May 14, 2020

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ON THE RECORD.....

“They made the choice to come here.” — Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany when asked why Trump didn’t wear a mask while honoring World War II veterans in their 90s—just a day after one of his personal valets tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus.

“Americans died from covid-19 at the rate of about one every 42 seconds during the past month. That ought to keep any president awake at night. Not Donald Trump.” — George Conway

“I learned a lot from Richard Nixon — don’t fire people. I learned a lot. I study history … of course there was one big difference: Number one he may have been guilty and number two he had tapes all over the place.” — Donald Trump, on Fox & Friends.

“We need leadership at the national level. We lost two months almost now in terms of our national response.” — Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, gave the Trump administration a “D minus” for its response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Mitch McConnell has said the decision of greatest consequence in his long career was the decision to nullify Barack Obama’s right to nominate a Supreme Court justice. Of equal consequence, but probably more, was his decision to look the other way while Russians attacked our sovereignty and violated the right of the American people to consent to Donald Trump’s rule. It was an easy choice for the Senate majority leader. His greatest loyalty, after all, isn’t to the US. For him, treason was always an option. — John Stoehr

AXL ROSE (lead vocalist of the hard rock band Guns N' Roses): It’s official! Whatever anyone may have previously thought of Steve Mnuchin he’s officially an asshole.
STEVE MNUCHIN: What have you done for the country lately?
AXL ROSE: My bad I didn’t get we’re hoping 2 emulate Liberia’s economic model but on the real unlike this admin I’m not responsible for 70k+ deaths n’ unlike u I don’t hold a fed gov position of responsibility 2 the American people n’ go on TV telling them 2 travel the US during a pandemic.

“What have you got to hide? I’d love to hear what the CDC has to say.” — Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) on news that the White House is blocking the release of CDC guidelines to re-open the economy safely.

“The best thing for the future of the Republican party would be “a sound defeat” for Donald Trump in November. No doubt. Long term for the Republican Party, you bet. And for conservatism as well.” — Former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)

I feel about vaccines like I feel about tests: This is going to go away without a vaccine. It’s going to go away, and we’re not going to see it again, hopefully, after a period of time. … there could be “flare ups” in the fall but “at some point it’s going to probably go away by itself.” — Trump

“Trump is like a vampire! You’ve got to drive a stake right through his heart. He’s going to keep coming. There’s nothing he won’t do. Even in this environment, you can’t count on him losing.” — David Axelrod

REPORTER: "What is the crime exactly that you're accusing President Obama of?"
TRUMP: "You know what the crime. The crime is very obvious to everybody. All you have to do is read the newspapers, except yours.”

“OAN: REPORTS: DEEP STATE, CHINA USE COVID-19 FOR POPULATION CONTROL - SOROS, CLINTONS, GATES SUSPECTED OF BEIJING-WHO COVER-UP TO SEIZE COVID CURE, UNDO U.S. CONSTITUTION. — OAN chyron

“This is what should worry the campaign: Biden is in his basement and he’s beating Trump. If I were Biden, the lesson I would learn is: Shut the fuck up and let Trump go out there and destroy himself.”— A former Trump White House staffer.

“How does Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, married to a Chinese American, watch the routine public degradation of Chinese American women by a president and say nothing?” — Stuart Stevens

““The oddity in all of this is the people Trump despises most, love him the most. The people who are voting for Trump for the most part... he wouldn’t even let them in a f---ing hotel. He’d be disgusted by them. Go to Mar-a-Lago, see if there’s any people who look like you. I’m talking to you in the audience.”” — Howard Stern

“Our window of opportunity is closing. If we fail to develop a national coordinated response, based in science, I fear the pandemic will get far worse and be prolonged, causing unprecedented illness and fatalities. Without clear planning and implementation of the steps that I and other experts have outlined, 2020 will be darkest winter in modern history.” — Dr. Rick Bright, the ousted director of a key federal office charged with developing medical countermeasures.

“The good news is that if you lose your employer-provided coverage, which covers about a 180 million Americans, that is a significant life event, which makes you then eligible to sign up for the Affordable Care Act,” — Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) who voted more than a dozen times to repeal the Affordable Care Act and lead Senate Republican efforts to dismantle it.

POLITICAL ADS

Timeline | Joe Biden For President: A new ad from Joe Biden proves that President Trump’s own words are his worst enemy. https://youtu.be/kOhs-tzVm1g

Unprepared | Joe Biden For President: https://youtu.be/PmieUrXwKCc

Joe Biden vs. Donald Trump on the Corona Virus Response | Joe Biden For President: https://youtu.be/49YmR8GFnnU

The Lincoln Project, a super PAC run by disaffected Republicans, is targeting Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) in a new attack ad, its first major foray into down-ballot races. https://www.youtube.com/watch

IN THIS ISSUE

FYI

1. Andy Borowitz: Rand Paul Says Secret to Social Distancing Is Making Everyone Despise You
2. Trump Praises ‘Warrior’ Flynn, Accuses ‘Scum’ Obama Administration of Treason
3. With Obamagate, Trump returns to a favorite distraction tactic
4. Team Trump Pushes CDC to Revise Downward Its COVID Death Counts
5. Coronavirus likely forced 27 million off their health insurance
6. White House report shows coronavirus rates spiking in heartland
7. House Democrats unveil coronavirus rescue bill that would direct more than $3 trillion to states, individuals, health systems
8. Trump is getting trounced among a crucial constituency: The haters
9. Trump plays down coronavirus testing as U.S. falls far short of level scientists say is needed
10. CDC scientists overruled in White House push to restart airport fever screenings for COVID-19
11. Trump officials' dysfunction harms delivery of coronavirus drug
12. Docs show top WH officials buried CDC report
13. Trump Administration Buries Detailed CDC Advice on Reopening
14. Trump made Florida his official residence. He may have also made a legal mess.
15. Trump’s new 2020 message — it’s not my fault
16. Democrats demand intel on coronavirus origins
17. Arizona halts partnership with experts predicting coronavirus cases would continue to mount
18. Shocking social media posts yanked by Republican House candidate
19. With New Hot Spots Emerging, No Sign of a Respite
20. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to co-chair Biden-Sanders campaign climate task force
21. The DAILY GRILL
22. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)
23. From the Late Shows

OPINION

1. Susan Glasser: Has Trump Reached The Lying-To-Himself-And-Believing-It Stage Of The Coronavirus Pandemic?
2. Maureen Dowd: Live and Let Die, Trump-Style
3. Evan Osnos: The Folly of Trump’s Blame-Beijing Coronavirus Strategy
4. Will Bunch: Can a reality-TV president create a new U.S. reality that pretends death, despair don’t exist?
5. Margaret Sullivan: Trump wants America to ‘normalize’ coronavirus deaths. It’s the media’s job not to play along
6. George Conway: Trump went ballistic at me on Twitter. Here’s why he reacts with such rage.
7. Peter Wehner: The President Is Unraveling
8. David Wallace-Wells: There Is Still No Plan
9. Matt Stieb: Trump’s War on U.S. Institutions Reaches the Postal Service
10. Jonathan Chait: Trump: I Was Unable to Restock PPE for 3 Years Due to Hoaxes
11. Toluse Olorunnipa: Trump tightens grip on coronavirus information as he pushes to restart the economy
12. Dana Milbank: Other countries are winning against the virus. We are quitting.
13. Tim Miller: Actually, the Orange Man Is Bad
14. Joe Biden: How the White House coronavirus response presents us with a false choice
15. Juan Williams: Trump's lying strategy on the economy
16. Peter Nicholas: How Trump Plans to Weaponize COVID-19 Against Biden
17. Paul Waldman: William Barr’s corrupt decision points to Trump’s moral rot of our institutions
18. Joe Scarborough: Trump’s racism will bring his party down with him
19. Toluse Olorunnipa: As coronavirus roils the nation, Trump reverts to tactic of accusing foes of felonies
20. Jonathan Chait: Mitch McConnell Upset at ‘Classless,’ Norm-Breaking President: Barack Obama

FYI

1. Andy Borowitz: Rand Paul Says Secret to Social Distancing Is Making Everyone Despise You

Sharing helpful health tips with the American people, Senator Rand Paul said on Wednesday that the secret to social distancing is making everyone despise you.

