The unwavering devotion of pious, church-going fundamentalist Christians to President Donald Trump—undoubtedly the most impious, worldly, and sin-drenched president in American history—is an ongoing source of astonishment. How exactly did this happen?
In her new book The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Christian Nationalism (Bloomsbury, 342 pp.), Katherine Stewart does her best to explain the mystifying relationship between the religious right—the same faction that relentlessly pursued Bill Clinton for his philandering in the 1990s—and the serial adulterer (not to mention profane hatemonger) who occupies the Oval Office. Eventually, it comes down to one word: authoritarianism.
I'm filing this under Weird, for obvious reasons. This is not the behavior of a well human being at the best of times, but we're in the midst of a pandemic and this guy is supposed to be the leader of the US.
(Click the image icon under the tweet to embiggen the absurdity.)
Trump writes letter to Sen. Schumer saying if he spent less time on the “impeachment hoax” and more time on the people on NY, the NY would not have been so unprepared for the “invisible enemy.” pic.twitter.com/CIP50a6cbo
— Katherine Faulders (@KFaulders) April 2, 2020
Sometimes you just need a moment of levity to break away from the fear and horror that we are currently facing as we fight the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been having daily press conferences and today he had a special guest - his brother, Chris Cuomo, CNN host. For those are not aware, Chris was diagnosed with coronavirus earlier this week and has been hosting his show from the basement of his home while quarantining from his family.
Andrew and Chris spoke via live stream and although serious at times, they had some hilarious back and forth moments.
Chris told his brother: "I'm doing pretty well, all things considered. This is very tough. I get it now. I've now become part of this group of people who have this virus, and they're reaching out."
Without giving too much away, there was talk about ballet dancing, home hair cuts and fishing outfits. It was a great interview and could we all use a good laugh.
Feel better, Chris! And keep up the great work, Governor!
Usually calm and mild-mannered, Dr. Sanjay Gupta seemed about ready to jump out of his skin in anger about Georgia's governor, Brian Kemp, claiming that he was not aware COVID-19 could be spread asymptomatically until two days ago. TWO. DAYS. AGO. More than two months after the first case was recorded in the United States, and nearly two months after the CDC discussed that fact in public.
Anderson Cooper played the governor's press conference, wherein he (finally!) issued the state's stay-at-home order.KEMP: Finding out this virus is now transmitting before people see signs, so what we've been telling people, from directives from the cdc for weeks now, that if you start feeling bad, stay home. Those individuals could have been infecting people before they ever felt bad. Well, we didn't know that until the last 24 hours and as Dr. Toomey told me, she goes, "This is a game changer for us."
Cooper and Gupta each took turns strangling for words to describe this criminal incompetence.COOPER: I'm really kind of stunned by what he said because we've known that for quite some time, haven't we?
GUPTA: Anderson, this is inexcusable. I mean, it's just inexcusable. EVERYONE has been talking about that.
COOPER: I mean, he can't be being honest there.
In yet another display of apparent cowardice and cronyism, Trump acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly has received the captain of the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt from duty after a four-page letter by the captain to Navy officials was leaked to the press.
In the letter, Capt. Brett Crozier begged his Navy superiors to set up quarantine space in Guam after widespread COVID-19 infections as over 100 members of the over 4,000 person crew tested positive. The Navy indeed took action after his letter was received, with roughly 3,700 sailors either already put ashore or expected to be in coming days.
The official rationale for Crozier’s removal, according to NBC News sources, is “a loss of trust and confidence”—presumably meaning highest-level superiors were humiliated by the leak of a letter in which the captain begged them at length to protect his ship and crew. It also cast still more doubt on the competence of the Commander in Chief and his topmost officials, who presumably could have taken action before Crozier was reduced to sending his letter—but did not.
For the Navy, it also presents another stark comparison. Ask for your superiors to take action to save the lives of your sailors: Be removed from duty. Commit war crimes: Receive a Donald Trump pardon, and be feted as a hero by Trump’s supporters.
Today’s picture is a hazy day in summer in New York City. Our accompaniment is Simon and Garfunkel’s “Hazy Shade of Winter.”June 28, 2009 — Central Park, New York City
Impeached President Donald Trump faked some concern when a reporter pressed him during the White House’s propaganda briefing on Wednesday about the cruel exclusion of undocumented immigrants from stimulus aid, despite paying billions in taxes annually. Trump said, “What are you going to do? It's a tough thing … it's a very sad question, I must be honest with you.”
But reverting back to his true form, Trump told undocumented families to blame themselves, saying “they came in illegally,” and that “we have a lot of people who are citizens of our country that won’t be able to have jobs.” But who has neglected to sufficiently act in the face of this pandemic? Trump. And who has not only exploited undocumented workers at his businesses, but also lied about not being able to find U.S.-born workers in order to hire more foreign workers? You guessed it.
