by Alex Henderson | March 21, 2020 - 8:03am | permalink
by P.M. Carpenter | March 21, 2020 - 6:41am | permalink
See, in the U.S., low-income people are expected to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps.” One hears and reads this self-satisfied idiom all the time. It is especially popular in conservative media circles, where it is peddled by right-wing “thinkers” on the right-wing dole who wouldn’t know a bootstrap from a hard day’s work if it slapped them.
Republicans and the right-wing media cannot be allowed to live down the bad, dangerous, horribly wrong information they promoted on coronavirus for weeks.
President Donald Trump and many of his sycophants — including those at Fox News — have dramatically changed their tone when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic. After weeks of claiming that the mainstream media were exaggerating the dangers of coronavirus, Trump has adopted a somber tone and now acknowledges how deadly it is. But the fact remains that for far too long, many Trumpistas and Republicans claimed that coronavirus wasn’t nearly as dangerous as liberals, progressives, Democrats, centrists, Never Trump conservatives and the mainstream media were making it out to be. And those Trumpistas and Republicans — by encouraging complacency in the face of a deadly pandemic.— now have blood on their hands.
Previously, Trump claimed that coronavirus warnings from the mainstream media and Democrats were a “hoax.” But unsettling figures from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland say otherwise. As of early Friday morning, March 20, the COVID-19 strain of coronavirus has killed 10,038 people worldwide — including 3405 in Italy alone. Italy, in fact, has now passed Mainland China in the COVID-19 death count. Other countries being ravaged by coronavirus range from Iran (with 1284 deaths) to Spain (833 deaths). But those numbers are likely to increase substantially in the weeks ahead.
President Trump and his sycophants have repeatedly described the mainstream press as “the enemy of the people.” But back in January and February, the media outlets that Trump hates — from CNN and MSNBC to the New York Times and the Washington Post — did an excellent job warning Americans that a colossal storm was brewing all over the world. They were right, but Trump and his sycophants blindly ignored the evidence that was staring them in the face.
As we watch states around the country start to shut down, one by one, as if the lights were all going out across the country, there is plenty of discussion about President Trump's bungled response and his compulsion to deliver happy talk and disinformation to the American people. Now that he is unable to hold his beloved rallies and has taken over the daily coronavirus briefing, the opportunities for the latter are unfortunately multiplying. His performances before the cameras every day are getting more and more surreal.
On Thursday, Trump came before the country touting a supposed wonder drug that he promised looked like a major breakthrough. (In fact, it's a standard antimalarial medication.) As usual, the experts had to walk that back later, saying that it's just one of many drugs being considered as a possible treatment but they won't know for months. Reports coming from within the administration confirm that the bungling continues unabated. Between Jared' Kushner's "shadow task force" and turf wars among the various players, it seems nobody really knows who's running the show. It certainly isn't Trump, who is clearly spending most of his time watching Fox News and the stock market ticker.
One of the major concerns about COVID-19 in northern Italy after concern for the physically infirm and elderly is the impact treating patients will have on the healthcare system. The healthcare system in many northern Italian regions is already at a breaking point as within the first twenty days of the outbreak over 10,000 infections were reported with a current total of 41,035 coronavirus cases [19 March, Coronavirus Cases]. An uptick of cases is expected despite the curbs which were enacted on 23 February in the north of the country followed by a harsher regime around the country decreed last week. Most Italians are taking the self-isolation seriously but many are not. Where the rules of self-isolation are respected, the ability to take a walk or go jogging is not clearly laid out by the current ordinance, as one paper announces that walking outside is only permitted for the purpose of food shopping or work while another states that anyone can take a walk if they observe the rules of social distancing. Things are unclear in Italy, and the default is that most people are simply staying inside. Quaint villages now look like ghost towns.
Between the lack of testing measures and the lax observation of the quarantine, Italians are still taking night trains. Hence, there is an opportunity for spreading the infection around the country. There are lessons Italy and other nations need to learn from Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan which have all had remarkable success thus far in combatting the coronavirus after having learned, from the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) epidemic in 2003, how to tackle infectious viral disease. Some of what was learned comes down to early detection of outbreaks, the effective communication to the public in the event of an outbreak, clear strategies for containment, and multinational collaboration in implementing such strategies.
Where Italy is catching up on these public health mandates, the government clearly failed on all four counts when there was not only early detection and numbers which clearly showed the rising cases, but the strategies for containment were horrifically implemented. Schools were shut down and university classes cancelled yet every football field was awash in boys and young men playing contact sports, bi-weekly street markets were in full operation, and public transport was as packed as ever. Nobody gave a thought to the fact that when the first two-week red zone lockdowns occurred, not only would millions of Italians head to other parts of the country to spread the infection, but that there were no checks in place to prevent this from happening. Hence last week the national government put the entire country on the social distancing model. Still much of the country is unclear about the strategies for containment and the refusal of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to implement social distancing has angered many.
by P.M. Carpenter | March 21, 2020 - 6:41am | permalink
Be proud, America. Here's your cretinous buffoon of a Baghdad Bob president fielding two tough but necessary questions at today's supremely self-congratulatory photo-op, where the scientists present must clean up after all the commander in chief's ignorant crap and correct his propagandistic lies:
PETER ALEXANDER (NBC News): "Is it possible that your impulse to put a positive spin on things may be giving Americans a false sense of hope and misrepresenting preparedness right now?"
BAGHDAD DON: "No I don’t think so. Such a lovely question…."
ALEXANDER: "What do you say to Americans who are scared, though? Nearly 200 dead, 14,000 who are sick, millions, as you witnessed, who are scared right now. What do you say to Americans who are watching you right now who are scared?"
