Tuesday Reads: Trump’s Wide Path of DestructionPosted: August 11, 2020
I’m somewhat distracted this morning. My mother was taken to the hospital last night because she had a low oxygen saturation level and acute abdominal pain. At the hospital, a CAT scan showed she has pneumonia. She is on oxygen to help her breathe. A quick Covid test was negative and they are waiting for the results of a second slower Covid test.
My Mom is 95 years old. I just don’t want her to suffer. My worst nightmare is that she gets the coronavirus. The staff at the assisted living place where she lives have been very careful and she has had regular Covid tests. I just hope and pray she will recover and be with us a little longer.
Today’s Recommended Reads:
Whatever you do, don’t miss this Slate article by William Saletan: The Trump Pandemic. A blow-by-blow account of how the president killed thousands of Americans.
On July 17, President Donald Trump sat for a Fox News interview at the White House. At the time, nearly 140,000 Americans were dead from the novel coronavirus. The interviewer, Chris Wallace, showed Trump a video clip in which Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned of a difficult fall and winter ahead. Trump dismissed the warning. He scoffed that experts had misjudged the virus all along. “Everybody thought this summer it would go away,” said Trump. “They used to say the heat, the heat was good for it and it really knocks it out, remember? So they got that one wrong.”
Trump’s account was completely backward. Redfield and other U.S. public health officials had never promised that heat would knock out the virus. In fact, they had cautioned against that assumption. The person who had held out the false promise of a warm-weather reprieve, again and again, was Trump. And he hadn’t gotten the idea from any of his medical advisers. He had gotten it from Xi Jinping, the president of China, in a phone call in February.
The phone call, the talking points Trump picked up from it, and his subsequent attempts to cover up his alliance with Xi are part of a deep betrayal. The story the president now tells—that he “built the greatest economy in history,” that China blindsided him by unleashing the virus, and that Trump saved millions of lives by mobilizing America to defeat it—is a lie. Trump collaborated with Xi, concealed the threat, impeded the U.S. government’s response, silenced those who sought to warn the public, and pushed states to take risks that escalated the tragedy. He’s personally responsible for tens of thousands of deaths.
This isn’t speculation. All the evidence is in the public record. But the truth, unlike Trump’s false narrative, is scattered in different places. It’s in emails, leaks, interviews, hearings, scientific reports, and the president’s stray remarks. This article puts those fragments together. It documents Trump’s interference or negligence in every stage of the government’s failure: preparation, mobilization, public communication, testing, mitigation, and reopening.
Trump has always been malignant and incompetent. As president, he has coasted on economic growth, narrowly averted crises of his own making, and corrupted the government in ways that many Americans could ignore. But in the pandemic, his vices—venality, dishonesty, self-absorption, dereliction, heedlessness—turned deadly. They produced lies, misjudgments, and destructive interventions that multiplied the carnage. The coronavirus debacle isn’t, as Trump protests, an “artificial problem” that spoiled his presidency. It’s the fulfillment of everything he is.
Please go read the whole thing. It’s essential reading.
Richard North Patterson at The Bulwark: The Ravings of Mad King Trump. On the pandemic, the economy, health care, and his 2020 opponent, he is utterly detached from reality.
To a striking degree, Donald Trump’s administration evokes the final days of the mad king of some Ruritanian backwater, spewing splenetic ravings while his shrinking cadre of sycophants struggles to steer their foundering ship of state.
Take these incoherent ruminations from a mid-July press conference:
But we had, in 2016, something even more so, but we got in, and we had 306 to, I guess, 223, which was a tremendous margin of difference. You remember, they all said, “He cannot get to 270.” I went to Maine a number of times, where we just freed up lobster fishing and fishing. Just—they took away 5,000 square miles from Maine. I just opened it up. And I just got rid of tariffs in China. And we’re working on European Union, which charge our fishermen tariffs. And I said, “You’re not going to do that.” So we freed it up for Maine. But if you take a look, we went up there recently. There were crowds. Thousands of people lined up going over to a factory where we were opening up for—we’re making swabs. A beautiful, big, new factory, making swabs.
Problem is, he does this pretty much every day.
Emulating a frightened oldster hearing the first, faint echo of senescence like a distant signal on a transistor radio, Trump bragged to Chris Wallace about acing a test designed to detect the onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia. But his problem is different—instead of entering his second childhood, Trump seems never to have left his first.
These recurring scenes from a Peter Sellers movie might have a certain seriocomic fascination had Trump not failed the most serious test of real-world leadership: a rolling public health disaster which has afflicted sickness, death, and privation on many millions of Americans.
