When it comes to Trump the media continues to fail badly

Ivanka Trump’s Chinese trademarks on coffins, takes Trump crime family grifting to a new level

“Tone” deaf — how Trump coverage keeps marring pandemic reporting

If President Barack Obama had overseen the deaths of 100,000 Americans during the Ebola outbreak in 2014, do you think many Beltway journalists would have given him high marks for his “tone”? Me neither. Yet that’s what unfolded this week in the wake of White House briefing where Trump warned of 100,000-plus coronavirus deaths in the U.S. — journalists marveled at how serious and “somber” he was. It’s like the Normalizing Olympics.

Or, to mix metaphors, it’s a Moby Dick-like pursuit of a mythical ‘presidential’ Trump. That pointless search began weeks before Trump was even inaugurated, as Beltway observers calmly predicted that the Oval Office would soon change him and he’d grow into a statesman. Instead, Trump has unraveled in public view for more than three years while the press clings to this fantasy that underneath the narcissist and liar and bully is a man who wants to lead.

Even if Trump unveiled a completely new approach to governance and forever stashed away his usual array of insults, threats, and lies, that’s no reason to give him credit. Especially not during a pandemic, when he wasted an entire month dithering about the coronavirus, famously announcing we’d soon have “zero” cases. (The government still hasn’t secured enough test kits and respirators for the mounting crisis.)

The media’s Trump failures are all about tiptoeing around the truth and not being honest with news consumers. For instance, the New York Times this week published a lengthy and worthy article about how Trump has regularly lashed out at women in public office during the current crisis, much more so than men. Yet nowhere in the piece were the words “misogyny” or “misogynist” mentioned, because the Times and most of the press refuse to use clarity when analyzing Trump’s deformed character. That’s why the Times newsroom is not allowed to call Trump a “liar” or a “racists,” even though he is both, as well as a textbook misogynist.

It’s that purposefully timid Trump reporting that mars much of the pandemic coverage. Responding to online critiques of the media’s performance this week, one Politico editor, Blake Hounshell, responded, “You know, enough of this. It has taken entire teams of journalists to tell this story in all its many facets, and the press is by and large doing it extraordinarily well as the media industry collapses around them.” He’s right, the press has largely done an “extraordinary” job covering this once-in-a-century emergency. But in terms of the Trump pandemic coverage, that has been almost uniformly lacking, and by far the weakest link of the virus reporting.

Just look at the media rush to shower Trump with hosannas after he supposedly changed his “tone” on the deadly pandemic. “The grim-faced president who appeared in the White House briefing room for more than two hours beside charts showing death projections of hellacious proportions was coming to grips with a reality he had long refused to accept,” the New York Times reported with urgency.

Over at CNN, White House correspondent Jim Acosta, following the pandemic briefings, announced Trump now “gets it,” stressing, “I have never seen the president like this.” Added NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell, “The tone and seriousness was different today.”

Oh, thank goodness. Trump had finally come to terms with the significance of a pandemic that will likely claim 20-plus million U.S. jobs and perhaps 100,000 American lives.

To the surprise of nobody, days after Trump’s “serious” briefing, he was back to his usual public antics while ostensibly addressing the national emergency — he bragged about his popularity on Facebook, mocked assembled journalists, tried to create a diversion by turning Wednesday’s pandemic briefing into a press conference about a new drug trafficking initiative launched by the Department of Defense, and accused Democrats of launching a “witch hunt” against him. Trump also returned to taunting Democrats on Twitter, specifically a U.S. senator from New York, the epicenter of the deadly outbreak.

All if this is completely predictable, and all of this is why the press should refrain from claiming a mad man like Trump has changed his ways or embraced a serious, somber “tone.”

Back in 2017, when Trump gave his first address to the nation from Congress (technically it was not a State of the Union since he had just been sworn in), cable news discussions of the address included more than 300 references to the optics of his speech — including mentions of a “pivot,”  “presidential,” “reset,” and  “tone,” according to Media Matters. (Even the White House was reportedly surprised at how fervently the press praised the speech.) Trump, of course, did nothing following the speech to “pivot” towards more “presidential” behavior.

