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QUOTE

Samuel Pepys, 1665English diarist, parliamentarian, on the bubonic plague

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Trump’s message to blue states battling coronavirus: Drop dead

Neil J. Young
The Week

Heading into 2020, it seemed like those online election prediction maps would be the most exciting thing to watch over the coming year. But now, a different map may tell us much more about what the future holds.

While the coronavirus spreads across the nation with no regards to state borders, the nation’s governors are taking wildly different approaches to tackling the disease, resulting in a patchwork national map that undermines our ability to stop COVID-19 effectively. Coupled with the disastrous leadership of a president more interested in retaliating against his perceived enemies than employing his powers for good, the fractured response to coronavirus reveals how much has to be healed in our nation’s system. It also sets in motion an inevitable showdown between Trump and those state leaders who are taking coronavirus seriously, a divide that is only going to get worse given Trump’s toxic tendency to blame others for his own shortcomings.

Trump’s sickness was startlingly evident in his interview with Fox News’ Bill Hemmer last Tuesday. Asked about his administration’s coordination with the states, a basic function of the federal government and a critical one in a crisis moment, Trump’s response displayed his typically transactional view of how things get done under his watch. “It’s a two-way street,” Trump childishly whined, “They have to treat us well, also. They can’t say, ‘Oh, gee, we should get this, we should get that.'”

That’s been Trump’s approach to working with others, especially those in need, from the start, a twisted outgrowth of the manipulation tactics he’s used throughout his personal and professional life.

As president, his self-interest and demands for personal loyalty always guide his decision making. At the depressingly dysfunctional level, that has meant a revolving door of White House staffers and administration appointees, including Jeff Sessions, who didn’t satisfy Trump’s insatiable ego enough to stay. At the lawbreaking level, it has meant his bald quid pro quo demand that Ukraine investigate a political rival in order to receive congressionally-mandated foreign aid and putting extreme restrictions on federal aid to Puerto Rico, seemingly in retaliation for how government officials there had criticized his handling of Hurricane Maria.

But where Trump’s pay-to-play expectations of Ukraine, despite the Senate’s judgments, were unconstitutional, his praise-to-play demands of state governors while the health of the nation hangs in the balance are nothing short of unconscionable. Trump’s refusal to take federal action against the virus may be the most disastrous decision of his presidency. His petty privileging of red states and his punishing of blue states may be the most deadly, with consequences for all Americans no matter their politics.

After Andrew Cuomo requested 30,000 ventilators for his coronavirus-ravaged New York, Trump coughed up only 400 machines while, as usual, freely blaming the governor for the state’s situation. “You want a pat on the back for sending 400 ventilators,” an exasperated Cuomo asked at a recent news conference. “You’re missing the magnitude of the problem.”

On Thursday, Trump lashed out at Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her criticisms of the administration’s inaction. “We’ve had a big problem with the… woman governor,” Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “We don’t like to see the complaints.” He later said he’d told Vice President Mike Pence not to call “the woman in Michigan.”

Meanwhile Florida, a state run by a loyal Trump supporter, Gov. Ron DeSantis, has fared better, not surprisingly. Despite DeSantis’ failure to take the disease seriously and limit its escalating spread through the state, Florida has received all the medical supplies it has requested from the federal stockpile, and then some. New Jersey, on the other hand, a state with currently the second highest number of coronavirus cases in the country, initially got only a small fraction of what it requested.

Other Republican state leaders are making Trump’s abdication of responsibility even easier, propping up his fantastical and fatalist thinking and actively undercutting public health measures. Trump’s arbitrary selection of April 12 as the date he wants the country “opened up” has outraged public health officials who warn we need much more time. But Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s horrific recent comments that grandparents should be willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the economy is merely putting the public voice to the sort of Machiavellian logic shaping red states’ policies.

In Mississippi, Republican Gov. Tate Reeves on Wednesday signed an executive order declaring almost all the businesses in the state as “essential,” thereby invalidating any local mayors or state agencies that have tried to implement social-distancing requirements. Reeves’ decision also included religious facilities, despite an earlier directive by the state’s Department of Health that Mississippians avoid church services, weddings, and funerals to help curb the virus’ spread.

In other Republican-led states, the continued lack of prohibitions against public gatherings will spell disastrous consequences. Blue states and places like Ohio and Maryland, led by reasonable Republican governors, cannot combat the virus alone. If Trump keeps picking favorite states to help in the absence of a national approach, everyone will lose.

A moment like this requires leadership, but Trump is no leader. Sulking that he can no longer hold the public rallies that give him life, Trump is incapable of rallying the nation in defense of its own. With potentially millions of Americans at risk of dying from coronavirus, Trump’s only interest, as always, is in tending to his bruised ego, and he’ll ruthlessly play governors against each other to fulfill his needs.

