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‘A powerful testament to true leadership’

Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who by all accounts bungled his response to the coronavirus pandemic in his state, plans to publish a book about his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

What are the details?

The new book, titled “American Crisis,” will highlight the governor’s leadership in responding to the outbreak even as more than 33,000 people have died in the New York as a result of the virus — more than twice the number of deaths in any other state. Not to mention the fact that Cuomo will be cashing in on the project even as the pandemic rages on.

The announcement came just one day after Cuomo called the coronavirus response “beautiful” and the disease a “metaphor” during his speech at the Democratic National Convention Monday night.

The book will be released Oct. 13, just three weeks before the general election.

In a news release by Crown Publishing, “American Crisis” is billed as “a powerful testament to true leadership” and a “remarkable portrait of leadership during crisis and a gritty story of gut-wrenching choices that point the way to a safer future for us all,” the New York Post reported.

But that summary doesn’t exactly square with the reality of the situation. Though at times praised for his resolute demeanor during the early stages of the outbreak, Cuomo has been widely criticized for several leadership decisions he made, including instituting a highly questionable policy that forced nursing homes to accept people who had COVID-19 but had been discharged from the hospital.

Cuomo didn’t end that policy until May 10 and it is estimated that 6,600 people died as a result of it. In the aftermath, Cuomo has defended his decision and refused any investigation into the matter.

Anything else?

In an excerpt of the book shared with the Associated Press by Crown, Cuomo talks about confronting fear.

“The questions are what do you do with the fear and would you succumb to it,” the governor wrote. “I would not allow the fear to control me. The fear kept my adrenaline high and that was a positive. But I would not let the fear be a negative, and I would not spread it. Fear is a virus also.”

The AP reported that financial terms for “American Crisis” were not disclosed. The New York Post noted that Cuomo made $783,000 off his 2014 memoir, “All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics.”

The announcement of the book met with sharp criticism from those on the right.

As an example, here is a zinger from former Republican Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee:

Author: Phil Shiver

Source: The Blaze: NY Gov. Cuomo — who fumbled the coronavirus pandemic — to publish a book about handling the coronavirus pandemic

Is it a setup?

Social media users have been reporting mysterious piles of bricks in cities across the country in recent days, stoking speculation that the stashes are being planted to encourage violence amid the countrywide protests over George Floyd’s death.

On Sunday, police confirmed the existence of such piles in Kansas City, urging residents to notify police if they discover any new stashes.

“We have learned of & discovered stashes of bricks and rocks in & around the Plaza and Westport to be used during a riot,” police said in a tweet. “If you see anything like this, you can text 911 and let us know so we can remove them.”

Rioters in Manhattan reportedly happened upon a pile lying in the street Sunday night despite it not being clear what the bricks would be used for in terms of construction.

In Dallas, Instagram user @reubengotsoul said he was disappointed to see a “RANDOM stack of bricks in front of the courthouse,” adding that he believed it was a setup.

Famous rapper and actor ICE T commented on another video that captured more piles of bricks lying nearby an ongoing protest, saying, “Looks like a set up to me… There’s ALWAYS more than meets the eye..”

While the videos to this point are unconfirmed, their existence certainly does raise suspicion that nefarious groups are planting stashes to instigate violence.

In a statement on Saturday, Attorney General William Barr asserted that many of the riots plaguing the country in the last week have been the result of leftist radicals exploiting peaceful protests to pursue their own agenda.

“In many places, it appears the violence is planned, organized, and driven by anarchistic and far-left extremists, using Antifa-like tactics, many of whom travel from out of state to promote the violence,” he said.

President Trump also expressed concern over the weekend that a majority of the rioters in some places were from out of state, insinuating that riots may have been intentionally organized.

According to a Daily Mail report, authorities in Washington, D.C., and New York City confirmed that law enforcement believed the violent riots to be the result of planning and organization.

Author: Phil Shiver

Source: The Blaze: Mysterious stashes of bricks are being found near protest sites and social media users are asking where they came from

Republicans warned about this

If anyone was looking for a good example of how the House of Representatives’ new proxy voting system could be abused, Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist (Fla.) just provided a near perfect one.

What are the details?

Crist, as the new policy dictates, submitted a request for another member to vote on his behalf Wednesday, noting in a letter to the clerk’s office that he would be “unable to physically attend proceedings” due to “the ongoing public health emergency.”

Then the congressman, who represents Florida’s 13th Congressional District based in St. Petersburg on the state’s west coast, hopped in his car to drive across the state to the Kennedy Space Center to watch the historic SpaceX launch.

