We warned America, and Democrats delivered an impeachment to underscore the seriousness of the matter: Donald Trump wasn’t fit to be president. Republicans didn’t care, because tax cuts and judges, and now here we are.
Today, we’ll hit two Sept. 11ths’ worth of deaths, easily blowing by the 6,000 mark just two days after hitting a single 9/11. We’ve just about to reach a quarter-million cases, which is a whopping one-quarter of the total confirmed cases worldwide. By any measure, this is an abject disaster. Yet in a breathtaking display of goalpost moving, Trump said a couple of days ago, “[if] we have between 100 and 200,000 [deaths], we altogether have done a very good job.”
Yeah, nice try.
Trump is in a politically perilous position, for sure. His inability to respond to the crisis—from dismantling the institutions designed to identify (CDC outpost in China) and respond to such a crisis (the pandemic preparedness task force and FEMA), to incompetent staff, to an utter inability to be forthright and truthful to the American people, to simply misplaced priorities (stock market > grandma)—our nation never stood a chance.
Indeed, the only thing mitigating a death toll in the millions is the quick action of governors and local governments around the country. And even on that front, there was too much delay, particularly in Republican states, precisely because Trump was pretending things were okay to protect his donors’ stock portfolios.
But let’s consider Trump’s new thesis: that as long as national deaths number below a quarter million, he will “have done a very good job.” Does he think that people will applaud him?
Yesterday, 1,049 people died of the disease, and we’re nowhere near the peak. So every single day, we’ll be seeing 1,000, then 2,000, then a 9/11 (3,000 deaths), until who knows when. Every single day will see the kind of carnage we haven’t seen since World War II.
Every day, people will have to face the death of someone they know, someone they love, someone they respect or admire. Artists, movie stars, athletes, politicians, religious leaders, musicians, business leaders, and so many grandmas. Their stories will be broadcast across all media, all of them a dagger in our hearts.
And shock and sorrow will then give way to anger. It’s a stage of grief, after all.
Conservatives will work overtime to deflect: It’s the fault of the Chinese! People die all the time (flu, car crashes, heart disease, insert random other cause of death), this is nothing special! It’s the fault of open sanctuary cities like New York! No one could’ve predicted! And yet, the American people have already decided that they can’t and don’t trust trump.
NEW POLL >> The credibility gap between Dr. Fauci and Trump on coronavirus is a stunning 65 POINTS. Cuomo is 25 points better than Trump. A majority of Americans distrust Trump to tell the truth about the virus. via @NavigatorSurveypic.twitter.com/fMMQNQtGfL
Those numbers will only get worse. And those excuses might work in Fox News land, but that’s not where Trump needs to hold his numbers. Arkansas isn’t going to be competitive at any level this year.
There are seven states that will decide the presidential election: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. All seven are on a razor’s edge. A shift of even a few points can take these states from “coin flip” to “lean Biden.” And already, we’re seeing the largest Democratic lead in Trump’s reelection numbers all year:
If you have seven states that are essentially 50-50 ties, then a one-point shift makes it 51-49. Two points, its 52-48. See?
This is why Trump is freaking out. He can’t afford to bleed even marginal support, because every vote will matter. That’s why he’s trying to shift the goalposts.
But there is no way in hell that people look at thousands dying every single day and give Trump any kind of credit. NONE. The toll on our nation is too great. The impact we’re suffering is so much worse than what other countries have experienced that it’s impossible to blame the fates. This may be an act of god, but the aftermath isn't. How we prepared isn’t. How we responded isn't. How we move forward isn’t.
And we haven’t even discussed the economic devastation.
NEW with @AlexNBCNews: Week of April 13 is earliest Americans will see direct deposit relief payments from the government; paper checks could take as long as 20 weeks -- nearly 5 months -- for some Americans
Five months? The amounts being mailed out are already not enough. Just watch the Trump administration bungle this, too. Remember that 6.65 million workers filed unemployment claims last week, breaking the previous record by10 times. And with congressional Republicans ruling out further stimulus at this time (they’ll be forced to relent, eventually), the economic pain is only going to get worse.
Presidents don’t get reelected when they bungle the economy. How are they supposed to do so when they also preside over a mass-death event ?
So no, Trump isn’t getting credit if we see hundreds of thousands of deaths. And if we ultimately do see those kinds of numbers play out, his reelection prospects will be around zero percent, and we’ll be talking about how much damage his entire party will face all the way down the ballot.