More recently in March, CNN’s Dana Bash, after watching one of Trump’s erratic pandemic briefings, showered him with praise: “He is being the kind of leader that people need, at least in tone, today, and yesterday, in a tone that people need and want and yearn for in times of crisis and uncertainty.” Over subsequent days and weeks though, Trump proceeded to mislead the nation about a possible virus cure, lie about dismantling the White House’s pandemic team, accused hospital workers of stealing much-needed surgical masks and told governors on a conference call that he hadn’t heard complaints about a lack of coronavirus tests.

Trump’s never going to change. It’s the press’ job to accurately describe who is now, and who he’ll be for always.

Eric Boehlert – Press Run  https://pressrun.media/

YOUR ONLY DEFENSE AGAINST THE WALL OF BULLSHIT…..TURN HIM OFF!

 

Incompetence isn’t a crime, but willful ignorance is

Trump’s power of positive thinking, or magical thinking

 

2017: Trump administration officials are briefed on an intelligence document titled “Playbook for Early Response to High-Consequence Emerging Infectious Disease Threats and Biological Incidents.” That’s right. The administration literally had an actual playbook for what to do in the early stages of a pandemic. Among the playbook’s protocols:

Begin the early procurement of PPE materials for healthcare workers as soon as the threat is identified.

Concentrate on “early diagnostic capacity”—which is government-speak for Have a mountain of tests on-hand so that you can monitor the spread of the disease.

February 2018: The Washington Post writes “CDC to cut by 80 percent efforts to prevent global disease outbreak.” The meat of the story is “Countries where the CDC is planning to scale back include some of the world’s hot spots for emerging infectious disease, such as China, Pakistan, Haiti, Rwanda, and Congo.”

May 2018:

At an event marking the 100 year anniversary of the 1918 pandemic, Borio says “pandemic flu” is the “number 1 health security issue” and that the U.S. is not ready to respond.

One day later her boss, Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer is pushed out of the administration and the global health security team is disbanded.

Rep. Ami Bera warns that “Admiral Ziemer’s departure is deeply alarming, especially when the administration is actively working to cut funds that addressed past pandemics like Ebola.”

Beth Cameron, former senior director for global health security on the National Security Council adds: “It is unclear in his absence who at the White House would be in charge of a pandemic,” Cameron said, calling it “a situation that should be immediately rectified.”

Note: It was not.

January 2019: The director of National Intelligence issues the U.S. Intelligence Community’s assessment of threats to national security. Among its findings:

Page 17: “The increase in frequency and diversity of reported disease outbreaks—such as dengue and Zika—probably will continue through 2018, including the potential for a severe global health emergency that could lead to major economic and societal disruptions, strain governmental and international resources and increase calls on the United States for support. A novel strain of a virulent microbe that is easily transmissible between humans continues to be a major threat, with pathogens such as H5N1 and H7N9 influenza and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus having pandemic potential if they were to acquire efficient human-to-human transmissibility.”

Page 21: “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.”

2020: COVID-19 Arrives

January 3, 2020: The CDC is first alerted to a public health event in Wuhan, China (This fact was revealed publicly later by HHS Secretary Alex Azar.)

January 6, 2020: The CDC issues a travel notice for Wuhan due to the spreading coronavirus.

Note: The Trump campaign claims that this marks the beginning of the federal government disease control experts becoming aware of the virus. It was 10 weeks from this point until the week of March 16 when Trump began to change his tone on the threat.

January 8, 2020: The CDC issues an official health advisory about COVID-19.

January 10, 2020: Former Trump Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert warns that we shouldn’t “jerk around with ego politics” because “we face a global health threat…Coordinate!”

January 18, 2020: After two weeks of attempts, HHS Secretary Alex Azar finally gets the chance to speak to Trump about the virus. The president redirects the conversation to vaping, according to the Washington Post.

January 20, 2020: First U.S. case is reported in Washington state.

January 21, 2020: Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease at the CDC tells reporters, “We do expect additional cases in the United States.”

January 27, 2020: Top White House aides meet with Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to encourage greater focus on the threat from the virus. Joe Grogan, head of the White House Domestic Policy Council warns that “dealing with the virus was likely to dominate life in the United States for many months.”

January 28, 2020: Two former Trump administration officials—Gottlieb and Borio—publish an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal imploring the president to “Act Now to Prevent an American Epidemic.” They advocate a 4-point plan to address the coming crisis:

(1) Expand testing to identify and isolate cases.

