By invoking the Defense Production Act, which "authorizes the President to require acceptance and priority performance of contracts or orders and to allocate materials, services, and facilities to promote the national defense or to maximize domestic energy supplies," US president Donald Trump has declared himself America's economic dictator.

On March 12, the New York Federal Reserve announced a $1.5 trillion injection of money into the US financial system. Three days later, it cut its benchmark interest rate to zero and announced it would be buying at least $500 billion in government bonds and another $200 billion in mortgage securities.

The jury is still out on which of two things — COVID-19 or the panic over COVID-19 — will cost more lives and do more damage to the global economy. My money's still on the latter. In the meantime, I've developed a surefire, Groundhog Day type test for whether the emergency is over: Watch for Nobel laureate economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman to start trying to convince us it was, all in all, actually a good thing.

The Wile E Coyotes of the Internet — US Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) — are sure that this time  they’ve finally found a made-to-order tool that can take out the Roadrunn ... er, those meddling ki ... er,  the First Amendment and  Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

On Sunday, March 8, millions of Americans woke up an hour early, having set their clocks ahead by an hour the night before, and dug in for a week or so of bleary-eyed, irritable attempts to tweak their bodies' natural sleeping and waking rhythms. This fatuous semi-annual "spring forward, fall back" ritual, called "Daylight Saving Time," ranks high on my personal list of "dumbest ideas in the history of mankind."

As of early March, there were fewer than 200 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus in the United States. Nonetheless, Congress passed, and US president Donald Trump signed, an $8.3 billion "emergency funding" bill theoretically related to containing the disease. Had the federal government done nothing at all, the "beer flu" might have conceivably have ended up killing a tiny fraction of the number of Americans who will die of influenza during the same period.

On March 3, US president Donald Trump spoke (via telephone) with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, chief of the Taliban's Doha diplomatic office and signer, on behalf of his organization, of the recently-concluded Afghanistan "peace deal." "The direct contact between an American president and a top Taliban leader would once have been unthinkable," writes Michael Crowley at the New York Times.

Writing at the Florida Politics blog, AG Gancarski reports on three sales-tax "holiday" bills working their way through the state's legislature. Two of the bills would lengthen existing holidays on school supplies and storm-preparedness products. The third would expand the holiday habit to hunting and fishing items. According to the Sales Tax Institute, at least 16 states have sales-tax holidays scheduled this year on goods ranging from clothing to school supplies to generators to guns.

According to selected members of the "US intelligence community" ("selected" for their loyalty to, and willingness to promote the line of, the Democratic Party establishment), Vladimir Putin and the Russian government just love them some Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Can't get enough of 'em. If November is a Trump/Sanders shoot-out, the Kremlin wins either way.

Back in 2016, presidential candidate Donald Trump promised that Mexico would pay for his proposed border wall. Turns out Mexico wasn't interested, so Trump eventually resorted to declaring fake emergencies and illegally misappropriating money from the military budget.

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