April 9th, Covid-19 News Round Up
John Prine died two nights ago. Ellis Marsalis died a few days earlier. Thus far, an additional 95,000 other individuals have also died, some under exceedingly awful conditions. Despite this, the Supreme Court of the United States refused to postpone or even allow for mail in ballots in Wisconsin on Tuesday.
Here is Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent on the Wisconsin decision that forced these voters to the polls in the middle of a pandemic:
“…the court’s order, I fear, will result in massive disenfranchisement.” “The majority of this Court declares that this case presents a “narrow, technical question”
“The Court’s suggestion that the current situation is not ‘substantially different’ from ‘an ordinary election’ boggles the mind…” “The question here is whether tens of thousands of Wisconsin citizens can vote safely in the midst of a pandemic. Under the District Court’s order, they would be able to do so. Even if they receive their absentee ballot in the days immediately following election day, they could return it. With the majority’s stay in place, that will not be possible. Either they will have to brave the polls, endangering their own and others’ safety, or they will lose their right to vote, through no fault of their own. That is a matter of utmost importance—to the constitutional rights of Wisconsin’s citizens, the integrity of the State’s election process, and in this most extraordinary time, the health of the Nation.”
Additionally, as if they couldn’t reach any lower, ethically, the Supreme Court of the United States voted for this decision, remotely. They voted from the comfort of their homes to force poor people in Wisconsin to vote in person in the middle of a pandemic.
So there’s that. But in addition to the GOP, and the Supreme Court, we have the President—Trump– waging an all-out war on independent oversight.
First, he fired the intelligence community’s Inspector General Michael Atkinson on Friday night in clear retribution for Atkinson’s handling of the Ukraine whistleblower complaint. Then, he went after Health and Human Services Inspector General Christi Grimm for her office’s report detailing pervasive testing delays and supply shortages at hospitals across the country. The report revealed the extent to which hospitals were struggling to meet the health care demands associated with treating COVID-19 patients. The thorough review included interviews from 323 hospitals across 46 states and stood in stark contrast with the rhetoric coming from the president. Naturally, Trump labeled the report a “Fake Dossier” and suggested “politics” influenced it, and that it was “just wrong”.
And today, he removed Glenn Fine, the inspector general who was tapped by his peers to lead the panel of federal watchdogs tasked with overseeing the execution of the coronavirus relief package.
As Robert Reich has said, “If this isn’t abuse of power, I don’t know what is. Independent oversight is critical for every administration; for an administration as thoroughly corrupt and amoral as this one, it’s absolutely paramount.”
But wait, there’s more.
FEMA is apparently rounding up medical supplies but no one knows where they are going (https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-04-07/hospitals-washington-seize-coronavirus-supplies).
The Trump administration is also using federal dollars to buy supplies from China, off loading them to private companies and having states bid against each other for these supplies. (https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/2020/03/27/coronavirus-states-battle-each-other-world-ppe-medical-gear/2907297001/)
Talking Points Memo is reporting that “a pattern is coming into view: the White House seizes goods from public officials and hospitals across the country while doling them out as favors to political allies and favorites, often to great fanfare to boost the popularity of those allies. The Denver Post today editorialized about one of the most egregious examples. Last week, as we reported, a shipment of 500 ventilators to the state of Colorado was intercepted and rerouted by the federal government. Gov. Jared Polis (D) sent a letter pleading for the return of the equipment. Then yesterday President Trump went on Twitter to announce that he was awarding 100 ventilators to Colorado at the behest of Republican Senator Cory Gardner, one of the most endangered Republicans on the ballot this year. As the Post put it, “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.”
Not only is this ripping off the states when they are being crushed economically, people probably died for this incandescent bit of political favoritism– and may still be dying.
“It’s hard to know whether President Trump even knew in this case that his pandemic task force had swiped away five times as many ventilators just days before. Indeed, we still don’t whether this is all a central part of the White House’s crisis strategy – grabbing supplies from blue states to hand out to endangered Republicans or red state allies – or simply a layering of corruption over the general chaos.”
Here’s more from Talking Points:
“For all the confusion, what is clear is that the federal government is demanding that states, localities and hospital systems find their own supplies while systematically interdicting those they do purchase and rerouting them in other directions while providing no explanation of what standards are being used to distribute them. At the same time, Republican officeholders keep turning up announcing windfalls of medical supplies courtesy of the President. In many cases, like Gardner, they’re Republicans within blue or purple states.”
Ladies and gentleman, I believe we are in the middle of a pandemic, and also, apparently, a slow motion coup.