Shut Down Order Assailed
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf's order directing all but "life-sustaining" businesses to shut down has spurred objections from several sectors. The law firm of Costopoulos, Foster & Fields asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for an emergency injunction to allow the firm to reopen.
"The governor's order is so broad and sweeping, it is manifestly unconstitutional and illegal," wrote William Costopoulos. "No work is more essential than defending our clients accused of crimes. The postponement of trials that has been offered as a justification for temporarily shutting down our office is not a sufficient remedy. Under our laws, the accused has the right to a speedy trial. If that isn't available, the charges must be dropped."
David Taylor, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association, pointed out that "Wolf's order is blocking supply chains from providing essential products. The order has halted timber operations that are necessary to resupply the paper products that have disappeared from store shelves. It has also stopped the coal production needed for manufacturing the steel required for making other essential products."
Wolf rebuffed the objections, asserting that "now that the federal government is going to mail everyone a check, there isn't a need to manufacture anything. All anyone has to do is order what they need by phone or over the Internet and it can be delivered to their home while they shelter-in-place. As for the lawyers, they can consult with their clients by phone from home and write their briefs on their laptop computers. Their clients will be well-cared for in jail, unless they are in the Philadelphia jurisdiction, where those indicted for crimes will be released for the duration of the crisis."
In related news, California Sen. Kamala Harris, rumored "short list" contender for the vice-presidential running mate slot on a Democratic ticket with presidential candidate former Vice-President Joe Biden, urged that "all low-risk prison inmates should be released. Being cooped up in close quarters during the epidemic could be a death sentence. That would be a cruel and unusual punishment for individuals whose only crime is a 'property crime.' The next Democratic Administration will usher in a new attitude toward property where the government will take it from those who don't need it and give it to those who do. Why should individuals who have already taken the initiative to do this on their own continue to be punished in our prisons?"
Trump Blamed for Coronavirus
With New York City accounting for a disproportionately large share of the coronavirus cases in the US, Mayor Bill de Blasio is blaming President Trump because "we need radical action right away."
The Mayor declined to take any radical action himself, saying "that's not my job. There needs to be a single point from which all dictates must be issued. That point is the President. Those of us at the local level must remain free, as we have been thus far, to criticize any mistakes or flaws that might taint the President's actions."
One of the "flaws" that the President's political opponents have freely criticized so far was "the racist travel ban" Trump imposed on travel to the US from China in early February. Former Vice-President Joe Biden denounced the ban calling it "xenophobic, unnecessary, and a threat to the sensitive business arrangements between the Chinese government and my son." However, medical experts are now crediting Trump's travel ban for reducing the spread of the disease in the US.
In related news, CNN's Stephen Collinson charges that "Trump's repeated efforts to offer Americans a glimmer of hope in these dark times impedes the portrait of disaster and doom we have been cultivating. Look, our efforts to oust Trump over Russian collusion was years in the making and fell through. We got the House to impeach him over the Ukraine phone call, but were stymied by the Senate's refusal to convict. This virus may be our last chance before voters reelect him in November. Surely the chaos that has ensued since he took office ought to show the American people that their best hope for peace and quiet won't be attained as long as Trump remains president."
Senators Say Insider-Trading Law Doesn't Apply
Revelations that several senators privy to inside information on the coronavirus managed to sell some of their stocks before the market crash has inspired accusations that they broke the law. The specific law in question is the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act. This law was passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in 2012. Violations could result in prison terms of up to 20 years and fines up to $5,000,000.
Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif), who serves as ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was one of the senators accused of violating this law. The others were Richard Burr (R-NC), Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), James Inhofe (R-OK) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisc).
Feinstein admitted that "I can't speak to the guilt or innocence of the others, but I can state that the law does not apply to me. First, it is my husband who makes all the investment decisions in our household, even when it comes to trading my stocks. So, no one can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that I broke the law. Second, President Obama would never have signed the bill into law if he thought it would ever be used against a public figure of my stature and long tenure."
Loeffler, whose husband is the chairman and CEO of the New York Stock Exchange, honed in on the statute's "for profit" clause and explained that "my husband makes all of our family's investment decisions and as he told me, the sale was not 'for profit,' but to avoid a loss." Burr, Inhofe, and Johnson each asserted "same here" after learning of "exculpatory explanations" offered by Feinstein and Loeffler.
Teens Prank Grocery Store
Pushed to the breaking point by the closure of restaurants, movies, beaches and other favorite sources of amusement, some teens are coughing on grocery store produce. One incident occurred in the Washington DC exurb of Purcellville, Virginia. Police investigating the case said that "there is a national trend by teenagers to cough on food, video it and post the video on the web."