“People get all worried about whether other people are staying six feet away from them,” Paul said. “The trick is, if you act like a total jerkwad, people will stay much farther away from you than that.”

Paul also questioned whether wearing a mask protects someone as well as saying incredibly asinine things does.

“Airborne droplets can spread by people talking to each other,” Paul said. “If no one ever wants to talk to you, problem solved.”

He urged places of business in his home state of Kentucky to reopen as soon as possible, a process that he volunteered to help safely facilitate. “If you reopen your restaurant and it gets too crowded, I will walk through the door and immediately clear it out,” he said. https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/

2. Trump Praises ‘Warrior’ Flynn, Accuses ‘Scum’ Obama Administration of Treason

Trump on Thursday called his former national security adviser Michael Flynn “an even greater warrior” after the Justice Department dropped charges against him and subsequently slammed the Obama administration as “human scum.” “He was an innocent man,” Trump told White House reporters, referring to Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials. “Now in my book he’s an even greater warrior. What happened to him should never happen again,” he continued. The president insisted that Flynn was “targeted” by the Obama administration, saying that “they are dishonest people” and then accused them of “treason.” 

Trump also attacked journalists, calling them “thieves” who should be forced to give back their Pulitzer Prizes. “The media is totally guilty and all of those writers and so-called journalists,” he added.  https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-praises-warrior-flynn-accuses-scum-obama-admin-of-treason

3. With Obamagate, Trump returns to a favorite distraction tactic

The blunderbuss trumpeting of an anti-Obama narrative is a tactic Trump has employed throughout his political career. Over the years, Trump’s attacks on Obama have veered from the baseless — the president is not an American citizen, Obama tapped my phones — to exaggerations and falsehoods about his predecessor’s record — Obama shipped plane loads of cash to Iran, Obama left the strategic national stockpile empty. In each case, the real estate developer-turned president has used these stories to distract from unwelcome stories while elevating himself and exciting his base. The questionable details are rarely important.

The “OBAMAGATE!” effort appears no different. It has drawn attention away from the rising coronavirus death toll and a spate of cases within the White House — an inconvenient counterpoint to the president’s insistence that it is safe to return to work. It has provided chum to Trump-boosting pundits. And it portrays Trump as victorious over enemies who are tied to his likely 2020 opponent, Joe Biden. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/12/trump-obamagate-distraction-253139

4. Team Trump Pushes CDC to Revise Downward Its COVID Death Counts

Trump and members of his coronavirus task force are pushing officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to change how the agency works with states to count coronavirus-related deaths. And they’re pushing for revisions that could lead to far fewer deaths being counted than originally reported, according to five administration officials working on the government’s response to the pandemic. https://www.thedailybeast.com/team-trump-pushes-cdc-to-dial-down-covid-death-counts

5. Coronavirus likely forced 27 million off their health insurance

Roughly 27 million people have likely have lost job-based health coverage since the coronavirus shocked the economy, according to new estimates from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Most of these people will be able sign up for other sources of coverage, but millions are still doomed to be uninsured in the midst of a pandemic. https://www.axios.com/coronavirus-27-million-lost-employer-health-insurance-c77fe46a-691d-49b3-9cd2-3ad6d19df159.html

6. White House report shows coronavirus rates spiking in heartland

Coronavirus infection rates are spiking to new highs in several metropolitan areas and smaller communities across the country, according to undisclosed data the White House's pandemic task force is using to track rates of infection, which was obtained by NBC News.

The data contained in a May 7 coronavirus task force report are at odds with President Donald Trump's Monday declaration that "all throughout the country, the numbers are coming down rapidly."

The top 10 areas saw surges of 72.4 percent or greater over a seven-day period compared to the prior week, according to a set of tables produced for the task force by its Data and Analytics unit. They include Nashville, Tennessee; Des Moines, Iowa; Amarillo, Texas; and — atop the list with a 650 percent increase — Central City, Kentucky. https://news.yahoo.com/white-house-report-shows-coronavirus-235200812.html

7. House Democrats unveil coronavirus rescue bill that would direct more than $3 trillion to states, individuals, health systems

House Democrats unveiled a sprawling coronavirus rescue bill Tuesday that would direct more than $3 trillion to state and local governments, health systems, and a range of other initiatives, setting up a huge clash with Senate Republicans and the White House over how to deal with the sputtering economy.

The bill would also send a second round of stimulus checks to millions of Americans and include more funding for the Postal Service. Not every component of the bill would include more government spending. Some parts would aim to address the coronavirus pandemic in other ways, such as by requiring passengers to wear masks on airplanes and public transit.

Republicans rejected the legislation even before they saw it, describing it as a liberal wish list that would go nowhere in the Republican-led Senate. For example, the bill would suspend a tax provision for two years that limits tax breaks for upper-income households in high-tax states, something Democrats have tried to change for several years. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he was at work on crafting liability protections for businesses instead. “This is not a time for aspirational legislation,” McConnell said. https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/05/12/house-democrats-coronavirus-3-trillion/

8. Trump is getting trounced among a crucial constituency: The haters

President Donald Trump is losing a critical constituency: voters who see two choices on the ballot — and hate them both.

Unlike in 2016, when a large group of voters who disliked both Trump and Hillary Clinton broke sharply for Trump, the opposite is happening now, according to public polling and private surveys conducted by Republicans and Democrats alike.

It's a significant and often underappreciated group of voters. Of the nearly 20 percent of voters who disliked both Clinton and Trump in 2016, Trump outperformed Clinton by about 17 percentage points, according to exit polls.

Four years later, that same group — including a mix of Bernie Sanders supporters, other Democrats, disaffected Republicans and independents — strongly prefers Biden, the polling shows. The former vice president leads Trump by more than 40 percentage points among that group, which accounts for nearly a quarter of registered voters, according to a Monmouth University poll last week. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/12/donald-trump-haters-joe-biden-clinton-244629

9. Trump plays down coronavirus testing as U.S. falls far short of level scientists say is needed

Trump is increasingly dismissing the consensus of health experts, scientists and some of his Republican allies that widespread testing is key to the safe end of restrictions meant to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus, saying Friday that “testing isn’t necessary” and is an imperfect guide. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-plays-down-coronavirus-testing-as-us-falls-far-short-of-level-scientists-say-is-needed/2020/05/08/d9241454-913f-11ea-a9c0-73b93422d691_story.html

10. CDC scientists overruled in White House push to restart airport fever screenings for COVID-19

The White House is pushing a return to a failed strategy of relying on temperature screening of air travelers to detect coronavirus despite vehement objections from the nation's top public health agency, internal documents obtained by USA TODAY show.

“Thermal scanning as proposed is a poorly designed control and detection strategy as we have learned very clearly,”  Dr. Martin  Cetron, the CDC’s director of global mitigation and quarantine, wrote in an email to Department of Homeland Security officials Thursday. “We should be concentrating our CDC resources where there is impact and a probability of mission success.” 