Note: This did not happen for many weeks. The first time more than 2,000 tests were deployed in a single day was not until almost six weeks later, on March 11.

(2) Boost flu vaccination efforts to reduce the load on hospitals.

(3) Prepare hospital units for isolation with more gowns and masks.

Note: There was no dramatic ramp-up in the production of critical supplies undertaken. As a result, many hospitals quickly experienced shortages of critical PPE materials.

(4) Vaccine development.

January 29, 2020: The New York Times reports that “mask hoarders” may cause further shortages when the outbreak reaches America.

January 29, 2020: Republican Senator Tom Cotton reaches out to President Trump in private to encourage him to take the virus seriously.

January 30, 2020: Dr. James Hamblin publishes another warning about critical PPE materials in the Atlantic, titled “We Don’t Have Enough Masks.” At the time, it was clear that mask shortages would be a serious problem. Other countries coping with COVID-19 were already running short on masks and ordering them from America and, in addition, almost the entire CDC stockpile had been consumed during the 2009 flu season.

January 31, 2020: Trump puts into action a temporary travel ban on China. This decision has been the centerpiece of his claim to have responded to the coronavirus. But even here, the truth is somewhat different.

Trump’s Chinese travel ban only banned “foreign nationals who had been in China in the last 14 days.” This wording did not—at all—stop people from arriving in America from China. In fact, for much of the crisis, flights from China landed in America almost daily filled with people who had been in China, but did not fit the category as Trump’s “travel ban” defined it.

January 31, 2020: On the same day Trump was enacting his fake travel ban, Foreign Policy reports that face masks and latex gloves are sold out on Amazon and at leading stores in New York City and suggests the surge in masks being sold to other countries needs “refereeing” in the face of the coming crisis.

February 4, 2020: Gottlieb and Borio take to the WSJ again, this time to warn the president that “a pandemic seems inevitable” and call on the administration to dramatically expand testing, expand the number of labs for reviewing tests, and change the rules to allow for tests of people even if they don’t have a clear known risk factor.

Note: Some of these recommendations were eventually implemented—25 days later.

February 4 or 5, 2020: Robert Kadlec, the assistant secretary for preparedness and response, and other intelligence officials brief the Senate Intelligence Committee that the virus poses a “serious” threat and that “Americans would need to take actions that could disrupt their daily lives.”

February 5, 2020: HHS Secretary Alex Azar requests $2 billion to “buy respirator masks and other supplies for a depleted federal stockpile of emergency medical equipment.” He is rebuffed by Trump and the White House OMB who eventually send Congress a $500 million request weeks later.

February 5, 2020: Senator Chris Murphy tweets: Chris Murphy ✔@ChrisMurphyCT Just left the Administration briefing on Coronavirus. Bottom line: they aren’t taking this seriously enough.
Notably, no request for ANY emergency funding, which is a big mistake. Local health systems need supplies, training, screening staff etc. And they need it now.

February 12, 2020: Gottlieb (remember, he’s the former head of Trump’s FDA) testifies before Congress that actions must be taken to address medical supply chain issues and the possibility of shortages.

February 20, 2020: Borio and Gottlieb write in the Wall Street Journal that tests must be ramped up immediately “while we can intervene to stop the spread.”

It’s important to understand that the Trump campaign brags about the fact that the administration lifted CDC restrictions on tests. This is a factually true statement. But it elides that fact that they did so on March 3—two critical weeks after the third Borio/Gottlieb op-ed on the topic, during which time the window for intervention had shrunk to a pinhole.

February 23, 2020: Harvard School of Public Health professor issues warning on lack of test capability: “As of today, the US remains extremely limited in#COVID19 testing. Only 3 of ~100 public health labs have CDC test kits working and CDC is not sharing what went wrong with the kits. How to know if COVID19 is spreading here if we are not looking for it.

February 24, 2020: The Trump administration sends a letter to Congress requesting a small dollar amount—between $1.8 billion and $2.5 billion—to help combat the spread of the coronavirus. This is, of course, a pittance compared to the massive recovery package still being debated at the time of this writing. At the time the administration was widely criticized by members of Congress for not going big enough to deal with the problem.

