What Now?! – February 26, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that Americans should brace for the likelihood that the coronavirus will spread to communities in the United States, the New York Times reports. From a statement: “It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen in this country any more but a question of when this will happen.”

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) told senior Trump administration officials Tuesday that they are not adequately prepared for the possibility the coronavirus may spread more widely in the United States, The Hill reports. Said Romney: “I’m very disappointed in the degree to which we’ve prepared for a pandemic, both in terms of protective equipment and in terms of medical devices that would help people once they are infected. At this stage, I think we are substantially underinvesting in what would be appropriate for a setting which could be serious.”

He added: “I think we should be pulling out all the stops.”

The Trump Administration message on this has been both muddled and incompetent. First, in last year’s budget, the Trump Administration severely cut the budget of the CDC. Now, faced with a pandemic, Trump is sending to Capitol Hill its $2.5 billion supplemental budget request for additional money to fight the coronavirus, Politico reports. At the same freaking time, White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said that the U.S. has “contained” the threat posed a domestic coronavirus outbreak, breaking with the warnings of officials from the Centers for Disease Control, Politico reports. Said Kudlow: “We have contained this, I won’t say airtight but pretty close to airtight.”

President Trump predicted the coronavirus is “going to go away” amid cresting fears in Washington that the outbreak could spark a pandemic, CNN reports.

“But behind the scenes the President is less calm, and he is expressing frustration at some of the ways his administration is responding to the outbreak… His mood reflects a growing realization among Trump’s staff that the coronavirus is going to pose a greater challenge than previously understood.”

The DOW plummeted another 900 points yesterday, after dropping down over 1000 on Monday.

President Trump is revisiting the idea of nominating Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) to be the next Director of National Intelligence, CNN reports. “It would be a controversial pick as Ratcliffe withdrew his name from consideration for the same job last year amid bipartisan concerns about his qualifications.”

“Sen. Mitch McConnell is about to plunge the Senate into the nation’s culture wars with votes on bills to sharply restrict access to late-term abortions and threaten some doctors who perform them with criminal penalties, signaling that Republicans plan to make curbing a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy a central theme of their re-election campaigns this year,” the New York Times reports.

“After months of shunning legislative activity in favor of confirming President Trump’s judicial nominees — and a brief detour for the president’s impeachment trial — Mr. McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, is expected to bring the bills up for votes on Tuesday. Both lack the necessary 60-vote supermajority to advance, and the Senate has voted previously to reject them.”

“But by putting them on the floor again, Mr. McConnell hopes to energize the social conservatives who helped elect Mr. Trump and whose enthusiasm will be needed to help Republicans hold on to the Senate this year, while forcing vulnerable Democrats to take uncomfortable votes on bills that frame abortion as infanticide.”

Both bills failed, as expected. All Republicans except Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) voted for a bill banning abortion after 20 weeks, while Democratic Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) supported the measure. All four lawmakers, meanwhile, voted for a bill requiring doctors to provide care to survivors of failed abortions. Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, the most vulnerable Democrat facing reelection, opposed the 20-week ban but voted for the second measure.

Ronny Jackson, the former White House doctor who is now running for Congress, told the New York Times that staff used to put vegetables in President Trump’s mashed potatoes in an effort to improve his diet.

Said Jackson: “The exercise stuff never took off as much as I wanted it to. But we were working on his diet. We were making the ice cream less accessible, we were putting cauliflower into the mashed potatoes.”

For the second consecutive legislative session, Oregon Senate Republicans have walked out of the Capitol to block passage of a greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade bill, the Statesman Journal reports.

“Democrats hold a supermajority of 18 members, but a walkout denies the Senate a two-thirds quorum of 20 needed to conduct any business on the floor. Senate Republicans deployed this tactic twice during the 2019 session — first in protest of a multibillion dollar education revenue package and then against House Bill 2020, the previous cap-and-trade bill.”

“The biggest difference between this session and 2019 is that the bill has enough support to pass the full Senate.”

“It looks like the coronavirus is being weaponized as yet another element to bring down Donald Trump. Now, I want to tell you the truth about the coronavirus… You think I’m wrong about this? You think I’m missing it by saying that’s… Yeah, I’m dead right on this. The coronavirus is the common cold, folks.” — Rush Limbaugh, on his radio show. Put your money where your vile mouth is, Rushie. Get infected and tell us all how it goes.

President Trump acknowledged the existence of assembled lists of government officials that his administration plans to oust and replace with trusted pro-Trump people, Axios reports.

“Rod Blagojevich’s release from federal prison last week culminated a nearly two-year campaign to put the once-prominent Democrat’s case on President Trump’s agenda, orchestrated by a volunteer adviser who once worked for the former Illinois governor’s political opponents,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Mr. Blagojevich was convicted in 2011 for trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat of president-elect Barack Obama, among other charges. But by enlisting the help of marquee political figures from across the spectrum, a now 38-year-old GOP consultant named Mark Vargas successfully reframed Mr. Blagojevich’s conviction for corruption into a case of prosecutorial overreach linked to former FBI Director Robert Mueller and others criticized by the president for looking into his 2016 campaign.”

“The federal judge overseeing the criminal case against Roger Stone warned on Tuesday about attacks by President Trump and others on a juror in the trial, saying that fomenting public anger about the guilty verdict could prompt someone to ‘soon take it out on them personally,’” the New York Times reports.

“The comments by United States District Judge Amy Jackson Berman came during a hearing on an argument by Mr. Stone’s lawyers that misconduct by a juror required a new trial.

“Even as the hearing was proceeding, Mr. Trump weighed in again on the case, once more ignoring Attorney General William Barr’s explicit request earlier this month that he stop commenting on the department’s criminal cases.”

President Trump said Democratic presidential front runner Bernie Sanders is advocating “totally unaffordable” policies that are “not going to work” during a meeting with business leaders at the U.S. embassy in New Delhi, Bloomberg reports.

Said Trump: “When we win re-election – I think we will – when we win, I think the market’s going to go up, it’s going to be like a rocket ship, like last time, but even more so. I think the fact that the Democrats are so radical, so out of control, they honestly don’t know what they’re doing.”

He went on to blame the election season for holding down the value of the stock market, saying that investors are worried Sanders had “a real chance” of winning the presidency. If this were true, and it’s not, shouldn’t Trump be feeling a little angry that all his Wall Street billionaire friends have so little faith in his chances to win? That should have been the follow up question from the reporters.

Iran’s deputy health minister—who on Monday denied accusations that the government was hiding the true extent of the coronavirus outbreak in the country—has reportedly tested positive for the sickness, Reuters reports.

“President Trump attacked Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a pair of tweets late Monday night, days after Sotomayor issued a dissent critical of both the Trump administration’s legal strategy and the court’s majority for enabling it,” the Washington Post  reports.

“Trump’s comments targeting Sotomayor and Ginsburg come as he has faced criticism for targeting sitting judges and injecting politics into the judiciary. It’s not unusual for a president to criticize decisions of the Supreme Court and the lower courts. Most have avoided singling out judges or justices by name, as Trump does, or challenging their fairness and integrity.”

“A National Security Agency system that analyzed logs of Americans’ domestic phone calls and text messages cost $100 million from 2015 to 2019, but yielded only a single significant investigation,” the New York Times  reports. “Moreover, only twice during that four-year period did the program generate unique information that the F.B.I. did not already possess.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

1 comment on “What Now?! – February 26, 2020

  1. Coons voted to confirm his Yale law school, and Alfalfa Club buddy, Alex Azar as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Azar directed Trump’s getting of the CDC. Just Sayin’

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