Thursday, April 30, 2020

Anytime Is A Good Time To Eat Less Meat-- But Now More So Than Ever


Chris Martenson's daily podcast has gotten me through all this coronavirus stuff since late January, when I realized his advice was golden. I was able to switch much of my retirement money out of equities and buy enough toilet paper, brown rice, chickpeas, pasta and turnips to see me through a few months of pandemic. His warnings about starting a vegetable garden have been more worrisome than anything. Problems in the food chain is something he mentions frequently. Lately I noticed that parsnips and celery root are letting harder to find and that I'm using what I have less and preparing more plentiful rutabaga and daikon root more frequently.

But the real problem with the food chain isn't really parsnips; it's meat. The processing plants are hotbeds of infection and both ocal governments and owners have been shutting them down. CNN reported that with large numbers of workers getting sick and spreading the contagion in their communities, as much as 80% of meat processing capacity was headed towards shutting down. Trump has ordered them to stay open.
Over the past several weeks, a number of major meat suppliers have announced temporary closures as workers fall ill with Covid-19. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union estimated Tuesday that 20 meatpacking and food processing workers have died so far.

The situation has gotten so severe, company executives warned, that the US meat supply could be at risk. John Tyson, chairman of the Tyson board, warned of limited supply if plant shortages continue.

By invoking the Defense Production Act, Trump is requiring plants to remain open with some of the most dangerous conditions during the pandemic.

For years, major meat processors have been ruthlessly tamping down costs and increasing efficiencies. That has contributed to a hazardous working environment even before the coronavirus hit.

Over the years, meat processing companies have been speeding up production lines to process more meat in each facility. Faster lines require more workers who have to stand closer together.
As we've been pointing out, Texas congressional candidate Mike Siegel, has been working with labor unions and members of Congress to reforming OSHA with the intention of getting it to focus on protecting workers during the pandemic.

COVID-Mitch by Chip Proser

McConnell has signaled that he is willing to hold hostage anything and everything that helps ordinary American families unless Congress passes a corporate shield for GOP donors who open up their businesses when it isn't safe and cause deaths among their workers. This week that was the topic Judd Legum tackled at Popular Information where he explained how a corporate shield will leave workers exposed

Legum wrote that "When Congress passed legislation mandating paid sick leave during the pandemic, it exempted 80% of American workers. Notably, the requirement does not apply to any business with more than 500 employees. That means, with the lockdown still in place across much of the country, many 'essential workers' have to choose between coming to work sick and receiving a paycheck. Public scrutiny has prompted several large companies to improve their policies voluntarily, but many workers continue to expose themselves to substantial risk without basic protections. Health care workers, meat packers, grocery store clerks, and warehouse employees are getting sick and dying. Nevertheless, several states, despite warnings from public health officials, have begun loosening restrictions on businesses and bringing more people back to work. Simon Property Group, the largest mall operator in the United States, plans to reopen 49 malls in Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Indiana, and Missouri between May 1 and May 4. Right now, this activity is concentrated in states with Republican governors. But all states are expected to loosen restrictions at some point before a vaccine is available, exposing workers in contact with the public to health risks."
Workers returning to the job for the foreseeable future need protective equipment, operational plans that prioritize employee health over short-term profits, and paid sick leave. These are the minimum requirements to protect workers and customers.

Is the Republican-controlled Senate doing anything to improve conditions for workers as they return to their jobs? No. Instead, the Senate is preparing legislation to shield companies from liability if its workers get sick or die.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that giving businesses immunity from litigation is his top priority as part of the next stimulus package:
In an interview Monday on Fox News Radio, McConnell added that a liability shield for businesses and health care workers will be his "red line" in the next round of negotiations because "trial lawyers are sharpening their pencils to come after health care providers and businesses, arguing that somehow the decision they made with regard to reopening adversely affected the health of someone else." 
McConnell indicated he would oppose critical funding for state and local governments unless the package also includes a liability shield.

Trump said Congress needs to "take liability away from these companies" because he wants "the companies to open and to open strong." But this isn't about carving out narrow protections for companies that play critical roles in responding to the pandemic and need to act quickly. The administration "already has granted more limited liability exemptions for companies involved in producing and distributing key medical supplies."

McConnell and Trump are echoing the call of U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Tom Donohue, who said it was "just not fair" for businesses to be liable for exposing workers to conditions that result in illness or death.

Under normal circumstances, if your health is compromised due to "your employer’s negligence, recklessness, or willful disregard for a safe work environment," a worker could sue to "recover damages for lost wages, medical expenses, and your pain and suffering." (In some states, workers can continue to be paid and get their medical bills reimbursed without proving negligence under a streamlined "workers' compensation" process.) With a liability shield, workers will still lose wages, incur medical expenses, and experience pain and suffering, if they become sick at work. The difference is that all those costs would all be borne by workers and not employers.

Creating a liability shield, however, reduces the incentive for employers to "avoid tort liability by taking appropriate precautions." Justin Wolfers, a professor at the University of Michigan, explains this concept:
We want businesses to be scared. The claim from the Chamber of Commerce that liability will make people scared to do business is correct and that’s the point. We want businesses to take responsibility. All of tort law is about creating a strong incentive for people and companies to not act badly...What’s crystal clear is that if you let employers off the hook, they won’t take safety precautions.
This is an issue that will impact everyone, whether or not they immediately return to their workplace. "To protect public health, you have to protect worker health. And if they don't do that, it will spread into the community, and we'll have a second wave," Debbie Berkowitz, who worked at OSHA during the Obama administration, explained.

The risk of legal liability for corporations is already minimal because, even in a workers' compensation case, an employee needs to prove that they contracted the coronavirus at work. Since it's very difficult to prove where you contracted a virus, especially when there is community transmission, these lawsuits would be very difficult to win. But a liability shield means that corporations wouldn't even have to defend themselves.

...While McConnell and Trump push for a liability shield, Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) are taking a different approach. Baldwin and Duckworth introduced the "Every Worker Protection Act of 2020" last week. Instead of focusing on protecting employers from legal liability after employees get sick, the legislation tries to put in place protections to keep them from getting sick in the first place.

The legislation would "require the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) within 7 days to protect health care and other employees from exposure to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19."

