Political cover and posturing in the face of a crisis

There are a lot of things going on in the local government and political community that are worth reporting on and analyzing but for at least this week I’m going to offer up for your consideration comments about how some politicians are dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.

When Donald (“I alone can fix it”) Trump told us recently that he takes no responsibility at all, he wasn’t telling us something new, but at least we now have it on tape. He has fought and belittled people who by training and education are qualified to lead and instead has surrounded himself with bootlickers who have checked their brains and morals at the door for the glory of working in the Trump White House.

Having Mike Pence and Jared Kushner in charge of fighting the pandemic is laughable. Pence only does what Fearless Leader tells him to do.  Kushner is undoubtedly building up his Rolodex with useful business contacts that he can cash in on during his post-White House days.

Last fall there were early warning signs of the growing problem in China with the virus. The Trump administration ignored that stuff.

When the pace of confirmed cases of the virus started to move past China, Trump remained in denial mode. Then Trump switched to his old stand-by, trying to deflect attention.  He blamed Democrats.  He blamed the media.  He paid no attention to whatever the scientific experts told him.  He called it a hoax.  Fox News provided talking points to the base.

After the first cases showed up in the United States his denials expanded. He told us there were only 15 cases and they soon would all be gone.  He told the world about the wonderful job he and his team were doing.

Wall Street investors were selling off quickly and Trump was losing the thing he told America was the real benchmark of his great economic achievements, a rising stock market. He addressed the nation from the Oval Office.  Investors responded with another big selloff.

Trump pressured the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates, which stood to benefit his highly leveraged properties that are likely in financial trouble and could catch a break in interest charges. The Fed has responded by twice cutting their interest rates to near zero while also using their monetary powers to buy up treasuries.  They have used up most of their weapons for fighting a financial meltdown, and investors responded by pulling out even more of their money.

The focus now is on Congress. The first two relief packages were prepared by the House.  Mitch McConnell had to tell his senators to gag but vote for them.  Thank you Nancy Pelosi for showing real leadership.

We will now observe how the Republicans who used to hate deficits will get their arms around a nearly two trillion dollar bailout package.  It also seems that the bailout that Republicans are pushing includes a government ownership stake in some businesses.  That, of course, is the basic definition of socialism.

While all of this has been going on we have come to learn that two Republican senators, Richard Burr and Kelly Loeffler, were busy acting like Chris Collins. Acting after receiving information they obtained in secret Intelligence Committee meetings, they dumped millions of dollars of stock related to businesses that would likely take a beating when the full dimensions of the pandemic became known.  Like what Collins is going to prison for.  Mitch McConnell and his gang should call for Burr and Loeffler’s resignations.  The same should apply to any other members of Congress or people in the White House who have acted similarly.  Don’t hold your breath waiting for any of this to happen.

Not to be outdone by the Trump team in Washington, local Trumpster/County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw jumped into the show. He suggested by Tweet that the County Legislature could find money to buy needed medical supplies by approving the proposed reorganization of his office.  That’s the plan would allow Mychajliw to raise former Legislator Lynne Dixon’s salary in the Comptroller’s office from about  $50,000 to $90,000.  The county is being provided with whatever medical supplies have become available, and the county’s surplus, which Republican legislators have tried to chip away at, is rock solid. It will be needed as these issues move along.

Finally, a question. Congressional candidate Chris Jacobs has run tons of TV commercials touting his strong support for Donald Trump.  Why is he so silent about the mess Trump has made of things when the nation’s health and safety are concerned?

A personal note

Today is the 5th anniversary of Politics and Other Stuff. This post is number 361.  The posts have contained approximately 394,000 words.

Readership started five years ago with some family members and friends whose email addresses I extracted via LinkedIn connections. Over time people have come to voluntarily subscribe directly, with an accompanying growing number of Twitter followers.  The number of clicks continues to be very good.

Along the way the posts have achieved added circulation through re-publication or links in The Public, Investigative Post, and Buffalo Rising.  I am grateful to the publishers of those websites for their assistance.

I am also very grateful to long-time friend and Politics and Other Stuff Editor Paul Fisk for his valuable insight and guidance in producing the posts.

Writing this blog has been fun, but I hope that in some small way it has helped contribute to public dialogue about a range of issues and public figures. I have offered lots of opinions, but have also provided many, many useful facts.  I am not expecting readers to agree with my opinions all the time, or maybe even some of the time, but I hope that what is offered here stimulates thought and discussion.

Thank you for reading. And please, stay safe.

Super Tuesday lived up to its name; New York’s primary will be a real contest

With Super Tuesday now in the rearview mirror, it’s on to … Idaho. And oh yeah, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Dakota, and Washington next Tuesday.  It’s like a mini-Super Tuesday.

Joe Biden’s wins in ten state primaries this week were stunning. The positive energy coming from voters indicates that they want Donald Trump out of office, and they will go with the candidate they view as having the best chance of defeating him. Continue reading

Looking at the Democratic presidential primary now and where it might leave the New York primary

We have arrived at the first rest stop on the road to the presidential election 2020. With Iowa* and New Hampshire in the rearview mirror, we can all catch a collective breath before the next event, the Nevada caucuses on February 22nd.  (BTW, don’t look for a footnote at the bottom of the page connected to that asterisk after Iowa*.  It just seems fitting that Iowa*’s 2020 Democratic caucuses deserve a permanent asterisk, like the one given to Roger Maris when he hit 61 home runs in 1961, beating Babe Ruth’s record.  But I digress.) Continue reading

The Bishop as politician

As one news day rolls into the next the Buffalo News and many, many television and radio newscasts have become swamped with stories concerning the investigations of clergy accused of pedophilia and sexual abuse in Western New York. Increasingly the focus has expanded to the handling of such issues by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. The face of the Diocese, Bishop Richard Malone, has been at the eye of the storm.

Pretty much all stories manage to work in a comment about how the scandals go back decades, with the Diocese under the management of several bishops over that time. That being said, Bishop Malone is the man in charge now. Continue reading

The Biden base

We have gone through the second round of debates among 20 Democrats running for president. The most recent sessions might be described as the elimination round of a game show.

It is hard to get an assessment of any candidate when they are talking, in a two-plus hour period, for just nine or ten minutes – with nine other people are also trying to make an impression on the voting public. It is not a great way to sort things out, but there aren’t a lot of appropriate alternatives. Continue reading

Regardless of what the Barr Report claims, there are plenty of reasons to hold Trump accountable

“A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest…” Simon and Garfunkel

So it’s finally out. The Mueller Report, that is. Followed just 48 hours later by the long awaited Barr Report.

Working overtime during the past weekend, Attorney General William Barr and his gang of Republican-appointed attorneys digested twenty-two months of work by the Office of Special Counsel and wrapped it all up in a concise four-page political summary. Continue reading

When the Republican Party claimed to be fiscal conservatives and constitutionalists; Roger (Stone) and me

You don’t need to think too far back to remember a time when the Republican Party touted the idea that they were the party of fiscal responsibility. They also said they were constitutionalists or originalists.

This is not to say that the Republicans were always pure about such subjects. They took great joy in quickly turning the Clinton budget surpluses into deficits with the Bush tax cuts of 2001. Continue reading