Friday, April 03, 2020

Joe Biden Must Step Aside-- A Guest Post By Harvey Wasserman


Harvey Wasserman is best known as a powerful advocate for renewable energy and as one of America's most prominent anti-nuke activists. Today he's tackling another threat for us:

Joe Biden must step aside. NOW!!!

Someone else must be the Democratic Party’s nominee to run against Donald Trump.

No less than eight women have now accused Biden of sexual imposition. At least one has accused him of forcible digital entry. Her description of the alleged event is gruesome, grotesque and extremely damning.

 None of the accusations put forward by these eight women can be easily dismissed. Taken as a whole, they entirely disqualify Joe Biden to become president of the of the United States.

They guarantee one thing: if he is the Democratic nominee, running against Donald Trump, he will lose.

Biden’s tally of women accusing him of sexual imposition and/or rape is now just slightly under half of those accusing Trump, which stands somewhere around 19. At least one of Trump’s accusers is awaiting a DNA sample to see if it matches an item of clothing she says he stained during forcible entry.

Running against a female candidate, Trump lost the 2016 popular election by nearly three million votes. His Electoral College victory came from three states (Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania) where voter suppression and dubious vote counts made the difference, but went unchallenged by Clinton’s Democratic Party.

Trump’s history of sexual imposition and grotesquely sexist rants clearly hurt him in the popular vote.

This country does have a history of electing sexually compromised men.

In 1803 Thomas Jefferson was (accurately) accused of fathering many children with his slave Sally Hemings, but won re-election in 1804.

Democrat Grover Cleveland won in 1884 despite being charged with a rape that led to the birth of a child. The GOP taunt “Ma, Ma, Where’s my Pa?” was answered with “Gone to the White House, Ha, Ha, Ha.”

Nan Britten, Republican President Warren G. Harding’s infamous mistress, self-published a best-seller called “The President’s Daughter” (a later DNA test confirmed the accusation). Harding avoided running for re-election by dying in office (many still believe his angry wife poisoned him).

Bill Clinton won the presidency despite multiple accusations of sexual misbehavior. We all know what happened next.

To beat Trump in 2020, Biden would need overwhelming female support. He says he’ll nominate a woman for VP.

But he comes with cringe-worthy photos of unwanted embraces, from-behind message and more.

That ugly gallery would slash any margin the Democrats might claim from Trump’s grotesque misogyny. Like Hillary Clinton, Biden’s female running mate would be harshly attacked for choosing to “stand by her man” in the face of these accusations.

Biden’s actual control over his faculties is now widely doubted. He’s been virtually absent during Trump’s catastrophic mishandling of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Any serious opposition candidate would be daily critical of the death and destruction caused by Trump’s utter failure to cope with this crisis. Biden has been all but missing in action.

  Goal ThermometerNow he refuses to appear with Bernie Sanders when the two could easily agree to focus their TV time on Trump. As with women voters, Biden will not win without Bernie’s millions of enthusiastic Millennial backers. But exactly when their youthful energies are most needed, Biden and the corporate Democrats are turning them off. It’s exactly what Clinton did to hand Trump the White House.

But above all, Biden now stands accused of exactly the behavior most certain to alienate women.  Turning both women and millennial voters away from his campaign will virtually guarantee a Trump victory in November.

He needs to step aside NOW, while an alternative is still possible.

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Remember, There Are Innocent People In Red States Who Do NOT Deserve To Die


The extreme-right moron governors of Georgia and Florida finally-- way too late to save their citizens-- ordered statewide lockdowns Wednesday. Last time I looked there were still a dozen states where governors have refused to order lockdowns-- all red Trump states led by extremely cowardly politicians:
Alabama-- Kay Ivey (R)
Arkansas-- Asa Hutchinson (R)
Iowa-- Kim Reynolds (R)
Missouri-- Mike Parson (R)
Nebraska-- Pete Ricketts (R)
North Dakota-- Doug Burgum (R)
Oklahoma-- Kevin Stitt (R)
South Carolina-- Henry McMaster (R)
South Dakota-- Kristi Noem (R)
Texas-- Greg Abbott (R)
Utah-- Gary Herbert (R)
Wyoming-- Mark Gordon (R)
The U.S. can't start counting the 8 weeks it takes to flatten the curve until all these dozen states are also in lockdown. These right-wing baboons are threatening all of our lives. Before you start wishing that all their citizens die, please remember that though they all voted for Trump and all still support Trump, there are several million people in these dozen states who voted against Trump. They don't deserve to die. Is there enough lamb's blood to save them all when the Angel of Death comes for a visit? Hillary voters by state:
Alabama-- 729,547 (34.36%)
Arkansas-- 380,494 (33.65%)
Iowa-- 653,669 (41.74%)
Missouri-- 1,071,068 (38.14%)
Nebraska-- 284,494 (33.70%)
North Dakota-- 93,758 (27.23%)
Oklahoma-- 420,375 (28.93%)
South Carolina-- 855,373 (40.67%)
South Dakota-- 117,458 (31.74%)
Texas-- 3,877,868 (43.24%)
Utah-- 310,676 (27.46%) + 243,690 (21.54%) for Evan McMullin)
Wyoming-- 55,973 (21.63%)
The April Fool's Day issue of Politico magazine ranked the best and worst governors based on their pandemic leadership roles. I agree that both the best and worst were both Republicans--Ohio's Mike DeWine as most courageous and Trump Florida ass-licker Ron DeSantis as the one most deserving a prison sentence. Bill Scher wrote that with Señor Trumpanzee "unable or unwilling to play the part of a national unifier or to take decisive action to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the leadership we normally expect from the Oval Office has instead come from state executives throughout the nation-- or not." He framed the question he set out the answer: "Which governors have done a better job at meeting the moment, by acting decisively and boosting morale? And which have missed the moment, dragged their feet and succumbed to petty squabbling?" And, unlike any of the TV talking heads, he nailed it on TV-actor-playing-a hero Andrew Cuomo:

