In case you haven’t noticed, with so much attention on President Trump and his battle with the ongoing corona crisis, Joe Biden and the contest for the Democratic 2020 nominee has practically disappeared from the news cycle.
Within just a few days after he made headlines with his commanding primary victories in Florida, Arizona, and Illinois, the coronavirus has turned former Vice President Joe Biden into a virtual prisoner of his Delaware home, where he’s reduced to sniping at President Trump from the family rec room.
“He’s making himself irrelevant,” Saikat Chakrabarti, a former chief of staff to Queens Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, told The New York Post, saying the virtual broadcasts were not helping. “We need action immediately, and Biden can’t do anything real right now.”
Biden has been forced to watch from the sidelines as President Trump steals the spotlight with his daily coronavirus briefings that have been a ratings smash.
Though Biden, and others have criticized the president for spreading inaccurate information and saying things like he wants to quarantine New York, and promoting untested antibiotics and other drugs during his briefings — national polls suggest Americans are increasingly pleased with his performance in handling the deadly pandemic.
The latest findings from Gallup show the president with a 49% approval rating, approaching a career-high that he last enjoyed in February, during the height of his Senate impeachment trial. The same survey found 60% of Americans now approve of his handling of the coronavirus crisis, including more than a quarter of Democrats.
“I think Trump is being seen as handing the pandemic well by the public even though he was too late to start procuring any [personal protective equipment],” Chakrabarti said, explaining the polling bounce, adding that Biden missed his moment to make an impression. “[Trump] is the only one going up every day and talking to the American people.”
As for Biden’s rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders — whose challenge to Biden for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination is sagging — has been in D.C. helping to hammer out trillions of dollars in coronavirus relief spending. The 78-year has also held several in depth coronavirus town halls via Facebook Live.
But Biden has gone nearly dark. Aside from a call with reporters, and a virtual live-stream appearance at a fundraiser on Sunday, the ex-vice president has had few appearances on TV. He reappeared on CNN on March 24, and it did not go smoothly.
During the brief Q&A, Biden coughed repeatedly into his fist shortly after telling the anchor he had no symptoms of coronavirus and had not been tested. At one point Tapper even scolded the vice president for not directing coughs into his elbow.
The coughing came along with the usual Biden word salads. On “The View” that same day, the former veep told guest co-host Sara Haines that “we have to take care of the cure. That will make the problem worse no matter what.”
He also had an emotional moment during a virtual CNN town hall Friday talking about personal loss and almost gave out his telephone number on live television.
Many Democrats and armchair pundits have unflatteringly compared Biden’s performance with Gov. Cuomo, who has won praise from both sides of the aisle for his smooth command of facts, regular virus updates and tough, no-nonsense approach to defiant New Yorkers. The fervor peaked as the hashtag #PresidentCuomo zipped across Twitter last week.
“He is currently the only Democrat showing leadership in a moment of crisis, at least publicly,” Chakrabarti said. “Cuomo is doing the daily press conference, he’s leading in a way that President Trump was.”
However, Biden’s campaign seems to be counting on that Trump will eventually botch the government’s response to COVID-19. “Donald Trump’s failure to take this virus seriously in the face of urgent and obvious warning signs will go down as one of most incompetent and ultimately harmful decisions by a president in recent history,” a Biden aide told The Post.
Just before midnight on Wednesday, by a vote of 96-0, the Senate passed a massive $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus compromise package, ending days of deadlock. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said will soon take up the historic measure to bring relief to individuals, small businesses, and larger corporations “with strong bipartisan support.”
The historic measure mostly earned praise from lawmakers in both parties and their leaders, who said the sweeping bill will address the most serious of the economic and health consequences of the coronavirus outbreak with a huge injection of federal dollars and lending capacity.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, told lawmakers late Wednesday that the House would pass the measure by voice vote on Friday, which means they would not have to return to Washington.
Republicans have apparently lined up their rank and file to agree to the terms. “Members who want to come to the House Floor to debate this bill will be able to do so. In addition, we are working to ensure that those who are unable to return to Washington may express their views on this legislation remotely. My office will send out information tomorrow with those details,” Hoyer said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said massive layoffs caused by “shelter-in-place” orders had brought the economy to a standstill.
“This strange new reality has forced our nation onto something like a wartime footing,” McConnell said. “A fight has arrived on our shores. We did not seek it. We did not want it. But now, we are going to win it.”
McConnell, in his closing speech before the vote, announced the Senate would shutter until April 20, with only pro forma sessions taking place, unless there is a need for lawmakers to return sooner.
The 880-page legislation is the largest economic relief bill in U.S. history.
