Archives for category: Stupid

The New York Times declared that its coverage of the pandemic would not be locked behind a paywall, so I’m assuming this article is available for free use.

It focuses on the fight to contain the virus in Harris County (Houston). One obstacle is the defunding of public health services in this country, which left us unprepared for the pandemic. Another obstacle is the actions of politicians who follow Trump’s lead and minimize the danger to the public. A third obstacle is the stubborn refusal of a large minority who insist on their “right” to do what they want without regard to the community.

This combination has crippled the nation’s response to the pandemic and will cost many thousands of lives.

This story appeared in the Washington Post. This refusal to follow medical advice will continue to spread the disease and cause unnecessary deaths. The world is watching our rudderless response to the pandemic and feeling sorry for us. Why ask a doctor for her best advice in a dire situation and then ignore it?

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) said Monday that he has no plans to close bars and curb indoor dining — minutes after White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx recommended those measures at a joint news conference with the governor.

Saying that the coronavirus situation in Tennessee was at an “inflection point,” Birx said Monday that diligence and targeted business restrictions statewide could have an effect on a par with a stay-at-home order.

“We can change the future of this virus in this state today,” she said. “If we continue to social-distance, if every mayor throughout this great state would mandate masks, close the bars and substantially increase indoor dining distancing, together we can get through this.”

But when Lee took the microphone later, he said there are currently no plans to close bars or limit dining. Some mayors can shutter businesses on their own, but the vast majority of Tennessee’s county health departments fall under Lee’s purview, the Tennessean reports.

“I’ve said from the very beginning of this pandemic that there’s nothing off the table,” Lee said after a reporter brought up the issue. “I’ve also said that we are not going to close the economy back down, and we are not going to.”

“But I appreciate their recommendations and we take them seriously,” he said, after thanking Birx for visiting his state and saying there were “productive meetings” about education plans and strategies to encourage mask-wearing, among other topics.

Lee has also declined to issue a statewide mask order, though he promoted their effectiveness Monday, and Birx said Monday that she believes the governor has a “sound strategy” and supports local officials taking the lead. Birx appealed to the mayors of rural counties in particular to mandate face coverings, saying that a majority of counties in Tennessee require them but that “we need 100 percent.”

On another front in the battle against COVID-19, the head of Baltimore’s Intensive Care Unit died of the virus.

Joseph J. Costa, chief of the hospital’s Critical Care Division, died about 4:45 a.m. Saturday in the same ICU he supervised. He was attended by his partner of 28 years and about 20 staff members, who placed their hands on him as he died. Costa was 56.

Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia has boldly asserted his claim to be the dumbest governor in the nation. This makes Florida Governor Ron DeSantis very unhappy, as he claims that title.

Kemp suspended all local laws and orders that mandate mask-wearing as the number of coronavirus cases rise in Georgia. He “encouraged” people to wear masks, but no mandates permitted.

Bob Shepherd explains why Florida is miffed:

 

FROM: the law offices of A. Wayne Kerr, Esq.

TO: The State of Georgia

OK. We here in Flor-uh-duh are not happy. We’ve spent years, literally, building our reputation as the dumbest state in the union. We’ve built rope swings over pits of alligators. We’ve worn “Seriously, I have drugs” T-shirts when we were carrying drugs. We’ve organized people to shoot down hurricanes. We’ve claimed in court that we weren’t drinking and driving because we only swigged alcohol at stop signs. We’ve committed criminal assault with fried chicken. We’ve passed resolutions banning Satan from our towns. We’ve committed armed robbery with transparent bags on our heads. We’ve elected Ron DeSantis our governor. We’ve passed stand your ground laws. We’ve driven on highways with a “Car in Toe” sign in the back window. And we’ve issued an order to open all our schools to full in-person instruction on the very day that we set a national record for new cases of Covid-19.

In short, we have worked extremely hard to build the brand of Flor-uh-duh Man. Now, the state of Georgia thinks it can capriciously encroach on our brand by rescinding its order to wear masks in public during the pandemic. This cannot stand. Please cease and desist from further stupid.

Thank you.

