On Monday, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers of Wisconsin issued an executive order cancelling in-person voting and postponing Election Day from April 7 to June 9 in Wisconsin's presidential primary and competitive state Supreme Court general election, citing the dangers of the coronavirus pandemic making it impossible to safely hold the election in a manner consistent with voters' rights. Republicans had already asked the U.S. Supreme Court to prevent the extension of absentee mail voting, and they swiftly vowed to fight Evers' latest order at the state Supreme Court, leaving the election in chaos thanks to judicial uncertainty.
Despite a stay-at-home order and Evers' calls to expand mail voting as the safest way to protect voters and poll workers, Republican legislators have adamantly refused to take any actions that would have made it easier to vote and have actively fought litigation to do so, which led to a federal court refusing to postpone the election. Republicans adjourned a special session without taking action over the weekend just as soon as Evers had ordered one to be convened, leaving Evers no other option than to assert executive authority to delay the election.
Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar is calling on the Department of Homeland Security watchdog to immediately look into Border Patrol facility conditions in the El Paso area, including an outrageous report that officials have held as many as 150 people with “flu-like conditions” in “a single holding area” amid the coronavirus crisis that has already hit other detention facilities across the U.S.
“Detainees report that the conditions at Border Patrol Station One are wholly inappropriate,” Rep. Escobar tells DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari, noting that detained people have said they’ve lacked adequate access to the most basic but vital of items necessary to their well-being during this pandemic, including soap and toilet paper. Due to this crowding, detainees aren’t able to practice social distancing either, as recommended by the CDC.
On Friday, the Supreme Court announced that opening briefs in the Trump-Republican lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act will be due May 6, one month from today. One month in which tens of thousands more Americans will contract COVID-19 and thousands more will die. Another month in which millions will lose their jobs and their health insurance. While the arguments in the case won’t be heard until fall, the court will be reading the briefs for it this spring.
That means the court is going to start considering the most important case of the year, if not the decade, in the middle of this pandemic. It means the court will have to decide whether to rip insurance away from the 20 million who are covered in the ACA plans and millions more who are on expanded Medicaid. It means they'll be thinking about whether they want to rip away protections from 135 million people with preexisting conditions, one of which may eventually be having had coronavirus.
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly made an unhinged speech to the crew members of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, in which he lashed out at former Capt. Brett E. Crozier and told sailors to stop complaining and do their jobs.
Modly fired Crozier on April 2, two days after the San Francisco Chronicle published a leaked copy of a memo written by Crozier, in which he warned his superiors that sailors aboard the aircraft carrier would die of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) unless about 90% of the crew were moved into individual quarantine. Crozier has since tested positive for the coronavirus.
“If he didn’t think, in my opinion, that this information wasn’t going to get out into the public, in this day and information age that we live in, then he was either A, too naive, or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this,” Modly told the Theodore Roosevelt’s crew on April 5. “The alternative is that he did this on purpose. And that’s a serious violation of the UCMJ which you are all familiar with.”
Crozier, of course, did the right thing for his sailors.
The post How About a Crisis in Military Leadership to Spice Things Up appeared first on Balloon Juice.
Peter Navarro, Trump's Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, who now is identifying as a social scientist, made the rounds on television today... after it was reported that he got into a heated confrontation with Dr. Fauci in a green room over the use of hydroxychloroquine on the coronavirus.
Earlier this morning on Fox and Friends, Navarro was reciting his Kellyanne Conway-prepared alternative facts and talking points about the anti-malaria drug, when co-host Ainsley Earhardt brought up the good Dr F.
In an annoyed tone she asked, "So what does Dr. Fauci want, does he want more testing?"
What a pain in the ass that Dr. Fauci is. How dare he slow Trump's roll after the stable genius bragged about hydroxychloroquine.
Navarro knows exactly what Dr. Fauci's objections are to administering hydroxychloroquine without verifiable results, but Navarro just stated he will let the medical professional speak for himself.
"He takes the view that is important to have control studies, randomized studies and go through the science and come to the end and determine what's going on," Navarro said.
You mean like a true medical professional? Like someone whose oath is 'first do no harm?'
Navarro brought up the fact that he was a social scientist again and how he agrees with having real testing to see if a drug is an effective treatment.
Navarro claimed that we are in a war and that Trump is a wartime president.
He said, "In the fog of war we might take more risks than we otherwise would."