The Treasury Department has partially reversed their initial decision to throw up unnecessary bureaucratic hoops for seniors obtaining the $1,200 one-time stimulus payment. Originally the administration was going to require them, as well as disabled people on Supplemental Security Income and veterans receiving pensions, to file tax returns in order to get the check. They've relented following mass outrage, at least for seniors. But not for SSI recipients and veterans, unless they also receive Social Security.
"This is entirely unacceptable," Nancy Altman, President of Social Security Works, said in a statement Thursday. "Our government has the tools to send these groups, who are among the poorest and most vulnerable in America, their benefits automatically. It must reverse this part of its misguided policy, as well, and prioritize these payments, too." Rep. Jan Schakowsky and her fellow House Democrats agree. They are calling on the Treasury to "IMMEDIATELY ensure all older Americans, can automatically get the stimulus checks they need to survive the #COVID19 crisis."
A terrifying new report by a panel of scientists states that "research shows coronavirus can be spread not just by sneezes or coughs, but also just by talking, or possibly even just breathing." If true, this would be a game changer - and not in a good way.
CNN is reporting that
The chairman of the committee, Dr. Harvey Fineberg, states: "While the current [coronavirus] specific research is limited, the results of available studies are consistent with aerosolization of virus from normal breathing."
Based off of these findings, Fineberg told CNN that he personally plans to wear a mask anytime he goes out to the grocery store. It sounds like we should all be doing the same, to be honest. Fineberg says he will not wear a surgical mask, and he is not encouraging anyone else to either, Rather, he said "I have a nice western-style bandana I might wear. Or I have a balaclava. I have some pretty nice options."
Dr. Fauci, the face of the White House's coronavirus task force, told CNN that the team is actively discussing the idea of making "broad use of masks" a recommendation to the general public. The problem? There are NO masks for anyone to buy. Hospitals and first responders don't even have enough masks. How is the public supposed to get a mask? Twitter had some ideas:
Easy to make mask using a scaft, 2 rubber bands or hair ties. And the best part? No sewing needed:
Dr. Anthony Fauci has been the United States’ most visible expert during the COVID-19 pandemic, and one of the few (only?) voices during Donald Trump's now-daily briefings to continue to provide no-nonsense, factual information about the virus' spread—even when that information contradicted Trump's own pronouncements.
The Washington Post is reporting that Fauci is now facing "growing threats to his personal safety," and that the Department of Health and Human Services is now increasing security around Dr. Fauci in response.
Toilet paper and hand sanitizer may have been on most panicked shoppers’ minds in March when the novel coronavirus pandemic first hit the United States. But as bare as those shelves might be, they have nothing on guns.
Doubtless inspired by the apocalyptic view of vacant streets across the nation, Americans rushed out to buy guns at an astonishing rate: Some 1.9 million guns were sold in March, trailing only the mad rush after the Sandy Hook shooting in January 2013 for sales in a single month.
This morning, as part of my daily report on the spread of coronavirus in western countries, I posted a chart showing that Italy’s daily death rate from COVID-19 seems to have hit its peak. That got me curious about all the other countries. Do any of them also show signs of being near their peak? Here’s the full set:
Note that all these charts begin on March 1 and the y-axis is just plain old daily deaths. I’ve used a 6-day rolling average to smooth out the noise.
There’s no good news here. Spain is showing a few glimmers of peaking, but none of the other countries looks anywhere close. We’re all still on the early exponential part of the curve and probably at least two weeks away from our respective peaks.
Right-wingers want gun stores open and abortion clinics closed during the novel coronavirus disaster. As my colleague Aysha Qamar reported earlier this week, the forced birthers in charge of numerous state governments see the crisis as an opportunity to undermine women’s reproductive rights, a crusade they’ve been on since 15 minutes after Roe v. Wade was decided nearly half a century ago. They know enacting policies that shutter abortion clinics even temporarily guarantees that one or more of them will never open again. Closing clinics in the face of a national emergency adds a twisted patriotism to the moral high ground the forced birthers like to claim they stand on. These opportunists say the federal guidelines calling for canceling all “non-essential surgeries and procedures” until further notice excludes abortions from being performed.
Postponing nonessential procedures makes sense if we’re talking facelifts, cataract removals, cochlear implants, or gastric bypass surgery. Delaying a few weeks or few months does not prevent the patient from getting those operations after the guidelines are lifted. An abortion delayed on the other hand—especially in states with strict gestational age limits on the procedure—means no abortion at all. Which is, of course, exactly what forced birthers want.
