Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Trump: Wants To Give Big Corporations $500 Billion With No Oversight, Thinks Fox News Is Too Liberal, Wants Corporate Immunity When Businesses Re-Open During Pandemic, Has Allowed Millions Of Pounds Of Food To Rot As American Families Are Starving, Spent 4.5 Minutes Out Of 13 Hours At Briefings Expressing Empathy For Virus Victims (He Praised Himself 10 Times As Much), Banned Immigration But Made An Exception For Workers In His Vineyards, Stole 5 Million Masks From Veterans Hospitals, And Claimed (For At Least The 12th Time) That The Coronaviorus Will Simply Go Away One Day

The U.S. Plans To Lend $500 Billion To Large Companies. It Won't Require Them To Preserve Jobs Or Limit Executive Pay.
Washington Post, April 28, 2020
"The change to the term sheet between March and April is the smoking gun on the Fed's own culpability here," said Gregg Gelzinis, a senior policy analyst at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank. "The basic principle of the Cares Act was that if we're going to provide taxpayer funding to private industry, we need conditions to make sure it is in the public interest. This violates that principle."
McConnell Wants Corporate Immunity From COVID-19 Suits
Common Dreams, April 28, 2020
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is demanding that Congress use the next COVID-19 stimulus bill to shield corporations from legal responsibility for workers who contract the novel coronavirus on the job, throwing his support behind a proposal pushed in recent weeks by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other right-wing organizations.
Mitch McConnell's Refusal To Grant Federal Aid To States Risks "A Prolonged Depression"
AlterNet, April 27, 2020
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been slammed by everyone from New York Times liberal Paul Krugman to Washington Post conservative Jennifer Rubin over his recent assertion that he has no desire to "bail out blue states" and that individual states that are struggling should apply for bankruptcy.

Journalist Robert McCartney, in an article for the Post, reports that according to "officials and analysts," McConnell's proposal is "a recipe for turning a potentially short recession into a prolonged depression."
Barr Orders Justice Department To Take Legal Action Against "Overbearing" Coronavirus Restrictions; Trump's Attorney General Claims That The Constitution Forbids "Undue Interference With The National Economy"
As the Department of Justice explained recently in guidance to states and localities taking steps to battle the pandemic, even in times of emergency, when reasonable and temporary restrictions are placed on rights, the First Amendment and federal statutory law prohibit discrimination against religious institutions and religious believers. The Constitution also forbids, in certain circumstances, discrimination against disfavored speech and undue interference with the national economy. If a state or local ordinance crosses the line from an appropriate exercise of authority to stop the spread of COVID19 into an overbearing infringement of constitutional and statutory protections, the Department of Justice may have an obligation to address that overreach in federal court.
Trump Administration Hijacked 5 Million Masks From Veterans Hospitals
Salon, April 27, 2020
The chief physician overseeing the Veterans Health Administration acknowledged that the Trump administration redirected a shipment of masks to the national stockpile after officials denied claims that health care workers were forced to work with inadequate protective equipment.

"I had 5 million masks incoming that disappeared," Richard Stone, the executive in charge of the veterans health system, told The Washington Post. ... After VA Secretary Robert Wilkie appealed to the agency, FEMA provided the VA with 500,000 masks, about 10% of the shipment they ordered. ...

[N]umerous governors and hospital officials have similarly reported that FEMA confiscated ventilators and protective equipment sent to their states. Some officials have started smuggling supplies from China, going as far as disguising the shipments in food trucks. ... Nurses in Florida and Georgia have staged protests outside VA facilities in response to the supply shortages.
Eric Trump Promotes "Quarantine Wine" On The Same Day That His Dad Spares Visas For Vineyard Workers
Salon, April 27, 2020
Though [Donald Trump] he initially vowed to "temporarily suspend" all immigration to the country, the president ultimately signed a more limited order. The ban did not suspend the visas for agricultural workers from which Trump Vineyards benefits. ...

