Open thread March 10, 2020 Dan Crawford | April 10, 2020 5:09 pm Tags: open thread Comments (4) | Digg Facebook Twitter |
“Iran, Libya, Venezuela to be exempt from obligation to cut oil output”
I will leave as an “exercise for the student” to determine the amplitude of the laugh.
Yes, before the GOP learned how to win elections from George Wallace the President was actually the President of the entire country.
“He Was “Their” President, Too
Friday’s required reading came from Susan Glasser at The New Yorker, who has done us all a profound favor by keeping all the receipts. You should read the whole thing, as the kidz say, but it’s worth it if only for this one remarkable paragraph.
‘Independent reporting has corroborated what Ries and other volunteers saw for themselves: “a fragmented procurement system now descending into chaos,” as the Associated Press put it. The news agency found that not a single shipment of medical-grade N95 masks arrived at U.S. ports during the month of March. The federal government was not only disorganized; it was absent. Federal agencies waited until mid-March to begin placing bulk orders for the urgently needed supplies, the A.P. found. The first large U.S. government order to the big U.S. producer 3M, for a hundred and seventy-three million dollars’ worth of N95 masks, was not placed until March 21st—the same day that Ries got his first phone call about the Kushner effort. The order, according to the A.P., did not even require the supplies to be delivered until the end of April, far too late to help with the thousands of cases already overwhelming hospitals.’
The situation within the supply chain was equally dire. Private citizens stepped up and volunteered, but many did so believing that their efforts were simply stopgaps until the federal government stepped in to do what everyone expected the federal government to do.
There was a rush to help before early April, when deaths were predicted to peak in New York City and hospitals would potentially be overwhelmed in other hot spots around the country. But there was also a sense of disbelief: Where was the U.S. government? One of the volunteers kept saying, “There’s no way we should be doing this alone,” remembered Jennifer Pahlka, who founded the tech group Code for America, served as deputy chief technology officer in the Obama White House, and is now helping with a coronavirus-relief group, U.S. Digital Response, which advised the PPE Coalition. “In our community, we have sweatshirts and T-shirts and stickers that say, ‘No one is coming. It’s up to us.’ It’s really hard when they actually realize that’s true. It’s terrifying.” For ten days running, Ries was told that the Federal Emergency Management Agency would step in and take charge of distributing critical supplies, directing them to where they were most needed, but, as far as he could tell, it never happened.
Later, Glasser touches on a scandal that is becoming increasingly obvious, and something that was unthinkable four years ago—namely, that the administration* is using vital, life-saving equipment as a cruel kind of patronage. States were forced to bid against each other, and then against the federal government itself, for Personal Protective Equipment and ventilators.
Then, strange tales began to bubble up about how certain states found that supplies they had ordered had been hijacked by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and sent off somewhere else. Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo has been tracking this phenomenon and, while he admits that there is no definitive proof that the administration* has been doling out vital medical supplies the way mayors used to hand out jobs on city road crews, he sees the smoke and suspects the fire. He cites a curious case from New York.
It’s worth noting that one of these cases was some unnamed friend of Trump reaching out about a shortage in the public hospital system in New York City. Trump gave it to Jared and suddenly a shipment was on the way. They talked up this story in that press briefing where Jared was the special guest. In this case it was New York City – a bad guy city in the world of Trumpdom and also the epicenter of the crisis. So, great they got a delivery. But the way it happened illustrates the story. It seems similar to Rep. Zeldin on Long Island. He’s a top White House sycophant. That allows him to open up a channel directly to Jared and he gets stuff for his county.
A similar situation seems to have arisen in Colorado, where Democratic Governor Jared Polis beseeched the administration* for supplies, but the administration* ignored the pleas until they came from Cory Gardner, a Republican senator who is better-than-even money to lose this November. This enraged, among thousands of other people, the editors of the Denver Post, who checked the ol’ bag o’ fcks and found it empty.
