Saturday, February 29, 2020


Trump continues to be in denial about how serious the coronavirus crisis could become, continues to lie, and continues to blame the Dems and media for his own failure

Trump Didn’t Just Botch the Coronavirus Response. He Enabled Its Spread.
The first time Trump's team had to deal with COVID-19, it made a critical mistake—with a cost

[NB: It's an old trick -- when you screw up and your opponents criticize you for it, you blame THEM for taking political advantage of a bad situation that you created.]

For Trump, Coronavirus Is a Public Relations Issue
According to three sources who have independently discussed the crisis with him in the last three weeks, Trump has appeared preoccupied with his theory that liberals and the press were attempting to use coronavirus to make him “look bad” prior to the November election. . . .
“President Trump on Friday night tried to cast the global outbreak of the coronavirus as a liberal conspiracy intended to undermine his first term, lumping it alongside impeachment and the Mueller investigation” . . . Said Trump: “The Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. They’re politicizing it. They don’t have any clue . . .” Then Trump called the coronavirus “their new hoax.” 

There is no bottom to their malevolence
Don Jr.: Democrats "hope coronavirus comes here and kills millions" to end my dad's winning streak

Blaming the messenger
Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney acknowledged that the coronavirus is likely to cause disruptions to everyday life, such as school closures and changes to public transportation, Bloomberg reports. Said Mulvaney: “Are you going to see some schools shut down? Probably. Maybe see impacts on public transportation? Sure, but we do this. We know how to handle this.” He added: “Really what I’d like to do today to calm the markets is tell people to turn their televisions off for 24 hours.” Mulvaney also claimed that the media is only covering the virus because they believe doing so will “take down the president.” 


Here's the precise moment when Dr. Anthony Fauci ended up on Trump's s--t list 

Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) on Friday said the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was told to "stand down" and not appear on five Sunday morning talk shows to discuss the coronavirus . . . "I can repeat what he said, he said, 'I was not muzzled. However, I was to go on the Sunday talk shows five of them. The vice president’s office then took over the control of this situation, and told me to stand down, not to do those shows,'" Garamendi said, quoting Fauci. 

So VP Pence is supposedly "heading up" the coronavirus response (giving Trump someone else to blame if it goes badly). But you couldn't tell it from his schedule
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee told Fox & Friends that President Trump didn’t get enough credit for what he’s done to halt the spread of coronavirus. Said Huckabee: “He could personally suck the virus out of every one of the 60,000 people in the world, suck it out of their lungs, swim to the bottom of the ocean and spit it out, and he would be accused of pollution for messing up the ocean.”

A question of priorities, part two
In Midst Of Two Crises, Trump Meets With Diamond And Silk

[NB: They like me! And they're black! Therefore, blacks should like me!]  

Trump is lackadaisical about the coronavirus, but it's ALL HANDS ON DECK to try to do something about the stock market

In investigation news . . .

John Ratcliffe did a good job defending Trump during the impeachment hearings -- which included casting doubts on the intelligence community -- so now Trump wants to make him the head of it
Trump says he's going to nominate the guy Republicans rejected last year as intelligence chief 

Ratcliffe, a large Trump donor, dropped out from the nomination process last year, blaming unfair media coverage. But shortly after Trump announced his initial nomination of Ratcliffe, U.S. media organizations have published multiple reports of holes in the congressman’s biography and his exaggeration of the work he did as a former U.S. Attorney in Texas. 

GOP Senator is telling people privately that a Biden investigation could help the Russians

Good luck!
Judiciary Committee Demands Barr Hands Over Trump Messages Related to Stone Sentencing 

House Democrats are seeking interviews with several Justice Department officials that could speak to improper political interference in the Department, including the handful of prosecutors who quit Roger Stone’s case over a sentencing dispute... 

A big win for Trump
A federal appeals court in D.C. gave President Trump a major legal win on Friday by refusing to enforce the House’s subpoena of former White House Counsel Don McGahn. 

Dissent Excoriates McGahn Decision For Assuring ‘Future Presidential Stonewalling’

In other news . . .

Nothing is going right for Elizabeth Warren -- and now she might lose the primary in her home state 

The one thing people do respect about Fox World is their polling department. But since they show Trump losing, he has to attack it 
52% of the country would vote him out of office right now as opposed to 42% that said they would not. . . . [read on]


There are fewer registered Republicans than Independents

Is the Dem race going to come down to Sanders/Biden?
We’re probably at a tipping point. The more it looks like no one will win a majority, the more the also-rans have an incentive to stay in and win enough delegates to hope to have some clout at the convention. Take, for example, Amy Klobuchar. After disappointing in Nevada, Klobuchar no longer appears to have any realistic chance at winning the nomination. She’s polling in single digits nationally and in South Carolina; her plausible path involved Biden’s collapse, which was certainly possible but hasn’t happened. Still, Silver’s model projects her to win about 65 delegates if she sticks around. That's not much, but if her delegates would vote for the candidate of her choice in a contested convention, it might be worth the costs of staying in. . . . [read on]

