Lazy Caturday Reads: “The System Was Blinking Red” and Trump Did Nothing

Reading To Her Cat by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861

Good Morning!!

As of this morning, the U.S. has 19,000 Covid-19 cases and 247 deaths. The NIH director says we could have 70,000 reported cases by the end of next week. Meanwhile, the federal government is basically doing nothing. We have an utterly incompetent failed real estate tycoon and reality TV clown as “president.” We have known for years now that this man is completely unfit to lead. In just three years he has crippled our most important institutions and we are now on our own, hoping that state and local governments can take up the slack.

Trump had plenty of warnings about the nature of the threat that was bearing down on our country. Just as before 9/11, when George W. Bush ignored the August 6, 2001 PDB titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.,” the “system has been blinking red for months” and Trump sat around watching TV and tweeting insults to his “enemies,” ignoring the threat to our country.

The Washington Post: U.S. intelligence reports from January and February warned about a likely pandemic.

U.S. intelligence agencies were issuing ominous, classified warnings in January and February about the global danger posed by the coronavirus while President Trump and lawmakers played down the threat and failed to take action that might have slowed the spread of the pathogen, according to U.S. officials familiar with spy agency reporting.

The intelligence reports didn’t predict when the virus might land on U.S. shores or recommend particular steps that public health officials should take, issues outside the purview of the intelligence agencies. But they did track the spread of the virus in China, and later in other countries, and warned that Chinese officials appeared to be minimizing the severity of the outbreak.

By Catriona Millar, Scottish artist

Taken together, the reports and warnings painted an early picture of a virus that showed the characteristics of a globe-encircling pandemic that could require governments to take swift actions to contain it. But despite that constant flow of reporting, Trump continued publicly and privately to play down the threat the virus posed to Americans. Lawmakers, too, did not grapple with the virus in earnest until this month, as officials scrambled to keep citizens in their homes and hospitals braced for a surge in patients suffering from covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Intelligence agencies “have been warning on this since January,” said a U.S. official who had access to intelligence reporting that was disseminated to members of Congress and their staffs as well as to officials in the Trump administration, and who, along with others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive information.

“Donald Trump may not have been expecting this, but a lot of other people in the government were — they just couldn’t get him to do anything about it,” this official said. “The system was blinking red.”

Of course, as we all know, Trump doesn’t like to read and he doesn’t listen to intelligence briefings. He thinks he’s “a smart guy” and that his gut feelings are more accurate than the actual knowledge and experience of experts. And he’s still doing almost nothing. He just holds a daily press conference instead of his hate rallies and claims he’s doing things that either aren’t happening or can’t happen.

ProPublica: The White House Asked Manufacturers for Help, Then Gave Them No Clear Instructions.

As hospitals across the country face drastic shortages of masks, respirators and other vital equipment, the White House has sent out a plea for donations that’s left many recipients confused and full of questions.

In at least one instance this week, Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, blindsided private industry by requesting that construction companies donate face masks to hospitals. The White House then failed to provide guidance when directly asked.

Pence asked builders on Tuesday to donate the N95 masks used at many construction sites to local hospitals and refrain from ordering more. Within minutes, Stephen Sandherr, chief executive officer of the trade group Associated General Contractors of America, contacted the White House for more details, said Brian Turmail, a group spokesman.

By Adrie Martens

After receiving no reply from the White House, Sandherr sent an email to AGC’s local chapters on Tuesday telling them that Pence’s statement had taken the group by surprise.

“As we received no advance notice of this announcement and we have received no additional guidance from the Administration, it is our view that this should be considered as a voluntary gesture and not a mandate,” Sandherr wrote. Turmail said several AGC members have donated equipment to their local hospitals.

On Thursday, Sandherr finally heard back from the Department of Health and Human Services, speaking on behalf of the White House, and his group’s members were asked not to donate equipment to hospitals, as Pence had instructed. Instead, he was told the group should collect an inventory of available equipment from members, including masks, booties and protective suits, and share it with the administration.

So instead of cutting red tape, the administration is adding more red tape while more people get sick and more people die.