In his Friday press conference, Trump told reporters, “All I want [governors] to do… I want them to be appreciative. We’ve done a great job.” All those governors want is a president who cares about the lives of their constituents, regardless of whether they voted for him.

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Trump: a U.S. coronavirus death toll of 100,000 would mean his administration did ‘a very good job’

Catherine Garcia
The Week

President Trump on Sunday said if his administration can keep the coronavirus death toll to 100,000 in the United States, it will have done a “very good job.”

Earlier in the day, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the coronavirus pandemic could cause between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths in the United States. Trump said while 100,000 is “a horrible number,” if the U.S. can keep its death toll to “100,000, so we have between 100,000 and 200,000, we altogether have done a very good job.”

Trump also announced he is extending social distancing guidelines to April 30, a departure from his earlier declaration of having the U.S. “opened up” by Easter on April 12. That proclamation was “aspirational,” Trump said.

As of Sunday night, there are more than 139,700 confirmed cases of COVID-19 coronavirus in the United States, and at least 2,400 people have died from the virus.

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It is apparent that TOTUS either has no idea what his job is or he doesn’t care if he is not the center of attention. MA

By JORDAN MOREAU MARCH 29, 2020 1:21PM PT

 

UPDATE: President Donald Trump announced in a press conference Sunday afternoon that the country’s social distancing guidelines have been extended to April 30 and that the peak death rate will hit in two weeks.

“Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory has been won. Therefore we will be extending our guidelines to April 30,” he said.

Previously, Trump wanted the U.S. economy reopened by Easter Sunday, April 12, despite medical experts around the country saying that deadline would be unlikely. Trump said he hopes the country and everyone will “be well on our way to recovery” on June 1.

On Sunday morning, Trump also boasted about his growing TV ratings, while Dr. Anthony Fauci of the White House Coronavirus Task Force warned that up to 200,000 Americans could die from COVID-19.

Trump quoted an article from the New York Times that provided recent viewership statistics of his coronavirus press conferences. The article states that they have averaged 8.5 million viewers, roughly the same size as audiences for ABC’s “The Bachelor.” Last Monday’s conference drew nearly 12.2 million viewers, putting it on pace with “Monday Night Football.”

Donald J. Trump

✔@realDonaldTrump

“President Trump is a ratings hit. Since reviving the daily White House briefing Mr. Trump and his coronavirus updates have attracted an average audience of 8.5 million on cable news, roughly the viewership of the season finale of ‘The Bachelor.’ Numbers are continuing to rise…

Donald J. Trump

✔@realDonaldTrump

…On Monday, nearly 12.2 million people watched Mr. Trump’s briefing on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, according to Nielsen — ‘Monday Night Football’ numbers. Millions more are watching on ABC, CBS, NBC and online streaming sites, and the audience is expanding. On Monday, Fox News…

 

Trump went on to praise Fox News’ 6.2 million viewers, a number normally seen on hit primetime TV shows. He also quoted the New York Times article saying that a recent poll shows only 13% of Republicans trust the news media for coronavirus information. However, the president left out that the article also says that 72% of Democrats trust the media.

Donald J. Trump

✔@realDonaldTrump

Replying to @realDonaldTrump

…alone attracted 6.2 million viewers for the president’s briefing — an astounding number for a 6 p.m. cable broadcast, more akin to the viewership for a popular prime-time sitcom…

Donald J. Trump

✔@realDonaldTrump

…The CBS News poll said 13 percent of Republicans trusted the news media for information about the virus.” Michael M. Grynbaum @NYTimes

 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the lead members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, told CNN on Sunday that coronavirus could kill between 100,000 and 200,000 Americans and infect millions of people.

There are about 125,000 cases of coronavirus in the U.S. as of Sunday morning, the highest of any country in the world. At last 2,000 deaths have been reported.

Fauci also spoke about the president’s previous hope that the country’s economy will be back on track by Easter on Sunday, April 12.

“To put a time on it, I don’t know, it’s going to be a matter of weeks, it’s not going to be tomorrow and it’s certainly not going to be next week,” he said. “It’s going to be a little bit more than that.”

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“Stupid is as stupid does” applies to the administration on a regular basis. MA

Suzanne Smalley, Yahoo News

10 hrs ago

WASHINGTON — Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, says that Trump administration officials declined an offer of early congressional funding assistance that he and other senators made on Feb. 5 during a meeting to discuss the coronavirus.

The officials, including Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, said they “didn’t need emergency funding, that they would be able to handle it within existing appropriations,” Murphy recalled in an interview with Yahoo News’ “Skullduggery” podcast.

“What an awful, horrible catastrophic mistake that was,” Murphy said.