Sadly, the launch ended up being scrubbed for poor weather, meaning Crist wasn’t able to watch the launch while bailing on work.

In a tweet Wednesday announcing his planned attendance at the event, Crist made no mention of the fact that his proxy request was made due to the “ongoing health emergency.”

In fact, a statement included in the tweet stated: “Given his attendance at the launch, Congressman Crist will be voting by proxy in the House of Representatives this week.” (emphasis added)

Republicans warned this would happen

In a statement this week, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) called the new rule “a brazen violation of the Constitution” and “a dereliction of our duty as elected officials.”

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) added in a tweet that the rule is “unconstitutional” and said: “Let’s face it. You gotta show up for work.”

The Daily Wire reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) spoke out on the rule during a Senate floor speech last week, blasting Democrats for “playing games with the Constitution so they can continue their never ending spring break well into July.”

As of Thursday afternoon, 74 congressional members had submitted requests for proxy voters to the clerk’s office.

Author: Phil Shiver

Source: The Blaze: Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist requested a proxy vote over health concerns — then he drove across the state to watch the SpaceX launch

That doesn’t make sense

A new government report shows the severity of the United States Postal Service’s poor financial conditions and demonstrates the need for a long-term fix for the agency — not a bailout, as Democrats have suggested.

The report, released Thursday by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, found that the Postal Service’s financial problems existed long before the COVID-19 pandemic and highlighted the need for Congress to step in and institute major reforms.

The key data point: Between fiscal years 2007 and 2019, the Postal Service netted losses of approximately $78 billion — and that’s despite receiving roughly $18 billion each year from American taxpayers.

GAO said that the agency has been on its “High Risk” list since 2009 but that financial viability has only worsened since then “due to declining mail volume, increased employee compensation and benefit costs, and increased unfunded liabilities and debt.”

What lawmakers are saying

“This report reiterates what many of us have known for a long time: The Postal Service’s business model is failing and simply throwing more of taxpayer’s hard-earned money at them won’t fix their problems,” House Oversight Committee ranking member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said in a statement.

“If Congress is going to be asked to get the Postal Service out of yet another fiscal jam, we owe it to the American people to make sure we aren’t just setting them up for yet another bailout the next time there’s an emergency,” he continued, citing reform initiatives.

“While Democrats continue to push for a complete bailout of the Postal Service in COVID-19-related legislation, the report released today makes clear that the systemic issues within the Postal Service far pre-date this pandemic,” Oversight Committee member Fred Keller (R-Pa.) said.

Earlier this year, during coronavirus stimulus negotiations, the USPS requested a whopping $75 billion bailout from taxpayers citing the economic fallout caused by the virus. Democrats lobbied to get the money into the CARES Act, but Republicans and President Donald Trump pushed back. In the end, the USPS was provided with a $10 billion loan.

In response, House Democrats have continued to push for more funding.

“The Postal Service was technically insolvent to begin with, but the pandemic has completely changed the environment here … the mail volume drop has been catastrophic,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), who chairs the oversight subcommittee that oversees USPS.

The report recommends an overhaul

The GAO report concluded that “comprehensive, effective, and successful reform” cannot occur until there is clarity around what services the USPS should provide, whether the agency should be financially self-sustaining, and what institutional structure would support these changes.

The office then submitted three recommendations to congressional consideration:

Congress should consider reassessing and determining the level of universal postal service the nation requires. (Matter for Consideration 1)

Congress should consider determining the extent to which USPS should be financially self-sustaining and what changes to law would be appropriate to enable USPS to meet this goal. (Matter for Consideration 2)

Congress should consider determining the most appropriate institutional structure for USPS. (Matter for Consideration 3)

“Absent congressional action on critical foundational elements of the USPS business model, USPS’s mission and financial solvency are increasingly in peril,” the report concluded.

Author: Phil Shiver

Source: The Blaze: USPS has lost $78 billion since 2007 despite receiving billions from taxpayers every year. Democrats still want a bailout.

She came right out and said it

Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal (Wash.) admitted that she and her progressive colleagues have been blocking legislation aimed at providing relief to small business workers in order to hold on to political leverage.

The congresswoman made the comments during a virtual news conference Monday with fellow progressive lawmakers and activists, in which they pushed for illegal immigrants to be included in the next round of coronavirus relief, among other Congressional Progressive Caucus priorities.

“We don’t know what’s in the package yet, we only know what’s been reported,” Jayapal said during the #PutPeopleFirst conference. “But I think what you’re hearing from all of us on the call is that we have real concerns about giving away leverage now without getting some of the priorities we need.”

The Senate Republican Communications Center posted a video of her remarks on Twitter, writing: “Think about that: Democrats would rather use workers as partisan leverage than actually help them.”

