U.S. deaths from Covid-19 in the past few months will soon surpass our casualties from the Vietnam war. Now Trump has upped his prediction of the total death toll to 70,000.
QUESTION: If an American president loses more Americans over the course of six weeks than died in the entirety of the Vietnam war does he deserve to be reelected?
TRUMP: So, yeah, we have lost a lot of people but if you look at what original projections were 2.2 million we are probably heading to 60,000, 70,000–it’s far too many. One person is too many for this and I think we made a lot of really good decisions. The big decision was closing the border or doing the band people coming in from China obviously other than American citizens which had to come in, can’t say you can’t come in, you can’t come back to your country. I think we have made a lot of good decisions. I think that Mike Pence and the task force have done a fantastic job. I think that everybody working on the ventilators you see what we have done there, have done unbelievable. The press doesn’t talk about ventilators anymore. They just don’t want to talk about them and that’s okay but they reason they don’t want to talk–that was the subject that nobody would get off of. They don’t want to talk about them.
We are in the same position on testing. We are lapping the world on testing and the world is coming to us as I said they are coming to us saying what are you doing, how do you do it and we are helping them. So, no, I think we have done a great job and one person I will say this, one person is too many. Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you.
As you can see, Trump didn’t answer the question, but he did increase his prediction for total deaths. Of course we’ll probably pass 70,000 in a couple more weeks, and then he’ll make excuses for that.
Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast: America Is About to Blow Past the 60,000 Coronavirus Deaths Trump Said Would Be a Win.
As for where we may be headed, Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert who’s been warning about pandemics for more than a decade, told CNN’s Peter Bergen that he thinks the ultimate tally in the United States over the next 18 months or so will be around 800,000. You’re thinking, “Ah, no way”? Go read his reasoning and see what you think then.
Meanwhile, the Congressional Budget Office released a report last week making a few predictions on the economy. CBO sees a real GDP of -39.6 percent in the second quarter of this year (April, May, and June). Then it forecasts a good rebound, 23.5 percent in Q3 and 10.5 percent in Q4, but that still leaves us at -5.6 percent for the year. At the worst of the Great Recession, in 2009, it was -2.5 percent. Unemployment will be above 15 percent into the fall and above 10 percent all of this year—and next.
We’re in deep trouble, and the idiot President of the United States is telling people to drink Lysol, and idiot politicians like Brian Kemp and other governors are trying to make sure that Osterholm becomes a prophet, and idiot protesters are out there acting like common-sense public safety is a conspiracy against liberty, and idiot reactionaries like the Dorr brothers of Iowa are financing these protests because, well, you know, the libs suck. These Dorrs have launched Facebook pages in at least five states that abcnews.com calls a “hotbed of misinformation.”
It’s idiocy top to bottom, but it’s more than that, and it’s important that we understand this and never lose sight of this. It’s ideology.
Tomasky writes that Trump’s non-stop lying is not an anomaly among Republicans.
With a few laudable exceptions, Republicans lie about virtually everything. They have to—to advance their goals, which are both insanely unpopular (more tax cuts for rich people!) and completely fantastical (those tax cuts will lift all boats), they have to try to create a reality that is the opposite of real reality and then spend billions getting people to believe it.
They’ve been doing it for decades. That’s why Trump isn’t some accident. It was inevitable that eventually they’d nominate and fawn over someone who lies every time he opens his mouth.
Trump, though, it’s gotten to a scale I never thought we’d see in the United States. Trumpism is an ideology in which the only thing that matters, the only thing that is true, is what the leader believes and says at any given moment. Which is surreal, of course, because virtually everything he says is untrue. But objective truth is a lib trap. And the vast majority of Republicans endorse this.
Read more at the The Daily Beast.
The Washington Post: President’s intelligence briefing book repeatedly cited virus threat.
…Over the last five days of February, President Trump and senior officials….engaged in a cover-up.
The recent reports that the president wanted to fire the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s top expert on viral respiratory diseases, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, during this period helps put the pieces of the puzzle together….
