Monday Reads: The Utter Failure that is TrumpPosted: August 3, 2020
Good Day Sky Dancers!
It’s hard to read a headline today comparing our country to just about any other and not realize that the Trumpist Regime has been a disastrous and utter failure. This is the headline today from The Atlantic: “How the Pandemic Defeated America. A virus has brought the world’s most powerful country to its knees.” Well, it should have the addendum that this is a virus ignored by an American President who followed up with a botched response. His administration is a cautionary tale of how not to do anything.
Despite ample warning, the U.S. squandered every possible opportunity to control the coronavirus. And despite its considerable advantages—immense resources, biomedical might, scientific expertise—it floundered. While countries as different as South Korea, Thailand, Iceland, Slovakia, and Australia acted decisively to bend the curve of infections downward, the U.S. achieved merely a plateau in the spring, which changed to an appalling upward slope in the summer. “The U.S. fundamentally failed in ways that were worse than I ever could have imagined,” Julia Marcus, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School, told me.
Since the pandemic began, I have spoken with more than 100 experts in a variety of fields. I’ve learned that almost everything that went wrong with America’s response to the pandemic was predictable and preventable. A sluggish response by a government denuded of expertise allowed the coronavirus to gain a foothold. Chronic underfunding of public health neutered the nation’s ability to prevent the pathogen’s spread. A bloated, inefficient health-care system left hospitals ill-prepared for the ensuing wave of sickness. Racist policies that have endured since the days of colonization and slavery left Indigenous and Black Americans especially vulnerable to COVID‑19. The decades-long process of shredding the nation’s social safety net forced millions of essential workers in low-paying jobs to risk their life for their livelihood. The same social-media platforms that sowed partisanship and misinformation during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Africa and the 2016 U.S. election became vectors for conspiracy theories during the 2020 pandemic.
It appears most of the country has had it with him and his pathetic, unqualified, and hapless cronies as well as the Republican pols that enable all of his insane policy. But, we’ve got until January to see him gone and he can cause a lot of problems in the mean time. Politico offers some hope as state after state begins to lose all that red. The Ides of November are coming. So is winter. Trump campaign nears point of no return. Early voting begins in several key swing states next month, leaving a ‘dwindling window of time’ for the president to turn the race around.”
Trump’s window is smaller — and his margin for error tighter — because of an expected surge in mail voting due to the coronavirus and because the electorate this year appears more hardened than in 2016, with fewer undecided voters to peel off in the closing days of the contest.
Voters will begin receiving ballots in key swing states as early as next month. In North Carolina, elections officials will start sending ballots to voters on Sept. 4. Four more battleground states — Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida and Minnesota — will begin mailing ballots or start early voting by the end of September.
All of that will happen before the first presidential debate, on Sept. 29. Arizona, Ohio and Iowa will start early voting right after, in the first seven days of October.
“If I were running the Trump campaign, I would want to see a marked uptick by the beginning of October,” said Charlie Gerow, a Pennsylvania-based Republican strategist.
Gerow, like many Republicans, believes the Republican president will outperform current polls on Election Day. But “clearly, with early voting,” he said, “the timeline is accelerated.”
Trump’s concern about the timing and mechanics of the election was never plainer than on Thursday, when he suggested delaying it because of unsubstantiated claims about widespread mail voting fraud.
The president has no authority to change the date. But he has good reason to be worried. While in a closer contest, the rigors of the election calendar would be felt more evenly by both campaigns, Trump has so much ground to make up in the polls that allowing Biden to lock down even a small portion of the early vote could be debilitating.
Entering August, Trump trailed Biden by 7 percentage points in national polls, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average. Biden also holds an edge in nearly every swing state.
There’s such a huge amount of dysfunction over the public health crisis that the economy is certain to fall off the proverbial cliff and stay there from some time. Trump’s economic team is comprised of a matched set of snake oil salesmen with absolutely no credibility in their field.
Any plan to either retain the pandemic-related unemployment benefits or provide relief in the form of a stimulus check or forgivable loans to small businesses is stalled.
Neel Kashkari, president of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, said the nation needs to control the spread of the virus, which is increasing across much of the country, to get back on a path to economic health.
“That’s the only way we’re really going to have a real robust economic recovery. Otherwise, we’re going to have flare-ups, lockdowns and a very halting recovery with many more job losses and many more bankruptcies for an extended period of time unfortunately,” Kashkari said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
To do so, he suggested strict shutdowns, which is contrary to what President Trump and many of his allies have been pushing in recent months as measures to aid the economy.
“I mean if we were to lock down really hard, I know I hate to even suggest it, people will be frustrated by it, but if we were to lock down hard for a month or six weeks, we could get the case count down so that our testing and our contact tracing was actually enough to control it the way that it’s happening in the Northeast right now,” Kashkari said. “They had a rocky start, but they’re doing a pretty good job right now.”
He warned the virus will spread throughout the country with flare-ups and local lockdowns for the “the next year or two,” causing more businesses to fail, without such measures.
“We’re going to see many, many more business bankruptcies, small businesses, big businesses, and that’s going to take a lot of time to recover from to rebuild those businesses and then to bring workers back in and re-engage them in the workforce. That’s going to be a much slower recovery for all of us,” Kashkari said.
