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It was irresponsible of Bernie not to quit yesterday

Bernie fans will whine at the suggestion that he should have dropped out 24 hours ago rather than ask people to turn out in the middle of a once-a-century pandemic to keep his pipe dream of winning the nomination alive. You wouldn’t have called on Biden to drop out if he were in second place trying to catch up to Bernie.

Yeah, I would have. Maybe James Carville wouldn’t have. But try this thought experiment: Imagine any other two candidates in this race separated by the delegate gap that currently exists between Biden and Sanders and the sort of enormous polling momentum Biden’s seeing right now and tell me that the second-place candidate in that scenario shouldn’t have thrown in the towel already in the name of keeping people away from the polls while a killer virus is circulating.

I mean, really:

Biden is a 99 percent favorite to win the nomination in FiveThirtyEight’s model and a 99 percent favorite to win Florida, Illinois, and Arizona tonight. If Amy Klobuchar had already piled up an all but insurmountable delegate lead on Pete Buttigieg, say, and was a 99 percent favorite in the three states voting today, what do you think the general view would be of Mayor Pete choosing to press on anyway — especially in Florida, where lots of vulnerable senior citizens will congregate at polling places to cast their ballots?

There is a double standard here between Bernie and other candidates but it’s a double standard that favors Sanders. Because he’s leading a movement, a “revolution,” his fans are likely more willing to support a dangerous sustained exercise in futility than supporters of a more mundane candidate would be. I thought his secret plan was to participate in Sunday night’s debate and hope for a game-changing miracle, like Biden forgetting his own name onstage. Then, if it didn’t happen — and it didn’t — he’d drop out on Monday in the name of not prolonging unnecessarily risky behavior like voting after the nomination has already effectively been decided. But no, he’s still competing.

Team Sanders was quick to note this morning that they’re technically not asking people to go to the polls today:

If you’re not hellbent on getting people out to the polls, why the hell wouldn’t you quit? Either drop out beforehand and let the DNC cancel the remaining primaries or contest the primaries vigorously in hopes of staging a delegate comeback. Half-assing it this way is the worst of both worlds, encouraging people to put themselves at risk for no real reason. And no, it’s not enough to dial back the GOTV efforts and leave it to each individual voter to decide whether to turn out or vote. It’d be wonderful if we lived in a world where everyone was capable of rationally assessing the risk from this disease. We don’t, as the mortifying photos and videos of Americans packing into bars and restaurants last weekend proved. Some people will seize opportunities to congregate regardless of basic health advice. The only way to stop them is to deny them the opportunity.

As it is, I don’t even know what outcome Bernie is hoping for tonight. Probably he’ll get crushed, as predicted, in which case he’ll be under even more pressure to quit tomorrow. Let’s say he does. If it all takes to push him out is a wholly expected wipeout in FL, IL, and AZ then he could have and should have spared everyone the trouble of voting by quitting on Monday. On the other hand, let’s say there’s a massive decrease in turnout today — which seems likely — and Sanders ends up benefiting, strongly outperforming his polling because his fans turned out while Biden’s didn’t. Will Bernie be well served by tomorrow’s narrative that he’s back in the game thanks to … coronavirus? Will Biden fans now be forced to trek to the polls in the next primaries en masse, possibly when the epidemic is peaking, to try to reassert their guy’s dominance? None of this makes sense.

In fact, given the wave of COVID-19 illness that’s about to break, it’s anyone’s guess when the next primaries will actually be held. Even a “big” win tonight by Sanders won’t mean anything in terms of momentum by the time the next batch of Democratic voters go to vote.

Let’s hope this study suggesting that voting doesn’t meaningfully increase the spread of epidemics is correct. It’d be catastrophic to have COVID-19 turn out to be the exception that proves the rule. You’ll find live results for Florida, Illinois, and Arizona below. Something to think about this evening: Who’s going to be Biden’s VP? He said at the debate on Sunday that it’ll be a woman. Amy Klobuchar is reportedly the frontrunner but of course the left dislikes that idea. I think it’s either her, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, or Stacey Abrams. If there’s any evidence that Klobuchar’s midwestern pedigree can help in Rust Belt states, not just Minnesota, I think it’ll be her.

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Congress’s coronavirus response: A potential $1 trillion stimulus package

Before the US Senate has even passed the second coronavirus relief bill, it’s already starting work on a massive third stimulus package the Trump administration estimates could cost $1 trillion.

It would be a massive injection of cash — surpassing the bank bailout in the midst of the 2008 recession — into an economy that’s seen cratering stocks, spikes in unemployment claims, and reduced consumer spending, as the pandemic sweeps across the US. And, perhaps surprisingly, there’s relatively bipartisan support — at least for the idea of a huge stimulus, if not yet for specific proposals.

