Thursday, April 2, 2020

Last Call For Captain, And Then Kneel

The US Naval aircraft carrier captain who pleaded with the Pentagon to evacuate his vessel, ravaged by a COVID-19 infection, has been relived of duty for speaking publicly.

The Navy on Thursday removed the captain of an aircraft carrier crippled by the coronavirus, two days after a blunt letter the officer wrote warning the service of the need to get more sailors off the vessel created a furor.

Navy Capt. Brett Crozier, the commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, was relieved of command at the direction of acting Navy secretary Thomas Modly.

The Navy had become increasingly convinced that Crozier was involved in leaking the letter to the news media to force the service to address his concerns over the outbreak on his ship, a defense official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Modly said that Crozier showed “poor judgment” by sending the letter by email to 20 or 30 people. He did not directly accuse Crozier of leaking the letter but noted that it appeared in Crozier’s hometown newspaper.

“I could reach no other conclusion than that Capt. Crozier had allowed the complexity of his challenge with the covid breakout on his ship to overwhelm his ability to act professionally, when acting professionally was what was needed most at the time,” Modly said at the Pentagon. “We do and we should expect more from the commanding officers of our aircraft carriers.”

Modly added a few minutes later that he did not mean to insinuate that he knew Crozier leaked the letter and believed the captain “did what he thought was in the best interest of the safety and the well-being of his crew.”

But Modly said the letter, first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle on Tuesday, undermined more senior Navy leaders and could have emboldened adversaries of the United States in the Pacific region. Modly said that Crozier had been told that he could communicate directly with Modly’s office.

There's no doubt in my mind of two things:

One, Captain Crozier wrote that letter because he knew the Pentagon expected him to remain on his carrier with COVID-19 ripping his crew apart, and that he was not going to get help in time. 

Two, Captain Crozier sent that letter to multiple people, knowing it would be shared, knowing it would become public, knowing it would cost him his command and his career, in order to save his crew from the Trump regime who is willing to sacrifice millions of us to stay in power.

He did the right thing.  He should be a hero.  He sacrificed himself to save the people under his command.

That is something that the people currently running our government and our military have no intent on doing for any of us.  We are all statistics to them, and we will die in droves as a result.

Tales Of The Trump Depression

More than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — a record — as political and public health leaders put the economy in a deep freeze, keeping people at home and trying to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

The past two weeks have seen more people file for unemployed claims than during the first six months of the Great Recession, a sign of how rapid, deep and painful the economic shutdown has been on many American families who are struggling to pay rent and health insurance costs in the midst of a pandemic.

Job losses have skyrocketed as restaurants, hotels, gyms, and travel have shut down across the nation, but layoffs are also rising in manufacturing, warehousing and transportation, a sign of how widespread the pain of the coronavirus recession is.

In March, 10.4 million Americans lost their jobs and applied for government aid, according to the latest Labor Department data, which includes claims filed through March 28. Many economists say the real number of people out work is likely even higher, since a lot of newly unemployed Americans haven’t been able to fill out a claim yet.

The U.S. government has not released an official unemployment rate yet, but economists say it has likely jumped to about 10 percent and could easily hit the highest level since the Great Depression in the coming months.

It will only get worse in the weeks ahead.  The $1200 check Americans are going to get plus unemployment benefits is it.  There's no more help coming. Republicans are tired of it and refuse.

One week after the Senate unanimously passed a $2 trillion emergency relief bill aimed at limiting the financial trauma from the coronavirus pandemic, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he would move slowly on considering any follow-up legislation and would ignore the latest efforts by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to jump-start talks.

McConnell’s sweeping dismissal of Pelosi’s urgent call for action underscored the uncertainty and fierce political warfare in Congress as the coronavirus outbreak shuts down much of the nation and throttles the economy, with little consensus on what should follow the biggest rescue package in U.S. history and lingering tensions from those negotiations between McConnell and Pelosi.

“She needs to stand down on the notion that we’re going to go along with taking advantage of the crisis to do things that are unrelated to the crisis,” McConnell said in an interview with The Washington Post, calling the speaker’s recent comments about a fourth round of virus-related legislation “premature.”

In response, Pelosi said she would carry on.

"We can't pay for it."  We could pay for $1.5 trillion in giveaways to corporations and the 1% though.  Imagine that.  Now we're in the opening stages of a global depression that will last years.

The small business loan program created by the CARES act?  It's going to be a disaster, because it was never meant to work.

Banks are warning that a $350 billion lending program for struggling small businesses won't be ready when it launches Friday because the Trump administration has failed to provide them with the necessary guidelines and set requirements for the loans that are unworkable.

The lenders complain that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin boxed them in with an unrealistic deadline and that the ground rules they've been given for the program, which is intended to deliver rapid aid to a huge number of ailing businesses, could delay the assistance for weeks or longer.

The banks, which will be responsible for processing loan applications and doling out money, are expecting millions of applications from businesses. Some fear a disaster that could dwarf the failed kickoff of the Obamacare enrollment web site in 2013.

