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Editorial: Short takes on money given, money taken, money scammed and money shunned

Editorial: Short takes on money given, money taken, money scammed and money shunned

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Legislating forgiveness

Republicans in the Missouri Legislature deserve credit for recognizing that the state made a big mistake by overpaying benefits to 45,000 jobless Missourians, and it’s up to the state to fix it without penalizing those who received the badly needed aid. If left to his own devices, Republican Gov. Mike Parson would force the beneficiaries to pay back every dime.

Parson’s hardline stand comes as he sits upon a big mound of unspent federal pandemic relief money — which could have to be repaid to the federal government if Parson doesn’t find a way to distribute it. A proposal passed by the House Special Committee on Government Oversight would repurpose that money in an accounting maneuver to cover the funds sent erroneously by the state to those who received extra jobless benefits.

“We’re going to do our best to get them the help they need,” said Rep. J. Eggleston, R-Maysville, echoing the view of this newspaper that desperate Missourians shouldn’t be forced to pay for the state’s mistakes. Even the federal government has encouraged Missouri to forgive any non-fraudulent overpayments.

The plan advanced with overwhelming approval out of committee and awaits action by the full House, while similar legislation is pending in the Senate.

We hate you, but can you help us?

Just a few weeks ago, Texas state Rep. Kyle Biedermann was so upset with the way things were going in America (translation: Joe Biden was elected president) that the Republican filed a bill to ask Texans in a referendum whether the state should secede from the union. This after Texas had spent years de-linking itself from the national power grid and effectively achieving energy secession from the union. Oops.

A major winter storm hit, dumping snow everywhere and knocking out power to 4 million households. Former Republican Gov. Rick “Oops” Perry did his part by reportedly saying that Texans would rather “be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business.”

Then Republican Gov. Greg Abbott asked the federal government for emergency disaster relief, which Biden quickly approved. It turns out that, for all of Texans’ macho, bootstrap-pulling talk of independence, they rely on federal help just like the rest of the country when times are tough. And the rest of the country, united under a federal government, steps forward to help. Good luck with that secession thing, Rep. Biedermann.

Bullseye!

More than half a century ago, President John F. Kennedy famously justified attempts to do ambitious things like landing on the moon “not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” On Thursday, NASA did an unusually hard thing, landing a rover on an especially treacherous area of Mars to search for signs of past life.

Since the mission of the rover Perseverance is to search for indications of ancient microbes, the landing site was carefully chosen based on past geology — specifically, indications that a large waterway once flowed there. The region chosen is within a crater, with a topography of hills, cliffs and rocks that made the landing especially hazardous.

“Hitting the 4.8-mile-wide landing site targeted by NASA after a journey of 300 million miles is akin to throwing a dart from the White House and scoring a bull’s-eye in Dallas,” a Washington Post analysis put it before the landing. Whatever Perseverance finds, the very mission serves as an inspiring reminder that Americans can still, sometimes, do hard things.

The real fraudsters

There was fraud related to the Nov. 3 election, all right — not the voter fraud that former President Donald Trump falsely claimed was happening, but fraud perpetrated by Trump, the Republican Party and independent conservative entities that fleeced donors of hundreds of millions of dollars in donations that were supposed to go toward proving vote fraud. Now one donor who gave one of those groups $2.5 million is suing to get his money back on grounds that he was duped into believing in non-existent conspiracy theories.

As The Washington Post reports, conservative donor Fred Eshelman, a North Carolina financier, made the donation to the Texas-based nonprofit True the Vote after becoming convinced that the late shifts in vote totals away from Trump in key states were the result of fraud. In fact, those shifts were merely the result of late counting of mail-in ballots. But TrumpWorld promoted the fraud lie all the way to the bank.

Eshelman sued after it became clear that the group’s claims of possessing a “smoking gun” proving mass vote fraud was bunk. Hopefully, this move to confront the real fraudsters from the election will become a trend among other donors.

Not funny. Not now, not ever.

Los Angeles police are investigating the origin of a Valentine’s Day card circulated within its ranks showing an image of George Floyd — whose suffocation death at the hands of Minneapolis police last year sparked national protests — alongside the words: “You take my breath away.” Tell us again how systemic racism and abuse isn’t a problem in U.S. police forces.

Floyd, 46, died on May 25, after an officer who’d arrested him for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill knelt on his neck for almost 9 minutes, ignoring Floyd’s repeated pleas of “I can’t breathe.” Floyd’s killing prompted months of protests and calls for police reform. But at the LAPD, it has allegedly prompted one of the sickest jokes imaginable.

It’s unclear if someone on the force created the image or if it made its way into the ranks from an outside source. The department is investigating.

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