We’ve been hearing for awhile now that we could be like Italy. I think it’s likely we’ll soon be worse off than Italy, because we our health care system is already breaking down and it looks like Mitch McConnell is determined not to help the people who need it most.

There was talk of sending checks to most Americans immediately; now it turns out the GOP plan is to use tax rebates, so the poorest people would get little or nothing (for example, people like me who live on Social Security don’t file taxes) and people who pay more taxes would get more. That makes no sense economically when millions of people have been thrown out of work and won’t be able to pay rent or eat, but Republicans apparently just don’t care.

The Week: Senate GOP stimulus plan would exclude up to 64 million tax filers from full rebate, economist says.

Senate Republicans unveiled their proposal for sending out cash to Americans amid the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, but as is, a large number wouldn’t receive the full amounts.

By Dee Nickerson

Under the economic stimulus plan released Thursday, payments of up to $1,200 would be sent out to individuals and $2,400 to married couples, though the amount phases out for single filers making $75,000 a year and joint filers making $150,000 a year. But The Wall Street Journal notes that “individuals need to have qualifying income of at least $2,500 or income tax liability to get the minimum payment of $600.” This is based on their 2018 tax return.

Looking at IRS data, economist Kyle Pomerleau estimates that about 64 million filers who earn less than $50,000 won’t get the full rebate amount of $1,200 or $2,400, as “for a single filer, income must be at least about $23k to get the full $1,200,” and “for married couple filing jointly, AGI must be about $47k to get the full $2,400,” he writes.

Again, the poorest people don’t even file taxes, so they would be shit out of luck too. Furthermore, the amounts they are talking about wouldn’t even cover a month’s rent in the Boston area or other large cities. Right now I’m very grateful that I live on a fixed income in subsidized housing. But even I have had and will continue to have extra expenses and hardships.

Slate: Republicans Found a Way to Mail Checks and Still Screw People Over.

Senate Republicans have now released their hotly anticipated proposal to send families direct cash payments, as part of a wider economic aid package aimed at combating the coronavirus crisis. And hoo boy is it disappointing.

Under the plan, the government would provide households an early tax rebate worth up to $1,200 for an individual or $2,400 for a married couple, with an extra $500 for each of their children. (So far, so good). The payments will be based on a household’s 2018 tax return, or if it didn’t submit one, their 2019 filing.

Two Cats, by Sandra Bierman

But the checks will shrink for both low and high earners. Americans with little to no tax liability (aka, poor folks) will only receive a minimum payment of $600, unless they earned less than $2,500, in which case they get zilch. Low-wage workers who don’t have a federal tax return for 2018 or 2019—adults generally aren’t required to file one they if earn less than the standard deduction—also won’t qualify for the early rebate. (They could still get it next year if they file taxes for 2020, but by that time it will be a bit late.) Meanwhile, the payments phase down for workers who make more than $75,000 and drop to zero for those making $99,000 and above (double those numbers for joint filers).

Limiting these payments for the upper middle class and up is defensible, even if it irritates commentators who’d prefer a more comprehensive approach that mimics a universal basic income. Penalizing the poor during a pandemic, however, is beyond the pale. We’re in the midst of a planned shutdown of the economy that will disproportionately harm low-wage service workers, yet Republicans are concerned about properly rewarding people for work. It is a crass joke.

It’s worth emphasizing that the GOP’s new plan only calls for a single payment. The M

New York City, Seattle, Boston and parts of California already have such large outbreaks that they will probably see significant growth even after taking extraordinary measures over the past week, the researchers say. New York City’s outbreak, the nation’s largest, grew to more than 4,000 known cases on Friday and is likely to increase many times over even in a favorable scenario.

But cases will continue to mount and millions of people will run out of food. We can only hope that Congress wakes up to reality. Here’s what’s really happening:

The Washington Post: U.S. economy deteriorating faster than anticipated as 80 million Americans are forced to stay at home.

The U.S. economy is deteriorating more quickly than was expected just days ago as extraordinary measures designed to curb the coronavirus keep 84 million Americans penned in their homes and cause the near-total shutdown of most businesses.

