Saturday, April 04, 2020

Jared Kushner, The Cherry Atop our Coronavirus Sundae

Trump's son-in-law has failed upwards so often, as a real estate developer, as a newspaper publisher, as a maker of Middle East peace, so why not become "the point of contact for many agency officials who know that he can force action and issue decisions without going to the president"? He's perfect for the job of taking on the Coronavirus, since he has zero medical expertise nor any other experience to suggest he has a clue. He's the ultimate post turtle.

His track record so far?
He promoted a nationwide screening website and a widespread network of drive-through testing sites. Neither materialized. He claimed to have helped narrow the rift between his father-in-law and General Motors in a presidential blowup over ventilator production, one administration official said, but the White House is still struggling to procure enough ventilators and other medical equipment. (Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman, et al.)
On Thursday, Kushner got pushed to the podium at the daily White House briefing as some sort of new public face of Trump administration competency in the face of a global pandemic. Kushner promptly stepped on his weenie, suggesting that the Federal stockpile of medical protective equipment belongs to the Trumps and the Kushners, not to the rest of us. For the record, and according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the role of the Strategic National Stockpile "is to supplement state and local supplies during public health emergencies” (Allyson Chiu).

Then Kushner took his father-in-law's tact in blaming the nation's governors for the crisis: The health crisis, he said, has revealed which leaders are “better managers than others.” “Some governors you speak to, or senators, and they don’t know what’s in their state,” he said, later adding, “Don’t ask us for things when you don’t know what you have in your own state. Just because you’re scared, you ask your medical professionals and they don’t know. You have to take inventory of what you have in your own state and then you have to be able to show that there’s a real need.”

Yeah, I feel so much better with Kushner in charge. And bring back the Your Pillow guy! He seemed nice.

The Body Count -- Michael Atkinson

A Reoccurring Feature on Who's Jumping Getting Pushed Off Luxury Liner Trump

Yesterday Trump announced he was firing the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, Michael Atkinson, effective in 30 days.

Atkinson, a Trump appointee who took the position in 2018, informed Congress of the whistleblower complaint about alleged improprieties during a telephone conversation between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in July 2019 that eventually led to impeachment proceedings against Trump.

Since being acquitted of impeachment charges, Trump has also fired former Ambassador Gordon Sondland and reassigned Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, both of whom testified against the president during the hearings.

The only loyalty in our current kakistocracy is loyalty to Trump.

The Body Count -- Captain Brett Crozier

A Reoccurring Feature on Who's Jumping Getting Pushed Off Luxury Liner Trump

Captain Brett Crozier, the commanding officer aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt was removed from his post because he sent a letter soliciting help on behalf of his crew as scores of sailors on the aircraft carrier contracted the lethal coronavirus. Crozier's "sin": He sent the letter directly to senior officials, skipping several rungs on the chain of command.

The sacking of Crozier was very unpopular with the sailors and crew on the carrier. They gave him a hero's sendoff as he left the ship.

Friday, April 03, 2020

We Must Be Thankful for Roy Cooper

Seeing other Southern governors in action (rather, inaction), we can be thankful that NC Governor Roy Cooper has been proactive in shutting down social interaction to prevent the spread of COVID-19. I can only imagine what shape we'd be in if Pat McCrory had won reelection, that pathetically weak toe-stepper, or God help us! if Dan Forest were sitting in that chair.

