Trump continues to view the coronavirus pandemic through the lens of the stock market and his need to pump up his prospects for re-election. He briefly listened to scientists and medical experts but reverted to his usual stance of catering to his base, praising himself, and demonizing his critics. He now thinks he can talk his way out of a public health emergency.

Yale psychiatry Bandy Lee says that the COVID-19 epidemic brings out the worst in Trump. He can’t control it, but he can pretend to control it. That’s enough for his rabid base.

Asmany of America’s and the world’s leading mental health experts have repeatedly warned, Trump is mentally unwell to the extreme. He has publicly and repeatedly shown that he is a malignant narcissist, a pathological liar and a delusional fabulist. He is detached from reality and appears to live in his own fantasy world. His lack of empathy, care and concern for others can reasonably be described as sociopathic.

The coronavirus pandemic is one of the greatest threats to public health — and perhaps even modern human civilization — of the last century. Many millions of people may directly die from the virus in the United States and around the world. The global economy is collapsing into a state that may be worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s. To defeat the coronavirus will require patient and wise leadership based on facts, reason, and expertise. Because the coronavirus is a public health crisis it is a problem of science and empirical knowledge. It cannot be wished away or prayed away or eliminated through other forms of magical thinking.

For many reasons, including his mental health, overall temperament, values and intelligence, Donald Trump is existentially ill-equipped to handle this emergency and defeat the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Bandy Lee is perhaps the leading voice among those who have warned the American people and the world that Donald Trump’s presidency would result in disaster. She is a professor of psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine and editor of the bestselling book “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.”

In our most recent conversation, Lee contended that explains the pressures of the coronavirus pandemic are making Donald Trump’s various mental pathologies worse and more dangerous. She explained her view that Trump, aided by Fox News and other parts of the right-wing echo chamber, is creating a collective state of mental illness among his cult members that is making the coronavirus even more lethal.

As she has done before, Lee argued that Donald Trump is the most dangerous person on the planet and expressed her concern he may use the coronavirus pandemic to start or inflame mass violence in order to keep himself in power permanently.

Read the rest of the interview.

Veteran teacher Nancy Bailey offers some common sense advice about how to help students become better readers and writers. Her advice is meant for students with or without disabilities.

Here are first two suggestions:

I welcome teachers and parents to add whatever they’d like to share, what works for you, or special resource pages or links.

Handwriting

Teachers don’t always focus on handwriting because of other skills they are made to address. The focus on technology has sometimes pushed handwriting out of the picture. So, helping students, especially students with reading or writing (dysgraphia) disabilities, become better at handwriting at home, might be a beneficial exercise at this time.

Teachers struggle to understand what students mean when they turn in sloppy papers. Even if students misspell words, it’s much easier to see the breakdown of their errors and help them correct their papers, when letters are neatly printed or written in cursive.

***Don’t push a child to write if they have difficulty holding a pencil or if they are too young.

Holding a pencil.

This may seem strange, but many students don’t know how to hold a pencil! My husband teaches college students and remarks about the many strange ways he has observed students holding pencils and pens in a cramped and uncomfortable manner.

The pencil should be held between the thumb and middle finger with the index finger riding the pencil. The pencil should be grasped above the sharpened point. Pencil grippers are helpful, or some tape or a rubber band wrapped around the pencil can help with gripping.

Younger children work better with larger pencils.

As a left-handed writer with horrible handwriting, I should remain silent. But I have noticed young adults who literally don’t know how to hold a pencil and whose handwriting is even worse than mine.

The Washington Post reported that Trump made clear that he would reward those governors that are “appreciative” of him and punish those who were not.

Have we ever had a president who was so petty, so vain, so desperately in need of praise?

President Trump is a commander in chief dealing with a coronavirus outbreak in which many difficult decisions have to be made. And on Friday, he seemed to suggest some of those decisions could be made according to who has run afoul of him personally.
Appearing at the daily White House briefing, Trump disclosed that he has told Vice President Pence, who is leading the coronavirus task force, not to call the governors of Michigan and Washington state because those governors had been critical of Trump and the federal response.
“When they’re not appreciative to me, they’re not appreciative to the Army Corps, they’re not appreciative to FEMA, it’s not right,” Trump said.
He then added: “I say, ‘Mike, don’t call the governor of Washington; you’re wasting your time with him. Don’t call the woman in Michigan. It doesn’t make any difference what happens.’ You know what I say: ‘If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call.’ He’s a different type of person; he’ll call quietly anyway.”

