Maybe Pence Will Be Out Soon, White House Staffers Blaming Him For Botching Coronavirus

Buck passing and finger pointing are part of any incompetently run organization and the White House certainly qualifies as that. Donald Trump appointed Mike Pence head of the coronavirus task force last week and went on vacation, figuring that Pence would mind the store. Instead, things got worse and White House staffers morphed into Chicken Littles, crying, “the stock market is falling!” Oh, what to do! Trump took to the airwaves, finally, late Monday, with some hastily cobbled together ideas. Politico: While President Donald Trump previewed a slate of fiscal stimulus options from the White House Monday night, other aides privately continued to debate the seriousness of the coronavirus. Officials, like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, had been urging staff not to overreact, while other aides advocated dramatic measures, such as shutting down borders, stopping cruise ship travel and expanding travel restrictions. Then there was the blame game. One senior administration official blamed the national security staff for bungling the early coronavirus response. Other aides blamed the vice president’s office, which has taken the lead on the response. “The Office of the Vice President seems way in over their heads,” one White House official said, referring to the coordination and messaging. “They don’t know what they’re doing.” Separately, some aides took issue with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, who’d dutifully stood by Trump during his Friday visit to the Atlanta agency and commended the president for his “decisive leadership.” Trump, for his part, continued to denigrate the media and Democrats on Twitter for overhyping the coronavirus threat. It stands to reason that the Trump administration is blaming everybody and everything but themselves, while the fact remains that the key problem here is that since the very beginning of this crisis it has been handled as a PR problem and not a public health emergency. All subsequent problems stem from that. That, and the fact that when Trump took office he gutted pandemic preparedness programs, firing key personnel, and when he needed them, they weren’t there. So now he has to try and reverse engineer something that will take care of this emergency. Rotsa ruck. Not too many people believe that this administration is going to rise to the occasion, after the incompetence that’s been displayed so far. Trump’s first public comment on the coronavirus was to say that, “there are only about fifteen cases and soon there will be zero.” The number of reported cases is now at 500 and the death toll is 26. Democrats would do well to emphasize this in a campaign ad. Trump loves to shoot from the hip and make things up and the covid-19 crisis emphasizes that tendency like nothing else. And unfortunately, it’s a matter of life and death.  

‘We’re Republicans Who Are Sick of Trump’s Lies’ Title of Blistering New Trump Attack...

I wouldn’t want to be a television set when Trump sees this one. He’ll probably throw a case of Diet Coke, along with a hissy fit. Republicans For the Rule of Law has put out another gem, this one a compilation of Republican voters nationwide who say they won’t vote for Trump, based upon how he has botched the coronavirus response. YES!! More of this!!

Dan Rather says Trump ‘Is Not Going To Come To Anybody’s Rescue’

Both Dan Rather and Carl Bernstein were on CNN this morning, and they both made very good points about Donald Trump and his mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic. They were both there to comment on Trump’s latest boondoggle, that of informing state governors, in essence, that this is their baby and “we are there to back you up should you fail.” Whoa. Time out. Did everybody else know that this was a state issue and not a federal emergency? And I assume that’s the fault of the media for not reporting that correctly? Here we go, another front in the War on Truth has just exploded. Rather’s initial take was that Trump’s blaming the media was “disgraceful” and divisive, “at a time when we need to pull together more than ever. This is unacceptable and I think most Americans recognize it as such.” Rather’s connection was lost and the ball was passed to Bernstein, who said that he believed that Trump should broadcast daily briefings, because among other reasons, he’s a compulsive liar and needs to be called out for such. “He’s focused on a war on truth as opposed to focused on a war against a deadly plague.” That’s it in a nutshell. Trump doesn’t care what happens to America. He’s covered in all events, health wise, money wise, he’s got his. All he needs to do is fix the optics of this deal somehow and get reelected and he’ll be just fine. That is the extent of “leadership” you’re going to get from the man, which is to say you’re not going to get any at all, get used to it. And that’s pretty much what Dan Rather had to say. “Until and unless he proves differently, I’d pay far less attention to president Trump. I really regret having to have said that. But he’s not going to come to anybody’s rescue and the faster we realize that, the better off we’ll be.” The only problem with what Rather said, is what do we do? If the steward of the government is incompetent to pull it’s levers, what is our recourse? Guess we’re gonna find out. Here’s the four minute clip.  

