Marco Rubio attempts to attack American Federation of Teachers and is demolished on Twitter

After toeing the Republican line that COVID-19 wasn’t a big deal, questioning mask mandates, promoting the false narrative that Dr. Anthony Fauci lied to the American public, and questioning stay-at-home orders, Florida coward Marco Rubio stepped up in front of everyone else—teachers, first responders, and the elderly—to grab a vaccine for himself. Rubio is recently remembered for saying an impeachment trial for a president who helped create, fester, and enact an attempted coup d’etat on the United States is “stupid.” He’s also seemingly only been able to muster up the work ethic of a toddler during nap time, trying and failing to attack real legislator, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

On Wednesday, probably unable to read clearly from underneath the boots he’s been licking for the last four years, and unable to find his Bible Quote of the Day calendar, Rubio tried to attack public school teachers, and more specifically the “National Teachers Union” on Twitter. Rubio wrote, “National teachers’ union (not teachers) are saying they won’t go back to work until 2022. We should not send a single taxpayer dollar in Covid funds to schools that aren’t going to reopen.” Yup. Guy has very little to say about an insurrection from within his own political party, but he’s got serious grandstanding to do when it comes to promoting bad public health safety and our children.

It’s hard to know exactly what Rubio was talking about; perhaps he was referring to the impasse that the Chicago Teachers Union and the city has come to over COVID-19 resources and the safeguards being presented to teachers for reopening schools. Maybe he’s talking about the American Federation of Teachers? Not sure. Marco needs to go back to school. Badly. In the meantime, the internet learned him a little.

First, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten stepped in, to point out that Marco Rubio is a lying sack of shit.

Marco Rubio is lying. Our union has been talking about reopening since April, in fact I published an OpEd on it this week. The fact reopening safely costs money. Trying to withhold money from schools only slows down reopening. Stop lying Senator. https://t.co/PZnU7xxXGU

— Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) January 27, 2021

Daily Kos’ own Mark Sumner called Rubio out as well.

Marco Rubio continuing the trend of using the Big Lie to spread hate and divisiveness. Tell me, Senator, is there an appropriate Bible verse for that?

— Mark Sumner (@Devilstower) January 27, 2021

Then a simple statement of facts.

You do realize that remote and hybrid learning require infrastructure, implementation costs, curriculum costs & personnel, right? Instead of threatening to make education MORE difficult, maybe you should listen to what educators say they need to meet the needs of their students.

— doesnotexist (@BrianFiddle) January 27, 2021

Those are big ideas for Rubio. This might be more his speed.

That's smart: They don't have the resources to get open, so the natural thing to do is: Cut their resources more. Thinking like this is proof of why kids need to be (safely) back in school. We've turned out too many stupid people already.

— Virgil Simpson (@HorseyDC) January 27, 2021

Maybe this approach will be easier for him to understand.

I’m of the opinion that we don’t pay legislators until they start focusing on Americans instead of trying to tear each other apart based on party politics.

— Elysabeth Britt (@ElysabethBritt) January 27, 2021

Maybe we can appeal to his Santa Claus-level understanding of Christianity and Catholicism?

does your jesus tell you to lie

— Atrios 🟨🟥 (@Atrios) January 27, 2021

But let’s be clear what is going on here.

Shame the National Teachers' Union dissolved the National Security Council's Pandemic Response Team in 2017 and then ignored their federal intelligence regarding an impending pandemic and then got on air to tell us 15 cases were going to zero and then told us to shoot up bleach.

— Gen X Army Brat (@GenXArmyBrat) January 27, 2021

The depths of Marco Rubio’s crapitude are just staggering.

Dr. Fauci says this new administration’s belief in actual science and evidence is ‘liberating’

On Thursday, the Biden administration started its second day of work, signing a series of executive actions and holding press conferences. Dr. Anthony Fauci, arguably the only person who technically served during the Trump administration, has aptitude for his job, and wasn’t a morally bankrupt monster, held a press conference in the White house briefing room, all by himself, to discuss what new mutations of COVID-19 mean and to answer (mostly Trump-related questions) from the press corps. After acknowledging the 400,000-plus dead Americans, and explaining the need to get COVID-19 under control because the less infection spread means the less chance of mutations, Fauci was asked about differences between the Trump administration and the Biden administration.

