Trump- make up your mind

Trump has stated that Governors were responsible for shutting down states and that they are on their own for getting ventilators, but somehow he is the great decider on reopening the economy. NBC reports Texas Governor Abbott saying he wants to reopen part of the state, but Trump saying that authority resides with Trump himself. Thankfully, no one seems to think it would be a good idea to let Lt. Gov Dan Patrick decide anything- he’s the guy who suggested old people should be willing to die so we could get back to work.

Trump is also predicting a massive boom once the economy reopens…but this is as likely as his prediction that we’d have reopened the country by Easter. NY Times looks at what a slow and painful reopening of the economy will look like:

The evidence suggests it is not just stay-at-home orders and other government restrictions that have chilled economic activity in the United States over the past month: It is also a behavioral response from workers and consumers scared of contracting the virus.

Data shows that unemployment claims rose and restaurant reservations vanished even before the lockdown orders hit, as nervous consumers retreated into their homes. And they show consumers are unlikely to return to airports, restaurants and sporting venues en masse any time soon.

Families of many of the people dying in NYC aren’t able to afford a burial. NPR talked to Queens Councilman Francisco Moya:

“They’re the ones that are delivering our food while, you know, we’re safe inside. They’re the ones that are manning the cash registers and stocking the aisles in our supermarkets,” he said in an interview Saturday with NPR’s All Things Considered. “They’ve been thrown into being this kind of front line support that has been keeping the city alive as we go through this process.”

Moya says that 1,700 of his constituents have already died from the virus, but many in his district have been unable to bury their loved ones because they either lack the money to cover the costs, or the immigration status required for burial assistance.

Lots of good stuff in The Atlantic. Biden already had a first hand look at pulling the nation  out of a massive recession in 2009. But in overseeing the 2009 Recovery Act as Barack Obama’s vice president, Biden shepherded an effort now seen as an effective and remarkably fraud-free response to the financial crisis, even if it won little praise or political credit at the time. If Biden has the good—or bad—luck to win the presidency in November, his first task will be to perform an encore on an even more daunting scale.

London Breed deserves a lot of credit for seeing the corona threat earlier, prepping San Francisco and shutting the city down quickly- De Blasio certainly didn’t handle it as well to start.  According to ABC News, 21 NYC public school teachers have now dies from the coronavirus- absolutely awful.

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Jesus died for our sins, not for us to gather and get coronavirus

The Kansas Supreme Court thankfully upheld the governor’s order prohibiting public gatherings of more than 10 people. The Republican legislature, in their infinite wisdom, revoked Laura Kelly’s order so they could prevent a “War on Easter”. Kansas isn’t alone- 5 states have yet to enact stay-at-home orders.  Rural states may they think they are exempt from the virus, but the Washington Post analysis shows that 76 million people — about 30 percent of the country’s adults — live in areas where there might not be enough intensive-care beds or ventilators.

Robert Reich in the Guardian calls out the rush to praise billionaires for donating to charities. Every donation matters and they are all desperately needed. But let’s not forget that Trump pushed through a massive tax cut for corporations and the ultra-wealthy that caused the deficit to spike. With trillions of federal dollars being directed at averting another Great Depression, how are we going to pay for it? Billionaires will need to pay their fair share….and today many of them don’t.

Besides, all the billionaire charity combined is a tiny fraction of the trillions the government has already spent on the coronavirus crisis. How does the Journal believe we’re going to pay down this added national debt if the wealthiest among us don’t pay more taxes? Even when this nightmare is over, most Americans will be hard pressed.

Biden is trying to stay relevant while almost all of the media attention is on Trump. It increasingly looks like the November election will be a referendum on Trump and his handling of the current crisis. Biden has to walk the fine line of being visible but not appearing to distract from the work that needs to be done. And Biden will need to raise massive amounts of money- and he has never been very good at that. From the Washington Post:

Through the end of February, Mr. Trump and the Republican National Committee had a combined $225 million in the bank, while Mr. Biden’s campaign had $12.1 million. The Democratic National Committee had $14 million on hand, along with $6 million in debt. Both sides expect a fierce competition between a constellation of outside political groups.

Remember when US Navy Captain Brett Crozier sent an email saying sailors on his ship, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, needed to be removed and quarantined on shore? Remember how Navy Secretary Thomas Modly (before he quickly resigned) fired Crozier and said Crozier was naive or stupid? And that the sailors on the ship gave Crozier a standing ovation when he departed? NY Daily News reports that the ship now has more than 550 sailors who have tested positive for the virus- an absolutely disgraceful failure to value and protect our military personnel.

Trump has refused to provide additional funding for the US Post Office as part of the $2 trillion relief bill. Rolling Stone reports that 500 postal workers have tested positive for COVID-19 and that 19 of them have died. They wrap it up with: If the country can afford the billions sent to the private sector in the relief aid package, saving a service that many Americans rely on seems like something that should be a no-brainer.

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“The germ is so brilliant”…and Trump is so not

The NY Times digs deep on Trump’s utter failure to take action against the virus despite having plenty of warning.

Throughout January, as Mr. Trump repeatedly played down the seriousness of the virus and focused on other issues, an array of figures inside his government — from top White House advisers to experts deep in the cabinet departments and intelligence agencies — identified the threat, sounded alarms and made clear the need for aggressive action.

The president, though, was slow to absorb the scale of the risk and to act accordingly, focusing instead on controlling the message, protecting gains in the economy and batting away warnings from senior officials. It was a problem, he said, that had come out of nowhere and could not have been foreseen.

And yet he claims that he knew it was a pandemic before just about anyone else:

In addition to being the visionary who saw it coming, Trump also breaks down the science of the virus for the public.