Lawmakers are referring to this as “Phase 3” of Congress’s coronavirus response. Phase 1 was an $8.3 billion bill spurring coronavirus vaccine research and development, and Phase 2, once it’s passed, will be an approximately $104 billion package largely focused on paid sick leave and unemployment benefits for workers and families. Phase 3 will be many times larger than both of the previous bills combined.

“We know an additional bill of much larger proportion is necessary to meet this crisis,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Tuesday. “If we bend the health care curve, that will determine how long this emergency lasts. And that has required extraordinary measures that basically have us in the unusual position of the American government in effect shutting down the American economy to meet these health concerns.”

To get the economy going again, Democrats and Republicans agree they need to get money into the hands of American workers as quickly as possible. This response will likely take the form of sending checks to Americans “immediately,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced Tuesday. If this policy takes the approach of unrestricted payments to all Americans, it would be an unprecedented move in modern US history, as Vox’s Dylan Matthews explained.

“We are looking at sending checks to Americans immediately,” Mnuchin said. “Americans need to get cash now and the president wants to get cash now, and I mean now — in the next two weeks.”

But sending checks to workers is just a piece of the overall plan. The Republican-controlled Senate and President Trump’s White House are also focused on relief for businesses impacted by the coronavirus crisis, including small businesses as well as larger ones like the hard-hit airline industry. McConnell has tasked his Republican members to start drafting a bill but admits bipartisan compromise with Senate Democrats will have to happen at some point since the bill needs 60 votes to pass.

“We’re going to move here in warp speed for the Senate, which almost never does anything quickly,” McConnell said. “I think everyone on both sides of the aisle is seized with the urgency of moving yet another bill, and we intend to do that.”

There aren’t a lot of details on what Senate Republicans’ “Phase 3” might look like — yet

Whereas the second coronavirus response bill was crafted in the House, the third package will originate in the Senate (the House is currently out on recess).

The third coronavirus package is in very initial phases; McConnell is designating three task forces in his Republican conference to start working with the White House on their opening bid before they negotiate with Senate Democrats. We don’t yet know when a finalized draft will be released.

In addition to getting money into the hands of individual American workers, Republicans are also looking for other ways to stimulate the economy. The White House wants $50 billion for the airline industry; the travel, cruise, and casino industries are also eager for federal money, the Washington Post reported.

Some Senate Republicans are concerned about the impacts of coronavirus on America’s small businesses, including bars and restaurants that are now shuttered after orders from state and local governments.

“The area I’ve been focused on is on the small business component,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “There’s a strong conviction and belief we’re going to have to step up using the local banks … to provide immediate cash availability to businesses in order to be able to maintain workers on payroll. So now it’s a question of drafting it and crafting it in a way that can pass and will work.”

While McConnell was hesitant to set a number, a senior Senate Republican said Congress may well be staring down a hefty price tag to keep workers employed and businesses afloat.

“It could be a fairly substantial number,” Sen. John Thune (R-SD) said. “But I think a lot of our members believe we need to be bold and big, and make sure we’re making a clear statement about the importance of making sure our economy is stabilized and gets back on its feet.”

While the House is on recess, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is also being kept apprised of the White House’s plans. She spoke to Mnuchin over the phone Tuesday morning about America’s aviation and transportation sectors, and spoke to Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell in a separate call Tuesday afternoon.

“The speaker was encouraged by the chairman’s perspective that with interest rates at nearly zero, Congress is enabled to fiscally think big as we craft a robust response,” a senior Democratic aide said.

First things first: The Senate needs to approve the House bill

McConnell committed to a vote on the House legislation as soon as the upper chamber is able to this week, an update that had previously been uncertain given Republican pushback on the bill. Specifically, Republican senators were concerned that the paid sick leave requirements in the legislation would put an excessive financial burden on small businesses. McConnell, however, urged his conference to consider the bill regardless of their objections.

“We’re going to go on and vote as soon as the Senate can get permission to vote on the bill that came over from the House and send it to the president for signature,” McConnell told reporters during a briefing on Tuesday. “Some of my members have considerable problem with the House bill; my counsel is to gag and vote for it anyway.”

Already, the House bill has been stripped significantly as part of compromises that lawmakers have made with Republicans.

As Vox’s Anna North reports, the latest version of the legislation, which the Senate will consider, excludes millions of workers from paid sick days and paid leave provisions. In the most updated take on the bill, companies with 500 employees or more and companies with 50 employees or fewer can be exempted from requirements to offer workers paid sick days. Hospitals and nursing homes can also be exempted under the bill.

As a result, as many as 19 million workers could be left out of paid sick leave protections, according to the Washington Post.

Despite its shortcomings, the bill provides a significant influx of funding on a couple of fronts. It will boost funding to states, so they can expand their unemployment insurance benefits, and it guarantees free coronavirus testing for all Americans.

The idea of universal basic income is picking up momentum

Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s push for a universal basic income seems to be gaining steam in Congress — and it could well influence a major component of the stimulus lawmakers are envisioning. Across both parties, a growing list of lawmakers have supported sending out financial support to every American.