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has received the lion’s share of attention, as his informative and emotive press conferences have made him an overnight national political star, albeit halfway through his third term. But his record in responding to the crisis is more complicated than the sheen lets on: his coronavirus containment policies were not the most aggressive in the country, and did not prevent catastrophe. He hesitated to close all schools statewide even as other states began to do so, and resisted a statewide stay-at-home order for a few days before relenting.
Here's his list of the best. He's wrong about Newsom, who also dragged his feet except in the superficial areas Cuomo also looked good in. The 6 Bay Area counties did great while Newsom and Garcetti hid under their beds shivering that if they made the wrong move, they'd never be a presidential contenders. From most best to less best:
Mike DeWine (R-OH)- "[N]o single governor has done more to put the nation on a war footing in the fight against coronavirus than DeWine, whose actions have contributed to Ohio’s relatively modest number of cases... On March 12, even though Ohio had yet to suffer a major outbreak of Covid-19, DeWine called for the statewide closure of public schools-- the first governor in the nation to do so, forcing most of his fellow governors to recognize they had to follow suit, and fast.
Gavin Newsom (D-CA)
Jay Inslee (D-WA)
Larry Hogan (R-MD)- another mistake by Scher-- he was needlessly slow and doesn't deserve to be on this list.
Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI)
Wanda Vazquez (NPP-Puerto Rico)

And now the half dozen worst, although Scher left off some real doozies-- like for example, illegitimate Georgia Republican Brian Kemp who claimed stupidity for his weeks of inaction. "[H]e reversed course Wednesday as a growing number of other Republican governors, including the leaders of Florida, South Carolina and Texas, instituted broader limits on mobility and shuttered more businesses to try to counter the disease. He said his decision was triggered by "game-changing” new projections on the disease’s spread in Georgia. He also said he was informed of new data that this virus 'is now transmitting before people see signs. Those individuals could have been infecting people before they ever felt' symptoms, he said. 'We didn’t know that until the last 24 hours.'" Maybe he didn't, but everyone else on planet earth did. So here's Scher's list from worst to not as terrible:
Ron DeSantis (R-FL)- "DeSantis is one of Trump’s favorite governors and a potential 2024 presidential prospect. But he has made a bad first impression on the rest of the country by failing to fully shut down Florida’s beaches before or after they were overrun with partiers on spring break, many of whom then traveled home to locations throughout the United States. He also resisted making a statewide stay-at-home order until finally relenting on Wednesday-- in the wake of intense pressure from Florida Democrats, and televised comments Wednesday morning by the surgeon general urging all governors to get their residents to stay at home. Before that point, his seemingly toughest measure was issuing a quarantine for travelers coming from the New York City tri-state area or Louisiana, but the focus on hot spots ignores all the community spread inside Florida and in other states. Florida already has nearly 7,000 confirmed cases, ranking it 17th among the states on a per capita basis. Earlier, DeSantis justified eschewing broader measures. 'We’re also in a situation where we have counties who have no community spread,' he said on March 19. 'We have some counties that don’t have a single positive test yet.' But everything we have experienced strongly suggests you don't want to wait until you have community spread before taking strong action. DeSantis may still be helped by Trump, who may be giving Florida preferential treatment. According to the Washington Post, other governors have had difficulty getting supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile, but not DeSantis. And Trump has been influenced by DeSantis’ argument that some social distancing measures are too harmful to the economy. The Post quoted an anonymous White House official, who explained, 'The president knows Florida is so important for his reelection, so when DeSantis says that, it means a lot. He pays close attention to what Florida wants.'" I would just like to add that DeSantis is still working actively to kill Florida seniors. He is absolutely the worst governor in America.

Tate Reeves (R-MS)- "Aside from its next-door neighbor Louisiana, Mississippi is the Southern state with the most confirmed Covid-19 cases on a per capita basis. Yet Reeves has made a hash out of the response. As Mississippi’s localities began issuing stay-at-home edicts, Reeves issued his own order on March 24, broadly defining what business and social activity is 'essential'-- including religious services-- and declared any order from any other 'governing body' which conflicts with the state order to be 'suspended and unenforceable.'"

Kevin Stitt (R-OK)- "On March 14, Stitt tweeted a picture of his family eating at a restaurant, as if he deserved an award for defying the coronavirus panic. 'It’s packed tonight!' he enthusiastically shared, but facing blowback, later deleted the post... Oklahoma’s rate of infection is intensifying, and testing is minimal. Stitt is not the only governor who has hesitated to implement stiff restrictions, but he may become a case study of the pitfalls of glib social media use in a time of crisis."

David Ige (D-HI)- "Ige tapped his Lieutenant Governor Josh Green to play a key role in the state’s response to coronavirus. Green is an emergency room doctor, so his calls for strict travel restrictions and quarantines on arrivals carried great weight. But once Green publicly pushed for strong measures, Ige cut him out of the loop, instructing Cabinet officials not to consult with Green, and keeping Green out of his press conferences."

Kay Ivey (R-AL)- "Ivey sounded a completely different note at a press conference, when she dismissed the idea of a statewide stay-at-home order. 'Y’all, we are not Louisiana, we are not New York state, we are not California,' she said. (Washington Post data journalist Philip Bump warned Ivey that Alabama’s caseload was growing faster than California’s.)"