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The Trump Regime Still Doesn't Understand How To Flatten The Curve-- Or Doesn't Want To Understand


Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin have been ticking up among people who were forced by the Republican Party to take part in an in-person primary election on April 7. The state's cases per million goes up everyday and shot up beyond 1,000 cases per million in the population. As of yesterday, there were 6,520 confirmed cases, up 231 since Tuesday. The rate per million increased from 1,088 to 1,128. On Monday Politico reported that at least 36 Wisconsin voters and poll workers had been infected. Yesterday that number was 52-- in-person voters and poll workers according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. They should join in a class action law suit against the Wisconsin Republican Party.

Like his father-in-law, Jared Kushner is lying his ass off about testing, as he did on Fox and Friends yesterday, where he also claimed that much of the country could be "back to normal" by June. "We’re on the other side of the medical aspect of this. The federal government rose to the challenge, and this is a great success story... I think what you’ll see in May as the states are reopening now is May will be a transition month, you’ll see a lot of states starting to phase in the different reopening based on the safety guidelines that President Trump outlined on April 19. I think you’ll see by June that a lot of the country should be back to normal, and the hope is that by July the country’s really rocking again." Rocking? Like Hootie and the Blowfish? Nickelback? Hanson? That kind of rocking?

In early February, another clueless Trumpist, coke-fiend Larry Kudlow, Trump's top economic advisor, was on Fox mansplaining the pandemic to the viewers: "The impact on the American economy will be very, very, very small, if any… We really haven’t seen any economic impact. There may be some out there. Our own internal numbers say maybe two-tenths of a percent in the first quarter, but that’s not going to end this growth cycle." The growth cycle was Obama's 11 year economic expansion-- which Trump's incompetence, dysfunction and greed, as well as his agenda, have finally killed off, producing the deepest recession in almost a century.

As far as tests per million in their populations, forget Kushner-in-law's blatant, shameless lies-- here are 20 countries doing a better job at this than the dishonest and unscrupulous Trump regime:
Iceland- 139,411
UAE- 113,443
Kuwait- 41,915
Portugal- 37,223
Israel- 36,177
Qatar- 31,730
Italy- 31,603
Norway- 31,197
Ireland- 31,179
Denmark- 31,087
Spain- 30,253
Switzerland- 30,100
Austria- 27,509
Germany- 24,738
Singapore- 24,600
Russia- 22,630
Czechia- 21,943
Australia- 21,350
Canada- 19,999
Belgium- 19,563
Trumpistan- 18,154

Time Magazine noted the response from Admiral Brett Giroir, Trump's own assistant secretary of health who is in charge of the government’s testing response: "There is absolutely no way on Earth, on this planet or any other planet, that we can do 20 million tests a day, or even five million tests a day."

Trump insists on the kind of false happy-talk from clowns like Kushner. And no doubt he was brooding over Giroir yesterday, as well as Anthony Fauci's assessment that a second round is inevitable. "If by that time we have put into place all of the countermeasures that you need to address this, we should do reasonably well. If we don't do that successfully, we could be in for a bad fall and a bad winter."
If states begin lifting restrictions too early, Fauci says he predicts the country could see a rebound of the virus that would "get us right back in the same boat that we were a few weeks ago," adding that the country could see many more deaths than are currently predicted.

So far, more than 1 million Americans have been infected and at least 58,355 60,495 have died. A leading model predicts more than 72,000 people will die in the US by early August.

The sobering numbers come as some states move to reopen despite warnings from federal health officials.

Being able to test for the virus, track cases and isolate every infected American will be key factors in ensuring that second wave isn't as deadly, Fauci says.

The US continues to lag behind in testing, according to a new report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The nation has performed 16.4 tests per 1,000 people, according to the report. Spain and Italy, with the second and third highest number of cases after the US, have conducted 22.3 and 29.7 tests per 1,000 people respectively.

I've been hearing about how airlines do not require passengers to where masks-- hard to believe but now confirmed in that same CNN report: "Since officials have now recommended Americans wear face masks in public to prevent further spread, some airlines say they'll provide the masks for passengers. American Airlines and United Airlines both said they'll be providing masks for passengers beginning in May. 'We are not mandating that passengers wear a mask however we strongly encourage travelers follow CDC guidance to wear a face covering when social distancing is difficult,' United Airlines spokesperson Nicole Carriere told CNN. 'By providing the masks, we're making it that much easier for them to do so.'" Why not just say, "no mask, no fly," the way airlines in normal countries do?

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Congressional Republicans Move To Destroy State And Local Governments


Yesterday, the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey reported on another major Trumpanzee flip-out, journalism's easiest beat. To get him to stop his psychotic daily coronavirus briefings, his advisers-- Kushner-in-law, Ronna Romney, Brad Parscale and others-- presented him, over the course of 3 days, with the results of internal polling last week that show him losing to Biden.
One call on Wednesday-- with Parscale patched in from his home in Florida and McDaniel from her home in Michigan-- was designed to present grim polling data to the president to encourage him to reduce the frequency of coronavirus briefings or to stop taking questions, after seeing his numbers slip for several weeks, officials said.

Trump resisted the pleas, saying people “love” the briefings and think he is “fighting for them,” a person with knowledge of the Wednesday conversation said. Trump has long been distrustful of polling data presented to him when the numbers are not positive, aides say.

The two polls given to Trump-- one from the Republican National Committee and another from the Trump campaign-- both showed Trump trailing Biden in key swing states amid the coronavirus crisis, officials said. His political team has grown more concerned in recent weeks, as the briefings had become more combative while the economy has cratered and coronavirus deaths have continued to rise.

On Thursday, Trump set off a new uproar with his suggestion that people should inject bleach or other disinfectants-- prompting a scramble by the administration to contain the damage.

...Aides described Trump as in a particularly foul mood last week over the polling data and news coverage of his administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to two of the people familiar with the discussions. In one call he berated Parscale over the polling data, the two people said.

At one point in that call, Trump said he might sue Parscale, though one of the people with knowledge of the comments said he made the remark in jest.

“I'm not losing to Joe Biden,” he said at one point, both of these people said, adding that Trump used profanities throughout the call.

After the call, Parscale described it to others as a Trump venting session, these people said.

Trump ranted to other aides for several days about a story in the New York Times that described him as spending much of his day watching television and calling people on the phone.