On Feb. 5, Murphy tweeted: “Just left the Administration briefing on Coronavirus. Bottom line: they aren’t taking this seriously enough. Notably, no request for ANY emergency funding, which is a big mistake. Local health systems need supplies, training, screening staff etc. And they need it now.”

Murphy told Yahoo News that the funding he and other congressional leaders wanted to allocate nearly two months ago would have paid for essential preventative measures, including hiring local screening and testing staff, researching a vaccine and treatments and the stockpiling of needed medical supplies.

“The consequences of that in Connecticut is that we’re going to test less people today than we tested yesterday,” Murphy told “Skullduggery” hosts Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman. “And that means that there are lots of people who are positive who are not going to know it, who are then going to be in contact with other people, who are going to spread the disease.”

An HHS spokesperson said that a few days before the Feb. 5 meeting, Azar had let Congress know he might need to use his “transfer authority” to fund the response to the virus. The Department was already using an Infectious Disease and Rapid Response Reserve Fund, which the spokesperson said was used to pay for CDC technical assistance, medical screening, and more lab capacity, among other things.

Connecticut is so undersupplied that officials have had to cut back on tests administered even as suspected new infections are surging, Murphy said, calling the forced reduction in testing “an abomination.”

Murphy said Connecticut has been particularly challenged in trying to build up its supply of re-agents, the compounds needed to run coronavirus tests. Re-agents are mostly manufactured abroad, and Murphy said “the whole world is competing” for them now.

 

The world is battling the COVID-19 outbreak that the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic, which has claimed more than 30,901 lives and infected more than 665,297 people around the world.

The senator said he spent part of Thursday on the phone with a lab official in Connecticut who said he cannot administer enough tests due to the re-agent shortage.

“Had we appropriated money in February to start buying re-agent, we would be in a position to do many more tests today than we are,” Murphy said. ”It was just so clear to us that the administration didn’t think this was going to be a problem. We begged them in that meeting to request emergency funding from the Congress and they told us … that they had everything that they needed on hand, which was false.”

Murphy also criticized the White House’s decision not to take coronavirus test kits offered by the World Health Organization in January, which he said was an especially devastating mistake because that test was ready to go and easily replicable. Murphy said he believes that, as a result of the administration’s testing decisions, only about 20 percent to 30 percent of people who should be tested are able to do so.

“We didn’t appropriate the dollars necessary to build out the testing infrastructure,” Murphy said.

The administration’s laissez-faire approach has also contributed to the country’s soaring infection rate, Murphy said, because Trump had resisted calls to invoke the Defense Production Act. The Defense Production Act, or DPA, allows the president to compel private companies to manufacture products deemed necessary for national security.

Trump announced Friday that he was finally invoking the DPA to force General Motors to produce badly needed ventilators. But Murphy said the president had dragged his feet in using the DPA because some of his allies pressured him against invoking it.

“The president is getting push back from right-wing ideologues, from those who believe that the private sector can fix any and all problems that confront the nation,” Murphy said.

“The national Chamber of Commerce and other conservative, free-market ideologues inside the White House are arguing for the president to not use the DPA simply because they philosophically disagree with the idea that government should play any role in the management of supplies at a time like this.”

Sabrina Fang, a spokeswoman for the Chamber of Commerce, did not respond to Yahoo News’ requests for comment.

Calling the president’s coronavirus management strategy an “abysmal failure,” Murphy said the lack of federal leadership continues to directly correlate with cities’ and states’ inability to perform enough tests and stop the disease from spreading in the U.S. He said that supply shortages have led to a “‘Lord of the Flies’ environment in which every single state and every single hospital is left to essentially fend for themselves and try to scrounge together as much equipment as they can.”

Asked what he considers to be the most important thing Trump could do to help the country turn the corner in its effort to contain the coronavirus, Murphy said the president should rethink his recent assertion that the country might be able to return to normal by Easter, which falls this year on April 12.

“What I’m most worried about right now is that the president is just going to get sort of tired of these emergency measures,” Murphy said, referring to the social distancing efforts most Americans are now undertaking. “The result will be that people will start coming out of their homes and we will end up with a health care system in absolute, catastrophic failure.”

Murphy also said he is now close to proposing legislation that will bolster coordination between the U.S, and other countries for pandemic preparedness and protection so that next time a virus emerges, leaders are better able to respond.

“There could be another one at our doorstep next spring at the same time that we’re responding to the current virus,” he said.

He also hailed the passage of a $2 trillion stimulus package late Wednesday. The package is meant to boost an economy staggering under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic and includes billions of dollars in tax credits for hard-hit industries and direct cash payments to individuals, among other provisions.

But while he said he was happy the bill would help the economy recover, “until hospitals have what they need in order to continue to respond to this … our salvation is really in all of our hands.”

“There is no danger of overreacting right now,” Murphy said. “As the number of people infected grows by leaps and bounds every single day, as more hot spots are created all across the country, we need to take drastic measures.”