February 25, 2020: Messonier says she expects “community spread” of the virus in the United States and that “disruption to everyday life might be severe.” Trump is reportedly furious and Messonier’s warnings are curtailed in the ensuing weeks.

February 26, 2020: Congress, recognizing the coming threat, offers to give the administration $6 billion more than Trump asked for in order to prepare for the virus. Trump mocks Congress in a White House briefing, saying “If Congress wants to give us the money so easy—it wasn’t very easy for the wall, but we got that one done. If they want to give us the money, we’ll take the money.”

Note: The wall did not get “done.” Trump never got sufficient funding for completion of his promised border wall and in any case, as of early February 2020, only 110 miles of new fencing had been constructed.

February 27, 2020: In a leaked audio recording Sen. Richard Burr, chairman of the Intelligence Committee and author of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) and the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act (reauthorization of PAHPA), was telling people that COVID-19 “is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic.”

March 3, 2020: Vice President Pence is asked about legislation encouraging companies to produce more masks. He says the Trump administration is “looking at it.”

Note: Recall that the concern about masks was raised publicly by high-profile former Trump appointees, on January 28.

March 4, 2020: HHS says they only have 1 percent of respirator masks needed if the virus became a “full-blown pandemic.”

March 7, 2020: Fox News host Tucker Carlson, flies to Mar-a-Lago to implore Trump to take the virus seriously in private rather than embarrass him on TV. Even after the private meeting, Trump continued to downplay the crisis, forcing Carlson to obliquely criticize him publicly on his show two nights later.

Note: Carlson, after hearing from an expert with “access to intelligence” who was concerned about the virus began covering the issue on his show February 3rd, over a month prior to the private meeting. This is a good glimpse into how a competent populist might’ve acted.

March 9, 2020: Tom Bossert, Trump’s former Homeland Security adviser, publishes an op-ed saying it is “now or never” to act. He advocates for social distancing and school closures to slow the spread of the contagion.
Trump says that developments are “good for the consumer” and compares COVID-19 favorably to the common flu.

March 16, 2020: Trump announces his support for a 15-day period of social distancing in order to slow the spread of coronavirus.

March 17, 2020: Facing continued shortages of the PPE equipment needed to prevent healthcare providers from succumbing to the virus, Oregon Senators Jeff Merkeley and Ron Wyden call on Trump to use the Defense Production Act to expand supply of medical equipment.

March 18, 2020: Trump signs the executive order to activate the Defense Production Act, but declines to use it. At the White House briefing he is asked about Senator Chuck Schumer’s call to urgently produce medical supplies and ventilators.

Trump responds: “Well we’re going to know whether or not it’s urgent.”

Note: At this point 118 Americans had died from COVID-19.

March 22, 2020: Six days after calling for a 15-day period of distancing, Trump tweets that this approach “may be worse than the problem itself.” Donald J. Trump

March 24, 2020: Trump tells Fox News that he wants the country opened up by Easter Sunday (April 12).

Trump says, “You will have packed churches all over our country, I think it would be a beautiful time and it is just about the timeline that I think is right.” As Trump was speaking to Fox, there were 52,145 confirmed cases in the United States and the doubling time for daily new cases was roughly four days. The pace of the viral spread was increasing.
Testing was still in the process of ramping up, and unavailable in many areas.
Doctors were still “desperate” for masks and other basic PPE supplies.

March 26, 2020, 10:48 a.m.: The article has been updated to include the revelation that the Trump administration had been given a “Playbook for Early Response to High-Consequence Emerging Infectious Disease Threats and Biological Incidents” in 2017.

March 29, 2020, 12:39 p.m.: This article has been updated to include the revelation first reported by The Washington Post that HHS Secretary Alex Azar requested $2 billion for medical equipment in early February but was rebuffed by White House officials who were upset about the price tag and the fact that Azar had gone around them to Congress. ”

April 1, 2020, 1040 p.m.: This article has been updated to include reports by the National Review and Arkansas Gazette that Tom Cotton met privately with  Trump about the virus in January.

 

From Tim Miller a contributor to The Bulwark

 

REMOVE THIS CRIMINAL FROM OFFICE AND PUT HIM ON TRIAL!

The suffering and death coming was preventable. Trump has blood on his hands

Had enough yet MAGA fools? What’s owning the libs worth now?

