Covid made Mitch McConnell’s ‘grim reaper’ nickname into reality

https://www.msnbc.com/opinion/covid-made-mitch-mcconnell-s-grim-reaper-nickname-reality-n1250219

McConnell’s Covid-19 inaction shows he’s perfectly willing to inflict pain and suffering on millions of Americans.

He used to brag about being nicknamed the “grim reaper.” The proud killer of left-wing legislation. “The guy who is going to make sure that socialism doesn’t land on the president’s desk.”

It’s time to consider that there is, in fact, a politician willing to inflict more pain and suffering on Americans than President Donald Trump. And his name is Addison Mitchell McConnell Jr.

The Senate Majority Leader continues to sit on his hands as more Americans die on a daily basis from Covid-19 than died in the Twin Towers.

Today, McConnell is the grim reaper in a much more literal sense. As Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., summed it up: “Congress knows how to help workers and families. It knows how to prevent the looming recession,” he tweeted in the wake of yet another awful set of unemployment numbers. “One person is standing in the way. Mitch McConnell’s political games are costing lives and livelihoods.”

This is not mere partisan hyperbole. The Senate majority leader continues to sit on his hands as more Americans die on a daily basis from Covid-19 than those who died in the terror attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center; as 1 in 8 Americans go hungry; as millions of Americans enter permanent unemployment.

What does McConnell offer them? A “skinny” stimulus bill, consisting of a mere $500 billion in aid, when the near-consensus view among top economists is that it needs to be at least $2 trillion. Skinny? Try “emaciated,” as Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., put it in September. In October, when the Trump administration tried to reach a $1.8 trillion compromise with congressional Democrats, it was McConnell who shot it down.

But he was unshaken; $500 billion, he intoned. Not a penny more.

McConnell’s refusal to authorize further government spending in the midst of this crisis has had — and will continue to have — deadly consequences. We learned this the hard way after the 2008 financial crash.

2017 study in the British Medical Journal found that the “squeeze on public finances” in the wake of the crash was “linked to nearly 120,000 excess deaths in England.” A 2014 study in the British Journal of Psychiatry found the Great Recession led to more than 10,000 added suicides in Europe and North America. “Fiscal policy, it turns out, can be a matter of life or death,” wrote sociologist David Stuckler and epidemiologist Sanjay Basu, co-authors of the book, “The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills,” in 2013. “What we have found is that austerity — severe, immediate, indiscriminate cuts to social and health spending — is not only self-defeating, but fatal.”

The United States is confronting not just the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression but the worst health crisis since the Spanish Flu.

Today, state and local governments are on their knees and begging for federal aid. So, too, are health care workers, as hospitals hit breaking point. Come the end of this month, as various provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act expire, millions of gig workers, freelancers, and long-term unemployed will lose their unemployment benefits; millions of renters will lose their homes as the nationwide eviction moratorium ends; tens of millions of borrowers will have to restart their student loan payments.

So will these looming deadlines force the obstinate Senate majority leader to reluctantly sign off on a new bipartisan bill that offers $908 billion in relief? That’s half of what Trump says he was willing to agree to in October, and less than a third of what House Democrats initially asked for in the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act in May.

Remember: The United States is confronting not just the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression but also the worst health crisis since the Spanish flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield says the coming winter is “going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation.” Epidemiologist Michael Osterholm, a Covid-19 advisor to President-elect Joe Biden, is even blunter: “We are about to enter Covid hell.”

Yet, shamefully, such warnings seem to have no impact on McConnell. He has turned the Senate into a judge-confirming machine, even as the virus ravages the nation and multiple Covid-19 relief bills passed by the House of Representatives languish on his desk.

Few people on this planet can honestly say they have the power to prevent hundreds of thousands of people from losing their jobs, their homes and even their lives. McConnell is one of them. And yet, time and again, he refuses to do so. He insists on protecting corporations — whether it’s the $500 billion “slush fund” for big companies that he included in the CARES Act in March, or his vow that no Covid-19 relief bill will pass the Senate “without liability protection” for employers who risk the lives of their workers. But protecting workers themselves? Or renters? Or hungry kids? To quote veteran activist Ralph Nader, McConnell is a “a corporation masquerading as a human being.” Nader has also called him “the most brazen evil, cruel and powerful legislator” he has come across “in the last 50 years.”

Few people on this planet can honestly say they have the power to prevent hundreds of thousands of people from losing their jobs, their homes, and even their lives. McConnell is one of them.

There was a rather revealing moment in October, during a live TV debate between McConnell and his Democratic challenger Amy McGrath. She didn’t pull her punches. “The House passed a bill in May and the Senate went on vacation. I mean, you just don’t do that. You negotiate. Senator, it is a national crisis.”

