David Zurawik: “Ignorance, arrogance and petulance ― that’s the Trump administration from the president on down. And it has been that way since the inauguration.”
“But the burning media question now is how much longer can we stomach heaping TV helpings day after day of the president’s reckless behavior as thousands die horrible deaths due to the COVID-19 virus. When are enough lies, spin and disinformation every night on TV enough?”
“President Trump’s new chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has escalated tensions in the White House with a swift series of staff changes that have drawn complaints from some in the West Wing about his management,” Bloomberg reports.
“Trump changed his top aide last month just as the U.S. coronavirus outbreak began to accelerate. After a slow start — Meadows didn’t resign his North Carolina House seat until the end of March — the new chief of staff kicked off his tenure by ousting a top legislative liaison last week and then, on Monday, abruptly replacing the White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham.”
“Concerns about what is now known to be the novel coronavirus pandemic were detailed in a November intelligence report by the military’s National Center for Medical Intelligence,” ABC News reports.
“The report was the result of analysis of wire and computer intercepts, coupled with satellite images. It raised alarms because an out-of-control disease would pose a serious threat to U.S. forces in Asia — forces that depend on the NCMI’s work. And it paints a picture of an American government that could have ramped up mitigation and containment efforts far earlier to prepare for a crisis poised to come home.”
Said one of the sources: “Analysts concluded it could be a cataclysmic event.”
“Treasury Department officials are preparing to ask Congress to swiftly commit another $200 billion to replenish a new small business coronavirus program that’s being overwhelmed by surging demand,” the Washington Post reports.
“Democratic leaders on Wednesday released their own set of demands for an ‘interim’ coronavirus relief package poised to move through Congress this week, setting up a clash with congressional Republicans that threatens to stall the next installment of relief for the economy,” Politicoreports.
“And by Wednesday afternoon, White House officials privately signaled opposition to Democrats’ efforts to add billions in funding for hospitals and state governments, sending the delicate bipartisan talks further into a tailspin.”
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) signaled he would once again oppose any effort by House leaders to pass another coronavirus relief bill by unanimous consent, which could force lawmakers to return to Washington, D.C.
Tim Miller: “There are many questions surrounding the White House’s obsession with hydroxychloroquine. Whether someone has a financial incentive for pushing it. (It’s certainly possible, since he has at least some stake.) The extent to which it actually works (Fingers crossed!) Which TV doctor got the president so spun up on it? (Dr. Oz?)”
“Some of these are unanswerable. The Trump family’s finances are still impossibly opaque. I have no relevant expertise in immunosuppressive pharmaceuticals. And performing forensic accounting on Trump’s television habits would require access to the meta-data inside his super-DVR remote.”
“But I do, regrettably, know far too much about the career of Donald Trump. And his weeks long hydroxychloroquine song and dance is simply a redux of the pitch job that has served him so well for four decades: Sell the newest Trump-branded miracle scheme as hard as possible until it becomes completely untenable, the feds show up, or the next one bubbles up from the recesses of his frontal lobe.”
“As the novel coronavirus sweeps across the United States, it appears to be infecting and killing black Americans at a disproportionately high rate, according to a Washington Post analysis of early data from jurisdictions across the country.”
“The emerging stark racial disparity led the surgeon general Tuesday to acknowledge in personal terms the increased risk for African Americans amid growing demands that public-health officials release more data on the race of those who are sick, hospitalized and dying of a contagion that has killed more than 12,000 people in the United States.”
“Top Trump administration officials had been developing a plan to give cloth masks to huge numbers of Americans, but the idea lost traction amid heavy internal skepticism,” Axios reports.
“The scale of this undertaking would have been extraordinary, mobilizing an enormous public-private partnership to deliver protective cloth masks to millions of people — in one iteration of the idea, maybe even to every American.”
“A Republican-controlled panel of Kansas legislative leaders on Wednesday voted to overturn the executive order issued by Gov. Laura Kelly (D) to limit attendance at church gatherings and funerals,” the Topeka Capital-Journal reports.