The conservative-leaning Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper The Boston Globe is responding to Donald Trump’s failure to manage the coronavirus pandemic and is not holding back.
The Boston Globe’s editorial board, far from a bastion of far-left liberalism, is denouncing Trump as “unfit for a pandemic.”

“Much of the suffering and death coming was preventable. Trump has blood on his hands,” the Globe’s editorial board writes. “As the American public braces itself for the worst of this crisis, it’s worth remembering that the reach of the virus here is not attributable to an act of God or a foreign invasion, but a colossal failure of leadership.”

Calling Trump “epically outmatched by a global pandemic,” the paper says the coronavirus outbreak “demanded a White House that could act swiftly and competently to protect public health, informed by science and guided by compassion and public service. It required an administration that could quickly deploy reliable tests around the nation to isolate cases and trace and contain the virus’s spread, as South Korea effectively did, as well as to manufacture and distribute scarce medical supplies around the country.”

“It begged for Trump to deliver clear, consistent, scientifically sound messages on the state of the epidemic and its solutions, to reassure the public amid their fear, and to provide steady guidance to cities and states. And it demanded a leader who would put the country’s well-being first, above near-term stock market returns and his own reelection prospects, and who would work with other nations to stem the tide of COVID-19 cases around the world.”

Trump “embodies callousness, self-concern, and a lack of compass” in his “near-daily addresses to the nation.”

The Trump administration’s “critical errors” “will cost thousands if not hundreds of thousands of American lives,” and “come November, there must be a reckoning for the lives lost, and for the vast, avoidable suffering about to ensue under the Trump’s watch.”

 

edited from a story by David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement via Raw Story

 

New restrictions for Humboldt, but the airport remains open? WTF?

It still seems like there is a lot of unnecessary vehicle traffic all over the county too

With the Trump “enabled” Coronavirus spreading everywhere the county is allowing flights into Humboldt????

Health Officer Issues Updated Order for Humboldt County

Humboldt County Health Officer Dr. Teresa Frankovich issued an updated Health Order further clarifying and enhancing the Shelter in Place requirements for county residents.

The updated order addresses county residents’ concerns regarding tourists visiting the area, prohibiting short-term rental properties, including hotels, vacation rentals and campgrounds, from renting to non-County residents.

Additionally, the order further limits activity in parks and other outdoor recreational areas that facilitate public gathering.

The order clarifies the definition of essential businesses, recognizing those businesses that support the County’s response to COVID-19 and eliminating the exemption for businesses that “supply products which would enhance the quality of life.”

This updated order will remain in effect until rescinded by the Health Officer.

Ok, but why is the airport still open to the public? It should be open for emergencies only 

 

The narcissist sociopath has chosen to stand down, do nothing, let people die and let the coronavirus ravage America

The Media’s taboo topic: Why’s Trump doing this?

Incompetence doesn’t explain this pandemic debacle

Everything Trump has done in response to the coronavirus national emergency has been dead wrong. That’s confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that were established over a decade ago for when dealing with a health crisis. The agency created a 450-page manual and Trump and his team have not only ignored the recommendations — be consistent, transparent, factual, and credible — they’ve actively done the opposite.

To date, Trump has ignored intelligence warnings, called the crisis a hoax, downplayed the threat, lied about virus testing, lied about the government’s on-the-ground response, lied about the rate of infection, blamed the Obama administration, misled the country about a cure, packed his days with non-action, blamed governors, failed to order a national lockdown, refused to work with certain Democratic officials, and has provided zero national leadership. (“I don’t take responsibility at all.”)

“The U.S. response will be studied for generations as a textbook example of a disastrous, failed effort,” said Ron Klain, who was tapped by President Barack Obama to oversee the nation’s fight against Ebola in 2014.

Trump has seemingly done everything to help spread the disease. “We have to understand that faced with “the invasion” of this virus (Trump) has chosen to stand down, do nothing, let people die and it ravages America,” wrote Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg, in an entirely accurate description of what has transpired — Trump stood down and let a virus invade the country, knowing from intelligence briefings what that would mean for the U.S. population.

No other country is facing the coronavirus disaster while its national leader appears not to care how many of his country’s citizens die, and who day after day refuses to take common-sense steps to address the crisis. (Where are the tests, masks, hospital beds, and respirators?)