The new Daily Kos/Civiqs poll is chock-full of important and astounding information about how the American public is handling the COVID-19 pandemic. In and amongst that data is the suffering, and the reason why Congress still has a lot of work to do to get us through this crisis. Through March 30, one in FIVE Americans who were working before the outbreak say that they have been laid off or furloughed from their position. Nearly 40%—fully 39%—of households have lost income. More than a quarter, 26%, has already been affected by a layoff, furlough, or cut hours and another 15% feel extremely concerned that it will happen to them. Another 28% are moderately or slightly concerned they'll lose income because of the disease and its economic impact.
That's a lot of economic uncertainty that a one-time check for $1,200 isn't likely to allay. The enhanced unemployment benefits that were included in the third coronavirus stimulus bill will help a lot of people, but it won't help everyone including all those people still working but with fewer hours. There's still so much work to be done to get the country through this, and with money practically free to borrow now, yes, Congress should be "tossing money out of helicopters" to answer it, since the Fed is unlikely to do it. Give everyone money, and while you're at it, all the things Speaker Nancy Pelosi is talking about, especially what was in the House bill that didn't make it into the Senate's bill.
In an interview in The New York Times Pelosi "emphasized the need to secure more equipment for health workers on the front lines, known as personal protective equipment, and ventilators for hospitals" and House Democrats would make another "push to bolster pensions and medical leave provisions, and would work to ensure that other aspects of treatment for the coronavirus, beyond the initial test, would be covered by the government." She also talked about more direct aid to families, including "a possible retroactive rollback of the limit on the state and local tax deduction, a change that hurt high earners in states like New York and California." Fine, if that's what it takes to get Republican support, but that's not a sword to die on.
The sword to die on is health care for everyone infected by this disease. It's food security for everyone. It's making sure that the nation's millions of incarcerated people aren't left to die locked up. It's making sure that the gig workers and minimum-wage workers and the undocumented workers who are securing our food supply have the protections they need on the job and in society. It means at least $2 billion to secure this year's elections AND saving the U.S. Postal Service to conduct the necessary vote-by-mail elections.
It means not just postponing student loan payments, but cancelling student loan debts. It needs to have Housing Security, including a moratorium on evictions, a national mortgage and rent holiday, and at least $200 billion to keep housing stable.
It could also have the infrastructure Donald Trump endorsed in a tweet Tuesday: "Two Trillion Dollars, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our Country! Phase 4." Whatever, if that gets Trump on board, as long as it's green, sustainable infrastructure. That, by the way, should include broadband infrastructure—the entire nation needs to have access to reliable, high-speed internet. That's one thing this crisis has demonstrated in spades; the technology gap can cripple communities. Earmarking those trillions now would be great for getting people to work on infrastructure right out of the gate when it's safe for people to be out in the world again.
So yes, Phase 4 or whatever Donald Trump wants to call it, provided he gets Republicans in Congress—who are so far rejecting the notion that more has to be done—on board. They're not going to have much choice, realistically. It's not going to take very long for the pressure to build on them to realize that they haven't done nearly enough to get us out of this thing standing.
Sen. “Moscow” Mitch McConnell went on the Hugh Hewitt radio show Tuesday, as he often does when he wants to be especially awful. He was exceptionally awful in all the most predictable ways: blaming the crisis we're in right now on impeachment—because of course he did—and rewriting all of the last three months of history while doing it.
The slow response by President Donald Trump and Congress to the COVID-19 crisis, McConnell said, was because the impeachment "diverted the attention of the government." Except that's total bunk. The Senate was still functioning while the impeachment trial was going forward during the last week in January, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was confirming the initial cases in the U.S. The business of the Senate included a Jan. 24 all-senators briefing on coronavirus with Trump health officials, including the CDC director and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. You remember that meeting, right? That's the one that happened just before three Senate Republicans dumped millions’ worth of stocks, collectively. That's the action they decided to take when confronted with the calamity that had hit our shores.
In fact, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who had received additional briefings, blew off the warnings. "The coronavirus doesn’t appear to pose any imminent threat to Americans who have not recently traveled to the Hubei province of China," he said. "For now, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control have the resources needed to prevent any significant contagion from spreading into the United States. If more resources are needed, Congress stands at the ready." He came to that conclusion on Feb. 4, the day before the Senate voted against the impeachment charges against Trump.
Continuing on with the rewriting of history in the Hewitt interview, McConnell gave credit to Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton for being "first" to warn of the dangers of coronavirus. "He was first. I think Tom was right on the mark." Right on the mark meaning spouting bigoted and dangerous conspiracy theories about how the virus might have been (wink, wink) a chemical weapon developed in "China's only biosafety level 4 super laboratory that researches human infectious diseases." Sure Mitch, you go ahead with the idea of Cotton being the big epidemiological brain in the Senate GOP.