As Vox’s Dylan Matthews has reported, Sens. Mitt Romney and Tom Cotton are among the Republican lawmakers who’ve signaled support for this idea. Romney on Monday called for every American to get a $1,000 check as part of relief efforts.

“While expansions of paid leave, unemployment insurance, and SNAP benefits are crucial, the check will help fill the gaps for Americans that may not quickly navigate different government options,” Romney said in a statement.

And on Tuesday, a trio of Democrats expressed their support for an even more expansive proposal that would include $2,000 payments for every adult and child under a particular income threshold.

The plan, which was put forth by Sens. Michael Bennet, Cory Booker, and Sherrod Brown and first reported by the New York Times’s Jim Tankersley, would include that first payment that’s sent out between March and June, and potentially a second payment sent out later in the year, depending on how long the coronavirus response takes.

Sen. Thune, a top Republican, said there was likely more support in his conference for directly providing funds to people than for implementing a payroll tax cut (which President Trump has pushed for). “We have a high level of interest in that idea,” he told reporters Tuesday. “That idea has a lot more resonance among our members than, say, a payroll tax cut.”

If one of these ideas does make it into the final Phase 3 legislation, and if the cash payments are truly unrestricted, “it would be a historic move,” Matthews points out:

While Americans received checks as part of the response to recessions in 2001 and 2008, those were sent out as rebates or refunds to taxpayers. Never before have all Americans, regardless of income, and including the poorest citizens who do not earn enough money to have positive income tax burdens, gotten checks.

Senate Democrats have their own ideas

Sooner or later, McConnell will need to negotiate with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, as the Senate needs 60 votes to pass a stimulus bill. And Schumer has already laid out much of what he wants to see a bill contain.

The big picture on Schumer’s demands is a stimulus package that invests massively in health preparedness, as well as one that protects workers over businesses. He is asking for bailed-out businesses to provide mandatory paid sick leave and a $15 minimum wage to their direct employees, and for businesses to comply with new requirements on whatever federal aid they receive, including prioritizing keeping workers in their jobs — rather than money going to CEOs.

“We are looking first at the medical needs,” Schumer said. “You can put all the money you want out into the economy; unless you actually solve the problem and reduce the number of cases, the number of deaths, none of that will matter. So first and foremost, we need much more bolstering on the medical side.”

Here’s a list of Schumer’s priorities, reviewed by Senate Democrats during a conference call Tuesday and obtained by Vox.

  • $400 billion for emergency appropriations including a surge in hospital beds, ventilators, masks, and other equipment; increased money for senior citizens; public housing for those struggling to pay rent; protections for students impacted by school closures; public transportation relief; and investments in broadband internet
  • $350 billion to increase the social safety net, including expanded unemployment insurance with waived work requirements; automatic extensions to Medicaid if America falls into a recession; a 15 percent benefit increase to SNAP; and pausing monthly student debt payments

Schumer is also proposing a number of other reforms, including:

  • 6 months of forbearance on all federally back mortgages, and a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures
  • Expanding unemployment insurance to cover the gap on paid sick days
  • Targeted funding for Indian country and tribes
  • Protecting prisons from the spread of Covid-19

“If you’re a worker and you lose your job or can’t work, you would qualify for nearly $10,000 over six months in unemployment benefits,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “If you can’t work because you get sick and your employer doesn’t provide paid sick leave, we would allow you apply for unemployment insurance and get reimbursed.”

There’s some agreement between both parties about the need for a major economic stimulus during this unprecedented public health crisis. What the specifics of that package look like, though, include some critical differences that will need to be worked out in the coming days.

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Update internet regulations to save journalism

A light regulatory touch in the 1990s enabled the internet’s tremendous growth.

But given the dominance of a few giant platforms, their failures to adequately self-regulate and the harm they’re causing, it’s time to revisit laws giving them special advantages. That includes Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which shields online services from civil liability for content others post on their sites.

Congress is now considering several changes to Section 230. It should be updated in a way that provides a more level playing field for the media. For dominant platforms such as Google and Facebook, it is in effect a federal subsidy that they no longer need. Section 230 updates could also encourage more careful handling of news and public information by hyperscale media platforms.

Another option is collecting fees from dominant information gatekeepers, so they compensate the public for benefits they receive from Section 230. Proceeds could be used to sustain the free press these companies are suffocating, depriving much of the United States of independent, local news reporting.

Saving the free press should be part of any discussion of revising Section 230 — that’s never been more clear than in the last few weeks of this unfolding pandemic. Local journalism, in communities still lucky to have robust local newsrooms, especially is proving its necessity.

Such revisions should also be part of broader regulatory reforms to address unfair competition and excessive concentration in the media industry.

Section 230 gives special immunity to online services. They can’t be held liable for content posted on their sites, with some exceptions, such as intellectual-property and federal criminal violations. This immunity prevents Facebook from getting sued for defamatory posts, for instance.