The package would provide one-time direct payments to Americans of $1,200 per adult making up to $75,000 a year, and $2,400 to married couples making up to $150,000, with $500 payments per child. After a $75,000 threshold for individuals, the benefit would be reduced by $5 for each $100 the taxpayer makes. A similar $150,000 threshold applies to couples, and a $112,500 threshold for heads of households.
The legislation passed by the Senate will use 2019 tax returns, if available, or 2018 tax returns to assess income for determining how much direct financial aid individuals receive. Those who did not file tax returns can use a Form SSA-1099, Social Security Benefit Statement or Form RRB-1099, a Social Security Equivalent Benefit Statement.
Further, the bill allocates $250 billion to extend unemployment insurance to more workers, and lengthen the duration to 39 weeks, up from the normal 26 weeks. $600 extra a week would be provided for four months.
The final package would additionally provide $349 billion in loans to small businesses — and money spent on rent, payroll and utilities becomes grants that don’t need to be paid back. Many hotels would qualify as small businesses under the plan.
The bill omits many — though not all – of the items from Pelosi’s version of the legislation that Republicans had called wasteful or irrelevant, including climate-change-related emissions restrictions for airlines and various diversity-related provisions.
Former Vice President Joe Biden had some choice words for a Michigan auto worker at a campaign stop on Tuesday.
The presidential candidate was visiting the Detroit plant where the Fiat Chrysler is produced when worker Jerry Wayne decided to ask Biden how he planned to help union workers. But he also asked him about his position on the Second Amendment.
“I also asked him how he wanted to get the vote of the working man when a lot of us wield arms,” Wayne said in an interview on Wednesday that was reported on in USA Today. “We bear arms and we like to do that.”
Video of the exchange shows Wayne accusing Biden of “actively trying to end our Second Amendment right” and “take away our guns.”
Biden, whose platform includes extensive plans to tighten gun restrictions, didn’t take very kindly to Wayne’s criticism. “You’re full of shit,” he told Wayne. “I support the Second Amendment.”
Wayne pressed the issue, however, especially regarding Biden’s support for banning semi-automatic rifles, one type of which Biden mistakenly referred to as an “AR-14” (the AR-15 is a common type of rifle). Biden, visibly angry, told Wayne not to act like “such a horse’s ass.”
Biden “went off the deep end,” Wayne said of the exchange.
In spite of Biden’s harsh reaction, Wayne said he didn’t feel insulted by the former Vice President. He felt the real problem was Biden’s lack of a genuine answer. “He wanted to listen to my question and I don’t think that he was ready for it,” Wayne said.
“It was a little bit disturbing to see that a politician wants to take away my right to defend myself,” Wayne continued. “What we need to do is we need to concentrate on teaching people how to respect firearms and how to use them, not take them away.”
Wayne said that it had been an “absolute privilege and an honor to be the voice of Americans” regarding the Second Amendment. “This is a right that we need to protect with our heart and soul.”
Not long ago, former President Jimmy Carter said that 80 years old is too old to carry out the duties of President of the United States. He should know since he was the President – and knows the duties – and he is now 94 years old – so he knows what really old age is like. He is right.
Pondering Carter’s opinion – and realizing that I am just a couple of putts away from 80, myself – I have abandoned all ambitions and plans to run for President of the United States. As onetime Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen responded when asked about plans to run for President despite his age – “That ship has long ago left the dock.”
The pollsters tell us that Former Vice President Biden has the edge with older voters. As an older voter, I am surprised. All the folks with whom I communicate who are 80 or older talk about all the creeping limitations of body and mind – and that is even the most vigorous of them. They tire easily. They get forgetful and confused a bit. They already have a host of medical issues that sap their vitality.
Even the most vigorous septuagenarians and octogenarians recognize that they are in the danger zone of life – that time when “anything can happen.” We seniors are a day away from a catastrophic health event. Though not catastrophic, we saw how a small heart attack took Senator Bernie Sanders off the campaign trail for a week or so.
Joe Biden and Sanders have both already surpassed the life expectancy of an average American male (76 years). The fact that both have had serious health problems in the past puts them at even a higher risk. The odds suggest that Biden and Sanders will have significant health issues sometime in the next four years. You can bet on it.
If we just consider geriatrics, President Trump has the age advantage. He is a kid compared to them. At 74, he would complete a second term before he hit 80. In fact, he would leave office after 8 years at the same age Biden or Sanders would be inaugurated for their first term – making them the oldest presidents every elected.
President Reagan was 78 when he completed two terms – and there were reports that he was already suffering from age-related health issues in his final months in office.