On Wednesday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp finally issued a stay-at-home order for his state after resisting it for weeks. Kemp’s stated reason was one part amusing, three parts terrifying: he claimed that he had just learned that some people with COVID-19 can be asymptomatic, a fact that has been clear since January. Meanwhile, Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has still not provided any statewide guidance, leaving such decisions to cities and counties. The same thing applies in Alabama, where Republican Gov. Kay Ivey sniffed that her state is “not California” and declared that she’s not ready to take an action that might hurt the economy. In South Carolina, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster has left even state legislators and Republican officials frustrated by his unwillingness to do more than issue recommendations without any force of law. And Arkansas now enjoys a position that may be unique in the nation: Not only has Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson refused to set any level of suppression across the state, but there are also no city or county stay-at-home orders. Arkansas is open for business. And virus transmission.
But it’s not just the failure of red-state Republicans that is putting the Southern states in the crosshairs for the next wave of novel coronavirus infections. Everything from Fox News to Walmart is aligned against these states … and it’s all going to bring a horrific cost.
Seth takes a closer look at President Trump extending social distancing guidelines to the end of April - while he and his allies try to memory hole their early dismissal of the coronavirus outbreak.
Based on cellphone location data, the New York Times was able to draw a map of where and when people started complying with coronavirus stay-at-home orders. The answer is infuriating:
The map doesn’t look this way because people in the South are idiots. It’s almost certainly because they’re conservative and they watch a lot of Fox News. They also listen to President Trump. And Rush Limbaugh. And what they heard was that the coronavirus was “just a bad cold.” That “within a couple of days it’s going to be down to close to zero.” That the hysteria was nothing but a “new hoax” from Democrats who want to bring down the president.
For weeks that’s what they heard. And they believed it. And so they resisted taking it seriously. That’s starting to shift now that Trump and the conservative noise machine have changed their tune, but it’s several weeks too late. What a shameful performance.
Georgia isn’t delaying its May 19 primary at this time, but the secretary of state’s office is mailing out absentee ballot applications to every one of the state’s 6.9 million registered voters. That has some Republican lawmakers very unhappy.
State House Speaker David Ralston was absolutely blunt about his objection. “This will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia,” he said in an interview. “Every registered voter is going to get one of these. … This will certainly drive up turnout.”
Saying "we need transparency and accountability," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that she is creating a special House committee, overseen by Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, "to examine all aspects of the federal response to the coronavirus and ensure the taxpayers dollars are being wisely and efficiently spent." The committee “will root out waste, fraud and abuse; it will protect against price-gauging, profiteering and political favoritism," Pelosi told reporters during a press call.
That's in direct response to Trump’s signing statement on the latest coronavirus stimulus bill in which he declared his intent to override the safeguards Congress put in to prevent, well, "price-gauging, profiteering and political favoritism" from the administration. But there's also the question of the sheer incompetence of Trump and his whole team to consider. It's a humongous job getting $2 trillion (and counting) in programs implemented quickly and efficiently, even if the administration doing it is a normal one that actually cares about governing. This one is not normal.
People are just shaking their heads today at what Georgia's Governor Brian Kemp said yesterday, that he only recently found out that COVID-19 could be spread by asymptomatic people, and that was why he was issuing a stay-at-home order, finally.
Mika Brezinksi asked "Is this a joke?", while her partner Joe Scarborough just rolled his eyes and called Kemp's "revelation" just embarrassing.
Source: Washington Post
After resisting a statewide stay-at-home order for days, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) succumbed to the pressure and issued one on Wednesday. Part of the reason, he said, was that he had just learned some new information.
Kemp said he was “finding out that this virus is now transmitting before people see signs.”
“Those individuals could have been infecting people before they ever felt bad, but we didn’t know that until the last 24 hours,” he said. He added that the state’s top doctor told him that “this is a game-changer.”
It may have been a game-changer, but it was a game-changer weeks or even months ago. That’s when health officials started emphasizing that asymptomatic people are transmitting the coronavirus. The idea that Kemp didn’t know this is striking. But he’s merely the latest top politician to indicate that he’s unfamiliar with the science even as he’s making life-or-death decisions for his constituents.
Rapid response efforts to quell the spread of the novel coronavirus are revealing deeply embedded structural inefficiencies within countless institutions in American society—the criminal legal system being no different.
Earlier this month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state’s new hand sanitizer would be manufactured by incarcerated laborers at New York’s Great Meadow Correctional Facility. The announcement made visible just one of the ways prison labor is typically used to address the needs of the public, and drew outrage both within New York and nationally. More often, though, labor performed by incarcerated laborers goes unnoticed and unreported, even as it supplies goods and services critical to the operation of our society, from license plates to laundry.