I suppose that this is one of those good news/bad news scenarios. The good news — if this can possibly be construed as “good” — is that Donald Trump finally admitted that the governmental response to the coronavirus pandemic was botched. This is the first time anything approaching an admission about the failure to adequately test for Covid-19 has been made. The bad news is that he is spinning it to make Barack Obama the fall guy — for a screw up taking place in the Trump administration. Yes, another entry into the You Can’t Make This Shit Up file. Trump on coronavirus testing: "The Obama administration made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we're doing & we undid that decision a few days ago so that testing can take place in a much more accurate & rapid fashion" (what's he talking about?) pic.twitter.com/Z0UBaORIwI — Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 4, 2020 And it gets better still. Team Trump just admitted they lied about working on #CoronavirusOutbreak for weeks and weeks. Trump and Pence just blamed Obama for a regulation that slowed down testing. When did Trump change that regulation? Weeks ago? Before his press conference a week ago? Nope, 4 days ago: https://t.co/GJMQk1psku — (((DeanObeidallah))) (@DeanObeidallah) March 4, 2020 The Obama administration “asserted FDA jurisdiction over testing and the development of tests like this.” Why how unusual. To put the testing of a drug under the Food and Drug Administration? Now who would have ever thought of that? Thank heavens that Donald Trump is here to destroy yet another regulation — dammit, it’s always a regulation preventing the free flow of genius endeavor, isn’t it now — and get us moving again. After Obama had crippled us. Right. Does anybody want some kool-aide while we sit through Gaslighting 101? Yet again? It is a matter of public record that Trump fired key civil service personnel in charge of this very thing, a global pandemic. But no, it’s Obama’s fault. At least Trump stopped short of suggesting that we rename Covid-19 the “Obamavirus” — today at least. Give him a little while. This is one of his trial balloon numbers, that we’ve seen before, and if it gets traction and people actually bee-leave that Obama is responsible, then that’s all you’ll hear from here on out.
A medical professional conducting passenger screenings at Los Angeles International Airport was tested for coronavirus and was confirmed as having it Tuesday, according to the Department of Homeland Security. NBC News: In its public statement, the DHS said, “Late last night, DHS headquarters was alerted to a situation where one of our contracted medical professionals conducting screenings at LAX international airport had tested positive for COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus. This individual is currently under self-quarantine at home with mild symptoms and under medical supervision. Their immediate family is also under home quarantine.” According to DHS, the individual began to exhibit cold-like symptoms on Saturday and visited a primary care doctor Sunday, where the person received a test for COVID-19, which came back positive. […] “At this time we do not know if this case is a result from community spread or through their work as a medical screener,” said DHS. “There have been no positive COVID-19 detections reported from the LAX screened travelers. This is an evolving situation that the CDC, DHS and county public health officials continue to examine.” LAX is a huge and busy airport. At this point it would be pure speculation to guess how many people might have interacted with other people, before one of them interacted with this medical person doing screenings and infected him or her. The person reports that s/he used all precautions, gear, etc. — yet still got the virus. This is sobering. If this was happening during the Obama era, or indeed almost any other era, I wouldn’t feel so alarmed. But in the age of Trump the government barely functions and it is incapacitated to deal with this crisis — ergo, I’m scared to death.
It is scarcely news that Donald Trump lives in a world of his own. However, his interview with Sean Hannity Wednesday night revealed a mind set grown in fantasy and nurtured by delusion, to the exclusion of reality, that shows how dangerous he is. Here’s what he said when Hannity brought up the fact that the Covid-19 mortality rate is between three to four percent. “I think the 3.4 percent is really a false number. Now, and this is just my hunch, and — But based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people who do this. But a lot of people will have this and it’s very mild. They’ll get better very rapidly. They don’t even see a doctor. They don’t even call a doctor. You don’t ever hear about these people.” “So you can’t put that down in the category in the overall population in terms of this corona flu or virus. So you just can’t do that. So if we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better by just by sitting around and even going to work, some of them go to work, but they get better. And then when you do have a death … all of a sudden it seems like 3 or 4 percent, which is a very high number, as opposed to a fraction of 1 percent. But again they don’t know about the easy cases because the easy cases don’t go to the hospital. They don’t report to the doctor or the hospital in many cases.” “So I think that that number is very high. I think the number, personally, I would say the number is way under 1 percent.” Either Trump doesn’t know the difference between a fact and an opinion or maybe he thinks that we don’t. Or else he thinks that an opinion can change a fact. Who knows? Trying to slog through this guy’s mental landscape has caused many in the psychiatric world to