Because it's Mitch, there's more. More typical Republican denial of the breadth and depth of this crisis, and how it's affecting real people. "I'm not going to allow this to be an opportunity for the Democrats to achieve unrelated policy items they wouldn't otherwise be able to pass," he sniffed, dismissing the necessity for further action by Congress to save the whole damned country. No, he's got his eyes on his true prize.
When the Senate gets back, it will "go back to judges. […] My motto for the rest of the year is to leave no vacancy behind."
Everything about that is stupid. Canadians have better health care and are giving better cash payments to individuals to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. It’s a massive border and there’s no way anyone can seal it, much less some poor sap in combat boots. Symbolically, it’s the world’s largest demilitarized border. Why mess with that? There's nothing useful or practical about it! Well, there’s one benefit to Donald Trump: He can pretend that he’s “doing something.”
Remember, everything Trump does is predicated on his reelection. That’s why he tried so hard to limit testing in the early days. Instead of working to stem the spread of the disease, he decided that rising numbers were a threat to his political standing and he reacted accordingly. You can see it in this new ad by the Joe Biden campaign:
The past month has been about minimizing the impact of the pandemic, promising that the numbers will fall, promising snake oil cures, dismissing it as “just like the flu,” and as of late, demanding that people get back to work because “the cure can’t be worse than the disease.”
“The cure,” of course, being people losing their jobs, while “the disease” is people losing their lives.
But there’s a method to the madness. Whether it’s closing the border, or comparing COVID-19 to the flu, or demanding people get back to work, it all has an underlying electoral purpose. Remember that solutions to the pandemic are liberal ones: government support of individuals, government intervention in the economy, better health care, better social safety net, communal action, etc. This isn’t 9/11, when conservatives could bloat the Pentagon budget even further, ride a new wave of racism, and curtail civil liberties. So how do Trump and the Republicans work this to their favor?
Here’s what they’ll do (and they’re already doing it):
1. TRUMP IS DECISIVE
Oh my god, Trump can’t stop being the best leader the world has ever seen! Did you see? He closed the border to China. Biden didn’t want Trump to close the border to China, but he did so anyway, because that’s the bold kind of leadership that saved thousands of lives.
Trump also closed the borders with Mexico and Canada and deployed our troops, because fuck yeah America is the greatest and so are our troops, and Trump is taking action while liberals want open borders.
What about testing kits, shuttering the pandemic preparedness task force, and months of promising that things were “beautiful” and “perfect” and everything would be fine just around the corner? Those are nasty questions and Trump is too busy being decisive anyway to answer them. Next!
2. LIBERALS BROKE THE ECONOMY
The flu will kill 60-80,000 people this year, and we didn’t shut down the economy because of it. Only a few hundred/thousand/tens of thousands have died because of this virus, and we had to destroy the economy as a result? This was just a liberal plot to defeat Donald Trump at the ballot box. They were angry because the impeachment hoax failed, and they decided to punish the whole country as a result.
Why do you think it’s Democratic governors that are closing their states? Republicans tried to keep America working, and Democrats took your jobs away to punish Donald Trump for being the best president in history. It’s their fault the economy is bad. Only Republicans can fix it.
The Chinese created this virus and infected America with it. No one could’ve predicted that our enemies would be so ruthless and calculating and effective in conducting a biological attack on our country. It’s their fault. We need Republicans to stand tough against the Chinese for their cowardly attack on our soil.
If liberals and their sanctuary cities weren’t so “welcoming” to all manners of riff-raff, the disease wouldn’t have spread throughout America. Where did the “Chinese virus” take hold? Seattle. San Francisco. New York. It figures that those liberals would infect the rest of Real America with their virus. Trump is trying to protect the Heartland from the evils of urban liberals.
So yeah, that’s their campaign. It’s already started. The pieces are already in place. And when you see a conservative or Trump say something seemingly insane, note how it fits one of those categories above. For example:
Ã¢Â�Â�Approximately 7500 people die every day in the United States. ThatÃ¢Â�Â�s approximately 645,000 people so far this year. Coronavirus has killed about 1,000 Americans this year. Just a little perspective.Ã¢Â�Â� @RealCandaceO
Will it play with their base? Undoubtedly. They’re too stupid for words.
Will it play with Democrats? Clearly not.
Will it play with Independents? Well, “independent” is not an ideology, and spans everything from Alex Jones crazies to Bernie socialists to the politically apathetic. We do know that government (read: Trump) approval ratings for managing the crisis are ebbing down among independents.
So maybe it won’t work, in the aggregate, amongst that group.