Allan Sloan at ProPublica: The CARES Act Sent You a $1,200 Check but Gave Millionaires and Billionaires Far More.
The best-known feature of the CARES Act, as it’s known, is the cash grant of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child for households whose income was less than $99,000 for single taxpayers and $198,000 for couples. These grants are nontaxable, which makes them even more valuable. Some 159 million stimulus payments have gone out, according to the IRS.
The income limits suggested that the plan benefits the people most in need, those most likely to spend their stimulus payments and thus help the economy. The rhetoric conveyed the same: “The CARES Act Provides Assistance to Workers And Their Families” is how the Treasury’s website puts it. There were no grants to more-fortunate people, who for the most part aren’t in financial distress and are less likely than the less-fortunate to spend any money that Uncle Sam sent them.
But when I began looking at details of the legislation, I realized that several of its provisions quietly provided benefits that were worth much more than $1,200 to some upper-middle-class people who didn’t qualify for stimulus payments. Some other provisions provided vastly bigger benefits to the rich, to corporations and to a relative handful of ultra-rich folks.
So let me show you five provisions of the legislation that benefited the upper middle class (including yours truly); the families of Donald Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner; high-income people who make large charitable donations; and Boeing and other corporations that are showing losses; as well as indirectly benefited people who have substantial investments in U.S. stocks.
These five provisions that help the well-heeled will cost the Treasury — which is to say, U.S. taxpayers — an estimated $257.95 billion for the 2020 calendar year. That’s nearly as much as the estimated $292.37 billion price tag for the stimulus grants to regular folks.
Read the rest at ProPublica.
George Conway with a devastating satire about Trump supporters: I (still) believe the president, and in the president.
I believe the president Made America Great Again. I believe we need him reelected to Make America Great Again Again.
I believe Joe Biden is “Sleepy” and “weak.” I believe Biden could “hurt God” and the Bible.
I believe that if Biden is elected, there will be “no religion, no anything,” and he would confiscate all guns, “immediately and without notice.” He would “abolish” “our great,” “beautiful suburbs,” not to mention “the American way of life.” There would be “no windows, no nothing” in buildings.
I believe it’s normal for the president to say “Yo Semites” and “Yo Seminites,” “Thigh Land,” “Minne-a-napolis,” “toe-tally-taria-tism,” “Thomas Jeffers” and “Ulyss-eus S. Grant.” I believe it’s Biden who’s cognitively impaired.
I believe the president “aced” a “very hard” impairment test, and that his “very surprised” doctors found this “unbelievable.” I believe it was “amazing” he remembered five words, such as “person, woman, man, camera, TV” — in correct order. I believe he took the SAT himself.
I believe the president has “a natural ability,” like his “great, super-genius uncle” from MIT, which is why he understands “that whole world” of virology and epidemiology.
Read the rest at The Washington Post. It’s devastating, and every single claim is documented.
One more by Richard Haas at Foreign Policy: Present at the Disruption. How Trump Unmade U.S. Foreign Policy.
Present at the Creation is an 800-page memoir written by Dean Acheson, U.S. President Harry Truman’s secretary of state. The title, with its biblical echo, was immodest, but in Acheson’s defense, it was deserved.
Working from planning begun under President Franklin Roosevelt, Truman and his senior advisers built nothing less than a new international order in the wake of World War II. The United States adopted the doctrine of containment, which would guide U.S. foreign policy for four decades in its Cold War struggle with the Soviet Union. It transformed Germany and Japan into democracies and built a network of alliances in Asia and Europe. It provided the aid Europe needed to get back on its feet under the Marshall Plan and channeled economic and military assistance to countries vulnerable to communism under the Truman Doctrine. It established a host of international organizations, including the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (the forerunner to the World Trade Organization). And it constructed a modern foreign and defense policy apparatus, including the National Security Council, the CIA, and the Department of Defense.
It is impossible to imagine one of the national security principals of the Trump administration writing a memoir that includes the word “creation” in its title. The problem is not just that little has been built over the past three and a half years. Building has simply not been a central aim of this administration’s foreign policy. To the contrary, the president and the frequently changing cast of officials around him have been much more interested in tearing things apart. A more fitting title for an administration memoir would be Present at the Disruption….
As with health care and the Affordable Care Act, when it came to foreign policy, Trump inherited an imperfect but valuable system and tried to repeal it without offering a substitute. The result is a United States and a world that are considerably worse off. This disruption will leave an enduring mark. And if such disruption continues or accelerates, which there is every reason to believe it will if Donald Trump is elected to a second term, then “destruction” might well become a more apt term to describe this period of U.S. foreign policy.
Take care of yourselves today and please check in if you feel up to it. We love hearing from you!