A newspaper must spend time and resources to avoid being sued for a story it reports and what it publishes. Online platforms may immediately republish that story, choose how it’s distributed to their audiences and profit from it, without compensating the newspaper or bearing liability for the content.

Section 230 is tricky. Updates must be done without sacrificing good things it has done to foster innovation and dialogue. Section 230 changes are also unlikely to address some major concerns about tech giants, such as failures to block propaganda and follow political-advertising rules.

Others are concerned about bias in platforms’ systems for selecting and promoting stories. But these are private properties, free to moderate as they choose. Government regulation of bias is problematic and likely unconstitutional.

An Orwellian proposal last year by U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, would withhold liability protections until federal regulators determine the platforms are “politically neutral.” That came after concerns on the left and the right about Facebook’s news curation.

A similar cudgel is used in a new proposal from Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., purporting to address child exploitation. It also creates an oversight regime, threatening to revoke Section 230 protections from companies that don’t follow “best practices.” Privacy advocates and Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who helped draft Section 230, say it’s a Trojan horse that will help government circumvent encryption and control online speech.

Another option to directly address Section 230 problems might be to fix its outdated definitions. It differentiates between “interactive computer service” and “information content provider,” providing immunity only to the former.

Anyone posting on Facebook is the “content provider” and may be held liable for it. Facebook is not liable because Section 230 immunizes “services.”

Now that a few giant companies provide most content consumed by Americans, that distinction is obsolete. The largest telecommunications companies are also media companies after mergers since 1996.

Nor are services like Facebook passive pipelines. They decide how content is presented and amplified, and most of their revenue comes from monetizing content, not connectivity.

Section 230 was written partly so internet services had legal cover to moderate content — preventing harmful content from reaching children, for instance.

Decades later, the largest services still get that immunity but fall short protecting users from harmful material. Russia’s success using platforms to sow discord and interfere with the 2016 elections is the prime example.

Giant platforms also weaken democracy by bleeding the free press without investing back into journalism that informs voters and holds government accountable.

While the light touch approach of Section 230 helped the internet blossom, it’s now providing unfair advantage to a few dominant companies. Fix the law so it works better for everyone.

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‘We’re going big’: Trump seeks $1 trillion economic stimulus as U.S. battles coronavirus

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Trump administration on Tuesday pursued a $1 trillion stimulus package to buttress an economy hit by coronavirus fears that could deliver $1,000 checks to Americans within two weeks, while New York said it might order residents of the most populous U.S. city to stay at home.

With the number of reported U.S. cases of the respiratory illness surging past 5,800 and deaths approaching 100, millions of Americans hunkered down in their homes instead of commuting to work or school as New York and other major cities escalated “social distancing” policies by closing schools, bars, restaurants and theaters.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he would decide within two days whether to order residents to “shelter in place” to fight the spread of the virus. The move would largely confine people to their homes in the city of roughly 8.5 million but probably let them make necessary trips to the grocery or pharmacy.

“It’s a very, very difficult decision,” de Blasio said. “We’ve never been here before. I have never heard of anything like this in the history of New York City.”

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced that state’s first coronavirus death and said 22 other people had been infected at a nursing home in suburban Chicago. In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy closed amusement parks and indoor shopping malls as a record number of unemployment applications crashed state computer systems.

In Minnesota, the Mall of America, the nation’s largest enclosed shopping center, said it would close through the end of the month. Sheriff’s deputies in Los Angeles were ordered to write more tickets and make fewer arrests, to keep jail crowding to a minimum.

Vice President Mike Pence said the White House may have the U.S. military establish field hospitals in virus hot zones if requested by state governors, or use the Army Corps of Engineers to add capacity to existing hospitals.

New York, Washington state and California have the most confirmed cases of the highly contagious respiratory illness.

In one of the most restrictive policies already in place, officials ordered residents of the San Francisco Bay area, some 6.7 million people, to stay home beginning for all but the most crucial outings until April 7.

“It’s like living in a ‘Twilight Zone,’” said Rowan Oake, 36, during a jog through San Francisco’s Presidio Park. “You can feel the anxiety in the air.”

President Donald Trump said progress is being made against the fast-spreading pathogen and predicted the U.S. economy would “come roaring back” when it slows.

“It’s going to pop,” said Trump, who is seeking re-election on Nov. 3.

The Republican president’s tone on the coronavirus pandemic has changed sharply in the last few days. After initially playing down the threat and focusing on the stock market, his administration has begun pushing for urgent action to stem the disease’s economic and human toll.

His administration sought more than $1 trillion for a stimulus package, which would include $50 billion for hard-hit airlines facing bankruptcy and $250 billion for small business loans.

“We’re going big,” Trump said, describing the health crisis as a war against an “invisible enemy.”

‘GAG AND VOTE FOR IT’

Trump, surrounded by top advisers at the White House briefing room, said his administration was considering a plan to send checks to individual Americans of $1,000 to help them weather the crisis, though he indicated details needed to be worked out.