I know it is politically incorrect to question a person’s ability purely because of age, but as Biden, himself, often says, “Come on man, get real.” The presidency is an extremely demanding job. There are enormous pressures. Long days and short nights. It requires great stamina – not something found in very old people.
In brief appearances, Biden looks great – full of energy. But he also has a lot of time off from the campaign trail. He can afford to do that during a campaign, but not as President.
Biden is showing his age, as they say. Many of his gaffes are common in older folks. He forgets or confuses names and places. He loses his train of thought in what some call a “senior moment.”
Sanders does not seem to mind showing his age. That is not true of Biden – who uses makeup to cover up lines and “age spots” during television appearances.
I would never suggest that age be the ONLY criteria for determining a vote, but it should be taken into consideration. After all, President Franklin Roosevelt was elected to a fourth term when those close to him knew that he was terminally ill – and would not live out the first year much less the entire four-year term.
It is increasingly likely that Biden will be the Democratic nominee for President. Most supporters will vote for him despite his age. They should not, however, think that age and health will not be an important issue sooner than they might think.
So, there ‘tis.
A local Texas school district has approved a measure that will allow teachers to conceal carry in the classroom.
Nearly two years after the deadly Santa Fe High School shooting, a Texas school district is set to begin allowing some teachers to be permitted to carry guns on school premises for safety purposes.
Last week, the Santa Fe Independent School District announced plans to implement the Guardian Plan, which will allow local school boards to authorize employees to conceal carry on campus at all times.
The plan comes as an expansion of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s 2013 school marshal program. However, School Board President Rusty Norman said he prefers the Guardian Plan because it allows employees to carry the firearms themselves rather than in a lock-box under the alternative proposed by Abbott.
Norman made the following comments regarding the initiative, “There will be no one forced to participate in this program. Number one, it will be strictly voluntary. Number two, there will be some guidelines like they will already have to be established within the state of Texas and licensed to carry a concealed hand gun. There will be background checks above and beyond what they already had and then the additional training that we will require to do that.”
According to reports, the district plans to finance the program with its general funding and will pay for participant’s training. Approved applicants will be required to complete a minimum of 40 hours of training and meet the same marksmanship standards as an on-campus officer. Additionally, applicants will undergo the same psychological testing as police officers.
Norman said that while he understands many schools will not take such measures, the move is designed to be a last line of defense and provide a sense of safety to teachers.
As it becomes more likely that Joe Biden will win the Democratic Presidential nomination, Republican lawmakers are gearing up to investigate his son Hunter.
In 2016, then-Vice President Joe Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion in aid money to Ukraine unless its leaders fired a prosecutor who was investigating energy company Burisma Holdings.
At the time, Biden’s son Hunter served on Burisma’s Board of Directors for $50,000 per month despite having no experience in the industry.
Critics say the situation represents a serious conflict of interest comparable to the allegations about Trump colluding with Russia.
This week, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) convinced Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) to support his colleague’s efforts to subpoena individuals close to the matter.
Without Romney, Republicans would be unable to issue subpoenas if all Democratic senators opposed.
“Senator Romney has expressed his concerns to Chairman Johnson, who has confirmed that any interview of the witness would occur in a closed setting without a hearing or public spectacle,” said a spokesperson. “He will therefore vote to let the chairman proceed to obtain the documents that have been offered.”
Johnson’s requests for interviews and documents related to the matter have been ignored, forcing him to consider subpoenas.
Among those expected to receive subpoenas is Andrii Telizhenko, a former employee of political consultancy firm Blue Star Strategies. Blue Star, representing Ukraine, is thought to have sought access to Joe Biden through his son in order to influence the US State Department.
Trump’s desire for this investigation is what led to his impeachment last year. Romney was the only Republican to vote in favor of convicting Trump on the first article of impeachment.
Among the mainstay narratives of the Democratic Party is that money corrupts politics — and that the division between the rich and poor is a national crisis. Those claims have always been a bit hyperbolic, but now they are downright hypocritical. Thanks go to former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg for exposing it.
If, as expected, Bloomberg keeps his pledge to use hundreds of millions of dollars to elect former Vice President Joe Biden, Democrat House and Senate candidates and an untold number of Democrats to state and local office, he will be living proof that all that left-wing talk about money corrupting politics was empty political talking points.
By dangling dollars in front of the Democratic Party — like carrion in front of vultures — Bloomberg exposes the whore-ish underbelly of left-wing politics. Their governing principle is to do whatever is necessary to win.
While his socialist policies are as bad and crazy as can be, at least Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has the courage of his misguided convictions. He has stated that he does not want Bloomberg’s money and would not take it if he were the nominee – as unlikely as that may seem today. And that goes for all those other billionaire fat cats.