Along with Jayapal, the #PutPeopleFirst conference included progressive activists, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and “squad” members Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

Jayapal’s comments came as Congress was in the middle of negotiations over “Phase 3.5” of the coronavirus relief package designed to aid small businesses impacted by the coronavirus-related shutdowns. Then news broke on Tuesday afternoon that the White House and congressional leaders had reached a deal on the core components of the relief bill.

In a statement regarding the deal, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated that Democratic leaders finally abandoned a number of their “unrelated demands” during the final stages of negotiations, but lamented that they took 12 days to do so and at the expense of so many American workers.

The legislation is expected to get a vote in the coming days, and at this juncture, it appears that Jayapal and her progressive colleagues’ push for leverage was a failure.

Author: Phil Shiver

Source: The Blaze: Progressive Democrat admits on video to blocking money for workers in order to gain political ‘leverage.’ It didn’t work.

That doesn’t seem right

A mosque in New York is reportedly still open for daily prayers amid the coronavirus pandemic that has forced Christian churches across the country to close their doors and cancel their in-person gatherings.

While churchgoers in many states have been criticized and even punished for continuing to gather, that same level of scrutiny has apparently not been leveled at the Mosque of Jesus, Son of Mary in Syracuse, New York.

What are the details?

Despite the state’s executive order, which broadly bans all “non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason,” neighborhood Muslims are still allowed gather together in the mosque’s prayer room for calls to prayer throughout the week.

“About 10 worshippers in masks are allowed in at a time, though rarely do that many show up. They stand far apart from each other as they follow a prayer leader standing on a plastic-covered prayer rug,” a Syracuse.com report notes. (Though in a video of one of the prayers, it appears that the worshippers are not at least 6 feet away, as the Centers for Disease Control recommends).

While it should be noted that the mosque has gone to great lengths to limit attendees’ exposure to the virus by covering the prayer room in plastic and installing a special ventilation system, it is unclear as to how that exempts the mosque from the government mandate.

Yet instead of facing criticism for continuing to gather, the mosque was commended by the news outlet for its efforts to “keep the faith” during the pandemic, especially as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan approaches.

According to the report, Irfan Elahi, an asbestos abatement expert who worships at the mosque, said that when the outbreak started, mosque leaders in the area were worried that Muslims would panic if daily prayers were cancelled.

What’s the background?

Over the past few weeks, churchgoers in many states have been prohibited from gathering and, in many cases, have been punished for doing so despite government orders.

In Mississippi, some churchgoers received $500 fines for sitting in their vehicles in a church parking lot listening to a radio broadcast of the service. In Kentucky, nails were allegedly scattered at the parking lot entrances to prevent people from attending the Easter service. A northern California county even outlawed singing during church livestreams unless people are in a home.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio threatened to “permanently” shut down churches and synagogues if they refused to comply with the government’s shelter-in-place order.

New York state, where the mosque is located, has been the hardest hit by the COVID-19 outbreak, with over 130,000 confirmed cases and more than 14,000 deaths reported as of Monday, according to the New York Times.

Author: Phil Shiver

Source: The Blaze: New York mosque still open for daily prayers while churches across the country face mandatory shutdowns

A huge win for the Second Amendment

Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s all-in push to ban the sale of assault weapons was rejected in the state’s Senate after moderate Democrats joined Republican colleagues to sink the initiative Monday.

Cheers erupted in the committee room packed with gun supporters as senators voted to put the bill on hold for a year so that the state’s crime commission could study the issue, the Associated Press reported.

Four Democrats decided to vote with Republicans on the issue, rejecting legislation that aimed to outlaw new sales of some semiautomatic firearms, such as the AR-15 rifle, and require current owners of such firearms to register with the government within the year. The bill would also have criminalized the possession of magazines that hold more than 12 rounds.

The bill’s rejection is an embarrassing loss for Northam and Democrats in Virginia, who aimed to use their narrow and new-found majority to push a broad progressive gun control agenda in the state.

Late last month, the state’s Democrat-led House, with Northam’s backing, moved forward a legislative package containing seven gun control measures, among them was the assault weapons ban which eventually passed the House last week. But the measures were always destined to face a tough test in the state’s Senate, where Democrats only hold a slight 21-19 majority, and thus flipping three Democrats is all that is required to sink a bill.

In response to the news, the governor’s spokeswoman vowed “we will be back next year” after sharing that the governor was disappointed by the outcome.

Overwhelming opposition from gun rights supporters have so far stymied efforts by Northam and Democratic lawmakers in the state.