He said he is gravely worried about the administration’s “mixed messages” to the public about the duration and importance of social distancing.

“Everything in that bill is meaningless,” Murphy said of the stimulus, “unless we are all personally very serious about engaging in the best practices necessary to repel the virus.”

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Did you ever wonder how the Government is supposed to work? In A nutshell: we the people select the people we think we want to represent us and hope that they will. These representatives in some cases do well for us and other times do well for themselves at our expense. How it is supposed to work is that our representatives speak for us in seeking the best deals that our tax dollars can buy! Over the years that basic premise has been subverted and lost. We (voters) have allowed it to happen by allowing ourselves to be distracted by “shiny objects” and buzzwords. The political society spends millions on getting the “correct” wording and phrasing out to the public. This careful wording is designed to coerce or persuade us to vote for them based on what they tell us rather than what they actually accomplish.

9 to 5 Comic Strip for March 28, 2020

If the last 12 years have not enlightened you as to the extent of  misrepresentation or lack of comprehensive representation we are and have been experiencing then this current emergency should serve as an “aha” moment for us all. If you are a “star Wars” fan just remember the story line from beginning to end.

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TOTUS again being his same vindictive self serving self, as I state again-Dude! it is not about you but now it is because of you! MA

By ZEKE MILLER, JILL COLVIN and DARLENE SUPERVILLE, Associated Press

10 hrs ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — After days of pleading from the nation’s governors, President Donald Trump took steps Friday to expand the federal government’s role in helping produce critically needed supplies to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Yet the president rejected any criticism for the federal government’s response to a ballooning public health crisis that a month ago he predicted would be over by now.

“We have done a hell of a job,” Trump told reporters Friday, as he sent an ominous message to state and local leaders who have been urging the federal government to do more to save lives.

“If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call,” Trump said, shortly after telling reporters: “I want them to be appreciative.”

But after days of saying such a move was not needed, Trump on Friday signed an order aimed at compelling General Motors to prioritize the production of ventilators under the Defense Production Act. Hours earlier, Trump had taken issue with the very idea that states would need an influx of the machines.

One month after predicting the U.S. was days away from being “close to zero” coronavirus cases, Trump in recent days had increasingly tried to shift the blame to state and local leaders as the spread tops more than 100,000 cases nationwide.

He lashed out at governors, continued to diminish the risk posed by the virus and insisted that the federal government was only a “backup” as he looked to avoid political costs from a pandemic that has reshaped his presidency and tested his reelection plans.

In a Thursday night interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Trump declared that Washington Gov. Jay Inslee “should be doing more” and “shouldn’t be relying on the federal government.” He dismissed New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s requests for additional ventilators to keep patients alive, saying, “I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000” of the devices, which force air into the lungs of those too sick to breathe. And he said he was still weighing Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s request for a disaster declaration, saying, “We’ve had a big problem with the young, a woman governor from, you know who I’m talking about, from Michigan.”

“You know,” he added from the White House, “we don’t like to see the complaints.”

The administration’s mantra, frequently articulated by Vice President Mike Pence, has long been that the fight against the virus must be “locally executed, state managed, and federally supported.”

But Trump appeared to show little empathy for the states’ predicament, with his emphasis skewed toward the “locally executed” portion of that trifecta.

At the same time, governors’ complaints about federal support have been mounting as state leaders grow more open to airing their frustrations, despite the perceived risks. They had faulted Trump’s refusal to use the DPA to force companies to manufacture critical supplies and his insistence that it should be up to states to purchase things like masks and testing agents on the open market. That has forced states to compete both against one another and the federal government, driving up prices, even as federal officials have pledged their help if states fail.

Whitmer, in particular, has criticized the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic –- including on national cable TV shows — saying that the federal government should do more and that Michigan’s allotment of medical supplies from the national stockpile is meager.

“It’s very distressing,” the Democratic governor told radio station WWJ. “I observed early on, like a lot of governors on both sides of the aisle, that the federal preparation was concerning. That apparently struck a nerve, and I’ve been uniquely singled out despite my voice not being the only one that observed that,” she said.

“I don’t go into personal attacks. I don’t have time for that,” she said. “I need partnership out of the federal government. We have to be all hands on deck here.”

Cuomo has also been on the forefront, some days criticizing the administration’s failure to act and at other times commending federal assistance. But the New York Democrat has remained clear that the state, which is now the epicenter of the crisis, needs many more ventilators than it has at the ready.

“That’s what the data and the science said,” Cuomo said Friday as he defended his ask for additional ventilators and issued a new request to Washington for an additional 41,000 beds in temporary hospitals.

Trump has repeatedly referred to himself as a “wartime president” — and now Cuomo and others have called on the federal government to act like it’s a war.