These questions were asked in various oblique ways, like the first one—a seeming attempt to promote a right-wing apologetics BS story that tries to blame vaccine distribution problems not on the Trump administration but on Amazon. The question came from Fox News’ newest White House correspondent, Peter Doocy, Fox News logic contortionist Steve Doocy’s son. The argument is that the new announcement that the online retailer has offered help to the Biden administration in order to distribute vaccines more robustly is something that was purposefully held back from Trump and therefore, Trump’s bungling of everything he’s ever done is once again someone else’s fault. The question ended with whether or not Fauci knew of any talks about this kind of thing during the Trump administration. Fauci explained that he didn’t know what the difference might have been but that “One of the new things in this administration is that if you don’t know the answer, don’t guess. Just say you don’t know the answer.” 

Dr. Fauci said that so far, based on the information our government has right at this moment (remember, the Biden administration began about 24 hours ago), some of the mutations of the viruses seen around the world have not touched down in the U.S., Ffngers crossed. Fauci also explained that the new president is looking to really “amplify” the breadth of the distribution efforts—arguably the single most important thing our country needs right now to get back to some kind of baseline healthy stasis.

He also said he was optimistic we can get to a 70- or 80% vaccination level of the American population by the end of the summer, saying that in so doing we will be able to see a “degree of normalcy” reappear in our lives. Not a perfect normalcy, but not the current shitty 1990s action film we have all been extras in during the past 10 months. Dr. Fauci said his main concern was making sure Americans understand how important it is to get the vaccine—that fighting “hesitancy” will be the biggest hurdle as the year progresses. 

Again, Facui was asked what he thought of the new team the Biden administration has put together and whether or not things would have been different had they been in charge back in January when this first began. Fauci very diplomatically explained that he could tell you what he felt about the team but would not “extrapolate” beyond that. “One of the things that was very clear, as recently as about 15 minutes ago, when I was with the president, is that one of the things that we’re going to do is that we’re going to be completely transparent, open, and honest. If things go wrong, not point fingers, but to correct them, and to make everything we do based on science and evidence.”

Kaboom.

Finally, asked about the difference Fauci felt being in front of the press under a Biden administration after “joking” today about the previous administration, Fauci did make a joke—a dead serious one. “You said I was joking but I was very serious about it. I wasn’t joking.” He went on to finish by explaining that everybody there saw that there were times under the Trump administration when non-scientific things like hydroxychloroquine and other things were pushed by the orange guy, and that it was a bad place to be. “The idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know what the evidence is, what the science is, and know that’s it. Let the science speak. It is somewhat liberating.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Dr. Fauci would be back again. Sounds good to me. I like this version of Fauci the best.

Dr. Fauci, finally fed up with Sen. Rand Paul’s bullsh#t, schools him during hearing

Whether you believe that top U.S. immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci is doing a solid job or whether you believe he is a grand mastermind in the global deep state conspiracy to destroy the world and get rid of Donald Trump so that Hillary Clinton can start human trafficking your children, you have to admit, he always seems rather unflappable. Dr. Fauci’s general calm and methodical way of explaining our public health crisis is not always perfect, but it is reassuring to many because, in a world where the president of the United States says horrendous things every single day, having a public official who seems competent is something of a revelation.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is what happens when you take Donald Trump and dress him more conservatively, but somehow make him more annoying. He has spent the current pandemic playing the part of science skeptic. Rand would have followed his father Ron into calling COVID-19 a hoax, but then he ended up testing positive for the virus. Like everything between Ron and Rand, Rand is just the shittier version of his racist, useless dad. So when Sen. Paul attempted to once again promote misleading scientific information in an attempt to “gotcha” Dr. Fauci during Wednesday’s hearing with the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, watching Dr. Fauci get angry and school little Rand was something to see.

Sen. Rand Paul first attempted to blame the United States’ failure to simply do nothing at all, like Sweden, as the reason for death rates. It’s idiotic for sure, but Paul is trying to argue that Dr. Fauci and others who pushed for mask-wearing and social distancing and other safety measures early on were wrong and alarmist. Paul is wrong. He is not a little wrong. He is 100% wrong, and Dr. Fauci was tired of such sophistry on Paul’s part. 

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI: You know, senator, I would be happy at a different time to sit down and go over detail. You have said a lot of different things. You have compared us to Sweden, and there are a lot of differences. You said, well, you know, there are a lot of differences between Sweden, but compare Sweden's death rate to other comparable Scandinavian countries. It's worse. So I don't think it's appropriate to compare Sweden with us. I think in the beginning, we have done things based on the knowledge we had at the time. And hopefully, and I am—and my colleagues are—humble enough and modest enough to realize that as new data comes, you make different recommendations. But I don't regret saying that the only way we could have really stopped the explosion of infection was by essentially—I want to say shutting down—I mean essentially having the physical separation, and the kinds of recommendations that we have made.

