The appearances by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on his brother Chris Cuomo's CNN show have generally be informative, interesting and occasionally a bizarre hoot between two brothers. Yesterday, a friend asked if I'd seen the segment, so I told me about it. I tracked it down and -- even knowing everything they'd be discussing -- it was a loopy joy. I can only imagine watching and not knowing. Seeing Andrew Cuomo struggling to remain serious as always and failing is worth it alone.
Trump is scheduled to visit a Ford ventilator factory on Thursday. You might want to keep an eye on this, since there might be an interesting conflict ahead.
Ford spokesperson Rachel McCleery says Trump will have to wear a mask like everyone.
“Our policy is that everyone where's PPE to prevent the spread of COVID-1," she said, "We shared all of Ford’s safety protocols, including our manufacturing playbook, employee pamphlet and self-assessment survey with the White House ahead of time and in preparation for this trip.”
So, unlike Pence insisting that he supposedly didn't know that wearing face masks at the Mayo Clinic were necessary (despite him being head of the coronavirus task force) or Trump reusing the wear a face mask when visiting a face mask factory (despite there being a warning sign on the wall), the White House has clearly been informed ahead of time.
Now, it's very possible -- if not perhaps even probable -- that Trump will still refuse to wear a mask and go into the factor anyway. If so, unlike those other occasions, the White House is on record as having been informed of the requirement, so they can't use the Pence excuse, "We didn't know."
The problem therefore for him refusing is that he says he's now taking hydroxychloroquine. And this is sensitive medical equipment.
On the other hand, Ford did make it public and likely did so for a reason.
But then, this is Trump. So who knows what he’d do at the last minute when they get there?
My guess is no cameras allowed inside. Or the trip gets cancelled.
If you missed last night's Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, his Main Story was a fun but important one about sports -- the efforts to bring them back to the public and the hurdles to be faced that are much greater than would seem on the surface. It's a good look at the subject and much more fun than some of the recent pieces.
I only have two quibbles about the story. The first is that it references announcers, but doesn't include some of the funny videos (like several posted here) that professional announcers have made by doing play-by-play coverage of ordinary events. And the other is that there's no mention of perhaps the most-prominent return of sports that has, thus far, taken place -- that of Korean baseball, which ESPN has been broadcasting.
That aside, it's a good and funny report
I thought this might interest to folks here -- and elsewhere, for that matter. Even if it turns out the results aren't substantive, it seems positive, interesting news that has gotten zero attention on TV – for something SO easy with zero downside. And unlike many stories we've seen about “benefits,” this comes from a highly-respectable source, Trinity College in Dublin. And something that’s part of an absolutely normal regimen.
It came from an article I read yesterday yesterday in Science Daily (and when doing a search to follow-up for more, it’s been covered in a lot of publications). The report is that taking Vitamin D appears to have some benefits in treating the coronavirus. It isn’t confirmed in tests, but the researchers at Trinity College say there’s is a great deal of evidence pointing to it. Not in terms of being a cure, though beneficial. They recommend 400 IU a day – and most, basic, one-a-day multi-vitamin tablets provide 700 IU. This may have no benefit, of course, but then since all one is doing is taking a normal multi-vitamin there would seem to have quite literally no downside. Unlike...well, you know.
What surprises me is that this has gotten no coverage at all on TV, though since it’s a very new story it might take a few days. I would think they’ll start mentioning it eventually.
Here’s the opening of the article and a jump to a later paragraph on some conclusions --
Researchers from Trinity College Dublin are calling on the government in Ireland to change recommendations for vitamin D supplements.
You can read the full article here, and of course can do a search for others.
This may be the worst, most dangerous and telling quote from Trump. (Not to worry, I'm sure he'll sink below it at some point, but it's a pretty low standard.) It came on Friday --
“I feel about vaccines like I feel about tests: This is going to go away without a vaccine. It’s going to go away, and we’re not going to see it again, hopefully, after a period of time.”
As of late Monday there, there are 81,895 dead Americans from the coronavirus. And 1,385,834 millions Americans are reported have been infected. That quote from Trump explains a lot.
When I wrote about this on social meeting, a friend wrote back a very reasonable reply -- "If there's a strategy behind him making these baseless optimistic predictions," he said, "I'm just not seeing it. These kinds of statements aren't going to win him votes, particularly when they don't come true. So why....
In the rational world, that's a completely reasonable response of bewilderment. Why on earth would someone -- anyone, but especially someone in a position of responsibility even consider saying something so...well, bizarre and dangerous?