The one wild card is the death rate. If coronavirus deaths remain below or equal to flu deaths, then the argument that the Democrats blew up the economy for no reason will have added salience to the stupidity. So for that reason alone, you’d think that Trump would be working overtime to bend the curve. Yet he’s doing quite the opposite, in fact. It boggles the mind.
Stem the death toll, and Trump has a ready-made excuse for the shitty economy: The Democrats overreacted. Instead, his actions are pushing us closer to the nightmare scenario. For example, look at what happens if Florida doesn’t take action within the next couple of weeks:
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is among the fiercest Trump allies, and will not do anything to contradict or undermine the impeached president’s words and actions. So we’re talking somewhere in between “no action” and “social distancing.” No matter what happens in New York and California (fiercely working to stop the spread of the disease), Florida alone may be Trump’s undoing. Even if those numbers are overly dire, one-third of the “social distancing” death toll is a horrifying 100,000. With numbers like that, Trump and the GOP won’t be able to compare COVID-19 to the flu anymore.
Furthermore, the more the disease ravages red states and rural America, the harder it’ll be to dismiss it as a creation of New York City and San Francisco. Oh, they’ll try anyway! But local politicians will bear the brunt of explaining why they didn’t take the necessary precautions, especially if small-state death tolls end up exceeding those of New York and California—which is quite plausible.
For example, the models that drive the CovidActNow.org projections estimate that California’s death toll, with its shelter-in-place already in action, will be around 11,000. Meanwhile, Missouri, which hasn’t taken any action at all, could see up to 122,000, Oklahoma could see 79,000 deaths, and Tennessee 136,000. As horrific as things look in New York right now, measures in place may limit the damage to 38,000. (California looks as good as it does because it was the first to start shutting down, particularly the five pioneering Bay Area counties that beat anyone else by almost a week.)
In any case, if we see that kind of death toll play out around the country, Trump’s goose is cooked, and so is his entire party. Otherwise, whether by luck (a vaccine or better treatment emerges), or by action (militarizing the Canadian border stops the spread of COVID-19 in Arkansas!), Republicans will use that mix of liberal-blamin’, big-city-hatin’, racism creatin’, and grandiose Trump myth-makin’, to explain away the economic collapse, and pin the blame squarely on the Democrats.
The short version is that ex-Trump "body man" John McEntee, who Trump appointed to head the Presidential Personnel Office despite zero qualifications other than the requisite suck-up-ness, seems to have so infuriated Cabaniss that he bailed out with zero notice on Tuesday. The longer version is that McEntee and allies seem to be a rolling catastrophe, combining demands for absolute loyalty with what appears to be a fairly solid attempt to reactivate the Hitler Youth.
There are, bizarrely, now three college undergraduates moved by McEntee and crew into positions of new appointee vetting, with no good (or any) explanations from McEntee as to just why some of the most sensitive hiring decisions in government are going through Trump-loyal college seniors taking a break from doing their coursework. John Troup Hemenway, James Bacon, and Anthony Labruna are all college seniors with no apparent qualifications for their positions other than, again, Trump loyalty.
But there's also the arrival of a new "White House liaison" to the OPM, Paul Dans, who appears to be assisting McEntee in his fascist-premised purge of disloyal-to-Trump government officials but, again, has seemingly little relevant experience for his new position or duties. Reading between the lines, it appears Dans' performance so far is not impressing the people in government with actual work to do.
All of this, in other words, is becoming a complete sh-tshow in the post-impeachment days of Trump attempting to remove anyone and everyone in government who is not loyal to him while, simultaneously, a pandemic sweeps through American cities on a six-week head start due to the astonishing incompetence of Dear Leader and his boot-licking loyalists.
It doesn't seem possible to imagine how the Trump team's response to the current crisis could get worse than it currently is, but Trump's ex-soda-bringer is assembling a team to make sure it absolutely does get worse, and that anyone with subject-matter expertise who might have slipped through initial appointment cracks is quickly replaced with new, invariably compliant toadies who know better than to contradict Trump's various imaginary pronouncements about how Actually he is doing the best job of anyone who ever lived, so shut up.
Again, with no pushback from Republican lawmakers or anyone else in the party. With no worry, on the part of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Republican Senate, that Trump's purge of non-loyalists will further wreck an already incompetent government response to a pandemic that could kill untold numbers of Americans. Not a peep.
The situation in Italy is spiraling out of control, with infections and deaths spiking by the hour.
