Trump’s Incompetence Continues

Trump has been antsy to ease pandemic restrictions and open the economy. He’s making a lot of noise about putting together a pandemic economic council that will advise him about when Americans can go back to work. I mentioned this yesterday; some people are talking up George Laffer to be a member if not the chair, which of course would be a disaster.

After America pretty much hooted at his plan to end restrictions by Easter — this weekend, folks — Trump has been cagey about setting dates. However, the Washington Post reported that “Behind closed doors, President Trump — concerned with the sagging economy — has sought a strategy for resuming business activity by May 1, according to people familiar with the discussions.”

Since Trump didn’t actually close anything, however, he can’t very well open anything. It’s really up to governors, most of whom aren’t listening to Trump. I am not sure he understands that.

Some fellow writing on Medium predicts that next month we’ll be hit with the ultimate gaslighting campaign, trying to persuade us that the pandemic is over and we can be normal again. Maybe; I’d like to think that if the virus is still spreading on May 1, as it probably will be, good sense will prevail. But this is America we’re talking about, so I’m probably being foolish.

Because so few of us have been tested, we can’t be sure how broadly and how quickly the virus is spreading. Even so, the U.S. currently is leading the world in number of confirmed cases. In fact, approximately one third of all the world’s confirmed cases are in the U.S. right now. Americans are 4.25 percent of the world’s population. Although the curve may be flattening in some places, overall, it isn’t.

It’s also the case that no part of the U.S. is safe from this virus. A month ago many assumed it would stay in the cities, but it didn’t. The peak of the pandemic may yet be months away in some states, but by the end of summer it’s possible that most Americans — urban and rural, blue states and red states — will at least be aquainted with someone known to have caught covid 19. And the red, rural states in general have fewer doctors and hospital beds per capita than more liberal blue states.

So there’s a world of hurt ahead of us, both medically and economically, and Donald Trump cannot bluster it away. Sometimes reality can’t be avoided. But damn; Trump is trying. As I wrote yesterday, the Trump Administration is defunding testing now. And he said yesterday that a widespread testing program to assess whether workers can safely return to their workplaces is “never going to happen” in the United States.

All the health experts say that without more widespread testing we will risk a resurgence of the pandemic. But Trump still doesn’t want those numbers to go up. He doesn’t care about the people; just the numbers.

Speaking of numbers — last week the White House released a projection that100,000 to 240,000 people would die nationwide from the coronavirus. Health experts were mystified as to where those numbers came from. Pretty much every epidemiologist on the planet said those numbers were meaningless.

The estimate appeared to be a rushed affair, said Marc Lipsitch, a leading epidemiologist and director of Harvard University’s Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. “They contacted us, I think, on a Tuesday a week ago, and asked for answers and feedback by Thursday, basically 24 hours,” he said. “My initial response was we can’t do it that fast. But we ended up providing them some numbers responding to very specific scenarios.”

Other experts noted that the White House didn’t even explain the time period the death estimate supposedly captures — just the coming few months, or the year-plus it will take to deploy a vaccine.

But, you know, the White House didn’t care. It just wanted numbers. Then Trump famously said that if only 100,000 people died he will have done a “very good job.”  And then MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, bless him, stated the obvious —

— which of course is exactly what’s going on. But Hayes got ripped for speaking the truth.

Anyway, today Trump was jubilent because only 18,000 Americans officially have died from the coronavirus so far.

After a word on the upcoming the Easter holiday, global oil production and the border wall with Mexico, Trump nearly celebrated the potentially massive death toll.

“Tremendous progress is being made,” he said.

Compared to the White House’s previous projection that at least 100,000 people could die from the disease, “I think we will be substantially under that number,” Trump said.

“Hard to believe that if you had 60,000 — you can never be happy — but that’s a lot fewer than we were originally told and thinking.”

Chris Hayes was exactly right. And in many places the death toll is still climbing pretty fast. An emotionally normal person would not be celebrating.

7 thoughts on “Trump’s Incompetence Continues

  1. Without MASSIVE testing, we will never reopen. You have to know where you stand before you can take a chance like that. Glad the Governors are making the call instead of Stupid. I think we need schools to stay closed this term. MAYBE adults can start working again mid-May, June. Most places haven’t even peaked.

  2. I hadn't heard of the Chris Hayes tweet this morning when I wrote on FB"

    "We are at this moment – for the entire WORLD – at 97,000 deaths. The US is 4% of the world population. Trump is setting expectations so cataclysmic he can claim he did something wonderful when the US has by far the most deaths AND the most deaths per capita. That's as disgusting a bit of spin as anything I've seen any world leader propose in my lifetime."