Over the weekend, The New York Times reported that former Navy commander Captain Brett Crozier has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Why is this particularly big news? Crozier was the commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier now ported in Guam, who went viral last week for sending a four-page memo to internal leadership asking for support for his crew as the number of confirmed cases on board increased. As Crozier wrote it, his wartime vessel was simply not big enough to properly isolate and distance a crew of 4,000 men and women. As he put it, “sailors do not need to die,” provided the Navy stepped in and gave them access to isolate and test everyone, as well as properly clean the vessel. The San Francisco Chronicle picked up the letter, and every other media outlet soon followed. Within days, Crozier was fired.
Even worse? As of Monday morning, Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly essentially smeared Crozier in an address to his former crew, as reported by CNN. The criticism feels especially inappropriate given that the captain was met with cheers and support from his crew when he had to leave the vessel. As first picked up the Chronicle, you can listen to the audio at their site or at this SoundCloud link.
This is galling in the extreme. Like others, I was initially willing to give Modly the benefit of the doubt, because Capt. Crozier had broken the chain of command, which is everything in the military. (And one reason among a zillion others why Trump is singularly unfit to be Commander-in-Chief, but I digress.) But Modly has proven that he is just as unfit for the post he's in, trying to make Crozier the scapegoat for their own ineptitude, and needlessly creating a public relations nightmare for the Navy.
Are all of Trump's people bereft of any semblance of common sense? That's a rhetorical question. Of course they are.
Modly should resign, effective immediately.
The Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly blasted the now-ousted commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt as "stupid" in an address to the ship's crew Monday morning, in remarks obtained by CNN.
Modly told the crew that their former commander, Capt. Brett Crozier, was either "too naive or too stupid" to be in command or that he intentionally leaked to the media a memo in which he warned about coronavirus spreading aboard the aircraft carrier and urged action to save his sailors.
The acting secretary accused Crozier of committing a "betrayal" and creating a "big controversy" in Washington by disseminating the warning so widely.
A super PAC closely aligned with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is reserving $51 million in ad space this fall to protect the new Democratic majority, according to Politico.
But all of the markets targeted by House Majority PAC serve multiple purposes with competitive House seats also residing in states that will be critical to both the presidential race and, in some cases, battle for control of the Senate. Those states include Michigan, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Texas. The aggressive ad buy is also the first of its kind among all the House-affiliated committees and outside groups.
An unbylined New York Times report dispenses with euphemisms while describing the president's approach to the coronavirus crisis.
Veering from grim warnings to baseless assurances in a single news conference, President Trump on Saturday predicted a surging death toll in what may be “the toughest week” of the coronavirus pandemic before also dispensing unproven medical advice. He suggested again that Americans might be able to congregate for Easter Sunday services.
The unproven medical advice is more of Trump's incessant hyping of hydroxychloroquinone, which has been found to be not particularly effective in a French study.
Trump went on to muse aloud about the possibility of relaxing social distancing guidelines somewhat for Easter services next week ("he had told advisers, 'maybe we could allow special for churches' gatherings that were possibly outside with 'great separation'"). Oh and he also wants sports to come back:
The big source of coronavirus-related government help for businesses with 500 or fewer employees is a $350 billion loan program. But somehow big restaurant and hotel chains got themselves included in the program, leaving small businesses worried they’ll be edged out.
Franchise owners will also be eligible for the small business loan program, no matter how big the company they’re franchisees of—and no matter how many franchises they own. For instance, the owner of 68 Massage Envy franchises, who employs 2,000 people, can apply for loans just like the owner of two breakfast spots in Chicago. “This stuff is meant for me, the little person,” says the breakfast restaurant owner. “We’re a collection of small businesses,” says the guy who owns 68 of the same massage business.
I don’t suppose anyone is in the mood to hear this, but have you noticed that Donald Trump hasn’t seized more power during the coronavirus emergency even though it gives him a perfect excuse to do so? In fact, if anything, he’s been eager to push authority down onto the states and away from the federal government.
This shouldn’t surprise anyone. It’s an odd thing, but Trump has never been hungry for power. On the contrary, he’s afraid of power because he’s afraid of being truly responsible for anything. He much prefers to delegate and blame.
If not power, what then? Trump is driven by a desire for attention and praise—and its flip side, revenge against those who malign him. He doesn’t care one way or another who’s in charge of things. He just wants all the credit. This is why, in the end, he’s neither an autocrat nor an authoritarian. He’s just a sad little man who craves approval but has never gotten it.
We KNOW how Captain Crozier's sailors feel about him.
Sailors of the USS Theodore Roosevelt cheer "Captain Crozier" in support of their Captain Brett Crozier who was removed from command for sounding the alarm about #coronavirus on his ship to save his men's lives.
He risked his career to save them. They love him, as they should. pic.twitter.com/0rNmciCd1y
— Matthew VanDyke (@Matt_VanDyke) April 3, 2020
But Crozier's email to naval command went public, and displeased Trump.