Lady Petting a Cat, Paula Zima

In a single 24-hour period, governors of three of the largest states — California, New York and Illinois — ordered residents to stay home except to buy food and medicine, while the governor of Pennsylvania ordered the closure of nonessential businesses. Across the globe, health officials are struggling to cope with the growing number of patients, with the World Health Organization noting that while it required three months to reach 100,000 cases, it took only 12 days to hit another 100,000.

The resulting economic meltdown, which is sending several million workers streaming into the unemployment line, is outpacing the federal government’s efforts to respond. As the Senate on Friday raced to complete work on a financial rescue package, the White House and key lawmakers were dramatically expanding its scope, pushing the legislation far beyond the original $1 trillion price tag.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

The Washington Post: Coronavirus-scarred cities need ‘something bigger than the New Deal’ just to cope.

The coronavirus outbreak is forcing every state, city and county to execute a plan of attack for confronting the global pandemic. It’s a process that Sarah Eckhardt, the top official in Texas’s Travis County, likened to “building the plane while in the air.”

But the virus — and the extraordinarily costly response to it — is also putting enormous pressure on all the normal stuff: the criminal justice, sanitation, transit, emergency response and other systems that residents expect from their state and local governments.

Although the nation is just in the first stages of what is likely to be a prolonged struggle to suppress covid-19, the strain on public services is already beginning to show. First responders are stretched thin. Courts are paralyzed. And everywhere, money for basic public services is running out, fast.

“We have to manage beyond the scope of anything one city has prepared for or can handle,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, whose city is among the worst-hit in America. “We’re spending all our reserves right now, but we won’t make it if the federal government doesn’t step up and step up big.”

Read more at the link.

This post is getting too long, so I’ll have to wrap it up. There are so many other stories I’d like to share with you. It’s overwhelming. Please take care and stay healthy, Sky Dancers. This is an open thread.

53 Comments on “Lazy Caturday Reads: “The System Was Blinking Red” and Trump Did Nothing”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Yesterday my town sent out an urgent warning to residents to stay home except to get groceries or go to pharmacies. All hair and nail salons were ordered to close. My hair salon is in a different town, but I expect they’ll do the same soon. The one thing I do for myself is keep my hair cut and colored and now it will be getting long and flopping in my face. Ugh.

    My doctor’s office and dentist stopped taking patients last week. I need a filling, and I sure hope it doesn’t get worse so I need a root canal. I had a phone appointment with my doctor yesterday. I’m in the midst of being treated for an autoimmune disorder, and I’m supposed to see my rheumatologist again in a few weeks. I guess I could do that on the phone too.

    I’m pretty sure I already had Covid-19. The “flu” I had recently was exactly like the descriptions I’ve seen from many people who tested positive for coronavirus. I told my doctor that, and I was amazed that she didn’t pooh pooh it. She said she thought it was quite likely that I had had it. It has clearly been circulating in the Boston area for quite a while.

    • dakinikat says:

      From New Orleans:

    • Delphyne49 says:

      BB, I often wonder if I had Covid-19, too, when I was so sick with that flu that hit me on 1-19. The coughing was the worst part of it and it took nearly 3 weeks from the beginning of the flu to feel almost normal.

      Now, I’m dealing with very early seasonal allergies – it got up to 78 here in NJ yesterday and things are blooming. Spring is so beautiful in the East, but sure plays havoc on my sinuses!

      Stay safe, Skydancers – flatten that curve!

      • bostonboomer says:

        I remember that. Coughing was my worst symptom too and the body aches were much worse than a normal flu.

        • NW Luna says:

          Coughing and body aches are textbook symptoms of influenza or other serious lower respiratory infections. I rarely get influenza, but when I do I have a bodily realization of why people die from it.

          I’ve had two upper respirator infections (URIs) right in a row with only a few days in between. Possibly the second is bacterial ‘superinfection’ (superimposed infection) but it’s not as bad as a flu and I really didn’t want to go in or even call in for antibiotics unless things got worse. Am slowly recovering but my voice hasn’t yet got back to normal.