BREAKING: Another HUGE increase in #CoronaVirus infections in Italy Ã°Â�Â�Â®Ã°Â�Â�Â¹ 3 590 infected and 368 dead today alone. - 24 747 infected. - 1 809 dead. - 7.3% death rate. This is a human tragedy Ã°Â�Â�Â
The United States is on track to emulate Italy, both in the reach and severity of the human and economic toll. One party is doing its best to save lives. Unfortunately, it’s not the party in control of the White House, Senate, or wide swaths of the media. And those Republican efforts to confuse, obfuscate, and obstruct a real response are dismayingly effective. Let us count the ways.
Impeached President Donald Trump
From disbanding the White House pandemic preparedness task force to refusing to let the U.S. use the World Health Organization COVID-19 test, to his daily lies, it’s obvious that the rot starts at the very top. What did people think was going to happen when they put a bigoted, serial sexual harasser reality TV star in charge of the country? Those who vote on racial animus and misogyny are getting a daily reminder of what that costs our country. And ironically, or perhaps not so much so, they are the ones who will bear the brunt of the coming pandemic.
Meanwhile, Trump continues to model poor behavior; he shows on a daily basis that he is the single biggest impediment to the kind of national behavioral changes we need to see to arrest this disease with the least amount of damage possible.
Trump has decided the entire coronavirus mess is a dastardly plot to deny him a second term. He is incapable of considering the human toll of the disease, or the economic ramifications to everyday Americans. He’s concerned only about how it affects his reelection. And again, his acolytes take their cues from the top, such as the Trish Regan abomination that adorns the top of this post.
Regan did end up losing her prime time show over that segment, showing that at least someone at Fox corporate realizes that killing off their core demographic (their median age is 65). But she’s not the only pushing the theory that this is all one big political ploy to damage Trump. Trump’s very own outgoing chief of staff has been making that case for weeks. “The press was covering their hoax of the day because they thought it would bring down the president,” Mulvaney told attendees at the conservative CPAC conference, at the same time the disease was spreading among its attendees. “The reason you’re seeing so much attention to [the coronavirus] today is that they think this is going to be what brings down the president. That’s what this is all about.”
And of course, let’s not forget Trump:
Ã¢Â�Â�TheyÃ¢Â�Â�re trying to scare everybody, from meetings, cancel the meetings, close the schools Ã¢Â�Â� you know, destroy the country. And thatÃ¢Â�Â�s ok, as long as we can win the election,Ã¢Â�Â� POTUS told guests at Mar-a-Lago last weekend. https://t.co/UxZb0GumFU
He literally says it’s okay if the country is destroyed as long as he wins reelection. He doesn't give a shit about the economic or human toll of the pandemic and will act only to safeguard his electoral effort. And that’s why we don’t have testing. He thinks a higher number of confirmed cases makes him look bad.
President Trump "did not push to do aggressive additional testing in recent weeks [because] more testing might have led to more cases being discovered of coronavirus outbreak, and the president had made clear the lower the numbers on coronavirus, the better for the president" https://t.co/aa2QHQVbPk
We all knew this. Even Republicans knew this when they acquitted him during the impeachment trial. Yet they didn’t care. So they own this: Every death, every job lost. It’s all on them.
The Trump executive branch
Donald Trump had white nationalist Stephen Miller and idiot-boy Jared Kushner whip up a random-ass “I’m doing stuff” speech just hours before airing, with little regard to any consequences their spur-of-the-moment “proposals” would create. Among them, a complete ban on all travel and commerce between the United States and Europe that single-handedly almost completely crashed the US economy. Embarrassingly, the administration had to walk that back—no, it didn't apply to the cargo. And no, it didn’t apply to Americans. (So … what’s the point? Americans have super awesome immunity powers?) Yet in the panic that situation created, Americans rushed back home and … created these kinds of scenes at US customs points of entry:
#BREAKING: Passengers stuck in long lines for immigration at @DFWAirport tell us there are no offers of hand sanitizer, gloves, or masks from U.S. Customs / Immigration. Travelers say theyÃ¢Â�Â�ve had no screenings of temp yet and no one following #coronavirus protocols. pic.twitter.com/9viCnWdncz
By supposedly acting to prevent the disease from entering the United States (even though, um, it’s already here), those morons in the executive branch didn’t think “maybe we should bolster staffing at customs checkpoints. Maybe we should create a plan to space out people, so we wouldn’t create the Petri dish we’re supposedly trying to prevent.”
It is in precisely older, rural counties that hospitals are being closed in record numbers. “The hospital closure crisis is most pronounced in states that have declined Medicaid expansion, the policy in the Affordable Care Act that offers coverage for individuals whose income is at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty line,” reported Mother Jones. “Of the 106 rural hospitals that have shut down since 2010, 77 were located in states that hadn’t expanded Medicaid, the study found.” In their zeal to stick it to Obamacare, those older rural areas are losing exactly the one thing that saves the lives of the elderly and those with compromised immune systems once infected—hospital beds.