So Crozier is relieved of command and in the ensuing backlash, Trump's defense secretary uses a 'currently being investigated' excuse to not answer questions about the firing.
The locked barn door is to keep truth from interfering with Trump's current mood swing. Pathetic.
Transcript of Jake Tapper's questioning of Defense Secretary Mike Espy (Sunday) via CNN:
Now would be a really good time for everyone in the country to have health insurance, and for a health care system that wasn't run on profit, greed, and corporate bureaucracy. It would also be a really good time to have a real president. But we don't have any of those things. Mostly we don't have a real president. In three years, the orange lump in the White House has proven that when it comes to health care, he's as useless every Republican has been for the past decade. The fact that this is a serious problem is finally dawning on some Trumpers.
"Not having a plan for the rising uninsured yet seems to be a blind spot," Dan Eberhart, an oil executive and Trump donor said. "The Democrats took the House in the 2018 midterms largely by having better answers on health care, so I think this could be a massive political liability in the fall." Ya think? Lest word get around to Cheeto Mussolini and Eberhart find himself on the receiving end of a Twitter rampage, he was sure to add that "Trump has provided sober and strong leadership, but this could prove to be his Achilles' heel in November." As could the fact that his administration is going to be in the Supreme Court in a month's time arguing that the Affordable Care Act should be entirely overturned, with not a whisper of a replacement plan in existence.
Actor John Krasinski is best known for his roles as Jim Halpert in The Office and the small screen Netflix version of fictitious CIA agent Jack Ryan. Now he’s taking on a new role during the COVID-19 pandemic, that of a good news talk show host.
Last week Krasinski launched his home-based show called “Some Good News,” with a backdrop in his home office created by his kids. Wanting to bring a little joy during these troubling times, Krasinski’s show highlights good deeds, funny videos, and celebrity appearances, including his old officemate Steve Carrell, who joined him for the inaugural online show.
From Larry Kudlow, director of Donald Trump’s National Economic Council:
— Carl Quintanilla (@carlquintanilla) April 6, 2020
Is there anything these guys won’t say? The scale of the lies and deceit from this administration is just mind boggling. If they took the time they use to blame everyone else for things and used even half of it to oversee the implementation of actual solutions, we might cut our death toll by a third. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has shown that it’s possible.¹
And Jared Kushner! God almighty, why is he still in charge of dicking around in serious problems that need to be left up to adults? He promised a website. There’s no website. He promised drive-through testing. There’s hardly any drive-through testing. He wrote Trump’s disastrous March 11 prime time speech. He insisted that the national emergency stockpile is “ours”—whatever that means—not meant for the states. He calls his in-laws for medical advice. He encouraged Trump to say he wanted to reopen the economy by Easter. He promised millions of test kits that have never materialized. He is perhaps the all-time poster child for the Dunning-Kruger effect. But we’re stuck with him.
¹I would never have guessed that Newsom would turn out to be the best and most effective governor in the country at managing a crisis. But he has been. Go figure.
Michael Atkinson did the right thing. As Intelligence Community inspector general, when Atkinson became aware of a whistleblower complaint that had direct bearing on national security, he briefed Congress on it, ultimately setting in motion the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump. That inquiry proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Trump had abused the power of the presidency by trying to force the Ukrainian president into announcing bogus investigations into Trump's top political rival in 2020, Joe Biden.
Over the weekend, Atkinson finally got axed by Trump—because in the midst of a global pandemic that is ravaging the United States, crushing hospitals, and tearing apart families and communities, retribution is Trump's top priority. In case there was any question about that (which there wasn't), Trump told reporters Saturday that Atkinson had been a "disgrace" who did "a terrible job." In other words, Atkinson prioritized the safety and security of the country over blind loyalty to Trump.
An internal government report gives added details on what we already knew: hospitals are struggling to get enough personal protective equipment, and the federal government is not helping the situation. The report from the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services is based on interviews with administrators at 324 hospitals or hospital networks, and the assistant inspector general described its findings as “unprecedented.”
Hospitals reported receiving unusable masks and other personal protective equipment from the federal government: one hospital getting many fewer masks than it had requested found that half of them were child-sized—not helpful for protecting doctors and nurses—and another got two shipments of equipment that had expired in 2010.
Leading Democrats from both chambers of Congress have introduced legislation ensuring that critical relief and protections from previous coronavirus packages are extended to immigrant families, including ensuring communities can access COVID-19 treatment, ensuring families can access that treatment without fear of federal immigration enforcement, and extending financial support to many working families shut out of economic relief.