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows pressed ahead anyway, directing the DHS to announce the airport screenings, which would be visible and aimed at instilling confidence in travelers, according to meeting notes. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/investigations/2020/05/09/white-house-push-airport-fever-screenings-overrules-cdc-scientists/3097158001/

11. Trump officials' dysfunction harms delivery of coronavirus drug

A complete breakdown in communication and coordination within the Trump administration has undermined the distribution of a promising treatment, according to senior officials with direct knowledge of the discussions.
The drug, remdesivir, hasn't made it to some of the high-priority hospitals where it's most needed, and administration officials have responded by shifting blame and avoiding responsibility, sources said. https://www.axios.com/trump-coronavirus-drug-remdesivir-hospitals-pharmacies-86ad5bd0-d1ba-47dc-97f2-b19cc97603f4.html

12. Docs show top WH officials buried CDC report

The decision to shelve detailed advice from the nation’s top disease control experts for reopening communities during the coronavirus pandemic came from the highest levels of the White House, according to internal government emails obtained by The Associated Press.

The files also show that after the AP reported Thursday that the guidance document had been buried, the Trump administration ordered key parts of it to be fast-tracked for approval.

The trove of emails show the nation’s top public health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spending weeks working on guidance to help the country deal with a public health emergency, only to see their work quashed by political appointees with little explanation. https://apnews.com/9c4d5284ba4769d3b98aa05232201f88

13. Trump Administration Buries Detailed CDC Advice on Reopening

The Trump administration shelved a document created by the nation's top disease investigators with step-by-step advice to local authorities on how and when to reopen restaurants and other public places during the still-raging coronavirus outbreak.

The 17-page report by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team, titled “Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework,” was researched and written to help faith leaders, business owners, educators and state and local officials as they begin to reopen.

It was supposed to be published last Friday, but agency scientists were told the guidance “would never see the light of day,” according to a CDC official. The official was not authorized to talk to reporters and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity. https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2020-05-07/ap-exclusive-admin-shelves-cdc-guide-to-reopening-country

14. Trump made Florida his official residence. He may have also made a legal mess.

Digging into the catacombs of local records to build an argument against the dock, a small group of loosely aligned preservationists, disgruntled neighbors and attorneys have unearthed documents that they assert call into question the legality of Trump’s much-publicized decision late last year to change his official domicile from Manhattan to Mar-a-Lago and to register to vote in Florida using the club’s address. According to those documents, and additional materials obtained by The Washington Post, Trump agreed in writing years ago to change the use of the Mar-a-Lago property from a single-family residence to a private club owned by a corporation he controls.

The distinction is significant. The property is taxed as a private club — not as a residence, according to Palm Beach County property appraiser records. Trump’s own attorney assured local officials in Palm Beach before they voted to approve the club in 1993 that he would not live there. Mar-a-Lago’s website says only that Trump maintains “private quarters” at the club.

“It’s one or the other — it’s a club or it’s your home,” Reginald Stambaugh, an attorney who represents a neighbor opposed to Trump’s dock plan, said in a recent interview. “You can’t have it both ways.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/trump-made-florida-his-official-residence-he-may-have-also-made-a-legal-mess/2020/05/07/17d53fb2-849c-11ea-878a-86477a724bdb_story.html

15. Trump’s new 2020 message — it’s not my fault

Less than six months before election day, Trump’s new campaign message — don’t blame him — is a risky bet that voters will credit his efforts to fight the pandemic and revive the moribund economy, and not hold him accountable for the administration’s much-criticized response and the 75,000 U.S. deaths so far, the most of any country.

In a lengthy interview on “Fox & Friends,” Trump appeared to dismiss the stunning spike in jobless claims — 20.5 million in April alone, putting the unemployment rate at 14.7%, the highest since 1933 — as beyond his control.

The message, which Democrats quickly rejected, echoed Trump’s not-my-fault claim after Dr. Anthony , the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Congress on March 12 that the government’s lack of widespread testing for the coronavirus was “a failing.”

“I don’t take responsibility at all,” Trump said the next day, although he had downplayed the danger of the virus for weeks.

No president likes taking blame when things go bad, but it’s unusual by any historic standard for a “wartime president,” as Trump has called himself, to adamantly declare his own lack of influence or culpability. https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-05-08/trumps-new-2020-message-its-not-my-fault

16. Democrats demand intel on coronavirus origins

Top Democratic lawmakers say the Trump administration should share with Congress the allegedly “enormous” evidence showing that the coronavirus sprang from a Chinese lab.

Otherwise, they warn, the administration should quit hyping questionable information.

The demands come as President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo push the theory that Covid-19 somehow emerged from a Chinese lab that studied such viruses. Their claims are leading some critics to draw comparisons to the misleading way the administration of George W. Bush argued the case for the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/06/democrats-demand-intel-on-coronavirus-origins-240852

17. Arizona halts partnership with experts predicting coronavirus cases would continue to mount

Hours after Doug Ducey, the Republican governor of Arizona, accelerated plans to reopen businesses, saying the state was “headed in the right direction,” his administration halted the work of a team of experts projecting it was on a different — and much grimmer — course.

On Monday night, the eve of President Trump’s visit to the state, Ducey’s health department shut down the work of academic experts predicting the peak of the state’s coronavirus outbreak was still about two weeks away.

“We’ve been asked by Department leadership to ‘pause’ all current work on projections and modeling,” Steven Bailey, the bureau chief for public health statistics at the Arizona Department of Health Services, wrote to the modeling team, composed of professionals from Arizona State University and the University of Arizona, according to email correspondence reviewed by The Washington Post.

The move to sideline academic experts in the middle of the pandemic reflects growing friction between plans to resume economic activity and the analysis of epidemiologists that underscores the dangers of rolling back restrictions. Officials in Arizona said they would rely on “real-time” information, as well as modeling conducted by federal agencies, which is not released publicly. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/arizona-halts-partnership-with-experts-predicting-coronavirus-cases-would-continue-to-mount/2020/05/06/d7a97c46-8fc2-11ea-a9c0-73b93422d691_story.html

18. Shocking social media posts yanked by Republican House candidate

Ted Howze (R), a congressional candidate in California endorsed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), deleted a string of social media posts, including one that described the Islamic Prophet Muhammad as a pedophile.

There were other posts mocking Parkland high-school shooting survivor David Hogg, one accusing Hillary Clinton of murder and another accusing Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) of “hitting the crack pipe too hard.” https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/06/gop-candidates-posts-demeaned-muslims-and-mocked-parkland-shooting-survivor-241429

19. With New Hot Spots Emerging, No Sign of a Respite

Coronavirus in America now looks like this: More than a month has passed since there was a day with fewer than 1,000 deaths from the virus. Almost every day, at least 25,000 new coronavirus cases are identified, meaning that the total in the United States — which has the highest number of known cases in the world with more than a million — is expanding by between 2 and 4 percent daily.

Rural towns that one month ago were unscathed are suddenly hot spots for the virus. It is rampaging through nursing homes, meatpacking plants and prisons, killing the medically vulnerable and the poor, and new outbreaks keep emerging in grocery stores, Walmarts or factories, an ominous harbinger of what a full reopening of the economy will bring. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/05/us/coronavirus-deaths-cases-united-states.html

20. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to co-chair Biden-Sanders campaign climate task force

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will co-chair a task force for Joe Biden's campaign on climate change, a move that adds progressive credentials to the former vice president's effort to unify the party ahead of the general election.