Jim Justice (R-WV)- "His lack of experience in crisis management has been glaringly obvious from his discordant statements and actions. On March 16, he was preaching defiance. 'For crying out loud, go to the grocery stores,' Jutice said. 'If you want to go to Bob Evans and eat, go to Bob Evans and eat.' Then, the very next day, he shut down dine-in eating at the state’s restaurants."
Yesterday a 7-person team of NY Times reporters filed a report on the geography of the pandemic response in America. The maps showing citizens ignoring social distancing look eerily-- or predictably-- like the maps of the counties where Trump won in 2016. "Stay-at-home orders," they wrote, "have nearly halted travel for most Americans, but people in Florida, the Southeast and other places that waited to enact such orders have continued to travel widely, potentially exposing more people as the coronavirus outbreak accelerates." Most Americans "in wide swaths of the West, Northeast and Midwest have complied with orders from state and local officials to stay home. Disease experts who reviewed the results say those reductions in travel-- to less than a mile a day, on average, from about five miles-- may be enough to sharply curb the spread of the coronavirus in those regions, at least for now... In areas where public officials have resisted or delayed stay-at-home orders, people changed their habits far less. Though travel distances in those places have fallen drastically, last week they were still typically more than three times those in areas that had imposed lockdown orders, the analysis shows." They offered a list of big population counties across the country where people are spreading COVID-19 willy-nilly. I added the 2016 election results. From worst to less horrible:
Greenville County, South Carolina- Trump 59.4% to Hillary 34.7%
Jefferson County, Alabama- Hillary 52.2% to Trump 45.0%
Duval County, Florida- Trump 49.0% to Hillary 47.5%
Guilford County, North Carolina- Hillary 58.7% to Trump 38.7%
Montgomery County, Texas- Trump 74.0% to Hillary 22.5%
Polk County, Florida- Trump 55.4% to Hillary 41.3%
Tulsa County, Oklahoma- Trump 58.4% to Hillary 35.6%
Volusia County, Florida- Trump 54.8% to Hillary 41.8%
Oklahoma County, Oklahoma- Trump 51.7% to Hillary 41.2%
Sedgwick County, Kansas- Trump 56.1% to Hillary 36.9%
Gwinnett County, Georgia- Hillary 51.0% to Trump 45.2%
Shelby County, Tennessee- Hillary 62.3% to Trump 34.6%
Brevard County, Florida- Trump 57.8% to Hillary 38.0%
Salt Lake County, Utah- Hillary 42.8% to Trump 32.6%
Fresno County, California- Hillary 49.4% to Trump 45.5%
Utah County, Utah- Trump 51.3% to Hillary 14.0%
Pasco County, Florida- Trump 58.9% to Hillary 37.4%
San Bernardino County, California- Hillary 52.2% to Trump 42.4%
Douglas County, Nebraska- Hillary 47.9% to Trump 46.5%
Hillsborough County, Florida- Hillary 51.5% to Trump 44.7%
Dr. Fauci has recommended that all 50 states do mandatory lockdowns-- something Trump and his goonish governors don't accept. Last night Trump lied again, this time that airplane and train passengers are being given "very strong tests" for coronavirus both before departure and after arrival. "They’re doing tests on airlines-- very strong tests-- for getting on, getting off. They’re doing tests on trains-- getting on, getting off." He's just flat-out lying-- and endangering the general public.

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Everybody Wears A Mask-- But They Won't Stop A Recession Or A Depression


Yesterday, on top of historically high unemployment insurance filings, NBC News reporters Kasie Hunt and Alex Moe had some more bad news on the personal financial front-- Trump Regime incompetence on full display: "The first Americans to get relief payments from the government under the coronavirus legislation signed into law last month won’t see the money until at least the week of April 13, according to new estimates from the Trump administration provided to House Democrats and outlined in a memo circulated this week by Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee. Many people who don’t have direct deposit information on file with the IRS might have to wait months to get the money."

That's a drag... and yesterday, the NY Times reported that "The speed and scale of the job losses is without precedent. Until last month, the worst week for unemployment filings was 695,000 in 1982." Pray it's only a recession that Trump has brought us-- even a horribly long one. Peter Goodman: "The world is almost certainly ensnared in a devastating recession delivered by the coronavirus pandemic. Now, fears are growing that the downturn could be far more punishing and long lasting than initially feared-- potentially enduring into next year, and even beyond-- as governments intensify restrictions on business to halt the spread of the pandemic, and as fear of the virus reconfigures the very concept of public space, impeding consumer-led economic growth.
The abrupt halt of commercial activity threatens to impose economic pain so profound and enduring in every region of the world at once that recovery could take years. The losses to companies, many already saturated with debt, risk triggering a financial crisis of cataclysmic proportions.

Stock markets have reflected the economic alarm. The S&P 500 in the United States fell over 4 percent on Wednesday, as investors braced for worse conditions ahead. That followed a brutal March, during which a whipsawing S&P 500 fell 12.5 percent, in its worst month since October 2008.

“I feel like the 2008 financial crisis was just a dry run for this,” said Kenneth S. Rogoff, a Harvard economist and co-author of a history of financial crises, This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly.

“This is already shaping up as the deepest dive on record for the global economy for over 100 years,” he said. “Everything depends on how long it lasts, but if this goes on for a long time, it’s certainly going to be the mother of all financial crises.”

The situation looks uniquely dire in developing countries, which have seen investment rush for the exits this year, sending currencies plummeting, forcing people to pay more for imported food and fuel, and threatening governments with insolvency-- all of this while the pandemic itself threatens to overwhelm inadequate medical systems.

...The sense of alarm is enhanced by the fact that every inhabited part of the globe is now in trouble.

The United States, the world’s largest economy, is almost certainly in a recession. So is Europe. So probably are significant economies like Canada, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico. China, the world’s second-largest economy, is expected to grow by only 2 percent this year, according to TS Lombard, the research firm.

For years, a segment of the economic orthodoxy advanced the notion that globalization came with a built-in insurance policy against collective disaster. So long as some part of the world economy was growing, that supposedly moderated the impact of a downturn in any one country.

The global recession that followed the financial crisis of 2008 beggared that thesis. The current downturn presents an even more extreme event-- a worldwide emergency that has left no safe haven.

...Between now and the end of next year, developing countries are on the hook to repay some $2.7 trillion in debt, according to a report released Monday by the U.N. trade body. In normal times, they could afford to roll most of that debt into new loans. But the abrupt exodus of money has prompted investors to charge higher rates of interest for new loans.

The U.N. body called for a $2.5 trillion rescue for developing countries-- $1 trillion in loans from the International Monetary Fund, another $1 trillion in debt forgiveness from a broad range of creditors and $500 billion for health recovery.