Trump Told He’s Got One Month To Win Reelection Or He Won’t — So...

In the movie Blade Runner the Rutger Hauer character catches up with his girlfriend, another replicant, played by Darryl Hannah, and gives her the bad news of how they’re getting wiped out. He tells her, “Priss, there are only two of us left now.” She replies, “Then we’re stupid and we’ll die.” Maybe that’s a description of America in 2020, because those who listen to Donald Trump right now are signing their own death warrants, because he doesn’t care about the science or the math of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump is listening to a number of conservative advisers who are telling him to reopen the economy because it’s the only way he can win reelection — and the lives of Americans are apparently of no consequence in this equation. As Rick Wilson pointed out Saturday, Fox News and Facebook are ginning up the base, and the base doesn’t believe coronavirus is real — or if they do, they don’t believe that it’s going to affect them personally. Like Heaven and Hell, Hell is for somebody else. Everyone believes s/he is going to go to Heaven. And the Trump campaign is capitalizing on this folly. Politico: They point to emerging signs around the country. Trump-supported activists are protesting strict stay-at-home orders. Conservative groups’ internal polling in red-leaning and swing states show a significant uptick in Americans who favor reopening the country. A growing chorus of Republican lawmakers across the nation are on board. “If you don’t see something start to happen … you’re going to see a conservative revolt by our base,” said Adam Brandon, president of FreedomWorks, a conservative group which recently polled on reopening the economy. “The worst strategy for him is to keep things shut until August. Trump is basically going to win or lose his election right now, in the next month.” It goes without saying that facts are being cherry picked and manipulated. Trump stated two weeks ago that the death rate in New York City was down, despite the fact that the morgues, funeral homes and even the refrigeration trucks were packed with the dead, and there was discussion of temporarily interring bodies in a mass grave in a local park. I'm currently working in a hospital in Boston. A lot of my patients had Fox on today, where the message seems to be that the pandemic is cresting and we're now on the back end. Meanwhile an entire building of our hospital is dedicated to COVID, mostly ICU-level care. — topherius (@topherius1) April 6, 2020 That was April 6. On April 17, Trump took to Twitter to foment civil insurrection in the states of Virginia, Minnesota and Michigan. Trump wants to reopen the economy, the human cost be damned, and other GOP leaders are with him on this. They don’t care about human life, either. The poster child for this proposition is Ron DeSantis, who just reopened Florida beaches on April 17, because “Floridians need fresh air.” Now bear in mind that April 14, last Tuesday, marked the height of the Florida death toll from coronavirus, with 72 people dying in 24 hours. Yet three days later, it’s volleyball on the beach. This is in spite of the fact that the number of cases in the state is still increasing as of Saturday April 18, bringing the totals to […]

Trump Signaling He’ll Block Oversight of Stimulus Bill So He Can Grab Money For...

Donald Trump signed the $2 Trillion coronavirus rescue bill on Friday, which is the good news. The bad is that he says he intends to ignore the provision that specifies that the newly-created Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery is to report to Congress “without delay” when any government agencies don’t provide information on how the stimulus money is to be spent. Politico: Trump’s decision to override the requirement that the inspector general report concerns to Congress is reminiscent of his handling of the whistleblower complaint regarding Ukraine that ultimately led to his impeachment last year. At the time, the intelligence community’s inspector general sought to relay to Congress a whistleblower complaint that Trump had abused his power by seeking Ukraine’s interference in the 2020 election. But top officials in the Justice Department and White House intervened, blocking the report from reaching Congress until subpoenas and a pressure campaign from House Democrats forced it into the open. Trump, in his signing statement, is now suggesting that any legal requirement that an inspector general report to Congress is inherently improper without allowing for the president to make the ultimate decision. Under the final measure, the special inspector general would be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. He or she would be required to “conduct, supervise, and coordinate audits and investigations of the making, purchase, management, and sale of loans, loan guarantees, and other investments made by the Secretary of the Treasury under any program established by the Secretary under this Act.” “I do not understand, and my Administration will not treat, this provision as permitting the SIGPR to issue reports to the Congress without the presidential supervision required by the Take Care Clause, Article II, section 3,” the signing statement specified. Trump has in essence granted himself authority to block the inspector general from reporting inter-agency obstruction to Congress, even though there is nothing in the bill which says he can do that. But he does get a chance to rant about Article II. He loves to talk about Article II and how powerful he is. And here’s the bottom line: “But a requirement to consult with the Congress regarding executive decision-making, including with respect to the President’s Article II authority to oversee executive branch operations, violates the separation of powers by intruding upon the President’s power and duty to supervise the staffing of the executive branch,” Trump wrote. Two reasons he’s doing this: 1. He’s power mad, that’s a no brainer; 2. He’s looking to exploit loopholes in the bill which will allow himself and Jared Kushner to get bail out money. Market Watch: WASHINGTON — The $2 trillion legislative package moving through Congress to shore up the U.S. economy devastated by the coronavirus was carefully written to prevent President Donald Trump and his family from profiting from the federal fund. But the fine print reveals that businesses owned by Trump and his family still may be eligible for some assistance. […] Ethics groups warn, though, that the 880-page bill contains loopholes in the ethics ban and wording elsewhere could theoretically allow the banned parties to still benefit from the federal giveaways. After analyzing the massive bill, the DC-based ethics group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said Trump and his family might still benefit from provisions in […]