High earners might not qualify for payments, which could be sent within the next two weeks, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said his chamber would this week pass a multibillion-dollar emergency spending bill cleared by the House of Representatives on Saturday, despite concerns from some Republicans.

He said he told them to “gag and vote for it anyway.”

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting on the coronavirus (COVID-19) response with tourism industry executives in the Cabinet Rooom of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis

McConnell said the Senate would not leave town until it passes a follow-up package.

The House bill would require paid sick leave for workers, expand unemployment compensation and provide nearly $1 billion in additional money to help feed children, homebound senior citizens and others during the outbreak.

The Senate would then turn to a follow-on aid package, he said.

U.S. stocks jumped on Tuesday, a day after their steepest declines since the 1987 crash, as the Federal Reserve took further steps to boost liquidity as the coronavirus pandemic grips the global economy and markets.

The benchmark S&P 500 .SPX closed up 6% after the central bank relaunched a financial crisis-era purchase of short-term corporate debt. Mnuchin said it may get to a point where shortening market trading hours would be needed, but that the intention is to keep markets open.

TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS

Trump said travel restrictions within the United States are being considered.

“You can do a national lockdown. Hopefully, we’re not going to need that,” Trump said. “It’s a very big step.”

He asked Americans to avoid traveling and urged them to “buy less” when they go to stores after nationwide reports of anxious shoppers emptying grocery store shelves.

“We’re asking our older generation to stay in their homes. … We’re asking the younger generation to stop going out,” said Trump coronavirus adviser Deborah Birx.

It was St. Patrick’s Day but the mood was sober, not joyous, after parades and parties celebrating the Irish heritage of many Americans were canceled around the country and bars were shuttered. Florida’s governor said bars and nightclubs in his state would close for 30 days.

Slideshow (18 Images)

Voters in Florida, Illinois and Arizona were met by gloved poll workers and hand sanitizer as they cast ballots on Tuesday in the state-by-state process of selecting a Democratic challenger to Trump in the Nov. 3 U.S. election.

Former Vice President Joe Biden looked to bolster his dominant lead over rival Senator Bernie Sanders. Ohio officials postponed that state’s primary due to coronavirus fears hours before voting was to begin.

GRAPHIC: Tracking the spread of the global coronavirus – here

Reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington and Maria Caspani and Jonathan Allen in New York. Additional reporting by Alexandra Alper, Jeff Mason, David Morgan, Lisa Lambert, David Shepardson, Susan Heavey, Nathan Layne, Lisa Shumaker, Joseph Ax, Jill Serjeant, Dan Whitcomb, Gabriella Borter, Barbara Goldberg, Brendan O’Brien, Michael Erman and Robin Respaut; Writing by Will Dunham and Andy Sullivan; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Cynthia Osterman

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When Wuhan Virus Departs, World Will Be Changed

No one knows how long the international alarm, bordering on panic, over the Wuhan virus will last. Whether it turns out to be the dire event some fear, or just a bad flu that opportunistically kills the elderly and those with compromised immune systems (which is what, at this writing, it seems to be) one thing is certain: when it finally runs its course, a whole lot of things are going to be very, very different.

This is not necessarily a bad thing; after all, it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good. For more than half a century, the western world has divided itself in two antithetical camps. One constantly pushes for the overthrow of years, decades, centuries and even millennia of societal traditions and political norms in a headlong pursuit of “change” at all costs; the other has tried to resist, but has inexorably been pushed back on nearly every front, shedding religious tenets and constitutional rights in a doomed bid to appease its opponents.

The situation resembles the parable of Chesterton’s Fence, in which two men encounter a mysterious barrier across a road: “The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, ‘I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.’ To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: ‘If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.’”

Problem is, the Left went ahead and destroyed the fence anyway. And with the arrival of the coronavirus, we now see the results. Herewith, a list of the biggest Wuhan Losers:

The European Union. The EU’s pipedream of a super state, passport-free in its interior, could only work as long as all the disparate countries herded within shared the same cultural values. But Germany—surprise!—turned out to be nothing like Greece or Italy, while Britain and Ireland bore only a passing resemblance to Belgium and France.

Further, differing economies, marked by vastly different work ethics, made the marriage of currencies such as the deutschmark and the drachma effectively impossible. The unwieldy union, originally designed to keep France and Germany from each other’s throats, was always shaky, but two things have now happened to knock it off its pins: German chancellor Angela Merkel’s destabilizing decision to admit more than a million non-European immigrants from the Middle East and Afghanistan in 2015, giving them free access to the rest of the EU, triggering social destabilization from Lampedusa to Stockholm, and partially setting off the UK’s “Brexit” and the Wuhan flu.

With Italy and Spain now bearing the brunt of Covid-19, one member state after another has turned its back on the EU charter, and battened down the hatches against foreigners, including fellow Europeans; sympathy for Syrians and Afghans has had to take a back seat as grandma expires painfully in the back bedroom.