Trump demanded that schools reopen for in-person instruction in a few weeks, as the pandemic surges in more than half the states. He and his party have refused to pass the HEROES act to provide additional resources for schools.

DeVos blasted school districts that hesitate to open, fearing risk to students and staff. She said, patronizingly, that life has many risks: get over it.

THE ANSWER IS NO! TRUMP AND DEVOS ARE WILLING TO SACRIFICE LIVES TO RESTART THE ECONOMY! NO!

Trump doesn’t care about the lives of students and staff. He cares only about his poll numbers. DeVos is arrogant and doesn’t care what might happen to students and teachers and other staff in public schools. She never has.

Opening schools without elaborate and carefully planned protocols for testing, daily screenings, masks, small classes, and social distancing is insane.

Opening schools in the middle of a raging and uncontrolled pandemic is irresponsible. Whose loves will be sacrificed?

What example has Trump set by refusing to wear a mask? Didn’t he just falsely claim that 99% of COVID infections are “totally harmless”?

DO NOT OPEN—DO NOT EVEN THINK OF OPENING—UNLESS EVERYONE IS SAFE, STAFF AND STUDENTS ALIKE.

CORONAVIRUS IS DANGEROUS. IT IS NOT LIKE THE COMMON COLD.

President Trump on Tuesday dialed up pressure on state and local authorities to reopen schools, even as coronavirus cases spike, accusing officials who keep them closed as being motivated by politics.


He said in-person education was essential for the well-being of students, parents and the country as a whole, and he vowed to keep up the pressure on governors to open buildings.
“We want to reopen the schools,” Trump said. “We don’t want people to make political statements or do it for political reasons. They think it’s going to be good for them politically, so they keep schools closed. No way.”


The president did not mention that his own reelection prospects may depend on whether voters see the country as having recovered from the economic and social devastation of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

It’s also unclear whether the schools push will be a political winner for Trump.

Some parents are eager to return to normal but many others, fearful of the virus, have told districts they want to keep their children home this fall.


Virtually every K-12 school in the United States closed this spring in an effort to control infections, abruptly moving to online learning.

The system worked reasonably well for some families in some school districts but was an outright failure in others.

Colleges and universities also shut down, though their remote learning was generally seen as more successful.
Now schools at all levels are struggling to develop plans for the fall, with many planning a mix of in-person and online classes…

During an afternoon dialogue at the White House, federal, state and local officials made the case for in-person schooling, saying it was imperative for the education and social-emotional well-being of children, and critical for parents who need to go to work.

They noted that schools provide children with meals, mental health counseling and socialization.
“Parents have to get back to the factory. They’ve got to get back to the job site. They have to get back to the office. And part of that is their kids, knowing their kids are taken care of,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said.


Children, officials added, are far less likely to become ill and die of the virus than older people, though little was said about the teachers and staff who might be at risk.
“We cannot simply focus on virus containment at the expense of everything else,” said Elinore McCance-Katz, assistant secretary for mental health and substance use at HHS.


The confidence projected from the White House stood in contrast with the angst in many local districts working to develop plans for the fall. Most big cities and many others are developing hybrid models that alternate days in the building and days at home to minimize the number of students present at any given time.



Those models are being developed in part to comply with guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that recommends “enhanced social distancing” in buildings. For instance, the CDC recommends that desks be placed at least six feet apart, something that might not be possible if all students are on site.


Administration officials did not address these hybrid plans directly, though Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said that schools “must fully reopen and fully operate this school year.”


One guest, Patrick Daly, principal of St. Vincent de Paul High School in Petaluma, Calif., said he plans a hybrid system, where students learn from home on certain days. Trump replied that he hoped the school could be in-person full time.

“I know you want to try,” he said.
CDC Director Robert Redfield noted that the agency never recommended that schools close in the first place. And he appeared concerned that his agency’s guidance has made districts reticent to open.
“Nothing would cause me greater sadness” than learning that schools view the guidance as reason not to open, he said.


Schools can safely reopen if they arrange for appropriate social distancing, face coverings and strong personal hygiene including hand-washing, Azar said.

