Coronavirus continues to explode in the Sun Belt. Each day brings another record case count. Thursday’s record 37,077 new cases was the highest of the entire pandemic thus far. As reported on MSNBC last night, health officials in Arkansas are predicting that their cases won’t peak until the end of September, expecting a current case count at that point of 150,000 active cases. Not total cases, but active cases. That’s a huge number. Other states like Arizona and Texas are already seeing hospitals near capacity. At the same time, Trump continues to suggest to Fox reporters and others that the culprit is not the spread of a deadly disease but rather the spread of testing. He keeps claiming that if we do less testing we will find less disease. It’s an insane, delusional assertion that at first seemed like a ploy Trump was using, but more and more it seems that he might actually believe that if he can’t see something, it doesn’t exist. Most people grasp object permanence as a toddler, but Trump may have skipped over it.
As Sam Baker and Andrew Witherspoon wrote in Axios:
The U.S. today is getting closer to the worst-case scenario envisioned in the spring — a nationwide crisis, made worse by a vacuum of political leadership, threatening to overwhelm hospitals and spread out of control.
Trump supporters, bolstered by Fox and other right wing hate media, harbor bizarre and grotesque conspiracy theories that masks kill people, that Covid is caused by 5G cellphones, that Covid death totals are phony, that mask wearing is against Jesus, and so on. It’s horrifying that we live among so many people for whom science and reason and logic and evidence are an untrustworthy threat to their superstitions and prejudices. This won’t change until Fox and other outlets are starved of their ad revenue. But for now, in the catastrophic leadership vacuum created by Trump, mask wearing remains the single best weapon we have to fight the virus.
While Covid rages, Trump’s regime and Republican state attorney generals are actively trying to invalidate the ACA and strip 20 million Americans of health coverage. They filed briefs with the Supreme Court yesterday. Their lawsuit states that because one part of the ACA was ruled invalid (after that part was altered by Republican lawmakers expressly to ruin its legality) then the entire act should be invalidated. It’s absurd, and should be rejected by the courts, but nothing in the Trump era is predictable.
One thing is certain: Bill Barr is corrupt. A new blockbuster report in the NY Times last night detailed how Barr tried to meddle in cases involving Trump and his friends that were being investigated by the Southern District of New York. One of those cases was the hush-money case involving Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. Why was Michael Cohen the only one charged, when we know that Trump was involved, as well as Trump’s accountant and Donald Jr? Turns out, Barr spent weeks pushing the SDNY to limit the scope of the prosecution to Cohen. Barr even tried to get prosecutors to drop or lower charges against Cohen. This, in itself, was an abuse of power and, in a sane world with a functioning Congress, should have resulted in the impeachment of Barr. His tenure as Attorney General has been such a stain on the office, such a disgraceful perversion of justice and subversion of the rule of law, that it’s hard to overstate. Most of the norms, traditions and ethics of the Department of Justice have been destroyed and wiped away by AG Barr, and though his actions might not rise to the level of criminal conduct, they certainly rise to the level of unethical conduct that betrayed Barr’s oath of office, and they create the strong appearance of a conflict of interest and a biased and uneven application of justice. This eats at the very core of who we are as a nation. A fair system of justice is the backbone of a healthy democracy. Without it, we’re doomed.
Trump supporters have long seen Trump as a competent businessman (even though he bankrupted six casinos and multiple other businesses) rather than a playboy real estate heir, and Trump energetically defends that false myth. So it’s no surprise that Trump is now angry at ex-Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. Fiorina, a Republican, ran for president in the primary against Trump and eventually voted for Trump in the general election. But now Fiorina has joined a growing list of business leaders declaring support for Joe Biden, describing Trump’s behavior as “destructive to the republic.” Fiorina said:
I am encouraged that Joe Biden is a person of humility and empathy and character. I think he’s demonstrated that through his life. And I think we need humility and empathy everywhere in public life right now. And I think character counts.
The election is only 130 days away. Keep resisting Trump and do what you can to help register voters and motivate them, especially in swing states, so we can “vote his ass out of office.”
Have a safe, restful and relaxing weekend.