Ocasio-Cortez will work with former Democratic presidential nominee and Secretary of State John Kerry, the panel's other co-chair, in a group that also includes Varshini Prakash, the executive director of the Sunrise Movement, the youth-led champions of the Green New Deal. https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/12/politics/ocasio-cortez-biden-campaign-task-force-climate-change/index.html

21. The DAILY GRILL

"We're taking a look at what we've already done — we've added about $3 trillion to the national debt — and assessing the effectiveness of that before deciding to go forward,” — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., evoking concerns about the rising national debt to pump the brakes on coronavirus relief.

VERSUS

"Well, it's interesting to see what they're saying, becoming now, renewing their fiscal hawk positions that they can barely remember. … When I saw them give a $2 trillion addition to the national debt in order to give 83 percent of the benefits to the top one percent, that was so irresponsible in terms of it did nothing for the economy except heap mountains of debt on our children.” — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

 

“She’s highly overrated, a bad woman,” Trump said of Pelosi during a wide-ranging interview Friday morning on “Fox & Friends.” “She doesn’t even want to go to work. She’s in California sitting in her expensive house.” A few hours later, McEnany echoed her boss as she complained about the difficulty of working with Congress when Pelosi is not in Washington. “It would be helpful if Nancy Pelosi was here,” McEnany said at a White House briefing. “We need Nancy Pelosi to come back from California and get to Washington, D.C., and to work for the American people.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/05/08/coronavirus-update-us/

VERSUS

“@SpeakerPelosi literally doing interviews from Capitol Hill as @PressSec stated this. Pelosi has done TV all week from DC.” — Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill tweet that included a photo of his boss. https://twitter.com/Drew_Hammill/status/1258812872366440449

 

When will they open a Cold Case on the Psycho Joe Scarborough matter in Florida. Did he get away with murder? Some people think so. Why did he leave Congress so quietly and quickly? Isn’t it obvious? What’s happening now? A total nut job!” — Trump explicitly suggesting that MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough had committed murder. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/12/trump-conspiracy-theory-msnbc-251108

VERSUS

“For your sake, as I’ve been saying for years — Donald, for your sake, and for the sake of America, you need to stop watching our show, OK? It’s not good for you. I think that might be why you go out and, like — you’re distracted. You’re tweeting so much. Why don’t you turn off the television, and why don’t you start working, OK?” he continued. “You do your job, we’ll do ours, and America will be much better off for that. Just go. Turn off the TV, Donald.” — Scarborough’s responds. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/12/trump-conspiracy-theory-msnbc-251108

 

"There is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free," he said. "That's the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic - not just institutional norms - but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk.” -- Obama on a Friday call to 3,000 former aides and officials that was leaked to the media.
https://news.yahoo.com/why-trump-obama-spat-over-201919027.html

VERSUS

"The biggest political crime in American history, by far!" -- Trump, who has never been shy about criticising - or blaming - his predecessor, responded with a flurry of social media posts and retweets on Sunday, accusing Obama and his aides of engaging in a criminal effort to undermine his presidency. https://news.yahoo.com/why-trump-obama-spat-over-201919027.html
Republicans—even Trump Republicans—are a little scared to put the handcuffs on Obama. This hasn’t happened to a president before. But which previous president conspired to frame and entrap his successor? Handcuffs, I say! And let the chips fall where they may @realDonaldTrump — Dinesh D’Souza https://twitter.com/DineshDSouza/status/1259592491826847745

 

This 60 Minutes segment shows how “dishonest and negligent” allegations from Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) on Tucker Carlson’s highly-rated Fox News show jumped to the White House briefing room and to the president himself. In the end, the claims resulted in a researcher's NIH grant -- which was supporting research aimed at stopping pandemics -- being terminated in unprecedented fashion. CBS News https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-administration-coronavirus-vaccine-researcher-covid-19-cure-60-minutes/

VERSUS

“@CBS and their show, @60Minutes, are doing everything within their power, which is far less today than it was in the past, to defend China and the horrible Virus pandemic that was inflicted on the USA and the rest of the World. I guess they want to do business in China!!” — Trump after the 60 Minutes segment aired.  https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1259625738858303490

22. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)

Laura Ingraham's coronavirus pandemic coverage has been a particular cesspool of dangerous medical misinformation, xenophobia, conspiracy theories, lies, and a denial of the crisis along with a hero-worship of President Donald Trump’s handling of that very crisis. On just the April 28 edition of her show, Ingraham delivered a lengthy opening monologue alleging that coronavirus-related death counts have been inflated — then claimed that reporters were allowing the inflated death counts in order to “keep this thing shut down” and hurt President Donald Trump. She then interviewed a doctor from a fringe right-wing group to protest restrictions that Arizona’s Republican governor had imposed on prescribing the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine for its unproven treatment of COVID-19. https://www.mediamatters.org/coronavirus-covid-19/laura-ingrahams-coronavirus-coverage-has-been-cesspool-misinformation-and

After the Justice Department under Attorney General William Barr filed a motion to drop charges against former Trump administration national security adviser Michael Flynn, right-wing media voices are stepping up a new campaign: to incriminate former President Barack Obama, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, and others for supposedly launching the Flynn investigation — and the wider Trump-Russia investigation in the first place. https://www.mediamatters.org/trumprussia/after-barrs-doj-drops-flynn-charges-right-wing-media-set-sights-sally-yates-and-barack

Right-wing media figures are demanding that President Donald Trump fire FBI Director Christopher Wray in response to developments in the investigation of former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn. Flynn's case has served as a rallying cry for conservatives against what they say is a justice system rigged against President Donald Trump, and new evidence in the case has amped up anger at the agency and its head. https://www.mediamatters.org/sean-hannity/right-wing-media-demand-trump-fire-fbi-director-christopher-wray

23. From the Late Shows

Trump Graduation Speech Cold Open - SNL: https://youtu.be/KLLU3LvK_Hc

Trump's Rose Garden Hissy Fit, Plus The Dumbest Thing The President Has Ever Said. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: https://youtu.be/gyoQ6rrEetI

Trump Goes Off the Rails on Twitter and Fox News: A Closer Look: https://youtu.be/8Q2h6KctHQ8

OPINION

1. Susan Glasser: Has Trump Reached The Lying-To-Himself-And-Believing-It Stage Of The Coronavirus Pandemic?

When I went to college, we used to joke during exam period that you were really in trouble when you started to lie to yourself and believe it. The President and at least some of his most fervent supporters appear now to be in the lying-to-yourself-and-believing-it stage of the pandemic. Truth has become so inconvenient that it’s better left aside for some alternate, less inconvenient reality. This is, of course, not the first time in the Trump Presidency, or even the first time during this pandemic, that there has been such a gap, but it appears to be a moment when there is a widening and very likely unsustainable gulf between Trumpian truth and what is actually happening.

That’s because the numbers are the numbers and, for Trump and for America, they look terrible. On Wednesday, there were some twenty-six hundred deaths in the United States from covid-19, and, on Thursday, there were even more: around twenty-seven hundred. Leaked predictions from government scientists show an increase, by June 1st, to three thousand deaths, on average, every twenty-four hours. As Gretchen Whitmer, the governor of Michigan noted to me, that amounts to essentially a 9/11’s worth of victims per day. Even after some seventy-five thousand deaths and a couple months of social-distancing public-health measures, the charts demonstrate clearly that the national curve has not flattened, with sharp declines registered only in New York and New Jersey—which have already gone through the country’s worst ordeal—and a handful of other states. More than half the states have at least partially lifted strict stay-at-home orders, although none of the states that announced reopenings—not one—met the criteria established by the Trump Administration for doing so. At the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week, a detailed, seventeen-page guide for how to return safely to workplaces and schools was quashed by the White House, and its authors were told it would “never see the light of day,” the Associated Press reported on Thursday. Testing capability is nowhere near the millions of additional tests needed to resume regular daily life, according to experts, nor is there widespread capacity to conduct contact tracing, another prerequisite. https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-trumps-washington/has-trump-reached-the-lying-to-himself-and-believing-it-stage-of-the-coronavirus-pandemic

2. Maureen Dowd: Live and Let Die, Trump-Style

The world’s greatest con artist has finally come up against a foe he can’t fool.