In a conference call with reporters on the final Tuesday of the month, Dr. Messonnier spoke frankly. “We want to make sure the American public is prepared,” she said, then put it in personal terms by saying what she told her children that morning: “We as a family ought to be preparing for significant disruption to our lives.”
At the time, senior officials knew the coronavirus was an extreme threat to Americans. Thanks to information streaming in from U.S. intelligence agencies for months, officials reportedly believed that a “cataclysmic” disease could infect 100 million Americans and discussed lockdown plans. The warnings were given to Mr. Trump in his daily brief by the intelligence community; in calls from Alex Azar, the secretary of health; and in memos from his economic adviser Peter Navarro.
The same day that Dr. Messonnier spoke, the military’s National Center for Medical Intelligence raised the warning level inside the government to WATCHCON1, concluding that the coronavirus was imminently likely to develop into a full-blown pandemic.
But the White House did not want the American public to know.
Read the rest at the NYT.
Trump has dominated his so-called “coronavirus briefings” and given experts minimal time to speak. Now he is reportedly planning to silence them even further, according Eric Lutz at Vanity Fair: Trump In Talks to Sideline Fauci, Birx During Coronavirus Briefings.
With the coronavirus crisis still spinning out of control in the United States, Donald Trump appears to be training the White House’s focus away from public health and toward reigniting the economy. According to Axios, Trump is expected to sideline public health officials Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, shifting attention to business “success stories” and to governors and local leaders who heed the president’s calls to reopen their states. “[Fauci and Birx] will continue,” a White House official told the outlet, “but will take a back seat to the forward-looking, ‘what’s next’ message.”
Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany acknowledged Monday on Fox News that briefings later this week “may have a different look,” though declined to outline specific changes. Fauci and other public health experts have cautioned against attempting a premature return to normal, warning that social distancing guidelines cannot safely be lifted without increased testing that the Trump administration has so far failed to adequately provide. “You don’t make the timeline,” Fauci said late last month, as Trump first began floating plans to reopen the country. “The virus makes the timeline.” But the president, concerned the plunging economy and escalating unemployment due to the pandemic could stand in the way of his reelection, has insisted that the government has provided states with sufficient resources to combat the deadly virus and openly grown impatient with the social distancing measures that have only just begun to show promise in slowing its spread. “Remember,” Trump tweeted Saturday, “the Cure can’t be worse than the problem itself.”
Having wasted months downplaying the COVID threat, he has desperately grasped for a miracle cure that could make the problem go away without him needing to do any real work—first by promoting the unproven off-label use of an anti-malarial to treat the disease, then by ludicrously suggesting toxic cleaning products and/or “very powerful” light could be injected into the human body as a possible cure. Those bizarre remarks drew widespread mockery, condemnation, and disbelief, as well as warnings from supporters that his rambling performances at the daily coronavirus briefings are hurting him politically. “It’s not helping him,” one adviser said recently.
Evidence is also emerging that deaths from the coronavirus may be far more than the official totals.
In the early weeks of the coronavirus epidemic, the United States recorded an estimated 15,400 excess deaths, nearly two times as many as were publicly attributed to covid-19 at the time, according to an analysis of federal data conducted for The Washington Post by a research team led by the Yale School of Public Health.
The excess deaths — the number beyond what would normally be expected for that time of year — occurred during March and through April 4, a time when 8,128 coronavirus deaths were reported.
The excess deaths are not necessarily attributable directly to covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. They could include people who died because of the epidemic but not from the disease, such as those who were afraid to seek medical treatment for unrelated illnesses, as well as some number of deaths that are part of the ordinary variation in the death rate. The count is also affected by increases or decreases in other categories of deaths, such as suicides, homicides and motor vehicle accidents.
But in any pandemic, higher-than-normal mortality is a starting point for scientists seeking to understand the full impact of the disease.
