Friday, March 27, 2020

Last Call For De Blasio Goes Viral

Garbage leadership in the COVID-19 era is unfortunately not limited to Donald Trump, or to the Republican party.

“For the vast majority of New Yorkers, life is going on pretty normally right now,” Bill de Blasio said on Morning Joe March 10, as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. topped 1,000. “We want to encourage that.” He added that there was a “misperception” that the disease “hangs in the air waiting to catch you. No, it takes direct person-to-person contact.”

He pledged to keep schools open, even if someone at any given school was found to have contracted the disease, saying that they would take a day to isolate the sick and clean the school before getting it back up and running. “If you’re under 50 and you’re healthy, which is most New Yorkers, there’s very little threat here.”

Three days later, facing (to use a favorite de Blasio-ism) “a very different reality,” including a growing outcry from parents and from his own public-health officials, some of whom threatened to quit if he didn’t shutter schools and start taking the outbreak more seriously, New York City public schools were officially closed, probably for the rest of the school year.

Shortly thereafter, he declined to cancel St. Patrick’s Day parade and then did. He resisted calls to cancel regular street sweeping and then did. He had a photo op at a 311 call center, where he told a caller who had just returned from Italy that she did not need to self-quarantine, advice that forced 311 to actually call the woman back and tell her to stay inside for 14 days. The mayor touted the city’s new, wide-scale testing capacity, only to have his Health Department announce that only hospitalized patients should be tested. He tweeted at Elon Musk to supply the city with ventilators. When a New York Times reporter wrote of his own gut-wrenching story about contracting COVID-19 and being unable to get help, a top mayoral aide chastised him online for seeking help at all rather than just getting better at home. And the mayor himself told a radio host that people who don’t display symptoms can’t transmit the disease, an assertion that contradicts information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It has added up to perhaps the worst stretch of the mayor’s six-year tenure, just at the moment when the city has needed him most. Aides conceded that the mayor was more focused on managing the crisis, on having life in New York go on as normal for as long as possible, while keeping an eye on his national ambitions — something that made him slow to recognize the growing threat.

Lucky for NYC, Andrew Cuomo stepped in to take care of the Big Apple when Bill de Blasio dropped the ball, and frankly it's been best for everyone in the city.

Remember when de Blasio was, you know, not completely effing useless?

Massie In A Mess, Con't

Trump's pathological need for praise and his malignant desire to be the hero that saved America from COVID-19 is so massive that anyone else who steals the spotlight from him, even for a moment, faces getting run over by Trump's Twitter-based wrath. Justin Amash found this out the hard way, that glibertarian grandstanding at Trump's specific expense gets you crucified and strung up on a meathook to bleed out. 

Yesterday Thomas Massie decided he was going to make national news again with his contrarian tantrum hintong he was strongly considering delaying passage of the COVID-19 phase 3 relief bill by forcing a floor vote. Now Massie is finding out the price for his folly and that there's no room in the GOP at all for anyone whose "principles" interfere with Dear Leader's glory.

A $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package was supposed to get a voice vote Friday by the House of Representatives — until one Kentucky congressman disrupted those plans.

Republican Rep. Thomas Massie, of Kentucky’s 4th District, has other congressional members fearing he will force an in-person vote on the bill in Washington, D.C., causing the vote to be delayed and potentially forcing representatives to gather in person at the Capitol during the COVID-19 outbreak to vote.

President Donald Trump hammered Massie Friday morning on Twitter, calling him a “third rate Grandstander” and “a disaster for America, and for the Great State of Kentucky.”

“Workers & small businesses need money now in order to survive,” Trump said in one of his tweets about Massie. “Virus wasn’t their fault. It is ‘HELL’ dealing with the Dems, had to give up some stupid things in order to get the ‘big picture’ done. 90% GREAT! WIN BACK HOUSE, but throw Massie out of Republican Party!”

Trump had previously commented on a potential “grandstander” delaying the vote, but he didn’t mention Massey by name. He was still confident it would pass after it passed the Senate unanimously, according to the Washington Post.

“You might have one grandstander, and for that we’ll have to come back and take a little more time and it’ll pass, it’ll just take a little longer. But let’s see whether or not we have a grandstander,” Trump said at the White House Thursday, according to the Washington Post.


I stand by my statement that Massie remains a national embarrassment and should be made to resign over this.  It's by far from the first time he's pulled crap like this, delaying votes on disaster relief bills to demand amendments and full floor votes to let everybody on Earth know he has no interest in being a federal government employee in a federal government he has no intent of believing in.

But now he's poked the big orange bear and possibly cost Trump his weekend victory lap.

I'll continue to go unheard as Massie's constituent and a dirty, unwashed plebeian blogger.

He won't survive Trump's wrath much longer though.  And yes, Massie has a serious primary challenge from Republican Todd McMurtry, one of the lawyers representing Nicholas Sandmann in the Covington Catholic defamation case, if you think this area is capable of producing a non-embarrassing, non-asshole Republican.

But you know what?

Massie has a serious Democratic challenger this time, nurse practitioner Alexandra Owensby who is running and needs our help.

