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Has U.S. Democracy Been Trumped? Bernie Sanders wants to know who owns America?

#17181 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2020-December-09, 19:15

View Postshyams, on 2020-December-09, 18:16, said:

I'm not sure if the USA has a clearly demarcated role for a Solicitor General (or Barrister General or such) who is usually different from an AG.

We do.

https://www.justice.gov/osg

Quote

The task of the Office of the Solicitor General is to supervise and conduct government litigation in the United States Supreme Court. Virtually all such litigation is channeled through the Office of the Solicitor General and is actively conducted by the Office. The United States is involved in approximately two-thirds of all the cases the U.S. Supreme Court decides on the merits each year.


#17182 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-December-09, 21:05

David E. Rovella at Bloomberg said:

America has held the calamitous title of home to the most infected (currently 15.3 million) and dead (288,000) from the coronavirus for most of the pandemic. But a Bloomberg investigation has found that when it comes to reserving vaccine doses for its desperate citizens, the U.S.A. is far from number 1. It’s number 32.

Drew Armstrong and Tom Randall at Bloomberg said:

“On any dimension you want to talk about, it's a shocking abdication of government responsibility,” said Craig Garthwaite, the Director of the Program on Healthcare at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “I’m so demoralized this will delay by another month or two getting the economy going.”

Those worries are not abstract. Pfizer Inc., which makes the first vaccine expected to be cleared for use in the U.S., earlier this year reduced its near-term production targets. Another leading shot from AstraZeneca Plc is expected to require additional study in the U.S. to confirm its effectiveness — delaying access to the inoculation.

U.S. officials have sharply disagreed with the idea that there will be any delay for most Americans to get the shots by the middle of next year and have said they are in talks to expand supply under the agreements.

“Operation Warp Speed signed contracts over the past several months with six companies with options for up to a total of three billion vaccine doses,” a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services said in an emailed statement. “We are confident that we will meet our goal to have enough vaccine doses for any American who wants one in the second quarter of 2021. We disagree with any analysis that suggests that we might not reach that goal.”

Bloomberg’s review looks at deals to between countries and manufacturers and favors agreements with a confirmed purchase size over add-on options that have yet to be exercised. Other analyses have reached different conclusions: The London-based research firm Airfinity Ltd. has projected that the EU would have enough vaccine to cover two-thirds of its population by September, four months later than the U.S.

The U.S. has deals with Pfizer and Moderna Inc., the two companies closest to getting their shots approved by regulators here. But while the U.S. locked up a deal with Pfizer to buy 100 million doses of vaccine for its population of about 330 million, the EU pre-bought 200 million doses for its about 450 million people. The EU also outpaced the U.S. in acquisitions from Johnson & Johnson and a vaccine being developed by Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline Plc.

The Moderna shot is the only one for which the U.S. has made a bigger allotment, with 100 million doses versus the EU’s 80 million. Together with the Pfizer shot, it’s enough for the U.S. to theoretically vaccinate 100 million Americans. Pre-purchases are not the only factor in getting access to vaccines. Also crucial is a company's ability to deliver what it promises to a given market.

Pfizer Disagreement

On Tuesday, a Pfizer board member said that the U.S. government had about a month ago been offered 100 million more doses that could be delivered in the spring, but declined.

“Pfizer did offer an additional allotment,” said Scott Gottlieb, who sits on Pfizer’s board of directors and is the Trump administration’s former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, said on CNBC Tuesday.

Gottlieb said the company made multiple offers, as recently as about a month ago when the company said it had shown the shot was highly effective. But the Trump administration declined.

“So Pfizer has gone ahead and entered into agreements with other countries to sell them some of that vaccine” instead, Gottlieb said.

The Department of Health and Human Services said that description of events was incorrect and that the U.S. was negotiating with Pfizer for more doses.

“At no time did OWS turn down an offer from Pfizer for any number of millions of doses having a firm delivery date and quantity,” the department said on its Twitter account.