“The great fear we have for developing countries is that the economic shocks have actually hit most of them before the health shocks have really begin to hit,” said Richard Kozul-Wright, director of the division on globalization and development strategies at the U.N. trade body in Geneva.
You think that sounds bad? Washington Post economics columnist Robert Samuelson was envisioning a depression yesterday. Obama made it look so easy, didn't he. So why not give a dumb, crooked loud-mouthed TV game show host a chance? This is why.

Samuelson wrote that when he "began writing about economics in the early 1970s, I made a private vow that I would never use the word 'depression' in describing the state of the economy. The economists and politicians who occasionally did so were, I thought, engaged in partisan hyperbole. Their game was to scare people into thinking the end of the world was at hand or to pressure Congress to enact a favored piece of economic legislation. Well, times change. I revoke my vow. It’s not that I’ve concluded that we’re already in a depression. But we could be. For the first time in my life, I think it’s conceivable. This obviously would be a big deal. It implies permanently higher levels of unemployment (though joblessness would still fluctuate), greater economic instability and a collision between democracy and the economic system."

So how are the Trumpists taking all this news? I picked this up from People For the American Way last night: "Anthony Fauci-- the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases who has served six presidents of both parties and is arguably the most trusted voice in America right now on the coronavirus pandemic-- is now facing DEATH THREATS from the Right Wing thanks to social media conspiracy theories and headlines like the one from the right-wing American Thinker that referred to Fauci as a 'Deep-State Hillary Clinton-loving stooge.'"

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

Trump is in so far over his head but it's us who are drowning.

Never forget who voted to keep him in power.

Never forget who voted to put him there.

Never forget who did nothing about it.

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Thursday, April 02, 2020

Please Bogart That Joint-- Marijuana Use Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic


Dwight K. Blake who worked as a mental health counselor and believes that CBD is a prime solution to mental illness, is the editor-in-chief of AmericanMarijuana which recently conducted a survey targeting U.S marijuana consumers, asking them about their marijuana use during the pandemic. Dwight told me that what they found amazed them and he offered to share the findings with DWT readers. Top line:
28% of participants choose marijuana over face masks
55% of those who stocked marijuana did so to calm themselves down amidst the pandemic
17% is the percentage of participants saying their most preferred activity during self-quarantine (if the U.S enforces nationwide quarantine) is to smoke weed, higher than surfing the internet (15%) and doing indoor sports (13%).
The results are as of March 24, by which time the coronavirus disease had swept through over 195 countries with over 260,000 confirmed cases worldwide. This caused a panic that led people to stock up on foods, toiletries, and other basic needs. As of today, just a week later, these are over 900,000 confirmed cases worldwide (205,036 in the U.S. and over 45,500 deaths worldwide and 4,500 deaths in the U.S. as of today).

AmericanMarijuana decided to look at how that is effecting marijuana consumers with this survey:
Compared with Marijuana, Which One Is More Important Amid The COVID-19 Pandemic?

Major takeaways:
1- Across the board, the U.S. marijuana consumers would prefer food, face masks, hand sanitizers, and toilet paper over marijuana if they had to choose between marijuana and these.
2- Among these necessary items for the COVID-19 pandemic like, a surprising 28% of the 990 participants would rather value marijuana above face masks.
3- It’s obvious how 83% of the participants would rather choose toilet paper over marijuana but it’s shocker to see that 5% of the same participants value marijuana above food during these times.
Number of Consumers Who Stocked Up on Marijuana Amidst The COVID-19 Pandemic

Major takeaways:
1- 49% of participants DID stock marijuana products during the coronavirus pandemic outbreak while 51% DID NOT stock marijuana products.
Reason Why The U.S Marijuana Consumers Stocked Up On Marijuana Amidst the COVID-19 Outbreak

Major takeaways:
1- 55% of those stocking pot said they did so to calm themselves during the coronavirus outbreak. Meanwhile, 22% of them didn’t even care but just wanted to stock up on some marijuana to chill at home.
2- The other 23% stocked up on marijuana because of the fear of both the pandemic and marijuana product shortage.
Reason Why The U.S Marijuana Consumers DID NOT Stock Up On Marijuana Products Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

Major Takeaways:
1- 36% of participants didn’t stock up on marijuana products because they didn’t worry at all about the marijuana product shortage while 35% of survey takers valued toilet papers, face masks, and hand sanitisers over marijuana products.
2- The remaining 29% didn’t stock up on marijuana products as they didn’t feel the need to stock consumer goods at all.
If the U.S Government Imposes Nationwide Quarantine, Which Among the Following Activities Would you Rather Do?

Major Takeaways:
1- 28% of the 990 participants would rather binge-watch TV shows should the U.S. government impose a national quarantine, making it the most-preferred activity during self-quarantine.
2- The least preferred activity is to do indoor exercise/sport activities, taking up only 13% of the 990 participants.
3- 17% of them would just rather smoke weed during self-quarantine than doing any of the presented activities. This is even higher than the percentages of those choosing to surf the internet (15%), and to do indoor exercise/sports (13%).
Number of Consumers that Used/Consumed More Marijuana Products since the COVID-19 Outbreak

Major takeaways:
1- 34% of participants have consumed more marijuana products since the COVID-19 outbreak while the remaining 66% haven’t.
How Do U.S Marijuana Consumers Feel towards the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Major takeaways:
1- 54% of the 990 U.S. marijuana product consumers feel calm about the global coronavirus pandemic thinking everything will be alright while 40% are worried sick.
2- Only 55 (6%) of the 990 participants don’t really care about the COVID-19 pandemic at all.

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China Under-Reported Its Numbers And Trump Is Jumping All Over That To Excuse His Incompetence And Narcissism


During an interview on the CBS Evening News last night, Nora O'Donnell asked Dr. Fauci when things will start returning to normal. "The vice president suggested today that Americans will be able to get back to work in early June, if we follow the federal guidelines. Do you agree with that assessment?" How could he possibly agree with such a foolish statement? His response was temperate: "The virus determines what the timetable is, not us."

