Big issue of the day is the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. It's a political issue because the Trump Administration's response has been a complete cluster$%#@. Our intelligence agencies knew back in December that China had a very deadly and highly contagious outbreak, the blog Balloon Juice began running consolidated tweet posts on the pandemic on 21 January, presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren came out with a plan for dealing with it on 28 January, but the announcement that the US had a serious crisis on its hands waited until 13 March.
Google has been keeping track of numbers. The number of US new cases of the coronavirus has been going up and down since 4 April, but it has remained steady at about 30k new cases per day, give or take about 5k.
The President was seriously embarrassed when he announced that Google was going to build a website that was going to help with the pandemic. Good idea, but kind of a problem with that was that the President's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, had sold Trump on the idea of the website. It would have helped had Google been informed. We can properly blame Kushner for failing in this regard, but it's also the President's fault for not following up and getting details about the website.
How are our front-line health care people doing? According to the President, things couldn't be better. According to knowledgeable observers:
...the wealthiest country in history cannot seem to provide basic medical equipment to doctors and nurses and lifesaving care to its citizens during an emergency.At this point, with deaths from the coronavirus having surpassed the death toll from US soldiers fighting the Vietnam War, there are only three events in American history more costly in terms of US lives lost, World Wars I & II and the post-World War I Spanish Flu.
This was a related protest that started their march when we got there.
Can the Trump Administration place any of the blame for their poor performance on their predecessors, the Obama Administration? The National Security Adviser for Obama, Susan Rice says (words to the effect of): "Awww! HELL no!!!"
"But the broader narrative that somehow the Obama administration left this new administration unprepared is ridiculous. First of all, this is 3 1/2 years into the Trump administration. They own whatever the situation is.
"Secondly, we understood very clearly the real likelihood of a pandemic. President Obama spoke to it publicly in December 2014 as we were wrestling with the Ebola epidemic. I set up an office at the White House, solely for the purpose of tracking global health events and possible pandemics and responding to them. We left them a 69-page playbook which I called 'pandemics for dummies' which was designed to enable an administration to walk through a set of issues and questions and begin to prepare a response.
"They dismantled the office, discarded the playbook. They disregarded the exercise we prepared for them to enable them to work through these kinds of issues in the transition, and they never prioritized pandemics as the catastrophic threat we all knew it could be."
For an absolutely staggering example of mismanagement and dysfunction, it's hard to beat the Department of Agriculture and food insecurity for tens of millions of Americans. The sudden loss of the restaurant business meant that farms had nowhere to sell their produce. The sudden loss of millions of jobs meant people couldn't afford food. The solution seems rather obvious. The government should buy up produce and then move the food to food banks. For some strange reason, the Department of Agriculture has reacted as though only a few hundred thousand people were affected. We've got a food-insecure population of 54 million and that includes 18 million children! George Ervin “Sonny” Perdue, who's the head of the Department of Agriculture, appears to be in WAY over his head!
Problem is, even after the President agreed there was a very serious problem as of 29 March, in the 34 days following, erm, not very much got done by the White House.
The emerging portrait is one of a hapless and confused president, preoccupied with grievances and his own personal political fortunes, unable to tell the difference between failures and successes, veering in wildly different directions from one day to the next. It was a posture that led the White House to pass the buck, leaving key decisions to governors and mayors -- in part because White House officials hoped to avoid responsibility, and in part because they weren't altogether sure what to do.
It's quite clear in the President's response here that he's given the issue of over-crowded meat plants leading to their being COVID-19 hotspots little to no thought. his total research on the issue appears to have consisted of listening to a few offhand comments without any real understanding of the issue.
The "shadow task force" headed by Jared Kushner is playing a largely unknown but apparently very destructive role in getting supplies of needed, life-saving equipment to front-line health care personnel. According to GQ:
Inside the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Kushner doesn't inspire anywhere near the confidence Trump seems to have in him—in fact, his task force is derisively labelled "the children" since they seem to have no idea what they're doing and are more focused on tapping personal contacts than making effective decisions.There's simply no evidence that Kushner is doing anything that's even remotely effective or useful.
So, any good news to report? Governors are reaping the benefits of being able to demonstrate competence, in contrast to the White House. Maryland recently had to sneak in a shipment of a half-million test kits. They were very concerned that the federal government would confiscate the shipment. fortunately, they got it safely into the state.