Now the monstrous virus has invaded the Oval Office. Both the president’s valet and a Pence staffer, Katie Miller, the wife of the racist Stephen Miller, who looks like he hasn’t seen daylight in decades, have succumbed. Yet just a few days ago Axios reported that the president and some top aides were questioning the high death toll.

Trump has always been fixated on numbers and perfectly willing to fake them — his billions, his inaugural crowd, even the number of stories in Trump Tower — and he knows the number of dead, now surpassing 77,500, could be the death knell of his campaign.

So he is despicably turning the dead into the undead, trying to figure out how to claim they weren’t lost.

His talent as an escape artist has run out because he’s up against an even more amoral, vicious enemy. Microbes don’t give a damn about Trump’s fake narrative and suppression of the facts.

Yet now that it is his duty to lead us out of the valley of death, Trump appears removed, shirking responsibility and deflecting blame. He’s the world’s worst empath. As the president tries to prematurely yank the country back to work, he seems less focused on the real suffering than reviving his precious stock market. Maybe Trump doesn’t seem real to Trump, either.

So I must ask, Mr. President, is that all there is, to live and let die? https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/09/opinion/sunday/coronavirus-trump-vampires.html

3. Evan Osnos: The Folly of Trump’s Blame-Beijing Coronavirus Strategy

The Trump Administration has cut off funds to the World Health Organization and declined to join the European-led fund for vaccine research. Trump’s delusions—that the virus would vanish in a “miracle,” that an antimalarial drug would shortcut science, that ingesting disinfectant could help—have further reduced the Administration’s reputation to a baleful farce. Last week, Kevin Rudd, the former Prime Minister of Australia, wrote in Foreign Affairs that the Administration had “left an indelible impression around the world of a country incapable of handling its own crises, let alone anybody else’s.” In Rudd’s view, the “uncomfortable truth is that China and the United States are both likely to emerge from this crisis significantly diminished.”

The Administration could credibly have criticized China’s early mishandling of the virus, and its efforts to control international scrutiny of the virus’s origins. Instead, the White House seized on a blame-Beijing strategy to undermine China’s growing global power and shore up Trump’s bid for reëlection. (An ad from a pro-Trump super pac says, “To stop China, you have to stop Joe Biden.”) Unnamed Administration officials floated revenge fantasies to reporters, such as abandoning U.S. debt obligations to China, an act that, investors noted, would gut America’s financial credibility. As Adam Posen, the president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told the Washington Post, “In economic terms, this is worse than telling people to drink bleach.”

In the riskiest line of attack, members of the Administration, conservative lawmakers, including Senator Tom Cotton, and Fox News have promoted an unverified theory that the coronavirus may have originated in an accidental leak from a Chinese virology lab. On April 30th, Trump said that he had seen convincing evidence of this, but gave no details. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo followed up three days later, claiming simply that there was “enormous evidence” to support the theory. More credible voices—including those of Anthony Fauci, the government’s top expert on infectious diseases, and General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—have declined to endorse that view.

If the Trump Administration uses the coronavirus to heighten its conflict with China, it will not only have ignored a basic lesson of U.S. history; it will expose America to yet another crisis for which it is plainly unprepared. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/05/18/the-folly-of-trumps-blame-beijing-coronavirus-strategy

4. Will Bunch: Can a reality-TV president create a new U.S. reality that pretends death, despair don’t exist?

Donald Trump has been here before. At the dawn of the 2000s, the Manhattan real estate developer and short-fingered vulgarian was literally — as the New York Times would later document — the worst businessman in America, having lost more than $1 billion in one 10-year period.

But then, to paraphrase Dylan, you didn’t need an accountant to see which way the bottom line was blowing. The man had literally bankrupted casinos, the closest thing we have to a license to print money. And the banks had made him sell his airline and his yacht. Or you could just check out the late-night infomercial stuff Trump was trying to foist on consumers — Trump Steaks, Trump Vodka, and a Trump University where presumably you, too, could learn how to blow through a billion.

But rather than face reality, Donald Trump just invented a new one, with the help of a TV guru named Mark Burnett. To the millions of future voters who’d never read the Wall Street Journal but avidly watched NBC’s The Apprentice once it debuted in 2003, the man that banks wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole played America’s shrewdest CEO and judged the business savvy of his competitors as if his own six business bankruptcies had never happened.

Now, with America in its worst crisis since the Civil War, with both a deadly pandemic and a second Great Depression, the man who rode that wave of as-seen-on-TV reality all the way to the White House is looking to pull off his greatest stunt yet. POTUS 45 hopes that by pretending he’s a wartime president at the helm of the great American economic and spiritual comeback, no one will notice the rising death counts or the ever-longer lines at food banks. https://www.inquirer.com/opinion/president-trump-coronavirus-plan-ignore-death-unemployment-20200510.html

5. Margaret Sullivan: Trump wants America to ‘normalize’ coronavirus deaths. It’s the media’s job not to play along

Comparing the number of deaths from covid-19 to those caused by car crashes never made any sense. But the gimmick caught on anyway.

“We don’t shut down our economy because tens of thousands of people die on the highways,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). “It’s a risk we accept so we can move about.” President Trump also took up the bogus argument while deploying his trademark exaggeration, insisting that car-related deaths are “far greater than any numbers we’re talking about.”

In fact, cars kill about 40,000 people a year. Virus-related deaths hit 70,000 in only two months and are growing fast — and yet this comparison still doesn’t even take into account its disproportionate toll on health-care workers, nor the thousands of survivors who will suffer poor health for years, nor, oh yeah, the fact that car accidents aren’t contagious.

These discrepancies were glaringly obvious to Catherine Lutz and Anne Lutz Fernandez, who wrote an entire book, “Carjacked,” about our nation’s fatal romance with automobiles. But more than that, they see Trump and his allies attempting to foist onto Americans the same kind of stew of rationalization and magical thinking about the coronavirus that the automobile industry has cultivated around car-crash deaths for many years.

In short, they see an attempt to normalize the hideous toll of the coronavirus — just as we long ago came to accept 40,000 car-crash deaths a year as “normal” — and they are afraid the media is only going to help Trump’s case.

“The problem with normalizing deaths,” they wrote in a recent essay for the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University, where Lutz is an anthropology professor, is that “it allows more deaths. It makes it easier for the horrors of virus deaths to fall off the broadcast news chyron, to divert resources away from public health and for future politicians to treat the next pandemic even more glibly.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/media/trump-wants-america-to-normalize-coronavirus-deaths-its-the-medias-job-not-to-play-along/2020/05/09/72de4c32-9090-11ea-a9c0-73b93422d691_story.html

6. George Conway: Trump went ballistic at me on Twitter. Here’s why he reacts with such rage.

Americans died from covid-19 at the rate of about one every 42 seconds during the past month. That ought to keep any president awake at night.

Not Donald Trump.

Just days ago, the president flipped out at a detailed New York Times article that described how he watches television at all hours, obsessed about how he’s covered in the news. As though to prove the story’s thesis, Trump rage-tweeted that it was a “phony story” and that the media would say “Anything to demean!”