          Seasonal allergies play a part, too. High pollen counts now.

          • bostonboomer says:

            I had a flu shot, and the illness I had was far worse than any flu I have ever had. I haven’t listed all the symptoms I had, but I believe I got the virus from my nephew in late January and came down with it about a week later. My doctor agreed it was quite likely considering the situation here in MA at that time. I have read multiple descriptions from people who tested positive for the virus but did not have the lung involvement and my symptoms matched. I also had a higher fever than I have ever had with the flu (I have hypothyroidism, and my temperature is normally lower than “normal.”) along with hot and cold chills and night sweats.

          • quixote says:

            If we had proper testing — this is getting like some kind of chorus line at the end of every stanza — they’d be able to test you for antibodies (a different test than the one to see whether the virus is ciculating in the bloodstream).

            The good news is if you had it and recovered, you’re currently highly likely to be immune and you could just go about your business. Help neighbors who can’t. Do all sorts of things that would help you and everybody!

            Singapore is trying to follow that model, the one where only people in danger have to isolate, and if you’re thorough enough with testing, it looks like it actually works.

            Makes you — and me — and everybody — want to scream that a country with the resources of the US is letting this disaster pile up just so the Turd-at-the-Top doesn’t have to stop tweeting and watching teevee.

          • bostonboomer says:

            Right. I won’t know for sure until I can do that, probably years down the line. Meanwhile, I’m not taking any chances.

          • NW Luna says:

            BB, I wasn’t saying you didn’t — what you describe definitely checks off the symptom boxes. Yes, it would be really helpful to get a titer on coronavirus antibodies. We should have the capability to do that on all people who fit criteria, and would have with Madame President. (wipes tear)

            You can get influenza even after the flu vaccine, but then it would be a milder than average case, which wasn’t your situation. Glad you’ve recovered.

          • bostonboomer says:

            Thanks, Luna. I’m glad you’re feeling better too. I guess I’m a little defensive because this whole thing has been so hard to deal with. I expect people not to believe me because I find it all so unbelievable, if that makes any sense. For all you know, you could have had it too, but we all have to assume that we are vulnerable to it and take every possible precaution.

            I value your expertise and your compassion!

    • NW Luna says:

      All hair and nail salons were ordered to close.

      Here they were closed as of last week. I thought, ooops, that’s what I get for always putting off haircuts for 2-3 months longer than I should. This time I did nip in during the last few hours they were open. Hairstylists were joking about how all their customers would be shaggy when the closure would finally be lifted.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    WaPo: Trump’s clubs and hotels, including Mar-a-Lago, suffer from coronavirus fallout

    President Trump’s company — significantly reliant on tourism, conventions and restaurant income — has been sharply impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, with at least four properties closing and three hotels laying off staff, according to people familiar with the company.

    In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) ordered all restaurants and bars in the state to close Friday and imposed special restrictions in a few places including Palm Beach County — home of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club.

    In a message to members about 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Mar-a-Lago said that in response to DeSantis’s order, it was closing the last parts of the club still in operation: the tennis club and the beach club. “We hope that this suspension is short-lived,” the club said. Mar-a-Lago is a wintertime club, which typically closes for the season around Mother’s Day….

    At the Trump International Hotel in Washington, the layoffs were…drastic: 160 workers were let go, as the hotel’s occupancy rate plunged to about 5 percent, according to the union that represents the hotel’s employees.

    Trump’s D.C. hotel remains open, despite the bar and restaurant being closed by a directive from the D.C. government and almost no guests staying there.

