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Trump and McConnell are finally breaking up

December 31, 2020 in Blogs

By BillMoyers.com

December 29, 2020

There is definitely a feeling of change in the air. For all his continuing insistence that he won the 2020 election, Trump is a lame duck.

Today’s complicated fight in the Senate over the one-time stimulus payment of $2000 illustrated that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), not Trump, now controls the Republican caucus. Trump originally refused to sign the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, the bill that contains the coronavirus relief measures, because he claimed he objected to its meager $600 stimulus payments. Six hundred dollars was the amount his negotiators had demanded, but he suddenly said he wanted them to be $2000. Democrats in the House jumped on Trump’s demand for the higher payment and they passed a measure on Monday to increase the payments to $2000.

Trump had attacked the bill largely because he is angry at McConnell and Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD) (a whip keeps party members in line behind the party leader) for acknowledging Biden’s victory in November. He was trying to illustrate his power by refusing to sign the bill at all. But Sunday night he gave in without winning anything, and yet continued to say he wanted higher payments. The House was happy to give him what the Democrats had wanted all along, but today Trump lost the showdown in the Senate.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) introduced the measure, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) killed it. This enabled the two embattled Republican Senate candidates from Georgia both to support Trump and to claim they wanted higher payments, all without actually having to vote for the higher payments. McConnell bested Trump all around: he had no intention of raising those payments no matter what Trump tweeted… and he didn’t.

Trump’s influence in Washington is waning in other ways, too. Yesterday, the House repassed the National Defense Authorization Act over Trump’s veto. Trump claims to object to the bill for a number of reasons, including that it will require that military bases currently named for Confederate generals be renamed, but this is the measure into which Congress put the Corporate Transparency Act I wrote about a few days ago. It will undercut the country’s plague of so-called shell companies, which enable money laundering and other criminal activity because they are owned and operated …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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A pro-Trump lawyer is under fire from ex-colleagues accusing him of assault and severe delusions: report

December 31, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Far-right attorney L. Lin Wood has been in the headlines a great deal in recent weeks because of his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results and his unhinged tweets, including a December 1 post in which he predicted that the United States is “headed to civil war” and called for President Donald Trump to “declare martial law.” But according to some former law partners, Wood’s behavior was unhinged long before the election.

The ex-partners are Nicole Wade, Jonathan Grunberg and Taylor Wilson, who left the firm L. Lin Wood, P.C. and formed their own firm, Wade, Grunberg & Wilson, LLC.

Law & Crime reporter Adam Klasfeld explains, “The former partners claimed that their relationship with Wood spanning roughly half a decade started deteriorating late last year as Wood began to exhibit ‘erratic, hostile, abusive and threatening’ behavior.”

In a legal brief, they allege that the Atlanta-based Wood physically attacked Grunberg and Wilson. The attorneys wrote, “In the fall of 2019, defendant Wood also committed assault and battery on Grunberg in an elevator of a hotel during an out of town deposition. In both assaults, there was essentially no reason whatsoever for the attack, and defendant Wood later acknowledged and apologized for this violence.”

The attorneys also allege, in the complaint, that “Wood has admitted to these assaults on multiple recordings” and that he has made anti-Semitic comments. On February 17, 2020, they allege, Wood left a voicemail for Grunberg saying, “You look in the mirror, and you’re gonna see a Chilean Jewish fucking crook.”

Wood’s clients have ranged from Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse to the late Herman Cain (who ran for president in 2012) to Rep.-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene, who won a congressional race in Georgia this year and is known for promoting the QAnon conspiracy cult. And Wood has allied himself with Sidney Powell, another far-right pro-Trump attorney, on some of her election lawsuits.

Wood’s ex-partners allege that he has a history of comparing himself to …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Trump goes on delusional New Year's rant as coronavirus deaths spike to highest level ever

December 31, 2020 in Blogs

By Raw Story

Donald Trump on Thursday celebrated the end of 2020 with an upbeat video message where he used xenophobic language to describe the novel coronavirus and claimed that he is receiving calls from around the globe thanking him for his response to the pandemic.

Trump’s comments came one day after the United States set a new record for COVID-19 deaths.

“3,927 people died of Covid-19 in 24 hours in the US, according to a count released by Johns Hopkins University, a new daily record for fatalities from the virus,” AFP reported Wednesday. “That brought the US total to 19,715,899 infections and 341,845 deaths since the pandemic began.”

The surge in death comes against the backdrop of the Trump administration failing to meet their own goals for vaccinations.