He was also angry about testing-- telling advisers that he was unfairly getting crushed for testing woes in the United States. Trump earlier this week announced a new set of testing guidelines that continued to leave the onus on states to develop their own plans.

“He was just in a terrible mood with everyone late last week,” a fourth official said.

CNN presented the bit about Trump threatening to sue his campaign manager slightly differently: As he huddled with advisers on Friday evening, Señor Trumpanzee "was still fuming over his sliding poll numbers and the onslaught of criticism he was facing for suggesting a day earlier that ingesting disinfectant might prove effective against coronavirus. Within moments, the President was shouting-- not at the aides in the room, but into the phone-- at his campaign manager Brad Parscale, three people familiar with the matter told CNN. Shifting the blame away from himself, Trump berated Parscale for a recent spate of damaging poll numbers, even at one point threatening to sue Parscale. It's not clear how serious the President's threat of a lawsuit was."

Republican incumbents-- as well as their sad cast of ridiculous challengers-- are worried that Trump will bring them to the bottom with him, just as he did in 2018, when dozens of GOP incumbents lost their seats. But instead of worrying about Trump, what they should be worrying about are things they can control, like the mass layoffs they're forcing on city, state and county governments by holding aid hostage to more corporate bailouts (in the form of immunity for killing workers).

Tony Romm covered the Republican-forced mass layoffs yesterday for the Washington Post. "In Michigan," he began, "some unstaffed highway rest stops are shuttered. In Santa Barbara, California, local librarians are out of a job. Dayton, Ohio, has ordered furloughs at nearly every agency, and in Arlington, Texas, police officers and firefighters may soon see painful cuts." Local governments can't overstep their budgets and McConnell and Republican members of Congress have thwarted Democrats' attempts to rush them emergency funds, forcing possible "dramatic reductions to their workforces, threatening critical public-sector employees and first responders at a time when many Americans may need their local governments’ help the most...Some local governments have already started laying off or furloughing thousands of their workers, and the numbers are likely to grow markedly in the absence of federal aid."
Among municipalities, the new budget cuts could be profound: Between 300,000 and 1 million public-sector workers could soon be out of a job or sent home without pay, according to a new estimate from the National League of Cities. The steep reductions in staffing levels could affect education, sanitation, safety and health, local leaders warn, potentially leaving critical public services in utter disarray.

For governors, mayors and other top local officials, their economic troubles stem from the precipitous drops in revenue that have come as a result of shuttered businesses and sharp decreases in shopping and travel. The extent of the disruptions are poised to reach a level not seen since the Great Recession more than a decade ago, a reality that has prompted many city and state leaders to plead with Washington for help.

But their public quest for federal cash has been met with staunch political resistance from Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who at one point suggested states should have the option of falling into bankruptcy. Top Trump administration officials have echoed that skepticism and signaled that any aid would come with conditions: On Tuesday, for example, the president said he would only approve money if states cracked down on immigration policies in “sanctuary cities.”

The recalcitrance on Capitol Hill and at the White House has sparked a lobbying blitz on the part of local governments, which have had no choice but to make painful cuts as they await action in Washington.

In Dayton, for example, Democratic Mayor Nan Whaley said the city has already furloughed 470 of its 1,900 employees, about a 25 percent reduction in staff that has affected public services including the city’s water department. Whaley said officials may have to institute an additional 18 percent across-the-board reduction in the next fiscal year if they don’t see federal support soon-- a move she said would affect police officers and threaten residents with “slow response time.”

“It will fundamentally change how we do business long term,” Whaley said.

For many cities and states, their public push for federal aid reflects the urgency of their need: Many have argued that Washington’s intransigence threatens to exacerbate the deadly coronavirus, which has already killed more than 58,000 Americans nationwide. That’s because tax revenue typically helps fund first responders, and there’s only so much governments can do amid the downturn to shield public safety from withering cuts.

In doing so, many mayors and governors have sought to argue that they are economic engines in their own right, employing more than 19 million municipal employees in the United States, or about one-tenth of the country’s workforce, according to federal data from March. Local leaders say they are just as deserving of federal support as major businesses, which have captured the lion’s share of coronavirus aid dollars authorized by Congress in March and April.

“They understand and know this would be a disaster if they didn’t get the kind of aid from the federal government they need,” said Lee Saunders, the president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, whose union represents public-sector employees. “They need to be a priority just as the corporations and small businesses were.”

Last month, Congress extended $150 billion to cities and states as part of the $2 trillion coronavirus aid package signed by Trump. Quickly, though, local leaders discovered the funds came with significant caveats. Only large cities, for example, received direct payments under the legislation, known as the Cares Act. The money also was limited to coronavirus-related expenses that governments did not anticipate in their most recent budgets, according to the Treasury Department, narrowing its use considerably.

In practice, cities and states could not tap their federal allotments to close revenue gaps, even though some of their shortfalls are the result of the coronavirus pandemic. The limitations greatly frustrated officials in states such as New Jersey, where Gov. Phil Murphy (D) on Thursday wagered that he might have no choice but to return some of the money.

Democratic and Republican governors say they realistically need $500 billion to help close the enormous budget holes they face-- or else they risk debilitating cuts. Already, the bleak financial picture has led Pennsylvania to furlough thousands of state workers. Ohio has implemented a hiring freeze. Scores of additional states are anticipating revenue gaps that may leave them no choice but to reduce their labor forces, either temporarily or for longer.

Michigan this month laid off 2,900 municipal employees, a giant, early cut that reflects the dangers of its looming $7 billion shortfall. More than half of its Department of State, which handles driver and vehicle transactions, is out of work for at least the next two weeks, though local officials insist the staff reductions won’t affect operations.

The National League of Cities, meanwhile, has sought $250 billion on behalf of municipalities around the country, nearly all of which anticipate slashing spending and staff to deal with unexpected shortfalls. The NLC came to its dour prediction-- perhaps 1 million layoffs or furloughs in cities and towns nationwide-- in part by extrapolating data from jurisdictions that have announced major reductions in their workforces.

Los Angeles has eyed furloughing 15,000 workers, according to NLC, and Tulsa has sent home 1,000 people without pay, representing a third of the city’s labor force. Other cities including Allentown, Pa., and Boulder, Colo., are starting with cuts to temporary or seasonal employees, joining many communities that have targeted staff at parks and other public staples closed because of stay-at-home orders.

