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Trump’s acquittal is a sign of 'constitutional rot' — when partisanship overrides principles

February 14, 2021 in Blogs

By The Conversation

John E. Finn, Wesleyan University

The Senate’s decision to acquit former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial may have been a victory for Trump, but it is a clear sign that democracy in the U.S. is in poor health.

As a constitutional scholar, I believe the United States – the world’s first constitutional democracy – is in a state of what I call “constitutional rot.”

In a constitutional democracy, the majority’s authority to govern is limited by the rule of law and by a set of legal rules and principles set out in the Constitution.

Constitutional rot is a condition in which we appear to be formally governed by constitutional rules and the rule of law, but the reality is quite different. When rot sets in, public officials and the public routinely ignore or subvert those rules while sanctimoniously professing fidelity to them.

Constitutional rot is not only a failure of constitutional law — it is a failure of constitutional democracy.

Appearance is not reality

Among the practices and principles of a constitutional democracy are limited government and the separation of powers, majority rule through elections that are fair and free, respect for minority and individual liberties, and government based on reason and deliberation. These were famously stated in Federalist #1, an essay by Alexander Hamilton that laid out:

It seems to have been reserved to the people of this country … to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.

In my book, “Peopling the Constitution,” I asked citizens to “imagine an ugly picture: A citizenry unwilling to hold its representatives or itself accountable to basic, fundamental constitutional rules and values.” This could happen either because fidelity to them is outweighed by some other goal, such as security or holding on to power, or because of a base impulse such as fear.

Or perhaps the people fail to hold representatives or themselves accountable because they do not know what those principles and values are or why or even if they are at risk.

Election 2020 and its long aftermath, culminating in a second impeachment trial of Trump, is a clear and undeniable sign of just how rotten things are, constitutionally speaking.

Trump and many of …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Biden administration ends Republican war on Medicaid enrollees once and for all

February 14, 2021 in Blogs

By Daily Kos

The Biden administration is ending Medicaid work requirements the previous occupiers of the executive branch foisted on the nation’s working poor. Two weeks ago, President Joe Biden signed an executive order instructing officials at the Department of Health and Human Services to remove barriers to Medicaid, and that’s just what they are doing.

Three states—Arkansas, Kentucky, and New Hampshire—tried to impose the requirements, but two levels of federal courts have struck them down so the order doesn’t have immediate effect. But it means no state will be able to create the needless, humiliating, ridiculous hoop of requiring people to prove they’re working, all as a means of keeping needy and deserving people from applying for the benefit.

The proof that this measure is intended just to make life more difficult for poor people is in the fact that 93% of people on Medicaid—who aren’t ill or disabled, elderly, taking care of family members, or in school full time—already work. Medicaid is there to help all those people, and work requirements have never been about work.

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According to the draft plan obtained by The Washington Post, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services “has serious concerns that now is not the appropriate time to test policies that risk a substantial loss of health care coverage or benefits.” A global pandemic that has sickened millions of Americans and forced millions more out of work is the wrong time to make health care harder to obtain.

The administration said in the document that the Trump administration had given approval to 13 states to impose the requirements, and 10 others had sought approval. But among them, Arkansas was the only state that followed through, and had removed 18,000 people from the program before a federal judge blocked it. The successful challenges against Arkansas and Kentucky in federal courts resulted in a number of states deciding to forego applying for the work requirement waiver, and in other states Democratic governors took office and halted their predecessors’ efforts.

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Source: ALTERNET

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Ron DeSantis blows off coronavirus mutations in Florida: 'This strain is in blue states'

February 14, 2021 in Blogs

By David Edwards

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Sunday dismissed the growing number of COVID-19 cases in his state that have been attributed to a highly-infectious new mutation.

Fox News host Maria Bartiromo asked the governor about prominence of new COVID-19 strains in Florida.

“Nearly 350 cases of the dangerous COVID variant have been reported in Florida,” Bartiromo pointed out. “Is there a reason for concern here?”

“So first off, we obviously look at all the data that comes in,” DeSantis replied. “But this strain is in blue states and they don’t talk about doing anything with blue states.”

The governor attributed the rising number of cases to “a lot of analysis” in his state.