The U.S. deal with Pfizer has an option to buy as many as 500 million more doses, but any add-on has to be negotiated separately from the original agreement, Pfizer has said. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on CNN Wednesday that the U.S. had not made the additional purchase in part because it wasn’t yet certain when Pfizer could actually deliver the shots.

“We have over the last couple of months been working with Pfizer to secure their commitment and agreement to deliver additional doses under our options by a date certain, we’re very optimistic that will happen,” Azar said.

Later Wednesday, Azar said the government was “actively in discussions with Pfizer, as we are with Moderna and others, about expanding our acquisition of production capacity, and I have made clear we’ll use every power that the Defense Production Act gives the president and myself to ensure Americans get what they want and need.”

The U.S. deal with Moderna is for 100 million doses, with an option to buy 400 million more — but the U.S. has yet to exercise that clause. Moderna has said it would take until around April to start delivering doses under the option.

Garthwaite, the Northwestern professor, said a delay in vaccine access would likely lead to more deaths. Since the pandemic began at the start of the year, more than 286,000 American have died, and deaths have hit new records in recent weeks as the outbreak has intensified.

"There's got to be more to this story,” Garthwaite said of the lack of a deal for more doses from Pfizer. “It can't be this stupid.”

Countries have been buying up rights to multiple shots as an insurance policy against vaccines that might fail in clinical trials or not be produced in enough quantity to meet immediate needs.

AstraZeneca’s initial clinical results were mixed, and further study may be required for approval by the FDA. Johnson & Johnson in November started a new study of 30,000 people using a new dosing regimen in case its primary study fails. Novavax, a small biotech company, has never brought a product to market.

And history is filled with cautionary tales. During the autumn wave of the 2009 swine flu pandemic, vaccines arrived in a trickle—months later than expected. Those delays would have been catastrophic if the virus had proven to be as deadly as Covid-19. More recently, manufacturing issues led Pfizer to cut its 2020 delivery target by half, to the current amount.

President-elect Joe Biden said Tuesday the U.S. should quickly buy more doses.

“We also need the Trump administration to act now to purchase the doses it has negotiated with Pfizer and Moderna and to work swiftly to scale manufacturing for the U.S. population and the world,” Biden said.

If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#17183 User is offline   akwoo 

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Posted 2020-December-09, 21:59

View PostWinstonm, on 2020-December-09, 14:37, said:

A democratic republic, to be sure. Representative government.


But not very democratic. In most states you had to own a certain amount of land to be allowed to vote.
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#17184 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-December-09, 22:07

Larry Summers said:

Unpaid taxes are greater than all individual income taxes paid by the lowest 90% of earners.

This crisis in tax compliance is the consequence of a gutted IRS, and beneficiaries are high earners.

If you lose all hope, you can always find it again -- Richard Ford in The Sportswriter
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#17185 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2020-December-10, 04:39

View Postbarmar, on 2020-December-09, 19:15, said:


While the US has a solicitor general, the position isn't independent as the solicitor general reports to the attorney general.
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#17186 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-December-10, 05:47

Tim Wu at NYT said:

Americans are taught that the main function of the U.S. Constitution is the control of executive power: curtailing presidents who might seek to become tyrants. Other republics have lapsed into dictatorships (the Roman Republic, the Weimar Republic, the Republic of China and so on), but our elaborate constitutional system of checks and balances, engineered largely by James Madison, protects us from despotism.

Or so we think. The presidency of Donald Trump, aggressive in its autocratic impulses but mostly thwarted from realizing them, should prompt a re-examination of that idea. For our system of checks and balances, in which the three branches of government are empowered to control or influence the actions of the others, played a disappointingly small role in stopping Mr. Trump from assuming the unlimited powers he seemed to want.

What really saved the Republic from Mr. Trump was a different set of limits on the executive: an informal and unofficial set of institutional norms upheld by federal prosecutors, military officers and state elections officials. You might call these values our “unwritten constitution.” Whatever you call them, they were the decisive factor.