The Worst-Case Scenario, Con't

The White House had been preparing to reveal on Wednesday a joint venture between General Motors and Ventec Life Systems that would allow for the production of as many as 80,000 desperately needed ventilators to respond to an escalating pandemic when word suddenly came down that the announcement was off.

The decision to cancel the announcement, government officials say, came after the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it needed more time to assess whether the estimated cost was prohibitive. That price tag was more than $1 billion, with several hundred million dollars to be paid upfront to General Motors to retool a car parts plant in Kokomo, Ind., where the ventilators would be made with Ventec’s technology.
Government officials said that the deal might still happen but that they are examining at least a dozen other proposals. And they contend that an initial promise that the joint venture could turn out 20,000 ventilators in short order had shrunk to 7,500, with even that number in doubt. Longtime emergency managers at FEMA are working with military officials to sort through the competing offers and federal procurement rules while under pressure to give President Trump something to announce.

By early Thursday evening, at the coronavirus task force’s regular news briefing, where the president often appears, there was still nothing to disclose, and the outcome of the deliberations remained unclear.

But a General Motors spokesman said that “Project V,” as the ventilator program is known, was moving very fast, and a company official said “there’s no issue with retooling.”

A Ventec representative agreed.

“Ventec and G.M. have been working at breakneck speed to leverage our collective expertise in ventilation and manufacturing to meet the needs of the country as quickly as possible and arm medical professionals with the number of ventilators needed to save lives,” said Chris O. Brooks, Ventec’s chief strategy officer.

The only thing missing was clarity from the government about how many ventilators they needed — and who would be paid to build them.

The shortage of ventilators has emerged as one of the major criticisms of the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus. The need to quickly equip hospitals across the country with tens of thousands more of the devices to treat those most seriously ill with the virus was not anticipated despite the Trump administration’s own projection in a simulation last year that millions of people could be hospitalized. And even now, the effort to produce them has been confused and disorganized.

At the center of the discussion about how to ramp up the production of ventilators is Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a senior White House aide, who has told people that he was called in two weeks ago by Vice President Mike Pence to produce more coronavirus test kits and who has now turned his attention to ventilators.

He has been directing officials at FEMA in the effort. Two officials said the suggestion to wait on the General Motors offer came from Col. Patrick Work, who is working at FEMA. Some government officials expressed concern about the possibility of ordering too many ventilators, leaving them with an expensive surplus.

As the agency has sorted through offers, trying to weigh production ability and costs, hospitals in New York and elsewhere are reporting a desperate need for more ventilators, which are critical in treating respiratory problems in a fast-rising tide of severe coronavirus cases.

A spokeswoman for FEMA said Colonel Work presented information on each contract in such meetings but did not make any recommendations. A White House spokesman declined to comment.

New York? You don't get ventilators.

You were mean to Dear Leader and sued him.

Now there's a price to pay and America's governors have to worry that trying to save their citizens will in fact get them killed when Trump cuts them off and cuts the throat of thousands.

Republicans and Democrats alike are testing whether to fight or flatter, whether to back channel requests or go public, all in an attempt to get Trump’s attention and his assurances.

At stake may be access to masks, ventilators and other personal protective gear critically needed by health care workers, as well as field hospitals and federal cash. As Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, D-Mich., put it, “I can’t afford to have a fight with the White House.”
Underlying this political dance is Trump’s tendency to talk about the government as though it’s his own private business. The former real estate mogul often discusses government business like a transaction dependent on relationships or personal advantage, rather than a national obligation.

“We are doing very well with, I think, almost all of the governors, for the most part,” he said during a town hall on Fox News on Tuesday. “But you know, it’s a two-way street. They have to treat us well.”
On a private conference call Thursday with Trump, governors from both parties pressed the president for help — some more forcefully than others.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, urged Trump to use his full authority to ramp up production of necessary medical equipment, according to an audio recording of the call obtained by AP. But Trump said the federal government is merely the “backup.”

“I don’t want you to be the backup quarterback, we need you to be Tom Brady here,” Inslee replied, invoking the football star and Trump friend.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, meanwhile, was lavish in his praise.

“We’re just so appreciative, but we really need you,” Justice told Trump.

In an interview Thursday night on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity,” Trump groused, “Some of these governors take, take, take and then they complain.”

Of Whitmer, he said, “All she does is sit there and blame the federal government.” And he said Inslee “should be doing more,” adding, “He’s always complaining.”

And at the bottom of Trump's list?  Cuomo and New York.

In a call to the White House, Cuomo delivered the same grateful message privately, according to two officials with knowledge of the conversation who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly talk about the private discussions.

Trump later expressed happiness to aides and advisers that Cuomo had said such nice things about him, according to two White House officials and Republicans close to the West Wing.

A week later, when Cuomo delivered an urgent, frustrated plea for ventilators Tuesday, he didn’t mention Trump by name. Shortly after, a White House official said 4,000 more ventilators would be shipped to New York.

But later that day, Trump vented to aides, complaining that Cuomo made it seem like Washington had abandoned him, according to those White House officials and Republicans.

His anger broke through during the town hall. When Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator for the coronavirus response, was describing testing problems and mentioned New York’s high transmission rate, Trump interjected, trying to push Birx to criticize Cuomo: “Do you blame the governor for that?”

Bow down before the one you serve, you're going to get what you deserve


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