collapse in exhaustion. It’s unlikely we’ll figure it out here. But Phillip Bump’s column today has as good a handle on that subject as any you’re likely to find. Washington Post: To Hannity, Trump revealed his own thinking. You hear about a death and you assume the rate of death is high when it’s actually low. He’s using statistics as a measure of how people should feel about coronavirus, not to accurately convey the threat it poses. It’s like when he once admitted that he evaluated his own net worth based on how he felt on a given day; to Trump, the mortality rate is really more of a subjective Fear Metric and not something related to the virus’s effects. Trump has good reason to want people not to worry about the virus. He’s repeatedly considered the spread of the virus in the context of the economy, an issue important to him as a businessman and as a candidate for reelection in November. It’s important that people not freak out about coronavirus unnecessarily, of course, but waving away the threat — and telling people that it’s not a big deal to go to work if infected with it! — is not responsible management of the issue. We don’t know the mortality rate of coronavirus in the U.S. in part because we don’t know […]
Months ago I made the crack, “Irony is dead. She said, ‘fuck it’ and put her head in the oven.'” I can’t say that, or much of anything, about this headline, because it is too sobering to mock. That’s hard for me to say about anything, with my propensity for dark humor, but here we are. Donald Trump was set to speak Monday at the global Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s global health conference in Orlando, Florida and it just got canceled due to coronavirus fears. So much for Trump’s insistence that concern for the virus is overblown. WESH: “Today, following recent reports from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HIMSS announced it is clearly necessary to cancel the 2020 HIMSS Global Health Conference & Exhibition,” a statement from HIMSS said. The cancellation is a huge loss for the Central Florida economy. The convention was expected to bring in more than 40,000 people to the area. Some companies, including Amazon, which has limited business travel, and Cisco, had already announced they will not be there. The conference is the second to be canceled at the Orange County Convention Center over coronavirus concerns. This is what happens when a public health crisis is treated as a public relations crisis. Convention management is looking to protect it’s people. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a president who thought the same way about us?
This is a lot stranger than normal, even in the era of Trump, but consider the source. Rick Santelli does business news and commentary on CNBC. He did a five minute rant back in 2009 about “It’s time for another tea party,” and so he’s credited with being one of the founders of the movement. Coming off of that dubious heritage, here is what he suggested about the coronavirus today. This is absolutely horrifying. Rick Santelli on @CNBC says we should consider giving coronavirus to everybody to just get it over with. That way it won’t wreak so much havoc on the economy. This is your brain on capitalism.pic.twitter.com/Uv5UYyKtxy — Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) March 5, 2020 So think about it. Take the world population, 7 billion. Four percent of that is about 280 million people. So we just kill off that many people and capitalism will be safe. Sure, why not? You think this is nuts? Mother Jones did a landmark story back in the 70’s about Ford Motor Company. The Ford Pinto had a bad design defect, which caused it to explode when it was rear ended at speeds exceeding a few miles per hour. Ford knew about this. But they decided to calculate the number of people who would probably be killed and compare the cost of that to the cost of resigning the car and retooling the assembly line, and they said fuck it, it’s cheaper to let people die. Ford actually had the hubris to put a price tag on human life and use that figure in a business calculation. Do you love it? And of course the decision wasn’t in humanity’s favor, it was in their stockholders. They felt comfortable doing that. When you think along these lines, Santelli’s comment makes a lot of sense. This is indeed, your brain on capitalism.
Get ready to be appalled. In particular, read the portion where the National CDC refuses to test this nurse because they tell her that if she had worn the proper gear she wouldn’t have the virus. Now we’re victim shaming nurses doing their jobs during a pandemic? Pretty stark statement from a Kaiser nurse in NorCal who got sick after caring for a coronavirus patient, criticizing CDC for delays in testing. https://t.co/GDlOH7TLzz pic.twitter.com/wleK6CRVeQ — Matt Pearce ???? (@mattdpearce) March 5, 2020 This nurse’s communication with CDC is pure idiocy. She can’t wait in line and take a number. She needs to go back to work! WE need her to go back to work. She NEEDS to be tested so she can fight this pandemic! This one letter shows how horrifyingly inept the CDC is under this administration and how this public health crisis simply isn’t being handled. It’s not enough that we wash our hands and don’t touch our faces. Beyond that childlike simplicity there is a much bigger medical picture to be dealt with and evidently that’s not happening. I don’t think it’s too melodramatic at this point to say that a medical monster is growing unabated, while America sits in the dark and the Trump administration can’t even walk in with a flashlight, let alone get the power turned on. Or, here’s another image: the coronavirus moves like lightning while the CDC is moving like a snail. How can that not spell disaster?
