You Will Know Them by Their Priorities

In an all-hands-on-deck crisis, those whose priorities lie elsewhere do stand out. For example, the wingnut attorney general of Ohio is using the pandemic as an excuse to close the state’s abortion clinics. AG Bill Barr has used the crisis to ask Congress to suspend habeas corpus and other rights, which beside being a terrible encroachment on the constitution just plain makes no sense. The request was rejected on a bipartisan basis.

It’s clear that Trump’s priority is blaming China. He is doubling down on calling Covid-19 the “Chinese virus” and complains that China could have kept it contained, a big change from his tune of a few weeks ago. This is too obviously an attempt to deflect blame for Trump’s own negligence, which has been massive. Republicans have joined in

At Trump’s behest, Republicans are blaming the coronavirus on China. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Tex, said, “China is to blame because the culture where people eat bats and snakes and dogs and things like that, these viruses are transmitted from the animal to the people and that’s why China has been the source of a lot of these viruses like SARS, like MERS, the Swine Flu.” Cornyn is a proud graduate of the Trump University School of Medicine.

This is, basically, the “Spanky did it first” defense beloved of small children.

The international community has work to do in preventing the transmission of viruses from animals to humans, but this doesn’t just happen in China. AIDS orignated in Africa, for example. The infamous “Spanish flu” epidemic of 1918-1919 may have originated in Kansas. This is an international problem.

And at this point it hardly matters how it started. Trump is still not doing enough himself. Right now we have a gross shortage of medical supplies. Right now medical personnel don’t have enough protective gear. It’s anticipated that very soon we will be short of hospital beds and respirators needed to keep people alive. And Trump is doing nothing.

Today, Trump tweeted that people should be blaming governors, not him.

Get that? Trump’s plan is to step in after the states fail.

Gov. Pritzker, who has been doing everything in his power about the virus, didn’t take this well.

Pritzker responded to Trump on Twitter soon after, saying, “You wasted precious months when you could’ve taken action to protect Americans & Illinoisans.”

“You should be leading a national response instead of throwing tantrums from the back seat,” he added. “Where were the tests when we needed them? Where’s the PPE [personal protective equipment]? Get off Twitter & do your job.” …

… Speaking with CNN’s “State of the Union,” Pritzker said the federal government’s response to the crisis has improved since earlier this month but that Illinois has received only about a quarter of the personal protective equipment that it has requested from the Trump administration.

“We … got a call this morning, before I went on the air, that we’re going to receive another shipment of PPE later today or tomorrow from FEMA,” he said. “But it’s a fraction still of what we have requested. We need millions of masks and hundreds of thousands of gowns and gloves and the rest. And, unfortunately, we’re getting still just a fraction of that.”

Pritzker said that, as a result, his state has to compete on the open market — against other states — for those items. Trump has pushed for states to secure masks and other essential items on their own.

“We’re all competing against each other. This should have been a coordinated effort by the federal government,” he said. “And the national defense authorization that the president has to essentially push this manufacturing really hasn’t gone into effect in any way. And, so, yes, we’re competing against each other. We’re competing against other countries. It’s a … Wild West, I would say, out there. And, indeed, we’re overpaying, I would say, for PPE because of that competition.”

Trump had already refused to help the governors who call him and begged for federal help.

President Donald Trump on Thursday put the onus on governors to obtain the critical equipment their states need to fight the coronavirus pandemic, telling reporters that the federal government is “not a shipping clerk” for the potentially life-saving supplies.

Appearing at the daily press briefing of the White House coronavirus task force, the president defended his decision to invoke the Defense Production Act — which would allow the administration to direct U.S. industry to ramp up production of emergency medical provisions — without actually triggering the statute.

“Governors are supposed to be doing a lot of this work, and they are doing a lot of this work,” Trump said. “The Federal government is not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items and then shipping. You know, we’re not a shipping clerk.”

