Some Very Cautious Coronavirus Optimism

[ Posted Tuesday, May 19th, 2020 – 17:23 UTC ]

For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began in the United States, things seem to be getting slightly better, at least on the national level. This is welcome news for everyone, of course, although it still may be too early to tell whether the positive trends now slowly developing will be sustained over the next month or so. But at any rate, things do seem to finally be headed in a more positive direction. So it's time for some very cautious optimism.

When looking at the data, a pretty clear picture of the spread of the virus can be seen in the charts done over time. In March, the numbers began climbing dramatically, following an exponential curve for a while. In April, the curves topped out and began to plateau. What's now become apparent is that the plateau itself now seems to be slowly but steadily decreasing over time, which really started happening in earnest a few weeks ago.

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Obama Enters The Fray

[ Posted Monday, May 18th, 2020 – 17:19 UTC ]

Former President Barack Obama got up off the bench this weekend and fully entered the fray of the 2020 presidential election. He did so in prominent fashion, since he was given the rather large megaphone of a commencement address to graduating high school seniors that was simultaneously broadcast on every major television network. So this wasn't some tweet or offhanded comment leaked from a phone call (both of which had actually happened the previous week, with less attention paid). What it signals -- hopefully -- is that Obama is becoming fully vested in being the biggest surrogate possible for Joe Biden during the campaign.

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Friday Talking Points -- Trump Dumbfounded At How Science Works

[ Posted Friday, May 15th, 2020 – 17:52 UTC ]

President Donald Trump seems unclear on a few basic scientific and medical concepts. This isn't really news, of course, since Trump seems unclear on a whole host of things each and every day. But this week's comments on coronavirus testing were more than just a little bit astonishing.

Here is Trump, during a visit to a mask factory, while refusing to wear a mask (even though everyone he met were wearing masks), talking about America's testing efforts (which are now at roughly a third of where the White House promised we would be by the end of March, by the way):

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Trump's Chickens Are Coming Home To Roost

[ Posted Thursday, May 14th, 2020 – 16:38 UTC ]

It's been quite a while since we did a "three-dot Thursday" here, but it seemed like the thing to do now that we've got a flood of news coming in that all seems to be variations on a similar theme. The media has woven together all the strands of incompetence from the Trump White House into a cohesive whole, showing how woefully inadequate President Donald Trump has been -- and continues to be -- throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Or, to put it more bluntly, the chickens are coming home to roost...


...The British Financial Times just ran a lengthy article rounding up some of those homeward-bound chickens. It is the most brutal overview of Trump's failings I have seen since the crisis began, so I highly recommend reading the full article. Here are just a few choice excerpts:

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You Really Want To Talk About Bailouts, Mitch? Really?

[ Posted Wednesday, May 13th, 2020 – 17:18 UTC ]

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi just led off with a rather large opening bid to start the negotiations for the next round of disaster aid in Congress. Her bill, which the House will vote for on Friday, contains $3 billion in federal spending, much of it to help state and local governments devastated by the economic crash get through the crisis. This is an opening bid, mind you, because the Senate will obviously have a say in the negotiations to follow.

However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell apparently isn't even convinced that another round of aid is even necessary. Even though the head of the Federal Reserve is now indicating that if we don't spend more federal money on aid right now, the American economy will suffer for years to come.

Even worse, though, is the fact that McConnell is trying to turn the entire discussion into a purely political one. He did so by sneeringly referring to any aid to state and local governments as "blue-state bailouts," insinuating that somehow the political persuasion of the leadership of the hardest-hit states is somehow remotely relevant right now.

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Governors Get High Marks From Public, Not Trump

[ Posted Tuesday, May 12th, 2020 – 17:04 UTC ]

New polls just out show that President Donald Trump is badly losing the battle to control the narrative over his response to the coronavirus pandemic. While Trump's public job approval rating is exactly where it has been for pretty much his entire term (43 percent approval), almost all of the state governors are doing much, much better. And the American public overwhelmingly -- by a 3-to-1 margin -- wants to see the economy reopen slower, not faster. All of this has led to Trump petulantly tweeting that he deserves all the credit, instead of the governors. This is pretty pathetic after Trump shoved all responsibility for the pandemic response onto those very same governors. But because he did so, the governors are now reaping all of the praise and thanks from the public, not Trump.