Sen. Paul then attempted to promote the Republican narrative that the high concentrations of COVID-19 deaths in places like New York, under a Democratic governor, is proof of some Democratic Party problem in public health, while the Republican Party’s complete negligence is somehow better.

DR. FAUCI: No, you have misconstrued that. They got hit very badly. They made some mistakes. Right now, if you look at what's going on right now, the things that are going on in New York to get their test positivity 1% or less is because they are looking at the guidelines that we have put together from the task force of the four or five things: of masks, social distancing, outdoors more than indoors, avoiding crowds, and washing hands.

As time has just about run out, Sen. Paul attempts to throw in one last fake scientific fact.

SEN. RAND PAUL: Or they have developed enough community immunity that they are no longer having the pandemic because they have enough immunity in New York City to actually stop it.

That’s bullshit, and Dr. Fauci very quickly and stridently says: “I challenge that, senator.”

Time is up, but Dr. Fauci is not going to use his easygoing demeanor to allow this crap bag of a senator to get away with pushing fake science.

DR. FAUCI: Please, sir. I would like to be able do this because this happens with Senator Rand all the time. You are not listening to what the director of the CDC said, that in New York, it's about 22%. if you believe 22% is herd immunity, I believe you're alone in that.

Rand Paul is alone most of the time since his own neighbors hate him and most Americans dislike him as well.

Journalism 101 fail: NYT article lets Republicans lie and attack, but can’t find Democrat to respond

What the hell is going on at The New York Times? This question has arisen far too often in the past few years, most recently last week after James Bennet, the paper’s now-former editorial page editor, pitched and then published—without reading it first, allegedly—a fascist op-ed by Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas. They were rightly reamed for it, with their own 2020 Pulitzer Prize winner and "The 1619 Project" creator Nikole Hannah-Jones leading the way, saying, “As a black woman, as a journalist, as an American, I am deeply ashamed that we ran this.".

So that was a poor decision by the opinion department, but surely the folks in the Times’ news department are doing their level best and practicing solid journalism, right? They’ve learned the hard and necessary lessons from the absurdly irresponsible, obsessive way they covered “her emails” in 2016, while downplaying investigations and actual wrongdoing by The Man Who Ended Up Losing The Popular Vote, right?

Well, from what I saw in a recent Sunday edition, not so much.

Like so many New York stories, we must begin in Central Park. I was sitting on the Great Lawn—appropriately distanced from a few friends, of course—and reading the Sunday Times news section when I started muttering. Then I humphed. Then I just slapped the newspaper with the back of my hand and said, “Sorry to interrupt, guys, but you gotta hear this.”

The article that prompted my outburst was one that I initially figured would be pretty dull. “Trump Wanted a Pre-Virus Convention Crowd, or None At All,” was the print headline (it’s slightly different online). The piece focused on Trump’s threat to move the Republican National Convention from Charlotte, North Carolina (we now know that most of the convention activities, including the nomination acceptance speech, will take place in Jacksonville, Florida). The story focused on the impeached president’s dismay with the Tar Heel State’s Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who wouldn’t guarantee that Republicans could pack people together on the convention floor and party like it was 2019.

The article’s first quote came from Ada Fisher, a national committeewoman for North Carolina’s Republican Party. Unsurprisingly, she blamed Democrats. “There are a lot of liberal, establishment people here who just don’t like the Republican Party. People didn’t want it to happen just because Republicans were involved. But Charlotte can’t stand to lose $200 million in revenue right now.” Standard Republican boilerplate: The Democrats are a bunch of meanies. She even managed to work in both “liberal” and “establishment” as slurs. Well played, Ms. Fisher.

The next quote was from Orange Julius Caesar himself, who’d informed Cooper how stupendously North Carolina had been treated by the White House; he’d sent lots of tests and ventilators, see, as well as the National Guard. “I think we’ve done a good job!” and “We gave you a lot!” and more of the same. About what you’d expect from Trump.

Republican National Committee chair Ronna (don’t call me Romney) McDaniel’s letter to the convention’s host committee was next; essentially, she blamed the Democrats. If you’re wondering if, at any point in this journey so far, the Times offered any response from North Carolina Democrats, you already know the answer to that.

Two more Republicans weighed in before the final quotes came from the Republican state chair from Connecticut, J.R. Romano, who criticized Gov. Cooper’s supposedly over-aggressive requirements regarding wearing masks and social distancing: “We’re adults,” Romano said. “We all know the risks. If someone wants to wear a face mask, they can. If someone doesn’t, they’re taking a risk. I don’t think they had to make this mandatory.”