He also said that Congress can afford large sums for coronavirus relief efforts, though Republican lawmakers are looking to lessen the amount of supplemental aid for unemployed Americans as part of the next relief bill.
Stephan Moore is out huckstering for Trump to declare an national emergency and then cut payroll taxes because nothing could be more important that starving the Social Security and Medicare programs.
“Last week Mr. Trump acknowledged that compromising with Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a fool’s errand, because the House won’t agree to anything that boosts growth and job creation,” Moore claimed in the article co-authored with Phil Kerpen, head of the free-market nonprofit advocacy group Committee to Unleash Prosperity. The duo added that the Democratic Party’s plan to address economic issues during the coronavirus pandemic “would sink the economy and imperil Mr. Trump’s reelection.”
“The president needs to pull an end run, and there’s a legal way to do that. He should declare a national economic emergency and announce that the Internal Revenue Service will immediately stop collecting the payroll tax,” Moore declared. “This is technically called a deferral of the tax payments.”
Moore went on to say that President Trump “should order Treasury to put bonds into the Social Security and Medicare trust funds,” arguing, “Since Barack Obama did that in 2011, his vice president would have a hard time explaining his opposition to it now,” and claiming that the action “would flip the political tables.”
“Democrats can’t credibly call it a tax cut for the rich,” he wrote, concluding, “Mr. Trump could cap it at, say, $75,000 of income, so the vast majority of the benefit would go to straight into the wallets of middle- and lower-income workers, almost all of whom pay more payroll than income tax.”
Republicans have repeatedly pushed a payroll tax cut as the answer to the economic woes under the coronavirus pandemic, and have generally fought against direct payouts to affected workers through stimulus packages.
Real Economists–like me–have repeatedly shown through peer evaluated studies that tax cuts are generally the weakest form of stimulus possible. They continue to be the panacea for everything some what like an economic spoonful of apple cider vinegar to Republicans who want our government and every program to fail. Navarro does have has terminal degree but mostly appears to have a terminal case of racism when it comes to anything Chinese. He also thinks he’s a doctor which is seriously deluded
CNN host Jim Sciutto took on White House trade adviser Peter Navarro on Monday about his evangelism of the drug hydroxychloroquine.
During an interview with Navarro, Sciutto noted that Assistant Health and Human Services Secretary Brett Giroir had recently said that there is no benefit in taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent or treat COVID-19.
“Given your past public support for it,” Sciutto said, “is it time for the administration to focus on proven treatments for COVID rather than one that has not been proven?”
“I take exception to Giroir’s analysis,” Navarro objected. “He hasn’t looked at the data.”
“It’s his job to look at the data,” the CNN host noted.
Navarro replied by encouraging Sciutto to interview several doctors who support the use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19.
“Doctors opinions are a dime a dozen,” the trade adviser continued. “And you’ve got some doctors who say it doesn’t work, you’ve got some doctors who say it does.”
“But it’s not a both sides thing,” Sciutto observed. “There’s a process for approving drugs in this country. There’s a reason the FDA hasn’t approved it. And this hasn’t passed muster so why all the focus on that drug? Why not focus on things that work like remdesivir?”
Frankly, his opinion isn’t even worth a dime on either economics or medicine. CNN should stop making platforms for these idiots. But then, Trump loved him some doctor who is serious about “Demon Sperm”. John Oliver–the HBO comedian--took that up this weekend.
On Sunday night, John Oliver took a break from dunking on Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson’s racist news coverage to address what was sadly one of the biggest stories of the past week: President Donald Trump’s continued spreading of misinformation surrounding the novel coronavirus, which has killed over 157,000 people in the U.S.
“Recklessness is abounding right now, heightening the need for strong leadership. And unfortunately, we’re getting the opposite of that,” said John Oliver, before pointing to Trump’s “shockingly reckless” co-sign of Dr. Stella Immanuel, aka “Dr. Demon Sperm,” whose video of her cosplaying as a “frontline doctor” racked up tens of millions of views and was shared by both the president and his son. Dr. Immanuel, who only recently acquired a license to practice medicine in the U.S., has been pushing the ineffective COVID-19 “cure” hydroxychloroquine and believes, among other things, that real-life ailments like tumors and cysts stem from the demon sperm that is accumulated after a demon has sex with you in your dreams.
It’s this and the stories about huge parties that make me wonder about exactly how smart most Americans really are.
There’s a lot more examples of these out there and just to give you a clue. Bourbon Street is still hopping with tourists as bars have started rebranding themselves as “restaurants”. One up the street from me had a huge garage sale of sorts along with its usual drug and booze wares. I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like if they start up universities and sports this year. I’m glad my kids are way out of school for sure because their asses would be home with mine if they weren’t adults.
So, again, hello from my desk chair where I stay firmly planted because I do not want to go out and risk getting this stuff from somebody’s stupid children. Plus, I’m holding tight to my money because I heard enough Depression stories in my life to know that hoarding makes the economy worse but makes me feel safer on that account too.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Any of this sound and look familiar?