He and some other administration officials were seen wearing masks at the White House, something the president has resisted.


Making his case for a return to normal, Trump repeatedly played down the rising number of coronavirus cases, saying treatments and vaccines are coming soon. He said there are only more cases because the country is doing more testing, a point health experts dispute.

Politico reported on a phone call that DeVos had with the governors, in which she demanded that schools reopen and ignore the risks.

Lily Eskelsen Garcia responded:

“The reality is no one should listen to Donald Trump or Betsy DeVos when it comes to what is best for students,” said Lily Eskelsen García, National Education Association president. “Trump has not once proven credible, compassionate or thoughtful when it comes to this pandemic.”

The White House is hammering a message of reopening schools even as coronavirus cases spike throughout the country, insisting it’s okay to move ahead and that decisions last spring to close doors came from states rather than health experts at the CDC.

Ignore them. They don’t care about human life. They care about the stock market and the election.

Alexandra Petri is the brilliant satirist for The Washington Post. She wrote this column, titled: “The Greeks Are Gone from Troy, for Sure,” by Mike Pence.


“In recent days, the media has taken to sounding the alarm bells over a ‘second wave’ of coronavirus infections. Such panic is overblown. Thanks to the leadership of President Trump and the courage and compassion of the American people, our public health system is far stronger than it was four months ago, and we are winning the fight against the invisible enemy.”

— Vice President Pence in “There Isn’t a Coronavirus ‘Second Wave,’” Wall Street Journal

In recent days, Cassandra has taken to sounding the alarm bells over a “second wave” of Greek attack that will soon come sweeping over us like the wrath of Poseidon and leave our city in ruins. Such panic is overblown. (Although, technically, “panic” is fear induced by the god Pan, so really this is not even panic at all. But whatever it is, it is overblown.)

Thanks to the leadership of King Priam and the courage and compassion of the Trojan people, our walled city is far stronger and even less pregnable than it was nine years ago, and we have won the fight against the Greeks. And if you doubt that, just look at this enormous and beautifully constructed wooden horse they have left for us, which is definitely not hollow and will absolutely not be filled with handpicked soldiers ready to pour out and devastate our city.

The Laocoöns and Cassandras are full of negativity about this horse. At least, I think that was what Laocoön was saying before he was seized mid-sentence and crushed to death by sea serpents, along with his two sons! Probably a sign that what he was saying was not important. And when has Cassandra ever been right about anything?

The point is: The war has been a great success. And I can’t think of anyone better to have led us through it than King Priam. Yes, we have had losses, but ultimately we were victorious. That is what this horse means. We should seize it and be grateful.

Looking back, everything the king did was good. It was good, actually, that he put his sons in charge of everything, Hector, Paris — even Deiphobus. Hector was — how do I put this? — godlike. And so good at taming horses. We all miss him. And we even miss Paris, who actually turned out to be kind of helpful and, seemingly by random chance, managed to kill Achilles! I would think that shooting someone in the heel with an arrow would actually be a sign that you were just hitting body parts at random and not very good at what you were doing. But no, it was brilliant strategy! Which is what we have had throughout. And Deiphobus is here, too!

When King Priam asked me to chair our Get the Greeks to Leave and Destroy Their Champion Achilles Task Force nine years ago (Hector was busy), he directed us to pursue not only a Whole-of-the-House-of-Priam approach but a Whole-of-Troy approach. And now that the Greeks have left, spontaneously, I think, I can look back on that task force and see everything we did as a success. It must have been the partnerships I forged, or perhaps it was the weapons I forged. Maybe it was our alliance with the warlike Amazons, a match for men that put us over the top. (Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, owns The Washington Post.)

We’ve also made great progress on developing a device that will keep the Greeks out of here forever. Operation Wind-Swift-Footed Iris is aiming to have a technology that will shroud our city in something even better than Apollo’s protection — though what, really, could be better than that? I hope this wasn’t blasphemy.
I know we have asked the Trojan people to make sacrifices, like not leaving this walled city because there were Greeks outside, something that, amazingly, a few people were unwilling to do but most of you have been great about. But the time for sacrifices is over, except in the sense that we need to make a literal sacrifice to thank the gods for their protection.

