Why Isn’t Our Response Working?

The coronavirus continues to spread, and we still have a dithering response from the federal government, starting at the top with President Donald J. Trump, a man most unfit for this crisis.

Here’s why we know the government response isn’t working (courtesy of columnist David Leonhardt at The New York Times (you know, the fake media?):

1) There is still no sign of the curve flattening. Daily deaths in the United States have exceeded 1,000, and total deaths are now about 6,000. The number of new confirmed cases per day has exceeded 30,000, also a new high.

2) The caseload is growing more rapidly here than in Europe. In the chart above, I’ve compared the pace of growth in both the United States and a section of western Europe with a nearly identical combined population. (The European region includes 16 adjacent countries, all on the Continent; the full list is below.) The outbreak began earlier in Europe, so it still has a higher caseload. But the United States is on pace to overtake it.

3) The shortage of medical supplies continues. Doctors, nurses and other health care workers are having to take terrible risks, as a result. “Everyone is scared. Patients are scared. Staff is scared,” Erika Sawyer, a nurse-midwife, told The Times Magazine. “All masks are being rationed, and we don’t know how many we have.”

4) There is still a testing shortage. Without tests, it’s impossible to know who has the virus and who needs to be quarantined. But the United States has still conducted only about 3,300 total tests per million people, compared with 8,000 tests per million people in South Korea, according to a new Center for American Progress report.

5) Nationwide, the policy response remains inconsistent. There are still 12 states without stay-at-home orders, against expert advice. Florida, which is finally putting in place such an order today, has made an exception for religious services — a provision certain to spread the virus further. “It’s unacceptable,” Ezekiel Emanuel, a doctor, University of Pennsylvania administrator and co-author of the new report, told me. “I’m feeling deprived not being able to go to synagogue. It really bothers me. But it’s really important.”

Sad. And so very, very dangerous. May you all be safe and healthy in spite of failing efforts on the part of some among us.

No Great Leader for Tough Times Here

Dangerous times demand great leaders step up.

How very unfortunate for this nation that Donald Trump is not such a man. When a nation is fearful, looking for courage, direction and above all honesty, Donald Trump concerns himself with his television ratings, with accusations that health care workers are stealing vital equipment, and complaints that the media doesn’t give him credit for all the good he does.

What an incompetent, whiny disgrace of a president he is.

Surely even his most ardent supporters can see through his pretenses. His evasions, flip-flops and lies have mushroomed in the weeks since the U.S. confronted the coronavirus. First, as the pandemic began its rseacjd into this country, Trump assured us everything was under control. As the virus surged out of control, he refused to issue guidelines for the public and washed his hands (figuratively at least) of responsibility for inadequate preparations. He tweeted insane instructions which he quickly changed. His refused to accept the warnings of scientists and health care authorities because “I know best.”

The catastrophic results are pouting in, and they reveal that to his core Donald Trump lacks leadership, lacks knowledge, lacks humanity and cares only about himself and his re-election. Why, for instance, did he say he wanted federal guidelines relaxed and business back to normal by Easter then have to recant after advisors told him he would thereby be responsible for thousands of deaths which could doom his reelection.

Donald Trump acted out of self-interest, as always, and accepted that advice. But it seems clear, over and over, that his primary concern is for the economy, not people. If the economy tanks, he knows he will not be elected again.

And, as further evidence of that, consider this: his administration is rolling back Obama-era regulations requiring auto manufacturers to increase mileage in new cars by eliminating pollution requirements. More pollution is acceptable because it MAY lead to lower costs for new cars and will free automakers of costly rules. Yet his administration also admits that their own calculations show more people will die from pollution with regulations trimmed.

Is there any other way to read that than as Trump’s concern for manufacturers’ trumping concern for people?

At moments like this, history calls for great leaders. Lincoln. FDR. Names that will never be spoken in the same breath as the insignificant and inept Donald Trump.

Spare Us Donald Trump

Please, Dear Lord, spare us Donald Trump.

This man wants to “have the county opened up and just raring to go, by Easter.” This against the every advice of every single health authority in this country. Not just some authorities. All of them. They all say the same thing: lifting guidelines on business shutdowns and social distancing are wrong.

Trump compares the number of people dying in the virus to the number of people who die in car accidents, pointing out that far more people die in cars, yet no one suggests ceasing the manufacture of vehicles. Is that the thinking of a diseased mind or just a stupid one?