Those states are particularly important. Washington state was the first real hot spot in the United States for the coronavirus outbreak. Michigan, which has among the nation’s highest rates of the virus, is also a key swing state in the 2020 election. You wonder if Trump’s comments about not wanting to communicate with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) during a crisis might be used against him in his reelection campaign.
Asked what more he wants from Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), in particular, Trump said he just wants more gratitude.
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“All I want them to do — very simple: I want them to be appreciative,” he said. “I don’t want them to say things that aren’t true. I want them to be appreciative.”

The Daily Howler covers the media. In this post, it points to the daily dose of propaganda meant to distract and impress the public, when the government is in fact lying. The lying is facilitated by media protocols that encourage deference to the authorities. That’s why you seldom see a White House reporter say simply, “but that’s not true” or “that’s not what you said last week.”

Consider the way Commander Trump, and the media suits, have brought us our own North Korea.

If we were the rational animal, everyone would have realized, long ago, that something seems to be badly wrong with Commander Trump. Everyone would have taken the unfortunate measure of such statements as this:
“You have 15 people, and the 15, within a couple of days, is going to be close to zero.”
The commander said that on February 26. Yesterday, one month later, the actual number was at least 82,000. It was likely much greater than that.

In a rational world, it would have clear, a long time ago, that something was and is wrong with our bold commander.

There may be an issue of mental health. There may be an issue of cognitive impairment. There may be illness and impairment. But this would have been clear long ago.

In a rational world, rational people would have discussed these obvious possibilities. In our world, press corps elites declared that we mustn’t conduct such discussions.

We can finally taste the fruits of such conduct. We’ve ended up, all this week, watching North Korean TV.

What happens in North Korean TV? In our version of the system, useless elites find the craziest person in the society and put him on prime-time TV. They do it day after day after day.

The cases of coronavirus in the U.S. passed 100,000 in Friday, the most of any country in the world. But don’t worry. It’s all under control. The craziest person in our society said so.

John Merrow rightly says that the new stay-at-home schooling is not homeschooling.

There are no bells, no crowd control, and very few real teachers.

It is home LEARNING, and there is a wealth of resources available to parents.

He offers many activities and links to resources.

A parent recently said on Twitter that the current situation cannot be compared to homeschooling, because those parents who exercise that option have access to museums, libraries, and other community activities that are mostly closed for the same reason schools are closed.

Politico reported this information from the Wall Street Journal this a.m.:

SIDEBAR — WSJ: ” Mr. Trump has told people he wants his signature to appear on the direct payment checks that will go out to many Americans in the coming weeks, according to an administration official. The White House didn’t comment. Normally, a civil servant—the disbursing officer for the payment center—would sign federal checks, said Don Hammond, a former senior Treasury Department official.”

Tom Scarice, superintendent of schools in Madison, Connecticut, has advice for his community.

He writes:

In February of 2016 something magical took place in the scorched arid region of California known as Death Valley. Following years of drought and unrelenting heat, one of the hottest and driest places on the planet experienced a breathtaking phenomenon. Millions of seeds lying dormant buried under the dusty desert soil collectively burst to life, carpeting the floor of this barren stretch with over 20 species of magnificent wildflowers for miles and miles in what is now called a “super bloom”. These flowers have laid dormant for years, silently waiting for the conditions to call them back to life.

As our connections and sense of purpose begin to escape us during this global crisis, nerves fray and a sobering reality settles in. It is becoming increasingly likely that school, the place of connections and purpose for our children, and the soul of any community, will be closed for the remainder of the year. For now, it will be replaced by a virtual facsimile that could never replicate the warmth of a teacher’s words, the sense of belonging our children crave. Sadly, it is also likely that we will all eventually know someone who contracts this virus, and perhaps, we will all know someone who we may lose to this virus. It is precisely in times like this where we can see the very worst and the very best in each other.