The Yale analysis for the first time estimates excess deaths, both nationally and in each state, in those five weeks. Relying on data that the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) released Friday, the analysis paints a picture of unusually high mortality that will come into sharper view as more data becomes available.
Keep on staying home as much as possible and take care of yourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We will get through this together Sky Dancers!
The news that bleeds this morning is the shooting at Fort Hood.
So here’s the most recent article on that from the Boston Globe: Fort Hood gunman sought mental health treatment.
FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — An Iraq War veteran being treated for mental illness was the gunman who opened fire at Fort Hood, killing three people and wounding 16 others before committing suicide, in an attack on the same Texas military base where more than a dozen people were slain in 2009, authorities said.
Within hours of the Wednesday attack, investigators started looking into whether the man’s combat experience had caused lingering psychological trauma. Fort Hood’s senior officer, Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, said the gunman had sought help for depression, anxiety and other problems.
How is that even a question? I’ve written for years that we’ll pay a terrible price for these pointless wars and the way the men and women sent to fight in them. Massive numbers of Vietnam vets suffered from PTSD, Agent Orange exposure, drug addiction, and unemployment; and those guys mostly just went for one two-year deployment. But we didn’t have a draft when Bush decided he just had to act out his daddy issues and go back into Iraq and kill Saddam Hussein like his father failed to do. Talk about psychological problems!
The volunteer army wasn’t big enough for that, and they redeployed men and women to Iraq and Afghanistan again and again even when they were obviously had head injuries or PTSD. Now we’re all going to keep paying the price for Bush and Cheney’s folly, and the way they treated human beings like cannon fodder.
Back to the Globe article on the latest shooting:
The shooter was identified as Ivan Lopez by Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. But the congressman offered no other details, and the military declined to identify the gunman until his family members had been notified.
Lopez apparently walked into a building Wednesday afternoon and began firing a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol. He then got into a vehicle and continued firing before entering another building, but he was eventually confronted by military police in a parking lot, according to Milley, senior officer on the base.
As he came within 20 feet of an officer, the gunman put his hands up but then reached under his jacket and pulled out his gun. The officer drew her own weapon, and the suspect put his gun to his head and pulled the trigger a final time, Milley said.
The gunman, who served in Iraq for four months in 2011, had been undergoing an assessment before the attack to determine if he had post-traumatic stress disorder, Milley said.
He arrived at Fort Hood in February from another base in Texas. He was taking medication, and there were reports that he had complained after returning from Iraq about suffering a traumatic brain injury, Milley said. The commander did not elaborate.
One more from the Washington Post: Pentagon grapples to understand how yet another insider threat went undeterred.
Wednesday’s mass shooting by an Army specialist in Fort Hood, Tex., put the Pentagon on a dreaded, if increasingly familiar, footing as officials grappled to understand how yet another insider threat went undeterred.
It unfolded just two weeks after the Defense Department unveiled the findings of threeinvestigations into last year’s fatal shooting at a Navy Yard building in Washington, D.C., by a contractor and four years after a similarly extensive inquiry into a massacre at Fort Hood by an Army psychiatrist led to vows of sweeping reforms.
“We do not yet know how or why this tragedy occurred, but nearly five years after the Nidal Hasan shooting at Fort Hood in 2009, it is clear that we must do far more to ensure that our troops are safe when they are at home on base,” Rep. Thomas J. Rooney (R-Fla.), a former Army lawyer who was based at Fort Hood, said in a statement. “We must thoroughly investigate what happened today so that we can take whatever action is necessary to prevent something like this from ever occurring again.”
Yeah right. Keep on telling yourself that. To use an old military expression, “Situation Normal, All Fu*cked Up” (SNAFU).
Now let’s move on to the latest outrage from our right-wing, “religious” Supreme Court.
From Adam Liptak at the NYT: Supreme Court Strikes Down Overall Political Donation Cap
The Supreme Court on Wednesday continued its abolition of limits on election spending, striking down a decades-old cap on the total amount any individual can contribute to federal candidates in a two-year election cycle….