Even Germany has had enough and has closed its border to many of its immediate neighbors, while the Schengen Zone, in which citizens of member states (not all of them in the EU) could travel freely, is now “verboten” to outsiders. So say “auf Wiedersehen” to the European Union as we knew it as the Europeans remember the joys and protective uses of nationalism, and those more interested in national survival than the Brussels pipe dream follow Britain out the door. All of which means the effective end of—

Open borders. Across the Atlantic, the United States has been under pressure from the Democrats to render the southern border with Mexico effectively nugatory, blocking Donald Trump’s wall at every turn in the courts, ignoring federal authority regarding immigration, and doing their best to prevent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from arresting and deporting criminal illegal aliens.

Just a few days ago, presumptive nominee Joe Biden was calling Trump’s handling of the Wuhan flu crisis “xenophobic.” But now that the virus has shut down commerce and travel from New York to California, Americans are less tolerant of law-flouting than they were a month ago. The old folks should be confined to quarters for up to four months while the homeless turn the sidewalks into open-air latrines, Hollywood, the lifeblood of Los Angeles, essentially shuts down production, and movie theaters across the nation close. As 30,000 illegals continue to cross the southwest border per month, open borders have suddenly become a luxury even a liberal can no longer afford. Meanwhile, across the Pacific—

China is now seen as more of a threat than a trading partner, and will never have the same economic and political relationship with the west as formerly; its hegemonic aspirations are now over, and it will likely return to being a non-expansive regional power.

Forget the conspiracy-mongering notion that the Wuhan virus was deliberately weaponized by the Chinese government; what’s bad enough is that Beijing deliberately concealed the outbreak as long as it could and has been dissembling ever since.

The coronavirus has also put the spotlight on the Peoples Republic’s outsized influence in the United States, including its penetration of American colleges and universities to implant or suborn professors to steal research and technology and agents masquerading as students who were actually officers in the People’s Liberation Army.

Dependence on China for, among other things, prescription drugs and medical devices, is now a thing of the past, especially after a Chinese threat to withhold life-saving pharmaceuticals. And extensive Chinese investment in places like northern Italy (where the worst of the European outbreak has occurred, thanks to PRC control of the Italian textile industry) is undergoing immediate reassessment. As is—

“Climate change.” The massive scheme to separate rich nations from their money and their standard of living has faded from the headlines as Greta Thunberg relinquishes her media-fueled role as a seer and resumes her life as an obscure Swedish teenager.

The urgency of keeping the planet’s temperature rise to less than 2 degrees’ Celsius matters little when your own body temperature is soaring to 103 degrees Fahrenheit and the ICUs are all full up. An enormous industry of global-warming alarmists and rent-seekers is going to have to make do with less fools’ gold as rational countries redirect critical resources to infectious-disease care and prevention.

Besides, the coronavirus cannot thrive in warm and humid climates, so maybe a heat wave is just what the doctor ordered. After all, we’re all in this together, right? It’s just that—

Globalism and “free trade” are on the way out. The Wuhan virus means the end of cheap, even slave, labor and thus of inexpensive electronic goods at the low end and overpriced gadgets (such as the iPhone and Nikes) at the high end, with huge markups that gouge consumers even as Asian labor gets shortchanged and American workers get sent to the unemployment offices.

One of the cornerstones of the Left-Right consensus, and an unholy alliance between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and outfits like La Raza, globalism (along with open borders) has enriched the few at the expense of the many and beggared everybody else. Look for “American made” to mean something again. And, speaking of beggaring—

The IRS and the income tax is an institution whose time has gone. A product of the so-called “progressive” era, the income tax got forced upon the American public with the adoption of the 16th amendment in 1913, which overturned the constitutional mandate that direct taxes had to be apportioned among the states.

The result was a diminution of Americans’ personal freedom, a massive expansion of the federal government, and a soaring national debt, now completely out of control. To fight the economic effects of the Wuhan virus, however, the administration is bruiting an immediate cash benefit of up to $1,000 to every American, an amnesty without penalties in the late filing of federal income taxes, as well as a “payroll tax” (FICA) holiday, proving that while death may be inevitable, taxes are not.

Other things likely to change include college and professional sports (seasons delayed or canceled), the summer Olympics (sayonara, Tokyo), public transportation (the private automobile turns out to be the perfect social-distancing vehicle, not buses or subways), the Democrats (after wasting three years indulging their “Russian collusion” hoax and conducting a sham impeachment, nobody cares which of the two anti-America geezers the party is going to run this fall, and at least one Democratic primary, in Ohio, has already been postponed), animal rights (testing experimental vaccines on lab animals?—bring it on!), and rule by judges (as governors and the feds impose emergency measures that override state and local statutes in the interests of public safety).

Indeed, one of the happiest results of the virus crisis will be the end of “nationwide injunctions” from the last and least of the three constitutional branches of government, which can now return (in Chief Justice John Robert’s formulation) to calling balls and strikes and staying out of policy.