“So we find more than probably some other states do,” he admitted. “It would be very odd to do a draconian travel restriction, which had no basis in the Constitution, at a time when all of these indicators are going down.”

Florida’s Department of Health has reportedly refused to share data about the number of COVID variants found in the state.

Watch the video below from Fox News.



www.youtube.com

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Baby bust: Why the coronavirus pandemic is making many Americans rethink having kids

February 14, 2021 in Blogs

By Nicole Karlis

When lockdowns rippled across the country last March, many experts speculated that couples cohabitating together would be more apt to have sex and therefore procreate. There is precedent for this speculation: a month-long blackout in Zanzibar in 2008 — in which many were forced to stay home more frequently, just as one might during a pandemic — caused a mini-baby boom nine months later.

Yet predictions of a pandemic baby boom did not take into account how the loss of jobs, income, childcare services — and an overburdened healthcare system fighting a highly contagious coronavirus — would take a massive mental and emotional toll on women and families across the country. Monthly birth data shows that being confined to one house with your significant other doesn’t make for primed conditions to bring another human being into this world, even if popular Etsy baby-wear emblazoned with “Mommy and daddy didn’t practice social distancing” suggests otherwise.

According to a Bloomberg analysis, births decreased by 19 percent in California between December 2019 and December 2020. Data from Florida, Hawaii, Arizona, and Ohio show large declines in birth rates since the pandemic started compared to the previous year’s data, too. A survey conducted by Modern Fertility, a company that sells fertility tests directly to consumers, found that 30 percent of nearly 4,000 people surveyed stated they changed their fertility plans due to COVID-19. One in four of those respondents said they’ve become unsure about having children at all; the most commonly cited reason was uncertainty about the world. Notably, a similar number of respondents stated that COVID-19 accelerated their timelines for having children.

Indeed, this tumultuous moment has caused many to rethink having kids.

Sarah Logan, editor of The Bunny Hub, told Salon via email that she and her husband decided not to have another baby right now because of the pandemic.

“These difficult times are not the best time to have another family member,” Logan said.

Sandra Henderson, a love dating coach in Los Angeles, told Salon via email she can’t help but feel “worried” about raising a child in this “chaos.”

“For us, it is better to …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Watch: Rand Paul laughs out loud about not wearing a mask on the Senate floor

February 14, 2021 in Blogs

By David Edwards

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) defended his refusal to weak a face mask on the Senate floor by calling other senators “science deniers.”

Paul made the remarks during an appearance on Full Court Press with host Greta Van Susteren.

“You’re a doctor,” Van Susteren noted. “Why won’t you wear a mask on the floor?”

As the host asked her question, Paul began to laugh out loud.

“I know you’ve tested positive for COVID before,” she continued. “But you can still get reinfected and you can also be a carrier.”

Paul argued that there is “probably no safer place on the planet” than the Senate floor because all of the senators have been vaccinated.

“Could you imagine somewhere on some planet that I could get it again? Yeah,” he admitted. “But 25 million people have had it and there’s not more than a handful that they’re saying may have had it again.”

“I think we should put this into perspective and not be crazy,” the senator added, noting that one of his staff “just survived nine days on a ventilator.”

Van Susteren pressed: “There are two things. One is manners. If someone feels uneasy and maybe a staff member that, perhaps, wasn’t vaccinated and comes in contact with someone who is a carrier who is asymptomatic. But also, the message that it sends to people around the country.”

But Paul said that he wanted an “honest debate” about facial coverings, insisting that one study showed that there’s “not any evidence that any of the mandates have worked.”

“Almost everybody getting infected said I was wearing a mask all the time,” he remarked. “So guess what? The masks don’t work. They haven’t changed the trajectory of anything.”

“The science is not there that any of the mandates have made any of us any safer,” Paul said. “And in the Senate, it is completely a show. It’s complete theater because they’ve all been vaccinated, including the staff have been vaccinated. So to me, these are science deniers.”

Paul added: “I want to get back to normal so I want to be a leader to show the people, once you’ve had this, don’t be afraid.”

Watch the video below from Full Court Press.



www.youtube.com

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

Source: ALTERNET