Now is the time to bring in the horse and commemorate this achievement. We have defeated this visible enemy, which was also sometimes invisible because the gods are tricky.

Look, we can test the horse, if you like, but I think testing just makes it more likely you will find out information that makes you unhappy, and that is the last thing we need in our moment of triumph. But sure, have Helen walk around the horse calling out in the voices of the Greeks’ loved ones, just in case! Knock yourself out! I am sure the worst is over.

This is a time of celebration, and I think we can all sleep soundly in our beds. And I, for one, will sleep better once we get that horse inside. Congratulations, people of Troy.

Trump is the biggest fool ever to be elected president. He says stupid things proudly. The number of coronavirus cases detected is surging, mostly in the south and west, and Trump says it’s because there’s is more testing. Other nations are testing and seeing a decline in cases.

Trump said in Wisconsin today:

“If we didn’t test, we wouldn’t have cases,” he said later at a shipyard in Marinette, Wis. “But we have cases because we test. We’ve done an incredible, historic job.”

No testing. No cases. Stupid.

Thanks to a complete absence of national leadership in the United States, the coronavirus is spreading. Other countries have shut it down. Not us! We are free to get diseased!

Dana Milbank writes here about what happens when a nation has leadership and what happens when it does not.


How nice it would be to be in Tokyo today.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government moved to its last stage of reopening on Thursday, allowing bars, amusement parks and karaoke joints to operate. The city of 14 million, in a metropolitan area of 38 million, has averaged just 18 new cases of covid-19 per day, most of which the government efficiently traces to known cases.

How nice it would be to be in Auckland today.
New Zealand has suspended social distancing and has lifted limits on public gatherings, after it declared the virus eradicated for now; Australia is close behind.

How nice it would be to be in Paris or Berlin.
On Monday, France and Germany, enjoying low levels of the virus, opened up to travelers from within the European Union. German tourist attractions reopened, and Paris reopened restaurants. French President Emmanuel Macron said it’s time to “rediscover our taste for freedom.” But U.S. visitors won’t be allowed.

And how nice it would be to be in Athens.
Greece on Monday was set to welcome visitors from such nations as China, Japan, Israel, Australia, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania and North Macedonia because those countries have the virus in check. The virus-laden United States didn’t make the cut.

The world is reopening, safely in many places, because responsible governments made the right decisions about the pandemic. Life there is slowly returning to normal.

And then, there is the United States. We just regained our worldwide lead in reported new cases, passing Brazil, with nearly 24,000 per day. USA! USA! We have had a world-leading 2.1 million infected and 116,000 dead. Much of the world doesn’t want America’s infected hordes traveling there.

Who can blame them? Other governments took the pandemic seriously and responded competently. Ours didn’t, and doesn’t. The willy-nilly reopening here, with safety requirements ignored and inadequate contact tracing, has allowed the virus to spread in much of the country, particularly in states that were most reckless in their reopenings.

And President Trump undermines what few restraints there are, scheduling mass rallies, beginning with an indoor event this week in Tulsa against the pleading of the local health director. Trump won’t “give the press the pleasure” of wearing a mask (one of the most important factors in safe reopening), which ensures many of his supporters won’t, either.

The effects of the careless reopening are now becoming clear. Health-care investment-research firm Nephron, in a report Sunday, finds that the quartile of states that opened earliest has seen a 26 percent increase in cases, while the second-fastest quartile has seen a 7 percent increase. The third and fourth quartiles went down, 31 percent and 9 percent, respectively. “It is patently obvious that states that removed stay-at-home restrictions earlier are seeing worse trends in case growth this month,” Nephron concluded.

Among the 14 earliest states, many of which ignored public health recommendations, nine have seen increases: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, Missouri, Montana, Idaho and Alaska. In the second group, Arizona, California and North Carolina are particularly alarming.

In an interview with Britain’s Telegraph newspaper, top U.S. infectious-disease official Anthony Fauci said it’s an open question whether states will “have the capability to do the appropriate and effective isolation, and contact tracing, to prevent this increase from becoming a full-blown outbreak.” But The Post reports that contact tracing efforts are “way behind” in many hard-hit areas. And yet the reopening keeps expanding — sporting events, conventions, concerts — regardless of the growing threat.

It didn’t have to be this way. Japan, where subways are busy and nightclubs are hopping, benefits from a culture that embraces mask-wearing. Virus-free New Zealand, with back-to-normal sporting events and concerts, benefits from being an island nation. But what about Tunisia, Morocco, Chad, Dominica, Barbados, Uruguay, Cambodia, Thailand, Montenegro, Croatia, Fiji, Iceland and Australia? They’re also on the list of the 15 countries that a German data analysis company, Iunera, identified as being “on a successful path to recovery.” South Korea, the Czech Republic and others have also done well. Is America not as “great” as them?

“It’s just political will,” Andy Slavitt, a top health-care official in the Obama administration, told me Monday. “Are you willing to suffer short-term pain for a lot of long-term gain? Obviously, the president wasn’t.” The behavior of Trump, and of like-minded governors operating with his encouragement, is self-defeating, for it delays the restoration of commerce and the return to normal that countries around the world are now savoring.

The United States, long the envy of the world, now fumbles while others move ahead. A president who promised to put “America First” instead put us at the back of the line.

Politico Morning Education reports:

DEVOS’ INTERIM FINAL RULE: The rule carries out DeVos’ policy, first announced in April, that is being challenged by two lawsuits for restricting which students can receive CARES Act (H.R. 748 ) grants. It will take effect immediately after publication in the Federal Register, which the department said would happen on June 15.

— DeVos said in a statement that the rule was aimed at eliminating any “uncertainty” for colleges about how they must distribute the funds, while carrying out the department’s “responsibility to taxpayers to administer the CARES Act faithfully.”

— Democratic lawmakers have pushed back, saying the rule violates the intent of the CARES Act. “As students across the country are struggling to make ends meet in the face of unprecedented financial challenges, Secretary DeVos’ efforts to deny some much-needed aid is cruel,” said Senate HELP ranking member Patty Murray (D-Wash.). “These extreme eligibility requirements will not only harm students, but they are also contrary to Congressional intent.” Read more from Michael Stratford.

TRUMP TO CONGRESS: ENACT SCHOOL CHOICE: President Donald Trump on Thursday said he is renewing his call on Congress to “finally enact school choice now.” During his State of the Union Address earlier this year, Trump promoted his administration’s proposal to create a new $5 billion federal tax credit to expand school choice. The Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunity Act, introduced in the House as H.R. 1434 (116) and the Senate as S. 634 (116), has no Democratic cosponsors in either chamber. “School choice is a big deal,” he told his audience during a “Transition to Greatness” roundtable in Texas.

— Trump said unions and “others” are against school choice for the wrong reasons. “Access to education is the civil rights issue of our time,” he said, adding that he has heard that for “the last, I would say year, but it really is.” He said, “And it creates competition and other schools fight harder because all of a sudden they say, ‘Wow, we’re losing it, we have to fight hard.’”

— DeVos tweeted a video clip of Trump’s statement and wrote, “Education is the pathway to a stronger tomorrow and a stronger America for all. Thankful for @realdonaldtrump’s unwavering commitment to ALL our nation’s students and their success.

The editorial board of the Washington Post denounced Trump for abruptly withdrawing one-third of American troops from Germany, in retaliation for Chancellor Merkel’s rejection of his invitation to have a snap summit.

IN A transparent attempt to boost his sagging political fortunes, President Trump proposed to stage a summit meeting of the Group of Seven nations in Washington this month, with Vladimir Putin among the special guests. In a May 30 phone call that reportedly turned testy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel demurred, citing the continuing threat of the covid-19 pandemic as well as the lack of preparation for such a meeting.

One week later, Trump’s riposte to Ms. Merkel surfaced: a vindictive and, for U.S. national security, deeply damaging decision to withdraw nearly a third of the American troops stationed in Germany. The move was made without consultation with the Germans, other NATO allies or even senior U.S. military officers in Europe, who were taken by surprise when the story emerged on Friday.
The pullout, which Mr. Trump arrived at in the absence of any National Security Council deliberation, could substantially weaken U.S. ability to deter Russian aggression in Europe or respond to other foreign crises. However, shortly after speaking with Ms. Merkel, Mr. Trump initiated a phone call with Mr. Putin, who will be thrilled by the president’s unilateral disarmament and exacerbation of a rift with a key ally.

Mr. Trump appears to believe he is punishing Ms. Merkel by removing forces that nominally defend Germany. The sycophant whom the president installed as ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, has been arguing publicly that Germany doesn’t merit U.S. bases when it fails to meet NATO defense spending guidelines. What he and the president fail to understand is that the 34,500 U.S. personnel in Germany — down from 235,000 during the Cold War — primarily bolster U.S. defense. The Ramstein Air Base is vital to operations in the Middle East and Africa, and the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center provides critical care to wounded American soldiers medevaced from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr. Trump has been impervious to serial attempts over the past three years by his national security advisers and senior military commanders to explain such basics to him. Instead, conceiving U.S. troops as mercenary forces who should be deployed only when host countries offer compensation he regards as adequate, he also has been threatening to pull troops out of South Korea — which would delight another dictator, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

Further, Mr. Trump is reportedly contemplating accelerating a withdrawal of the remaining U.S. forces in Afghanistan, so that it can be carried out in advance of the November election, rather than sometime next year. Never mind that this would likely short-circuit nascent talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, and leave the latter in position to restore a theocratic dictatorship.
If the past is any guide, there will now be a scramble within the Pentagon or by Trump-friendly congressional Republicans to reverse or water down the president’s decision — which as of late Monday had still not been formally announced. In the meantime, it should be clearer than ever why former senior military leaders such as Jim Mattis and Colin Powell have taken the lead in publicly repudiating the president. He is, as they have said, a liar who divides the country. He is also, increasingly, a threat to national security.

Dana Milbank writes a regular opinion column for the Washington Post.

Today, he lacerated Trump for what must be a new low, a speech so disgusting that it is incomprehensible that any sane person would say what Trump proudly said. While the nation is reeling and convulsed by protests because of the murder of George Floyd while in police custody, Trump claimed that the new jobs number made the recently deceased Mr. Floyd happy. This murdered man , Trump imagines, is smiling because Trump is happy.

George Floyd died in police custody nearly two weeks ago, leaving a fatherless 6-year-old girl. The video of an officer’s knee on his neck set off international protests. The nation still convulses with unrest and violence, and unidentified military personnel brutalize peaceful protesters.


But no worries: It’s all good!


“Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying, ‘There’s a great thing that’s happening for our country,’” President Trump said in the Rose Garden Friday, celebrating a May unemployment report that showed “only” 21 million people — 13.3 percent of the workforce — out of work.


“This is a great day for him, it’s a great day for everybody,” Trump continued. “This is a great, great day in terms of equality.”


For about the millionth time in the past four years, America asks: What the hell is he talking about?


Trump has long presumed to speak for the dead and their thoughts as they “look down” at us.

But implying, as Trump appeared to do, that George Floyd is having “a great day” in the afterlife because of the May jobs report? Trump’s effrontery has no end.


His racism and encouragement of strong-arm police tactics contributed heavily to the rage now gripping the nation — but he has the gall to suggest that the slain Floyd would see an unemployment report showing black joblessness rising to a decade-high 16.8 percent as a “tremendous tribute to equality”?


There are no words.


PBS White House reporter Yamiche Alcindor, who is black, asked Trump about his plan to combat racism.
He replied that a strong economy is “the greatest thing that can happen for race relations, for the African American community.”


NBC’s Peter Alexander asked: “How would a better economy have protected George Floyd?”
Trump didn’t answer.


Alcindor pointed out that black unemployment had increased in May. “How is that a victory?”


Trump waved his hand dismissively. “You are something,” he said.

How could he be so crass, crude, self-aggrandizing, and downright vile?

There are no words.