Trump’s words are working against the words from governors and mayors and health officials who say he is making their life-saving jobs more difficult.

Let’s face it: Trump just wants the economy working because that’s his only hope for re-election. If the economy stays tanked, he’s tanked, too. So people become a sacrificial commodity – there’s no evidence he cares about people dying, not if he can get the economy re-ignited quickly by any means. That’s criminal thinking not to mention considering it in ethical or moral terms.

And then there’s the facts that he doesn’t understand. Really, he doesn’t understand. He lacks the intelligence to comprehend that when he says that during the 1918 flu epidemic people had a 50-50 chance of dying it’s wrong. The fatality rate for people in that epidemic was around 2 to 2.5 per cent. Not 50-50 possibilities.

He is disgracing the office and the common sense of the American people.

I shocked myself yesterday. I’ve always paid close attention when the President of the United States came on television in the midst of a national crisis. But when Donald Trump’s latest coronavirus briefing came on, I turned my television off and went back to riding the newspapers.

It took a few minutes for me to realize what I had done. Shut off the President. And the more I continued to think about it, in spite of my surprise, I knew I did the right thing. Donald Trump is an incompetent person who is an habitual liar and who under any circumstances cannot be believed or trusted. The President of the United States.

He continues to make statements about the virus that are untrue. He continues to exaggerate. He continues to use his briefings on the nation’s health crisis for his own political propaganda. He evinces no serious and believable concerns for the health of most Americans.

At a time when America looks to Washington for national leadership, there is none. At least none that comes from the White House. We are left to hear a president speak uninformed gibberish and lie about most everything else. We are left to wait for health officials to interpret and correct what he has said.

How shameful and disgraceful. And how alarming for our beloved nation.

I’m not going to begin cataloging his lies nor to try and explain whatever motives he might have. First, because there are too many lies (check The NY Times for full coverage), and second, because his motives seem clear enough: the selfish, uncaring preservation of his self-perceived image as a smart man.

Even Fox News draws the line there.

Yet Another Taxpayer Bailout?

Just a side note to the issues accompanying the spread of COVID-19. Have you noticed how quickly the nation’s airlines are seeking federal aid, billions of dollars, so they can stay in business? These are the same airlines who have ballooned their fees in order to collect ever-more money from passengers?

These are the airlines who have in recent years gouged their passengers to an extraordinary extent in all sorts of ways, even charging outrageous fees should anyone want to try to change their flights? Some airlines even make you pay for those peanuts (looking at you, Spirit).

They’ve tightened seating, pushing in additional seats and lowering leg and back room, to make flying more uncomfortable and unhealthy. Sure, you can skip all of that but you’ll have to pay a lot more.

Thee are companies whose concerns for their passengers – and let’s exempt high-paying, first class passengers, of course – have been minimal as long as their bottom lines have stayed up[. And now that they’re falling, the airlines want help from the taxpayers. Does that make you happy?

Yes, the airlines are a vital part of our nation’s transportation system and owe cannot do without them. But can we take a little more serious look at their business models before bailing them out – again? Can we offer some quid pro quo’s – we’ll help you and in turn when things get better you’ll eliminate some of out worst mistreatments of passengers?

And, by the way, while making that plea please be assured it won’t happen. We have an administration and a Republican-led Senate who could care less about anything other than the wealthy and wealthy corporations. The airlines will get their help, as they must. And the rest of us taxpayers will continue to get screwed – as it seems we must.

Please do try to remember that when we get to November.

Get Out, Donald

Donald Trump is the worst president in American history. He just may be turning into the most dangerous president in our past. He is putting lives at risk through a continuing series of misinformed, foolish, narcissistic statements which confirm in the starkest possible ways his inability and rank incompetence to serve as a leader.

He has no idea what to do with the coronavirus spread. His only pubic comments reflect ignorance and stupidity. People are dying, the virus is spreading and he has no conception or plan or common sense notion of what to do about it. He has bullied scientists and doctors who disagree with him, and flat-out lied about what is happening in his country.

Remember when he talked about his great the stock market was thanks to him? It’s a topic Trump now turns his back on.

If he had any good sense or genuine concern for this nation he would resign.

May God help him reach that decision .

Time to own up, Donald

Hey Donald, we haven’t heard from you lately.