I honestly believe Trump is just too bleeping stupid to understand the situation and what needs to be done. He has a great opportunity here to be the big hero and bleeping do something, and still he isn’t doing it.

Regarding the Defense Productin Act, this is dated March 18.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday invoked the Defense Production Act to get medical equipment to hospitals in the fight against the coronavirus.

But don’t expect new masks, ventilators, gloves and goggles to show up in the field right away.

The Trump administration has yet to complete a comprehensive assessment, despite weeks of discussion about using the act to help prevent the medical system from being overrun, according to current and former administration officials. Even Trump said on Wednesday that he’s in no hurry to order the supplies.

Today the chief of FEMA admitting nothing is happening.

President Donald Trump has invoked but not yet started using the Defense Production Act (DPA) to get companies to manufacture critical supplies for the fight against the coronavirus, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Peter Gaynor revealed to CNN’s Jake Tapper Sunday.

“No. We haven’t yet,” Gaynor replied when asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” if the Trump administration has ordered any companies to make critical medical supplies needed on the front lines of the coronavirus fight.

The FEMA chief insisted that donations and voluntary offers of assistance from companies are presently sufficient. “It’s happening without using that lever,” he explained, adding, “If it comes to a point we have to pull the lever, we will.”

Right now, Trump should already have ordered an assessment on what will be needed and where resources should be allocated, and the order to produce those resources should have been given. But Trump has done nothing.

This happened Friday:

On Friday, Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, said he had urged Mr. Trump in a phone call to actually use the Defense Production Act to get going on producing more ventilators and other equipment needed to combat the virus, and that Mr. Trump had yelled to someone in his office to do it now.

I am not reassured.

Later that day, in a testy news conference, Mr. Trump claimed that he had already used the law to spur production of “millions of masks.” But Mr. Trump has a long history of saying things that have no basis in fact, and no company has disclosed receiving any such order.

In the most recent daily briefing Trump went out of his way to praise the private sector for stepping up to produce masks, ventilators, whatever, and that’s fine, but I’m betting no one is tracking exactly what is being produced and where it is going. A lot of that stuff will disappear into private hands. I can imagine that smaller publicly funded hospitals will go entirely without. And who is building facilities to provide for more hospital beds?

But get this — Trump’s offered help to North Korea.

President Trump has sent a letter to North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, expressing his willingness to help the North battle the coronavirus, North Korea said on Sunday.

“I would like to extend sincere gratitude to the U.S. president for sending his invariable faith to the Chairman,” said Kim Yo-jong, the North Korean leader’s sister and policy aide, in a statement carried by the North’s state-run Korean? Central? News Agency. Ms. Kim lauded Mr. Trump’s decision to write the letter as “a good judgment and proper action.”

In the letter, Mr. Trump “wished the family of the Chairman and our people well-being,” Ms. Kim said, referring to her brother by one of his official titles.

But Chicago can just go bleep itself, I guess.

But this is what we can expect from Trump. He can blame China all day long; it was his own negligence that let it into the U.S.

When Wuhan began burning with infections in December, the U.S. government took only illogical, inadequate actions to stop the virus’s spread: It banned foreigners from entering from China, but inconsistently monitored Americans returning from the country. The president laughed off the virus and the Democrats’ response to it, calling it their “new hoax,” which immediately polarized the citizenry’s response to precautionary public-health information. When the sparks of this conflagration hit, Seattle was aflame before anyone at the CDC had started to reach for water.

And, we might ask again, where are the tests? One more time, this was Mike Pence a couple of weeks ago:

“Over a million tests have been distributed,” Pence said, and “before the end of this week, another 4 million tests will be distributed.”.

And that was all a bald-faced lie. There were no millions of tests. Testing is slowly becoming more available, but not available enough. According to the Covid Tracking Project, a total of 228,216 Americans have been tested to date. But even if everyone could get tested tomorrow, it’s too late to talk about containment. Containment may have been possible a few weeks ago, but the federal government moved way too slowly. See How the Coronavirus Became an American Catastrophe.