Category Archives: Trump 45

So What is the White House’s Official Position on the Virus?

Can anyone tell me what is the White House’s official position on the virus? Is it a deadly virus and national security threat or no biggie, like a flu that kills lots of people too? If it’s not a big deal, then how were the Chinese government and WHO underplaying its significance?

If the virus is not so deadly – at least not for White people or those with optimal health like the Healthiest President in History™ then why does the president say he needs to undergo an experimental preventive treatment that has yet to be approved by the government that the president himself administers?

Do we need more testing to be safe or not? If we don’t need testing, then why is everyone who works at the White House tested on an ongoing basis? Is that for their protection or for the president’s? Why should White House personnel be tested and not, for example, workers at meat packing facilities?

And if the virus’ threat has been over-hyped by the lame-stream media, then why must the U.S. close its boarders. Are we supposed to be afraid or not?

So if 90,000 dead isn’t such a big deal, we don’t need to wear masks or be tested, and we should drop all these silly restrictions, then:

  • China and the WHO did not do anything wrong
  • White House personnel don’t need tests either
  • Trump does not need to take preventative medication
  • We don’t need to close the boarders, and
  • Obama is definitely not to blame

 

 

 

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Everything Trump Accuses his Rivals of Doing, He Excuses himself of Doing

Hypocrisy from a politician, especially from Trump, should come as no surprise. And now after three years with Trump, we’ve seen that whenever Trump’s poll numbers look real bad or when Trump has almost no excuses for his own incompetence, misdeeds, or misuse of power, Fox News will always run headlines about Obama or Hilary (or accuse his rivals of felonies. This is to remind Republicans that even though Trump may be scum, the reason they support him is because they hate Obama and Hilary.

So with the Covid-19 death toll now exceeding 80,000 with no plan or end insight, Fox News and Trump are – you guessed it — focusing on Obama. But what I find most interesting is how all of Trumps’ defenses to his own misdeeds are a direct contradiction to every allegation he makes against his rivals.

Trump has two defenses:

  1. those who accuse him are partisan, and therefore per se those accusations are illegitimate (unfair, no due process and fake news), and
  2. as his entire legal team argued before the Senate, a president is essentially above the law. A president does not commit a crime or engage in wrongdoing as long as he believes it is in the country’s best interest, and if the president believes it is in his own political best interest then it is per se in the country’s best interest.

So if Trump and Republicans are accusing Obama or Biden (in the case of Ukraine) of having acted improperly shouldn’t we then have to apply #1 above and disregard these accusations as being political motivated and therefore illegitimate? How is there due process and impartiality in leading crowds with “lock her up”? Furthermore, if Obama believed it was in his own political interest to have Flynn investigated (or if Obama and Biden believed it was in the White House’s best interest to have Hunter on the board of Barisma), then according to Trump’s own defense in #2 above, it was 100% kosher.

Next you have the Trumpsters telling us that Americans should be extremely concerned that if the government can spy on Flynn, they could be doing it to you too. I would definitely agree that from Bush to Obama to Trump, the unfettered surveillance of American citizens is appalling. So are Trumpsters now calling Edward Snowden a hero or demanding an end to the Patriot Act or FISA? Of course, not. In fact, Mitch McConnell is expanding the Patriot Act to make it easier to do exactly what Trump is accusing law enforcement of having done to Flynn.

And finally, the epitome of hypocrisy here is Kenneth Starr. Remember Ken Starr? Ken Starr who just a few months ago was part of that entourage of Trump lawyers arguing tooth and nail in the Senate that presidents can do whatever they like. Now Starr suddenly thinks those novel rules would not apply to Obama and just as he previously believed they didn’t apply to Bill Clinton. Ken Star who — together with none other than Brett Kavanaugh — deliberately orchestrated a series of salacious questions about sex acts to entrap Bill Clinton into perjuring himself (knowing it would be a major personal and political embarrassment) because they didn’t have enough evidence to get him on the underlying crimes they were investigating. Now that same Ken Starr is arguing that the FBI improperly entrapped Mike Flynn into perjury, and therefore Flynn’s guilty pleas should be withdrawn, and all charges dropped. Like magic!

Absolutely everything that Trump, his Republican henchmen and Fox News have excused Trump and his entourage of doing, they now accuse their rivals of doing. You cannot make this stuff up !

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The US is Not Leading and No One is Asking

One of the most newsworthy but least reported stories to come out of Covid-19 is the geopolitical irrelevance of the US on the international stage, signaling the demise of Pax Americana and the US’ role as the indispensable nation.