Trump’s behavior has been shocking — except it hasn’t been. For five years, since entering the national political scene in the summer of 2015, Trump has shown us who he is every day, a deeply damaged narcissist who can’t stop lying.  Yet the press treats his sociopath tendencies as taboo.

The larger, looming question is, why is Trump doing this? Or as Greg Sargent recently asked at the Washington Post, why must Democrats and other officials try to force Trump to do the right thing? Why is he refusing to protect the population from a deadly invasion?

Maybe he’s vengeful. A fatalist? Maybe he wants to wreck the economy to create investment opportunities? He’s under the thumb of a foreign entity? He wants to cancel the November elections? Who knows. And honestly, the “why” isn’t what matters now. It’s increasingly not credible to suggest Trump has simply been distracted or incompetent during this crisis, leading to constant “flip-flops,” as the New York Times politely calls his hourly contradictions, as the country faces dire circumstances.

It’s time for journalists to stop expressing shock regarding his erratic and heartless behavior because that unwarranted shock just helps normalize Trump’s dangerous behavior. It plays into the idea that Trump at times behaves rationally, and picks and chooses when he should act like a leader, and when he does not need to — that Trump can mimic the actions of a sane person when the situation calls for it.

If we take a step back, the scale of government’s failure is so complete and so sweeping it borders on the incomprehensible. After a while, explaining this away as Trump being unfocused, or not having a plan, or being shortsighted just doesn’t add up. The failure to protect has been so thorough, it’s difficult to suggest it’s happened coincidentally.

Why is it taboo? The possible answers are too disturbing for the press to ponder, therefore they’re deemed off-limits. Instead of addressing the reality, the press prefers to stick with the safe narrative that the White House is muddled and disorganized. To address the other possibilities would raise stunning questions about the President of the United States —the types of questions that have never been asked about any president in this nation’s history.

In essence, the press plays dumb, as the Wall Street Journal urges Trump to “rethink the coronavirus strategy,” as if there was ever a Trump “strategy” to begin with, while Politico suggests the life-and-death problems the U.S. faces today stem from Trump’s “short-term thinking.”

That’s the simple explanation. What’s going on is far more complicated, and far more disturbing.

Eric Boehlert Press Run https://pressrun.media/

 

Trump and his crime family: “Americans must die in order to save capitalism”

Trump and the Republican party’s sociopathic predatory gangster capitalism

 

Last Sunday, Donald Trump declared on Twitter: “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF. AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!”

This slogan, imported from the libertarian far-right, signaled an important shift toward ending social distancing and “reopening” the economy, even as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread Trump’s mouthpieces at Fox News and elsewhere then began to parrot the same macabre and disturbing argument.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican, told Fox News: “Let’s get back to living… And those of us that are 70-plus, we’ll take care of ourselves.”

Right-wing propagandist Glenn Beck told viewers of his BlazeTV show that Americans who are older should just go back to work and prepare to die: “Even if we all get sick, I would rather die than kill the country.”

Brit Hume of Fox News told Tucker Carlson that he supported Dan Patrick’s view of this potentially lethal transaction:

“What we’re living in now, this circumstance as we try to beat this virus is not sustainable — that the utter collapse of the country’s economy, which many think will happen if this goes on much longer, is an intolerable result… [H]e is saying, for his own part, that he’d be willing to take a risk of getting the disease if that’s what it took to allow the economy to move forward. And he said that because he’s late in life, you know, that he would be perhaps more willing then he might’ve been at a younger age, which seems to me to be an entirely reasonable viewpoint.”

What are they really saying? Donald Trump and the Republican Party are now openly willing to sacrifice those Americans they consider to be “useless eaters” — in this case older people, people with pre-existing health conditions and anyone else who may die from the coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday, Trump said the quiet part loud, basically admitting on Twitter that his electoral fortunes are tied to the pandemic’s impact on the American economy:

“The Lame Stream Media is the dominant force in trying to get me to keep our Country closed as long as possible in the hope that it will be detrimental to my election success. The real people want to get back to work ASAP.  We will be stronger than ever before!”

To paraphrase the character Ivan Drago in the movie “Rocky IV”: “If they die, they die”. Or as another famous Russian, Joseph Stalin, is reported to have said: “One death is a tragedy. A million deaths is a statistic.”