The 5-to-4 decision, with the court’s more conservative members in the majority, echoed Citizens United, the 2010 decision that struck down limits on independent campaign spending by corporations and unions.
Wednesday’s decision seemed to alter campaign finance law in subtle but important ways, notably by limiting how the government can justify laws said to restrict the exercise of First Amendment rights in the form of campaign contributions.
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It’s beginning to look that way. Mitt’s dad, George Romney, was ridiculed because of an offhand remark he made about being “brainwashed” by the military on a trip he took to Vietnam. By the time he ran for President in 1968, George had decided the Vietnam war was a mistake. He explained his change on mind on the war by explaining that in hindsight he realized he had fallen for propaganda.
Ironically, George Romney’s change of heart apparently was an honorable one: he had changed his mind and wasn’t afraid to admit that he had made a mistake previously. As we’ve heard endlessly over the past couple of weeks, George Romney also released 12 years of his tax returns, because he believed it was only fair to let the American people see what he had earned and what he had paid in taxes over an extended period of time. But George Romney is mostly remembered for the “brainwashing” comment and the ridicule surrounding it.
Now George’s son Mitt Romney is following his father’s footsteps in running for President. Mitt Romney, too, has become known for changing his mind–not just one issue, but on practically every issue. And after a bruising couple of weeks of damaging articles about his career at Bain Capital, he is facing more and more questions from the Obama campaign and from the media about his personal finances and why he will not release his tax returns. Even Republicans like Bill Kristol, George Will, and Matthew Dowd have called for Mitt to get it over with and release more years of returns.
People are beginning to speculate about why Mitt is being so stubborn about refusing to release any of his tax returns before 2010. George Will suggested on ABC’s This Week that that Romney is fearful that whatever is in his returns will make him look worse than he does in insisting on keeping them secret.
“The cost of not releasing the returns are [sic] clear,” Will said. “Therefore, he must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them.”
Also on This Week, Matthew Dowd was, if anything, harder on Romney than George Will was.
Political strategist and ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd said “there’s obviously something there” in Romney’s tax returns that he doesn’t want to release publicly, adding that Romney’s refusal to produce his prior returns was a sign of “arrogance.”
“There’s obviously something there, because if there was nothing there, he would say, ‘Have at it,’” Dowd said. “So there’s obviously something there that compromises what he said in the past about something.”
“Many of these politicians think, ‘I can do this. I can get away with this. I don’t need to do this, because I’m going to say something and I don’t have to do this,’” Dowd added. “If he had 20 years of ‘great, clean, everything’s fine,’ it’d all be out there, but it’s arrogance.”
Now it’s the beginning of a new week, and Mitt Romney is still stubbornly refusing to expose his tax records to examination by the press and the public. This is killing his candidacy, and yet he won’t give in. What is he hiding?
At the New Yorker, John Cassidy offers four possible reasons:
1. Romney’s income before 2010 was “extremely high.”
2. “More offshore accounts” beyond the ones we already know about.
3. “Politically explosive investments”
4. “A very, very low tax rate.”
(You can read the details of Cassidy’s speculation at the link.)
Could it be any of those reasons? We already know Romney is very wealthy, and we know about a lot of his offshore accounts. We already know that Bain invested in Stericycle, a company that disposes of aborted fetuses. Might Romney have more embarrassing personal investments? I suppose it’s possible that Romney could have paid no taxes for several years, and that is what he’s hiding. But I think it has to be something more. Why else would Romney and his staff allow him to sustain so much damage his campaign–especially because the questions won’t end until he release the returns. What is it that he doesn’t want us to find out?
Even The New York Times editorial chastised Romney today.
After three days of Mitt Romney complaining about attacks on his record at Bain Capital, it’s clear that President Obama has nothing to apologize for. If Mr. Romney doesn’t want to provide real answers to the questions about his career, he had better develop a thicker skin.