This novel coronavirus is treatable as long as severely impacted patients can be hooked up to respirators. But given available hospital beds, that becomes impossible once a critical mass of patients is infected, they outstrip the supply of hospital beds, and they are then left to die, gasping for air. That’s why the Italian death toll has climbed so high, with doctors having to perform battlefield-style triage—is this patient too old? Too (otherwise) sick? Do they have small children at home? Even patients who survive initial triage may be unplugged if someone with a greater survival chance shows up. It is beyond nightmarish.
And you know what? The United States has fewer hospital beds, per thousand people, than even Italy.
South Korea: 12.3
United States: 2.8
South Korea has handled the virus better than anyone else, and guess what, having hospital beds is part of the answer. Meanwhile, thanks to conservative hostility to the Affordable Care Act and its fealty to a for-profit health care system, our number of beds has fallen between 2010 and 2017, despite the population having grown by 16 million in that time frame.
Republican elected officials
The Democratic House passed a coronavirus response bill on Friday. Republican Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell went on vacation over the weekend, adjourning the Senate as a result. He doesn’t plan on checking on that House bill until Tuesday, lunch, at the earliest, even though Trump has signaled that he will sign it.
They just don’t give a shit.
Here’s Oklahoma’s Republican governor Kevin Stitt, Friday night, in a now-deleted tweet:
Of course, it stands to follow that if Trump doesn’t think this is a big deal, then those who blindly follow him will shrug off any attempts to contain the virus, or “flatten the curve.” Flattening the curve is slowing the rate of transmission so that people don’t get sick all at once. The more you can spread it out, the less stress on those limited hospital beds.
Trump’s favorite bootlicker, Rep. Devin Nunes, went on Fox to tell viewers to go out on the town. “One of the things you can do, if you're healthy you and your family, it's a great time to just go out, go to a local restaurant,” he said, dooming who knows how many people to death. “Likely you can get in easily. There's, you know, let's not hurt the working people in this country that are relying on wages and tips to keep their small business going. [...] Go to your local pub.”
It’s no surprise that most of the irresponsible dismissing of COVID-19 featured above is happening on Fox News. The network has prostrated itself before Trump, effectively becoming like a state-run propaganda arm. They won’t do anything to get on the wrong side of Trump. It’s a feature, not a bug.
On Fox & Friends, Jerry Falwell Jr claims people are "overreacting" to coronavirus, the national response is "their next attempt to get Trump," and the virus itself is a North Korean bioweapon. pic.twitter.com/2JPuNBW7C3
— McSpockyÃ¢Â�Â¢ Ã°Â�Â�Â½Ã°Â�Â�Â�Ã°Â�Â�Â� #VoteBlue2020 (@mcspocky) March 15, 2020
If you’re sitting here wondering what the hell is wrong with these people, you’re not alone. Trapped in their conservative anti-science media bubble, they’re whipping themselves up into a fervor of denialism and frothy conspiracy theories.
The results are devastating. Republicans simply don’t believe that they should take COVID-19 seriously.
The coronavirus partisan divide is real. Twice as many Democrats (60%) are changing plans or taking precautions than Republicans (31%). 88% of Republicans are satisfied with the government's response. Among Democrats? 11%. Survey report @Civiqs 3/8-11: https://t.co/sGoSTbhEsI
And it’s even worse among Fox News viewers, only 9% of which are “extremely concerned” about the virus. These are the same people who live in mortal fear of an “illegal” coming and murdering them. The big difference? They will definitely end up knowing about someone who died of the novel coronavirus, while those mythical hordes of undocumented murderers only exist in the imagination of the network’s most bigoted hosts. (48% of MSNBC viewers are “extremely concerned,” which is still low. It should be 100%. But that network isn’t sowing misinformation.)
I used to joke that Republicans would come out in favor of cancer if President Barack Obama ever declared his opposition to it publicly. At least, it was supposed to be a joke. Now we find out that a global pandemic killing tens of thousands has become a partisan issue. Not because it is a partisan issue. There is nothing Republican or Democratic or liberal or conservative about a deadly disease. But because Trump’s botched handling of the pandemic makes him “look bad,” and there is no greater sin in the world than making Trump look bad.
It might be funny or the material for easy partisan points, except people are dying, and a lot more will die before scientists find a vaccine. And while we could be making efforts to mitigate the carnage, both in human and economic terms, we have an entire half of the country’s divide refusing to accept our new reality and demanding we pretend all is well, nothing to see here, please carry on, preferably at your local pub or cruise ship.