McConnell’s response? He laughed. In fact, he carried on chuckling as McGrath said, “If you want to call yourself a leader, you’ve got to get things done.”

Do the deaths of more than a quarter of a million Americans seem funny to him? Is this 78-year-old father and grandfather from Kentucky really so heartless?

Writing in The New York Times, conservative columnist David Brooks declared that if McConnell fails to pass a Covid-19 relief bill in the coming days and weeks, he should “spend Christmas with people thrown out of work and witness the suffering he has caused.” But what if empathy, however, is beyond the grim reaper?

Over the past decade, I have spent my own career as a TV interviewer asking everyone from Iraq War architect John Bolton to Contra backer Otto Reich to former IRA commander Martin McGuinness whether they had issues sleeping at night; whether they regretted the deaths they had — directly or indirectly — caused.

Today, these are the kind of questions I would like to pose to McConnell perhaps more than any other person in the United States. How does he sleep at night? How does he rationalize the deaths and the suffering caused by his willful inaction and indifference? The Senate majority leader is neither the architect of an illegal war, nor the former leader of a terrorist group. Nevertheless, he has much blood on his hands.

Trump Has Discussed With Advisers Pardons for His 3 Eldest Children and Giuliani

Rudolph W. Giuliani, who is promoting baseless claims of widespread election fraud, talked about a pardon with President Trump as recently as last week.

 

President Trump has discussed with advisers whether to grant pre-emptive pardons to his children, to his son-in-law and to his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, and talked with Mr. Giuliani about pardoning him as recently as last week, according to two people briefed on the matter.

Mr. Trump has told others that he is concerned that a Biden Justice Department might seek retribution against the president by targeting the oldest three of his five children — Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump — as well as Ms. Trump’s husband, Jared Kushner, a White House senior adviser.

Donald Trump Jr. had been under investigation by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, for contacts that the younger Mr. Trump had had with Russians offering damaging information on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign, but he was never charged. Mr. Kushner provided false information to federal authorities about his contacts with foreigners for his security clearance, but was given one anyway by the president.

The nature of Mr. Trump’s concern about any potential criminal exposure of Eric Trump or Ivanka Trump is unclear, although an investigation by the Manhattan district attorney into the Trump Organization has expanded to include tax write-offs on millions of dollars in consulting fees by the company, some of which appear to have gone to Ms. Trump.

 

Presidential pardons, however, do not provide protection against state or local crimes.

Mr. Giuliani’s potential criminal exposure is also unclear, although he was under investigation as recently as this summer by federal prosecutors in Manhattan for his business dealings in Ukraine and his role in ousting the American ambassador there. The plot was at the heart of the impeachment of Mr. Trump.

The speculation about pardon activity at the White House is churning furiously, underscoring how much the Trump administration has been dominated by investigations and criminal prosecutions of people in the president’s orbit. Mr. Trump himself was singled out by federal prosecutors as “Individual 1” in a court filing in the case that sent Michael D. Cohen, his former lawyer and fixer, to prison.

 

The discussions between Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani occurred as the former New York mayor has become one of the loudest voices pushing baseless claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, which Mr. Trump still proclaims publicly that he won. Many of Mr. Trump’s longtime aides have refused to do his bidding to try to overturn an election that President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. won by nearly seven million votes. But Mr. Giuliani has repeatedly thrust himself into the spotlight to cast doubt on the results, which has ingratiated him with the president.

ABC News reported earlier on Tuesday that Mr. Trump was considering pardoning family members.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Trump did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Mr. Giuliani did not respond to a message seeking comment, but after a version of this article was published online, he attacked it on Twitter and said it was false.

And Mr. Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert Costello, said, “He’s not concerned about this investigation because he didn’t do anything wrong, and that’s been our position from Day 1.”

 

The Fox News host and Trump ally Sean Hannity said on Monday that given the animosity from Democrats directed at Mr. Trump, the president should consider pardoning his entire family. “If Biden ever became president, I’d tell Trump pardon yourself and pardon your family,” Mr. Hannity told his viewers.

Mr. Trump is an avid consumer of Fox News, particularly Mr. Hannity’s show.

Such a broad pardon pre-empting any charge or conviction is highly unusual but does have precedent. In the most famous example, President Gerald R. Ford pardoned Richard M. Nixon for all of his actions as president. President George Washington pardoned plotters of the Whiskey Rebellion, shielding them from treason prosecutions. And President Jimmy Carter pardoned thousands of American men who illegally avoided the draft for the Vietnam War.