It’s true that the courts at times provided a check on Mr. Trump’s tyrannical tendencies, as with their dismissal of his frivolous attacks on the election and their striking down of his effort to overturn the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program without appropriate process. But in other cases, such as his anti-Muslim travel ban, the courts have been too unwilling to look beyond form to ferret out unconstitutional motive. More generally, Mr. Trump has tended to move fast, while the courts are slow, and to operate by threat, which the courts cannot adjudicate.

The bigger and more important failure was Congress. Madison intended Congress to be the primary check on the president. Unfortunately, that design has a key flaw (as Madison himself realized). The flaw is vulnerability to party politics. It turns out that if a majority of members of at least one body of Congress exhibits a higher loyalty to its party than to Congress, Congress will not function as a reliable check on a president of that same party. This was what happened with Mr. Trump and the Republican-controlled Senate.

The problem is chronic, but over the last four years it became virulent. Confronted with a president who was heedless of rules, Senate Republicans, in ways large and small, let him do what he wanted. They allowed acting appointees to run the federal government. They allowed him to claim a right to attack Iran without congressional approval. The impeachment process was reduced to nothing but a party-line vote. The Senate became a rubber stamp for executive overreach.

Instead, the president’s worst impulses were neutralized by three pillars of the unwritten constitution. The first is the customary separation between the president and federal criminal prosecution (even though the Department of Justice is part of the executive branch). The second is the traditional political neutrality of the military (even though the president is the commander in chief of the armed forces). The third is the personal integrity of state elections officials.

If any of these informal “firewalls” had failed, President Trump might be on his way to a second and more autocratic term. But they held firm, for which the Republic should be grateful.

Consider the first firewall: prosecutorial independence. The prosecution function of the executive branch is not mentioned in the Constitution, and based on the text alone — “the executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States” — some might think (and some have even insisted) that the president has the power to order federal prosecutors to do his bidding. Mr. Trump claimed that power in 2017, saying “I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department.”

But an unwritten norm has long held that the president should not dictate law enforcement decisions in general, and criminal prosecutions in particular. That is why, throughout this fall, even as Mr. Trump urged his appointees in the Justice Department to openly announce a criminal investigation into the Biden family, they did not comply. None of Mr. Trump’s appointees was willing to openly investigate Joe Biden or his family members, let alone issue an indictment or civil complaint.

Imagine if the Justice Department had followed Mr. Trump’s lead. Imagine if in response to the provocations of Mr. Trump’s lawyer Rudolph Giuliani, a U.S. attorney had charged Mr. Biden with criminal fraud. Even if Mr. Biden ultimately prevailed in court, publicly fighting such charges during an election would be a political and logistical nightmare. The unwritten constitution blocked this line of attack on the electoral process.

Prosecutorial independence was not limited to refusing to indict Mr. Trump’s political adversaries; it also extended to indicting his allies. Over the past four years, seven of Mr. Trump’s close associates were indicted and six have been convicted, including his adviser Stephen Bannon, his campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his lawyer Michael Cohen. Such convictions would be unimaginable in a dictatorship.

None of this is to suggest that William Barr, Mr. Trump’s attorney general, has served as a model of nonpartisan behavior, or that the Justice Department has been scrupulously fair. What it does show is how powerful unwritten norms can be, even in a department run by a loyalist.

The second firewall of the unwritten constitution was the U.S. military’s longstanding custom against getting involved in domestic politics. It was invaluable in checking Mr. Trump’s militaristic instincts.

On June 1, as protests and counter-protests occasioned by the killing of George Floyd became violent and destructive of property, Mr. Trump appeared in the Rose Garden of the White House and denounced what he called “acts of domestic terror.” He said he would “deploy the United States military” if necessary to “defend the life and property” of U.S. citizens. In a subsequent photo op, he was flanked by Mr. Barr, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was clad in military fatigues. Soon, active duty forces from the 82nd Airborne Division were positioned outside of Washington.