For Trump and his allies, worsening the coronavirus pandemic, even at the risk of many lives, is of little importance compared to keeping him in office to continue a regime of looting, extortion, and massive corruption.

Yes, Trump and the right are embracing and celebrating death. It is ghoulish. It is also one more illustration that the Age of Trump is an American dystopia where what was previously unimaginable (for most decent people) has become “normal.”

Yes, Trump and his movement’s death impulses are part of a natural progression in which an authoritarian regime maximizes its power by terrorizing the public.

These calls by Trump and his allies for millions of Americans to sacrifice themselves for such abstractions as “the country,” “the economy” and “the market” should not be a surprise. Such madness and cruelty are the logical and inevitable result of decades of right-wing strategy and policies.

These plans were never hidden. Indeed, they were clumsily obvious. Since the 1970s, predatory gangster capitalism has been accepted as either “normal” or “inevitable” in the United States (as well as the United Kingdom and elsewhere). To that end, the “free market” was presented by the news media, many Democrats and virtually all Republicans, and most of the educational system as somehow synonymous or interchangeable with “freedom” and “democracy.”

This form of predatory gangster capitalism, now often called “neoliberalism,” rests upon several basic tenets:

  • Profits are more important than people.
  • Every part of human life and existence should become a commodity or a financial instrument.
  • Society should be organized around the “survival of the fittest,” in Malthusian or social-Darwinist terms: Those who cannot survive and prosper under “free markets” will be abandoned, quite likely to die.
  • Notions of the collective good, the commons, the social safety net and other aspects of social democracy, as well as the very idea of government and collective action, are to be undermined and eventually eliminated in service to “freedom” and “individual liberty.”
  • There should be few if any restrictions on the behavior of corporations, banks and the ultra-rich, or on the financier class.
  • There are “winners” and “losers” in society, “makers” and “takers” in society. These are natural and almost inexorable categories. The winners are to be subsidized by the state and the public. The losers are to be punished, and if possible eliminated.
  • Capitalism and democracy are the same thing.

Of course the harsh realities and negative consequences of predatory gangster capitalism have been effectively concealed from the public, which has come to accept this ideology through the use of anodyne language like “entrepreneurship,” “efficiency,” “transparency,” “accountability,” “public-private” and “opportunity.”

All claims that this system has been successful are dubious. Serious economists and other intellectually honest policy experts have repeatedly proven that its premises are fundamentally incorrect.

Gangster capitalists exploit system shocks and other crises (sometimes crises they themselves have caused) as a means of advancing their agenda.

Consider the coronavirus relief bill as originally submitted by the Republicans, which proposed creating a $500 billion slush fund to subsidize the richest corporations and wealthiest Americans, with no accountability and no oversight – a fund that Donald Trump and his vassals could loot at will — while handing out much smaller sums to ordinary Americans who are struggling to survive in a moment of economic calamity.

The moral obscenity of that bill even included petty cruelty: The poorest Americans would receive little if any money in direct payments, while money flowed to corporations and the ultra-rich by the billions.

These disparities have been somewhat painted over in the Democrats’ counterproposals in the House and Senate. But on a grand scale, the picture is not that different: The largest corporations will still receive at least $500 billion — with minor oversight and a few insignificant restraints — that they will inevitably use to enrich their shareholders at the expense of their employees and the public.

In practice, neoliberalism amounts to socialism for the rich and the powerful and the harsh medicine of the “free market” for everyone else. The coronavirus relief bill is more proof of that fact.

This is the logic of “too big to fail.” It’s also a function of the moral hazard that allows a plutocrat like Donald Trump to gain control over a so-called democracy with the goal of funneling resources (through tax policies, government subsidies, and other laws) to themselves and other members of his class while denying resources and opportunities to the vast majority of Americans.

Donald Trump’s proposed 2021 federal budget is a statement of values. As with the coronavirus relief bill, it punishes the poor and vulnerable by gutting the social safety net and transferring more money, both in the form of tax cuts and direct subsidies, to huge corporations and the richest Americans.

As documented by Dr. James Gilligan in his book “Why Some Politicians Are More Dangerous Than Others” the policies of the Republican Party on issues ranging from health care to guns, the environment, and tax policy have shortened the American people’s lifespans and caused other forms of physical harm.