“What is unclear to me is why the federal administration refuses to direct industries to manufacture critical PPE,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, said Wednesday, referring to personal protective equipment. “I’m not exaggerating when I say this outrageous lack of action will result in lost lives. Including those of our health care workers.”

Inslee, also a Democrat, tweeted: “We need a national mobilization of the industrial base in this country. That’s how we won WWII. To get that, we need a president to lead. Washingtonians’ lives depend on it.”

Even as Trump has publicly doubted the need for a massive increase in ventilators, the White House has been working behind the scenes to get more of them manufactured. Disagreements burst into the open Friday when Trump lashed out at General Motors and its CEO on Twitter, alleging that the company promised to build thousands more breathing machines than it can deliver.

“As usual with ‘this’ General Motors, things just never seem to work out,” Trump wrote, adding that the company promised 40,000 ventilators quickly but now says it will build only 6,000 in late April and at a high price. He said they should reopen a now-closed factory in Lordstown, Ohio — even though that factory has been sold.

The White House later announced that Trump had signed the order aimed at forcing the company to accept and prioritize federal contracts to produce ventilators. He also named trade adviser Peter Navarro to lead the government’s production effort.

“Today’s action will help ensure the quick production of ventilators that will save American lives,” he said in a statement.

Trump also authorized Defense Secretary Mark Esper to call up an unspecified number of federal reservists to help with the coronavirus response.

He said in a letter to Congress on Friday that he had authorized Esper to order units and individual members of the Selected Reserve, as well as certain Individual Ready Reserve members, to active duty. They are separate from, and in addition to, National Guard members who have been mobilized by state governors.

The reserve call-up likely is intended to fill gaps in medical expertise as the military deploys field hospitals to cities hard hit by COVID-19 and provides other forms of medical support to state and local authorities.

Pence, meanwhile, skirted the question of whether responsibility for the outbreak should be borne by the state or federal government in an interview with CNBC.

“I think it’s a responsibility of all of us at every level to bring our very best science, our very best recommendations, our very best counsel to the American people, and to American businesses,” he said Friday.

___

Associated Press writers David Eggert in Lansing, Mich., Tom Krisher in Detroit, Andrew Selsky in Salem, Oregon and Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Wash., contributed to this report.

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UPDATED: APR 10, 2019 ORIGINAL:AUG 18, 2017

Democratic defectors, known as the “Dixiecrats,” started a switch to the Republican party in a movement that was later fueled by a so-called “Southern strategy.”

BECKY LITTLE

 

The night that Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, his special assistant Bill Moyers was surprised to find the president looking melancholy in his bedroom. Moyers later wrote that when he asked what was wrong, Johnson replied, “I think we just delivered the South to the Republican party for a long time to come.”

It may seem a crude remark to make after such a momentous occasion, but it was also an accurate prediction.

To understand some of the reasons the South went from a largely Democratic region to a primarily Republican area today, just follow the decades of debate over racial issues in the United States.

On April 11, 1968 President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights bill while seated at a table surrounded by members of Congress, Washington DC. (Credit: Warren Leffler/Underwood Archives/Getty Images)

The Republican party was originally founded in the mid-1800s to oppose immigration and the spread of slavery, says David Goldfield, whose new book on American politics, The Gifted Generation: When Government Was Good, comes out in November.

“The Republican party was strictly a sectional party, meaning that it just did not exist in the South,” he says. “The South couldn’t care less about immigration.” But it did care about preserving slavery.

After the Civil War, the Democratic party’s opposition to Republican Reconstruction legislation solidified its hold on the South.

“The Democratic party came to be more than a political party in the South—it came to be a defender of a way of life,” Goldfield says. “And that way of life was the restoration as much as possible of white supremacy … The Confederate statues you see all around were primarily erected by Democrats.”

The Dixie Democrats seceding from the Democratic Party. The rump convention, called after the Democrats had attached President Truman’s civil rights program to the party platform, placed Governor Strom Thurmond of South Carolina and Governor Fielding L. Wright of Mississippi in nomination.

Up until the post-World War II period, the party’s hold on the region was so entrenched that Southern politicians usually couldn’t get elected unless they were Democrats. But when President Harry S. Truman, a Democratic Southerner, introduced a pro-civil rights platform at the party’s 1948 convention, a faction walked out.

These defectors, known as the “Dixiecrats,” held a separate convention in Birmingham, Alabama. There, they nominated South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond, a staunch opposer of civil rights, to run for president on their “States’ Rights” ticket. Although Thurmond lost the election to Truman, he still won over a million popular votes.

It “was the first time since before the Civil War that the South was not solidly Democratic,” Goldfield says. “And that began the erosion of the southern influence in the Democratic party.”