It is worth noting that Thursday was the fourth day in a row that coronavirus hospitalizations in North Carolina hit a new high.

I couldn’t believe that Romano’s nonsense was the end of the article. I kept waiting for the pushback, a quote from Cooper, or one his aides or allies, about the need to be careful because of the virus, or how decisions on the convention would be governed by science, or how they’d have to see how the outbreak looks in the coming weeks, or that they’d love to host the Republicans, but social distancing rules will still probably be necessary. Anything along those lines would’ve worked. Anything.

Could the authors really not find a Democrat in the entire state or country to go on record here? How did they submit this piece without making sure they at least found one? Did they even notice the imbalance? Where were their editors? There are multiple layers of editorial oversight, one would imagine, for an article on national politics that runs in the main print section of the Sunday New York Times. Did nobody ask, “Hey, can you find a quote from a frickin’ Democrat?” I’ve never worked as an editor at the Gray Lady, but that question came to mind before I was halfway through the piece.

The article did summarize the respective positions of Cooper and Trump, as well as their conversations, yet only Trump and Republicans were given space to defend their positions. Republicans’ assertions about the motivations of North Carolina Democrats also went unchallenged by the authors, other than a brief mention—far from any Republican statements—that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended mask-wearing and social distancing.

The article was written by Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman. While Karni has not faced significant criticism over her work in the past, Haberman has been called out before for pro-Trump, pro-Republican reporting. Trump has also attacked Haberman, but given that he has attacked the entire journalism profession, such attacks are a badge of honor and don’t mean anyone’s actually been unfair to him or his administration. Haberman’s critics maintain the opposite.

In May 2019, Haberman wrote an article for the Times about Hope Hicks, who had left her position as White House communications director a year earlier, then received a subpoena to testify before the House regarding her former boss and obstruction of justice (remember the Mueller report?). Haberman’s article explored whether Hicks would, you know, actually comply with the law. Yet some folks were concerned that the decision to commit a crime was framed, by Haberman, as “an existential question.”

What gets me is news breaks that this woman is weighing committing a crime before Congress &it�s getting framed by the NYT as some Lifetime drama called �Hope�s Choice.� This is a fmr admin official considering participating in a coverup led by the President. Treat her equally. https://t.co/XcNbSuU4QB

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 26, 2019

Anyway: Here's a dare for @maggieNYT, since she wants to write about what happens when women defy a subpoena. Write a similar story about @xychelsea, who is in jail for defying a subpoena.

— emptywheel (@emptywheel) May 26, 2019

There is nothing for Hope Hicks to �decide.� She got a subpoena from Congress. Were she not white, wealthy, and connected, we wouldn�t be having this conversation. She would appear, or she would face the threat of prison like the rest of us. As she should. https://t.co/giDCcvIxvf

— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) May 26, 2019

One Vanity Fair headline referred to Haberman as a “Trump Whisperer,” citing her “closeness—and fairness—to the president.” Fairness is a subjective term, but I have a hard time seeing it as fair to Roy Cooper or North Carolina Democrats that Haberman and Karni’s article quoted five angry Republicans, but not one Democrat.

Beyond the problems with Haberman’s reporting specifically, one of the biggest problems with the so-called mainstream media writ large is something called “bothsidesism,” also known as false equivalency. Bothsidesism occurs when reporters cover an issue simply by presenting the opposing views of Democrats and Republicans as equivalent, irrespective of which side is telling the truth.

Laila Lalami, writing in in The Nation, describes bothsidesism as when journalists “give space to both sides of any story, no matter what the facts show, leaving them open to manipulation by surrogates acting in bad faith and, more worrying, making it harder for ordinary citizens to remain informed and engaged.” Nancy LeTourneau, writing for Washington Monthly, notes that “For those of us who are trying to keep the door to being open-minded cracked at least a little bit, this both-siderism has a kind of gaslighting effect. You begin to question whether what you are witnessing with your own two eyes is real.”

At the Columbia Journalism Review, Jon Allsop went in-depth on bothsidesism and the Times during the impeachment of Donald Trump.

As impeachment has progressed, attacks on the “both sides” approach—and the Times, in particular—have intensified. Over the weekend, critics trained their ire on an article in the paper, headlined “The Breach Widens as Congress Nears a Partisan Impeachment,” about a debate in the Judiciary Committee. Nate Silver, of FiveThirtyEight, noted that the actual words “both sides” appeared four times in the piece. (One of these was in a quotation.) Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at NYU, listed 12 more snippets from the article as evidence of the Times’s inability to handle what he calls “asymmetrical polarization.” They included “the different impeachment realities that the two parties are living in,” “both sides engaged in a kind of mutually assured destruction,” and “the two parties could not even agree on a basic set of facts in front of them.”