And the ability to make predications is based on numbers and all the numbers are off because of bad data-- much of it from China. If you're a regular listener to Chris Martenson's invaluable podcast everyday-- I post it everyday; check yesterday's out up top, which explains the Trump Regime's blaming of China-- then you've already known for two months that China's numbers are bogus. The mainstream media has finally started reporting it. I recall the NY Times saying something in passing a day or two ago and yesterday Bloomberg News headlined a piece by Nick Wadhams and Jennifer Jacobs China Concealed Extent of Virus Outbreak, U.S. Intelligence Says. They wrote that "China has concealed the extent of the coronavirus outbreak in its country, under-reporting both total cases and deaths it’s suffered from the disease, the U.S. intelligence community concluded in a classified report to the White House... Communications staff at the White House and the Chinese embassy in Washington didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment."
“The reality is that we could have been better off if China had been more forthcoming,” Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday on CNN. “What appears evident now is that long before the world learned in December that China was dealing with this, and maybe as much as a month earlier than that, that the outbreak was real in China.

While China eventually imposed a strict lockdown beyond those of less autocratic nations, there has been considerable skepticism toward China’s reported numbers, both outside and within the country. The Chinese government has repeatedly revised its methodology for counting cases, for weeks excluding people without symptoms entirely, and only on Tuesday added more than 1,500 asymptomatic cases to its total.

Stacks of thousands of urns outside funeral homes in Hubei province have driven public doubt in Beijing’s reporting.

Republican lawmakers in the U.S. have been particularly harsh about China’s role in the outbreak. Enhancing Beijing’s role in the pandemic could be politically helpful to President Donald Trump, who has sought to shift blame for the U.S. outbreak away from his administration’s delays in achieving widespread testing for the virus and mobilizing greater production of supplies such as face masks and hospital ventilators.

“The claim that the United States has more coronavirus deaths than China is false,” Senator Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, said in a statement after Bloomberg News published its report. “Without commenting on any classified information, this much is painfully obvious: The Chinese Communist Party has lied, is lying, and will continue to lie about coronavirus to protect the regime.”

Deborah Birx, the State Department immunologist advising the White House on its response to the outbreak, said Tuesday that China’s public reporting influenced assumptions elsewhere in the world about the nature of the virus.

“The medical community made-- interpreted the Chinese data as: This was serious, but smaller than anyone expected,” she said at a news conference on Tuesday. “Because I think probably we were missing a significant amount of the data, now that what we see happened to Italy and see what happened to Spain.”

China isn’t the only country with suspect public reporting. Western officials have pointed to Iran, Russia, Indonesia and especially North Korea, which has not reported a single case of the disease, as probable under-counts. Others including Saudi Arabia and Egypt may also be playing down their numbers.

U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has publicly urged China and other nations to be transparent about their outbreaks. He has repeatedly accused China of covering up the extent of the problem and being slow to share information, especially in the weeks after the virus first emerged, and blocking offers of help from American experts.

“This data set matters,” he said at a news conference in Washington on Tuesday. The development of medical therapies and public-health measures to combat the virus “so that we can save lives depends on the ability to have confidence and information about what has actually transpired,” he said.

“I would urge every nation: Do your best to collect the data. Do your best to share that information,” he said. “We’re doing that.”

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Ian Welsh Muses On "The Terrible Impulse To Rally Around Bad Leaders In A Crisis"


"When do we get back to normal? I don't think we get back to normal," said my governor earlier this week. (After a long "standby" period, the action starts at 36:13 of the clip.) "I think," he went on to say, "we get to a new normal," adding later, "Let's make sure we're getting the positive lesson, not the negative one." What he had to say, I thought, was pretty darned smart. Even Ian, as we'll see, allows, "He sounds good on TV." There's more to think about, though.

-by Ken

Quick show of hands:

Raise yours if you have not been depressed to see SwampThing's approval ratings soar -- all the way to the majestic 50-percent mark, and maybe (shudder) beyond! --- even as he's been bungling, or maybe cunningly exploiting?, every aspect of the pandemic crisis. And I mean bungling, or exploiting?, not just as badly as the mind could imagine, but maybe worse than at least this mind could have imagined. And here I was thinking that one of my mind's chiefest capabilities is imagining down to the deepest depths of the abyss. Live and learn, I guess.


And you're all coping, as best any of us can, with the stuff that's going on around us. All we can do is, you know, the best we can do -- about the things in our lives we can each do something about -- that and, I guess, keep trying to expand the catalog of things we can do something about. And I guess that's going to have to be good enough. Isn't it at least better than letting ourselves be paralyzed by hopelessness? Maybe sometime I'll try to write a little more about how I'm coping, but for now I'm mindful that one thing that keeps me going is the kind of human contact we're still permitted -- most abundantly, contact of the online kind.

One thing such contact can do is help me feel that I haven't lost all my marbles. For me, then, it qualified as providential that Ian Welsh on Tuesday delivered a spectacular blogpost called "The Terrible Impulse To Rally Around Bad Leaders In A Crisis." So it's not just me thinking vaguely that this sort of thing does seem to happen a lot, especially in times of, you know, crisis.

I have to confess that in this crisis I've slowly come to accept, kind of respect, perhaps even admire -- what the heck, let me say it, feel almost grateful for Governor Cuomo's now-perpetual televisual presence. Indeed, rewatching some of the appearance preserved in the YouTube clip above, which I'd happened to watch live, I thought again that it sounded darned smart, much of it extraordinary.

My goodness, could what Governor Cuomo had to say be more different in its informed contact with reality from what we hear regularly from other gov't sources, not least the, er, highest-up gov't source? Again, even Ian W credits that "he sounds good on TV." But this isn't enough for Ian to cut him any slack. Of course slack-cutting isn't what we look to Ian for, and the rest of what he has to say about the governor is utterly legit, and way too important to be forgotten.

At least, if we look at the governor's rising approval ratings, it's possible to respond with something other than utter despair. There's no imaginable mitigation for the two "sad clown"s Ian goes on to write about -- aka the second most important leader in the Western world and the most powerful life form in the known world.
So, Andrew Cuomo, the Governor of New York, had his approval ratings soar 30% during the Covid-19 pandemic. There is talk of him becoming US President (presumably this means making him Biden’s VP candidate, then having Biden step aside.)