The only truly honest answer is -- Who knows??? However, one thing I've noticed from Trump is that he lives in the world of "forced optimism." Everything will be great, beautiful, the best ever in just a few weeks. Such a sentiment seems to exist largely to convince others, but I sense he sort of believes it, too. Creating a protective cocoon around himself to create a safe Trump World bubble. It's why He Alone Can Fix It. Everything's great, he knows best, he knows more than the generals, he knows the best words, he knows the best people. It will all go away soon like a miracle. And if you say this over and over, people will not only believe you, but will forget it when life moves on and he next does something screwy.
So, in part, I think he actually, truly, bizarrely believes some of this. He has made clear that doesn't believe in science, doesn't believe in Climate Change, doesn't believe this infectious disease would spread, it'll all be okay and go away soon. No vaccines are needed, because (despite what he later said in public) in private away from the cameras he believes it really is just like the flu. He really does believe that drinking bleach and injecting disinfectant and high-powered UV rays inside a body can cure the coronavirus.
And yes, it's insane.
There were reports from the White House that Trump was very upset about the tests showing people around him were positive. But it wasn't that he was upset that people were infected -- but that the tests showed that they were infected. That's why he doesn't like tests. And as ludicrous as this analysis for the report sounds -- Trump told us on Friday that it's true -- "I feel about vaccines like I feel about tests: This is going to go away without a vaccine."
There is no infectious disease in history that I know of that went away without a vaccine -- unless it spread around the world until finally dying out from herd immunity. The Black Death killed an estimated 25 million people in Europe...which is A LOT, but even more when you consider the population at the time: that was about one-third of the continent's population.
And Trump says he feels about testing the same as he does about not vaccinating people Which also explains his bewildered statement about how Mike Pence's press security could be tested negative, only to be later tested positive.
This from the man who said the CDC doctors were so impressed by how much he understood about the coronavirus and that maybe he could be a doctor. He doesn't even understand how you can be health one day and then sick the next.
And he not only says he doesn't feel that a vaccine is necessary during an infectious worldwide pandemic, he says he feels the same about testing -- that it isn't necessary. That it will all be gone like a miracle. Something he also said back in February when he there were only 15 cases. So, he really, truly does actually seem to believe this. Perhaps a laying of the hands is all that's needed.
(Though socially-distanced, of course.)
From what I've read (and think myself), a great many experts have the sense that Trump hasn't wanted to test Americans en masse because it will show how many people are infected in reality, and that will hurt him politically. But it appears that another reasons exists, as well -- that he actually doesn't think testing is necessary. Nor vaccinations.
And yes, it's insane.
And so he wants to open up the economy.
He can't even open up the White House.
Indeed, consider: today, as the administration pushes to open up businesses, there is a hearing in senate of the health sub-committee. All four of the administration witnesses will be testifying remotely. Because three of them are self-quarantining. And the Republican chairman of the committee, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) will also be chairing the hearing remotely -- because he, too, is self-quarantining.
And this is before the Senate health committee as the administration is trying to make its case to open up the economy!!
And I'm going to guess that not only are none of those people involved who are self-quarantining taking bleach or disinfectant. Nor did Trump suggest to them that they do.
But then, this is not about Trump, we very sadly and all too tragically know who he is. This is about the elected members of the Republican Party, who enable him and not only are complicit...but many of whom have already self-quarantined. And continue to enable him.
The other day, a woman got very upset at Costco for not allowing her in one of their stores because of their requirement that customers much wear a face mask. She was so bothered, that she wrote about her great displeasure on the Costco Facebook page.
Instead of posting the Tweet, I've taken a couple of screenshots and edited them together. That's because not only was their response to her very polite and brilliant, but it provoked a reply from someone else, and the Costco follow-up response was a polite gem, as well.
Personally, I think that the person handling the Costco Facebook page deserves a raise. My biggest hope, though, is that the person doesn't get fired.
Because I post pretty bluntly on social media and also respond when I see some especially-offensive post if it's received enough "Likes" for "Retweets" to make it worth my time, that means I also get a lot of replies back -- though not all the time -- and get into my share of annoying "conversations."
I try to be as polite as possible -- for several reasons -- though politeness is rarely returned. Rarely, as in "pretty much never."
I don't keep up the exchanges for very long, enough to make and repeat my point, maybe respond to their latest attempt once or twice, and then saying goodbye because life is too short. But as short as the exchanges may be, it's still wearying -- not for their anger and name-calling, not for their point of view, but mostly for their almost-literal inability to accept reality.