Trump Interrupts Coronavirus Press Conference To Play With His Hair

Americans are dying, but who cares about that? Trump is behind the podium for ratings and to look good. He was giving his daily coronavirus briefing Monday, when the wind began to gust and muss up his hair. Now, bear in mind, this is the man who wouldn’t go to a cemetery in Paris to honor fallen American soldiers, because it was raining and he didn’t want his hair to look bad on camera. Life and death matters never trump (you should pardon the expression) issues of personal appearance. The man has priorities. "My hair is blowing around. And it is mine. The one thing you cannot get away with. It is a problem if you are president" — Trump — Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 30, 2020 You can tell how bored he is with all this.  What does he care about beds at the Javitz Center, or anywhere else for that matter? He’s got real issues, like baldness, and the desperate need to conceal it. Take another listen. He’s talking about beds, then he sees a box blowing — or something — then he plays with his hair and then forces himself back to reading stats, in a bored monotone. This is what’s leading us through our darkest hour in many a decade. And while this was going on, Mike Lindell, the My Pillow guy, who is a Fox advertiser, and who, not surprisingly, has been sued for deceptive marketing and unsupported health claims was introduced as a key soldier on the battlefield of coronavirus. He’s allegedly going to manufacture face masks. Mask pillows? Who knows? Trump has the MyPillow guy in a pandemic press conference and that is a sentence that proves we are in the most asinine assholes of fucking timelines. That or the simulation is glitching HARD. A clown car filled with Fredos on fire, off the cliff. — Chuck Wendig (@ChuckWendig) March 30, 2020 I’ve often questioned if we aren’t in the Matrix and Morpheus can’t get us back online. Or maybe there was a third pill and we took that, and now we’re in this phuquing nightmare. And check this out from historian Kevin Kruse. Two days ago, I tweeted this. Right now, Trump has the My Pillow guy speaking in the Rose Garden. — Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) March 30, 2020 I’m sure that you read that Trump called ARod (Alex Rodriguez) and J Lo the other day to solicit their views on the coronavirus. This is not unusual at all, especially when Trump’s bored. When he was at the G20 he found that too boring to pay attention to and so began tweeting birthday greetings to celebrities on Twitter. This is vintage Trump. He’s not even paying attention, let alone on board for a global health and humanitarian crisis. He’s just going through the motions at this point, and we haven’t even seen the worst of COVID-19 in this country yet. You know this isn’t going to get any better, right?  