Mr. Trump’s plan had the written law on its side. Neither the Constitution nor any congressional statute would have prevented the president from directly ordering active duty military to suppress the protests. The Constitution makes the president the commander in chief of the armed forces and the Insurrection Act of 1807 allows the president to use the military or National Guard to suppress civil disorder, providing a broad exception to the general rule barring domestic use of the military.

It was an extraordinarily dangerous moment for the country. As the history of lapsed republics suggests, when the military becomes involved in domestic politics, it tends to stay involved. But two days after Trump’s speech, Mr. Esper publicly broke with the president, stressing that active duty forces should be used domestically only “as a matter of last resort, and only in the most urgent and dire of situations.” He concluded that “I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”

General Milley later issued a public apology for participating in Mr. Trump’s photo op. “My presence in that moment,” he said, “created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.” He added, “I should not have been there.”

Mr. Trump’s plans ran afoul not of the law, but of an unwritten rule. In a few days, the active duty troops gathered around Washington were sent home. Though briefly tested, the norm had held.

The final firewall of the unwritten constitution has been the integrity of state elections officials. Corruption of the people and institutions that set election rules and count votes is an obvious threat to the democratic process. In Russia, for example, the neutrality of its Central Election Commission during President Vladimir Putin’s rule has been repeatedly questioned, especially given the tendency of that body to disqualify leading opposition figures and parties.

The story of Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state in Georgia and its top elections official, testifies to the potential threats to an election’s integrity during a heated campaign. Mr. Raffensperger, a Republican, was loosely in charge of the vote in a state that went narrowly for Mr. Biden. In that capacity, Mr. Raffensperger was attacked and disparaged by higher-ranking members of his own party. This included such prominent political figures as Georgia’s two senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. Both demanded Mr. Raffensperger resign for no apparent reason other than his failure to prevent Mr. Biden from winning the state.

Despite the pressure, Mr. Raffensperger and the state’s governor, Brian Kemp, held steady, along with the overwhelming majority of state elections officials around the country. They have refused to “discover” voting fraud without good evidence of it. Party loyalty — at this point — seems not to have fatally corrupted the vote-counting process.

Might this welcome result be credited to constitutional design? Not really. The states are an important part of the Constitutional design, and the document does give them a central role to play in federal elections. But what seems to have mattered most, in terms of ensuring the integrity of the voting process, was less the constitutional structure and more the personal integrity of the state elections officials. Their professional commitment to a fair vote may have spared the Republic an existential crisis.

Madison famously wrote, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” Cynical minds have read this line to mean that we should never trust people and should rely only on structural controls on government power.

The last four years suggest something different: Structural checks can be overrated. The survival of our Republic depends as much, if not more, on the virtue of those in government, particularly the upholding of norms by civil servants, prosecutors and military officials. We have grown too jaded about things like professionalism and institutions, and the idea of men and women who take their duties seriously. But as every major moral tradition teaches, no external constraint can fully substitute for the personal compulsion to do what is right.

It may sound naïve in our untrusting age to hope that people will care about ethics and professional duties. But Madison, too, saw the need for this trust. “There is a degree of depravity in mankind” he wrote, but also “qualities in human nature which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence.” A working republican government, he argued, “presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form.”

It is called civic virtue, and at the end of the day, there is no real alternative.

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#17187 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-December-10, 08:55

View PostZelandakh, on 2020-December-09, 19:08, said:

There is a Texas SG (Kyle Hawkins) but he did not sign onto the filings. The suit has literally zero chance of success and is purely a political/PR move rather than a genuine legal challenge.


If you look at the history of South American democracies failing, one recurring aspect is the politicization of the courts. Imagine what would happen if this SCOTUS did rule in favor of Texas - where is the mechanism to correct that damage?

Here is some reality: Laws are only as good as as the willingness to enforce coupled with an ability to enforce.