  3. palhart says:

    Now with this pandemic, Trump has the opportunity, of which he seems to have little awareness, to bankrupt the country and kill off a few 100,000 of us. I’m sure the Republicans are still polling a 92% approval rating for his handling of COVID-19. He’s been bailed out so many times before that he’s not fazed at the anxiety and fear that trouble Americans. Something won’t allow me to follow our course to its logical, frightful end. My guess is that I hold on to an American ideal that we will unite as one nation and, by remaining strong, will succeed again. This time, though, the viral (silent) enemy barrels through the few barriers and is aided by the Idiot-in-Chief. It’s such a trying time since I can’t suit up and join forces to kill this enemy.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    • bostonboomer says:

      • bostonboomer says:

        • bostonboomer says:

          • NW Luna says:

            Damn it! Hydroxychloroquine is for auto-immune disorders! The medical dose is in the milligrams, not grams. How dare Trump do this — he is vile.

          • bostonboomer says:

            The study he is hyping had 20 subjects, at least two of whom dropped out early on. And why would an antibiotic work against a virus? This is just incredibly irresponsible.

          • palhart says:

            Rachel Maddow has urged tv stations not to broadcast Trump’s pressers after he aggressively advocated that malaria medicine which has NO FDA approval for COVID-19 patients. (And people stupidly and dangerously accept what he recommends without asking their doctors about it.)

          • quixote says:

            Man oh man. As a field biologist who ran around in the tropics, malaria was a real danger. Chloroquine (not the hydroxy form, know nothing about that) was one of the treatments before the Chinese came up with a much better one.

            Anyway, point being, you’d do almost anything to avoid chloroquine because it’s so toxic and has so many side effects. (It’s better than malaria, but that’s about all you can say for it.)

          • bostonboomer says:

            My Dad got malaria when he was in the army in the WWII pacific theater. He was still recovering when he got home. In those days, all they had to treat it was quinine. Years later, he had a serious allergic reaction to quinine in a gin and tonic. He broke out in terrible hives.

          • quixote says:

            Yeah. Chloroquine was an *improvement* on quinine. 😯

          • quixote says:

            Just saw an article explaining why chloroquine works: it gets into the cell compartment covid-19 makes for itself and neutralizes the acid pH it needs.

            If you know about how cells work, that makes your hair stand on end. No wonder the stuff is so toxic. It’s doing that in every cell in your body which is going to interfere with a million functions.

            As I say, it’s still better than malaria, buuuuut………..

          • NW Luna says:

            I was on a low dose of hydroxychloroquine for about 6-9 mos. for a transient condition and had no problem with it, as is the case with most patients on it for appropriate diagnoses. But I would not recommend anyone take it who didn’t need it.

  5. dakinikat says:

    • bostonboomer says:

      We would be living in a very different country if he had lived.

    • palhart says:

      Our Age of Reason, long ago. It’s nearly 100% correct that everything Trump says or does is wrong, dangerous, life-threatening, ignorant, or groundlessly self-flattering.

    • NW Luna says:

      And different if people had just voted for the smart woman with experience.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    • NW Luna says:

      That’s so CAT!

      One good thing is that animal adoptions are up! People want companionship and now many have time for bonding with a pet. Hope that creates a strong connection and the pets will be well treated whenever things go back to normal.

  7. bostonboomer says:

    Some interesting revelations about the virus:

    Twice as many men as women are dying of it.

    Some very old women are recovering.

    In NY, the majority of cases are in men between the ages of 18 and 49.

    • NW Luna says:

      Funny way the article puts this — you’d think they were talking about professions instead!

      Women are underrepresented in the city’s tally

      • quixote says:

        Interesting. In China they assumed it was because so many men smoked. That’s not the situation in NY. Anyone have any theories as to what’s going on?

        As you say, Luna. The *language*. Gah.

  8. bostonboomer says:

  9. NW Luna says:

  10. NW Luna says:

    Oh for fck’s sake!

  11. NW Luna says:

    Closed by current Ohio Attorney General — Republican Dave Yost.

    • quixote says:

      They just do not miss one single opportunity to push their garbage. Ever.

      What is it going to take for people to throw the slime out? ?????

  12. palhart says:

    BB, that address has a March 11th date. I don’t think he’ll be on tonight, but he has been on tv every day this week trying to cya with lies and distortions as ever.

  13. palhart says:

    BB, that above has a March 11th date. I don’t think he’s scheduled an address for tonight after bring on tv every day this week covering his a@@.