Some of the cuts directly threaten police officers and firefighters. Baltimore has considered about $11 million in total reductions that could affect first responders, which could result in wage freezes or furloughs. The idea has sparked concern among labor unions, which fear it would harm response times.

Oklahoma City anticipates its broader austerity measures won’t be enough to spare public safety agencies in the end, either. “We’ll do the best we can to limit the impact on services we provide as we prepare for a new economic reality,” the city’s budget director said in a statement last week.

In Arlington, Texas, one of the state’s largest metropolitan areas, Republican Mayor Jeff Williams said it is bracing for budget trouble, too. In a normal year, professional sports, local amusement parks and an influx of college students help round out the city’s finances, infusing much needed revenue derived from shopping and tourism. But such spending has ground to a halt, imperiling the city’s balance sheet-- and potentially its workforce.

Arlington’s leaders already have asked local government agencies to plan for reductions in spending between 10 to 25 percent, according to Williams, who described the potential for layoffs or furloughs as a worst-case scenario that residents would feel immediately.

“That would reduce our trash pickup to less than what it is,” he said. “We would have to reduce the maintenance and reconstruction of some of our streets.” And public safety wouldn’t be spared, either. “We couldn’t help but affect our police and firefighters because of the deep cuts,” he said.

This month, Williams joined about 100 Texas mayors from both parties to issue a public plea to Congress, urging lawmakers to adopt “direct and flexible fiscal assistance” in their next coronavirus aid bill. Some officials have found a receptive ear among Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill, who joined union leaders on a call Tuesday pledging they would work aggressively to secure such federal aid.

...In fact, the calls for federal aid have been bipartisan, And many states entered the latest economic downturn in a far better financial position than they did the 2008 recession, thanks in part to healthier cash reserves. The data has not assuaged Republicans, including McConnell, who told Politico in an interview that the Senate would not “finance mistakes they’ve made unrelated to the coronavirus.” His office declined to comment for this story.

Other Republicans led by Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) similarly have mobilized in opposition to open-ended aid to struggling city and state governments, breaking with local officials even in the states they represent. “We believe additional money sent to the states for ‘lost revenue’ or without appropriate safeguards will be used to bail out unfunded pensions, reward decades of state mismanagement, and incentivize states to become more reliant on federal taxpayers,” Scott wrote in a draft letter to the president, which he has circulated among his colleagues for signatures. His office confirmed the letter, which attacks New York and Illinois for their financial decisions.

The political gamesmanship has left some city and state leaders anticipating significant delays before federal officials pay them a dime, if it ever comes through at all, leaving many municipal workers out of a job or without pay, while harming their families and those their governments serve.

“This is not about bailing out local governments that have done something wrong, because we’ve not, we’ve stepped up,” said Clarence Anthony, the leader of the National League of Cities. He added, “Playing with the lives of people over a narrative that is not accurate is just not right.”
Eva Putzova is a progressive Democrat running to represent a working families in a vast Arizona congressional district held by a lifelong conservative Republican, Tom O'Halleran, pretending to be a Blue Dog. He was a GOP state legislator while she was fighting for a livable wage as a Flagstaff city council member. She understands the importance of local governance. This morning she told us that "Republican opposition to bailing out states and cities is a disaster in the making. States and cities provide essential services to the U.S. population. It is unconscionable that these services will be cut and more layoffs will occur if aid is not provided promptly. These reductions will adversely impact the poor, women and people of color who work for the public sector as well as those who rely on these essential services. My opponent is nowhere to be seen or heard from on this issue. If he supports the aid to cities and states no one would know it because he is not out-front demanding that it happen. We need members of Congress who are uncompromising in their demands that people matter, not corporations, banks, drug companies, insurance companies and other profit making entities who contribute to their campaigns."

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Is the Tara Reade Story Approaching Critical Mass?


Big Media silence is breaking in the Tara Reade story

by Thomas Neuburger

Is the Tara Reade story reaching critical mass, approaching a tipping point? It seems so.

The initial response to this story was silence from anyone with political or media power. The media in particular completely ignored it. Comparisons of CNN coverage of the Reade story with their coverage of the Blasey Ford story show a marked discrepancy. Reade told her full story first in a March 25 interview with Katie Halper. Yet CNN published no Tara Reade stories until April 25, and then, it seems, they published only in embarrassed response to The Intercept's revelation that Reade's mother had called in to CNN's own show, Larry King Live, on August 11, 1993 to discuss in unspecific terms her daughter's problem.

CNN finally broke silence on the Reade story less than a day after Ryan Grim and the Intercept published the Larry King show transcript and the Media Research Center located and tweeted a clip of it. Blasey Ford's story, in contrast, went viral on all national media. including on CNN, as soon as it was available. Deservedly so, in her case. Not so much, in Reade's.

To conclude that the media buried the story to help Biden remain the presumptive nominee is inescapable. The plan, apparently, was to starve the public of Reade news and wait out the indie-press storm until newer news drew their attention.

Once the wall of silence was breached, the indie press started asking why Democratic Party leaders and opinion makers, especially prominent #MeToo women, were either absent from the discussion or suddenly coming out in support of Biden. Kirstin Gillibrand and Hillary Clinton are the latest to announce support as of this writing, but the silence of many — Elizabeth Warren prominently among them — is still deafening. Note that "I support Joe Biden" and "I believe Joe Biden" are different statements.

Only Nancy Pelosi, speaking with Ari Melber on MSNBC, has been asked directly about Reade's accusation and replied, "I'm satisfied with his answer." (It's very much to the point of this piece that the only sources I could find to link to for this quote are right-wing sources like Breitbart. Yet Melber's show is on MSNBC.)

Now the story itself, or the story about the story, is coming to mainstream pages and screens, thanks partly to the shaming of the indie press and partly to the recent report by Rich McHugh in Business Insider.