The example of governors south of us has been hair-raising. This intercepted Facebook post from a Georgia reporter will bring you up to date on why the South gets stereotyped as dumber than a 2-dollar dog:
The governor of Georgia [Brian Kemp] said he did not know asymptomatic people could carry and transmit the virus unawares until yesterday [April Fool's Day]. One public health official said simply “what rock has he been under?” It would be nice to say that Kemp is governor of Georgia by virtue of his cornering the bless-his-heart vote, as in “Bless his heart, he’s so stupid that, if we don’t elect him governor, he never could get a real job.” But it’s worse than that. But whatever it is, there is a pandemic of it among Southern governors. DeSantis in Florida said pretty much the same thing yesterday after earlier virtually ordering churches and synagogues to keep having services as usual. Kay Ivey in Alabama, explaining why she’s so stupid, said something so much stupider to illuminate us on why she wouldn’t get real that I don’t even know what it means: “Y'all, we are not Louisiana, we are not New York State, we are not California. Right now is not the time to order people to shelter in place.” And they’re all leading their people to a hell of a time by letting them continue to debate such issues of whether this panic is going to adversely affect whether Nick Sabin should have Crimson Tide spring football practice.
Kemp’s motivation for dillydallying was to get back in Low T’s good graces ["Low T" is his nickname for Trump] after not appointing Trump’s Duke of Buttkissing Doug Collins to an open US Senate seat. [Kemp instead appointed Kelly Loeffler to the seat, who recently got implicated for selling off millions in stocks because she had inside info on how bad the pandemic was going to get.] It worked to some extent as Low T twisted himself in knots today trying not to answer a question about how badly our dipwad governor put our state in the weeds. As one put it, an “insane aversion” to reality.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

100,000 or 220,000? The Deal That Trump Has Dealt Us

Yesterday, March 31, 2020, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told radio host Hugh Hewitt that the impeachment of President Trump distracted the administration’s attention away from the coronavirus crisis. Plain English version: Trump screwed up because the Democrats were mean to him.

Let's see: The US Senate, led by McConnell, acquitted Trump on February 5. The first US coronavirus death was reported on February 29. Between the 5th and the 29th, what was Trump doing?
Feb. 10 -- He held a campaign rally (Manchester)
Feb. 15 -- He golfed (Mar-a-Lago)
Feb. 19 -- He held a campaign rally (Phoenix)
Feb. 21 -- He held a campaign rally (Las Vegas)
Feb. 28 -- He held a campaign rally (North Charleston)

During the last rally on Feb. 28 (according to Snopes), Trump likened the Democrats' criticism of his administration's coronavirus response to their efforts to impeach him, saying "this is their new hoax." During the speech he also downplayed the severity of the outbreak, comparing it to the common flu. This now discarded Trump company line is still boilerplate for many on the right, including a handful of Trumpist Republican governors who refuse to take steps to protect their citizens. DeSantis in Florida. Tate Reeves in Mississippi. Et cetera.

The CDC issued its first warning about the virus on January 8th. In January alone -- while he might conceivably have been "distracted" by impeachment -- Trump held four rallies -- on Jan. 9 (Toledo), Jan. 14 (Milwaukee), Jan. 28 (Wildwood, NJ), and Jan. 30 (Des Moines).

Yeah, he was distracted all right

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Sen. Richard Burr Under Investigation for Insider Trading

A law called the Stock Act prohibits members of Congress, their staffers, and other federal officials from trading on insider information obtained from their government work. "No one has been charged under the Stock Act since its passage in 2012, and some legal experts consider it a difficult statute under which to file criminal charges" (Devlin Barrett).

According to the WashPost, Senator Richard Burr is under investigation by the Justice Department for possible violation of the Stock Act. As chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Burr received frequent briefings on the threat of the Coronavirus. In mid-February, Burr sold 33 stocks including shares in some industries that were later hit hardest by the pandemic’s rapid spread throughout the United States, including hotels, restaurants, shipping, drug manufacturing, and health care.

Melanie Sloan, a senior adviser to the watchdog group American Oversight, said that Burr “cannot be questioned about what he learned regarding the coming pandemic in his role as chair of the Intelligence Committee, making prosecution improbable.” She said the Senate Ethics Committee, however, has jurisdiction over the issue and if it finds Burr traded on inside information, could recommend his expulsion.