“Team Trump views Sanders as the weakest candidate left on the Democratic side, and isn’t eager to do anything to impede his rise, several of the president’s past and present political advisers told me. They seem to see Sanders as a no-lose proposition: The president wins whether the senator from Vermont captures the nomination or not.” “Should Sanders prevail, Trump’s strategy will be to spotlight his democratic-socialist identity in an attempt to make voters fear he’ll take away their freedom. (Trump will try to brand any Democratic nominee a socialist—Team Trump just thinks it’ll be easier with the guy whose self-description includes the word.)” “If Sanders falters, Trump will argue that he was unfairly robbed of a nomination he earned. Trump has long stoked suspicions of an anti-Sanders conspiracy within the Democratic Party, for what seems to be two purposes: leaving Sanders’s following so disillusioned that they stay home on Election Day, or perhaps persuading them to switch sides and vote Republican. Sanders may not need Trump, but for the time being, Trump needs Sanders.” 


[NB: I will say that the political spin business also includes the double-reverse Br'er Rabbit psych-out. We actually fear Sanders, so we say we want him because he's so easy to beat, and then maybe that will scare the Dems away from nominating him. But sometimes you can overthink these things.]

Bonus item: Bad Lip Reading does Trump's State of the Union speech

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Friday, February 28, 2020


Reactions to Trump's rambling, incoherent attempt to reassure people that he knows what he's doing in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak
Emanuel, now a special adviser to the director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), said that Trump's comments indicated how little the president knew about public health . . . "I found most of what he said a little incoherent," Emanuel said, pointing to Trump's admission that he was shocked by the number of people who die from the common flu annually. . .
GOP covers up Trump's incompetent coronavirus response


Day two
After saying that “we’re almost all better now” and that “it would be really nice if we could be recognized by the press fairly,” Trump discussed how he delivered a “very good” and “calming” press conference on his administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak Wednesday night. “It was a very good press conference — basically it was a calming press conference,” Trump said. “It was a press conference to say we’re doing well.” . . . However, Trump added that the coronavirus outbreak could worsen before getting better. “It’s going to disappear. One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear. And from our shores, you know, it could get worse before it gets better,” Trump said. “It could maybe go away. We’ll see what happens. Nobody really knows. The fact is the greatest experts I’ve spoken to them all, nobody really knows.” 

[NB: Calming, eh?]
The virus is also a test for the media
We face an emergency — and mainstream media is covering up Trump's alarming incoherence . . .
A question of priorities
Trump Spends 45 Minutes With ‘Deep State’ Play Actors Amid Coronavirus Mayhem 

Why Mike Pence?
Trump wanted, and got, a coronavirus lead who would give politics primary consideration
“The White House moved on Thursday to tighten control of coronavirus messaging by government health officials and scientists, directing them to clear all statements and public appearance with the office of Vice President Mike Pence,” the New York Times reports. “The vice president’s first move appeared to be aimed at preventing the kind of contradictory statements from White House officials and top government health officials that have plagued the administration’s response.”

“Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the country’s leading experts on viruses and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases, told associates that the White House had instructed him not to say anything else without clearance.” 


I say again, WHY MIKE PENCE?
Mike Pence victimized by Trump yet again: "The decision to put Mr. Pence in charge was made on Wednesday after the president told some people that the vice president didn’t “have anything else to do,” according to people familiar with the president’s comments."
The White House also announced Thursday that top economic adviser Larry Kudlow, along with the surgeon general and the Treasury secretary, would join the White House Coronavirus Task Force. . . 

[NB: Which tells you where Trump's focus is.]

The stock market has lost more than 10% over the past six days. Trump says it's all because of the Democratic debate . . . which happened on Tuesday night

ANOTHER whistleblower
“Federal health employees interacted with Americans quarantined for possible exposure to the coronavirus without proper medical training or protective gear, then scattered into the general population, according to a government whistle-blower . . . Without proper training or equipment, some of the exposed staff members moved freely around and off the bases, with at least one person staying in a nearby hotel and leaving California on a commercial flight. Many were unaware of the need to test their temperature three times a day.” . . .
“The whistleblower is seeking federal protection because she alleges she was unfairly and improperly reassigned after raising concerns about the safety of these workers to HHS officials, including those within the office of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.”
In investigation news . . .
Looks like Trump is going to get his Ukrainian investigation into Biden after all

In other news . . . 

Will the Supreme Court endorse the "unitary executive"?