Hardest hit of all, however, is the media, whose anti-Trump mania, reliance on manipulative if not imaginary “anonymous sources,” eagerness to be seduced by former members of the intelligence community, general ignorance of almost every specialized field they encounter, political naiveté, and absolute fidelity to the party line (“Wuhan” is now racist) has rendered a once-proud profession little more than a mouthpiece for the Democratic National Committee and a constant reproach to truth, justice, and the American way.

At a time of dying newspapers and laid-off reporters, the media has chosen to go down with its “principles” rather than adhering to its former standards of objectivity and professionalism. They wanted “change” and now they’ve got it—as H.L. Mencken famously said: good and hard.

Maybe the next time we come to a fence, we’ll think twice about tearing it down.

Michael Walsh is the author of “The Devil’s Pleasure Palace” and “The Fiery Angel,” both published by Encounter Books. His latest book, “Last Stands,” a cultural study of military history, will be published later this year by St. Martin’s Press. Follow him on Twitter @dkahanerules.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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TV ratings illustrate hunger for news on coronavirus threat

NEW YORK (AP) – Reflecting a hunger for information about the coronavirus outbreak, last Thursday’s episode of ABC’s “World News Tonight” had more viewers than anything that aired in television’s prime time last week.

That edition of the David Muir-anchored broadcast reached 10.8 million viewers, slightly more than an original episode of “NCIS,” the Nielsen company said. Collectively, the ABC, NBC and CBS evening newscasts on Thursday – which all air prior to the 8 p.m. start of television’s traditional prime time – reached 26.3 million people.

CBS‘ “60 Minutes,” which featured a Scott Pelley report on how New Rochelle, N.Y., is dealing with its hot spot of infected patients, and the CNN debate between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders also finished in Nielsen’s top five last week.

Television networks will be watching closely in the next few weeks to see how viewership is increased by all of the people left housebound by the virus. It’s usually the opposite as spring approaches and improving weather send people outdoors and away from their TVs.

CBS was the week’s most popular network, averaging 6.2 million viewers in prime time. ABC was second with 5.2 million, NBC had 3.7 million, Fox had 3 million, Univision had 1.4 million, ION Television had 1.3 million, Telemundo had 1.1 million and the CW had 700,000.



The three news networks dominated cable viewership last week. Fox News Channel averaged 3.54 million viewers in prime time, CNN had 2.85 million, MSNBC had 2.3 million, TBS had 1.13 million and HGTV had 1.12 million.

“World News Tonight” averaged 9.9 million viewers for the week. NBC’s “Nightly News” was second among the evening news programs with 8.5 million viewers and CBS had 6.1 million.

For the week of March 9-15, the week’s 20 most popular programs, their networks and viewership:

1. “NCIS,” CBS, 10.76 million.

2. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 10.44 million.

3. Democratic Presidential Debate, CNN, 9.9 million.

4. “Young Sheldon,” CBS, 8.89 million.

5. “The Voice” (Monday), NBC, 8.74 million.

6. “The Bachelor,” (Tuesday, 8 p.m.), ABC, 8.55 million.

7. “FBI,” CBS, 8.31 million.

8. “Blue Bloods,” CBS, 8.14 million.

9. “The Bachelor” (Monday, 8 p.m.), ABC, 7.75 million.

10. “American Idol,” ABC, 7.47 million.

11. “The Masked Singer,” Fox, 7.25 million.

12. “Hawaii Five-0,” CBS, 7.11 million.

13. “Survivor,” CBS, 6.92 million.

14. “Station 19,” ABC, 6.65 million.

15. President Trump Address, CBS, 6.57 million.

16. “Hannity” (Wednesday), Fox News, 6.44 million.

17. “Mom,” CBS, 6.442 million.

18. “NCIS: New Orleans,” CBS, 6.345 million.

19. “Bull,” CBS, 6.32 million.

20. “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC, 6.28 million.

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Elizabeth Warren, AOC Float Corporate Bailout Rules

Megan Jelinger / Echoes WireGetty Images

Late Tuesday afternoon, as talk of all manner of bailouts was heating up, Senator Professor Warren proposed a series of conditions that she would like placed on any money sluiced into corporations.

1- Payrolls must be maintained; 2- Companies must enact $15/hr min wage by 1 year after emergency ends; 3- Prohibition on buybacks, dividends, executive bonuses for min. 3 years; 4- Companies must turn 1 board seat over to workers.

If you need a reason why these conditions are necessary, you can look at what happened to the windfall bestowed upon the airlines by the whopping tax cut that they received a couple of years ago. From CNBC:

The four biggest U.S. carriers — Delta, American, Southwest and United — have collectively spent about $39 billion over the last five years buying back shares, according to a tally from S&P Dow Jones Indices. Those carriers’ shares are now trading at multiyear lows. Boeing, which is also seeking government aid, spent more than $35 billion in that period.