Maybe because …. You know that stock market you keep bragging about, the one that goes up and up thanks only to your wise, reasoned policies? If you want to claim that credit, then guess what buddy? The blame for this market collapse is yours alone. You lying, incompetent, knowledge-challenged bully, this one’s on you. Own it.

Dealing with the Virus

So Donald Trump named Vice President Mike Pence as the overseer for the nation’s battle against the spread of coronavirus.

Are you feeling better now? Didn’t think so – neither am I.

After all, this is a fellow who has a lot of questions about whether climate change is a real thing that needs our attention. So much for science. Sounds like the perfect perfect person to deal with coronavirus, right? Especially given his medical education (none) and experience (almost none).

And, if you happen to contract the coronavirus and are also a partner in a gay marriage, good luck in getting Pence to be very concerned about your condition.

But then, we have a president who believes the virus will just disappear when it turns warm. Two things about that: one, no one, not even real scientists know that for sure, and two, Trump hasn’t been doing a lot to attack the spread between now and then.

Looking back over Trump’s record, he has rather consistently opposed increased funding for international health organizations, which are the front lines, in effect, and has sought to trim allocations for our own health agencies. That’s not exactly what you’d want to hear in the face of a growing threat.

And then, there’s that threat. Trump continually downplays it (it’ll be gone in the spring) while all the health authorities around him warn of just the opposite. Who would you want to believe: accredited and knowledgeable and experienced health officials or a president who has lied nearly 15,000 times in his miserable administration? Yeah, let’s make America great again by denying Trump a second term.

So should we be worried? Yes, but not panicky, unless you’re thinking about a second term for Trump. That’s a malaise that would really cause damage. Until then, just keep washing your hands a lot, drink liquids, stay home when you’re sick, and for God’s sake do everything possible to avoid Mike Pence.

Rush to Bad Judgment

So Rush Limbaugh gets a Presidential Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest civilian award. And it comes from Donald Trump, making this the least meaningful and most shameful presentation yet.

This is — or has been — a truly significant honor. The recipients are people of accomplishment. A very, very short list includes Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II, John Glenn, Gen. Omar Bradley, Stephen Hawking, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosalynn Carter…. and dozens more, all meritorious and deserving and decent people, at the least.

Rush Limbaugh has demeaned women of all races, smeared Asian people, praised white supremacists, excused the seriousness of rape, and announced that “If any race of people should not have guilt about slavery, it’s Caucasians.”

Rush Limbaugh is a morally crippled blowhard whose fealty to the cheapest and most offensive thoughts and language ranks him as the very least deserving of a presidential medal. The fact that the award came from the mentally and morally corrupt Donald Trump only confirms the shabbiness of the entire arrangement.

We may now expect one of the next Trump recipients to be Rudy Giuliani. Or perhaps William Barr. After all, sycophants love sycophants.

Good-Bye Mookie

In the last post I wrote how 2020, even just a few days into the year, sucked. A month later and it sucks even worse.

Thank you Boston Red Sox for that. First the Patriots, then the Sox. What’s next? Well, there is the thought of another term for our morally blighted and administratively corrupt president. But let’s go there for the moment.

No, the Red Sox will do right now. They traded Mookie Betts to the LA Dodgers. Yep, they traded away the second best player in all of Major League Baseball. They traded away potentially the best player the Sox have ever had since Ted Williams. With one swift move they became the cheap Sox who couldn’t care less about their fans and the reputation of the team. With that one move they assured fans they won’t be attempting to get to the playoffs this season. That they post no threat to the Yankees. Or to much of anyone else in MLB who isn’t trying to tank in 2020.

So as not to be totally bleak about this trade, let’s recognize that there is some good news buried in this. Oops, I should mention that the good news is only for the ownership of the Red Sox, who can now manage to squirm under baseball’s luxury tax. And thank goodness for that; they can now save millions of dollars while watching Mookie lead the Dodgers to the World Series.

And one more piece of good news: the Sox won’t have to worry about possibly facing Mookie and the Dodgers in the WS. Not to worry – they’ll be nowhere near the series in 2020.

And yes, there’s another pot at the end of this god-awful rainbow: after the season is over they can always join in the bidding for Mookie and perhaps win him back to the team.

OK, I think I’ve run out of good news. All I can reasonably see is a season filled with Alex Verdugo in right field, a short-staffed pitching crew and the pleasures of watching two young stars, Bogaerts and Devers.

Maybe I’m wrong. I sure wish I was. I sure wish we still had Mookie.