“Nearly 2.8 million people in the U.S. have received 1st dose of #covid19 vaccine. 20 million vaccinations were promised until recently. Before that, 100 million,” Dr. Leana Wen noted on Thursday. “We need to ramp up speed ASAP.”

Nevertheless, Trump declared victory.

“They said it would take a medical miracle and that’s exactly what it is,” Trump argued.

“Years from now they’ll be talking about it, they’ll be talking about this great, great thing we did with the vaccines,” he predicted.

“We’ve already begun a nationwide vaccination program and we’re sending the vaccine all over the world,” Trump said, despite the shortages of the vaccine in America.

“The world will benefit, we’ll benefit, and everybody is calling to thank me,” he claimed.

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Why the mutant coronavirus is ‘a potential catastrophe’: report

December 31, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Many health officials are being asked whether or not they believe that the new COVID-19 variant that has been spreading rapidly in the U.K. could reduce the efficacy of the vaccines now being distributed. Socoiologist Zeynep Tufekci notes that so far, “many scientists” believe that this variant “will not decrease vaccine efficacy much, if at all.” But Tufekci, in an article published by The Atlantic on the last day of 2020, also warns that even if the variant slamming the U.K. doesn’t limit the vaccines’ efficacy, the variant’s arrival is still terrible news.

“A more transmissible variant of COVID-19 is a potential catastrophe in and of itself,” explains Tufekci, a native of Istanbul, Turkey who now lives in the United States. “If anything, given the stage in the pandemic we are at, a more transmissible variant is, in some ways, much more dangerous than a more severe variant. That’s because higher transmissibility subjects us to a more contagious virus spreading with exponential growth — whereas the risk from increased severity would have increased in a linear manner, affecting only those infected.”

Tufekci adds, “Increased transmissibility can wreak havoc in a very, very short time — especially when we already have uncontrolled spread in much of the United States. The short-term implications of all this are significant, and worthy of attention, even as we await more clarity from data. In fact, we should act quickly, especially as we await more clarity — lack of data and the threat of even faster exponential growth argue for more urgency of action.”

Some cases of the new COVID-19 variant have already been found in the U.S. And Tufekci stresses that even though this variant doesn’t appear to be any more likely to kill the infected person than the familiar COVID-19 strain that has been raging in the U.S., the fact that it is so infectious is major cause for concern.

“Severity increases affect only the infected person,” Tufekci explains. “That infection is certainly tragic, and …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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'Disappointing': Fauci admits the Trump administration's vaccine rollout is not living up to its promises

December 31, 2020 in Blogs

By Meaghan Ellis

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is not pleased with the Trump administration’s rollout of the coronavirus vaccine.

During an appearance on “The TODAY Show,” Fauci expressed concern about the slow distribution of the vaccine as he shared details about the year-end goal he had in mind.

“We would have liked to have seen it run smoothly and have 20 million doses into people today by the end of the 2020, which was the projection,” Fauci said on Thursday, Dec. 31. “Obviously, it didn’t happen, and that’s disappointing.”

Fauci went on to discuss the additional effort needed where resources are concerned. According to the nation’s top infectious disease expert, there will likely need to be serious changes in the coming weeks to effectively vaccinate a substantial number of Americans.

“There really has to be a lot more effort in the sense of resources for the locals, namely, the states, the cities, the counties, the places where the vaccine is actually going into the arms of individuals,” he said.

However, he did admit that there is a silver lining. Despite President Donald Trump’s continued efforts to undermine science and the recommendations regarding public health, Fauci believes science will ultimately prevail as more vaccines will likely be made readily available over the next few months.

“The good news is that science has and will come to the rescue getting us vaccines,” he said. “More than one vaccine, hopefully, five, six, seven or more vaccines throughout the world, that will get us out of this and put this in the rear-view mirror, behind us.”

As of Thursday, Dec. 31, the United States has reported a total of 20,260,964 positive coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic. A total of 351,697 Americans have also died due to complications of coronavirus.

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Watch: Jon Ossoff brilliantly turns the tables on a Fox News reporter who tried to corner him

December 30, 2020 in Blogs

By Daily Kos

Here’s a day-brightener if you needed one: Jon Ossoff flipping the script on Fox News‘ nepotism hire, Peter Doocy, turning the would-be “gotcha” interview into a campaign ad for himself and his colleague, Rev. Raphael Warnock. Doocy’s aim, clearly, was to paint Ossoff as inexperienced and unqualified. What he actually achieved was giving Ossoff a platform to talk about what’s at stake in this election for Georgians—even those watching Fox News—and the very serious ethical problems of the two Republicans in the race. Doocy tried to interrupt Ossoff’s discussion with reporters about the pain and suffering he is seeing around the state. “Folks have credit cards maxed out and can’t make rent payments, car payments, can’t afford prescriptions or afford child care. People are in dire straits,” Ossoff said, explaining how Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue were standing in the way of help.