But something else occurred to me last night, much more clearly and focused than what rumbles through me when I respond. And I thought it would be good and healthy not only to vent here, but more importantly to have a place I can link to the next time one of those back-and-forths begins, since Twitter only allows for 188 characters.
And this is the point...in case any of them are reading this --
Don't you understand? You can't win this argument. It's not possible. It's not because you don't have logic, truth and reality on your side -- you don't, but that's not the reason. It's because Trump is president. He's in charge of all this. And there are, as of this writing on May 6, 2020, and there are 76,227 Americans who are dead right now. And that's the number we know of, that's been repeated. Since there isn't much testing, the number is likely much higher. And it's going to get higher still -- that horrific number might seem even paltry by the time you read this months from now. So, whatever argument you make that you think is brilliant, whatever nasty smears you through at others you disagree with, in the end, those two facts remain, and will always remain -- Trump is president and responsible for all the actions taken by the United States after he learned of the coronavirus being here (whatever date you wish to choose -- November when the intelligence service learned of it, early-January when records show Trump was told, mid-February when he says he found out, you pick, it doesn't matter), and as of May 7, 2020, there are 76,415 dead Americans,
You can't "win" an argument on Trump and the coronavirus pandemic with that is your starting foundation.
Of course, there is much, much more that makes your attempt to defend Trump and smear the "damn libs" am empty, lost cause. For instance, as much as you want to think and shout what a great job Trump has done, and it's all China's fault, and it's New York State's fault, and Massachussett's fault, and all the Blue States' fault, and Dr. Fauci's fault, and Barack Obama's fault, and perhaps George Washington's fault, just a few things about Trump that come to mind that make your arguments unwinnable are --
Trump was informed about the coronavirus and risk of a pandemic in January, at the very latest, but dismissed the information as it just being like "the flu" and took no action for almost two months.
Trump's administration ignored the Obama Transition Team, who advised him on pandemics when they met before Trump became president. And there are documents that prove this.
Trump closed the Pandemic Response Unit in 2018.
Trump didn't renew $8.5 BILLION in CDC budget that was meant specifically for use in dealing with infectious diseases.
Trump fired the CDC expert on infectious diseases, Dr. Linda Quick, who was actually stationed literally in China on July, 2019. Only four months before the coronaviruis broke out.
Trump claims that he saved lives by closing our borders to China -- except he did not do that. He only closed the border to Chinese nationals wanting to come to the U.S. Any Americans in China and any approved travelers in China were free to fly back to the United States -- as if they couldn't have possibly become infected when in China... -- and 420,000 travelers returned here from China...and none of them were tested!! Further, studies are showing that it's likely most of the early coronavirus came into the United States from Europe (which had already gotten infected by their residents who'd been in China), and no travel from Europe to the U.S. was blocked.
Trump has claimed that the cupboard was bare of PPEs when he took office, but not only is that not remotely true, Journalists visited the national strategic stockpile in 2016, and validated that it was fully stocked. But even if it was "empty, Trump had three threes to replenish it -- but (if it was bare) did nothing. And as much as Trump claims it's President Barack Obama's fault to not have a test for COVID-19 -- there was no COVID-19 virus in the world when he was president, so it literally was not possible to have a test for something that didn't exist.
Trump promised there would be 27 million tests by the end of March. But by the beginning of May, only about 5.5 million Americans had been tested. In a nation of 325 million people.
Trump had the ability to enable the Defense Production Act and order companies to make the desperately-needed N95 face masks and ventilators and PPE -- and never has done so. (Indeed the only time he enabled the Act was to order meatpacking companies back to work -- a disastrous decision putting all those workers and their town at great risk, as records showed, which shut them down in the first place.)
And none of this even includes Trump's suggestion that we test bleach, disinfectant, high-power UV rays and hydrochloroquine as treatments -- all of which can KILL you.
You cannot "win" an argument on Trump doing everything wonderfully and bearing no responsibility for his utterly irresponsible action. It's just not possible. Any one of these mistakes above are disastrous. Pick one, any one. And that's without putting them all together.
The one saving grace that Trump cultist defenders think they have is to blame China. It's China's fault. It's all China. China did it. To be sure, China has much to answer for, and they will in the world community. But -- we know China is at fault. The issue, though, is that it's Trump's JOB to protect the United States when there is a threat from outside. That's his first and foremost responsibility when swearing his oath -- number one -- "to preserve, protect and defend." So, whoever "caused" the pandemic initially -- it was Trump's JOB to keep the country safe after that fact.