And then, as though to prove the point again, at 12:46 a.m. on Tuesday, Trump went ballistic on Twitter — at me.

In a four-tweet screed, he attacked me and my colleagues at the Lincoln Project as “LOSERS,” “loser types,” “crazed” and “a disgrace to Honest Abe.” About me, he said, “I don’t know what Kellyanne did to her deranged loser of a husband, Moonface, but it must have been really bad.” Ten hours later, on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews, Trump was still enraged, ranting about us for nearly two minutes in front of the media.

What triggered his ire was a 60-second online ad we released Monday. Entitled “Mourning in America,” it’s an inversion of President Ronald Reagan’s famous 1984 reelection campaign ad, “Morning in America.” Reagan’s ad took credit for the resurgence of the American economy. Our ad puts the blame for the government’s failures in responding to covid-19 right where it belongs — on Trump. He dithered for 10 weeks, from January to mid-March, misleading the public about the severity of the crisis, pretending that the virus would never take hold here. History will record that each day of delay cost American lives.

It may strike you as deranged that a sitting president facing a pandemic has busied himself attacking journalists, political opponents, television news hosts and late-night comedians — even deriding a former president who merely called for empathy and unity in response to the virus. It may strike you as nuts that Trump bragged about his supposed Facebook ranking in the middle of a virus task-force briefing, asserted that millions would have died were it not for him, boasted that “the ‘Ratings’ of my News Conferences etc.” were driving “the Lamestream Media . . . CRAZY,” and floated bogus miracle cures, including suggesting that scientists consider injecting humans with household disinfectants such as Clorox.

If so, you’re not alone. Tens of thousands of mental-health professionals, testing the bounds of professional ethics, have warned for years about Trump’s unfitness for office.

Some people listened; many, including myself, did not, until it was too late. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/05/06/george-conway-trump-lashed-out-me-twitter-its-because-he-knows-truth/

7. Peter Wehner: The President Is Unraveling

In case there was any doubt, the past dozen days have proved we’re at the point in his presidency where Donald Trump has become his own caricature, a figure impossible to parody, a man whose words and actions are indistinguishable from an Alec Baldwin skit on Saturday Night Live.

Trump’s pièce de résistance came during a late April coronavirus task-force briefing, when he floated using “just very powerful light” inside the body as a potential treatment for COVID-19 and then, for good measure, contemplated injecting disinfectant as a way to combat the effects of the virus “because you see it gets in the lungs and does a tremendous number on them, so it’d be interesting to check that.”

But the burlesque show just keeps rolling on.

We will see, as we have for the entire Trump presidency, the national Republican Party fall in line. Many are speaking out in defense of Trump while other timid souls who know better have gone sotto voce out of fear and cowardice that they have justified to themselves, and tried less successfully to justify to others.

What this means is that Americans are facing not just a conventional presidential election in 2020 but also, and most important, a referendum on reality and epistemology. Donald Trump is asking us to enter even further into his house of mirrors. He is asking us to live within a lie, to live within his lie, for four more years. The duty of citizenship in America today is to refuse to live within that lie. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/05/president-unraveling/611146/

8. David Wallace-Wells: There Is Still No Plan

There is still no plan for the end of the coronavirus crisis, for all intents and purposes.

A month ago, on April 5, I wrote that, weeks into what was initially intended to be a short lockdown, there was no clear vision of an endgame from the White House. In theory, the lockdowns were designed to slow the spread of the disease to give us time to catch up and prepare for what would happen when restrictions were relaxed. In the month since, we’ve had a lot more action at the state and local level, though that action has moved in different directions at once — Los Angeles rolling out free universal testing and Massachusetts building out a contact-tracing army while Texas reopens dangerously close to its own peak and Georgia leans into its own coronavirus surge. That disarray is because, in the White House and throughout the federal government, there is still nothing like a vision or concerted effort to coordinate a national response. On Tuesday, it was even reported that the president was disbanding the coronavirus task force, though on Wednesday the president somewhat walked that back on Twitter in a thread that was really more a self-congratulations on a job very well done. Thursday, the Associated Press reported that guidelines prepared by the CDC to inform state and local officials in managing their own re-openings were abruptly shelved, with agency scientists told the plan “would never see the light of day.”

So, how well have we done? Well, abysmally. Aside from flattening the curve in critical places enough to ease the burden on the health-care system, the country has accomplished essentially none of the necessary preparatory work required to safely begin to reopen and return to some semblance of normal life. https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/05/white-house-plan-for-ending-coronavirus-stay-at-home-orders.html

9. Matt Stieb: Trump’s War on U.S. Institutions Reaches the Postal Service

On Wednesday, the USPS board of governors confirmed that North Carolina businessman Louis DeJoy will serve as the new postmaster general on June 15, following the expected retirement of the current head, Megan Brennan, who has clashed with the president over his longtime wish to make the independent agency charge Amazon more for using its services. According to the Federal Election Commission, DeJoy has given over $2 million to the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee since the president’s 2016 win; he is also currently serving as the lead fundraiser for the (still-scheduled) Republican National Convention in Charlotte.

DeJoy, the first postmaster general in two decades who is not a career USPS official, will now have to manage an agency with severe financial challenges, and may also have to respond to Trump’s pressure for the Postal Service to renegotiate with the American Postal Workers Union, one of the last remaining public-sector unions with significant pull in contract negotiations. And if his loyalty to the president remains, the Postal Service could become the latest front in Trump’s apparent effort to use the federal government to punish Amazon. Already, Trump — whose conversations on the matter show he views Amazon; its owner, Jeff Bezos; and his other “degenerate” property, the Washington Post, as interchangeable — reportedly encouraged the Pentagon to “screw Amazon” in 2018. The next year, the company was denied a $10 billion cloud-computing contract, over which Amazon has accused the administration of “unmistakable bias.” https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/05/trumps-war-on-u-s-institutions-reaches-u-s-postal-service.html

10. Jonathan Chait: Trump: I Was Unable to Restock PPE for 3 Years Due to Hoaxes

Last night, ABC’s David Muir asked Trump, “What did you do when you became president to restock those cupboards that you say were bare?” Trump replied that the Russia investigation had also prevented him from addressing the equipment shortage:

Well, I’ll be honest. I have a lot of things going on. We had a lot of people that refused to allow the country to be successful. They wasted a lot of time on Russia, Russia, Russia. That turned out to be a total hoax. Then they did Ukraine, Ukraine, and that was a total hoax, then they impeached the president of the United States for absolutely no reason, and we even had 197-to-nothing vote by the Republicans.

So now we have updated and filled in the Trump distraction timeline, which now extends over the full course of his presidency:

January 21, 2017-April 18, 2019: Russia hoax
April 2019-February 5, 2020: Ukraine hoax

Trump was distracted by the two hoaxes throughout his presidency, preventing him from addressing the dire medical shortfall he inherited without impinging on the 8-12 hours of daily television-watching his job demands of him. https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/05/trump-ppe-coronavirus-blame-impeachment-russia.html

11. Toluse Olorunnipa: Trump tightens grip on coronavirus information as he pushes to restart the economy

Trump in recent weeks has sought to block or downplay information about the severity of the coronavirus pandemic as he urges a return to normalcy and the rekindling of an economy that has been devastated by public health restrictions aimed at mitigating the outbreak.

His administration has sidelined or replaced officials not seen as loyal, rebuffed congressional requests for testimony, dismissed jarring statistics and models, praised states for reopening without meeting White House guidelines and, briefly, pushed to disband a task force created to combat the virus and communicate about the public health crisis.