Michelle Goldberg tweeted this on April 27, three days prior to this writing:

The New York Times now publicly acknowledges Biden's silence:
Democratic Frustration Mounts as Biden Remains Silent on Sexual Assault Allegation

Activists and women’s rights advocates have urged Mr. Biden to address a former aide’s allegation that he sexually assaulted her in 1993. His lack of response has angered them.
In an April 27 New Yorker story entitled "The Biden Trap: As the candidate faces credible assault allegations, his progressive female colleagues are being offered a poisoned chalice," Rebecca Traister observes:
Biden’s shaky past behavior around women and their bodies isn’t staying in his past.
BuzzFeed weighs in with "Democrats Will Have To Answer Questions About Tara Reade. The Biden Campaign Is Advising Them To Say Her Story “Did Not Happen.”"

In which article we see this:
Democrats are in an increasingly precarious position as reporters assess Reade’s allegation. By any measure of the #MeToo movement that has seen the Democratic Party embrace “believe women” as a mantra, Reade, 56, has provided a serious account, disputed by Biden’s campaign and former senior staffers who worked in his office in 1993 but corroborated in part by people she told about the incident in the 1990s.
Chris Cillizza add his bit with "Joe Biden's campaign is twisting a New York Times story to defend against the Tara Reade allegation".

And the Daily Beast pursues responses from 10 prominent women's groups and notes their near universal silence (emphasis added):
Why Have Women’s Groups Gone Dead Silent on Biden Sex-Assault Accusation?

Women’s groups and prominent feminist figures have remained almost universally silent over a former staffer’s accusation of sexual misconduct against former Vice President Joe Biden—including those individuals and groups who came to express regret for how the Democratic Party handled similar accusations made against President Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

The collective non-response from mostly Democrat-aligned groups comes as potential female running mates struggle themselves in responding to the Biden allegation, which has the potential to upend his campaign against President Donald Trump, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of women in alleged incidents spanning decades. And it echoes the division among progressives when the #MeToo movement revived scrutiny of Clinton’s own alleged sexual misconduct.

The Daily Beast contacted 10 top national pro-women organizations for this story, including Emily’s List, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and the National Organization for Women. Most organizations did not respond to a detailed request for comment about the allegation by Tara Reade, a former staff assistant in Biden’s Senate office who has accused the former vice president of forcibly penetrating her with his fingers in the early 1990s. Others replied and did not provide a statement.
In addition, according to the article, "neither [attorney Patricia] Ireland [who presided over NOW during the whole of the Clinton administration] nor feminist icon [Gloria] Steinem responded to a request for comment about Reade’s accusations against Biden."

Finally, the Washington Post's editorial board writes on April 29: "Biden himself should address the Tara Reade allegations and release relevant records".

What's notable in all these reports isn't the story itself. It's that the story is being told in mainstream media outlets where people with mainstream lives can finally see them.

What's Next?

The day may be almost here when Gloria Steinem, Elizabeth Warren, and worse for Biden, all of the female VP candidates and hopefuls mentioned by Traister in her "poisoned chalice" New Yorker article will be asked on the record, not if they support Joe Biden, but if they believe him.

That's a question few women with strong #MeToo credentials will want to answer, since it ties them, perhaps forever, to Biden's "historical shortcomings" (in Traister's delicate phrasing). They have to be concerned that, if another credible accuser comes forward, it could sink them all.

Will this explosion of coverage lead to a collapse of the Biden campaign and a DNC search for a new 2020 standard-bearer? We can't be sure it will. Every indication that's come to my ears suggests that DNC Democrats, those with real power, are certain the storm will be weathered, the story will pass into the background, spring will fade to summer, then to fall, and by November Party-leaning minds will think only of Trump and the wreckage he represents.

But critical mass brings tipping points. We also can't be sure that Reade's story won't lead to Biden's collapse, now that the difficult questions are starting to be asked in places that give permission to ask them.

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Will African-American Voters Help Reform The Democratic Party?


Tuesday night, progressive reformer Morgan Harper lost her congressional primary to a corrupt, middle of the road Democratic incumbent, Joyce Beatty in Columbus, Ohio. The final result was a two-to-one rout-- 43,727 (68.29%) to 20,301 (31.71%). As of the April 8th FEC reporting deadline, Beatty had spent a massive $2,149,875 to Harper's $696,001.

The third district is entirely in Franklin County and was created to concentrate Democratic voters, allowing Republicans to protect the 12th and 15th districts. OH-03, almost the whole city if Columbus, has a PVI of D+19, while OH-12 and OH-15 each has a relatively safe R+7 PVI. The Democratic primary is dominated by African-American voters and they've been electing and reelecting Beatty, despite her utter worthlessness as a Representative, since 2012. A shill for shady financial interests, Beatty has been a darling of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).

It isn't just the CBC, of course, protecting their incumbents, regardless of how bad the incumbent is or how good the challenger is. After all, Morgan Harper, also an African American woman, has been considered one of the brightest stars running for Congress this cycle. At 36, the former Obama administration official at the CFPB, has no ties to the incompetent and fully corrupt Ohio Democratic Party. She ran a campaign based on Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, Jobs Guarantee, tuition-free public college, universal child care, racial justice, affordable housing and a living wage-- all things that separate old line liberals, like Pelosi, Hoyer and their clique from today's progressives. The Ohio Democratic establishment has all but destroyed the Democratic Party in the state. Many people say it is the worst state party in America with one corrupt idiot following another, each losing more and more of the state to the Republicans. But they would much rather fight progressives-- who they routinely trash-- than Republicans.

There wasn't a crooked Democratic pol in the state who didn't back her, even if, during Rick Neal's campaign against Republican hot-shot Steve Stivers in the next district over, Beatty helped Stivers, making joint appearances with him, pushing "civility." Beatty has been heavily supported by the Columbus Partnership, the corporate powers-that-be in central Ohio, and she was the only Democrat who Victoria's Secret billionaire Les Wexner-- another character in the Jeffrey Epstein saga-- donated to since she was elected. Wexner and his wife have hosted fundraisers for Beatty at their home and contributed large sums of money to her. Their L Brands PAC is one of Beatty's largest donors along with Nationwide Insurance, JP Morgan Chase and other banks, American Bankers Assoc. etc.

Beatty is probably best known for having been a steadfast ally of payday lenders-- which Morgan has fought so hard to to rein in. (Beatty's husband was a payday lenders lobbyist-- a step up from his father who just flat out ran numbers.) While minority leader in the state legislature, Beatty held up a bill that would have regulated payday lenders. Her net worth an estimated $6 million. The district, though, ranks among the poorest congressional districts in the country (#378 out of 435)-- 60,000 children living in poverty. She uses her perch on the House Financial Services Committee to protect predatory banksters and further kick her own working class constituents to the curb.