Mr. Trump has wielded his clemency powers liberally in cases that resonate with him personally or for people who have a direct line to him through friends or family, while thousands of other cases await his review.

A pardon for Mr. Giuliani is certain to prompt accusations that Mr. Trump has used his pardon power to obstruct investigations and insulate himself and his allies. Andrew A. Weissmann, a top prosecutor for Mr. Mueller, has said that Mr. Trump’s dangling of pardons for his allies impeded their work.

In July, the president commuted the sentence of his longtime adviser Roger J. Stone Jr., who had refused to cooperate with the special counsel’s investigators and was eventually convicted of seven felonies. Last week, Mr. Trump pardoned his former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, who had backed out of his cooperation agreement with the special counsel’s office for “any and all possible offenses” beyond the charge he had faced of lying to federal investigators.

 

The Flynn pardon raised expectations that Mr. Trump would bestow clemency on other associates — like his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who refused to discuss matters from the 2016 election with prosecutors — in his final weeks in office.

Mr. Giuliani has asked Mr. Trump’s campaign to pay him $20,000 a day for his work on trying to overturn the election, a figure that would make him among the most highly paid lawyers in the world. The staggering sum has stirred opposition among Mr. Trump’s aides who worry that Mr. Giuliani has perpetuated the claims of election fraud in hopes of making as much money as possible.

Mr. Giuliani has expressed concern that any federal investigations of his conduct that appear to have been dormant under the Trump administration could be revived in a Biden administration, according to people who have spoken to him.

Legal experts say that if Mr. Trump wants to fully protect Mr. Giuliani from prosecution after he leaves office, the president would most likely have to detail in the language of the pardon what crimes he believed Mr. Giuliani had committed.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have since 2019 been investigating the role of Mr. Giuliani and two other associates in a wide-ranging pressure campaign directed at pushing the Ukrainian government to investigate Mr. Trump’s rivals, namely Mr. Biden’s son Hunter Biden.

The two Giuliani associates — Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman — were arrested in October 2019 as they prepared to board a flight from Washington to Frankfurt with one-way tickets. They were charged with violating campaign finance laws as part of a complex scheme to undermine the former American ambassador in Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, who Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump believed should have been doing more to pressure the Ukrainians.

Prosecutors in Manhattan continued to investigate Mr. Giuliani’s role in the scheme over the past year, focusing on whether he was, in pushing to oust Ms. Yovanovitch, essentially double dipping: working not only for Mr. Trump but also for Ukrainian officials who wanted the ambassador gone for their own reasons, according to people briefed on the matter.

 

It is a federal crime to try to influence the United States government at the request or direction of a foreign official without disclosing their involvement. Mr. Giuliani has said that he did nothing wrong and that he did not register as a foreign agent because he was acting on behalf of Mr. Trump, not any Ukrainians.

Even as Mr. Trump maintains that the election was stolen and files lawsuits aimed at delaying its certification, his White House is preparing for the final stages of his presidency. The end of any administration typically prompts a wave of pardons, particularly when a term has been engulfed in controversy like Mr. Trump’s, in which several people close to him became ensnared in federal investigations.

“The pardon power has been used by many presidents in politically self-serving ways, whether it was George H.W. Bush or Clinton,” said Jack L. Goldsmith, a professor at Harvard Law School, citing how Mr. Bush pardoned six of his associates — including the former Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger — for their role in the Iran-contra affair.

“Politically, a pardon of Giuliani would be explosive,” Mr. Goldsmith added, “but pardoning pals has been done before.”

Under previous administrations, presidents have largely granted pardons after they have gone through a formal review process at the Justice Department, where lawyers examined the convictions, discussed the ramifications of a potential pardon with prosecutors and then provided the White House with recommendations on how to proceed. On several occasions, Mr. Trump has gone against the Justice Department’s recommendations and the advice of his own White House advisers, granting pardons to political allies and celebrities.

When presidents have deviated from that process, scandals have occasionally occurred, especially after pardons in the last days of an administration. On the final day of Bill Clinton’s presidency, he granted a pardon to Marc Rich, a wealthy financier and longtime Democratic donor who was considered a fugitive as he had fled the United States to avoid tax charges.

Prosecutors in Manhattan investigated whether the pardon had been part of a quid pro quo, but no one was ever charged. At the time, Mr. Giuliani, who had helped bring criminal charges against Mr. Rich years earlier as a federal prosecutor, was deeply critical of the move, calling it “a disgrace” and declaring it “a midnight pardon.”