Conversely, Biden, Democrat National Chairman Tom Perez and every other Democrat and progressive fundraising organization are on their knees kissing Bloomberg’s ring (one would hope) with hands outstretched.
In their lust of his wallet, the entire Democratic Party has tossed aside their longstanding objection to the influence of big money in politics. They are reminiscent of what one-time southern Democrat senator said when asked how much he needed for his campaign. He replied. “All I can get.”
Our ridiculous federal election laws prevent guys like Bloomberg from donating big bucks directly to federal campaigns – President, Senate and House. But they can do two things – use their cadre of friends to bundle lots of $2700 donations. But even better, they can set up what are known as “independent expenditure committees” and fund them with as much of their money as they like. No limit.
This loophole enables a guy like Bloomberg to advertise nice things ABOUT a candidate as long has he does not talk TO or conspire WITH the candidate. Only a Congress would come up with nutty laws like that.
Ever since they passed the federal election laws of the 1970s, I have been a constant critic. It makes no sense to restrict what a candidate can accept in donations and still allow the creation of these loophole committees that pour billions of dollars into the process. We should allow unlimited direct contributions, have larger contributions publicly reported and let we the people decide what we think about the contributors and the candidate taking the money.
Since campaign money is used to “get out the message,” I like to think that every candidate will have the resources to tell his or her story to the voters –and not be defeated by a LACK of money. Money spent on campaigns is good for democracy – hell, it is essential. Let the candidates take in the money and get rid of all these external committees over which the candidate has no control over the message.
On the final analysis, it is NOT the fact that Bloomberg is willing to spend so much money to support candidates – let him – but let all the candidates who do not have such a bank-roller compete by raising sufficient money. Besides, all that money spent on campaigns is good for the economy. Think of all the people and businesses they hire or retain.
So, I am not pointing at the money, but at the gross hypocrisy of the left-wing Democratic Party that talks against big contributions while eagerly soliciting them.
So, there ‘tis.
In the wake of Joe Biden’s startling comeback on Super Tuesday, Billionaire Michael Bloomberg has given up his bid for the Democratic nomination. As quickly as the former New York mayor dropped out of the race, he threw his support behind Biden, officially endorsing the former Vice President.
Bloomberg dropping out marks the end of an unprecedented, high-spending, self-funded campaign that rejected conventional campaign tactics.
His announcement comes as early results in Super Tuesday states show that he failed to become the choice of centrists as dropout candidates and Democratic leaders coalesced around the former vice president in the days before the Tuesday contests.
“I’m a believer in using data to inform decisions. After yesterday’s results, the delegate math has become virtually impossible — and a viable path to the nomination no longer exists,” Bloomberg said in a statement Wednesday.
He endorsed centrist ally Biden in an apparent bid to stop socialist Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders from winning the Democratic presidential nomination.
“I’ve always believed that defeating Donald Trump starts with uniting behind the candidate with the best shot to do it. After yesterday’s vote, it is clear that candidate is my friend and a great American, Joe Biden,” Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg, 78, made his late entry into the Democratic presidential field in November, reportedly deciding to run after Biden faltered in the polls. His expensive, unconventional campaign met with criticism from his rivals and party insiders.
Rival candidates scolded Bloomberg for his massive personal spending. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren accused Bloomberg of trying to buy the presidency.
Bloomberg skipped competing in the first four nominating contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada and instead directed resources across Super Tuesday states that were expensive for his competitors to reach. The tactic angered party officials in the early states, who argued candidates should demonstrate traditional grassroots strength.
Rising left-wing factions in the Democratic Party proved to be a challenge for Bloomberg. In the weeks before he launched his campaign, Bloomberg apologized for supporting stop-and-frisk policing tactics that he pushed while he was the mayor of New York City, and his campaign team apologized for his past comments disparaging women.
Democratic presidential debates exposed a stiff candidate unprepared to rebut harsh attacks on his record and alleged treatment of women, particularly from Warren.
President Trump, who has been relentless in mocking Bloomberg over everything from his height to his debate performances, delivered his barbed observations on the race once more after Bloomberg dropped out.
“Mini Mike Bloomberg just ‘quit’ the race for President. I could have told him long ago that he didn’t have what it takes, and he would have saved himself a billion dollars, the real cost. Now he will pour money into Sleepy Joe’s campaign, hoping to save face. It won’t work!” he tweeted.
Much as been written that the first two Democrat primaries did not reflect America. Basically, the voters were too white – not enough diversity. The Nevada primary was said to be more diverse – more representative of the nation. Still, its 8 percent black population is lower than the national average of 14 percent.