And there was Beatty's picture at the top of a Politico story on Tuesday, Black Caucus seeks to squash liberal insurgents. Reporters Ally Mutnick, Heather Caygle and Sarah Ferris wrote that "Senior black Democrats are mounting an aggressive defense of Rep. Joyce Beatty in Tuesday's delayed Ohio primary, hoping to quash not only her left-wing primary challenger but the liberal insurgents gunning for a number of their colleagues. Leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus have framed the fight as greater than just defeating Beatty’s opponent, Morgan Harper, a well-funded attorney backed by the progressive group Justice Democrats. They are eager to show they can smack down any primary challengers nationwide who conspire against senior members of color who have spent decades fighting to the top."
“What is that all about? Is it attacking us?” Beatty said in an interview. “Well, let me make the message strong and clear: When you attack a hard-working member of the Congressional Black Caucus, we fight back. We are the conscience of the caucus, and we represent people.”

The CBC is stepping up to protect Beatty in an unpredictable race that some Democrats privately fear could be close, with turnout expected to be far lower amid the coronavirus outbreak that has shut down much of Ohio since mid-March.

Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, a former CBC chairman, is among several top Democrats who has helped marshal support for Beatty from both Washington and Ohio in recent months, frustrated by liberal outsiders with lengthy progressive wish lists seeking to oust party elders.

"Being 'anti' is not enough. This is about results and not just rhetoric,” Richmond said. “And just because you run with a bunch of rhetoric doesn't mean you can get results. There are people here that are effective members of Congress.”
Richmond is a bullshit artist and New Dem, the conservative Democrat tasked early on with roping in anti-progressive Democratic House members for Biden. He's tight with K street and tells lobbyists who's for sale and who's not. Other conservative Democrats backing Beatty included Oralndo's Val Demings (who some are touting, besides the fact that she is a severe sufferer from brainlessness, as a VP contender for Biden), the Queens political machine boss Gregory Meeks, and Brooklyn's Hakeem Jeffries, a contender for the post-Pelosi speakership.
Beatty's primary is the first salvo in the primary battle between the CBC and liberal groups trying to oust longtime incumbents. Besides Beatty, at least four other members of the caucus in New York and Missouri will face credible primary challengers throughout the summer.

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), chairman of the CBC’s political arm, is a longtime critic of the progressive groups’ approach to primaries and hopes Beatty’s victory on Tuesday will be a shot across the bow to other challengers.

“We worked hard,” Meeks said in an interview. “We’ve done it the old-fashioned way. And so, for people who seem to come out of nowhere, who have done nothing, have nothing to show for, to say, ‘We’re just going to challenge you for the sake of challenging you.’ Does that make sense?”

Meeks added that he has retooled the CBC’s political arm this year to better defend incumbents facing primary challenges. That includes hiring a dedicated political director for the PAC who will help boost digital and on-the-ground operations.

Harper, who said she launched her grassroots campaign last July with “no coordination with the Justice Democrats,” pushed back against the suggestion that her sole purpose was to attack a member of Congress. And Harper has pushed back when pundits have called her out for targeting black lawmakers, at one point, retorting on Twitter: "I am also black."

“I think we need to reframe that, in the idea that this is somehow a targeting of an individual,” Harper said in an interview last week. “Our campaign, we are presenting an alternative policy platform to the people of the 3rd District and that is not a personal exercise.”
Back in early March, Glen Ford, editor of the Black Agenda Report looked at why so many African American voters are supporting conservative Democrats over progressives this cycle. Referring to how Biden beat Bernie in conservative South Carolina, he wrote that "Although the craven Black Misleadership Class will no doubt shout hallelujahs that 'hands that picked cotton now pick presidents' and claim Black voters exercised brilliant 'strategic' judgment in making themselves indispensable to the corprate Democratic party establishment, the true motivator of Black Biden supporters is a pervasive and deeply corrosive fear. Not just dread of four more years of Trump, although that is central to Black political behavior, but abject terror at the very thought that the Democratic Party-- 'our' party, in many Black folks’ minds-- might fracture under the challenge of the Sandernistas."
Voluminous data over many years has shown that African Americans are to the left of Hispanics on issues of bread and butter and, especially, war and peace, and far to the left of white Democrats. But, unlike Hispanics, Blacks cannot be depended on to uphold their own historical political consensus in Democratic Party primary elections for fear of weakening the chances of defeating The White Man’s Party. Hyper-conscious of their minority and despised status-- and surrounded by hostile, race-obsessed white Republicans in the southern states-- older Blacks cling to Democratic Party structures as if their lives depend on it. The ascent of Donald Trump has only tightened the duopoly trap, causing Blacks to invest their votes in candidates they perceive as 'good for the party,' as if that is synonymous with Black interests.

...The rot is deep, a product of generations of capital-subordinate Black politics that followed the violent suppression of Black self-determinationist movements and the imposition of a counterinsurgency, mass incarceration regime at the end of the Sixties. Rather than resist the New Jim Crow/Same Old Rich White Man’s Rule, the Black Misleaderhip Class eagerly offered themselves as co-managers of oppression-- for a small cut of the spoils, and the privileges of racial "leadership."

It has always been clear to Black Agenda Report that the post-Sixties betrayals of the Black Misleadership Class necessitated that a future Black liberation movement must be largely an internal Black struggle to uproot the corrupted elements in our polity. False unity has become Black folks’ Achilles Heel, allowing Black charlatans free rein in our communities and reserving most elected positions for servants of Capital. The Democratic Party is a predatory edifice of Black disempowerment, from which our people must either free themselves, or become agents of their own perpetual oppression and accomplices in the degradation of humanity, worldwide.

Black youth see the truth, and will act on it, we are certain.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


Moscow Mitch by Chip Proser

by Noah

It's not enough for a sociopathic traitor like Moscow Mitch McConnell to follow the lead of Donnie Psycho and strive to get as many Americans as possible infected with a plague. No, rather than delivering enough federal money to help states like New York and Illinois that are financially straining due to the coronavirus, Moscow Mitch smirks the smirk of a psycho and suggests that such states should just declare bankruptcy. Mr. Moscow also made a point of oh so cutely calling the bailouts of democratic states "Blue State Bailouts." So clever, Mitchie. Did you think that up all by yourself?