“Banks are ready and willing to lend, but they need clear rules of the road and a streamlined process to be able to get funding into the hands of small business owners in the coming days,” said Greg Baer, president and CEO of the Bank Policy Institute, which represents the nation's biggest lenders.

Ten million out of work.  Millions more coming.  All will lose their health insurance.  And Trump won't open up the ACA so that millions can sign up for Obamacare, because Republican states are still in the middle of trying to have the Supreme Court throw the entire law out.

The Great Recession lasted as long as it did because Republicans dragged their feet on the stimulus bill to make sure sufficient time was available to transfer wealth to the top.  They did it again with the Trump Trillion Dollar Tax Scam in January 2018.

Americans have nothing to fall back on now.  The month ahead will be the most miserable in American history, and the Republicans responsible are going to find out that yes, the American people have their limits.

Trump Goes Viral, Con't

The Trump regime absolutely knew a pandemic would kill hundreds of thousands and throw us into a depression, because the White House economic team drew up the scenario just seven months ago.

White House economists published a study last September that warned a pandemic disease could kill a half million Americans and devastate the economy.

It went unheeded inside the administration.

In late February and early March, as the coronavirus pandemic began to spread from China to the rest of the world, President Trump’s top economic advisers played down the threat the virus posed to the U.S. economy and public health.

“I don’t think corona is as big a threat as people make it out to be,” the acting chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Tomas Philipson, told reporters during a Feb. 18 briefing, on the same day that more than a dozen American cruise ship passengers who had contracted the virus were evacuated home. Public health threats did not typically hurt the economy, Mr. Philipson said. He suggested the virus would not be nearly as bad as a normal flu season.

The 2019 study warned otherwise — specifically urging Americans not to conflate the risks of a typical flu and a pandemic. The existence of that warning undermines administration officials’ contentions in recent weeks that no one could have seen the virus damaging the economy as it has. The study was requested by the National Security Council, according to two people familiar with the matter.

One of the authors of the study, who has since left the White House, now says it would make sense for the administration to effectively shut down most economic activity for two to eight months to slow the virus.

The coronavirus has spread rapidly through the United States and its economy, killing more than 3,000 Americans and plunging the country into what economists roundly predict will be a deep recession. A mounting number of governors and local officials have effectively shut down large amounts of economic activity and ordered people to stay in their homes in most situations, in hopes of slowing the spread and relieving pressure on hospitals.

Administration officials on Tuesday released public health models that have driven those decisions, including projections of when infection rates might peak nationally and in local areas. Government officials estimated Tuesday that the deadly pathogen could kill between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans.

The 100k-240k death toll is again, a best-case scenario dependent on all 50 states going into lockdown for months.  We're nowhere near that level of defensive preparation. The death toll will be much, much higher than these umbers, quite possibly into the millions.

Let me say this again.

A million Americans or more will die from this.

And what is Donald Trump doing?

He's going golfing this weekend.

The Secret Service this week signed a $45,000 contract to rent a fleet of golf carts in Northern Virginia, saying it needed them quickly to protect a “dignitary” in the town of Sterling, home to one of President Trump’s golf clubs, according to federal contracting data.

The contract was signed Monday and took effect Wednesday, records show. The Secret Service paid a West Virginia-registered company, Capitol Golf Cars and Utility Vehicles, to rent 30 carts until the end of September.

The new contract, which the Secret Service described as an “emergency order,” does not mention Trump or the golf club by name. But it closely mirrors past contracts signed by the Secret Service, for agents accompanying Trump to his golf clubs in New Jersey and Florida.

The White House declined to comment Wednesday. Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, did not respond to questions.

Meanwhile he's sending out campaign text messages demanding his followers jam the phones to make sure his "daily coronavirus task force briefings" are carried live, wall-to-wall, when our media is finally realizing they are nothing but daily campaign rallies that they are carrying for free.

There have been a lot more empty seats at President Trump’s daily press briefings — but no, news organizations aren’t boycotting the events in protest or attempting to silence him, despite what he suggested at a briefing earlier this week.

Instead, something else is afoot: Reporters are keeping their distance because they are concerned about the health risks at a time when many consider the president’s evening news conferences to have become increasingly less newsworthy.
The decision by such outlets as The Washington Post, New York Times and CNBC to stay away may be fundamentally changing the character of the briefings. With veteran White House reporters on the sidelines, the president has primarily engaged with TV journalists, including one from a small, far-right conservative news channel that rarely gets such a prominent stage.

The Post, Times and CNBC stopped sending reporters to the briefings — which have taken place in the Rose Garden as well as the more cramped confines of the West Wing’s James S. Brady Press Briefing Room — after two White House correspondents were suspected of having contracted covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. (One of the reporters, who hasn’t been publicly identified, tested negative on Tuesday, according to ABC News’s Jonathan Karl, the president of the White House Correspondents' Association).

Executive Editor Dean Baquet said the Times has withdrawn its reporters from the briefings, both because of health considerations and the uncertain newsworthiness. Reporters continue to monitor them on TV and report anything worthwhile.