We know that Japan attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor and we know that Germany started World War II by attacking our allies and then made us their enemy. If Franklin Roosevelt had just spent his time shouting, "It's Germany fault, it's Japan's fault!!!!!" over and over again -- he's have been 100% right. But if he did nothing to protect and defend the United States at that point, while shouting it, we'd be speaking German and Japanese right now as our national language. Whoever caused the problem, it's the president's job to fight it off and defend the nation.
China is where the coronavirus began. But if Trump hadn't done all those mind-numblingly horrific misdeeds after misdeeds after misdeeds above, and had also listened to the Obama Transition Team and prepared, we could have been spared a 1.36 MILLION infections and 76,415 deaths -- as of May 7 -- and spared shutting down the economy and 33 million new Americans unemployed. As of May 7.
So, the one prayerful defense of Trump that his cultists cling to, that has no merit either. Because it's Trump's JOB to protect the country against whatever outside "attack" comes our way, whether it's an army, terrorist or a virus.
And here's the thing, too --
In late February, Trump said that there were only 15 cases and in just a few days there will be 2-3 cases and then soon it will be gone like a miracle.
In mid-April, Trump than changed and said, "Now we’re going toward 50, I’m hearing, or 60,000 people.”
Then, in late-April, he changed again, and this time said, "I'm hearing 74,000."
A few days ago, in early May, once more Trump changed, and said "it could be 100,000."
Here's the deal -- we're over 76,000 on May 6. And deaths are increasing by 1,500-2,000 a day. Even it something remarkable happens, and deaths plummet to a "mere" horrific 1,000 a day...we will be at 100,000 deaths by the end of May! If the low-end of that likely range occurs, though, we'll be at 100,000 deaths in just two weeks.
And deaths will tragically keep rising, and then there will be a second wave.
So, the question for Trump supporters is -- how many more deaths when we hit 100,000 will it take before you say, "Hmmm, well, this isn't good. Shouldn't our government be doing something"? At the very least, how many more deaths over 100,000 will it take you to say, "Gee, Trump said it would be zero, gone like a miracle, and he keeps changing his prediction higher and higher and higher, I don't think he actually knows what he's talking about"?
And by the way, "This is no worse than the flu" doesn't cut it either. The general average of flu deaths every year is around 20-30,000. Only a few few times have we ever hit 60,000 flu deaths in a year. We'll be at 100,000 coronavirus deaths by the end of May. And the end isn't in sight.
But more to the point -- in flu season, we don't wear face masks, don't social distance from one another, don't shelter-at-home, don't close down businesses. Life goes on as normal. We are doing that now, with the coronavirus -- and even Trump is now saying it will be 100,000. But all serious scientists and experts said from the first that without face masks, social distancing, sheltering at home and closing businesses (like how we live during flu season)...there could probably be between 1-2 MILLION deaths. This Is Not Like the Flu.
Let me repeat -- This is Not Like the Flu.
All of which finally brings us to the last and only remain attempt at a defense by the Trump cultists -- that they don't believe any of this. That it's all a hoax. It's fake news from the Main Street Media. That all those stories about the disastrous mistakes made are not true. That the number of infections and deaths are not truth. It's not true, it's not true, it's not true.
The problem with this "argument" that is akin to one make by a four-year-old child is that, of course, it's all true. It's reality. It's science.
You may not believe the science, but science isn't a belief system. You may not believe the reality, but reality isn't a belief system either. It's reality.
Just because you don't believe reality doesn't make it not true. When you close your eyes in the daytime, it doesn't become night just because it's now looks dark. When someone points a gun at you, it's still pointed at you no matter how much you say to yourself over and over that it isn't. If you don't believe there is a cliff ahead, but there is and you speed your car towards it -- you will go over the ledge and plummet all the way to the bottom, crashing in a fiery inferno, whether you believe it is happening or not.
Not believing reality does not make it true. It makes you ignorant. And when that reality is all around you, pounding at you every day, and you knowingly refuse to accept it, willful ignorance is no virtue. Worse, in this case, in a pandemic, it can kill you. And your ignorance can kill others.
And all this is why any argument to defend Trump and blame "damn libs" and the media and China and whoever you want is not possible to "win." Because reality always wins. That's what makes it reality.
But if all that is too much reality pounding down on you and your carefully crafted tin-foil hat to protect, we can simplify it all and go back to the very beginning --
You cannot "win" this argument because Trump is president and in charge of protecting the country, and as of May 7, 2020, there are 76,415 Americans who have died when Trump said there were only 15 cases, and it would all be gone soon "like a miracle."