I remember another Republican sociopath, a corrupt president named Gerald Ford. Ford is known for two things; One, pardoning the crooked predecessor who gave him his job, and, two, telling New York, the nation's biggest city, to drop dead when it was undergoing financial troubles in the 1970s; three if you count the fact that Ford seemed to fall down a lot, probably because he, as LBJ once said, played too much college football without a helmet. But, it's the "Drop Dead" message that is most applicable here.

New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo had an instant response to Mr. Moscow's sick proposal. To paraphrase, Governor Cuomo pointed out that the state of New York annually kicks about in $116 Billion (That's Billion with a B) more into the annual federal fund than it takes out. Kentucky, on the other hand, puts its hand out and takes the opposite approach, taking out $148 Billion (With a B) more than it pays in. In other words, like most if not all states in the would be Confederacy, Kentucky is a taker state, or, as Governor Cuomo asked of Mr. Moscow, "Just who is the bailout state?" Of course, as this virus crisis deepens, McConnell is liable to be crying for more money for his state from New York and the rest of the ten states that pay in more than they take out. What should those states say to Moscow Mitch then? I know what I'd say. I'd tell him to call up his Russian friends and see if they'll send some more bags of rubles his way. They always have in the past, so why not now?

Whole states declaring bankruptcy would, among many other things, decimate the retirement pensions of their citizens and send a quick and brutal message that would trigger a cascading and unavoidable economic meltdown on Wall Street and cause a cataclysmic nationwide and worldwide depression. That would also make McConnell's twisted pal Vladimir smile bigly but when did any Republican politician ever give a rat's ass about anyone's retirement pension or anyone's quality of life other than their own? Keep in mind that McConnell and his party have also been generally trying to do away with Social Security since the moment FDR signed it into law in 1935. Along with ending things like voting rights, Medicare, and civil rights, gutting the Social Security program sits in the Republican Party Pantheon of Hallowed Goals. Jeez, you'd think the next thing the republicans might come up with is just telling us all to inject Lysol. All the while, of course Repug politicians intend to keep enjoying their own retirement perks which we the people pay for with our taxes. And, every night, McConnell drives home in his Welfare Cadillac, surrounded by security soldiers that we also pay for. This is a man who should be stripped naked, tied to the bumper and dragged home through glass every night. And salt the streets first!

Gerry Ford on the cover of the Daily News in the 1970s. The Republican Party, strove to be the top conduit  for misery even way back then

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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Update To Yesterday's Look At The Republican Crooks Looting The Paycheck Protection Program


Totally In Control by Nancy Ohanian

I didn't know a lot of very rich people until I started working for them in the '90s when I moved to Los Angeles to work for Time-Warner. One of the first things I learned is that, generally-- and yes there are exceptions-- the richer the person, the greedier and more unscrupulous the person. That's how they got rich or maintained their wealth. There's no more recognizable example than Señor Trumpanzee and his personal corruption is reflected by his stinking, swampy regime and the officials he's appointed to run it.

As we discussed yesterday, his foul administration was caught handing out Paycheck Protection Money meant by Congress for small businesses, to dozens of his wealthiest donors. And now they're pretending to be outraged. Mnuchin is "demanding" the money back. Some, according to a report in yesterday's Washington Post by Jeanne Whalen, Aaron Gregg ad Michelle Ye Hee Lee, are refusing to give it back. A number of companies in the hotel, cruise ship and medical-device sectors that should never have been given the money to start with now say, according to The Post, that "they aren’t planning to return loans received from a small-business rescue program" because they "need the funds to stay in business. Their resistance comes days after the Small Business Administration suggested dozens of publicly held companies should give back money received from the Paycheck Protection Program by May 7. The agency said public companies with 'substantial market value' and the ability to raise money through capital markets were not the intended recipients of the funds, which were meant to help small businesses keep employees on the payroll during the novel coronavirus pandemic."

So why did the crooks in the Trump regime give them the money to start with? Is Barr too busy harassing governors who are trying to flatten the curve, to sue these criminal companies, many of them headed by Republican Party campaign contributors? The Post team wrote that "Facing criticism, companies including Shake Shack, Kura Sushi USA and Ruth’s Chris Steak House quickly announced plans to return the money.
Other companies are resisting returning the money. Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, which operates high-end cruises, said it met the criteria for applicants and plans to keep its $6.6 million loan.

The company reported having about $137 million in cash as of March 31, shortly after drawing down on a $45 million line of credit. The coronavirus prompted the company to cancel its cruises on March 12, a move it called “financially devastating.”

“Despite this circumstance, Lindblad is the very rare travel company that has not imposed any layoffs, furloughs or salary reductions to date-- because of our access to the PPP,” said the company, which employs 461 people in the United States.

Lindblad, which has a market value of $276 million, was taken public five years ago in a deal orchestrated by Mark Ein, a D.C.-based executive who owns the Washington Kastles women’s tennis franchises as well as Washington City Paper. The New York-based company is best known as the operator of National Geographic-branded exotic cruises that take tourists to locales such as the Galápagos Islands and Antarctica.

A group of hotel companies chaired by Monty Bennett, a Dallas executive and Republican donor, said it also planned to keep the funds.

Ashford Hospitality Trust, Braemar Hotels & Resorts and Ashford were among the biggest recipients of the loans, receiving them through multiple applications, according to federal filings. The companies said they applied for $126 million total.

In a statement, the companies said they have closed 32 of their 130 hotels and laid off or furloughed more than 90 percent of their workforce in recent weeks as the travel business has evaporated. “Our singular focus is to get back to the business of hosting guests at our hotels and helping the nearly 14,000 employees who work at our 130 hotels and related businesses return to work as the economy emerges from this terrible crisis,” the companies said.

“We believe it is just as important to bring employees back to work at larger companies like [Ashford] and [Braemar] as it is at smaller companies,” the statement added.

The loan payments to the companies have come under scrutiny, given Bennett’s political donations. Since the 2016 presidential campaign, Bennett has given more than $370,000 to support President Trump and the Republican National Committee, and has given to a slew of other GOP campaigns in the House and Senate, as well as their party committees.

