in one week, meaning that nearly one in 10 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 did so just in the last seven days or so. Public health experts believe things will get much worse, as many Americans ignore the warnings not to travel or socialize over the holidays.

The election is over. Trump’s promise that the coronavirus would miraculously evaporate after the election has been proved false. One major question remains: Will Republicans finally start taking this pandemic seriously, now that there are no political points to score with continued denial?

Trump’s approach wasn’t just cynical, it was sociopathic. But there was no doubting his purpose. By pretending that the pandemic was over and holding large, maskless rallies to reinforce that illusion, Trump hoped to trick voters into believing all was well and he had done his job in protecting the nation. The months he spent discouraging his supporters from wearing masks or social distancing were meant to hide the realities of the pandemic and turn basic concern for public health into another culture-war flashpoint.

The whole exercise was deeply immoral, but it was calculated to serve the selfish ends of Trump and his base by getting him re-elected.

With the election over, coronavirus denialism provides no material gain for the right. It’s not going to …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Trump allies fear Giuliani may be conning the president into a doomed legal fight: report

November 17, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

No attorney has done more to fight the results of the 2020 presidential election than former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has been claiming that President Donald Trump — not President-elect Joe Biden — is the real winner. He says Trump was deprived of a victory by rampant voter fraud, which Giuliani has offered no credible proof of. The fees that Giuliani charges as Trump’s personal attorney are not cheap, and according to New York Times reporters Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, Giuliani recently asked for $20,000 per day.

Schmidt and Haberman report, “The request stirred opposition from some of Mr. Trump’s aides and advisers, who appear to have ruled out paying that much…. A $20,000-a-day rate would have made Mr. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who has been Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer for several years, among the most highly compensated attorneys anywhere.”

Giuliani, however, flatly denies asking for that amount. The Trump attorney told the Times, “I never asked for $20,000. The arrangement is, we’ll work it out at the end.” And Giuliani insists that anyone who told the Times that he wanted $20,000 per day “is a liar, a complete liar.”

Trump’s campaign has been fighting the election results in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, Michigan and other battleground states that Biden won. And Schmidt and Haberman note that “there is little to no prospect of any of the remaining legal cases being overseen by Mr. Giuliani altering the outcome in any of the states where Mr. Trump is still fighting in court, much less of overturning President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s Electoral College and popular vote victory.” But some Trump allies, the Times journalists report, believe that “Giuliani is encouraging the president to continue a spurious legal fight because he sees financial advantage for himself in it.”

According to Schmidt and Haberman, “Mr. Giuliani had sought compensation for his work dating back to the day after Election Day, when Mr. Trump began publicly claiming that he won despite the results, according to people familiar with the request, who asked for anonymity to speak about sensitive discussions. At $20,000 a day, Mr. Giuliani’s rate would be above the top-of-the-line …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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What Is the Queen's Role in British Government?

November 17, 2020 in History

By Stephen Wood

Queen Elizabeth II is one of the most famous and admired people on Earth. As the nominal leader of the United Kingdom since 1952—making her the country’s longest-serving monarch—her influence is felt the world over. But despite that enormous influence, the Queen holds no real power in British government. Instead, as the monarchy evolved over hundreds of years, her role has become largely symbolic.

Historic Powers of the Monarchy

King John signing Magna Carta.

For centuries, the English monarchy held a great deal of authority, but its history is full of challenges to that power and of concessions to nobles. Most famously, King John’s signing of Magna Carta in 1215 acknowledged that the monarchy’s powers did have limits and, crucially, established that the crown could not levy taxes without the consent of a council of religious officials and feudal lords. That council of wealthy and powerful figures evolved into Parliament, which gradually took on a greater role as English people began to appeal to it to solve disputes and send representatives to petition it on their behalf.

Parliament’s role ultimately depended on how much power the monarch wanted to give it, and how much he or she needed Parliament’s support. King Charles I governed without Parliament for over a decade, setting into motion events that would end with his beheading and the abolition of the monarchy in 1649. Parliament then ruled without a king until the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.

In the Glorious Revolution of 1688, Parliament invited William II of Orange and his wife, Mary II, to invade England and depose King James II, who wanted absolute power. William and Mary then assented to the Bill of Rights, which legally required Parliament to be held regularly, granted full freedom of speech in Parliament and instituted various civil liberties. Britain does not have a single, written constitution like that of the United States, but foundational documents like Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights formally took power from the crown and gave it to Parliament.

READ MORE: How Magna Carta Influenced the US Constitution

British Government Evolves

Over time Parliament evolved into a true representative government, similar to the Congress of the United States. Its upper house, the House of Lords, consists of nobles and originally held nearly all of Parliament’s power, but over the centuries the lower house, the House of Commons, grew …read more

Source: HISTORY