Trump Says ‘Democrats Shouldn’t Be Allowed To Win’ 2020 Election

This is a particularly nutty day for Donald Trump. He’s making a lot less sense than usual and that’s saying quite a lot. The highlight so far is that the Democrats “shouldn’t be allowed to win” the 2020 election. Hoe Kay. “They view this [coronavirus] as a campaign issue…they want to try and win an election that they shouldn’t be allowed to win, based on the fact that we have done a great job. We built the greatest economy in the world — I’ll do it a second time — we got “artificially stopped” by a virus that nobody ever thought possible.” This has to be heard to be believed. Trump's case for his own reelection is all about what he did before the pandemic he wasn't prepared for hit, as well as weak Obama whataboutism. Doesn't bode great for him. — Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 6, 2020 Intriguing that he thinks that “nobody ever thought” a pandemic could happen — when there were trained experts on the national security council, who Trump fired. It’s a bit like somebody driving a flatbed full of dynamite, soaked with gasoline, on an icy road and after the tremendous explosion, saying, “Nobody ever thought possible that one truck could ever cause this much damage.” Well, maybe the people who know not to transport dynamite, let alone soaked in gasoline, on a flatbed know the potential damage. And maybe a real president wouldn’t have gutted the pandemic response team, knowing full well how overwhelming a pandemic can be, and that it’s something that can always happen, so be prepared. A little bit like the people who cancel car insurance because they think it’s an unnecessary expense and then they find out just how necessary the expense was. But if this is Trump’s best argument for reelection, he’s more pathetic than I thought. And that, too, is saying a lot. But I have to commend him on this: this clip and others from today’s presser are going to make great attack ad fodder. I can’t wait.

GOP Plague Rat Refuses to Tell Pennsylvania Democrats He is Infected with COVID-19

I’m grown tired of the Daily Outrage stories. “Trump said this! What an asshole!” “McConnell did this! What an asshole!” There’s just so fucking many of them, each of them more shocking and morally reprehensible than the next. Honestly, if you made me king for a day, I’d channel Travis McGee, who had similar thoughts (from The Empty Copper Sea; go read the quote): I’d go through the land in disguise, rewarding the good and lopping the heads off of the assholes. By the time I was done, the place would look like a macabre bowling alley. I have violent thoughts, I know. Usually, I just move them aside and try to continue conducting myself in a civilized fashion. Who knows what lurks inside the hearts and minds of men, indeed? But this one is special. This guy…well, I honestly don’t know what we, as a civilized society, should do with this one. Pennsylvania State Rep. Andrew Lewis (R-Plague Rat) is a special kind of asshole. On May 27, he announced on his Facebook page that he had been “secretly self-quarantining” for a few days after being tested positive for COVID-19. He began feeling ill the second week of May, was tested on May 18, and told he was positive on May 20. He chose not to go public “[o]ut of respect for my family, and those who I may have exposed.” He said in the comments on his Facebook post that he privately told family members and some who might have been exposed, and said members of his staff “who met the criteria exposure was immediately contacted and required to self-isolate for 14 days from their date of possible exposure.” At least one fellow Republican, and possibly two more, were advised that Lewis may have infected them, and they should self-quarantine. Bad enough, right? He decided who he should and shouldn’t know about him breathing the Coronavirus on everyone and everything he encountered. But it gets better. Lewis told his Republican caucus’s Human Resources Department. He did NOT tell any Democrats. Neither did the GOP caucus. So the House Democrats who came into contact with him didn’t know he was blowing his Corona breath in their faces. Democrats found out…yesterday. Yesterday. No one told them. For almost a week. Like many in the Rattus Norvegicus Caucus, Lewis didn’t participate remotely in legislative business, and he refused to wear a mask. The idiot who was told to self-isolate, Russ Diamond (R-Sewer Rodent) has openly boasted that he goes in public without a mask. Apparently masks are for sissies. (No word if Macho Man Russ Diamond is currently battling a scorching case of COVID-19 as you read this. He says he’s fine, and intends to keep showing up, unmasked and apparently untested.) Democrats are not happy. Democrat Kevin Boyle, who chairs a House committee that both Diamond and Lewis breathe all over, says he is outraged that he and his fellow Democrats were not told. Most Republicans, he says, refuse to wear masks in the committee. “Whoever knew this in the Republican leadership and did not inform the broader membership and staff, they need to resign immediately. This is outrageous and immoral.” Boyle intends to get tested within a day or so. Boyle’s committee has been at the center of a pitched […]
Jonathan / Flickr fbi vest...

