Monday, August 10, 2020

 A brand new week starts up and we have a whole new mess of nonsense to deal with. Plus, there’s the fallout from the shenanigans Trump got up to this weekend to consider. So buckle up, children, it’s probably going to be a rough one.

 Tell the truth, I’m not really in a journalistic mood this morning and the dourness is just getting worse. I got a full night’s sleep last night, so go figure. Regardless, we’ll get something down here and perhaps come back to it later.

 One thing I think we need to go over concerns the Executive Orders signed by Trump because there’s been some wisdom gained since last night. Turns out, three of the four EO’s weren’t EO’s at all. They were “presidential memorandum” which are apparently even more toothless. Here’s a good thread by University of Chicago law professor Daniel Hemel that explains the whole affair fairly clearly, but let’s go over some salient points.

 One thing we must emphasize is that despite all you hear, none of these are actually unconstitutional. They may be useless or even harmful in the long run, but none of them actually demand anything that runs contrary to the powers of the President laid out by the Constitution. For example, the one that proclaims to give people $400 to help with expenses during COVID-19 requires first a $100 input from the states. So it’s really only $300 at best and that’s only if the cash-strapped states can pitch in. It’s not really a stimulus and likely as not few people eligible will see a nickel.

 Another example is the payroll tax cut. Again, not unconstitutional but it’s probably ineffective. For all the braying that it’s an attack against Social Security and Medicare, that’s only true if Trump follows through with his “promise” to make the cut permanent if he wins re-election. He said that at one of his rallies and nothing he says there should be taken seriously. As it is, the government will still take money for Social Security, et. al., but employers will be on the hook for it with next year’s taxes. In any event, cutting the payroll tax doesn’t do diddley for the 30-plus million unemployed.

 Of the three memoranda, the only one that might actually be useful is the proposed deferment on student loans. Thing is, though, the Secretary of Education already had the power to defer payment on loans for folks experiencing economic hardships thanks to legislation passed during the Clinton and Obama years. So that’s nice and all, sure, by the hope that Betsy DeVos, of all people, will develop a soul before November comes around is a bit much.

 The only actual Executive Order, as it turns out, is the one offering relief from evictions. However, the way it’s worded, it actually does absolutely nothing. What it does do is encourage the Departments of Health & Human Services, Housing & Urban Development, the Treasury, the Center for Disease Control, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency to take action if they feel it is necessary. Again, with this Administration, I wouldn’t hold my breath. So, thanks a pantload there, boss.

 Taken as a whole, this whole affair is a puff of wind and anyone who doesn’t think it isn’t an attempt to win back some of the folks Trump lost before Election Day hits. He’s dragging behind Joe Biden over most of the country to the point where the Democratic Party is eyeing conservative strongholds like Texas as a possible flip. It’s also useful to remember that Joe Biden ain’t Hilary Clinton, so any wisdom gleaned from the 2016 election must adjust.

 The question is since a great deal of the anger directed at Trump is due to his complete bumbling of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic meltdown, will the bandages mentioned above be enough to make the nut even if they actually have some impact. We’re still 90 days from November 3rd, a lifetime in politics, and all sorts of shit can still happen. College football is possibly canceled for the year and the back-to-school rollout is not going well. People have been pointing to the low infection rate among children as proof they were safe, but once the young’uns started getting in amongst the crowd, well… let’s just say the science is evolving. And with the revelation of a seven-year-old in Georgia dying last week due to COVID-19 infection even though the child had no chronic conditions, it’s still unsettling.

 And enough for all that. We’re still marinating the post office issue. That one will turn out to be very heavy before it’s all over with, I’m thinking. Protests against Breonna Taylor’s murders still going free haven’t stopped in Louisville despite the city’s best efforts. Something ugly involving a police shooting and citizen unrest went down in Chicago last night, but I’m waiting to see what folks on the ground say about that. You can’t trust the cops on this and you certainly can’t trust the corporate media.

 So there’s that there, then. Wound doing a full article in spite of myself. We might come back to it before the day’s out, but I believe I’ll go ahead and file this one. Wash your hands, wear your masks, and maybe think about not being completely selfish assholes for a change.

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