“We are live on Fox right now,” Doocy says, pulling Ossoff away. And at this point, check out the look on Ossoff’s face for what he’s planning to do next. Too bad for Doocy he couldn’t see what was coming. Instead, he stupidly barges in with “you talk […] about health and jobs and justice all. Why not talk more about your relevant experience?” Doocy asks. “I’ve made my career fighting injustice, exposing war crimes and injustice,” Ossoff replied. “I run a business that’s exposed terrorism, that exposed sexual slavery by ISIS, that’s exposed judicial corruption. And right now, we have a crisis of corruption in American politics.”

That corruption, he continues, is why he’s running. “And since we’re live on Fox,” Ossoff continued, “let me take this opportunity to address directly the Fox audience. We have two United States senators in Georgia who have blatantly used their offices to enrich themselves. This is beyond partisanship.” He continues, turning back to Doocy, “the reason, to your question, that I talk so much about health and jobs and justice for all the people, is that we can unite behind that program.” He goes on to talk about the closure of nine rural hospitals in the state, the need for an investment in infrastructure, living wage jobs, and for “civil rights and voting rights legislation to secure equal justice for all.” Then he turns back to the audience and owns Doocy. “I humbly and respectfully request the support of everyone who is tuned …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Ted Cruz is reportedly raising funds off the Georgia runoff — but sending the money to his own campaign

December 30, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

In January, the outcome of two U.S. Senate runoff elections in Georgia will determine whether or not Republicans maintain their Senate majority. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has been using the runoffs for fundraising, warning his donors that Democrats will control the Senate if they win both races.

But journalist Lachlan Markay, this week in an article for the Daily Beast, reports that none of the money Cruz is bringing in is actually going to the incumbent Republican candidates in the runoffs: Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Sen. David Perdue. And Markay emphasizes that Cruz is hardly alone when it comes to invoking the Georgia runoffs without raising funds directly for the candidates.

Markay notes that in 15 Facebook ads that his campaign purchased, Cruz is seen “dramatically hyping the need to hold two U.S. Senate seats in Georgia runoff contests” — and the Texas senator says melodramatic things like “gun-grabbing, tax hikes, open borders and stacking the Supreme Court — that’s the radical Democrat agenda if they win the Georgia Senate elections.” But according to Markay, none of the $5 donations Cruz is requesting for his “Keep Georgia Red Fund” are going directly to Loeffler or Perdue.

“Facebook users who clicked through to the online donation page — and read the fine print at the bottom — would see that the actual beneficiary was Cruz’s own campaign committee, not Sens. Kelly Loeffler or David Perdue, the two Republicans running for reelection in Georgia,” Markay explains.

Cruz, according to Markay, “is just one of a number of elected officials of both parties using the competitive — and extremely expensive — Georgia runoff contests to raise money for themselves.”

“Increasingly, those officials are doing so on Facebook, where a political ad ban instituted in late October was lifted this month, but only for ads in Georgia,” Markay explains. “That’s led to a rash of Facebook ads invoking the Senate contests in the state on behalf of out-of-state political candidates. On some occasions, the ads don’t even mention the runoff contests, but are targeted at users in Georgia in an effort to exploit Facebook’s state-specific political advertising policy.”

In November, Markay observes, the National Republican Senatorial Committee “encouraged its members to use grassroots donor enthusiasm surrounding the runoffs to help build their own fundraising programs.”

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has led the way for his caucus,” Markay observes. “His campaign has been …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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'The danger has not passed': Conservative warns the GOP is still  a threat after Trump's defeat

December 30, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri has announced that when the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate meet for a joint session of Congress on January 6, he will contest President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College certification. Never Trump conservative Jonathan V. Last lambasts Hawley for this political stunt in his column for The Bulwark, stressing that it underscores the grip President Donald Trump still has on the Republican Party despite losing the election.

“Josh Hawley announced that he is going to buck Mitch McConnell and join House Republicans to force a roll-call vote on whether or not to accept the Electoral College votes,” Last writes. “This was completely predictable. I’ve literally been telling anyone who would listen that this was where we were headed since forking October.”

Last goes on to say that Hawley is responding to a “loyalty test” — that is, loyalty to Trump.