Trump Vineyards is eligible to access a $9.5 billion agricultural federal relief fund during the pandemic, which has a carveout for grapes ...

Though the president initially said he would not access any Trump Org. funds during his administration, he quietly changed his Trump Organization contract a month after his inauguration, which allowed him to withdraw money at any time without disclosure. ...

The Trump administration has granted Trump's vineyard business dozens of hard-to-get migrant laborer visas over the past three years, which helped the president profit off of the backs of about 30 non-American workers. He has also increased H-2B visas, which benefit many of his other properties, while increasingly rejecting visas for skilled technology workers.
Out Of 13 Hours Of Trump's Coronavirus Briefings, Just 4.5 Minutes Of Empathy For Victims; Trump Spent 10 Minutes Praising Himself For Every 1 Minute He Spent Expressing Condolences For The Dead Americans
Common Dreams, April 26, 2020
As the world runs out of words to account for or describe the unhinged rantings of President Donald Trump when it comes to his daily briefings on the coronavirus pandemic that has rocked the United States and other nations, a new analysis published Sunday details a shocking lack of sympathy expressed by the nation's highest ranking elected official. ...

The president has spoken for more than 28 hours in the 35 briefings held since March 16, eating up 60 percent of the time that officials spoke, according to a Washington Post analysis of annotated transcripts from, a data analytics company.

Over the past three weeks, the tally comes to more than 13 hours of Trump – including two hours spent on attacks and 45 minutes praising himself and his administration, but just 4½ minutes expressing condolences for coronavirus victims. ... Trump also said something false or misleading in nearly a quarter of his prepared comments or answers to questions.
Mika Brzezinski Skewers Trump's Management Of Pandemic: "You're A Moron, You're An Idiot, You're A Joke"
Raw Story, April 27, 2020
"These people that were once, quote, movement conservatives, are nothing more than a Trump cult, personality cult," [MSNBC's Joe] Scarborough said. "That's why they can't even admit that this president is unfit for his office and that people are going to die in the future because of this, unless somebody figures out a way to get him to focus, be serious, and put seniors first, put people with pre-existing health conditions first, put this nation's health and safety and well-being first."

[Mika] Brzezinski pushed back against critics who say she and Scarborough have been overly wrought in their response.

"A lot of the president's pawns, whether they're in the media or whatever, will say, 'Oh, Joe and Mika, so upset,'" she said. "I want to point out something you said on your Instagram live this weekend. You would love to see the president be competent in this crisis. Unfortunately, that's not what we're getting, and people are dying. If you see a lot of emotion coming from this show, it's because we are frightened for the American people at this point, given the fact that the White House has shown zero competence in this crisis."
Trump Demands An "Alternative" To Fox News As He Accuses The Network Of Spreading Misinformation
Salon, April 27, 2020
Trump demanded an "alternative" to Fox News over the weekend as he accused the right-leaning network of disseminating Democratic talking points "without hesitation or research." ...

Trump also lashed out for the second weekend in a row at longtime Fox News anchor Chris Wallace. The president called the veteran journalist "nastier to Republicans than even Deface the Nation or Sleepy Eyes" ... The president put the outlet on notice that its viewers, himself included, were "angry."
Yet Again, Trump Pledges That The Coronavirus Will Simply Go Away
Washington Post, April 28, 2020
During a news media availability at the White House on Tuesday, President Trump was presented with a comment he made more than two months ago.

"Today the U.S. hit a grim milestone of 1 million cases of the coronavirus," CNN's Jim Acosta said. "Back in late February, you predicted that the number of cases would go down to zero. How did we get from your prediction of zero to 1 million?"

"Well," Trump replied, "it will go down to zero, ultimately."