When you say the suit has zero success chance, you are assuming norms will hold, that people will act rationally. But it doesn't really matter about right or wrong of the suit - all that matters is how people in positions of power decide to act.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter. / "I need ammunition, not a ride." Zelensky
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#17188 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-December-10, 12:06

View Postbarmar, on 2020-December-09, 19:03, said:

This is the old "hard to prove a negative" problem. ".




No, this is a "Media, why are you reporting what the insane is ranting?" non-problem.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter. / "I need ammunition, not a ride." Zelensky
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#17189 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-December-10, 17:36

Time to start a list:

Quote

A staggering 106 Republican members of Congress have filed a brief in support of Texas' improbable Supreme Court lawsuit aiming to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter. / "I need ammunition, not a ride." Zelensky
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#17190 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-December-11, 08:13

View PostWinstonm, on 2020-December-10, 17:36, said:

Time to start a list:

From Deadwood "A Two Headed Beast":

Quote

George Hearst : [to Cy Tolliver] The Sheriff recently put me on notice. He is vigilant of my possible transgressions.
Seth Bullock : You sound drunk to me.
Hearst : Whom are you addressing?
Bullock : You. You sound drunk.
Hearst : Do I?
[Bullock nods]
Hearst : Hmm. When I say, "Go f#ck yourself, Sheriff," will you put that down to drunkenness or a high estimate of your athleticism?
Bullock : Did you just tell me, "F#ck myself"?
Hearst : I think I did. And to shut up, or I will quiet you myself.
Bullock : You're under arrest.
Hearst : F#ck you! And shut up, or I will shut you up for good.
[Bullock draws his gun on Hearst]
Bullock : For threatening a Peace Officer, I'm taking you into custody.
Tolliver : Don't be stupid, Bullock...
Bullock : Don't YOU be f#cking stupid.
[Bullock grabs Hearst by the ear and begins to drag him out of the Bella Union. Through clenched teeth, Seth snarls at Hearst...]
Bullock : F#ck... you.

It was momentarily satisfying to see Bullock stand up to Hearst. But as everyone learns, the dark forces of capitalism that Hearst represents are not so easily subdued.
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#17191 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2020-December-11, 08:21

Jonathan Bernstein at Bloomberg said:

Democrats, and the economy, are suffering right now because Democrats 11 years ago made a critical mistake.

In 2009, congressional Democrats acted fairly aggressively to put money into the economy to stop what looked like a full-fledged collapse following the financial crisis. Eventually, in the Dodd-Frank Act, they attempted to insure against future such trouble. We can debate whether that bill was any good, but the point is that they made a serious effort to prevent the next financial crisis, just as the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was a serious effort to get the economy back on its feet.

What they failed to do, however, was to fix another structural problem that was painfully evident back then, just as it is now: the downward economic spiral caused by state and local government austerity during recessions.

At the federal level, Keynesian economics has been built into the system since the New Deal. When times are bad, the government automatically spends more money, thereby (at least theoretically) boosting demand and jumpstarting the economy. Sure, Congress often passes additional spending or tax cuts, and the Federal Reserve can help as well, but even before they act, built-in stabilizers get to work.

The problem is that states, which must balance their budgets, react in the opposite way. Since recessions reduce economic activity and hence tax revenue, states have no choice but to either cut spending or raise taxes to compensate — thereby further dampening economy activity, reducing revenue, and on and on. Of course, this is happening just as demand for the services that state governments provide are rapidly increasing as a result of hard times.

The obvious solution is for the federal government to help. As of now, however, that requires action from Congress, and as we’ve seen for the past few months, that’s easier said than done. In part, that may have to do with electoral politics and what Republicans perceive to be their self-interest. The constant chaos in the Oval Office plays a role too. So does ideology; it seems likely that many Republicans sincerely (if mistakenly) believe that helping state and local governments will make the economy worse. After all, there’s a good chance that Senate inaction this summer on the next relief bill cost Donald Trump the presidency.