You cannot win your argument. It is not possible. So, do the next best thing and accept reality and help protect your country from a deadly pandemic. But if you can't even do that, at least get out of the way and let everyone else do so.
There is so much information and sensory overload pounding us from all directions every day that it is impossible to say that "one thing" stands out the most about the Trump administration near-criminal mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic. But -- if one image can come as close as anything to explain the Trump disaster, it was today. That's when Trump went to Arizona tour a factory making face masks to protect the public from spreading the virus and Trump did not wear a face mask.
And further, making it even worse (if that's possible) in order not to show him up, the other officials there with him were not wearing face masks either. Indeed, the only people at the factory who were wearing protective face masks were the workers, who were smart enough. And also because they were probably required to, since without face masks it's too dangerous. And they could all risk infection and death.
(Fun Fact: There was indeed a sign on the wall in clear view which read -- "Attention: Face Mask Required in this Area. Thank You!")
What's so iconic and sickening about Trump not wearing a face mask when touring a factory making face masks is not just that it's so selfish and thoughtless and foolish and egomaniacal (suggesting that he knows better that scientists and experts) and dangerous to others around him, forced to put their own health at risk -- but also, perhaps worst of all, it sends a disastrous message to the Trump cultists who believe everything he does and who think the coronavirus science is not a problem and who see the president without a face mask which says to them that face masks aren't necessary and they don't have to wear one either.
By the way, if wearing face masks wasn't especially important, why on earth were they touring a factory that made face masks in the first place?
And yes, it can't be missed that the song, "Live and Let Die" was playing over the loudspeaker at the time. I don't know if it was intentional or kismet. But it was too perfect.
Yesterday, ABC aired an interview their reporter David Muir did with Trump , and two passages stood out. In the first --
MUIR: "Do you believe the reality is that lives will be lost to reopen the economy?"
TRUMP: "It's possible there will be some,
It's "possible"??? No, it is absolutely dead certain there will be some. (And yes, pun intended.) There are already almost 73,000 deaths from the coronavirus. Unless Trump believes that all such deaths will stop immediately, there will absolutely and unquestionably be more deaths as the economy reopens. Trump himself the other day changed his ever-changing goalposts and ratcheted up the possible number of deaths to maybe 100,000. So, again, no, it's not "possible" there will be some. There definitely will be.
And the other passage comes from a wonderful question asked by Muir. One of the better questions I've seen from a reporter during this pandemic.
MUIR: "You're three years into your term. What did you do when you became president to restock those cupboards that you say are bare?
TRUMP: "Well, I'll be honest, uh, I have a lot of things going on."
Forget for the moment that the cupboards were not bare, and that that has just been another Trump lie to shift blame from him -- this was just an absolutely great question to address the lie without calling it one.
"I have a lot of things going on." Hey, guy, that's the job! He goes on to explain some of those "things," which are all basically dealing with the various "hoaxes" that Democrats foisted on him -- Russia, Ukraine, impeachment. None of which (even if that was remotely, bizarrely true) answers the question. Because the implication is that (even if true) he was too busy to do anything. But I'm sure if he was asked, Trump could rattle off all of what he believes are his achievements -- which says he had time to do all that. So, why not restock those cupboards he has insisted were bare? "Jared, restock the cupboards with ventilators and PPEs." Or give the job to anyone if Jared was too busy trying to get a loan to keep his family business afloat, like asking the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Or the Secretary of Homeland Security. Or the Defense Secretary. Or some intern. The question took five seconds. (Okay, in the real world it would take longer. But it wouldn't take significantly much longer for Trump, since all he had to do is delegate the job!)
But, no, "I have a lot of things going on." Yes, much the same answer I believe FDR said when the U.S. armed services were understaffed as World War II neared. If only he had taken the report from the Truman Commission and pushed America hard to readiness, things would have turned out so much diff... Oh, yeah, right, that's what he actually did.
All of which brings us back to that iconic image for Trump's catastrophic mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic -- touring a factory for face masks without wearing a face mask.
But at least he wore goggles.
Robert J. Elisberg is a two-time recipient of the Lucille Ball Award for comedy screenwriting. He's written for film, TV, the stage, and two best-selling novels, is a regular columnist for the Writers Guild of America and was for the Huffington Post. Among his other writing, he has a long-time column on technology (which he sometimes understands), and co-wrote a book on world travel. As a lyricist, he is a member of ASCAP, and has contributed to numerous publications.
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