Predatory gangster capitalism needs agents and other actors to advance its goals. The corporation is one of the primary means through which this form of capitalism wages its “revolutionary” struggle against a humane and democratic society.

As has been widely noted, if the corporation was a person, it would be a sociopath. This makes the corporation an indispensable part of Donald Trump’s coronavirus death cult.

James Gamble, a retired corporate attorney who is now director of the National Center for Access to Justice, offered a warning, in a recent article at Medium, about “the extraordinary power of corporate ‘persons’ who are legally obligated to act like sociopaths”:

Sociopath? Yes. The corporate entity is obligated to care only about itself and to define what is good as what makes it more money. Pretty close to a textbook case of antisocial personality disorder. And corporate persons are the most powerful people in our world.

The “maximize rule” does its damage in two ways. Corporate entities are direct actors in the world. A decision to build a factory in a place with weak environmental laws, low wages and poor worker protection matters. Preferring share buybacks to increased wages or lower prices matters. Lobbying for taxpayer subsidies that transfer wealth from poor to rich matters. They contribute to the problems listed in paragraph one in obvious ways. More damaging: the maximize rule infects real people with tragic faith in the magic of markets.

– Commentary by Chauncey Devega, Salon

Read more at: https://www.rawstory.com/2020/03/trump-and-his-gop-enablers-say-the-quiet-part-out-loud-americans-must-die-of-the-coronavirus-in-order-to-save-capitalism/

 

Trump’s multi-tasking-dumb assery never ends

Taking time out from being the coronavirus grim-reaper, demented Trump continues his reckless insanity in the Middle East

Trump’s New Iran Strategy Is Both Reckless and Useless, all while that country is swamped by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Trump regime has been doing other things besides not doing enough about the pandemic. For example, it’s been playing a little chicken in the Arabian Sea. From Defense News:

The Navy announced March 20 that aircraft carriers Dwight D. Eisenhower and Harry S. Truman, and their respective escorts, are operating with a B-52 bomber in the Arabian Sea to demonstrate “combined joint capability and interoperability to plan and conduct multi-task force operations in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.” The image of two carriers operating together in the Arabian Sea recalled the late-2010 decision by then-CENTCOM head Gen. Jim Mattis to force the Navy to surge two carriers to the Arabian Gulf as the Obama administration pursued a carrot-and-stick approach to force Iran to the negotiating table over its nuclear program.

The two-carrier presence requirement in place for more than two years exacted an enormous toll on the service, with Navy leaders warning it was unsustainable. The two-carrier presence nearly broke the Navy’s ability to project power with its carriers and sent deployments skyrocketing to nine months and more as the readiness accounts depleted to dangerous levels. Now, with tensions escalating over rocket attacks on U.S. bases that have killed American personnel, the Navy is once again being asked to show the flag.

 

The Trump regime has been pushing hard on Iran as that country gets swamped by the pandemic. But the presence of the two carrier groups has defense experts worried that the deployment is both reckless and useless.

“It’s an asinine strategy,” said Bryan Clark, a former senior aide to the chief of naval operations and now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. “The Iranians don’t perceive carriers [as] a threat to their ability to project power because they project power through gray zone activities and terrorism — the kinds of things that carriers aren’t very good at dealing with.”

“And when they are inside the Persian Gulf, the Iranians perceive them as being an easy target. They can range the entire gulf with shore batteries along the coast in caves and other terrain where it’s hard to root them out,” he added. “So the Iranians see the carrier as a way to get the Americans to spend a lot of money on a show of force that doesn’t really impact their strategic calculation.”…

“It adds little value, especially if you look at just the slice of history that is this past year,” Thomas said. “The U.S. already sent a carrier group, and if that wasn’t a deterrent against Iran given the escalatory actions taken by Iran over the past couple of months, I don’t see how maintaining those carriers there for an indefinite period of time is somehow the defining feature of a successful deterrent strategy.”

 

One of the latest nostrums out of Camp Run-a-muck is that we should re-open the country because “the country can do two things at a time.” One thing we ought to know is that this regime can certainly screw up two things at a time. We should keep an eye on this situation, too.

 

Edited from “Trump’s New Iran Strategy Is Both Reckless and Useless” in Esquire by Charles P. Pierce