Rosen is right that this sort of language is inadequate: Democrats, for the most part, are engaging with the factual record; Republicans, for the most part, are not. These positions are manifestly not equivalent. Treating them as such does not serve any useful concept of fairness; instead, it rebounds clearly to the advantage of the one side (Republicans) for whom nonsense being taken seriously is a victory in itself. The Times is far from the only culprit.

The Times also blew it when covering Trump’s remarks after back-to-back mass shootings in August 2019—one of which was carried out by a racist who specifically targeted Latinx Americans. The initial headline—in all caps (something done relatively rarely, as it indicates special importance)—read “TRUMP URGES UNITY VS. RACISM.” Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, among many others, pushed back hard on that framing.

Lives literally depend on you doing better, NYT. Please do. https://t.co/L4CpCb8zLi

— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) August 6, 2019

After facing a lot of heat, the headline was changed to “ASSAILING HATE BUT NOT GUNS.” A spokesperson for the Times admitted that “The headline was bad and has been changed for the second edition.” Executive editor Dean Baquet also called it a “bad headline.” The final headline, at least online, reads: “Trump Condemns White Supremacy but Stops Short of Major Gun Controls.” The Confederacy’s Biggest Fan, of course, still liked the original headline best, calling it “the correct description” of what he’d said.

What mattered, in the context of the mass shootings, was that Trump had declared a refusal to support any significant new gun control measures, such as universal background checks, or bans on high capacity ammunition magazines. However, the Times’  first instinct was to praise Trump as an anti-racist unifier. Let that choice sink in.

It’s bad enough when reporters at mainstream media outlets are so afraid of being accused of showing “liberal bias” that they engage in bothsidesism and false equivalency. Regarding the Sunday Times article about the RNC, presenting both sides would have been an improvement, as the authors literally only gave us one side of a political story in which Democrats and Republicans disagreed. Yet what the article on the battle over the RNC convention shares with other New York Times pieces that are guilty of bothsidesism is the willingness to bend over backward to help Republicans. And they call that paper the liberal media.

There are no quick fixes here for The Times. As for constructive criticism, journalists at The Times could do a lot worse than to listen to the aforementioned Professor Rosen. Rosen diagnosed the crux of the paper’s problem a couple of years ago (and is as good a media critic as there is), in a long analysis that’s worth reading. One quote in particular hits the nail on the head.

“Remember when the Washington Post came out with its new motto, “Democracy Dies in Darkness?” It put Post journalism on the side of keeping democracy alive. Dean Baquet, executive editor of the Times, made fun of it. ‘Sounds like the next Batman movie,’ he said.”

You know what they say about the fish rotting from the head down? Perhaps the entire staff, top to bottom, could undergo the kind of training they did at The Telegraph (UK), which Rosen also cited as a way to help mainstream media journalists unlearn some of their worst habits.

To paraphrase Ted “Theodore” Logan, strange things are afoot at The New York Times, and not at all in the cool, “I just met George Carlin outside the Circle K” kind of way. In all seriousness, what The Times did here is reflective of what’s been going on for generations. In 1969, Vice President Spiro Agnew drew up the playbook for Republican liars attacking the media in order to intimidate them into providing more favorable coverage; the Koch brothers have kept that tradition alive. In sports, this is called “working the refs,” and Paul Krugman rightly applied the term to the imbalance in how the media covered Trump as compared to Hillary Clinton in 2016.

To the detriment of American politics, the American people, and our democracy, we’ve had four more years of this media malpractice since then. If mainstream media outlets keep this up, and we end up with four more of Trump as a result, there may not be much of a free media left to cover his second term. It’s on all of us to do our part between now and November to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Ian Reifowitz is the author of  The Tribalization of Politics: How Rush Limbaugh's Race-Baiting Rhetoric on the Obama Presidency Paved the Way for Trump (Foreword by Markos Moulitsas)

Pelosi, Trump start talking about the next phase of coronavirus stimulus, need to be talking bigger

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.

McConnell rewrites history to blame massive fail on coronavirus on (checks notes) impeachment

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.

Enough of this. Please give $1 to our nominee fund to help Democrats and end McConnell's career as majority leader.

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."