The generation we serve in our schools today was born under the shadow of 9/11, raised in terror of Sandy Hook, seduced by the perverted temptations of social media and dopamine hits, and now finds itself facing a generational crisis, all the while aching for the adults in their lives to show them their very best, in the most challenging of times. Their childhood innocence, a natural endowment, has been violently stripped. They are looking for the very best in us right now. They are counting on us.

We tend to find exactly what we are looking for in life. If you want to see the best in each other, now is the time to look for it. It is there. Perhaps it is dormant, like the millions of wildflowers below the surface of Death Valley. Right now, the conditions are right. The conditions all around us summon the very best in us, even if it lays dormant, back to life.

There are acts of kindness happening all around us, big and small. There are people subordinating their comforts for the welfare of others. If we fasten our attention to these people, and to their examples, perhaps our measure of humane kindness can outpace the spread of this contagion. The very best in us is there if we look for it. If you look around, you’ll see countless young eyes watching us, counting on us.

I want to assure you that those who care for your children every day in our schools accept the responsibility to help our community through this crisis. It is time to see our very best. If we can find a way to meet the needs of your child, perhaps it will then cascade some semblance of normalcy and solace to your family, and then perhaps throughout our entire community.

The very best in us may be out in the open, or, like the millions of wildflowers beneath the floor of the desert, it may lie dormant. Now is the time for our best to come out. Perhaps they have never counted on us any more than right now.

In Arkansas, the governor and the legislature does not want the citizens of Little Rock to have democratic control of their public schools. They took over the schools five years ago and were supposed to return it to the people but passed a hoax of a bill.

Now activists have filed a lawsuit to expose the hoax and demand a real return to democratic control of their schools.

Max Brantley, veteran journalist in Little Rock, explains how the state intends to clamp down on a new local board and hang on to the reins of power.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of three plaintiffs by Matthew Campbell, challenges the state Board’s order that prevents the School Board from filing lawsuits; from negotiating with the teachers union on a contract, and from firing the school superintendent.

The plaintiffs are a parent of a child in the district, Heather Speyer-Rainbolt; Jim Ross, a member of the School Board disbanded by the state five years ago on account of low standardized tests scores in a handful of the district’s almost four dozen schools, and Marshall Sladyen, a teacher at Hall High School.

The lawsuit argues that the state’s ability to control the district ended by law at the five-year trusteeship period in January. Then, the state had to consolidate, annex or reconstitute the district. The state contended that it had reconstituted the district by allowing the election of a new board at the end of this year. But it put three key limits on its powers. It has since acted in other ways to assert control — including in the naming of a school and designation of a principal and asserting that it could act in any way it found necessary to oversee practices in the district.

So, the hoax is exposed. The new locally elected board is not allow to file lawsuits; it is not allowed to restore the teachers’ union; it is not allowed to fire the superintendent hired by the state. The state board can do whatever it wants to intervene in the district and the local board is powerless to stop it. The state board, the state superintendent, the governor, and the legislature are determined to crush democracy in Little Rock, without regard to the law.

Behind the hoax are the Waltons, who treat the state as their private plantation. I asked a local parent about who was pulling the strings and she replied:

The Waltons are behind the efforts to maintain indefinite state control beyond the five years allowed in state law. The State Board of Ed member (Chad Pekron) who proposed the limitations on returning LRSD local control (no collective bargaining, and no filing lawsuits) was appointed by our governor just a few months ago, when Jay Barth’s term ended. Chad Pekron stayed on the board only long enough to implement these “guard rails” before the Waltons called him home to the Walmart home office as Lead Counsel – Appellate. https://twitter.com/chadpekron/status/1233402726832316421?s=21

This is not democracy. This is colonialism.

We have been told that technology can’t be stopped and that we are heading for a jobless economy. We have been told that anyone who disagrees is an old fogey standing in the way of progress.

Peter Greene says “nonsense.”

Do you remember the predictions about 15 years ago that MOOCS would drive most institutions of higher education out of existence. Didn’t happen. Except for job-oriented and/or highly motivated persons, online instruction is boring except in small doses, monitored by a teacher.

Greene writes that venture capitalists have lost patience with self-driving trucks and cars.

As millions of parents have become involuntary home-schoolers, they see the limits of online instruction. Boredom sets in.