I have already written why I believe that China will emerge as the new global leader in the same way that the US did after World War II. Surely the Chinese government has its degree of responsibility for this outbreak (without getting into a debate about the virus’ origins). Nevertheless, China is now taking advantage of the vacuum in US leadership to wield soft power in ways that the US used to. China is sending supplies, experts, and aid throughout the world. The US is at home, making a fool of itself.

Think about every major geopolitical and humanitarian crisis since World War II and how the world has looked to the US to lead. But now for this first time since World War II, the US is playing absolutely no leadership role in alleviating the global crisis, and quite frankly, no one is asking.

Some of this makes perfect sense. First, right-wing populists have always played the anti-multinationalism and isolationist game. This has generally been lip-service. A huge part of US hegemony has been making sure the world is absolutely dependent on our disproportionate military, financial and commercial muscle. So while we may whine about the US having to play global police or subsidize more than our fair share, it has always been in our selfish, best interest to pay that price and maintain our dominance. But because Trump has mainstreamed populism – ignoring the leverage that we have had, pulling out of treaties and threatening to pull US financial and logistics support to NATO and international organizations – the rest of the world is simply moving forward without us.

Second, the US failure to take the lead globally with Covid-19 relates to the fact that this is the first time in our country’s collective memory that we have faced a sustained and significant threat on U.S. soil. Even Pearl Harbor and 911 were one-time attacks and we were able to mobilize against them by fighting abroad with the vast majority of fatalities occurring abroad. Ironically, a small group of Americans are protesting the lockdown, social distancing and confinement as unduly hindering their personal freedoms without considering that what they are living through is a mild peaceful version (without constant bombings) of what people in Iraq and Afghanistan have had to endure when the US took revenge on the wrong people after 911. The US has always been able to fight its battle without feeling the imminent threat at home, and Covid-19 has changed that.

In her recent article, “The Rest of the World is Laughing at Trump,” Anne Applebaum describes how Trump has left a “leadership vacuum” being filled by China and how we have becoming a laughing stock. Even in Spain which has been one of the hardest hit countries with dismal numbers, the Spanish vice president was able to defend her administration’s response by contrasting  it with a “country who was recommending ingesting bleach.”

Most of the world still remembers the lies and fraud leading to the Iraq war, so imagine how those in the rest of the world perceive the absurdity of Trump’s press conferences, binge tweeting and more importantly the total absolute lack of an American plan even after months. This may likely be the nail in the coffin. Applebaum writes:

I wish I could say for certain that a President Joe Biden could turn this all around, but by next year it may be too late. The memories of the prime minister at the airport, welcoming Chinese doctors, will remain. The bleach jokes and memes will still cause the occasional chuckle. Whoever replaces Pompeo will have only four short years to repair the damage, and that might not be enough.

And if Trump wins a second term? Any nation can make a mistake once, elect a bad leader once. But if Americans choose Trump again, that will send a clear message: We are no longer a serious nation. We are as ignorant as our thoughtless, narcissistic, ignorant president. Don’t be surprised if the rest of the world takes note of that, too.

Most likely the geopolitical impact of Covid-19 will be that countries tighten borders – as the biggest threat to countries that have best controlled the virus will be from those entering the country from abroad – meaning more domestic travel and trade, less transborder transactions, and increased nationalism. This sounds very much like Trump and his supporters worldview.

But as I wrote previously, the world didn’t want American style democracy after World War II because of its ideals. They wanted to live prosperous American lives with big cars and big houses. They wanted to live in a country not destroyed by war. When a country — especially a developing country – looks at who is prospering and who they want to become, they will see two models. One will be where there is lots of political bickering, childish insults, partisanship, gridlock, nepotism, gerrymandering, inequality, and social unrest. The other will be a utilitarian and authoritarian regime that prioritizes the economic growth over individualism and was the first out of running. And most likely, they’ll remember the airplanes full of supplies, not the conspiracy theories from the one that sold them WMDs even before their Reality TV star was pushing miracle cures.

Not convinced? Yes, everyone is hoping the US quickly develops a vaccine or treatment, but dozens of other countries are also hard at work. But in the meantime, the read phone in the Oval Office isn’t ringing, and no one is knocking on the White House door to come to the rescue. That in the past 100 years is unprecedented.

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Either Trump is an Idiot or He is Convinced You Are

Trump announced yesterday that the U.S. will close its borders to immigrants. That was news to be me because I would have thought that in Trump’s infinite wisdom this was already the case. Most countries in Europe, for example, took those steps in March and have strictly limited not only the entrance into the country but even domestic travel.