Another brilliant Trump court nominee
“A Trump nominee to serve on a court that hears claims against the government once argued that several federal agencies should be eliminated and that Social Security should be abolished because economic disparity ‘is a natural aspect of the human condition'”  

Trump thinks black voters are stupid, apparently
Trump store selling 'woke' merchandise as part of outreach to black voters

Lawmakers dedicate Oversight room to Cummings
Independents are tilting toward the Dems after impeachment

Which states are "toss-ups" depends on which Dem is running
Joe Biden announces a "six figure" ad buy for Super Tuesday. That sounds anemic. He's focused on southern states and seems to have given up on places where Sanders has a big lead

The rise of Sanders
“Start with the absurdity of counting on Mr Sanders’s moderate rivals to peg him back. They are the main reason for his rise. There are too many of them and none is a standout. Their bickering over tiny differences has fragmented the center-left—and is utterly dull. This center-left logjam has made Mr Sanders’s small left-wing base more potent, his leftist rhetoric more distinctive and, until now, his candidacy only indirectly threatening to his main rivals, which is why they hardly attacked him . . . The vanity campaigns of the Democrats’ billionaires have been even more helpful to him. Tom Steyer, a retired financier with no original ideas, has risen in South Carolina at Mr Biden’s cost by outspending the field. Mr Bloomberg, whose lavish campaign and dire political skills (again on display in Charleston) are drawing inevitable comparisons with the Wizard of Oz, has also badly reduced Mr Biden in the Super Tuesday states. Mr Sanders would be in a weaker position without them . . . The only way his rivals could pull back the populist senator would be by quitting and thinning the field. But, having a well-judged sense of each other’s weaknesses, they will not.”
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Thursday, February 27, 2020


Trump is terrified that the coronavirus could get worse AND that he could get blamed for it. (Of course, the second worries him much more than the first.) So he holds a big press conference to shovel out a torrent of lies
“We’ve had tremendous success, tremendous success, beyond what people would have thought.” [read on]

"It's gonna be very well under control. Now, it may get bigger. It may get a little bigger. It may not get bigger at all."
He cracked wise about his germaphobia, recounted a run-in with a sick friend using a stand-up comedian’s patter, waved around colorful graphs showing America’s superiority on virus containment and listed facts he had just learned about the flu....
President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he was ready to acquiesce to congressional demands and use billions more to fight coronavirus than he had originally requested for the effort . . . After angry legislators said the White House wasn’t taking the coronavirus threat seriously enough, Trump, flanked at a press conference by members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, seemed to acknowledge that he’d lowballed the first ask. “We’ll take it. If they want to give more, we’ll do more,” he said of Congress. “We’re going to spend whatever is appropriate. Hopefully we’re not going to have to spend so much because we really think we’ve done a great job in keeping it down to a minimum.” He added: “Some Republicans would like us to get four [billion] and some Democrats would like us to get eight-and-a-half. We’ll be satisfied whatever it is.” . . .

[NB: If Trump thought this performance would calm public concerns -- or calm the markets -- he was very, very wrong.] 

Blame the media: 

Blame the Dems:

[NB: I'm surprised he didn't find a way to blame Obama.]

What he's really worried about: the falling stock market, which he's been bragging about as a sign of his great economic success

Trump “furious” CDC issued coronavirus warnings that “spooked” stock market
[NB: He really liked that phrase, "highest stock market ever!" Not any more.]

Oh, and let's look back at what he said during the Ebola outbreak in 2014
Trump used Ebola to make a bunch of reckless attacks against Democrats in the lead up to the 2014 midterms, then promptly dropped the whole thing . . . 


A noted germaphobe, Trump has advice for everybody else

Trump wants VP Mike Pence to take the lead on combating the virus. What are his qualifications?

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who has been leading the coronavirus task force, was blindsided by the White House decision to put Vice President Pence in charge of the response to the virus outbreak . . .

In investigation news . . .

Trump SUES the New York Times
Defendant The New York Times Company d/b/a The New York Times (“The Times”) knowingly published false and defamatory statements of and concerning plaintiff Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. (the “Campaign”), claiming it had an “overarching deal” with “Vladimir Putin’s oligarchy” to “help in the campaign against Hillary Clinton” in exchange for “a new pro-Russian foreign policy, starting with relief from the Obama administration’s burdensome economic sanctions.”


In other news . . .
The case that could bring down Roe v. Wade

Theocracy watch
AG Bill Barr To Christian Media: Accept God, Reject ‘Collectivist’ Libs 

W - O - W - !
Rudy Giuliani secretly asked then-New York Gov. George Pataki to cancel New York City’s 2001 mayoral election so he could remain in office following the Sept. 11 terror attack. . .


70 former Senators -- including about 20 Republicans -- say the Senate is broken 

Let's see what the Senate does with THIS
House votes to make lynching a federal hate crime after 120 years of congressional failure

It's what they do
The House Oversight Committee released an email from then-Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) which told aides “good work” after a newspaper story exposed problems in the way voters were removed from electoral rolls. He added: “Good work, this story is so complex folks will not make it all the way through it.” The 2017 story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution detailed how local election officials were inaccurately removing people from the rolls.

Another GOP retirement 

What do you think when a group from the other party runs an ad trying to influence the outcome of your primary? 

With Obama and the Clintons in hibernation somewhere, Nancy Pelosi is establishing herself as the national leader of the Democratic Party

The Dems still have superdelegates. They could make a big difference at the convention  

Tom Friedman has some advice for the Dems (thanks to SM for the link). As usual, it is bold, and a little kooky

In South Carolina, Biden gets the all-important Jim Clyburn endorsement. He really better not lose now

***If you enjoy Progressive Blog Digest and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sharing its URL ( with others via email or social media. Thanks for helping to spread the word!

I don’t get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don’t run ads, etc.). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a “mission,” it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***