Several Republican governors are following Trump’s lead as an effort takes shape to control the narrative about a pandemic that has continued to rage throughout a quickly reopening country. With polls showing most consumers still afraid to venture out of their homes, the Trump administration has intensified its efforts to soothe some of those fears through a messaging campaign that relies on tightly controlling information about a virus that has proven stubbornly difficult to contain.

“If the message were to go out with complete objectivity, it would be disastrous for Trump,” said Max Skidmore, a political science professor at the University of Missouri at Kansas City and the author of a book on presidential responses to pandemics. “So he is doing his best to prevent experts from speaking out or using their expertise, and he’s simply trying to divert attention.”

Trump’s information-control tactics are being replicated in states across the country, where governors are lifting stay-at-home orders against the advice of public health officials. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-tightens-grip-on-coronavirus-information-as-he-pushes-to-restart-the-economy/2020/05/07/d4a05e42-9068-11ea-a9c0-73b93422d691_story.html

12. Dana Milbank: Other countries are winning against the virus. We are quitting.

Trump has abandoned attempts to control the pandemic, though there is no downturn in cases. His administration ignores its own reopening requirements and shelves guidelines written by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Instead Trump applauds reckless reopening in a way that, as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, admitted, “will lead to an increase and spread. It’s almost ipso facto.”

This is state-sanctioned killing. It is a conscious decision to accept 2,000 preventable deaths every day, because our leaders believe the victims are the poor schlubs who work in meat-processing plants, not “regular folks,” as Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Roggensack memorably put it this week.

It is deliberately sacrificing the old, factory workers, and black and Hispanic Americans, who are dying at higher rates. This comes after “stimulus” programs passed by Congress proved a bonanza to big business and billionaires but offered little to the nearly one-fifth of American children who are not getting enough to eat — a rate three times as high as during the Great Recession, a Brookings Institution study found.

The mindless reopening is as stupid as it is immoral. Does anybody truly believe Americans will return to work while the virus rages? Send our kids to schools without tools in place to stop outbreaks? Put our parents in retirement homes that, without adequate testing, are often death traps? Enjoy a restaurant, theater, flight to Disney World or trip to the mall, knowing it could kill us? Reopening masquerades as a political cause — LIBERATE! — but it is really a lazy unwillingness to do the hard work to defeat the virus, and to restore our economy. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/05/08/other-countries-are-winning-against-virus-we-are-quitting/

13. Tim Miller: Actually, the Orange Man Is Bad

This week America tallied the 75,000th official death from COVID-19—the real number won’t be known until after the crisis has passed and will be much higher.

Last week the 30 millionth unemployment claim was submitted.

Amidst this death and destruction the president of the United States has been spending his days pecking around on his iPhone, tweeting that certain cable TV hosts are murderers and dogs and that the husband of his top strategist is a “moonface” loser. Oh, and he claimed—again—that the opposition party and the American media are “The Enemy of the People!”

It is impossible to imagine a circumstance in which such behavior would be viewed as acceptable in normal life. Imagine sitting at a funeral service and seeing somebody standing a short distance away yelling and caterwauling about how the mourners or the priest were “dogs” and “The Enemy of the People!”

The malignant self-obsession and childish vitriol only scratches the surface of the man’s flaws. His compulsions aren’t hidden or covered up. They are broadcast for the entire country to see, for hours on end, every day, late into the night.

Here is where the final corruption takes place. Trump’s behavior is so far outside the realm of acceptable that even his supporters have been forced to concede it.

And so, because they are unwilling to abandon Trump, they have chosen to embrace his vile abnormality and wear it as a badge of honor, turning it into a rallying cry to attack anyone who is bothered by the behavior. https://thebulwark.com/actually-the-orange-man-is-bad/

14. Joe Biden: How the White House coronavirus response presents us with a false choice

The coronavirus, to date, has taken the lives of more than 79,000 Americans. One of every 5 U.S. workers has filed for unemployment — with the unemployment rate now the highest since the Great Depression. It is an extraordinary moment — the kind that begs for urgent, steady, empathetic, unifying leadership.

But instead of unifying the country to accelerate our public health response and get economic relief to those who need it, President Trump is reverting to a familiar strategy of deflecting blame and dividing Americans. His goal is as obvious as it is craven: He hopes to split the country into dueling camps, casting Democrats as doomsayers hoping to keep America grounded and Republicans as freedom fighters trying to liberate the economy.

It’s a childish tactic — and a false choice that none of us should fall for.

The truth is that everyone wants America to reopen as soon as possible — claiming otherwise is completely absurd. Governors from both parties are doing their best to make that happen, but their efforts have been slowed and hampered because they haven’t gotten the tools, resources and guidance they need from the federal government to reopen safely and sustainably. That responsibility falls on Trump’s shoulders — but he isn’t up to the task.

And why does the president insist on trying to turn this into yet another line of division, pitting strained, grieving Americans against one another across manufactured battle lines of “health” and “the economy”? Everybody knows that we can’t revive the latter unless we safeguard the former — and pretending otherwise is the most transparent of political ploys. Instead of once again seeking to divide us, Trump should be working to get Americans the same necessary protections he has gotten for himself.

It’s the right thing to do, and the only path to truly getting the economy back on track. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/05/11/joe-biden-coronavirus-op-ed/

15. Juan Williams: Trump's lying strategy on the economy

Trump’s campaign is already playing to his image as an economic leader by running television advertising declaring he is the man to bring back jobs and high investment returns.

My only question is: How can any voter fall for it?

It is a repeat of the same empty economic promises he made in the last campaign.

Even Trump’s most loyal backers know that despite his promise to create 4 percent or higher economic growth when he became president, he has never produced such results.

The truth is that he has averaged about 2 percent growth.

And that was before the virus hit.

That 2 percent rate of growth is basically the same as the growth rate under President Obama. Trump mocked that growth rate as piddling even though Obama started out in a deep hole, dealing with the deep recession that took root under President George W. Bush. As Chuck Jones of Forbes noted earlier this year, “Trump’s economic growth is slower than Obama’s last 3 years."

Obama also reduced unemployment from 10 percent at the height of the recession in 2009 to 4.7 percent by January 2017 when Trump took office. Yet, Trump brags that he took unemployment down to 3.5 percent without mentioning that he inherited a growing economy.

Now that jobless claims have soared to depression-level highs, Trump is selling himself to voters once again as a rich man who knows how to pull the economy out of the ditch it fell into due to his failed handling of the pandemic.

But to buy his sales pitch, the voters will have to forget that January day when the ‘CEO President’ sold Americans on the idea that the virus is “totally under control,” and no threat to Americans or the American economy. https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/497059-juan-williams-trumps-lying-strategy-on-the-economy

16. Peter Nicholas: How Trump Plans to Weaponize COVID-19 Against Biden

COVID-19 has shattered the basic economic rationale President Donald Trump had put forward in running for reelection and forced him to come up with another: Joe Biden’s handling of the catastrophe would be worse.

Trump and his allies are working to graft his own vulnerabilities onto Biden, painting him as a feeble alternative to a president tested by the coronavirus pandemic and the economic tailspin its caused. In TV ads and public statements, they’re arguing that Biden couldn’t revive the economy, defeat the virus, or stand up to Chinese leaders, whom Trump now blames for the outbreak. The message sets up a conspicuous irony: Trump is president during a pandemic that is raging without end, while Biden was vice president amid lesser public-health threats that were contained; Trump is presiding over historic job losses, while Biden oversaw an effective stimulus program that helped stanch job losses.