It’s staggeringly irresponsible. The final culmination of an ideology so divorced from reality, that it will literally kill, disproportionately, the older and rural people that form its base. And—this is legitimately ironic—it is liberals trying to save their lives.
The U.S. is hurtling full-speed toward an iceberg, but the bumbling idiot at the helm continues to insist that everyone is safe to go back to their cabins. In fact, as Daily Kos’ Laura Clawson pointed out earlier on Thursday, impeached president Donald Trump has declared emergencies where there are none as a public health crisis is exploding across the nation. But he’s not alone in this criminal negligence: He’s getting an assist from the congressional Republicans who protected him from impeachment and removal from office.
“McConnell ally says Senate won't take up House coronavirus bill until after recess,” tweeted CNN correspondent Ana Cabrera. “’The Senate will act when we come back and we have a clearer idea of what extra steps we need to take,’ Sen. Lamar Alexander told reporters.” People’s lives are at stake, but Republicans are clearly laying out their priorities, immigration policy expert Tom Jawetz points out: “I'm old enough to remember when House GOP postponed August 2014 recess in part to make sure they voted on a bill to strip protections from DACA recipients.”
Roll Call reported at the time that the anti-immigrant legislation wasn’t going to be “taken up any time soon” by the Democratic-led Senate, “which already left for August recess.” Nor did this legislation, which would have effectively ended DACA, have had any chance of being approved by President Obama, who had implemented the program in 2012. That didn’t matter to House Republicans, who, led by Iowa’s most infamous white supremacist, Steve King, were really just trying to send immigrants a message: Get the fuck out.
Our nation installed in the Oval Office a white supremacist sexual assaulter grifter who has no idea what he’s doing, but the blame for this incompetence isn’t solely his to bear. It’s also on the congressional Republicans helping him worsen a true national crisis, and who as a body had already shown themselves to be cruel and inhumane when the impeached president was nowhere near the White House and still on television judging a reality show.
At every possible moment Donald Trump and his team of Republican incompetents chooses the worst possible path. Reuters is now reporting via four administration sources that the White House "has ordered federal health officials to treat top-level coronavirus meetings as classified."
"The officials said that dozens of classified discussions about such topics as the scope of infections, quarantines and travel restrictions" have been held in a secure room—excluding government experts who did not have the requisite security clearances, says Reuters. The administration has literally been keeping coronavirus response discussions secret from some of the government's own experts.
Did it make a difference? It likely did. Reuters quotes an anonymous official as saying "some very critical people" were not allowed in those discussions, which began in January. It also seems evident that the classification was used by the White House, yet again, to withhold information from the public that the White House believed could be damaging to Donald Trump: The news that the now-pandemic was all but certain to arrive here, would have real and damaging effects, and would cost American lives.
This is Sen. Moscow Mitch McConnell's fault, and the fault of the other Republican senators. They knew full well during impeachment that the White House was improperly classifying his discussions with foreign leaders so as to avoid disclosing them to the public. They knew full well he was placing his own interests, and his own ego, over public safety. They gave him full authority to continue doing it.
Hello there. It is whatever day of the week it is, and Donald Trump's blazing incompetence is still severely hampering a federal coronavirus response that should have been in full swing many weeks ago.
But don't worry: Things aren't as bad as they seem. The Washington Post reports,"Inside the White House, some officials privately acknowledged Monday that Trump has exacerbated the problem with his misleading and false statements, as well as his callous comments."
See there? We may have lost our only chance to keep a new coronavirus from reaching epidemic levels throughout the nation, but White House staffers are willing to at least privately acknowledge that Trump may be screwing things up, even if they aren't willing to say so publicly. Feel better? No? Huh. Well, they tried.
Since the coronavirus emerged in China, the Trump administration's response has been focused largely on massaging Donald Trump's ego. Trump did not want virus concerns to disrupt the stock market, so Trump played down those concerns. Trump went further, claiming that those warning of the virus' danger were partisans whose only aim was to damage him.
Public officials either went along with these claims or did not—and when they did not, Trump appointed Mike Pence the new head of COVID-19 communications so that the administration's messaging could be better monitored and shaped.
That initial stalling for Trump's own personal benefit may turn out to be tremendously costly. Trump's blustering press conference performance on Monday, speaking almost exclusively in economic terms before bailing from the room early, didn't help. On Tuesday the White House continued to flog economic concerns, suggesting a vague program of tax cuts would soon be revealed but being stubbornly opaque about the status of virus testing and other medical details.