Ashford’s statement said Bennett owns a “significant amount of common stock” in two of the companies, for which he did not receive first-quarter dividends. Bennett also owns “a large portion” of preferred shares in Ashford, for which dividends were halved in the first quarter, the statement said.

One company contacted by The Post, Nortech Systems, appeared to be on the fence, saying it had not yet decided whether it would return the money.

A Maple Grove, Minn., maker of medical devices and parts, Nortech said it thought it met all SBA guidelines when applying for a $6.1 million loan, including the strict definition of a small company.

“Without an influx of cash, specifically at this time, we potentially jeopardize people’s jobs at the company and we won’t be able to hire the additional staff needed to work on crucial ventilator parts for a large customer that has contracted to supply ventilators to the U.S. Federal Government,” Nortech said in a statement.

The company, which employs 470 people in the United States, also said its current market value of less than $10 million “severely limits our ability to raise additional capital via the public markets.”

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Is It All Trump's Fault? Mostly-- But His Team Is Excruciatingly Incompetent As Well


The Economist asked why America's death toll has been so high. Watch the 10 minute video above. Tuesday began with 1,010,356 confirmed cases in the U.S. (23,196 new cases from Sunday). There were 56,797 deaths (up 1,384 from Sunday). The U.S. was showing 3,052 cases per million in the population and 17,211 tests per million and 172 deaths per million.

How does that compare with other countries? Let's look at testing first. These are the countries that have been testing most per million in their population. The higher up the chart, the better:
Portugal- 35,321
Israel- 34,971
Norway- 30,310
Italy- 29,600
Spain- 28,779
Switzerland- 28,343
Denmark- 26,900
Austria- 25,819
Ireland- 25,785
Germany- 24,738
Singapore- 20,815
Russia- 20,690
Czechia- 20,401
Australia- 20,277
Canada- 19,009
Belgium- 18,468
U.S.A.- 17,211
South Korea- 11,735
Netherlands- 11,319
U.K.- 10,605
Sweden- 9,357
France- 7,103

You might want to know which states are testing enough. Let's call 25,000 per million the minimum acceptable number. The U.S. is at 17,211, which is unacceptable. Only 10 states (+ DC) are doing an acceptable job at testing:
Rhode Island- 56,941
New York- 44,472
Massachusetts- 37,261
North Dakota- 33,948
Utah- 33,638
Louisiana- 33,572
New Mexico- 29,509
DC- 28,092
New Jersey- 27,049
Connecticut- 25,896
• Washington- 25,021
The 5 states doing the worst job at testing are all doing an inadequate job and are absolutely not ready to start thinking of opening up their economies yet. Other states that are nearly as bad-- like Georgia, Texas and Florida-- are opening up and will soon see big COVID-19 spikes.:
Kansas- 9,657
Arizona- 9,906
Virginia- 10,139
Ohio- 10,540
South Carolina- 10,721
OK, and now let's look at those same countries with deaths per million. The number in parentheses is cases per million. Remember, all these numbers were as of Sunday night and the lower down the chart, the better:
Belgium- 662 (4,028)
Spain- 503 (4,907)
Italy- 446 (3,298)
Ireland- 3,979 (223)
Switzerland- 3,370 (192)
France- 357 (2,541)
U.K.- 311 (2,315)
Netherlands- 264 (2,232)
Sweden- 225 (1,874)
U.S.A.- 172 (3,052)
Portugal- 91 (2,356)
Denmark- 74 (1,502)
Germany- 73 (1,895)
Canada- 72 (1,285)
Austria- 61 (1,696)
Norway- 38 (1,402)
Israel- 25 (1,797)
Czechia- 21 (695)
South Korea- 5 (209)
Russia- 5 (597)
Australia- 3 (264)
Singapore- 2 (2,465)
Dan Balz and Scott Clement, writing for the Washington Post yesterday, reported that "Americans overwhelmingly support state-imposed restrictions on businesses and the size of public gatherings to slow the spread of the coronavirus... Americans continue to give their governors significantly higher ratings than they offer Trump, who still draws mostly negative reviews for how he has handled the crisis."

The poll shows that 66% say they find that current restrictions on restaurants, stores and other businesses are appropriate, while 16% are smart enough to understand that the restrictions are NOT restrictive enough. 17% are the hard core Republican Party Death Cult who says the restrictions are too much and should be lifted. There are similar numbers for the appropriateness of public gatherings-- 64% are satisfied, 22% are smart enough to understand the restrictions don't go far enough to flatten the curve and 14% are the psycho Death Cult.

Balz and Clements note the partisan breakdown: "About 7 in 10 (72 percent) Democrats and 6 in 10 (62 percent) Republicans say their state’s current restrictions on businesses are appropriate. Republicans are more likely to say their state is too restrictive on businesses, though fewer than 3 in 10 say this (27 percent), compared with 17 percent of independents and 8 percent of Democrats. Even in the dozen states that have begun to loosen restrictions or that had less restrictive orders in place, a majority of residents support their state’s limitations, with 59 percent calling them appropriate, 18 percent saying they are too restrictive and 22 percent calling them not restrictive enough-- the last figure being eight points higher than in the states with more stringent orders in place. Support for limitations on the size of public gatherings, which many states set at no more than 10 people, is just as strong. The poll finds 64 percent calling those limits appropriate and another 22 percent saying they are not restrictive enough. A smaller 14 percent describe them as too restrictive. These findings suggest that even as states begin to reopen their economies on a gradual basis, many citizens could be cautious about resuming activity at the level that existed before the pandemic took hold and people were ordered or asked to stay at home as much as possible."

We ran this chart yesterday, but its worth looking at again. Just 16% of the people in the country understand that the U.S.isn't doing enough to flatten the curve. That's going to mean a lot of trouble as states start removing social distancing restrictions again. Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, South Carolina are going to be tragic test cases. As Elena Moore and Philip Ewing reported for NPR yesterday, testing is the key to returning to a normal life. Trump, who has utterly failed in this area and, of course, takes no responsibility for anything but the good stuff, says it's up to the states. Moore and Ewing wrote that testing is "the doorway between the disaster response mode of the pandemic and confidence about returning to work, school and life. And it's also still apparently weeks or more away from scaling to a level that will make a big difference for most people in most places."

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