 

No president has tried to grant someone a pardon for crimes they have not yet committed — essentially a prospective get-out-of-jail-free card — and legal experts say it is unlikely to hold any weight. In the case of Donald Trump Jr., Mr. Mueller’s investigation examined questions of whether his contacts during the 2016 election with WikiLeaks and Russians offering dirt on Mrs. Clinton amounted to campaign finance violations. Donald Trump Jr. was never interviewed by the special counsel’s office and was never charged.

In the case of Mr. Kushner, he omitted several significant contacts with foreigners when he filled out a form for his White House security clearance, including ones with the Russians offering damaging information on Mrs. Clinton during the campaign. Under federal law it is a crime to provide inaccurate or incomplete information on the background check documents for security clearances.

In 2018, the White House counsel and chief of staff recommended that Mr. Kushner not receive a Top Secret security clearance because of issues that had been discovered during his background check. Over the objections of Mr. Trump’s aides, the president unilaterally granted Mr. Kushner the clearance.

Ben Protess contributed reporting.

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Gay parents shouldn’t both be on child’s birth certificate, Indiana AG argues

https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/gay-parents-shouldn-t-both-be-child-s-birth-certificate-n1249358

The state’s attorney general wants the Supreme Court to reverse a lower court ruling that found Indiana laws limiting who can be called a parent were unconstitutional.

 

Image: Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill

Indiana’s attorney general submitted a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that it should reverse a federal appeals court’s ruling that allowed both members of same-sex couples in Indiana to be listed as parents on the birth certificates of their children.

The petition from Attorney General Curtis Hill follows a January decision by the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that affirmed a decision by judges in Indiana’s federal southern district court who found that Indiana laws limiting who can be called the parent of a child were unconstitutional.

 

Hill filed also filed a request in June asking the court to review the appellate court’s decision.

The original case involved Ashlee and Ruby Henderson, a gay married couple from Lafayette who filed a federal lawsuit in 2015 challenging Indiana’s birth records law. They sued the state health commissioner and Tippecanoe County officials because county officials would not list both of them as parents on the birth certificate of their son, who Ruby conceived through artificial insemination.

The case is among the first dealing with same-sex marriage for the Supreme Court since the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the Journal & Courier and The Indianapolis Star reported.

Karen Celestino-Horseman, the Hendersons’ Indianapolis-based attorney, said Wednesday that she expects Hill’s brief will be discussed during a Dec. 11 conference the high court has set on the matter.

“We are hopeful the court will follow the precedent in ‘Pavan,’” Celestino-Horseman said, referring to the high court’s 2017 ruling in the Pavan v. Smith case, which involved Arkansas married couples who conceive through artificial insemination. In that case, the court ruled that the “constellation of benefits that the states have linked to marriage” extended to having the names of same-sex parents on a birth certificate.

In their federal suit, the Hendersons contended that leaving one mother’s name off the birth certificate presented legal issues when it came to health insurance coverage, who could speak for a child at a doctor’s appointment and enrolling in school. They argued that it was unfair to force one mother from a same-sex marriage to spend $4,000 to $5,000 to legally adopt the couple’s child.

The Hendersons won their initial case in 2016. Seven additional couples joined the suit as plaintiffs after Indiana appealed up to the Chicago-based 7th Circuit, which ruled in January that under Indiana law, “a husband is presumed to be a child’s biological father, so that both spouses are listed as parents on the birth certificate and the child is deemed to be born in wedlock.”

“There’s no similar presumption with respect to an all-female married couple — or for that matter an all-male married couple,” the judges wrote, adding that requiring both women in a same-sex marriage to be listed as parents would prevent any discrimination.

In his petition to the court, Hill argues that upholding that decision would violate common sense and throw into jeopardy parental rights based on biology.

“A birth mother’s wife will never be the biological father of the child, meaning that, whenever a birth-mother’s wife gains presumptive ‘parentage’ status, a biological father’s rights and obligations to the child have necessarily been undermined without proper adjudication,” Hill wrote.

Again bigotry on display.  Why does this man so desperately want to take a parent from a child?  He clearly has a ax to grind, as this affects him personally  in no way.  Could he be someone with deeply held religious beliefs that to people of the same gender on a child’s birth certificate makes his god sad.  Makes his god cry?  Is he on a religious crusade to earn his place in his gods afterlife by making the icky gays lives harder?    Please read the next story on this he has an issue with consent also.   Hugs

Indiana AG Asks SCOTUS To Reverse Ruling Allowing Same-Sex Parents To Be Listed On Birth Certificates

Read the full article. Curtis Hill last appeared on JMG earlier this year when he temporarily lost his law license over allegations that he had drunkenly groped several women at a party. Since then Hill has fought against COVID-related restrictions in his state.