“Hawley coming out this far in advance makes it likely that he’ll be joined in his objection by at least Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz and probably a few others — which only sets up the next loyalty test: actually voting to reject the Electoral College votes,” Last laments. “That, my friends, is the future of the Republican Party. Loyalty tests, all the way down.”

Those who have been reading Last’s articles and columns for The Bulwark know that although he is conservative, he believes that Trumpism has been incredibly toxic for the Republican Party — which, he writes, now values loyalty to Trump more than it values constitutional norms.

“While you can probably be a senator from a ‘safe’ state and get along by mumbling about how ‘we have to move on’ or ‘we’ll never really know who won 2020,’ to have any future in national Republican politics, you will have to have voted to overturn the election on January 6,” Last warns. “Think about that: The price of admission for advancement in Republican politics is now participating in an attempt to overthrow a free and fair election.”

The Never Trumper adds, “Donald Trump was defeated, but the danger has not passed. Stand up to Josh Hawley. Stand up for America.”

<Img align="left" border="0" height="1" …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Rudy Giuliani announces the Trump campaign’s new effort to throw out Wisconsin's election results

December 30, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Although Joe Biden’s inauguration is only three weeks away, President Donald Trump and many of his loyalists have yet to acknowledge the president-elect’s victory. And that includes the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who has announced yet another election-related lawsuit challenging Biden’s win in Wisconsin.

Making debunked and totally baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, Trump and his allies have filed one lawsuit after another in the hope of overturning the 2020 presidential election results — and most have already been dismissed or rejected in the federal courts. That includes the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to even consider a lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who asked the High Court to throw out the election results in four states that Biden won: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia.

Giuliani, according to Independent reporter Justin Vallejo, is challenging a December 14 ruling by the Wisconsin Supreme Court — which rejected the Trump campaign’s efforts to get more than 50,000 ballots thrown out in Wisconsin. The former New York City mayor is hoping that the U.S. Supreme Court will invalidate the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision.

Vallejo notes that Trump’s campaign “says its petition will present claims that ballots were counted by voters without identification, incomplete absentee ballots were counted, and ballots were collected by hand at events held before the election.”

Previously, a lawsuit from the Trump campaign asked the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out the election results in Pennsylvania, but it refused to consider that case. And the justices later rejected Paxton’s widely condemned lawsuit out of Texas.

When the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled against the Trump campaign on December 14, it was a 4-3 decision — and Justice Brian Hagedorn wrote, “Our laws allow the challenge flag to be thrown regarding various aspects of election administration. The challenges raised by the campaign in this case, however, come long after the last play or even the last game; the campaign is challenging the rulebook adopted before the season began.”

During a recent appearance on the podcast of former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon — who is facing criminal fraud charges for allegedly defrauding donors to the We Build the Wall campaign — Trump campaign adviser Boris Epshteyn insisted that the campaign will continue to fight the election results in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and claimed that there will be “action out of Georgia” as well.

The U.S. House …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Former supreme allied commander sounds the alarm on Trump's efforts to sabotage Biden

December 30, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

President-elect Joe Biden has accused President Donald Trump and his loyalists of obstructing the new administration’s incoming national security team. When retired Adm. James G. Stavridis — former supreme allied commander of NATO — appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Wednesday morning, he made it clear that he shares Biden’s concerns and warned that there could be “real-world consequences” if the president-elect’s team isn’t adequately prepared from a national security standpoint.

Associated Press reporter Jonathan Lemire and “Way Too Early” host Kacie Hunt were filling in for the usual “Morning Joe” hosts, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, during the December 30 broadcast. And when Lemire asked Stavridis if he agreed that the Trump Administration’s “stonewalling” of Biden could be “dangerous” and “taken advantage of and exploited by our adversaries,” the retired U.S. Navy admiral responded, “The right word, Jonathan, is dangerous…. There are tactical problems, operational problems and strategic problems.”

The 65-year-old Stavridis, who served as supreme allied commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization from 2009-2013, cited North Korea, China and Iran as three major foreign policy concerns for the incoming Biden Administration. And he warned that the last thing the U.S. needs after Biden is sworn in as president on January 20, 2021 is for his national security team to be “blinded.”

“At the strategic level,” Stavridis explained, “the incoming team needs to understand — at least a snapshot of — what the outgoing team is thinking about and how they’re connecting the dots on how we face China, for example, in the South China sea…. So, there are real-world consequences here. And I absolutely call on the Pentagon officials who are indeed Trump loyalists — who walked in the door less than a month ago at the very senior levels, including the acting secretary of defense — let’s do the right thing here for the nation.”

Watch the clip below:

…read more

Source: ALTERNET