Asked by a journalist about the level of testing for the coronavirus across the US, the president answered: “This is a very brilliant enemy. You know, it’s a brilliant enemy. They develop drugs like the antibiotics. You see it. Antibiotics used to solve every problem. Now one of the biggest problems the world has is the germ has gotten so brilliant that the antibiotic can’t keep up with it.

“And they’re constantly trying to come up with a new – people go to a hospital and they catch – they go for a heart operation – that’s no problem, but they end up dying from – from problems. You know the problems I’m talking about. There’s a whole genius to it.”

And yet the science is a bit lacking, as pointed out by Independent:

Though it is unclear whether Mr Trump was directly suggesting the disease may once have been treatable with antibiotics, the president’s allusions to antibiotic resistance are misguided. As the World Health Organisation states: “Antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria.”

On its page titled “Myth Busters”, the organisation advises: “The new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment.

In large part because Trump failed to prepare for the looming pandemic, the federal government is trying to catch up and taking shortcuts to do so. ProPublica lays out how the White House influenced FEMA to award the largest Coronavirus contract without any bidding.  Just the sort of thing you’d expect when you have Jared Kushner coordinating the governmental response.

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In an unusual move, even in times of disaster, the White House stepped into the federal purchasing process, ordering the Federal Emergency Management Agency to award a contract to AirBoss of America. The Trump administration has rushed through hundreds of deals to address the pandemic without the usual oversight, more than $760 million reported as of this week, but the AirBoss transaction is the single largest no-bid purchase, a ProPublica analysis of federal purchasing data found.

While FEMA placed the order, it was directed to do so by the White House, ProPublica found.

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Jesus Blood and hydroxychloroquine

How do you possibly hold an election tomorrow in Wisconsin?The Republican Party has systematically attempted to decrease voter participation as part of an ongoing electoral strategy, but this takes it to the next level. The Republican Legislature and the state Supreme Court have chosen to place political expediency over public health- it is absolutely disgusting.

The Governor of Wisconsin postponed the election, but it now appears to be taking place tomorrow. From theNY Times:

Indeed, for the better part of the last two decades, Republicans have sought to tighten voting restrictions — pushing stringent new voter identification requirements and sweeping voter roll purges that disproportionately affected people of color, the poor and the young. They have done so, they say, to curb in-person voter fraud, which, despite their claims to the contrary, is exceedingly rare.

You’d like to think that elected officials have more common sense than this lady:

But of course when the nation is led by a former reality show host who is now offering quack medical advice:

 

If you are a Wisconsin resident who feels compelled to vote in person tomorrow, I hope that the Jesus blood and hydroxychloroquine keep you safe.

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He had one job

The primary job of the President of the United States is to ensure the safety of the American people. Donald Trump has proven to be an abysmal failure at this, regardless of TV ratings and Facebook followers.

This was not a Pearl Harbor or 9/11 attack that caught us by surprise. In 2015, Bill Gates laid out a scenario that almost exactly lays out what we face today….and also solutions for how to face it:

Ten years before Gates gave his speech, George W. Bush was so concerned about the possibility of a pandemic that he directed his top national security adviser in and told her to develop a strategy for handling it. From the ABC article: 

In a November 2005 speech at the National Institutes of Health, Bush laid out proposals in granular detail — describing with stunning prescience how a pandemic in the United States would unfold. Among those in the audience was Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leader of the current crisis response, who was then and still is now the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“A pandemic is a lot like a forest fire,” Bush said at the time. “If caught early it might be extinguished with limited damage. If allowed to smolder, undetected, it can grow to an inferno that can spread quickly beyond our ability to control it.”

Trump’s own words display that he downplayed and ignored the danger of coronavirus. Only the President can mobilize the country to battle something like this. It cannot merely be done by Governors- they do not have the ability to coordinate a national response. One person had the ability to do it- and he completely screwed it up.

 

And Fox News and their right wing lackeys have also worked to pretend this coronavirus was not a threat.

Trump’s legacy will be his total failure to protect the American people.

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Shut down of the American economy

The American economy is going to be shutdown on a scale that none of us have ever seen before. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the US is exploding- going up 10x in the last week (Worldometers graph below). Part of that reflects the ease with which this disease can be passed and an even bigger part is that we have been woefully inadequate in testing people for the disease.

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The New York area, Washington and California are the hardest hit, but it is going to impact every state in the country. It is already there- many of them just lack testing to verify the results. How many beachgoers in Florida infected someone this week?

Image result for florida beach coronavirus

Here in California, we are a week in to “Shelter in Place” status and there is no end in sight. Other areas will be taking the same measures or even more drastic ones. Millions of businesses are going to be shut down….and many of them will never reopen. Nail salons, gyms, yogurt stores, tutoring centers, car dealerships- they are interdependent. Economies are cyclical and recessions are self reinforcing- the failure of these businesses will drive the failures of other businesses. Even when we can safely go back in to the world, the laid off sales person from the Ford dealership won’t be taking the family out to dinner and ice cream.

The sooner we shut things down, the sooner we will be able to bring them back. But we have a President who consistently dismisses the threat posed by the coronavirus. His actions could costs thousands of people their lives and millions of people their businesses or jobs.

 

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Irony is not canceled

Rand Paul is the first Senator to test positive for the coronavirus. The same Rand Paul who earlier this week slowed down efforts to pass legislation to battle coronavirus . Son of Ron Paul, who earlier this week called the coronavirus a hoax and labeled Anthony Fauci as the “chief fearmonger of the Trump Administration”.

Image: Rand Paul

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