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Apr 01 2020

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news media and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

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Heather Digby Parton: Not an April Fool: This humiliating failure is actually our president during a national crisis

Turns out a second-rate celebrity whose only skill was in branding was not qualified for this. What a surprise

Donald Trump thought the job of being president was to “make deals” in the same way he made deals as president of the Trump Organization, his family business. The job does require negotiation skills, to be sure, but it turns out that Trump is very bad at those, which should have been obvious to anyone who gave a cursory look at his business career.

Trump had a lot of help from his father when it came to the real estate business, but his real talent was for turning celebrity into cash. It is literally the only thing he’s good at. He spent decades working the tabloid press in New York City, building his name as a Big Player with a Big Lifestyle, culminating in his very own reality TV show. He was a Kardashian before Kardashians had been invented — a person whose “job” is simply to live in the media.

The job of a president is just a bit more complicated than that. There is an element of celebrity, of course, especially in the modern era. Trump has indeed mastered that side of the job. In fact, it’s pretty much all he understands. He bragged about the ratings for his coronavirus campaign rallies and made this weird observation about them during Tuesday’s event:

He’s good at being the center of attention. You have to give him that. But aside from dealing with Congress and foreign leaders — which, as mentioned, he does very badly —the main job of a president is to manage the federal government and lead the nation in a time of crisis. And Donald Trump has absolutely no idea how to do either of those things.

Elinor Kaufman: Please, Stop Shooting. We Need the Beds.

Gunshot victims are fighting for space inside our overcrowded I.C.U.s.

My pager goes off again: The police are en route to my hospital. They’re bringing a gunshot victim. E.T.A.? Right now.

I get these pages almost every night at the trauma center where I work. I rush to put on my protective equipment to guard against blood and other bodily fluids. But for the first time, I’m saving clean masks to reuse them. Because of coronavirus, the parents of my patients need a special escort because visitors are not allowed in the waiting room. I can’t bring a family to a gunshot victim’s bedside in the intensive care unit. I can’t tell a frightened mother that she can stay as long as she wants.

Doctors like me are trying to keep the world safe from the coronavirus pandemic. But thousands of families in America are already caught in the country’s existing epidemic: gun violence.

Firearm injuries are calamitous for the more than 120,000 people shot each year in the United States and their families. But the consequences for our health system are even more dire as we fight the coronavirus.

We need I.C.U. beds, we need ventilators, we need personnel to care for the wave of Covid-19 patients. But gunshot victims are now fighting for space and resources inside America’s overcrowded I.C.U.s.

George T. Conway III: Impeachment didn’t distract from coronavirus preparations. Trump did.

There should have been shame enough in orchestrating the acquittal of an impeached president who, in order to extort help for his reelection campaign, unlawfully withheld security aid to an ally. Shame enough in turning the Senate impeachment trial into a sham by refusing to hear a single live witness.

But it turns out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was just getting started.

On Tuesday, he added to the disgrace by claiming that impeachment distracted officials from dealing with the coronavirus. Speaking to radio host (and Post columnist) Hugh Hewitt, McConnell said the virus “came up while we were, you know, tied down in the impeachment trial. And I think it diverted the attention of the government, because everything, every day, was all about impeachment.”

This is gaslighting of the highest order. Leave aside that the president now claims that he presciently “felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic” and that he “always treated the Chinese Virus very seriously.”

Look at the calendar. The impeachment trial ended on Feb. 5. In reality, it was over before it even started, thanks in large part to McConnell. The only drama was about whether there’d be any witnesses — and that ended on Jan. 31, when the Senate voted not to hear testimony. That left plenty of time to deal with the virus.

And while some lawyers in the executive branch and Congress were working on impeachment around the clock, impeachment didn’t consume the government. Trump managed to get to Mar-a-Lago at least four times in January and February, working in a few rounds of golf along the way. He held five campaign rallies around the country during the impeachment trial.

Robert Reich: Ignore the bankers – the Trump economy is not worth more coronavirus deaths

CEOs, billionaires and advisers have the president’s ear and want people back to work. They are callous – and wrong

Dick Kovacevich, former CEO of Wells Fargo bank, thinks most Americans should return to work in April, urging that we “gradually bring those people back and see what happens”.

Lloyd Blankfein, former CEO of Goldman Sachs, whose net worth is $1.1bn, recommends “those with a lower risk of the diseases return to work” within a “very few weeks”.

Tom Galisano, the founder of Paychex, whose net worth is $2.8bn, believes “the damages of keeping the economy closed could be worse than losing a few more people. You’re picking the better of two evils.” [..]

It may seem logical to weigh the threat to public health against the accumulating losses to the economy, and then at some point decide economic losses outweigh health risks. As Stephen Moore, who is advising the White House, warns: “You can’t have a policy that says we’re going to save every human life at any cost, no matter how many trillions of dollars you’re talking about.”

But this leaves out one big thing. The “trillions of dollars” of economic losses don’t exist on any balance sheet that can be tallied against human lives. An “economy” is nothing but human beings. So it matters whose losses we’re talking about – whose losses of life, and whose losses of dollars.

Ross Barkin: There is no greater illustration of corporate America’s moral decay than Amazon

The company dismissed a worker who had been protesting conditions – someone who dared to raise the consciousnesses of those around him

n Monday, Amazon fired a warehouse worker who had been protesting about conditions at a New York City facility during the coronavirus outbreak. Chris Smalls, an assistant manager and organizer, had led a walkout demanding Amazon temporarily shut the facility for cleaning after multiple workers tested positive for Covid-19.

It was a move that spoke to the inherent inhumanity of the trillion-dollar corporation, one that will need to be brought to heel by a future presidential administration. The workers were seeking hazard pay and more protective gear as they labored during the pandemic. This, along with Smalls’ willingness to challenge the company, was apparently too much to take. [..]

There is no greater illustration of the moral decay of 21st-century corporate America than Amazon. Past behemoths trafficked in noblesse oblige, tolerating unions and even investing in their workforce. Automobile plants and steel mills accepted that the price of doing business was guaranteeing their workers more than a subsistence wage.