He sounds good on TV.

Cuomo is attempting to cut funding for Medicaid because he refused to tax the rich, as the crisis continues. A panel Cuomo appointed has recommended 400 billion in cuts to hospitals. He repeatedly said New York City has too many hospital beds. He has let prisoners in New York jails stay in them even as he was warned they would be breeding grounds for the disease. He left going to isolation at least 2 weeks too long.

In other words he’s a neoliberal who wants to cut key resources even during a crisis, and incompetent to boot. Back after 9/11 we saw the same thing happen with Bush Jr. Bush not only ignored warnings about Al-Qaeda’s intention to strike in the US, the actual government response on 9/11 was terrible—the US could not get armed jets into the air, only unarmed ones. It would have been a hilarious display of incompetence if it weren’t for the consequences. Canada had armedjets up before the US: I joked that if we invaded the US we could have destroyed the entire US air force on the ground. (Then given you universal health care.)

Bush was an incompetent, stupid, and mentally challenged (listen to his speeches. He was impaired.) He used the blank check given to him by the rally-round effect to take the country to war with Iraq, a disaster which has spawned disaster after disaster. The money and resources used in Iraq should have been spent on other things: almost on anything else: and the deaths and maiming and rape and torture are his legacy, and the legacy of Americans who ran to an incompetent leader.

Something similar is happening in Britain. Boris Johnson, the PM, has had ratings of his party soar. Boris is the fellow who originally wanted to not do any social distancing at all, based on a herd immunity theory which amounted to “let the maximum number of people die and the hospital capacity be overwhelmed.” Personally Boris bragged about shaking hands with infected Covid-19 patients, then going on and shaking hands with everybody else he met. Personally a typhoid Mary. The Conservative party has spent 10 years defunding the NHS, to the point where it has one of the lowest numbers of hospital beds per capita in the developed world.

Yet Johnson and the Conservative party’s ratings have gone up.

Trump’s ratings, while they have not soared, have gone up, and Trump’s Covid reponse has been beyond incompetent, into delusional Emperor has no clothes territory.

This tendency to rally around even incompetent leaders makes one despair for humanity. The correct response in all cases is contempt and an attempt, if possible, at removal of the corrupt and venal people in charge. Certainly no one should be approving of the terrible jobs they have done.

All three have or will use their increased power to do horrible things. The Coronavirus bailout bill passed by Congress and approved by Trump is a huge bailout of the rich, with crumbs for the poor and middle class. So little, in fact, that there may be widespread hunger soon. Cuomo is pushing forward with his cuts, and I’m sure Johnson will live down to expectations.

Incompetence and ideological blindness to the good of the people are, then, encouraged by the behaviour of the masses. This, it seems, is what they want.

We break that, or over the crises and catastrophes to come (and the 21st century will be a century of tragedy) we will lose billions we needn’t have.
DWT UPDATE: Don't Worry, The Polls On Trump Are Back To Normal

Change Research just came out with new polling showing Trump's job approval ratings sinking back down to where they were before the pandemic.

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Political Retaliation: Cuomo Proposes Kicking Third Parties Off the NY Ballot


Zephyr Teachout ran against Andrew Cuomo in 2014. Working Families Party endorsed Cuomo then, but not in 2018.

by Thomas Neuburger

A Very Short Story in Three Short Acts

Act I. Monica Klein tweeted this on April 1, 2020:

"No other state in America has ballot requirements as strict as @NYGovCuomo is proposing.

While some Democrats push for fair & open elections, NY's Gov is kicking 3rd parties off the ballot."

Act II. Klein's tweet was in response to this, from Jimmy Vielkind, also on April 1, 2020:

"Minor parties including the @NYWFP [Working Families Party] have been screaming for days that lawmakers would revive the recommendations (which they loathed) of a commission that increased ballot access requirements.

It’s in one of the #nybudget bills, as, Bill Hammond notes"

Here's what Bill Hammond noted:

Act III. Would it surprise you to learn that the WFP endorsed Andrew Cuomo in 2010 and 2014, but not in 2018?
New York politics got a lot more interesting over the weekend. The left-wing Working Families Party (WFP) endorsed Cynthia Nixon in the governor’s race rather than siding with Andrew Cuomo, the powerful incumbent. The WFP’s defection from Cuomo, who the organization supported in 2010 and 2014, means the contest is going to be more competitive than observers originally thought. How it develops over the next six and a half months will reveal fundamental truths about our state’s most powerful interests—and ourselves.

In an effort to minimize the WFP’s endorsement of Cynthia Nixon, two major unions—SEIU 32BJ and the Communications Workers of America—left the organization in protest. Other labor leaders aligned with Cuomo are likely to either follow suit in deed or in action.
Note the retaliation of labor unions "aligned with Cuomo" who started withholding support (and most likely funding as well) from the WFP.

One of Trump's worst qualities is his rapey-ness. It seems the Democrats are offering one of those as well, but the country may not be buying.

Another is retaliation. Is there any question that Andrew Cuomo, if he gets national executive power, will rule with an iron fist?

Will Cuomo be the next Daddy mainstream Democrats offer to voters to "save" them? If so, look out.

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Will Biden, Trump And Cuomo At Least Agree To COVID-Care For All?


As of today there are 912,998 confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide and 45,551 deaths. The U.S., which was very slow to react-- primarily because of shocking political cowardice among the ruling class, from Trump right on down-- has the most deaths, 4,526... and the pandemic is just getting started in the U.S.