In December, dozens of counties in Virginia vowed to become “sanctuary counties” for gun owners to protect their citizens’ Second Amendment rights should any anti-gun laws be passed. One county went a step further, passing a resolution to fund a militia, per the U.S. Constitution, to fight the efforts.

To watch the cheers erupt from gun supporters in the committee following the vote, jump to the end of this video:

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to clarify that the Virginia House passed the assault weapons ban in February rather than late January, and also to include video of the committee’s proceedings.

Author: Phil Shiver

Source: The Blaze: Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam suffers embarrassing loss as assault weapons ban is rejected in Virginia

‘I can’t imagine’ there will only be witnesses Democrats want to hear from

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) left the door open for Republicans to call key witnesses, including Hunter Biden, in the upcoming Senate impeachment trial against President Donald Trump, NBC News reported Tuesday.

Speaking with reporters Tuesday afternoon, McConnell remarked that if witnesses are called, “I can’t imagine” only the Democrats having people they would like to hear from appear before Congress.

In other words, if those who favor impeachment call someone they believe will help the case against Trump, such as former national security adviser John Bolton, it can be expected that those opposed to impeachment would be able to call on witness of their own, including Hunter Biden, who Republicans believe has relevant information validating Trump’s concern about corruption in Ukraine involving former Vice President Joe Biden.

NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent Kasie Hunt broke the news when she asked McConnell whether he would back calling Hunter Biden to the witness stand, as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has recently suggested.

McConnell’s comments came just hours after he knocked talk of calling additional impeachment witnesses, saying the need to call for more witnesses shows the impeachment case to be particularly weak.

“If the existing case is strong, there’s no need for the judge and the jury to reopen the investigation. If the existing case is weak, House Democrats should not have impeached in the first place,” McConnell said from the Senate floor, according to The Hill.

On Monday, Politico reported that GOP senators are at odds over how to handle the calling of witnesses in the upcoming trial, many weighing a vote in favor of calling witnesses despite McConnell’s wishes.

Sen. Paul reportedly warned Republican colleagues at a party lunch last week, saying, “Don’t think you can just vote for Bolton and not the witnesses Trump wants.”

The GOP will need to decide rather quickly how to proceed as McConnell confirmed that “in all likelihood” the Senate impeachment trial would begin Jan. 21.

Author: Phil Shiver

Source: The Blaze: Mitch McConnell leaves door open for Republicans to call Hunter Biden, other witnesses in upcoming Senate impeachment trial

The bill has been a bipartisan winner

President Donald Trump is expected to sign a bipartisan bill Monday to officially designate animal cruelty as a federal felony.

The bill, Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, which criminalizes severe treatment and exploitation of animals, passed the Senate by unanimous consent on Nov. 5 after being approved by the House in October and has been presented to the president.

Sen. Pat Toomey, (R-Pa.) — a Senate co-sponsor of the bill with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) — called the bill “a major victory” in the effort to “stop animal cruelty and make our communities safer” earlier this month, according to ABC News.

“Evidence shows that the deranged individuals who harm animals often move on to committing acts of violence against people. It is appropriate that the federal government have strong animal cruelty laws and penalties,” he added.

What are the details?

The bill — which was introduced in January by Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) — will punish the crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, or impaling of animals or any other treatment that subjects the animal to serious bodily injury, and could carry a punishment of up to seven years in federal prison.

“The torture of innocent animals is abhorrent and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” Buchanan said when introducing the bill in January.

A bill that punishes the video distribution of animal crushing, called the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act, was passed into law in 2010, but the introducers of the new legislation felt that the 2010 bill didn’t go far enough.

“We’ve acted in the past to stop the horrific trend of animal abuse videos. Now it’s time to make the underlying acts of cruelty a crime as well,” Deutch added.

Anything else?

The bill does include an outline of general exceptions, describing treatment of animals that will not be considered animal cruelty by law.

A list of the exceptions from the text of the bill includes:

  • a customary and normal veterinary, agricultural husbandry, or other animal management practice;
  • the slaughter of animals for food;
  • hunting, trapping, fishing, a sporting activity not otherwise prohibited by federal law, predator control, or pest control;
  • medical or scientific research;
  • necessary to protect the life or property of a person; or
  • performed as part of euthanizing an animal.

ABC News reports that the bill has been praised by the president and CEO of the Humane Society, Kitty Block, and the head of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, Sara Amundson.

It has been an animal friendly day for the president. Earlier Monday, President Trump honored the military service dog, Conan, who helped U.S. special forces kill ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi last month.

Author: Phil Shiver

Source: The Blaze: President Trump will sign a bill making animal cruelty a federal felony

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