Trump’s failure to take aggressive action on viral outbreak much worse than simple neglect

Whether chosen democratically or by some other means, a leader’s true character comes out in a crisis. It’s then that people find out whether the person they have entrusted or acquiesced to be in charge is up to the job. In a democracy, thoughtful and decisive action not only is required of leaders, but it must also be carefully explained, with rationale provided. “We can get through this” is not a bad message to deliver as long as it’s backed by facts, even if those have more than a tinge of grimness. Blood, sweat, and tears kind of stuff, when necessary. Happy talk, on the other hand, is not helpful. And lies—well, lies can be lethal.

Credibility in a crisis matters a great deal even for an autocrat. If people believe what their leader tells them, then they’ll be far more willing to sacrifice to meet a crisis, whatever it is. They will strive to adjust their lives to protect themselves and others. There is a can-do spirit when they can trust that sacrifice hasn’t been forced on them by incompetence or abuse of power. When they sense that their leaders are depending on the advice of wise and compassionate minds to guide them past the shoals, the result is a tamping down of panic and overreaction. People will lay aside deep differences for the duration of a crisis and pull together to conquer something that knows no ideological lines.

But we, unfortunately, in the pandemic now underway have people in charge at the top who don’t have a shred of credibility or trust, except among the terminally gullible or venal, which, unfortunately, is still a substantial part of the American population. 

The string of lies and dissembling we’ve heard for weeks from Donald J. Trump and some of his minions regarding the coronavirus has been bad enough. Far worse on Thursday, however, was an interview on NPR in which Politico reporter Dan Diamond said that Trump not only ignored warnings two months ago, but he also worked to keep testing to a minimum so as to ensure the case numbers remained low, in order not to tarnish his image as the best-ever president in an election year.

Diamond told Fresh Air’s Terry Gross that Trump “did not push to do aggressive additional testing in recent weeks, and that’s partly 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, the better for his potential reelection this fall.” Thus did Trump guarantee that the virus would be spread to far more people.

Let that sink in. Trump didn’t just want to keep the numbers low; he made an effort to see that they stayed that way, all so it would be easier for him to preen on the campaign trail. While this intentional failure to test was underway, so was the spread of the virus across America, now confirmed in all but two states. We don’t know how many cases there are. We can’t—because mass testing has still not occurred. Containment was always a myth here because of the lack of early response, and now it’s utterly busted, no matter what Larry Kudlow says. This failure will cost dollars and lives. Very possibly lots of both. On Trump’s watch. 

As for his character? His second response to the crisis, after first calling it a Democratic and media hoax, was the usual: How can I turn this to my personal advantage? The guy who claims the informal title of “leader of the free world” will. never. ever. change. 

Either through neglect or—if the reports of test suppression prove accurate—with malicious intent, Trump abused his authority in a manner that hampered the early taking of preventative measures that could have stopped people from spreading the virus, which is now rampant and killing. This isn’t incompetence, or sloppiness, or too much on his plate. It’s sociopathy. 

It’s hard to see how Trump can hang on to all his fans when he can’t bullshit them with tales about something going on outside their experience or view. The infection is happening here. How long will it be before most Americans know somebody with the coronavirus? How long before many know somebody who died of it? It’s hard to believe that that won’t pry at least a few more people out of his thrall. But it’s frankly depressing that so many didn’t long ago see this dangerous parasite for what he is. So maybe even this failure won’t do the trick. 

Lots of the people he stiffed or grifted or committed fraud against have known about Trump’s character since long ago. But he made it super-clear to the rest of America and the world when he became the king of birtherism, with his vile and relentless othering of Barack Obama with a bogus claim promoted by dishonest conspiracymongers displaying the morality if not the regalia of Klansmen. 

Since then he has flashed that character to the nation repeatedly, from tossing paper towels at suffering Puerto Ricans after Hurricane María, while othering them as foreigners despite their U.S. citizenship, to charging the taxpayers for the room and board of Secret Service agents that must accompany him on visits to his own resort, Mar-a-Lago. If they didn’t already know, people who read the Mueller report or watched the impeachment testimony and Democratic prosecutors in the Senate with an open mind know what he’s about, just as do the students he ripped off at Trump U and the folks his charitable foundation was supposed to help when he illegally helped himself to the money instead.

Here’s a guy who operates by bribes and hush payments, a sexual predator who treats women like meat; approves of putting kids in cages; thinks there are some good American Nazis; incites mayhem at rallies; spouts racist slurs; and has a white supremacist adviser just down the hall. He holds secret tête-à-têtes and makes secret deals with dictators, including the Russian one Trump knows meddled in the 2016 U.S. election and, new reports assert, is meddling again now as he works to remain top dog in the Kremlin for another 16 years. He gives cover to the Saudi autocrat Mohammed bin Salman even when brutal assassination is involved. 