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Trump Bets It All On Q3

[ Posted Monday, May 11th, 2020 – 16:11 UTC ]

In recent days, President Donald Trump has been (as he calls it) "cheerleading" the American economy, for three basic reasons. First, to Trump everything is a P.R. problem, at absolute worst. Second, it's all he really knows how to do when it comes to the economy (or anything else, for that matter). And third (and most important to Trump), he knows full well his re-election is going to hinge on whether the voters are going to be feeling any better about the future in November. In particular, Trump has essentially bet all his chips on the third quarter of 2020.

He has no other realistic choice in the matter, since the calendar is going to dictate things. To be sure, Trump is also actively talking up the periods beyond the third quarter of the year, by saying that the fourth quarter will be "tremendous" and that 2021 could be "the best economy ever" as all of that "pent-up demand" skyrockets the American economy back up again. But none of that is going to matter to his re-election effort, because the fourth quarter and all of 2021 are going to happen after people vote.

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Saturday Talking Points?

[ Posted Saturday, May 9th, 2020 – 15:10 UTC ]

[Program Note: What follows is only a partial Friday Talking Points column. Due to struggling with my domain name server and internet service provider throughout Friday while the site was down, I didn't have time to write a full column. But I did manage to get through an abbreviated introduction, so I thought I'd format and post this today (our very first "Saturday Talking Points" column ever, I think). Hopefully all the problems are now fixed and this sort of thing won't be happening again any time soon. Thanks to everyone for their patience, and my apologies once again for the interruption in service.]


Nothing shows that irony is dead in Trump's White House more than Donald Trump making a tour of an Arizona factory this week while refusing to wear a mask -- since the site he visited was actually a mask factory. They even presented him with his very own mask as a souvenir of the visit, which Trump (of course) failed to put on. He later tried to claim that he was indeed wearing a mask "backstage," but that nobody saw him do so. This wasn't even remotely believable, though.

It has also been reported that very few White House personnel wear masks at work. And now the virus is apparently inside the building, as Trump's personal valet just tested positive as well as an aide to Mike Pence. No word yet on whether a more-widespread outbreak within the White House has developed yet, but it certainly shouldn't surprise anyone if this turns out to be the case. All while Trump is telling everyone to get out of their house and restart normal life once again, because as far as he's concerned the pandemic is now nothing to worry about. In his mind, it has already magically disappeared, so let's go shopping, everyone!

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Program Note

[ Posted Saturday, May 9th, 2020 – 13:36 UTC ]

As you can see, is back up and running again. I have now been assured that the problems are permanently fixed and will not recur again. I will believe that when it happens, but that's what I'm being told at any rate.

Obviously, due to being down yesterday, there was no Friday column. But I did spend at least part of the day writing, so what I'm going to do is post what I've got after I have a chance to quickly edit and format it. It's basically just the introduction, with no awards or talking points (just to warn everyone -- it's not a full column). Sorry for the partial posting, but I figure something's better than nothing, right?

In any case, my apologies once again for the interruption in service and hopefully this won't be happening again. At least, that's what they tell me....

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


Hit Trump Back On China

[ Posted Thursday, May 7th, 2020 – 16:07 UTC ]

Donald Trump's re-election campaign has hit upon what they consider a winning attack line against Joe Biden: "China, China, China!" Truly, that's about as sophisticated as their effort has been, to date, and the new ad they just unveiled doesn't really move that needle much at all. Their political equation rests on the fact that many Americans don't have a favorable opinion of China in general, and in specific Team Trump is trying to explain away his own massive coronavirus response failings by saying everything was China's fault, for lying to the world in January. Which adds up to (according to the Trump campaign): Joe Biden has said some polite things about China, therefore he is obviously some sort of pinko agent of the Chinese Communist Party. As I said, not exactly sophisticated campaign rhetoric or anything. But the problem with trying to paint with such a large brush is that the paint can slop back all over you.

Donald Trump slamming Biden for saying nice things about China is absolutely ridiculous, of course. But that doesn't mean the Trump campaign can't use such an attack successfully. Remember the swiftboaters, if you will. The standard Republican playbook during elections has always been: "attack your opponent on the issue where your own candidate is the weakest." This is yet the most recent manifestation.

In order to get re-elected, Team Trump has the task of causing all Americans to totally and completely forget that February (and the first two weeks of March) ever even existed. This was the period when Trump was pooh-poohing the coronavirus, insisting that it would never hit America, and denigrating it as no worse than the seasonal flu. His dithering for almost two months is precisely why America leads the world in coronavirus cases and is still so frighteningly behind the curve that many other countries have already successfully flattened. South Korea had their first case the same day we did, and they've got the pandemic completely under control by now. Us, not so much (obviously).

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