Paul Krugman has a gift for boiling down complex subject matter into simple statements. He nails the governmental mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic here. This is the blueprint for why we’re in the mess we are and where we’re going. First, we have a man-child as president: not only does he judge everything solely in terms of whether it makes him look good, he has a very short-term focus. Downplay the threat to win today's news cycle, never mind what might happen down the road 2/ — Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) March 7, 2020 He demands obsequious displays of personal loyalty from all around him — which means that everyone with principles, and almost everyone with expertise, has been driven out. We're led by the team that couldn't think straight 4/ — Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) March 7, 2020 Remember, the Bush administration crippled FEMA before Katrina; the degrading of epidemic response under Trump is the same kind of thing 6/ — Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) March 7, 2020 Finally, a lot of what you need to contain a pandemic is social rather than strictly medical. You need to get people tested, and have them stay home if the test is positive. But we have a society in which cost deters people from getting tested 8/ — Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) March 7, 2020 I have American friends currently in Europe considering whether to extend their stay in the belief that universal health care and leave policies will make them safer. They may well be right 10/ — Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) March 7, 2020 The main takeaway here, for me, is that our social system is what is going to put us the most at risk here. We don’t have a medical system that allows for medical care for all. Like the criminal justice system, there is one system for the rich and one for the poor. And there is no set up for testing and common sense containment efforts like staying home, because people need to eat and keep the lights on. And for many that means you go to work no matter what. We’ve got a lunatic at the wheel and we’re heading into crisis. If you don’t believe that Trump is totally out of it, listen to the clip below. He actually is qualifying himself as an expert in the field of epidemiology. Don’t fall off your chair and hurt yourself, just listen to this. Trump: CDC "doctors say how do you know so much about this? Maybe I have a natural ability." pic.twitter.com/NUSJJL8SQJ — Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) March 6, 2020 This is vintage Trump. He alone has a grasp on it and he alone can fix it — whatever it is. He told us who he was during the campaign and unfortunately too many people believed him. So here we are, in a pandemic, with a lunatic in charge. This is Katrina on steroids.
If you missed Donald Trump’s visit to the CDC, wherein he claimed to have “a natural ability” to comprehend the coronavirus and opined that perhaps he should have gone into medicine rather than running for president, you’ll be interested to hear that it was just a rerun episode. He copped an identical attitude at the time of his first Pentagon briefing, July 20, 2017. On that day he was a genius of military strategy and foreign policy. He knew it all then, like he knows it all know, because his grandiosity will not permit him to take a subordinate intellectual position to anyone, ever, even among people who are acknowledged experts within a given field. And his comments were off point and frequently nonsensical then, just like they are now. In true Trumpian style, nothing changes except to get worse. Politico Magazine: Trump took his place at the head of the table with a frown fixed on his face. Offering few greetings to anyone, he sat with his arms crossed, refusing to look at Mattis. To me it seemed that his mind was already made up. He appeared to see this entire briefing as pointless—but perhaps I was reading too much into all of this. At least I hoped so. […] Mattis’ third slide triggered a stronger response from Trump. A visual depiction of our Pacific posture, this slide zoomed in on the U.S. forces located in Japan and South Korea—forces that had kept the peace in both countries for more than six decades. It detailed the numbers of troops in each country, the cost to American taxpayers, and the costs borne by our allies to support forces in their country. Mattis made the point that America had been willing to accept unfair terms following World War II in order to get both countries back on their feet, but that now would be an opportune time to update our trade agreements should Trump desire to do so. Mattis loved this slide because it outlined the significant contributions both nations were making, with Japan footing part of the bill to shift U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam, and South Korea paying to move Army soldiers to a new base. He emphasized to the president the importance of Japan paying to offset the costs for a new base, saying it was the first time in history they’d done so. “Who is paying the rest of the bill for the move to Guam?” the president demanded. He was upset that Japan was only covering a part of the total costs required to relocate the base. There was silence. But only briefly. “Our trade agreements are criminal,” Trump thundered—despite the fact that Mattis was not talking about anything trade-related. “Japan and South Korea are taking advantage of the United States.” This was decidedly not the message Mattis’ slide intended to convey. Out of nowhere, the president added, “And the USS Ford [the navy’s newest aircraft carrier] is completely out of control with cost overruns!” Mattis struggled to regain control of the meeting. In one sense he got what he’d wanted. The president was definitely engaged, but not in the way Mattis had hoped. This is no different from Trump’s meeting at the CDC in Atlanta this past week. Trump knew what was going on. He assured one […]