“The Legislative Coordinating Council voted 5-2 along party lines to rescind the order as Republican leaders argued the order violated federal and state constitutional protections for freedom of religion.”
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) said that “the state will help cities enforce restrictions on social interaction designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but he won’t allow them to impose stay-at-home orders,” the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports.
President Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity that he had learned partly from the prime-time star’s show just how “great” things are with ventilators and vital medical supplies during the coronavirus pandemic, the Daily Beast reports.
Insisting that the nation is close to the peak of coronavirus cases, Trump said he “was right” that states wouldn’t need nearly as many beds and ventilators as originally thought.
CNN: “Officials said the options being discussed on reopening the country vary widely in scope, from recommendations on benchmarks for when individual states can begin easing restrictions to a nationwide ‘big bang’ that Trump previewed Tuesday evening on Fox News. The officials said the conversations were still preliminary and would likely evolve over the course of the next weeks.”
“Still, some officials have even begun mulling the type of event Trump may want to mark the day when nationwide restrictions are lifted after he suggested a ‘big celebration’ when the crisis is over…”
“Multiple officials said this week the discussions could lead to a clash between health and economic advisers, who have disagreed over the past month on the extent and length of distancing recommendations for Americans.”
New York Times: How will we know when it’s time to reopen the economy?
Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) said that she and her husband “will liquidate their individual stock share positions and related options after weeks of criticism of the couple for selling millions of dollars in stock amid the coronavirus pandemic,” CNBC reports.
Her stock holdings would be converted to mutual funds and exchange-traded funds by third-party advisors who handle her investments.
The planned sale was announced two days after a poll showed that Loeffler was 23 percentage points behind Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) who is challenging her in a primary this year.
Washington Post: “A tsunami of layoffs, cutbacks, furloughs and closures has washed over newsrooms across the United States over the past month — a time, ironically, when readership and viewership is surging with consumers in search of reliable information about the virus.”
When asked how he reconciled his position that voting by mail is “horrible” and “corrupt” with the fact that he voted by mail in Florida, President Trump replied: “Because I’m allowed to.”
“West Virginia appears poised to become the first state in the U.S. to allow gambling on politics, a move that would let people turn their Trump-versus-Biden predictions into cash,” Bloomberg reports.
“The West Virginia Lottery, which oversees betting in the state, said Tuesday that officials initially approved a plan to let FanDuel Inc. and other sportsbooks offer political wagers, but needed time ‘to fully work through the implications and research it further.’”
New York Times: “Since the coronavirus pandemic engulfed New York City, it has taken a staggering toll on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the agency that runs the subway, buses and commuter rails and is charged with shuttling workers — like doctors, nurses and emergency responders — who are essential to keeping the city functioning.”
“But the transit agency may have deepened its work force crisis by not doing more during the early stages of the outbreak to protect its employees and delaying some steps laid out in a plan the M.T.A. had developed for dealing with a pandemic.”
The statistics: “At least 41 transit workers have died, and more than 6,000 more have fallen sick or self-quarantined. Crew shortages have caused over 800 subway delays and forced 40 percent of train trips to be canceled in a single day.”
Reuters: “The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation model is one of several that the White House task force has cited.”
“It now projects U.S. deaths at more than 60,000 by Aug. 4, down from the nearly 82,000 fatalities it had forecast on Tuesday.”
Jennifer Senior: “And most relevant, as far as history is concerned: Narcissistic personalities are weak.”
“What that means, during this pandemic: Trump is genuinely afraid to lead. He can’t bring himself to make robust use of the Defense Production Act, because the buck would stop with him. (To this day, he insists states should be acquiring their own ventilators.) When asked about delays in testing, he said, ‘I don’t take responsibility at all.’ During Friday’s news conference, he added the tests we inherited were ‘broken, were obsolete,’ when this form of coronavirus didn’t even exist under his predecessor.”
“This sounds an awful lot like one of the three sentences that Homer Simpson swears will get you through life: ‘It was like that when I got here.’”