The solution, from the point of view of the Democrats and of mainstream economics, is to make increased federal help for state and local governments automatic during recessions. Of course, Congress could always choose to provide even more aid. But at least the downward spiral would be halted.

I’d certainly like the new Congress to make that happen. But even if Democrats win a slim Senate majority, it’s going to be difficult to pass anything, and it’s hard to imagine this being near the top of their agenda. They had the votes in 2009 and 2010 and still didn’t get it done. It was a missed opportunity — and it may well hurt the first few years of Joe Biden’s presidency.

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#17192 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-December-11, 13:24

Quote

Right-libertarian political thought is characterized by the strict priority given to liberty, with the need to maximize the realm of individual freedom and minimize the scope of public authority. Right-libertarians typically see the state as the principal threat to liberty.


My contention is that this group and those who lean toward this group most often register Republican or independent or libertarian, but it is this group and the hangers-on who are threatening America's form of democracy because they are acting like a bunch of teenagers. This is Lord of the Flies with a bunch of kids trying to take charge. which is why they so closely associate with the huge child who currently is president.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter. / "I need ammunition, not a ride." Zelensky
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#17193 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-December-11, 17:42

The SCOTUS has declined to hear the Texas sedition attempt.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter. / "I need ammunition, not a ride." Zelensky
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#17194 User is offline   cherdano 

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Posted 2020-December-11, 17:58

You can still get 4% on betfair betting on Democrats to win the presidential election in Pennsylvania, or Michigan, or Nevada, or Wisconsin, or Arizona...
The easiest way to count losers is to line up the people who talk about loser count, and count them. -Kieran Dyke
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#17195 User is offline   cherdano 

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Posted 2020-December-11, 18:13

My god. More than half of House Republicans and plenty of State AGs embarrass themselves by asking SCOTUS to end democracy and overturn an election. And it takes SCOTUS three sentences to dismiss it. Doesn't get more Trumpian than that.
US Democracy has been, and will remain so, for a long time, Trumped. /thread
The easiest way to count losers is to line up the people who talk about loser count, and count them. -Kieran Dyke
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#17196 User is online   helene_t 

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Posted 2020-December-11, 18:30

View Postcherdano, on 2020-December-11, 17:58, said:

You can still get 4% on betfair betting on Democrats to win the presidential election in Pennsylvania, or Michigan, or Nevada, or Wisconsin, or Arizona...

But don't they take bets in GBP? The pound may lose more than 4% before they pay out.
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#17197 User is offline   shyams 

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Posted 2020-December-11, 18:32

View PostWinstonm, on 2020-December-11, 17:42, said:

The SCOTUS has declined to hear the Texas sedition attempt.

I must say I am really disappointed in the Justices of the SCOTUS ;) Only Alito and Thomas had the courage to dissent!

ACB has been bullied over by the Chief; Gorsuch already boasts a track record as a traitor; and Kavanaugh is way too wimpy to be a Republican. This calls for war!!!

{just kidding}
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#17198 User is offline   shyams 

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Posted 2020-December-11, 18:35

View Posthelene_t, on 2020-December-11, 18:30, said:

But don't they take bets in GBP? The pound may lose more than 4% before they pay out.

The platform is multi-currency. Outside of GBP, I believe the AUD has huge volumes.

Also, you get paid back in the currency of your account. So if you open a NZD account, your bets will be in NZD and you will get repaid in NZD.

Currently the Presidential Elections market is still paying 3%!!
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#17199 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2020-December-11, 20:00

Mother: Johnny, stop throwing rocks at windows.
Johnny: Donny told me to..
Mother: Stop playing with Donny.
Ken
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#17200 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2020-December-11, 23:29

View Postkenberg, on 2020-December-11, 20:00, said:

Mother: Johnny, stop throwing rocks at windows.
Johnny: Donny told me to..
Mother: Stop playing with Donny.


Johnny: I would but he won't leave.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter. / "I need ammunition, not a ride." Zelensky
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