Trump shatters international agreements and endangers Americans and other world citizens, essentially flipping off the Paris climate accord as a favor to the science deniers and fossil fuel industry, and bringing us to the brink of war with Iran in great part because he couldn’t stand the fact that President Barack Obama was key to getting the multilateral nuclear pact negotiated, signed, and working as intended. 

As if that wasn’t enough, we’ve got Trump’s incessant bragging and bullying, his self-pitying, his grandstanding, his tiresome demands for constant, abject adoration … and his unstoppable daily tsunami of lies, big ones and small, silly and conniving, eye-rolling and infuriating, probably more lies than all the other American presidents combined—a one-man disinformation machine pushing an extremist agenda the Republican Party has been sculpting for decades. 

An awful lot of Americans have been okay with all this. Including just about the entire Republican He’s-a-Crook-and-an Autocrat-So-What? Senate caucus. 

Trump had a chance to prove himself in a crisis to be the best helmsman who, he almost daily informs fans and foes alike, has ever steered the nation. Two months ago he could have called in a few of the world’s most-skilled medical professionals and had them brief him on what course to take and then taken it. Quick action might well have averted what we’re faced with now. Trump could have set up a virus task force instead of seeing the front-running Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden do it instead.  

Donald J. Trump could have shown he had what it takes to handle a crisis. But that would have required him not to be Trump. So he sought to cover his flanks, to lie and happy-talk the nation in hopes of keeping the stock market high, and to bolster his chances of another four years to use the power of his office to pad his pockets and rip off whoever crosses his path. 

No amount of hand sanitizer will wash the blood off his hands. 

Republican leader puts out racist coronavirus tweet and gets demolished in the process

In lieu of doing their jobs to protect the American public, Republican Party officials are working very intensely to misinform the public, while also blaming China for COVID-19. One of the top GOP officials today is Republican House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California. You might remember his grotesque displays of fealty during the impeachment inquiry and trial of Donald Trump. If you know anything about Rep. McCarthy, you know that he will tow whatever party line Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump think up for him. And since the GOP’s brand these days is “Being racist assholes,” McCarthy decided on Monday to help out with the public health effort by tweeting out the government’s CDC.gov url along with this thinly veiled racist statement: “Everything you need to know about the Chinese coronavirus can be found on one, regularly-updated website:”

Fellow Californian and Democratic Rep. Katie Porter was justifiably pissed off at the leading GOP stooge.

Will stop spread of coronavirus: � washing your hands � staying home if you�re sick Won�t stop spread of coronavirus: � racism � xenophobia Delete this tweet, @GOPLeader. https://t.co/hd6VX3RuHo

— Rep. Katie Porter (@RepKatiePorter) March 10, 2020

The Trump administration and the Republican Party, having stripped down and rolled back Obama-era development of our CDC, and specifically our infectious disease research and response, is now trying to use the age-old defense that they shouldn’t be in trouble because it’s someone else who “started it.” Unfortunately, they have a racist base who will likely eat up this xenophobic handling of a public health crisis. But the Republican base is a minority in our country, and the majority of people know Rep. McCarthy is a craven prick. And the responses to his lack of leadership were fast and furious.

As one responder to McCarthy’s racism explains: this is just the same playbook we’ve seen out of these incompetent grifters for years now.

Racism is the GOP Trump card. Calling it a hoax didn�t work because people keep dying. Blaming it on Obama never got off the ground. We�re now at stage three: xenophobia.#CPACcoronavirus

— Chris Alexander (@hoos30) March 10, 2020

And here are some simple facts: 

w00f

— Liz Garbus (@lizgarbus) March 10, 2020

Our government is super racist: also they really suck at keeping US safe and prosperous.

— David Rothschild (@DavMicRot) March 10, 2020

Your swastika is showing � �

— ImpeachmentForDummies (@Canadiancentri2) March 10, 2020

Of course, maybe Kevin misspoke?

Kevin, you misspelled #CPACVirus also known as #TrumpVirus. Get your facts straight you racist asshole.

— Comfortably Numb (@YGalanter) March 10, 2020

Of course, here’s a side note reminder:

Vote for @KimMangone and dump treasonous �Steve� McCarthy! pic.twitter.com/RmSoPXT7kR

— Medusa (@MedusaSeesYou) March 10, 2020

And finally, the tragically comic reality of it all.

I live in the US. Is there a website for the American coronavirus? In particular is there info on the Republicans quarantined and potentially spreading it? pic.twitter.com/JSjWXiaVvU

— Rob Jackson (@muh_thoughts) March 10, 2020

And an honest piece of advice for the GOP Leader.