After that, the majority of the South still continued to vote Democratic because it thought of the Republican party as the party of Abraham Lincoln and Reconstruction. The big break didn’t come until President Johnson, another Southern Democrat, signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

Govenor Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, was nominated as States’ Right candidate at the rump convention held in Birmingham on by southern recalcitrants. The Southerners took this drastic action after the Democratic convention added President Truman’s civil rights program of its party platform.

Though some Democrats had switched to the Republican party prior to this, “the defections became a flood” after Johnson signed these acts, Goldfield says. “And so the political parties began to reconstitute themselves.”

The change wasn’t total or immediate. During the late 1960s and early ‘70s, white Southerners were still transitioning away from the Democratic party (newly enfranchised black Southerners voted and continue to vote Democratic). And even as Republican Richard Nixon employed a “Southern strategy” that appealed to the racism of Southern white voters, former Alabama Governor George Wallace (who’d wanted “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever”) ran as a Democrat in the 1972 presidential primaries.

By the time Ronald Reagan became president in 1980, the Republican party’s hold on white Southerners was firm. Today, the Republican party remains the party of the South. It’s an ironic outcome considering that a century ago, white Southerners would’ve never considered voting for the party of Lincoln.

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Again TOTUS is concerned about his image and not the health of the American Citizens. Anyone in his administration who tells the truth is on the short list to be dismissed. His stream of misinformation is dangerous. MA
HuffPost

‘Where Is Dr. Fauci?’ Key Expert Missing From Coronavirus Briefing For Second Day

HuffPost

Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the nation’s touchstones for scientific wisdom amid the spread of COVID-19, was absent from the White House’s daily briefing for the second day in a row on Monday, prompting many to wonder where the nation’s top infectious disease expert was as the nation reels from the rising pandemic.

President Donald Trump spoke about the administration’s efforts to rein in the outbreak and provide personal protective equipment to some hospitals already straining under an influx of sick patients. But while the president repeated platitudes about the country soon being “stronger than ever before,” there was limited medical advice given.

Fauci, who serves as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has for many become a beacon of truth and straight talk as coronavirus continues to spread around the country, often walking back unfounded claims made by the president (the timeline of a coronavirus vaccine, for example, or the growth rate of infections).

But Fauci’s microphone has also reportedly drawn the president’s ire. The New York Times reported Monday that Trump has become frustrated with Fauci’s blunt manner and his contradicting of White House statements.

The National Institutes of Health said Monday that Fauci was still a regular part of the White House briefing schedule.

“He has been at the White House today, in fact,” a spokesperson for the NIH told HuffPost. “They are doing a rotating cast for the briefings.”

When asked about reports that Trump had become frustrated with Fauci’s no-nonsense approach to his warnings about the threat of coronavirus, the NIH directed questions to the White House.

The Trump administration did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Fauci’s appearances.

President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus as Attorney General William Barr and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, listen. (Photo: Alex Brandon/ASSOCIATED PRESS)
President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus as Attorney General William Barr and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, listen. (Photo: Alex Brandon/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, spoke about the infection rates in states around the country, saying each state would have its own disease curve to deal with. But she declined to answer repeated questions on if she agreed with Trump’s assessments that the country could soon go back to business as usual or about what kind of timeline for a return to normality that Americans should expect.

“What the president has asked us to do is assemble all the data and give us our best medical recommendation,” she said. “We’re pulling all of the data pieces right now. I will never speculate on data. I will have to see that data.”

Fauci gave an in-depth interview to Science this weekend and addressed how he had managed to remain at the White House when many, many others who have stood in Trump’s path have been fired for disagreements.

“Even though we disagree on some things, he listens,” Fauci told the scientific journal. “He goes his own way. He has his own style. But on substantive issues, he does listen to what I say.”

Trump did say Monday that he had “learned a lot” from Fauci and Birx.

“I can say I’m a student, you’re a student, we’re all in this together,” Trump said. “I’ve learned a lot from Deborah, I’ve learned a lot from Tony, from a lot of people.”

When pressed about where Fauci was on Monday, the president pledged he would be “back up very soon.”

“I was just with him for a long time,” Trump said. “He understand this is a tremendous test to our country. It was nobody’s fault; it just happened. This horrible virus came from nowhere. He fully understands that.”

“He’s a good man” the president continued. “I like Dr. Fauci a lot.”

Trump said repeatedly he was hoping to “open up” the country and its foundering economy “a lot sooner” than people were expecting. The Washington Post reported Monday that the White House was weighing calls from GOP lawmakers and advisers to scale back social distancing steps in order to kickstart the financial markets despite warnings from public health officials.

When asked what public health officials thought of the plan, including Fauci, Trump said they didn’t disagree with him, but he also alluded that measures called for by the medical community were at odds with what he considers best for the economy.