Malcolm Tendt, admitted "camera man" in the Virginia prank, defended his peers, asking "what are we supposed to do for fun? None of the guys doing the coughing are really sick. The geezers who see us in the stores aren't supposed to be there and they're not tech-savvy enough to find our posts on the Internet. So, who are we hurting?"
Meanwhile in San Francisco, government officials have turned a blind eye to the rampant looting sweeping the locked-down city. Mayor London Breed suggested that "there's probably less of a chance of catching the virus breaking into a closed business than standing in line to buy food and toilet paper from a business that's open. I don't think police resources should be used to harass people who are only trying to stay healthy while meeting their daily needs."
Schiff Claims Immunity
House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif) has claimed "sovereign immunity" in his attempt to thwart public scrutiny of the Trump impeachment hearing transcripts and supporting documents that he has declared "must forever remain secret."
"The essence of effective government relies heavily upon our ability to conceal our methods from those without a 'need to know,'" Schiff argued. "Right now, China is overtaking us as the world's dominant power largely because of their ability to operate without fear of external scrutiny. If we hope to keep pace we must adapt similar methods. Outsiders like the execrable Judicial Watch, who seek to defame and undermine the government, should not be empowered to interfere."
In related news, the Democratic National Committee asked the U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois to dismiss Carter Page's lawsuit for defamation of character. "Mr. Page is such a minor figure is the flow of history that his reputation is of no significance," the Perkins-Coie motion asserted. "Weightier matters were at stake, namely whether the nation could be saved from the election of an unqualified outsider as the nation's president. Future heroic efforts like those of the Clinton campaign, David Steele, and Perkins Coie in 2016 must not be discouraged out of fear of having to pay monetary damages for actions taken in pursuit of their sincerely held political beliefs."
German Army to Fight Coronavirus
Anxious to recapture "the patriotic solidarity of the German people during World War II," Chancellor Angela Merkel is calling on the Army "to smash the virus like we smashed Poland in 1939."
The Chancellor was unable to lay out any specific actions the Army would take other than to suggest "it would definitely be a rapid, blitzkrieg type of approach. If we can inspire the same kind of fanaticism among the troops that enabled us to conquer Poland in less than six weeks, I'm confident that we can conquer the coronavirus in short order. And this time we will not repeat the errors that Chancellor Hitler made by attacking Russia and declaring war on the United States."
Meanwhile in the United States, actor Sean Penn advised "the US Army to overthrow the inept Trump regime and install a military government that will take the stern measures needed to combat the coronavirus. We need total obedience from everyone, internment camps for dangerous deviants, and summary executions for those who resist authority. That's what my friend Hugo Chavez did to set Venezuela on the right track before he died."
Reporter Sees Upside of Pandemic
CBS correspondent Vladimir Duthiers urged viewers to "try to see the positive aspects of the coronavirus pandemic. Only a few thousand have died. I'm not trying to sugarcoat that. At the same time, though, shutting down businesses and quarantining people in their homes has had beneficial impacts on the environment. Here in Italy, traffic is light. The air is clean. I think this shows what the whole world could be like if the trucking and bartering of the marketplace were to be replaced with a command economy."
Duthiers observed that "fear of the virus has made the population docile and obedient in a way that could not be as easily achieved under normal circumstances. Individuals who would have otherwise resisted the type regimentation that has been accomplished over the last couple of weeks are actually cheering the government on and calling for nonconformists to be punished. It's a miraculous breakthrough that provides a clear road map on to how to implement the progressive transformation of human society."
Coronavirus Prompts Revised Transit Policies
In a bid to protect citizens from undue exposure to the coronavirus, the Madison, Wisconsin Metro Transit system has issued new guidelines for bus operations. Starting this week, Metro Transit will limit the number of persons allowed on a bus to one at a time.
Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway pointed out that "since each bus requires a driver, no passengers will be allowed on board as long as the driver is behind the wheel. We recognize that ordinarily this would present a hardship for those who depend on public transit to get around the City. To mitigate the hardship on riders, I have ordered all residents to shelter-in-place where they live."
"To boost community morale, the buses will continue to travel their usual routes," the Mayor added. "That way when people look out their windows they'll still see the buses running and be comforted. The drivers will still have jobs and the paychecks that go with those jobs. This will partially offset the economic losses of the businesses I have ordered to close and the employees who will be out of work."
"Anti-civic naysayers will say that these new policies are senseless, but I challenge them to offer any better ideas they may have for coping with the unprecedented conditions I am faced with," she concluded.