B.D.: "I say that you’re a terrible reporter. I think that’s a very nasty question. And I think it’s a very bad signal that you’re putting out to the American people. You’re doing sensationalism…. You ought to be ashamed of yourself."
Within two weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, American auto factories were already converting to make tanks instead of cars.
The government needs to treat the Covid-19 pandemic like a war—except the enemy is an invisible virus rather than a foreign power. No, President Trump, the enemy is not China.
On Wednesday, Trump invoked the Defense Production Act, a Korean War-era law, that empowers the federal government to direct private companies to meet national security needs. But for inexplicable reasons, Trump said he has no immediate plans to use it. Instead, he told states and municipalities to find them on their own, and tweeted:
“I only signed the Defense Production Act to combat the Chinese [sic] virus should we need to invoke in in a worst case scenario in the future. Hopefully there will be no need…”
On Tuesday, Trump told governors on a conference that state and local governments should find their own equipment. “Respirators, ventilators, of the equipment - try getting it yourselves.” On Thursday, he doubled down, saying, the Federal Government "is not a shipping clerk," and that Governors should fend for themselves.
Meanwhile, health care workers are facing this crisis heroically, even if our president won't. In New York, Boston and Seattle, nurses and doctors have set up their own makeshift assembly lines to create protective kits with donated sports goggles, bandannas and parts purchased at Home Depot.
As Americans do everything they can to stay safe and limit their exposure to COVID-19, we are seeing more clearly the great divides in our society.
While the virus doesn’t discriminate, we are seeing that its impacts certainly do. In a pandemic, there’s a huge difference between having health care and not having it, between getting paid sick time off work and not, and having access to clean water and housing and lacking it.
Unfortunately, these needs aren’t being met for millions of people. And that failure is putting all of us at risk.
Don't Mock Trump for Declaring Himself a 'War President'
It is easy to mock Trump for declaring himself a "wartime president". But he is an idiot savant of politics. The day Trump announced that he was running for president marked the beginning of a golden age of comedy. Since then, he has made a fortune for countless US comedians and talk-show hosts. His hair alone is an icon of ridiculousness. But he often seems to have the last laugh.
Trump launched his presidential campaign by riding down a golden escalator, surrounded by out-of-work TV extras paid to cheer him. That alone should have demolished his candidacy, no matter what he said. But it worked for him... Then he inaugurated his presidency with lies about the size of the crowd. Easily disproved by photographs, news reports and official counts. He did not flinch, back down or apologise. It worked for him.
So no one should rush to mock Trump's self-declaration as a wartime president. It may also work for him.
Janice's addendum: Yeah, there are enough bloody idiots in this country who could make it work for him! It shouldn't be, but it is: more evidence the mean U.S. IQ is below 70"
Every day, there are more revelations of the Trump administration’s malfeasance in dealing with COVID-19. Now comes news that the annual Worldwide Threat Assessment is being held from Congress and the public.
In its worldwide threats assessments in 2017 and 2018, NBC News recently reported, “intelligence analysts … mentioned a close cousin of the current COVID-19 strain of coronavirus by name, saying it had ‘pandemic potential’ if it were ‘to acquire efficient human-to-human transmissibility.’” Now, Time magazine is reporting that this year’s “annual intelligence report that has been postponed without explanation by President Donald Trump’s administration warns that the U.S. remains unprepared for a global pandemic.”
According to Time’s John Walcott, the Worldwide Threat Assessment was scheduled to be delivered by the office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to the House Intelligence Committee in mid-February. That delivery and subsequent hearings were postponed by the Trump administration.
Walcott reported that “The final draft of the report remains classified but the two officials who have read it say it contains warnings similar to those in the last installment, which was published on January 29, 2019.
I checked out the January report. On page 21, in a section called “Global Health,” the report states: “We assess that the United States and the world will remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or large- scale outbreak of a contagious disease that could lead to massive rates of death and disability, severely affect the world economy, strain international resources, and increase calls on the United States for support. Although the international community has made tenuous improvements to global health security, these gains may be inadequate to address the challenge of what we anticipate will be more frequent outbreaks of infectious diseases because of rapid unplanned urbanization, prolonged humanitarian crises, human incursion into previously unsettled land, expansion of international travel and trade, and regional climate change.”
The coronavirus has now gone global, and economies are in freefall. The pandemic is clearly the precipitating cause of today’s crisis, but there’s an underlying disease that has been with us for a long time: neoliberal economics. Globalized travel and trade, multinational supply lines, offshoring and overly financialized economies that have prioritized banking interests, cartels and oligarchy above all else have made a large portion of our population highly vulnerable to the effects unleashed by this pandemic.
Policymakers have a tricky task ahead of them. The virus has created a supply shock, as businesses have shut down and workers have been told to stay at home. In response, demand is plunging as a result of the lost income and the corresponding collapse in sales. That’s highly deflationary (as the bond markets are now signaling). What is required is a robust fiscal response so that workers’ incomes are protected and have adequate financial resources to get health care.
Leaders of National Nurses United are calling on President Trump and other Republican officials to stop using racist and xenophobic language targeting China and Chinese people for the global novel coronavirus pandemic.
"It is alarming to hear our highest public officials calling this dangerous pandemic a 'Chinese' virus which is not only terribly misleading, it encourages acts of bigotry and threats of violence against people of Chinese descent as well as other Asian people," says NNU executive director Bonnie Castillo, RN, executive director.
Social media has been swamped with reports from people of Asian descent who have been taunted with racist abuse, and physical threats.