President Donald Trump is treating life-saving medical equipment as emoluments he can dole out as favors to loyalists. It’s the worst imaginable form of corruption — playing political games with lives. For the good of this nation during what should be a time of unity, he must stop…
Trump had only days before prevented Colorado Gov. Jared Polis from securing 500 ventilators from a private company, instead, taking the ventilators for the federal government. Polis sent a formal letter pleading for medical equipment, but the president took the time to make clear he was responding to a request from Gardner. We are left to believe that if Colorado didn’t have a Republican senator in office, our state would not be getting these 100 ventilators. How many ventilators would we be getting if we had a Republican governor and a second Republican senator? Would that indicate we had more Republican lives in our state worth saving for Trump and resources would start flowing?
This would be unimaginable if this weren’t 2020, and if it weren’t so completely imaginable.
It was a different presidency in 1918, when the influenza pandemic swept the world. Woodrow Wilson slow-played the details of the pandemic despite the fact that he probably caught a bad case of it in Versailles as he negotiated the treaty that ended World War I. His previous assaults on the Bill of Rights ensured that details about how thoroughly the pandemic had infiltrated the American troops that were crossing the Atlantic were kept from the citizens who found themselves with the flu that came with the returning troops. But, in 1918, the idea that the president had some sort of overall public-health responsibility was foreign to most Americans and politicians. They expected nothing from Wilson, and he delivered precisely that. This was true even in the District of Columbia, which was the ostensible ward of the federal government itself.
Two days later, [District Commissioner] Brownlow met with Surgeon General Rupert Blue to discuss the problem of the massive influx of war workers entering Washington, D.C. Brownlow, [Health Officer Dr. D.C.] Fowler, and some congressional representatives wanted the city closed to outsiders until the epidemic had passed, as the sheer number of newcomers was causing congestion on the mass transit lines and in housing. Federal authorities denied the request, which they argued was impossible to enforce. Instead, they asked the Civil Service Commission to stop calling war workers to Washington, D.C. until after the danger of the epidemic had passed.
The federal government closed its own institutions—the Library of Congress, and the congressional galleries—but it took a pass on everything else. This ambivalence contributed to a brutal death toll in the District. Almost 3,000 people living there died of the flu, a death rate of 608 per 100,000 citizens. Since then, of course, we’ve started to expect more of the presidency. We expect the president to demonstrate command at times of national crisis. They go to inspect hurricane damage and tornado damage, wandering through the wreckage and talking to stunned survivors. They stand on piles of rubble and shout through bullhorns. They go to a wounded church and sing “Amazing Grace.”
If there was a modern turning point, it probably came on September 9, 1965, when Hurricane Betsy slammed into Louisiana, killing 75 people and drowning New Orleans. The Louisiana legislative delegation, including the influential Senator Russell Long, appealed to Lyndon Baines Johnson to come down and show the battered city and its residents that the national government cared about them. Long managed to convince Johnson, and they all flew to New Orleans together.
Arriving at the airport, LBJ found that there was no electricity for the microphones, so he simply shouted his remarks.
‘I am here because I want to see with my own eyes what the unhappy alliance of wind and water have done to this land and to its good people. And when I leave today to go back to Washington you can be sure that the federal government’s total resources, with the help of the fine Louisiana Delegation, will be turned toward helping this state and its citizens find its way back from this tragedy.’
The presidential traveling party moved along to a facility in which refugees had taken shelter. Many of them were African American. Somebody gave Johnson a megaphone and he told them,
“My name is Lyndon Baines Johnson. I am your president. I am here to make sure you have the help you need!”
People cried out for water, and he responded by knuckling the people at Coca Cola to deliver it, as well as a supply of their own product. He had brought the office of the president down to people who had lost everything, demonstrating that he was “their” president, too. In 1964, Louisiana had voted for Barry Goldwater. On that night a year later, it didn’t matter to the president of the United States who was on his side. He was on theirs.”
BTW, I heartily recommend that you should sign up for Charles Pierce’s reporting. It is like $2/month, and includes a non published column every week iin the form of an email (like the one above I received.
Simply the best political reporter in the country.
And here I sit a Logistics/Purchasing guy with decades of experience planning and handling healthcare supplies, automotive, electronics, etc. components globally. I solved these problems for major companies with upper management who never got their hands dirty. Such fun.
When the poor side of American towns start to resemble New Delphi, with kids with bowls begging for food in the streets, one way to reach them instantly might be to double everyone’s allotment of food stamps for a month or two (including in mid-month) on the assumption that neighbor will help neighbor in that extreme.