This reply [is] completely disingenuous. His comments in February weren't a vague assertion that the threat posed by the virus would pass. Instead, they were an assertion that the government was capably containing the virus and that the number of cases already presented would quickly winnow away. Obviously, he was wrong.
[The article provides evidence of 11 previous times Trump claimed the virus would simply disappear: February 10, 25, 26, 27, March 6, 10, 12, 30, 31, April 3, 7, 2020. On February 26, 2020, Trump said the 15 current cases in the US "within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero".
Why didn't Acosta use that phrase "within a couple of days" in his question? Trump would have been unable to give his usual bullshit answer.]

Trump's Vegas Hotel Is Accepting Reservations For Mid-May Despite The Ongoing Pandemic
The Daily Beast, April 27, 2020
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman has recently been calling for resorts in the city to reopen, contrary to the advice of most medical experts.

The Trump Hotel in Vegas is situated just off of the Strip. It does not contain a casino, unlike most other high-end resorts in the area.
[Donald Trump is the only person in the history of the universe to go bankrupt running a casino.]

Jared Kushner Is MIA From WH Coronavirus Response After Stepping Into Lead Role
Salon, April 27, 2020
President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner "has been notably removed from coronavirus-related operations" in recent weeks after taking a leading role on supply chain issues, multiple White House officials told The Daily Beast. ...

The Daily Beast reported that the president has privately been "defensive" about his son-in-law's role and complained to aides that Kushner has not gotten the praise from the media which he deserves.

"[Jared] could be in his office just googling 'coronavirus,' show the results to the president and still get a gold sticker from his dad-in-law," one senior administration official who works with the coronavirus task force told the outlet. "He is solving the coronavirus like he's bringing peace to the [Middle East]."
Gaslighting On Lysol-Gate: Now Trump Is Denying He Said What We Heard Him Say
Salon, April 27, 2020
It's gone mainstream in recent years, but the word "gaslighting" used to be an esoteric term from the world of psychology and domestic abuse counseling. The word refers to the 1944 film "Gaslight," in which Ingrid Bergman plays a woman whose husband tries to drive her insane by hiding her belongings and otherwise manipulating her environment, and telling her that the changes she perceives are all in her head. Experts in domestic violence developed the term to describe the way that abusers in real life try to manipulate victims. The gaslighter works by denying reality, often when the facts are plain as day, with such conviction and repetition that the victim starts to question themselves and the evidence of their own senses.

For instance, this might take the form of the abuser denying that he hit his victim or falsely claiming that she provoked it, and then browbeating her until she accepts the lie and even starts to wonder whether she imagined the whole thing.

Under Donald Trump's administration, however, the term has ventured into politics. It's become a way to talk about how Trump and his defenders won't merely tell lies, but will stand by even the dumbest and most obvious lies, holding their ground until the defenders of reality simply give up fighting. This started from the very beginning of the administration, when Trump and his administration claimed his inauguration crowd was bigger than Barack Obama's, and insisted on repeating that lie and intimidating government agencies into backing it up. ...

With garden-variety lying, the liar tends to assume the target doesn't know the truth and so can be made to accept the lie as if it were truth. Gaslighting differs dramatically in that the target actually knows what's true. They experienced it, heard it or witnessed what really happened themselves. So what the gaslighter must do is convince the target to reject the evidence of their own eyes and ears.

Gaslighting is a useful term to explain what Trump did throughout this past weekend, in response to what we at Salon are calling "Lysol-gate," in which our president went on national television and suggested that injecting household cleaners into people's lungs might be a clever idea to fight the coronavirus that the medical profession clearly hadn't thought of yet.

The reason doctors haven't considered this idea is that it will kill the patient – and, I guess, also any virus lurking in his or her lungs. Trump is literally too stupid and lazy to know that fact, which was deeply embarrassing for him and anyone who supports him.
Fox Nation's Tomi Lahren Compares Compliance With Social Distancing Regulations To "Willful Slavery"
Salon, April 28, 2020
Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren on Monday compared compliance with social distancing regulations to "willful slavery" in a since-deleted tweet.