On Monday, NY Times reporters Luis Ferré-Sadurní and Jesse McKinley wrote that in the midst of the pandemic, New York hospitals are losing hundreds of millions of dollars in funding, compliments of the state's neo-liberal governor, currently being painted by a generally imbecilic and lazy media as some kind of hero. Cuomo, like Trump, believes Medicaid is growing too fast and, though he's some kind of "Democrat," he is determined to rein in that growth. "Six lawmakers from Brooklyn" reported Ferré-Sadurní and McKinley, "wrote a letter to Mr. Cuomo calling the millions of dollars in cuts to four hospitals in their districts 'cruel, inhumane and unacceptable' and 'catastrophic during a pandemic.' Brad Hoylman, a state senator from Lower Manhattan, said the proposals seemed wildly out of step with the current images of doctors, nurses and others fighting the disease in hospitals across the city. 'It seems tethered to a different time and place,' Mr. Hoylman said, of the proposal, noting that the formation of the panel, the Medicaid Redesign Team, was announced the same day-- Jan. 21-- as the nation’s first confirmed case. 'Now New York is the epicenter of the pandemic. And the members of the M.R.T. frankly didn’t have that information.'"
The Democratic-controlled Legislature will be asked to approve the proposals this week, as it hustles to pass a state budget by the April 1 deadline, a usually arduous task made all the more difficult by the outbreak: Four members of the State Assembly have been diagnosed with the disease, and neither chamber has convened since mid-March.

...State Senator Gustavo Rivera, the Bronx Democrat who serves as chairman of the Senate Health Committee, said Mr. Cuomo’s plans were a “debacle,” and particularly jarring considering the governor’s much-applauded handling of the coronavirus crisis.

“It still boggles my mind that this is the same guy who goes, and sits down in front of that TV, and in front of you all in Albany, lays it all out, smartly and ably,” Mr. Rivera said, praising the governor’s coronavirus performance. “And then he breathes in, and the next thing that comes out of his mouth, ‘And you got to let me cut the Medicaid system.’”
This isn't the Democratic Party that millions of Bernie supporters feel any loyalty too. This is the Democratic Party pushing forward a walking corpse who is campaigning against Medicare-for-All. On Monday when MSNBC's Yasmin Vossoughian asked Status Quo Joe-- which MSNBC stealthily supports-- "Are you now reconsidering your position when it comes to single-payer healthcare?" Biden immediately doubled down on his agreement with the GOP and regurgitated "Single payer will not solve that at all."

On the same day, the NY Times published an OpEd by noted American economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, Jobs Aren’t Being Destroyed This Fast Elsewhere. Why Is That?. Short version: "It’s not too late to start protecting employment or to make medical care for Covid-19 free."
The coronavirus pandemic is laying bare structural deficiencies in America’s social programs. The relief package passed by Congress last week provides emergency fixes for some of these issues, but it also leaves critical problems untouched. To avoid a Great Depression, Congress must quickly design a more forceful response to the crisis.

Start with the labor market. In just one week, from March 15 to March 21, 3.3 million workers filed for unemployment insurance. According to some projections, the unemployment rate might rise as high as 30 percent in the second quarter of 2020.

This dramatic spike in jobless claims is an American peculiarity. In almost no other country are jobs being destroyed so fast. Why? Because throughout the world, governments are protecting employment. Workers keep their jobs, even in industries that are shut down. The government covers most of their wage through direct payments to employers. Wages are, in effect, socialized for the duration of the crisis.

Instead of safeguarding employment, America is relying on beefed-up unemployment benefits to shield laid-off workers from economic hardship. To give just one example, in both the United States and Britain, the government is asking restaurant workers to stay home. But in Britain, workers are receiving 80 percent of their pay (up to £2,500 a month, or $3,125) and are guaranteed to get their job back once the shutdown is over. In America, the workers are laid off; they must then file for unemployment insurance and wait for the economy to start up again before they can apply for a new job, and if all goes well, sign a new contract and resume working.

Even if unemployment is generously compensated — as it is in the $2.2 trillion bill Congress passed-- there is nothing efficient in letting the unemployment rate rise to double digits. Losing one’s job is anxiety inducing. Applying for unemployment benefits is burdensome. The unemployment system risks being swamped soon by tens of millions of claims. Although some businesses may rehire their workers once the shutdown is over, others will have disappeared. When social distancing ends, millions of employer-employee relationships will have been destroyed, slowing down the recovery. In Europe, people will be able to return to work, as if they had been on a long, government-paid leave.

The battle for the speediest recovery starts today. The next congressional bill needs measures to protect employment for the duration of the shutdown. This does not raise insuperable technical difficulties. The bill passed last week provides support for wages in one industry, airlines. Congress could easily extend this program to other sectors. Some countries-- like Germany, with its Kurzarbeit system, a policy aimed at job retention in times of crisis-- already had the government infrastructure in place to send workers home while the state replaced most of their lost earnings. But several nations with no experience in that area-- like Britain, Ireland and Denmark-- were able to introduce brand-new employment guarantee programs on the fly during the epidemic.

This situation for laid-off workers would be bad enough if it were not aggravated by a second American peculiarity. As they are losing their jobs, many workers are also losing their employer-provided health insurance-- and now find themselves faced with the Kafkaesque task of obtaining coverage on their own.

One option involves continuing to be covered by one’s former employer, a program known as COBRA. It is prohibitively expensive: Participants have to bear the full cost of insurance, $20,500 per year on average. Another option is to go shopping for a plan on the Affordable Care Act insurance exchange, where one is faced with a bewildering choice between plans like Blue Shield’s Bronze 60 PPO (with a deductible of up to $12,600 per year) and Aetna’s Silver Copay HNOnly (with a $7,000 deductible and up to $14,000 in annual out-of-pocket expenses). The last option is to join the ranks of the uninsured, a catastrophic solution during a pandemic. There are reports that people have already died of Covid-19 because they refused to go to the hospital, worried about bills, or because they were denied treatment for lack of insurance.

The bill passed last week does nothing to reduce co-pays, deductibles or premiums on the insurance exchanges; nor does it reduce the price of COBRA. The next bill should introduce a Covidcare for All program. This federal program would guarantee access to Covid-19 care at no cost to all U.S. residents-- no matter their employment status, age or immigration status. Fighting the pandemic starts with eradicating the spread of the virus, which means that everybody must be covered.

Covidcare for All would also cover the cost of Covid-19 treatments for people who are insured. Insurance companies would be barred in return from hiking premiums, which might otherwise spike as much as 40 percent next year.