You're a racist, a coward, and a sycophant. Resign.

— Dr. Jack Brown (@DrGJackBrown) March 10, 2020

Man who visited China during coronavirus outbreak says he’s more afraid of being in the U.S.

Most Americans are holding their breath while we wait for the incompetence of our current administration and their gutted health infrastructure to catch up and reveal—by way of more comprehensive testing—how much COVID-19, caused by the coronavirus, has penetrated our country. Every day news cases are reported, new people are being monitored, but anyone paying attention to the news should understand that no one can fully know how many people are at risk. The anxiety has led to runs on supplies across the country, and a general unease about what we are, and are not, doing to take preventative measures. Business Insider interviewed a 36-year-old Bay Area man from Cupertino, California, who has been self-quarantined since returning from Kunming, China, on Feb. 2.

The man, who wished to remain anonymous, explained that he arrived in China on January 25, when at least 217 confirmed cases of COVID-19 were publicly known. According to the man, the differences between his experience in China and in the U.S. are alarming.

Starting with the difference at the airports, the man explains that full-body screenings with infrared thermometers were performed at the Kunming airport while most people were wearing masks.* Upon his arrival at San Francisco International Airport, he says that no one was wearing masks and no one was taking temperatures. He waited for hours in customs before his temperature was taken, and according to the man, the paperwork he was asked to fill out was handwritten and photocopied. "They literally had no idea what they were doing."

He tells Business Insider that since he and his family were not experiencing symptoms of the virus, no testing was done. Instead, he was given a “verbal recommendation” to stay home for 14 days. If he were in China he would have been given a test and quarantined pending the outcome of that test. Most importantly, he said that the CDC never contacted him to see how he and his family were doing, and that the school where his son attended would not allow him to be excused, so the boy returned a day after returning from China. 

Luckily, it seems, he and his family were not carrying the virus. But the man has still considered returning to China simply because, "As someone who was in China during the initial outbreak/lockdowns and restrictions and seeing the situation develop here in the US I am 100x more concerned for my own safety during this crisis than I ever was in China."

Conservatives have held up passing much-needed funding in order to insure that pharmaceutical companies can price gouge. The president of the United States has continued to say stupid, misleading, and scientifically fictitious things in order to possibly keep the economy from going into a panic. Right-wing media has attempted to not directly communicate to their audience, instead they have pulled out their impeachment notebook to negate the problems we are facing in order to strictly attack the Chinese and Democratic leadership. Meanwhile, getting testing done, the first step toward figuring out the best way to handle containment of this problem, remains chaotic.

*While masks can help prevent the spread of the virus by individuals with the illness, it is not a prophylactic against infection.

Delusional Trump supporter denies coronavirus exists

Donald Trump’s handling of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, aka the coronavirus, has been terrible. Meanwhile, the Republican Party has lined up behind him to turn the whole affair into a partisan one. The Trump administration’s basic incompetence and the damage caused by GOP policies of cutting the CDC’s funding aside, the partisanship and rhetoric coming from the Republican Party have dire consequences. They include slowing down the process of getting emergency funding and dragging down the speed and efficacy of testing and diagnosing the true nature of the problem. But the biggest problem is the disinformation that results from turning medical experts’ fears into political footballs.

At a South Carolina rally last week, President Trump claimed that COVID-19 was a “hoax” being perpetrated by the Democratic Party. He analogized it with the impeachment probes and the Mueller investigations into his administration. Forget about the fact that, like COVID-19, the facts of Trump’s corruption are scientifically proven. Even if you believe Trump did nothing wrong and the Democratic Party is just trying to relitigate the 2016 election, COVID-19 is a virus that even world leaders have caught and are suffering from. But how dumb is the racist death cult following Donald Trump? 

CNN did a report on Trump’s misinformation and its consequences on the MAGA elite. The report included an interview from NBC where Trump supporters, possibly tailgating at some sporting event or waiting outside of a rally, told the reporter that COVID-19 isn’t worrying them because it isn’t real.

REPORTER: You don't believe coronavirus exists?

WOMAN: I don't.

REPORTER: So the two people who have been reported to have died from it in Washington state you don't trust that that's true?

WOMAN: I don't trust anything the democrats do or say.

The Centers for Disease Control already said in no uncertain terms that the coronavirus is not just real, it is in the United States. That means that this woman not only sticks to the most right-wing media outlets, she only pays attention to her television in the moments that Trump is talking.

The clip below made me wash my hands, and I haven’t even gone anywhere today.

YouTube Video