The slavery comparison was widely criticized on Twitter, including by the conservative commentator S.E. Cupp. "This is so offensive," the CNN host tweeted. "Not because it's politically incorrect, but because it's politically incoherent, dangerous, and straight up stupid."
Fox News' Tucker Carlson Downplays Coronavirus Death Toll: It "Isn't Nearly As Deadly As We Thought"
Salon, Igor Derysh, April 28, 2020
"Six weeks later, we are happy to say that curve has been flattened. But it's likely not because of the lockdowns. The virus just isn't nearly as deadly as we thought it was ...," Carlson said of a virus whose spread has caused more than 50,000 people in the U.S. in a matter of weeks. "Hospitals never collapsed. Outside of a tiny number of places, they never came close to collapsing ..."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the country, has both argued that the lockdowns and social distancing guidelines absolutely worked and questioned why they were not implemented on a national scale. Fauci also said that lockdowns could have saved more lives if they were implemented two weeks earlier.
Hannity Pledges To Treat 500 "Hero Medical Workers" To Yankees Game, But Play Is Currently Suspended
Salon, April 28, 2020
Trump backer Sean Hannity accepted a coronavirus charity challenge tossed his way by a Fox News colleague, posting on Twitter that he had purchased 500 Yankees tickets for medical workers in New York.
[Major League Baseball has made no decisions on when (or if) the 2020 season will be played. Will the schedule have 100 games? 50? 30? Where will the games be played? Will fans be able to attend?No one knows the answers to any of these questions. No tickets are being sold. Hannity is lying.]

Leader Of Anti-Lockdown Protest To "Reopen" North Carolina Reveals She Tested Positive For COVID-19
Raw Story, April 28, 2020
A leader of an anti-lockdown protest group in North Carolina says that she has tested positive for COVID-19 – and she's angry that she was forced to quarantine for two weeks to avoid spreading the virus to other people.

Local news station CBS 17 reports that Audrey Whitlock, a leader of the ReOpen NC protest movement, posted on Facebook this week that she has been under quarantine for the past two weeks after being diagnosed with COVID-19. ... "I have been told not to participate in public or private accommodations as requested by the government, and therefore denied my 1st amendment right of freedom of religion," she wrote.
American Vandal: Trump Reveals Our Staggering Incompetence Before The Whole World ... And It's Not Just About Trump
Salon, April 27, 2020
[I]t has been clear to me from the moment Donald Trump came down that elevator that if he won, the world order as we knew it, which was already unstable, was going to be turned upside down with no coherent plan to replace it. ...

Donald Trump is a completely incompetent leader – we know this. Literally any other president would have done a better job. He couldn't accept that the crisis was real and that his "plan" to spend the year holding fun rallies and smearing his Democratic rival was going to be interrupted by his duties as president. So he lived in denial until the situation was completely out of hand. ... [N]o other president would be so witless as to waste precious time and resources with magical thinking about quick miracle cures.

But it's not just him, is it? The U.S. government seems to have lost its capacity to act, and the private sector is so invested in short-term profit-making that it's lost its innovative edge. The result is that the United States of America, formerly the world's leader in science and technology, now only leads the world in gruesome statistics and body counts.

It's still unclear exactly why the CDC felt it had to make its own test when another test, created by a German lab, was already available. According to those in the know, Americans just don't use tests from other countries, ostensibly because our "standards" are so high. Apparently, they aren't. In this case, the test we created was faulty, causing weeks of delay, and there was some kind of contamination in the lab. ...

The government's inefficiency and ineptitude in producing, locating and distributing needed medical supplies, combined with Trumpian corrupt patronage toward his favored states, is staggering. ...

Not only is the U.S. not leading the response, it's barely participating in it.

The election of Donald Trump was about more than just this presidency. It signaled that America was no longer capable of competently governing itself, much less leading the world. Our devastatingly disorganized, scattershot response to the COVID-19 crisis has revealed that this problem goes much deeper than our politics.