The Latest Brewing Trump Administration Scandal

But what if it wasn’t accidental Scully? What if the government actually knew what was happening?   Fox Mulder   The X-Files If you spend as much time as I do in the company of CNN and MSNBC, you might have noticed a subtle, yet discernible shift the last couple of days. As the desperate situation in New York finally appears to be stabilizing, and possibly even easing slightly, and as more American cities appear to be getting a better hold on the coronavirus, the media coverage is shifting slightly. There is a little more time for news not expressly dealing with the death and devastation of the viral outbreak. And if that trend continues, the next Trump administration mega scandal is simmering quietly away, just waiting for the lid to be lifted. With the initial coverage, it began almost as a joke, although a joke in bad taste. But when you’re dealing with El Pendejo Presidente, almost every administration action or policy undertaken is a joke in bad taste. It began last week with a segment on The Rachel Maddow Show, later retold by yours truly, about the somewhat unbelievable situation of the federal government sending the FBI and DHS to confiscate shipments of medical supplied and equipment purchased privately by states and hospitals, and adding them to the FEMA national stockpile, presumably under the Emergency War Powers Act. The story seemed too ridiculous at its face to be true. The federal government refuses to supply hospitals and states with emergency equipment, telling them to fend for themselves in a series of endless bidding wars, and when the states comply, the federal government swoops in with a series or armed, strong arm hijackings, and confiscates the shipments under the War Powers Act that the administration refused to implement to boost domestic production and distribution. That is, until Illinois Governor JB Pritzker appeared on Rachel’s show to outline the Len Deighton spy novel shit he had to pull to keep the FBI and DHS from hijacking his own shipment of supplies. But here’s the real scandal of this whole thing, and whether it’s the media that twigs to it, or whether it comes out in some kind of after action investigation, it’s going to come out, and it’s going to be ugly. The federal government left the states and hospitals to fend for themselves in order to obtain this equipment, correct? Then how, pray tell are the FBI and the DHS coming by the information of these shipments created by private transactions? Look, at their inception these are private, presumably e-mail or phone conversations between private hospital administrators or official emissaries of the governors offices, and private businesses, often foreign. How in the ever living hell is the federal government obtaining the information that these contracts are being negotiated, finalized, and fulled? How is the federal government managing to get their grubby little mitts on the shipping and arrival information? Is the Trump government illicitly monitoring private communications between governors offices and hospital staffs to private foreign companies? What kind of surveillance, electronic? Wire tapping? If surveillance is being used, is it authorized with a valid court order? And if it is, what possible justification could the government be using for said illicit surveillance? There has to be some form of intelligence gathering going on here, because states and hospitals have […]

REVEALED: Trump’s Treasury Dept Gives Green Light To Debt Collectors To Seize $1,200 Stimulus...

We know Donald Trump thinks he’s God, but we didn’t know how literally to interpret Trump giveth and he taketh away — and that is exactly the case with the $1,200 stimulus checks. 20 Million Americans have been thrown out of work in the past month and many of them are depending upon their stimulus checks for food, but they may not get them, because banks have been given the power to seize the money to pay off outstanding debt. American Prospect: The Treasury Department effectively blessed this activity on a webinar with banking officials last week. In audio obtained by the Prospect, Ronda Kent, chief disbursing officer with Treasury’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service, can be heard explaining that banks had posed questions to her about “whether these payments could be subject to collection from the bank to which the money is deposited, if the payee owes an outstanding loan or other payments to the bank.” She responded—twice—that “there’s nothing in the law that precludes that action,” while counseling that the banks’ compliance officers should consult with their legal offices about what policies their banks will implement. “You will want to know for your bank what your bank has decided to do,” Kent said. An official at a financial institution who was on the call and wishes to remain anonymous said that Kent’s comments, translated from regulator-ese, mean: “We don’t want to say anything explicitly and are telling you to make a business decision.” In other words, the statement was a green light for banks to take advantage of the coronavirus crisis to collect prior debt. “At a time when people are desperate to buy food, the idea that anybody would grab [the $1,200 payments], let alone the banks they trust with their money, is appalling,” said Lauren Saunders, associate director with the National Consumer Law Center. Fascinating, isn’t it, how when there’s a Republican in office, the rich always benefit no matter what? Trump has been peacocking about what a great thing his administration did by the CARES act, and in point of fact, if this draconian loophole is allowed to go unchallenged, people in the greatest need may get nothing at all, and the rich will get richer. This is a new low in a mis-administration known for bottoming out it’s last bottom on a routine basis.