This evening the New York Times published a story about a Trump’s repeated lies, boasts, and ignorance about the pandemic. The story did not include a Trump’s assertion yesterday on the Sean Hannity show that governors were inflating their need for ventilators, followed by orders to GM and Ford to start producing ventilators. One day he proclaims there is no crisis. The next day he responds to the crisis. Confusion? Distraction? Ignorance?

Linda Qiu writes:

Hours after the United States became the nation with the largest number of reported coronavirus cases on Thursday, President Trump appeared on Fox News and expressed doubt about shortages of medical supplies, boasted about the country’s testing capacity, and criticized his predecessor’s response to an earlier outbreak of a different disease.

“I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators,” he said, alluding to a request by Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York. . The president made the statement in spite of government reports predicting shortages in a severe pandemic — and he reversed course on Friday morning, calling for urgent steps to produce more ventilators.

Speaking on Fox on Thursday, Mr. Trump suggested wrongly that because of his early travel restrictions on China, “a lot of the people decided to go to Italy instead” — though Italy had issued a more wide-ranging ban on travel from China and done so earlier than the United States. And at a White House briefing on Friday, he wrongly said he was the “first one” to impose restrictions on China. North Korea, for one, imposed restrictions 10 days before the United States.

He misleadingly claimed again on Friday that “we’ve tested now more than anybody.” In terms of raw numbers, the United States has tested more people for the coronavirus than Italy and South Korea but still lags behind in tests per capita.

And he continued to falsely claim that the Obama administration “acted very, very late” during the H1N1 epidemic in 2009 and 2010.

These falsehoods, like dozens of others from the president since January, demonstrate some core tenets of how Mr. Trump has tried to spin his response to the coronavirus epidemic to his advantage. Here’s an overview.

Playing down the severity of the pandemic

When the first case of the virus was reported in the United States in January, Mr. Trump dismissed it as “one person coming in from China.” He said the situation was “under control” and “it’s going to be just fine” — despite a top official from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention telling the public to “expect more cases.”

No matter how much the count of cases has grown, Mr. Trump has characterized it as low.

“We have very little problem in this country” with five cases, he said in late January.

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He maintained the same dismissive tone on March 5, as the number of cases had grown by a factor of 25. “Only 129 cases,” he wrote on Twitter.

A day later, he falsely claimed that this was “lower than just about” any other country. (A number of developed countries like Australia, Britain and Canada as well as populous India had fewer reported cases at that point.)

By March 12, when the tally had again increased tenfold to over 1,200, the president argued that too was “very few cases” compared to other countries.

He has also misleadingly suggested numerous times that the coronavirus is no worse than the flu, saying on Friday, “You call it germ, you can call it a flu. You can call it a virus. You can call it many different names. I’m not sure anybody knows what it is.”

The mortality rate for coronavirus, however, is 10 times that of the flu and no vaccine or cure exists yet for the coronavirus.

In conflating the flu and the coronavirus, Mr. Trump repeatedly emphasized the annual number of deaths from the flu, and occasionally inflated his estimates. When he first made the comparison in February, he talked of flu deaths from “25,000 to 69,000.” In March, he cited a figure “as high as 100,000” in 1990.

The actual figure for the 1990 flu season was 33,000, and in the past decade, the flu has killed an estimated 12,000 to 61,000 thousand people each flu season in the United States. That’s so far higher than the death count for the virus in the United States, but below projections from the Centers for Disease and Prevention, which estimated that deaths from Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, could range from 200,000 to 1.7 million. As of Friday evening, more than 1,200 deaths in the United States have been linked to the coronavirus.

On the flip side, Mr. Trump inflated the mortality and infection rates of other deadly diseases as if to emphasize that the coronavirus pales in comparison. “The level of death with Ebola,” according to Mr. Trump, “was a virtual 100 percent.” (The average fatality rate is around 50 percent.) During the 1918 flu pandemic, “you had a 50/50 chance or very close of dying,” he said on Tuesday. (Estimates for the fatality rate for the 1918 flu are far below that.)

This week, as cities and states began locking down, stock markets tumbled and jobless claims hit record levels, Mr. Trump again played down the impact of the pandemic and said, with no evidence and contrary to available research, that a recession would be deadlier than the coronavirus.