“Nowadays, it seems they make little news,” he said. “We, of course, reserve the right to show them live [via Web streaming] if we believe they will actually make news. But that hasn’t happened in quite some time.”

It's finally beginning to sink in just how wretched this is going to be over the next month or two. We need tens of millions of tests, and tens of millions of masks, and for the folks on the front lines we need tens of millions of sets of personal protective equipment (PPE).  And the ventilators we do have?  Broken, of course.

President Trump has repeatedly assured Americans that the federal government is holding 10,000 ventilators in reserve to ship to the hardest-hit hospitals around the nation as they struggle to keep the most critically ill patients alive.

But what federal officials have neglected to mention is that an additional 2,109 lifesaving devices are unavailable after the contract to maintain the government’s stockpile lapsed late last summer, and a contracting dispute meant that a new firm did not begin its work until late January. By then, the coronavirus crisis was already underway.

The revelation came in response to inquiries to the Department of Health and Human Services after state officials reported that some of the ventilators they received were not operational, stoking speculation that the administration had not kept up with the task of maintaining the stockpile.

In fact, the contract with a company that was maintaining the machines expired at the end of last summer, and a contract protest delayed handing the job to Agiliti, a Minneapolis-based provider of medical equipment services and maintenance. Agiliti was not given the $38 million task until late January, when the scope of the global coronavirus crisis was first becoming clear.
It is not known whether problems with the ventilators predated the contract lapse, but maintenance of the machines did halt. That delay may become a potentially deadly lapse.

“We were given a stop-work order before we’d even started,” said Tom Leonard, the chief executive of Agiliti, which had won the contract to service the ventilators in the stockpile. “Between the time of the original and the time of this contract award, I don’t know who was responsible or if anybody was responsible for those devices. But it was not us.”

Mr. Leonard said confidentiality agreements with the government over the stockpile prohibited him from giving specific figures on the number of ventilators the company was now working on.

Thousands, maybe more are broken.  Thousands, maybe more lives will be lost as a result. We are nowhere, nowhere close to being able to handle the next month.  It will be death like the world hasn't seen in decadesAnd the bearers of the truth?  They are already paying for it.

Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-diseases expert and the face of the U.S. response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, is facing growing threats to his personal safety, prompting the government to step up his security, according to people familiar with the matter.
The concerns include threats as well as unwelcome communications from fervent admirers, according to people with knowledge of deliberations inside the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice.

Fauci, 79, is the most outspoken member of the administration in favor of sweeping public health guidelines and is among the few officials willing to correct President Trump’s misstatements. Along with Deborah Birx, the coordinator for the White House’s task force, Fauci has encouraged the president to extend the timeline for social-distancing guidelines, presenting him with grim models about the possible toll of the pandemic.

“Now is the time, whenever you’re having an effect, not to take your foot off the accelerator and on the brake, but to just press it down on the accelerator,” he said Tuesday as the White House’s task force made some of those models public, warning of 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the United States.

The exact nature of the threats against him was not clear. Greater exposure has led to more praise for the doctor but also more criticism.

Fauci has become a public target for some right-wing commentators and bloggers, who exercise influence over parts of the president’s base. As they press for the president to ease restrictions to reinvigorate economic activity, some of these figures have assailed Fauci and questioned his expertise.

Last month, an article depicting him as an agent of the “deep state” gained nearly 25,000 interactions on Facebook — meaning likes, comments and shares — as it was posted to large pro-Trump groups with titles such as “Trump Strong” and “Tampa Bay Trump Club.”

Of course the nutjobs are coming for Dr. Fauci.  He made Dear Leader look bad, and for that, he must pay!  And as for the Democratic governors?  They get nothing.  The tests and masks are going to red states that are salvageable in order to save Trump's base.

As Abbott Laboratories began shipping its new rapid-response tests across the country Wednesday, a new flash point emerged in the nation’s handling of the pandemic: where to deploy the covid-19 diagnostics that could be one of the most effective tools in combating the outbreak.

Some White House officials want to ship many of the tests, which were approved Friday and can deliver results in five to 13 minutes, to areas where there are fewer cases, such as rural states and parts of the South. But officials in hard-hit areas and some public health experts favor directing them to the outbreak’s current hotspots, arguing that delays in test readings have sidelined many first responders and health-care workers and made it harder to isolate the most contagious patients.
During a Tuesday meeting of the White House coronavirus task force in the Situation Room, Vice President Pence and other officials discussed diverting new tests to areas where there are relatively few cases, according to two individuals familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations.

They said the administration needs “to figure out the spread in places where we don’t quite understand it now,” according to one of the individuals present. The final consensus seemed to be, “Let’s send it to the South and low density areas.”

The lag in delivering test results is taking a toll on communities across the country, depriving them of workers who can respond to medical emergencies and sowing uncertainty among hospital officials deciding what precautions to take. The competition for machines is so intense that governors and mayors have begun personally calling Abbott executives to negotiate orders.

Everyone, please stay safe, please follow your local orders,  please practice social distancing, please please please be smart about this. The better we are about things now, the easier it will be to recover from this nightmare.

If we can recover.  I have my doubts.


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