“Will some people be affected? Will some people be affected badly? Yes! But we have to get our country open, and we have to get it open soon.”
— Trump in Arizona (5/5/20)
By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (5/7/20)
Dear Fellow Readers,
The answer to the most common question ahead of Trump’s Tuesday visit to an Arizona Honeywell mask factory was: No, Trump did not wear a mask. Nor did I see any masks worn by the gaggle of Republican lawmakers that accompanied him.
There was more ‘mask’ controversy as the US Senate reconvened and all wore masks with two exceptions – Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI). But enough distractions.
No flattened curve – we’re at a plateau, the difference being that we are not seeing a precipitous drop in confirmed cases of deaths from the virus in the US.
Yet Trump has been saying he is shutting down his Coronavirus Task Force to bring more focus to reopening the country. No worries, on Wednesday he about-faced and announced he wasn’t shutting down the task force afterall. He was asked if shutting down the task force was his way of communicating ‘Mission Accomplished’ but he wisely did not take the bait and who knows, maybe that was enough for him to flip-flop on his plan.
Health care services were not overwhelmed though we were and are close. New York City catches its breath but Boston is the new front line for the battle. In the UK the National Health Service sounded an alarm after coming within days of running out of key personal protective equipment (PPE) such as aprons and surgical facemasks. Are we ready to change priorities – did we ‘win’ and now we’re just going to crank up the engine again?
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott explained during a call with Texas lawmakers when asked if reopening would spread the virus said, “Listen, the fact of the matter is pretty much every scientific and medical report shows that whenever you have a reopening…in the aftermath of something like this, it actually will lead to an increase and spread. It’s almost ipso facto.”
Trump’s current reelection strategy is about kick-starting the economy and blaming China – so here we have it: Trump is willing to play Russian Roulette with our lives. At least Abbott emphasized testing and tracing to fight the spread – Trump is simply ready to move on which underscores the third leg of his reelection strategy – blame the governors. Even blame a loyal red state governor like Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA) if it suits the guy who assured the nation, “I take no responsibility”.
But a says we — the public — aren’t so convinced. Only 56% are ‘comfortable’ going to a grocery store but compare that to the 22% who are ‘comfortable’ eating out at a restaurant. Republicans and Republican-leaning independents show more support for visiting reopened businesses and are less worried about becoming ill.
It’s a weird world – two Texas lawmakers illegally got their haircut in a salon that was subsequently shut down by police for violating the lock down – one explained he wanted to set a positive example for us. Setting another example had UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s lock down advisor Professor Neil Fergusson resigning after a news story of a married woman visiting him, or as The Telegraph reports it, he “broke social distancing rules to meet his married lover”.
Freedom! A concept that will be tested every day. Where does Freedom for one person impinge on the Freedom (to live) for another?
Mourning in America
A 60-second video produced by and anti-Trump group, the Lincoln Project warranted a number of attack tweets from Trump, so whatever you do, don’t watch or promote this video. And there is a second video you should not watch:
Or check out a tweet from China Xinhua News, including this parody of Trump:
China: We discovered a new virus.
America: So what?
China: It’s Dangerous
America: It’s only a flu
China: Wear a Mask
America: Don’t wear a Mask
Trump and his Sec. of State Mike Pompeo are going all out to use China as the demonized “other” to shift blame, just as Trump did with Mexico in 2016. Autocrats gotta’ have a target. While Trump and Pompeo bang the table promising to sue China for damages, China doesn’t look ready to roll over. We’ll see a lot more from Republicans about China as they work to make this a ‘with us or against us’ election litmus test.
Trump certainly won’t want us to remember that on February 4 he touted his cooperation with, and high regard for, China.
And speaking of Russia…
Two countries chose to not participate in an EU sponsored COVID-19 video call of world leaders to pledge financial support for vaccine development – Russia and the US.
There are other parallels between Trump and Putin – Putin also downplayed the significance of COVID-19. Russia looked as if it had somehow dodged the virus bullet until recently as it now hosts one of the fastest growing outbreak in the world.
Both Trump and Putin do not like oversight.
This week Trump news included: Trump Moves to Replace Watchdog Who Identified Critical Medical Shortages. Health and Human Service Deputy Inspector General Christi Grimm’s ‘crime’ was reporting shortages of critical medical supplies.
Then the White House: Ousted HHS official files whistleblower complaint on coronavirus response. A “top Health and Human Services official”, Dr. Rick Bright contends he was fired because of he drew attention to “efforts to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections”; beyond cronyism, Bright raised red flags over a slow response and shortages of vital supplies and he has now filed an 89-page whistleblower complaint.
But Putin may have a more heavy-handed style. This is not the first report of such ‘accidents’, but the most recent: Three Russian doctors fall from hospital windows, raising questions amid coronavirus pandemic.
Trump’s shit show of COVID-19 leadership is best summarized by Professor Heather Cox Richardson’s May 4th edition her “Letter From An American” column.
“Trump’s team told him to expect 100,000 to 250,000 dead, horrific numbers, numbers from which Americans would recoil. But he revised that number downward based on a model that assumed, for example, that states without social distancing would not have outbreaks. The number he offered was around 60,000, a number that convinced his supporters that Covid-19 was no more serious than a bad flu, and that Democrats were exaggerating the danger for political gain.”
And that, for Trump, was enough to push for reopening.
But the COVID-19 crisis doesn’t limit Trump’s mismanagement to the growing number of deaths. Just like his gift of yet another tax cut to corporations and the wealthy, he won’t waste this opportunity to do more of the same.
The subhead is a perfect summary: Five companies paid a combined $700 million to shareholders while cutting jobs, closing plants.
One of the companies, Caterpillar, rubbed salt in the wound with their website claim of, the company’s “dedication and service to the safety, health and well-being of our team and the communities they serve remain strong.”
“Already, the pandemic has turned prevailing economic logic on its head: Grocery clerks, meat plant employees and nursing home aides, though generally at the lower end of the pay spectrum, have been deemed “essential” workers and continue to face risks while others stay home.”
Meanwhile, workers are being forced back to work at meatpacking plants after 5,000 reported cases at 115 plants in 19 states.
Critiques of two COVID-19 persons
The first is the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci. Fauci not only undoes one of Trump/Pompeo China lies, he offers perspective on reopening, a vaccine, wearing masks and more.
And this headline says everything about the second:
Columnist Karen Tumulty credits Kushner with “incompetence and cronyism”.
“Both and report that Kushner and a small team of inexperienced volunteers from the private sector have overridden career officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency and are making a deadly crisis even deadlier with their amateur-hour bungling. The two newspapers — which no doubt will be denounced by the White House as “fake news” — based their accounts on a whistleblower memo written by one of the volunteers and interviews with government sources familiar with the effort.”
The reports she references are eye watering and appropriately damning of Kushner.
And worry no more! Carnival Cruises are scheduled to restart in August, shipping out from Florida and Texas.
And lastly, see how far a cough travels – answer: 12 feet.
Wear a mask.
(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2019. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )