Wednesday, March 25, 2020


I think this is sensible:
White House officials expressed growing alarm on Tuesday about the coronavirus outbreak in New York City, advising people who have passed through or left the city to place themselves in a 14-day quarantine....

About 60 percent of the new cases in the country were in the New York City metropolitan area....

Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said they were very concerned about people from New York City spreading the virus.

“We are starting to see new cases across Long Island that suggest people have left the city,” Dr. Birx said. “We can have a huge impact if we unite together.”
All of which might engender empathy in a normal human being. Not our president, of course.
[New York governor Andrew] Cuomo said early Tuesday that a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) delivery of 400 ventilators to the country’s hardest-hit state was insufficient and that the state needed 30,000. He also had some choice words: “You want a pat on the back for sending 400 ventilators? What are we going to do with 400 ventilators when we need 30,000?” He also more gently pleaded with Trump to begin using the Defense Production Act. “I don’t, for the life of me, understand the reluctance to use the federal Defense Production Act," he said. Cuomo didn’t specifically refer to Trump in either case, though.

The former complaint seemed to get some results, with Vice President Pence saying at a Fox News virtual town hall that afternoon that 2,000 more were being shipped from the national stockpile to New York on Tuesday and 2,000 more would be sent on Wednesday.

But later in the town hall, Trump appeared. And he apparently had Cuomo on his mind. Early in his appearance, he referred to an allegation floating around on fringe websites that Cuomo had in 2015 turned down thousands of ventilators. There was no pandemic taking place at that point, and the source was former New York lieutenant governor Betsy McCaughey (R), who offered no apparent substantiation. The report accused Cuomo of establishing “death panels and lottery instead.”

Trump tried to hand a copy of the report to Fox News host Bill Hemmer, but Hemmer cited the need for social distancing.

“I’m not blaming him or anything else, but he shouldn’t be talking about us,” Trump said. “He’s supposed to be buying his own ventilators.”

Except Trump was blaming Cuomo....
Betsy McCaughey, of course, is a professional liar. Over the years, she's lied about the Clinton healthcare bill, lied about healthcare provisions in the 2009 Obama stimulus bill, and lied about Obamacare. It's what she does. She was a major driver of the Obamacare "death panels" lie. The source of her disinformation appears to be a state task force report on epidemic contingency planning that made no mention of an opportunity to purchase large numbers of ventilators.

But I want to talk about the larger issues here. After a brief period in which he seemed to be listening to experts and rejecting denialism, Trump has reverted to boosterist talk, and now expresses the hope that the country will be running more or less normally as of Easter Sunday, April 12. Experts think this would be a disaster. And, of course, it's not just Trump -- much of the Republican Party suddenly pivoted, with time-honored GOP message discipline, to a posture of "we can't let a few deaths slow the economy." They've all learned to say that continuing the lockdown will "kill" the country, even though these same people think this is the greatest country in the history of the world (how can a temporary crisis kill a great country?), and what will bring about the end of the economic catastrophe is flattening the infection curve so the medical system can handle new infections better, until there are better treatments, and eventually a vaccine.

Josh Marshall has suggested where all this is leading:

In America, this is still largely a crisis in metropolitan areas. It will reach everywhere, but it's worst in the most densely packed city in America, and it's bad in other metro areas where there's a great deal of incoming and outgoing travel. (It's no surprise that, after Mardi Gras, the situation in New Orleans is dire.)

Trump Nation doesn't travel. Trump Nation doesn't live in cities. The same Republican Party that cynically talked about "the Chinese virus" will soon start talking about "the New York virus" or "the Cuomo virus."

As the virus gradually reaches red America, the right will link its spread to "socialism," immigration, "diverse" populations, and, probably, liberal attitudes on LGBT issues. (It's easy to imagine a Republican member of Congress railing against the coronavirus on Fox News while a clip of a crowded gay pride parade plays on screen.)

The president is a moral monster -- but he is matched in his evil by Republican officeholders and members of the right-wing commentariat who, even in the face of a once-in-a-century national emergency, continue to pursue their life's work of dividing the country by demonizing Democrats and liberals.
Many [on the right] see in the mass shutdowns and shelter-in-place policies a plot to push the country to the left.

[Glenn] Beck, for example, suggested that Democrats were trying to “jam down the Green New Deal because we’re at home panicked.” Heather Mac Donald, a conservative thinker and Thomas W. Smith fellow at the Manhattan Institute, sees the restrictions as “a warm-up for their wish-list of sweeping economic interventions.”

R.R. Reno, editor of the conservative religious journal “First Things,” recently described an “unspoken agreement” among “leaders, public health officials, and media personalities” who “conspire to heighten the atmosphere of crisis in order to get us to comply with their radical measures.” He wrote that “sentimental humanists” are behind the closures, noting that “Satan prefers sentimental humanists” to do his handiwork.
Occasionally over the years I've wondered whether the right would let up on this 24/7 smear campaign if a meteor were about to destroy Earth. I now have my answer: Something nearly as awful as that meteor is here, and the right still wants to sow hate.

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