“If it were up to the doctors, they’d say let’s shut down the entire world,” Trump said, noting earlier: “I’m not looking at months. We’re going to be opening up our country. … You can’t keep it closed for years. OK? This is going away. We’re going to win the battle.”

 

This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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Stable Genius again concerned about his own image instead of the whats good for the country ergo the voters. MA

Jim Tankersley, Maggie Haberman and Roni Caryn Rabin-The New York Times

7 hrs ago

WASHINGTON — As the United States entered Week 2 of trying to contain the spread of the coronavirus by shuttering large swaths of the economy, President Trump, Wall Street executives and many conservative economists began questioning whether the government had gone too far and should instead lift restrictions that are already inflicting deep pain on workers and businesses.

Consensus continues to grow among government leaders and health officials that the best way to defeat the virus is to order nonessential businesses to close and residents to confine themselves at home. Britain, after initially resisting such measures, essentially locked down its economy on Monday, as did the governors of Virginia, Michigan and Oregon. More than 100 million Americans will soon be subject to stay-at-home orders.

Relaxing those restrictions could significantly increase the death toll from the virus, public health officials warn. Many economists say there is no positive trade-off — resuming normal activity prematurely would only strain hospitals and result in even more deaths, while exacerbating a recession that has most likely already arrived.

The economic shutdown is causing damage that is only beginning to appear in official data. Morgan Stanley researchers said on Monday that they now expected the economy to shrink by an annualized rate of 30 percent in the second quarter of this year, and the unemployment rate to jump to nearly 13 percent. Both would be records, in modern economic statistics.

Officials have said the federal government’s initial 15-day period for social distancing is vital to slowing the spread of the virus, which has already infected more than 40,000 people in the United States. But Mr. Trump and a chorus of conservative voices have begun to suggest that the shock to the economy could hurt the country more than deaths from the virus.

On Monday, Mr. Trump said his administration would reassess whether to keep the economy shuttered after the initial 15-day period ends next Monday, saying it could extend another week and that certain parts of the country could reopen sooner than others, depending on the extent of infections.

“Our country wasn’t built to be shut down,” Mr. Trump said during a briefing at the White House. “America will, again, and soon, be open for business. Very soon. A lot sooner than three or four months that somebody was suggesting. Lot sooner. We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself.”

Similar views are emanating from parts of corporate America, where companies are struggling with a shutdown that has emptied hotels, airplanes, malls and restaurants and sent the stock market tumbling so fast that automatic circuit breakers to halt trading have been tripped repeatedly. Stocks have collapsed about 34 percent since the coronavirus spread globally — the steepest plunge in decades — erasing three years of gains under Mr. Trump.

Lloyd Blankfein, the former chief executive of Goldman Sachs, wrote on Twitter that “crushing the economy” had downsides and suggested that “within a very few weeks let those with a lower risk to the disease return to work.”

Even Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, whose state has emerged as the epicenter of the outbreak in the United States, has begun publicly floating the notion that, at some point, states will need to restart economic activity and debating how that should unfold.

“You can’t stop the economy forever,” Mr. Cuomo said in a news conference on Monday. “So we have to start to think about does everyone stay out of work? Should young people go back to work sooner? Can we test for those who had the virus, resolved, and are now immune and can they start to go back to work?”

Any push to loosen the new limits on commerce and movement would contradict the consensus advice of public health officials, risking a surge in infections and deaths from the virus. Many economists warn that abruptly reopening the economy could backfire, overwhelming an already stressed health care system, sowing uncertainty among consumers, and ultimately dealing deeper, longer-lasting damage to growth.

The recent rise of cases in Hong Kong, after there had been an easing of the spread of the virus, is something of an object lesson about how ending strict measures too soon can have dangerous consequences. Yet places like China, which took the idea of lockdown to the extreme, have managed to flatten the curve.

“You can’t call off the best weapon we have, which is social isolation, even out of economic desperation, unless you’re willing to be responsible for a mountain of deaths,” said Arthur Caplan, a professor of bioethics at NYU Langone Medical Center. “Thirty days makes more sense than 15 days. Can’t we try to put people’s lives first for at least a month?”

For the last four days, some White House officials, including those working for Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the coronavirus task force, have been raising questions about when the government should start easing restrictions.

Among the options being discussed are narrowing restrictions on economic activity to target specific age groups or locations, as well as increasing the numbers of people who can be together in groups, said one official, who cautioned that the discussions were preliminary.

Health officials inside the administration have mostly opposed that idea, including Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, an infectious diseases expert and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, who has said in interviews that he believes it will be “at least” several more weeks until people can start going about their lives in a more normal fashion.

Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said the United States had learned from other countries like China and South Korea, which were able to control the spread of the virus through strict measures and widespread testing.

“Those were eight- to 10-week curves,” she said on Monday, adding that “each state and each hot spot in the United States is going to be its own curve because the seeds came in at different times.”