“As coronavirus has upended all our lives, we in Congress have rushed to provide the necessary relief to help our whole economy survive this crisis,” Rep. Judy Chu, one of the bill’s lead sponsors, said in a statement. “But you cannot do that by excluding entire segments of the population.”
Charles Gaba at ACA Signups looks at the lost insurance at work Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for Healthcare.gov.
I’ve estimated that even during the off-season (that is, outside of the official annual ACA Open Enrollment Period window), around 7,000 – 9,000 Americans typically enroll in ACA exchange coverage each and every day via Special Enrollment Periods (SEPs)…. around 2/3 do so because they lost their current coverage…and the vast majority of those cases involve employer-sponsored insurance
SEPs are typically a 60-day enrollment window during which you’re eligible to #GetCovered via your state’s ACA exchange if you have a Qualifying Life Experience (QLE), such as losing your existing healthcare coverage;…
Starting in 2017, however, under the Trump Administration, CMS started requiring everyone who wanted to enroll via a SEP to upload documentation of their QLE…and then it had to go through the verification process, in which someone at CMS would give it the OK…
That’s six million people who are going to be desperately scrambling to jump through all of the hoops which CMS is placing in front of them for no legitimate reason whatsoever.
That’s one hundred times the number of people who would typically enroll in “lost my coverage” SEPs via HealthCare.Gov in a typical two-week period.
The current SEP rules and organization of Healthcare.gov is set up to handle a small fraction of the expected number of people eligible.
Chris Briem at the University of Pittsburgh has been tracking Pennsylvania unemployment claims filings:
OK, low (only in that relatively sense) Pennsylvania UI claims for Saturday do not appear to be part of a trend. Big jump up to +65K initial UI claims statewide on Sunday (https://t.co/MwVKNLHauo). 5th biggest daily # thus far and cumulative since March 15 now over 1.1 million. pic.twitter.com/xHP9GIdCmh
— chris briem (@chrisbriem) April 6, 2020
No.. Pennsylvania is not leading the way in unemployment compensation claims because things are worse here as is the common presumption in the media, but because the state has made investments in IT that means the system is no longer dependent on decades old COBOL code!! https://t.co/7mvCf29ya2
— chris briem (@chrisbriem) April 4, 2020
Privately, Republicans admit that the $77.9 million system that is now failing Florida workers is doing exactly what Scott designed it to do — lower the state’s reported number of jobless claims after the great recession.
“It’s a sh– sandwich, and it was designed that way by Scott,” said one DeSantis advisor. “It wasn’t about saving money. It was about making it harder for people to get benefits or keep benefits so that the unemployment numbers were low to give the governor something to brag about…”
The new online system was part of a series of changes designed to limit benefits. The ultimate goal — which it delivered on — was to lower unemployment taxes paid by Florida businesses. A 2011 analysis done by the Florida Legislature estimated that the changes pushed by Scott would save businesses more than $2.3 billion between 2011 and 2020.
The legal availability of benefits is merely the first step of people actually being able to use needed benefits. The decisions and systems that allow for the determination of benefit eligiblity can either be readily made accessible or an incredible hurdle designed to kneecap as many people as possible before a positive determination. The 2nd COVID law that was mostly negoatiated between Speaker Pelosi and Sectretary Mnunchin had strong language that prevented many administrative barriers from being raised or maintained if they are designed to keep people off of Medicaid. A general SEP for the ACA on Healthcare.gov has far fewer paper work validation requirements than the lost insurance SEP. Trying to force a 100,000 people through a 6,000 daily work flow won’t end well. Pennsylvania is managing its unemployment filing surge because its IT system has been recently updated while plenty of other states either have updated systems that are designed to deny claims either directly or indirectly or are operating off of legacy code bases that can’t handle the surge.
Administrative friction will create social burns.
As social distancing and staying at home is encouraged survivors and victims of domestic violence may be safe from COVID-19 but not their abusers. With isolation efforts in place to slow down the pandemic, survivors are put in a difficult position potentially being trapped inside their homes with their abusive partners or parents.
Cities across the U.S. are reporting increases in domestic violence cases, as gun sales reach a record high, advocates also worry incidents of violence will worsen. Last week, a man who lost his job due to COVID-19 shot his girlfriend and killed himself in a Pennsylvania town, under a shelter-in-place order, CNN reported. "Domestic violence is rooted in power and control, and all of us are feeling a loss of power and control right now," Katie Ray-Jones told CNN, the CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. "We're really bracing for a spike post-COVID-19—that's when law enforcement and advocates and courts are going to hear the really, really scary stuff going on behind closed doors.” Twenty metropolitan police departments provided data to CNN with nine reporting a double-digit percentage increase in cases in March compared to previous year data.