Come on! What impact would this announcement have. Hasn’t almost all travel been halted?

But another thing confuses me. We keep hearing from Fox News and the president himself that we should immediately open up the economy and remove restrictions. They say things aren’t so bad after all. So we should open up, then why do we need to keep the borders closed?

Oh, there’s the jobs arguments. If we don’t let in foreigners, then they won’t take the jobs of unemployed Americans. But who is going to work the fields? Who is going to take the jobs that Americans don’t want or aren’t qualified to do? How can you get your economy back on track if your food supply chain is severely hindered by not having field workers or if your companies cannot compete with the best workers? Didn’t Republicans tell us for years that regulating the labor market was bad?

Maybe Covid-19 has finally lifted the veil of the American lie and has George Packer writes, “We Are Living in a Failed State”:

When the virus came here, it found a country with serious underlying conditions, and it exploited them ruthlessly. Chronic ills—a corrupt political class, a sclerotic bureaucracy, a heartless economy, a divided and distracted public—had gone untreated for years. We had learned to live, uncomfortably, with the symptoms. It took the scale and intimacy of a pandemic to expose their severity—to shock Americans with the recognition that we are in the high-risk category.

Jared – the expert – has become the poster-boy for the final nail in the American-greatness coffin:

So when his father-in-law became president, Kushner quickly gained power in an administration that raised amateurism, nepotism, and corruption to governing principles. As long as he busied himself with Middle East peace, his feckless meddling didn’t matter to most Americans. But since he became an influential adviser to Trump on the coronavirus pandemic, the result has been mass death.

. . .

To watch this pale, slim-suited dilettante breeze into the middle of a deadly crisis, dispensing business-school jargon to cloud the massive failure of his father-in-law’s administration, is to see the collapse of a whole approach to governing. It turns out that scientific experts and other civil servants are not traitorous members of a “deep state”—they’re essential workers, and marginalizing them in favor of ideologues and sycophants is a threat to the nation’s health. It turns out that “nimble” companies can’t prepare for a catastrophe or distribute lifesaving goods—only a competent federal government can do that. It turns out that everything has a cost, and years of attacking government, squeezing it dry and draining its morale, inflict a heavy cost that the public has to pay in lives. All the programs defunded, stockpiles depleted, and plans scrapped meant that we had become a second-rate nation. Then came the virus and this strange defeat.

You almost wonder whether the president is an idiot. Or maybe he just thinks you are the idiot who is going to buy one of his steaks or a degree from his university.

We need to being screaming “the Emperor is naked” at the top of our lungs or we’ll never survive !

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What’s the Plan, Jerry?

 

Jared F-ing-Krushner, folks. Jared Krushner has addressed the nation. Jared did a bunch of research and, despite his lack of a scientific background or any academic training in how to conduct research, Jared Krushner has pulled it off again. He is now qualified to address the American people on undoubtedly the biggest humanitarian and national security crisis in American history since World War II.

I did a little experiment. I posted a few lines on facebook to see if my two or three (out of 1000) openly Trump supporting friends would bite, knowing full well that it would take a huge leap of intellectual dishonesty and hours of Fox News to come up with a rationalization for (i) why Jared even has a position in the White House, and (ii) more importantly, why Trump’s son-in-law is more qualified than any of the other +300 million Americans to address the nation in a health crisis where hundreds of thousands of lives are at risk, as well as Pax Americana.

Here is what I posted:

Sorry for the political nature of this, but at the time of the biggest crisis facing the world since WWII, why is Jared Kushner addressing the nation? Who the hell is Jared? Besides what he is saying makes absolutely no sense, He clearly has never taken a civics course. We mind as well ask Hunter Biden give press conferences! Please can we let the adults do their jobs and leave the children at home!!

I also recognized that in this press conference, Jared sounded just like I do whenever I have to speak publicly about something I don’t really understand. No beating around the bush: Jared doesn’t understand the science, and he doesn’t understand civics. He seemed to believe there was some Federal territory where the Trump family lived where stuff belonged to them, and then the states where everyone else resided where people had to make do. It was surreal. Maybe in a small family-run business you can get away with play-acting, but this is not Reality TV.

My personal favorite defense of Jared (which I alluded to above) was but Jared did all of this research. Again, I don’t care how much research he has done. Jared has no training in how to do scientific research of this nature. You don’t agree? Then let me ask you a question: if your life was in danger and you needed an urgent medical procedure, would you allow Jared Kushner to perform the operation because he done a lot of research? Why not call Hunter? Maybe he’s free.