Yet Trump is betting that he can stoke enough doubts about Biden’s leadership that his own record looks preferable by comparison. Trump wins if voters view the race as a clear choice between Biden and him, but if “the election becomes a referendum on Trump, it’s a much closer call,” one senior Trump-administration official told me.
]
“This race has to be a contrast,” says John McLaughlin, a Trump pollster.

Deflecting attention to Biden mirrors a tactic that Trump has long deployed when he’s under pressure: He seizes accusations against him and flings them back. Democrats who led the impeachment fight against him committed “treason”; Russia actually wanted Hillary Clinton to be president.
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/05/trump-biden-coronavirus-2020/611500/

17. Paul Waldman: William Barr’s corrupt decision points to Trump’s moral rot of our institutions

“I learned a lot from watching Richard Nixon,” President Trump told Fox News on Friday morning, and while it’s not clear exactly what he meant, he may well have deduced that while Nixon got in trouble for hiding his corruption, it’s better to keep your corruption right where everyone can see it.

So it is that Attorney General William P. Barr, having already worked to secure a lighter sentence for Trump pal Roger Stone, has now given former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn the equivalent of a get-out-of-jail-free card, abandoning the case against him just as Flynn was about to be sentenced.

Soon after, Trump spoke on the phone to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the two had good reason to celebrate. While Putin’s 2016 effort to get Trump elected was, in large part, an attempt to discredit Western democracy, he could barely have imagined how effective it would be. Not only is our election system now in a credibility crisis, Trump has made our legal system a joke, too. What could make Putin happier?

To recap, Flynn had twice pled guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia, during an interview that occurred in the first days of the Trump presidency. The Post’s David Ignatius had reported that Flynn had a phone conversation with the Russian ambassador on the day the Obama administration expelled Russian diplomats in retaliation for Russian meddling in the election. It was suspected that Flynn and the ambassador may have been working out some kind of deal even though Trump had not yet taken office. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/05/08/barrs-corrupt-decision-unmasks-trumps-moral-rot-our-institutions/

18. Joe Scarborough: Trump’s racism will bring his party down with him

Trump can’t help himself. The former reality-TV host was warned by White House staff, his campaign team, financial contributors and Republicans on Capitol Hill that his afternoon news conferences were causing political damage. But after a weekend ofing out conspiracy theories about former presidents and insults aimed at cable-news pundits, the president was at it again Monday.

And, true to form, Trump burned himself.

His coronavirus “update” ended abruptly after he hurled a bigoted remark toward an American journalist who grew up in West Virginia. When CBS News’s Weijia Jiang asked Trump about his misleading testing comments, the president blurted out: “You should ask China.” Jiang’s family emigrated from China when she was 2. For what it’s worth, Trump’s own mother immigrated to the United States when she was 18, and his wife, Melania, gained an “Einstein Visa,” reserved for those of “extraordinary ability,” in 2001. After Trump’s snarling China comment, CNN’s Kaitlan Collins pressed Trump until he abruptly retreated from the presidential podium.

As he stumbled away, one couldn’t help but be reminded of Trump’s racist 2016 attacks aimed at Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel. The then-candidate said he couldn’t trust Curiel because he was “Mexican,” but Curiel is an Indiana native; his parents immigrated there from Mexico before he was born. Republican politicians responded strongly to the Curiel attacks. Maine Sen. Susan Collins said they did not “represent our American values”; Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse said Trump’s comments were “the literal definition of racism”; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio declared that the words did “not [reflect] well on us as a nation; and then-House Speaker Paul D. Ryan called Trump’s attack on the Indiana judge a “textbook definition of a racist comment.”

With the prospects of a historic Democratic landslide building with every Trump news conference, every deranged tweet, every racist remark, wouldn’t now be the time for Republican candidates to stand up, speak out and finally stop following a man so ill-equipped for the presidency?

To quote Trump himself, with control of Congress and the White House slipping away: “What the hell do they have to lose?” https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/05/12/trumps-racism-will-bring-his-party-down-with-him/

19. Toluse Olorunnipa: As coronavirus roils the nation, Trump reverts to tactic of accusing foes of felonies

On a day when coronavirus deaths passed 80,000 and top government scientists warned of the perils of loosening public health restrictions too soon, President Trump used his massive public platform to suggest a talk-show host he has clashed with committed murder.

His baseless charge capped a 48-hour stretch in which he accused scores of perceived opponents of criminal acts ranging from illegal espionage to election rigging.

Since writing “HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY” at 8:10 a.m. on Sunday, Trump has used his Twitter account to make or elevate allegations of criminal conduct against no fewer than 20 individuals and organizations. Since Sunday, he has tweeted more often about alleged crimes by his perceived opponents than he has about the pandemic ravaging the country with mass death and unemployment.

The list of purported culprits Trump has charged include two television news hosts, a comedian, at least five former officials from the FBI and Justice Department, the state of California, a broadcast television station and at least five top national security officials from President Barack Obama’s administration.

Trump tweeted multiple times about alleged criminal activity against him by Obama but struggled to elaborate beyond his frequent references to “Obamagate.”

“And if you look at what’s gone on, and if you look at, now, all of this information that’s being released,” Trump said during a Rose Garden news conference Monday. “And from what I understand, that’s only the beginning — some terrible things happened, and it should never be allowed to happen in our country again.”

Pressed for specifics by a Washington Post reporter, Trump demurred.

“You know what the crime is. The crime is very obvious to everybody,” he said. “All you have to do is read the newspapers, except yours.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-reverts-to-tactic-of-accusing-foes-of-felonies-as-coronavirus-roils-the-nation/2020/05/12/2028bf88-9467-11ea-9f5e-56d8239bf9ad_story.html

20. Jonathan Chait: Mitch McConnell Upset at ‘Classless,’ Norm-Breaking President: Barack Obama

On Friday, President Obama told a private call of his former aides that President Trump had mismanaged the pandemic and that his efforts to undo Michael Flynn’s guilty plea threatened the rule of law. On Sunday, President Trump retweeted an accusation that President Obama was “the first Ex-President to ever speak against his successor, which was long tradition of decorum and decency.” Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell repeated the complaint in an interview with Lara Trump.

“I think President Obama should have kept his mouth shut,” complained the Senate Majority Leader. “I think it’s a little bit classless, frankly, to critique an administration that comes after you.”

McConnell has spent years sitting idly by while Trump has shredded norms of presidential conduct. And not just issues of superficial manners — important democratic norms like “don’t encourage your supporters to commit political violence” and “don’t threaten to imprison your rivals,” among many others. McConnell’s sudden emergence as defender of presidential-conduct norms is absurd.

In any case, Obama’s remarks were fairly gentle. He made his comments in a private setting (albeit without making much effort to contain their publication). That didn’t stop McConnell from repairing to his fainting couch.

Neither did the fact that Trump has attacked Obama hundreds of times, often hysterically, and sometimes including spurious charges of criminality. At minimum, this would seem to obviate any requirement that Obama keep his silence. McConnell has the extraordinary chutzpah to witness the president spending years lying about his predecessor and setting the stage to criminalize him, and to then get indignant at the predecessor for calling this a threat to the rule of law in private remarks.

McConnell added to his complaint the inadvertently comic detail that Obama shared blame for the coronavirus: “Clearly,” he told Lara Trump, “the Obama administration did not leave to this administration any kind of game plan for something like this.”

That isn’t clear at all! In fact, as Politico has reported, Obama left Trump a detailed and highly specific plan for something exactly like this.

Maybe McConnell should decide that there’s a new tradition: It’s now classless for a president to hand over to his successor detailed plans to handle disasters, because if the successor is incompetent enough to ignore them, he’ll look bad. https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/05/mitch-mcconnell-obama-classless-game-plan-coronavirus.html


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