Overstating potential treatments and policies

The president has also dispensed a steady stream of optimism when discussing countermeasures against the virus.

From later February to early March, Mr. Trump repeatedly promised that a vaccine would be available “relatively soon” despite being told by public health officials and pharmaceutical executives that the process would take 12 to 18 months. Later, he promoted treatments that were still unproven against the virus, and suggested that they were “approved” and available though they were not.

Outside of medical interventions, Mr. Trump has exaggerated his own policies and the contributions of the private sector in fighting the outbreak. For example, he imprecisely described a website developed by a company affiliated with Google, wrongly said that insurers were covering the cost of treatment for Covid-19 when they only agreed to waive co-payments for testing, and prematurely declared that automakers were making ventilators “right now.”

Often, he has touted his complete “shut down” or “closing” of the United States to visitors from affected countries (in some cases leading to confusion and chaos). But the restrictions he has imposed on travel from China, Iran and 26 countries in Europe do not amount to a ban or closure of the borders. Those restrictions do not apply to American citizens, permanent residents, their immediate families, or flight crews.

Not only were these restrictions total and absolute in Mr. Trump’s telling, they were also imposed on China “against the advice of a lot of professionals, and we turned out to be right.” His health and human services secretary, however, has previously said that the restrictions were imposed on the recommendations of career health officials. The Times has also reported that Mr. Trump was skeptical before deciding to back the restrictions at the urging of some aides.

Blaming others

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent test kits to states in February, some of which were flawed and produced inconclusive readings. Problems continued to grow as scientists and state officials warned about restrictions on who could be tested and the availability of tests overall. Facing criticism over testing and medical supplies, Mr. Trump instead shifted responsibility to a variety of others.

It was the Obama administration that “made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we’re doing,” he said on March 4. This was a misleading reference to draft guidance issued in 2014 on regulating laboratory-developed tests, one that was never finalized or enforceable. A law enacted in 2004 created the process and requirements for receiving authorization to use unapproved testing products in health emergencies.

The test distributed by the World Health Organization was never offered to the United States and was “a bad test,” according to Mr. Trump. It’s true that the United States typically designs and manufactures its own diagnostics, but there is no evidence that the W.H.O. test was unreliable.

As for the shortage of ventilators cited by Mr. Cuomo, Mr. Trump has misleadingly said that the governor declined to address the issue in 2015 when he “had the chance to buy, in 2015, 16,000 ventilators at a very low price and he turned it down.”

A 2015 report establishing New York’s guidelines on ventilator allocation estimated that, in the event of a pandemic on the scale of the 1918 flu, the state would “likely have a shortfall of 15,783 ventilators during peak demand.” But the report did not actually recommend increasing the stockpile and noted that purchasing more was not a cure-all solution as there would not be enough trained health care workers to operate them.

Rewriting history

Since the severity of the pandemic became apparent, the president has defended his earlier claims through false statements and revisionism.

He has denied saying things he said. Pressed on Tuesday about his pronouncements in March that testing was “perfect,” Mr. Trump said he had been simply referring to the conversation he had in July with the president of Ukraine that ultimately led to the House impeaching him. In fact, he had said “the tests are all perfect” like the phone call.

He has compared his government’s response to the current coronavirus pandemic (“one of the best”) favorably to the Obama administration’s response to the H1N1 epidemic of 2009 to 2010 (“a full scale disaster”). In doing so, Mr. Trump has falsely claimed that former President Barack Obama did not declare the epidemic an emergency until thousands had died (a public health emergency was declared days before the first reported death in the United States) and falsely said the previous administration “didn’t do testing” (they did).

At times, Mr. Trump has marveled at the scale of the pandemic, arguing that “nobody would ever believe a thing like that’s possible” and that it “snuck up on us.”

There have been a number of warnings about both a generic worldwide pandemic and the coronavirus specifically. A 2019 government report said that “the United States and the world will remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or large scale outbreak of a contagious disease.” A simulation conducted last year by the Department of Health and Human Services modeled an outbreak of a rapidly spreading virus. And top government officials began sounding the alarms about the coronavirus in early January.

Despite his history of false and misleading remarks, Mr. Trump has also asserted, “I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”