The common refrain throughout from White House officials has been the “bold” and “decisive” decision-making of Dear Leader. Mike Pence lathers it on thick and heavy in every televised appearance: Every decision Dear Leader has made has been bold and decisive and not at all similar to or worse than those of a potted plant. Even now, the primary concern of Trump's White House team is the stability of the notoriously unstable Trump; all other coronavirus concerns are voiced only after the requisite cradle-rocking to soothe Trump's nerves for another few hours.
It might be self-serving on the part of the coronavirus "task force." But it also might be necessary. Trump's incompetence and unwillingness to take the epidemic threat seriously has damaged the public response, but he is still incompetent and unstable, and can still damage the public response much, much more. If he believes public health experts are not properly praising him, he can replace them with full-time toadies, as he has elsewhere in his post-impeachment sweep of insufficiently loyal public officials. If he watches Fox News and sees people being angry about containment measures affecting their lives, he can go on television or on Twitter and demand that containment measures be lessened simply because he believes the public would praise him for it.
Trump's incompetence doesn't just matter. It's the driving force behind the federal government's disaster preparedness efforts, or lack thereof.
Trump's history of bold, decisive lying matters as well. During a public health emergency in which it is vital that the public believe and listen to health officials, Trump is a literally unbelievable figure. Trump has surrounded himself with liars proven on countless occasions to be willing to lie to the public; the White House has little credibility now, regardless of its declarations. Trump has claimed that any number of world events are "fake news," a conspiracy against him. His mocking dismissals of the seriousness of the virus have already spread to his supporters; will experts be able to reverse any of that damage?
This is what Republicans voted for when they ignored Trump's self-serving behavior, even when it became criminal. This is precisely the sort of national emergency that any president can face, at any moment: Republicans either presumed that this one would not face one, or that he would rise to the occasion (he cannot), or simply made the estimation that the damage done to the nation by having a president incapable of non-self-centered calculations would be worth it, because that damage would not be done directly to them.
That's quite the risk. But they knew, from Mitch McConnell down, that they were taking it.
U.S. coronavirus response has been … not the best. And that’s coming from the top, expert after expert says. While the career officials and scientists working on the issue throughout the government remain the same as in previous disease outbreaks, Donald Trump has set the conditions under which they’re working in important ways, through his emphasis on political messaging, his aides’ reluctance to give him news he doesn’t want to hear, and his own vast and sweeping ignorance.
From the moment COVID-19 started making news, Trump’s public statements have focused on the message that everything is fine. “We pretty much shut it down coming in from China,” told Sean Hannity on February 2. “But we can’t have thousands of people coming in who may have this problem, the coronavirus. So, we’re going to see what happens, but we did shut it down, yes.” Fast forward five weeks and around 580 cases in the United States and it’s clear that Trump did not “shut it down, yes.”
Of course not every case of coronavirus in the U.S. is attributable to Trump’s failures. The disease was always going to spread—but there’s the big problem. It was always going to spread, and Trump was working against preparedness. Jeremy Konyndyk, former director of the USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance under President Barack Obama—including during the Ebola outbreak—told Vox that once Trump has declared victory for his response to any crisis, “if in reality the response is anything less than a great success, it’s very, very hard for the government to acknowledge that and adjust accordingly.”
Specifically, “President Trump’s insistence that the strategy of keeping the disease out of the country was succeeding really handicapped the rest of the response. Here’s why: It makes it harder for the government to plan for the moment the strategy stops working. That’s critical in this kind of situation,” Konyndyk said. “The whole point of an overseas containment strategy is to buy you time. It delays the arrival of an outbreak in a country, but it cannot ultimately stop it. You’re not, or you shouldn’t be, hoping that that will be all that you need to do.”
The White House response to the outbreak has also suffered from typical Trumpian management, with muddled lines of authority over the response and lots of infighting. “The boss has made it clear, he likes to see his people fight, and he wants the news to be good,” an “adviser to a senior health official involved in the coronavirus response” told Politico. “This is the world he’s made.”
Trump’s message to the public also poses dangers, as when, talking to Hannity again, Trump downplayed the fatality rate from COVID-19, saying that “we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better, just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work, some of them go to work, but they get better[.]” Talking about people with coronavirus going to work? Not helpful in slowing the spread of the disease, even though it was not expressed as a direct suggestion.
Trump is able to botch this so thoroughly in part because he has no serious pushback from his own party. Senate Republicans are not sending him a strong message that he needs to respond quickly and effectively—instead, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dragged his feet on adequate funding to fight the disease and used it as yet another excuse to attack Democrats. In early February, Sen. Tom Cotton spread a conspiracy theory when he suggested that COVID-19 could have come from a “superlaboratory.” And, of course, every Republican senator other than Mitt Romney owns every damn thing Trump does after voting to acquit him in his impeachment trial.