Then, of course, there is the fact that absolutely everything the Trump administration has said about Covid-19 since the first reported case has been absolutely wrong. They have had to walk back every statement from soon there will be zero infections to there will be a miracle to it will be over by Easter Sunday. We now know that the US will be one of the worst hit countries hit in the world. Meanwhile, South Korea which reported its first infection at the same time as the US has been incredibly successful at controlling the virus. We have not.

Many leaders around the world have made mistakes, so I am prepared to forgive some of these fatal missteps assuming that our leaders have a plan. So as Jake Tapper just raised “Mr. President, what is your plan?” Shit, I’d like to know.

Or should we wait for Jared-when you meet him you’re going to love him … only the best people-Kushner for the answer? Forget about his inability to fill out a security clearance form or his billion dollar real estate losses. But for his father-in-law being the president, would anyone ever ask Jared for his opinion on anything let alone on how to save hundreds of thousands of live?

Sure, Jared’s no microbiologist or doctor, but he’s read up a lot. He’s not an expert and therefore technically does not have an expert opinion. But as the president’s official son-in-law, we’d like him to address the nation. Can we really trust anyone else?

So Jerry, what’s the plan?

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Remember 911? You haven’t seen nothing yet!

I moved to Spain in September 2000. Almost a year to the day later 911 hit and the world changed. Once I made all the necessary calls to make sure my friends and family were safe, my next thought was that this was going to be really, really bad. I never considered that the terrorist would win but that the U.S. would over-react, ignore its traditional allies and take revenge. That is in fact what the U.S. did. We singlehandedly destroyed Iraq and went on to occupy Afghanistan for 19 years and counting, the longest war in American history against an enemy that likely cannot find the U.S. on a map. None of the terrorists were even from those countries!

And now nineteen years after 911, the U.S. and the world are facing another unique national security and health crisis. Again, I am sitting in Spain watching it all unfold before my eyes. Already the U.S. president is calling Covid-19 the “Chinese virus” or the “Wuhan virus”. Why is only the U.S. president trying to turn this into an enemy with a name and place? Besides obvious concerns that China will benefit from the outbreak, when American leaders feel threatened outside of their control (and/or it is an election year), their instinct is to fabricate a new enemy, take advantage of the situation and then funnel trillions of dollars to the benefit of special interest groups and government contractors. Covid-19 will surely kill more Americans than at 911 and all the terrorist deaths since 911.  So forget the Patriot Act, enhanced interrogation, or warrantless surveillance (the kind Trump thinks were unfair when applied to his campaign staff). Expect our leaders and their donors’ companies to have a field day! Any criticism of the steps they take will be tantamount to blasphemy. Have you seen this movie before?

You ain’t seen nothing yet.

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If you think the Cure is Worse than the Disease You are either a Psychopath or in Self-Destructive Denial

UPDATE BELOW

Are there really lots of smart people debating whether the economic pain is worse than the cure? I honestly don’t think that anywhere where people are dying in the hundreds per day anyone is having that argument. That argument is murder. Make no mistake.

This is funny coming from people who claim to be Pro Life or who complained that Obama Care would create Death Panels. But precisely what these people are saying is that we should sacrifice potentially tens of thousands of lives (maybe hundreds of thousands) in order to avoid short or mid term economic loss. That is literally the government deciding who lives and who dies.

But before we get there, a little context: I live in Madrid, Spain. In a country with a population of 40 million, as of March 25, 2020, some 3,400 people have died in the past two weeks (more people than died in China). Today alone, 738 people – all human beings like you and me – died. Life over! Yesterday the number was +500, the day before +400, the day before +300. So many people have died in Madrid that there is no place to put the bodies. In fact, they have converted the shopping center literally across the street in front of me – the only place I go these days to buy groceries and to go to the pharmacy – into a make-shift morgue. I kid you not. This isn’t a fucking joke. This isn’t a fat lady that Trump can insult.

A friend’s sister is a nurse here. She says that her hospital sees 4-5 new ICU patients every hour. These are not just grandma and grandpa. They are people of all ages who desperately need respirators. All of the medical staff at her hospital have tested positive, but they work on. They have no other choice. Either they work or even more people die. Again, this is not a fucking joke. This isn’t a fumbling, senile Democratic presidential candidate Trump can make fun of.