The United States also needs to ramp up its support to businesses. Since containing the epidemic requires government-mandated economic shutdowns, it is legitimate to expect the government, in return, to shelter businesses from the economic disruptions. To keep businesses alive through this crisis, the government should act as a payer of last resort. In other words, the government should pay not only wages of idled workers, but also essential business maintenance costs, like rents, utilities, interest on debt, health insurance premiums, and other costs that are vital for the survival of businesses in locked down sectors. This allows businesses to hibernate without bleeding cash and risking bankruptcy. Denmark was the first nation to announce such a program; it is being emulated by a growing number of countries, including Italy.

In the United States, calls to support businesses have been met with excessive skepticism so far. To be sure, the congressional relief package includes $350 billion in help for small businesses, but the program is complex, limited in scope and only a fraction of eligible businesses are likely to use it.

A liquidationist ideology seems to have infected minds on both the left and the right. On the right, opposition to government grants to businesses is grounded in the view that markets should be left to sort out the consequences of the pandemic. Let airlines go bankrupt; shareholders and bondholders will lose but the airlines will restructure and re-emerge. The best way government can help is by slashing taxes, according to this view. The relief package includes more than $200 billion in tax cuts for business profits.

This view is misguided. There is nothing efficient in the destruction of businesses that were viable before the virus outbreak. The crisis cannot be blamed on poorly managed corporations. Government support, in the case of a pandemic, does not create perverse incentives. Bankruptcies redistribute income, but in a chaotic and opaque way. And while bankruptcy might be a way to deal with the economic fallout of the pandemic for large corporations, it is not well adapted to small businesses. Without strong enough government support, many small businesses will have to liquidate. The death of a business has long-term costs: The links between entrepreneurs, workers and customers are destroyed and often need to be rebuilt from scratch.

On the left, a popular view contends that the government should help people, not corporations. It holds that big corporations acted badly before the crisis-- buying back their shares, paying C.E.O.s exorbitant salaries-- and should not be bailed out. If they are, in this view, they should be subject to strict conditions, like swearing off share buybacks, reducing C.E.O. pay, and a $15 minimum wage for their employees.

The concerns underlying this view are understandable. Inequality has surged since the beginning of the 1980s. This crisis, however, is unlike the financial crisis of 2008-9. The firms seeking aid today bear no direct responsibility for the disaster that threatens their survival. If the government mandates a shutdown for public health reasons, why should it attach any conditions to temporary financial support for directly affected industries?

No doubt some companies will exploit loopholes in government relief plans. Some businesses, more broadly, will disproportionately benefit from the pandemic. While tens of thousands of brick-and-mortar stores are closed, Amazon sales rise. The Seattle-based company is one of the few S & P 500 firms whose stock price is higher today than at the beginning of the year. Cloud computing is exploding. Facebook traffic is booming.

But these windfall profits have a fair, comprehensive and transparent solution: The government should impose excess profits taxes, as it has done several times in the past during periods of crisis. In 1918, all profits made by corporations above and beyond an 8 percent rate of return on their capital were deemed abnormal, and abnormal profits were taxed at progressive rates of up to 80 percent. Similar taxes on excessive profits were applied during World War II and the Korean War. These taxes all had one goal-- making sure that no one could benefit outrageously from a situation in which the masses suffered.

To help make this happen, the next bill needs an excess profits tax. If Congress fails to act, the pandemic could well reinforce two of the defining trends of the pre-coronavirus American economy: the rise of business concentration and the upsurge of inequality.

Some will say that the solutions we’ve outlined show excessive faith in government. They will correctly point out that some of these policies are undesirable in normal times. But these are not normal times. The big battles-- be they wars or pandemics-- are fought and won collectively. In this period of national crisis, hatred of the government is the surest path to self-destruction.
Arizona progressive Eva Putzova, a candidate for Congress from the biggest district in Arizona is a fighter for universal healthcare. Last night she told us that "The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the dysfunction inherent in our profit-driven healthcare non-system-- needed supplies not getting to the hospitals, price-gouging, millions out of work and no longer covered by their employer's insurance plan, and a promise of exorbitant health premium increases. Of course, prior to the current health crisis, 30,000 people died prematurely each year because they were uninsured, and 500,000 personal bankruptcies were attributed to healthcare bills that couldn't be paid. We needed Medicare for All then, and we need it now more than ever. Perhaps 'Covidcare For All' as proposed by Saez and Zucman would be the right legislation to pass at this critical point in time as a first step towards the more comprehensive Medicare For All. All testing and treatment for anyone seeking medical care for Covid-19 would be covered by the federal government without charge to the individual. This would encourage people to get tested and get the needed care without worrying about huge medical bills afterward. It would be wildly popular and would empower more elected representatives to support Medicare For All as the ultimate solution to our healthcare coverage woes."

Chris Armitage, the eastern Washington state progressive taking on Trumpist shill Cathy McMorris Rodgers, came up with his own ideas for dealing with the pandemic. Last night he reminded me that "Any politician who receives tax payer funded healthcare and paychecks but then tries to cut Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, or emergency aid, does it for one reason. They think they're better than us.

  Goal ThermometerHistorian-- and Riverside County progressive congressional candidate-- Liam O'Mara pointed out that "The U.S. health care system is the worst in the rich world, for most of us. We have excellent care for the wealthiest, but our overall resilience in the face of shortages, our total care capacity, the quality of coverage, and the sheer availability of that coverage, is lower here than practically anywhere in the developed world. The problem may lie in the for-profit model, which is rightly disregarded in much of the world. The workers themselves, the caregivers and physicians, they deserve to be well compensated for what they do. But an insurance industry...? Why add an expensive middle-man layer that simply extracts wealth and offers no benefit? With what the U.S. spends right now, we should have the best coverage anywhere. But we waste cash on administrative overhead and shareholder profits that could be going into patient care. The result is that we have the 35th healthiest population in the world, and that simple fact ought to offend any patriotic American. It's time to rethink our approach."

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