Dr. Birx added that the response “has to be very tailored geographically and it may have to be tailored by age group, really understanding who’s at the greatest risk and understanding how to protect them.”

Other advisers, including members of Mr. Trump’s economic team, have said repeatedly in recent months that the virus does not itself pose an extraordinary threat to Americans’ lives or the economy, likening it to a common flu season. Some advisers believe the White House overreacted to criticism of Mr. Trump’s muted actions to deal with the emerging pandemic and gave health experts too large a sway in policymaking.

On Monday, Mr. Trump echoed those concerns, saying that things like the flu or car accidents posed as much of a threat to Americans as the coronavirus and that the response to those was far less draconian.

“We have a very active flu season, more active than most. It’s looking like it’s heading to 50,000 or more deaths,” he said, adding: “That’s a lot. And you look at automobile accidents, which are far greater than any numbers we’re talking about. That doesn’t mean we’re going to tell everybody no more driving of cars. So we have to do things to get our country open.”

Trump has watched as a record economic expansion and booming stock market that served as the basis of his re-election campaign evaporated in a matter of weeks. The president became engaged with the discussion on Sunday evening, after watching television reports and hearing from various business officials and outside advisers who were agitating for an end to the shutdown.

Casey Mulligan, a University of Chicago professor who served as chief economist for Mr. Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers, said on Monday that efforts to shut down economic activity to slow the virus would be more damaging than doing nothing at all. He suggested a middle ground, one that weighs the costs and benefits of saving additional lives.

“It’s a little bit like, when you discover sex can be dangerous, you don’t come out and say, there should be no more sex,” Mr. Mulligan said. “You should give people guidance on how to have sex less dangerously.”

Many other economists say the restrictions in activity now are helping the economy in the long run, by beginning to suppress the infection rate.

“The idea that there’s a trade-off between health and economics right now is likely badly mistaken,” said Jason Furman of Harvard University, a former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama. “The thing damaging our economy is a virus. Everyone who is trying to stop that virus is working to limit the damage it does to our economy and help our eventual rebound. The choice may well be taking pretty extreme steps now or taking very extreme steps later.”

Mr. Furman and other economists have pushed Mr. Trump and Congress to ease the economic pain by offering trillions of dollars in government assistance to affected workers and businesses. As lawmakers tried to negotiate an agreement on such a bill Monday, an influential business lobbying group, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said it supported restrictions on the economy to slow the virus.

“Our view is, when it comes to how you contain the virus, you do everything the public health professionals say to contain the virus,” said Neil Bradley, the chamber’s executive vice president and chief policy officer.

The president’s suggestion that the response may be an overreaction plays into doubts already held by some Americans suffering the economic consequences. Among the self-quarantined, some have questioned the purpose of isolating themselves if the virus is already circulating widely. Students sent home from college have wondered whether they are more likely to infect higher-risk older adults at home.

Dan Patrick, Texas’ lieutenant governor, said Monday on Fox News that he was in the “high-risk pool” but would be willing to risk his life to preserve the country for his children and grandchildren.

“We are going to be in a total collapse, recession, depression, collapse in our society,” said Mr. Patrick, who turns 70 next week. “If this goes on another several months, there won’t be any jobs to come back to for many people.”

But public health officials stress that there would be consequences to ending the measures too quickly. In a tweet on Monday morning, Thomas P. Bossert, the former homeland security adviser who for weeks has been vocal about the need for the U.S. government to take stricter measures, said: “Sadly, the numbers now suggest the U.S. is poised to take the lead in #coronavirus cases. It’s reasonable to plan for the US to top the list of countries with the most cases in approximately 1 week. This does NOT make social intervention futile. It makes it imperative!”

Mr. Trump’s interest in potentially easing some of the restrictions met with pushback from one of his close allies, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who himself self-quarantined after a potential exposure. “President Trump’s best decision was stopping travel from China early on,” Mr. Graham tweeted on Monday. “I hope we will not undercut that decision by suggesting we back off aggressive containment policies within the United States.”

Health officials remain largely united in defense of sustaining the restrictions.

“There is a way to think through how and when to start reopening our economy and society, and it’s important to get this right,” said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Tom Inglesby, the director of the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, pointed to the experience of countries like Italy, which did not institute aggressive measures to stop the spread of the virus and saw infection rates and deaths soar as a result.

The United States will need “a couple weeks” to see positive effects from its measures, Dr. Inglesby said, and abandoning them would mean “patients will get sick in extraordinary numbers all over the country, far beyond what the U.S. health care system will bear.”

Reporting was contributed by Carl Hulse, David E. Sanger, Amy Harmon and Eduardo Porter.

Carl Hulse, David E. Sanger, Amy Harmon and Eduardo Porter contributed report

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