    We haven't got the record yet, per capita but Italy and Spain are getting it under control while we are on the ascent. We will almost certainly finish up in first but the epidemic hit the US last. We had the best chance to prepare, didn't and will have the record number of fatalities whch Trump will declare is a triumph.

  3. I'm not really competent to predict who will die and where, because of Trump's actions. I'm fortunate in that I live in a state that could get along quite well without the rest of the USA, and our governor and legislative bodies have taken the lead in rebuffing Trump and the barbarians. I'm also working at home. I might even be able to squeak this one out until a vaccine arrives, probably next year. I hate working in offices (with kids) and so this sequester has only improved my life. I hope to never go back to office work. Ah, solitude.

    I am very concerned about how the fascists are going to steal the November election. I wrote yesterday about Milwaukee. I read about the Post Office is going to be broke, very soon. Republicans have always hated the USPS; now they can can finally shut it down and blame it on the virus. No Post Office, no mail-in ballots. Q.E.D.

  4. BTW, your title "Trump's Incompetence" is wrong. It may seem like incompetence, but it's really a clear cut example of Disaster Capitalism.

    What’s a few hundred thousand dead, if 1) we can get rid of those pesky elections once and for all, and 2) kill off the lower classes? You’ll note that the pandemic very much makes a class distinction and also a geographic and political one.

    The chaos created by the pandemic and Trump’s incompetence are kind of a perfect storm for the owners of this country.

  5. The GOP loves the Post Office – they just want it privatized and the postal unions broken. The unions are not allowed to strike and the government is required to enter into collective bargaining if contract negotiations fail. The objective is to retain the first restriction and destroy collective bargaining. The country needs the USPS, even with the Internet. FedEx and UPS combined couldn't replace the people and infrastructure. The question is whether the employees will refuse to be privatized – they could bring the country to its knees. I worked for the USPS and predict they won't stand up. 

  6. An emotionally normal person also wouldn't be boasting about his/her press conferences having high ratings in the middle of a pandemic!

    FYI:  There's an alternative theory about tRUMP's flailing actions during this pandemic, which I read somewhere else today:

    This whole "Restart Our Economy, ASAP" talk is to distract from the fact that tRUMP and his maladministration have come to realize that they're running out of time before November.  That they're far too stupid and inept  to do what they need to do to fix the problem. 

    But if they can't rid of this tRUMP Plague soon enough for the economy to come roaring back, and tRUMP looks like a hero (or can at least claim that title), then the chances of tRUMP's reelection (and continuing to steal all of that SWEET, SWEET, STIMULUS MOOLAH!) dim significantly. 

    But what they can do to win in 2020?  GASLIGHT!

    Blame Democrats and their "Deep state!"  

    And besides gaslighting (it should go without saying —  but I'm gonna say it anyway), the RepubliKKKLANS other favorite strategy:  SUPPRESS THE VOTE!!!

    This may be too sophisticated a conspiracy theory for this corrupt confederacy of fools, imbeciles, and outright morons to fink (sic) up (but I repeat, repeat myself), but it's out there and worth some contemplation.

    Have a great weekend, all!  And stay safe.





    *This might be crediting tRUMP & Co. with far too much self-awareness.

  7. gulag – I think you are right. Trump will *try* to reopen the economy and expect most governors will resist what Trump recommends. Trump is poised to blame what would have been a fantastic recovery on the states. Florida's governor is Trump's Mini-me. He wrote an order five minutes after he (finally) issued shelter-in-place which states the governor's orders supersede local orders (and has since backed off from enforcing the authority he claimed.) Florida has been very lucky so far (438 dead) and the governor has bent over backwards to keep big business happy. Trump is also planning to use the half-trillion business giveaway without oversight. Florida is critical for Trump [electoral college] – the illusion of a recovery in that one state would bolster Trump's claim that his genius is thwarted by timid local government. Florida is least likely to stage a huge economic comeback – the tourist industry won't bounce back when people are short of money and not inclined to travel. (Florida also sux in the summer because the heat is miserable.) So a recovery will have to be artificially staged with federal money propping it up. The governor will play games with unemployment to disqualify huge numbers of non-working people and pretend that as they drop from the rolls, (and aren't counted as unemployed) it's proof of the Trump recovery. There is a potential problem – half the state is bat-shi* crazy ready to believe Limbaugh and Fox and they are mostly old and high-risk. If Trump and Governor DeSantos try this, and if there's karmic justice, Florida will take off with fatalities like NYC. I live in FL and I'm high-risk  by age, so there's no delight in my prediction. Trump has to bet against the odds. A lot of people (including the Fl guv) have hitched their wagon to the Trump train. First hint that it's happening? Follow the money from DC to FL.

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