A number of television pundits suggested that South Carolina would be the best representative of diversity. Apparently, they were not doing the math. In the South Carolina Democrat primary, approximately 66 percent of the registered voters are black – and they were 61 percent of the vote. That is almost five times above the national average.
It can be argued that South Carolina was the best indicator of support in the black community, but it cannot be extrapolated over the American population – not even the demographics of the general Democrat voters in America. None of the Super Tuesday primaries will match the black vote of South Carolina. Only Alabama and Georgia come close.
Winning the South Carolina primary was a political lifesaver for former Vice President Joe Biden, but it may not be predictive of his chances in the 14 states (plus American Samoa) that go to the polls on Super Tuesday – and beyond that.
Biden did well among African American voters in the Palmetto State, but he was fortunate to have had the black candidates – New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and California Senator Kamala Harris – drop out earlier. The black voters of South Carolina did not have a brother or sister on the ballot to draw their support. They had to pick from the field of white candidates.
Of course, that will be the case in the future. But Biden’s popularity among black South Carolinians may not, itself, be an indicator of how he does in future primaries in which there are a significant number of black voters.
Southern black voters tend to be a bit more moderate and less racially bound than their northern counterparts. Some see it as the recognized difference between Afro-centric blacks and those commonly referred to as “Island Blacks” – who identify more with the Caribbean than Central Africa. This significant cultural difference is often overlooked or ignored by political analysts who see the black community as one giant monolithic cultural group.
The Afro-centric community is more likely to lean to the expansive welfare policies of the Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party. If that is true, it will be seen more in the California, Massachusetts and Minnesota primaries on Super Tuesday – and subsequently in states like Illinois, Michigan and New York. And it may result in less support for Biden than he received from the black community in South Carolina.
On the other hand, Sanders’ still has a problem of attracting a significant number of black Democrat voters in upcoming primaries to maintain an insurmountable lead in the presidential race. That makes the prospect of a brokered convention a lot more likely.
So, there ‘tis.
Article By Larry Horist
Consider it another promise kept. President Trump has commuted the 14-year prison sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Trump, who seems to be focusing on correcting what he sees as miscarriages of justice lately, has long said that Blagojevich got a raw deal, and has been talking for months about commuting his sentence.
“Yes, we commuted the sentence of Rod Blagojevich. He served eight years in jail, a long time. He seems like a very nice person, don’t know him,” Trump told reporters on Tuesday.
A statement released by the White House revealed that Trump also pardoned former New York City Police Department Commissioner Bernie Kerik and financier Michael Milken. Kerik spent four years in prison from 2010 to 2013 after being found guilty of tax fraud and lying to government officials. Milken spent two years in prison from 1991 to 1993 and was fined $600 million on securities fraud charges.
Earlier in the day, it was announced that Trump granted a pardon to Edward DeBartolo Jr., the former owner of the San Francisco 49ers.
Blagojevich has served roughly eight years in prison after being convicted on corruption charges. He is expected to be set free from the Englewood Federal Correctional Institution in Colorado on Tuesday.
For many months now, the president signaled he might commute the former Democratic governor’s prison sentence. Trump said in August that he was “strongly” considering the move and that Blagojevich’s case was being reviewed.
The president appeared to back away from the idea about a week later after hearing strong opposition from a group of Illinois Republican legislators.
“It’s important that we take a strong stand against pay-to-play politics, especially in Illinois, where four of our last eight governors have gone to federal prison for public corruption,” Illinois Reps. Darin LaHood, John Shimkus, Adam Kinzinger, Rodney Davis, and Mike Bost said in a joint statement.
LaHood and Bost made the lawmakers’ case to Trump over the phone, and Trump appeared to be receptive to their argument, telling them, “I wish I had the perspective before.”
But, Trump has long thought that Blagojevich’s sentence was too harsh. In 2012, Trump called Blagojevich’s sentence “outrageous.”
Blagojevich, 63, was convicted on corruption charges in 2011 for attempting to extort campaign donations from a children’s hospital and for attempting to sell former President Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat. Blagojevich called Obama’s vacated Senate seat “f—ing golden” on a phone call recorded by the FBI.
His wife, Patricia Blagojevich, lobbied for her husband’s early release and made appearances on Fox News in 2018 to make her case in the hope that the president was watching. Patricia Blagojevich began her media circuit after the former governor lost his last appeal to the Supreme Court.
Trump and the former governor know each other from Trump’s NBC reality television show The Celebrity Apprentice. Blagojevich appeared on the ninth season of the show in 2010. Trump fired him from the show but said the former governor had “a hell of a lot of guts” for the fight he was then putting up in court against the corruption charges.