Mr. Romney’s descriptions of when he left Bain have been erratic and self-serving. In 2002, when he needed to show he was still a Massachusetts resident, he denied he had quit in 1999, saying he had taken a leave of absence to run the Olympics committee. A series of documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Committee show that Bain certainly didn’t describe him as absent after 1999.
There’s only one way to deal with this.
The right way to respond to Mr. Obama is to release his tax returns from that period, or open up Bain documents. But Mr. Romney told CNN he would not release more than the one year’s return he has already released and the one for 2011 when it is finished. “That’s all that’s necessary for people to understand something about my finances,” he said. It’s not even close.
I think it’s likely that Romney has longed to run for President in order to achieve the goal his father failed to reach. I’m sure that Mitt wanted to avoid the kind of ridicule his father suffered for an offhand comment. But let’s face it. Mitt’s situation is much more embarrassing than what happened to his father. Mitt looks incredibly weak at this point. He’s starting to become a joke. The Obama campaign has successfully painted him as an out-of-touch rich guy, a tax evader who may have committed perjury in SEC filings. As John Marshall wrote on Friday, in a post titled “Weak, weak, weak,”
There’s a meta-politics Obama is playing by slashing at Romney with suggestions he might be a felon. He’s wounding Romney, who is clearly rattled and angry about the charges, but just as clearly can’t defend himself or strike back. As I’ve noted many times, a thick layer of presidential politics (in a way that’s distinct from US politics at really every other level) resides at the brainstem level of cogitation — with gambits to assert power and demonstrate dominance. Obama looked in control of this situation; Romney didn’t….
This is and will remain a low single digit race. But the President’s team is making Romney look shifty and silly and weak. (I half expect them to start goosing surrogates to call him Slick Willard.) And they’re well on their way to defining him in a way that will be difficult to undo.
Romney supporter David Frum responded to Marshall’s column at The Daily Beast:
Marshall’s column is titled “Weak, weak, weak,” and it puts its finger on a core weakness of Romney as a candidate. It’s not just his arguments that are weak. For the past year, we have watched him be pushed around by the radical GOP fringe. He’s been forced to abjure his most important achievement as governor, his healthcare plan. In December, he was compelled to sign onto the Ryan budget plan after months of squirming to avoid it. Last fall he released an elaborate economic plan. On the eve of the Michigan primary, he ripped it up and instead accepted a huge new tax cut – to a top rate of 28% – that has never been costed (and that he now tries to avoid mentioning whenever he can). Romney has acknowledged in interviews that he understands that big rapid cuts in government spending could push the US economy back into recession. Yet he campaigns anyway on the Tea Party’s false promise that it’s the deficit that causes the depression, rather than (as he well knows) the other way around.
Frum originally had high hopes for Romney as someone who could help reverse the descent of the Republican party into ultra-right wing craziness:
A big majority of this country is rightly frightened and appalled by what the congressional Republican party has become over the past four years: a radical cadre willing to push the nation over the cliff into utterly unnecessary national default in order to score a political point.
But Romney has simply capitulated on every issue. Weak.
Late last night, Josh Marshall wrote that Romney is in serious danger of simply turning into a joke.
The Obama campaign is hitting this so hard to take a series of associations and embed them so deeply into voters’ consciousness that they become inseparable from the mention of the phrase ‘Bain Capital’. Those are ‘joke’, ‘liar’, ‘felon’, ‘retroactively retired’, ‘SEC filings’, ‘Caymans’, ‘whiner’, ‘buck stops here’, ‘hiding something’.
You can spin these out forever. But beyond all the specific accusations, they’re painting a picture that makes Romney look ridiculous, like a joke. They’re making Romney look stupid and powerless on the front where he believes he’s one of the standouts of his generation. And that’s plain lethal for a presidential candidate.
Marshall says it they haven’t quite succeeded yet, but they’re getting there. I agree with him. Whatever is in those tax returns must be very bad. The only other alternative I can think of is that Mitt Romney is incredibly stupid and arrogant.
What do you think?