The stock market cratered within minutes after the opening bell, triggering the first-ever forced halt on trading in history. The S&P sank seven percent after the open and the Dow Jones plunged 2,000 points before rising slightly to 1,800. Washington Post: The forced freeze was a sign of unprecedented volatility for Wall Street amid the most turbulent trading in recent memory. Another 15-minute halt will be triggered if the S&P 500’s losses hit the 13 percent threshold. In the event of a 20 percent decline, markets would shut down for the day. “The bull market’s 11-year birthday is today but investors are not in a celebratory mood with trading halted shortly after the open as markets plunged,” Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com, wrote in commentary Monday. “The uncertain economic impact of coronavirus continues to grip markets, with stocks, commodities and interest rates all dropping sharply. Markets hate uncertainty and there is a ton of it currently in play.” Trump is on vacation in Florida, per usual, but he deigned to tweet at us. His message is not to worry. Good for the consumer, gasoline prices coming down! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 9, 2020 Yes, indeed, oil prices plunged as well. And Trump is so stupid, or thinks that we are, not to know that a price war between the Saudis and Russia is going to be bad for us. Oil prices tumbled into the $30s, after Saudi Arabia and Russia deadlocked over production. The Saudis had been pushing for a cut in output to prop up prices, but did a reversal when Russia balked and decided, instead, to flood the market with hundreds of thousands of additional barrels per day at a steep discount — a move analysts fear may trigger a price war. “Cheap oil is one thing. Super cheap oil is another,” said John Kilduff of Again Capital. “The stock market is looking at the oil price plunge as a canary in the coal mine of a disinflationary one-two punch, driven partly by cratering demand for transportation fuels and a wanton price war among the major oil producers” that will result in big losses for U.S. and Canadian producers. Trump said he will return from Florida and meet with advisers. Might as well go through the motions, I guess. The Fed already cut interest rates last week, how far can they go with that mechanism? At the time of this writing it’s still morning on the west coast and mid day on the east, so this is far from over. Global markets were, to quote the Washington Post, “apoplectic.” Japan’s market closed down 5 percent, Hong Kong’s down at 4.2, and European markets down more than 7 percent — again, in midday trading. Here’s an idea Trump had a few years ago, maybe we should listen to it. pic.twitter.com/IO9Vanoozp — ????????Emy Cahalin????????⏰???? (@CahalinEmy) March 9, 2020 And here’s the bottom line: Yes, the coronavirus issue is not being handled properly in this country. Trump’s administration gutted pandemic protections early on and ever since coronavirus has appeared on the scene, the response has been stutter stepping incompetence. But what’s happening on the stock market is more than just that. It is a response to the overall instability and insane judgement that Trump has brought to office, his […]
I wonder if there was a contest at the White House today and Alex Azar drew the short straw. It’s past noon in Washington and Orange Nero has not shown his face, but somebody had to get out there and say something, so Azar went to the podium and gave a pep talk about how great the economy is under Trump — despite the reality that the stock market continues to plunge. “The market has obviously been very active today,” was Azar’s opening line. And then he went into a talking point, complete with superlatives. Maybe Azar moonlights as Trump’s rally speechwriter, ya spose? “President Trump has delivered a historically strong economy,” Azar said. “The fundamentals in this economy are unbelievable.” Well, we can’t argue with him there. Yes, what’s going on in this economy, fundamentally, right now, is unbelievable. Point conceded. “Whether it’s employment or wage growth or productivity or international trade deals, the fundamentals remain what they are.” Yes, they do. The fundamentals of lies about job creation — Ivanka creating fifteen million is the best so far — and insane trade deals have not changed. We concede this point as well. Then Azar gave us one sentence on the coronavirus. This is the head of Health and Human Services, and we’re in a pandemic, and here is all he had to tell us. “President Trump is leading a whole of government response with the vice president helping him on the public health issues that we’re facing with the novel coronavirus. That is his number one concern.” That’s it. Not one word about how many testing kits have gone out, how many new cases have been reported, how the health crisis is being managed — nada. We are told there’s a “whole of government response,” an introductory sentence with no exposition. And then Azar went back to the economy. “In terms of the economy, he and his economic team have the tools to keep this economy going strong.” And he was done. He left with reporters calling after him, “How many cases of coronavirus have been reported.” What, you think Azar knows or cares? What is obvious here is that all the little Trump soldiers have been instructed to not talk about the coronavirus and if they talk about anything at all to reporters, talk about the economy, because that’s Trump signature issue that he’s running on — except that’s a little difficult to do with the stock market in the toilet! The global economy is unraveling, let alone the American, and the geopolitical scene is heating up — and no one in Trump’s administration has a clue — least of all Alex Freaking Azar! Yet on what looks to be shaping up as Black Monday, or Dim and Grim Monday in any event, that’s who they send out there! Here’s the clip. Seeing is believing. And bear in mind that today is the day that Trump puts his reelection campaign into high gear. Hope Hicks goes back to the White House today to help Jared Kushner and all is supposed to be high festivity as Trump world prepares for a great November victory — except the world is collapsing around them and they’re too stupid to even acknowledge it. One wonders if they acknowledge it to themselves?