Just to give you another quick example, I spoke to two people on the phone today who are positive. They haven’t been tested because hospitals and the authorities don’t have time to waste testing people. They ask you a few questions about your symptoms and make a quick determination. Both of these people are at home, their children are also positive, but the hospitals won’t take them until they are on the verge of respiratory failure. There is just no space in the hospitals. Not enough doctors. This is not a fucking joke. This isn’t CNN you can whine about on Fox News for treating you unfairly.

Sorry, but if your biggest concern is the economy, then you are a psychopath. According to Wikipedia, psychopathology is “a personality disorder characterized by persistent antisocial behavior, impaired empathy and remorse, and bold, disinhibited, and egotistical traits.”

OK, maybe saying that we should prioritize jobs over the lives of tens – maybe hundreds – of thousands of human beings in Trump and Biden’s age range is rational and not psychopathy. Fine, I will concede that point if those making the argument agree to forgo treatment if they become ill. Any takers? And guess who is infecting all of the elderly? You guessed it: younger people who are asymptomatic or have yet to show symptoms.

So far the best article I have read about the current predicament is the Hammer and Dance. If governments and people take responsibility now – meaning that they engage in extreme social distancing and make some economic sacrifices, in a few months this pandemic will likely be under control. In the meantime, governments should be using what resources and expertise they have to ramp-up medical supplies like protective gear for health care workers, urgently manufacture mechanical respirators, and order tests. After they have taken those measures, then they can engage in aggressive spending initiatives to protect business and individuals affected by the short and mid-term economic impacts of the absolutely dire measures to protect lives. But saying that we should merely accept the deaths of tens if not hundreds of thousands of lives (which would otherwise be preventable) for short term economic stability and to maintain the comfort of our daily routine is EXTREMIST by definition. It is also delusional.

Imagine what would happen if we did nothing. No quarantines. We let people go to the stores, get on planes, hang out at Mar-a-Lago. What would the economic impact be? Clearly it would be worse than the cure. Not only would more people get sick, more people would need hospitalization and instead of people Trump and Biden’s age dying, people in their 30s and 40s would be dying because the current infrastructure simply cannot manage the increased volumes of patients. The infrastructure can’t manage under quarantine conditions, so it certainly cannot manage without them.  What would happen next? People would start social distancing anyways. People wouldn’t go to the store, to a hotel or get on a plane. It would never be worth the risk! The hospitals would be so overloaded that they would have no bandwidth to manage even the run-of-the-mill medical emergencies you have during normal times, like kidney stones, appendicitis, car accidents, or kids needing stitches. Unless of course you just stop treating anyone with Covid-19 and left them to die on the streets.

Even in places like Hong Kong, South Korea or Singapore where they have engaged in less social distancing, they have imposed very strict testing and control measures, and no one is traveling. No one! I was told today by a colleague in Singapore that anyone entering the country is put in a hotel for quarantine for 14 days, and if you are a non-citizen resident who leaves the country and comes back infected, the national health care system will not cover you. Everyone wears masks to work, and everyone wipes the button on the elevator with alcohol before selecting their floor. Is America ready for that?

So please stop saying that the cure is worse than the disease. It is bull shit propaganda. It is about politicians who are too scared that that an increase in unemployment or a poor economy will ruin their chances at reelection. If they are not sociopaths, then they are in absolute denial – straight from The Plague — that their own lives are at risk. Don’t ask me, walk across the street from where I live. It is full of dead bodies.

If you are not convinced then ask yourself these questions: are you willing to reject a respirator in favor of helping the economy? Would Trump reject a respirator to protect the Dow Jones or his chances at re-election? Would you rather save your job or your parents’ lives?

I can promise you that until it hits your neighborhood – and when it hits, it hits so sudden you never saw it coming — you have no idea what you are up against. This is no joke.

And what is the US government about to do? It will pass the largest stimulus bill in American history. But it will do so without first taking the absolutely necessary measures to protects the lives of its citizens. It will prioritize the livelihood of its economy first. That is by definition … well I don’t need to say it. You already know what it is.

UPDATED March 26, 2020:

Let me explain it another way: Covid-19 presents the moral test of our time. The only way to save lives is for individuals — people like you and me — to make sacrifices to our normal, daily way of life. We need to stay indoors, limit our outings to a bare minimum and to the bare necessities. We need to manage life with our children at home, instead of outsourcing their care to schools. More importantly we must assume that we ourselves are infected but asymptomatic. Therefore, we — each one of us —  are the biggest risk to our fellow human beings and to society. If all you care about is your job or your routine, then you are the one killing your neighbors. This will only be resolved by each individual taking personal responsibility for the situation.

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