“If there is so much as a DIME of corporate bailout money in the next relief package, it should include a reinstated ban on stock buybacks,” tweeted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat.

“We fully recognize that the company had the opportunity to build up its cash reserves and repeatedly advocated for them to do so,” wrote Todd Insler, chairman of the union that represents United’s pilots, the Air Line Pilots Association. “In spite of ALPA’s warnings, they instead chose to spend company resources differently.

The current situation may be the last great chance to crack the encroaching oligarchy, but it’s going to require a radical change in how politicians think about the notion of what a stimulus really is. Mr. Keynes is knocking on the door again.

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Biden squeezed on his most critical decision: His VP pick

Biden has been dogged both by questions about his age and his failure to attract younger voters, putting pressure on his campaign to balance his ticket with a fresh face. Geography, too, is a consideration. The imperative to win back the Rust Belt, said Biden advisers, will be one major factor in the decision.

That could give an edge to Klobuchar, who demonstrated she can win in the purple state of Minnesota and stumped aggressively for Biden in Michigan as well as in her home state. Klobuchar’s swift exit from the race and endorsement of Biden ahead of Super Tuesday helped him consolidate moderate support at a pivotal moment in the primary. Klobuchar, like Harris, is also a strong debater, Clyburn pointed out.

Whitmer likewise checks the Midwestern box. The Michigan governor stepped up to provide a critical endorsement just before the Michigan primary. Biden went on to win every county in the state in a victory that devastated Sanders’ campaign. Michigan, too, is considered ground zero in the fall fight against Trump.

Several Biden advisers noted the golden rule of choosing a vice presidential candidate: “First, do no harm.” To that end, ensuring that their choice has no skeletons is critical. “Our campaign will run a rigorous vetting process,” one of the advisers said.

Aides insist Biden’s decision to announce his intentions to name a woman on the debate stage was his own and not part of a larger strategy.

“It’s something he thought about a lot recently, and he decided he wanted to make a big commitment on a big stage,” said Biden adviser Symone Sanders. “Vice President Biden also doubled down on choosing a black woman for the Supreme Court. So both of these are enormous commitments to diversity and, frankly, to progress.”

A roadmap for the campaign’s thoughts can be found in a 16-page report, “Selecting a Vice President: Advice for Presidential Candidates,” which was issued in 2016 by the Bipartisan Policy Center. One of Biden’s top advisors, Anita Dunn, was part of the center’s working group that produced the study.

Among its recommendations: campaigns should begin the core vetting and selecting process at least eight weeks before the convention. And “presidential candidates should spend meaningful time personally getting to know each potential running mate.”

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McConnell Says Senate Will Pass Paid Sick Leave, Tells Republicans to ‘Gag and Vote’

A House-passed stimulus package to provide paid sick leave to workers of small and midsized companies will be voted on and passed by the Senate, despite some Republicans’ objections to the measure, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday.

The Kentucky Republican said that although some of his members fear the bill could exacerbate the strain put on businesses amid reduced economic activity that has resulted from the coronavirus pandemic, the chamber will follow the House’s lead and send the proposal to President Donald Trump’s desk. It’s a move that McConnell believes will “reassure the people around the country that we can operate on a bicameral, bipartisan basis quickly.”

“A number of my members think there are considerable shortcomings in the House bill,” he said. “My counsel to them is to gag and vote for it anyway, even if they think it has shortcomings.”

McConnell’s announcement followed a closed-door luncheon with Senate Republicans and Steven Mnuchin, where the Treasury secretary pushed members to back it, according to several lawmakers who spoke to reporters.


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, holds a press briefing about legislation in response to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, March 17.
Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty

The Democratic-led House passed the bipartisan legislation, which is backed by the president and came to fruition after negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Mnuchin early Saturday morning. It’s yet-to-be-determined when the Senate will hold a vote.

“[Mnuchin] had every Democrat on one side, he had a divided Republican conference and a Republican president who wanted to get something done. If you could have done better, step up. Now’s your chance,” said Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a supporter of the president. “There’s no chance in hell we’re gonna make this bill better in the Senate.”

The legislation would give workers of companies with less than 500 employees two weeks of paid sick leave, in addition to up to three months of paid family and medical leave; free coronavirus testing; food aid; unemployment insurance; and increased federal funds for Medicaid.

But GOP senators are concerned that the tax credits offered by the government to companies to offset the cost of providing paid sick leave would come too late, as several states have forced restaurants, bars, movie theaters and gyms to provide limited services or close altogether.

McConnell suggested that those who have misgivings about the measure should address any perceived shortcomings in another stimulus package that Congress and the Trump administration are scrambling to draft. It would be worth $1 trillion, Mnuchin told reporters Tuesday, and include more loans for businesses and checks that would go directly into Americans’ pockets.

The details of the trillion-dollar deal, which will eventually require Democratic input, are still being fleshed out.

This is a breaking story and will be updated with additional information.