That ain't gonna happen. And it's highly unlikely that the Justice Department under William Barr will find anything to indict. However, it's not a good look for Republicans in power. Even the loud-mouthed partisan Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has demanded that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell strip Burr of his committee chairmanship. “Republicans need to do a better job cleaning our own house,” Gaetz wrote.

Monday, March 30, 2020

"I'm Doing a Great Job and 100,000 of You Are Going To Die"

Flattery is everything to Twitterman. Flattery and TV ratings, which are really the same thing.

In yesterday's brag session, Trump said the viewership for his daily virus briefings "are like ‘Monday Night Football’ ratings.” They've taken the place of his MAGA rallies and have the same purpose, puffing up his lordship while insulting his perceived enemies. And of course bashing the press. “I read that CNN doesn’t want to cover them [the daily briefings], except that they can’t help it because their ratings are so high,” Trump said.

He continues to lie, even when the lie is obvious and there's indisputable proof that he's lying. PBS NewsHour reporter Yamiche Alcindor stood to ask a couple of questions, but couldn't get the first sentence out before Trump interrupted her:
“Mr. President, I have two questions,” she said. “The first is you’ve said repeatedly that you think that some of the equipment that governors are requesting they don’t actually need. You said New York might not need 30,000 …”

“I didn’t say that,” Trump interrupted.
“You said it on Sean Hannity’s Fox News,” Alcindor responded, accurately.
“Come on, come on. Why don’t you people — why don’t you act in a little more positive? It’s always ‘get ya, get ya, get ya.’ And you know what? That’s why nobody trusts the media anymore.”
You people.

Maybe these daily briefings are improving Trump's poll ratings for reelection. That's what some people are saying. And also suggesting that we shouldn't be attacking Trump for his ineptitude and stone-cold stupidity. (Oops. Did it again.) I dunno. We have the worst possible president at the worst possible time, and I'm too old and set in my ways to ignore that fact.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Ignorance Ain't Bliss

"...we have no idea how many people are infected with the coronavirus or how fast the virus is spreading.”
--Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiology expert at Harvard University

“Anybody that wants a test can get a test,” Trump claimed on March 6, six days before Dr. Anthony Fauci acknowledged to Congress that the government was behind on testing.

Trump has also said that he has “a feeling” about an anti-malaria drug that could treat the coronavirus, even though Fauci and other health experts say it hasn’t been proven. “What the hell do you have to lose?” Trump said. Just what we want to hear from our national leader.

But to answer the question -- "What do we have to lose?" -- in Arizona, a man died after taking fish-tank cleaner that included an active ingredient that Trump was touting as a possible antidote to coronavirus. The man's wife, who was in the ICU after ingesting it, told NBC News they heard the ingredient being talked about on TV. Ignorance can kill.

So can foot-dragging and denial. Now, as health-care workers use bandannas and sports goggles to protect themselves, and the United States has the most confirmed cases of anywhere in the world, Trump questions whether governors actually need what they say their state’s health-care workers need.

“I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators,” he told Fox News Sean Hannity, another noted scientific and medical expert, on Thursday night. “You know, you go into major hospitals sometimes they’ll have two ventilators, and now all of a sudden they’re saying, ‘Can we order 30,000 ventilators?' ”

A dunce is pooping in the White House.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Surprised Fauci Has Lasted This Long

Testing for the virus is still woefully inadequate, personal protection gear for medical workers is still alarmingly scarce, and the Trump true-believers are determined to see the only true scientist on the stage with Trump at the daily brag-sessions, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is discredited as a "deep-state" Hillary Clinton stooge.

Twitterman appears all too ready to separate himself from science because, after all, "I have a feeling," and those prepared to bow down to that man's feelings, may they somehow keep safe, even though and after all, the whole thing is a Democratic hoax, ain't it?

Trump insisted to Hannity on Fox yesterday that there was “no way” he would cancel the Republican National Convention, which is scheduled for August in Charlotte. 

Y'all go do that. And have yourselves a big old time. The rest of us will keep at least six feet away.