By Robert A. Vella
In today’s news, we’ll examine another record number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. as the coronavirus pandemic surges to new heights, how far the Republican governor of Georgia bent over to accommodate President Trump’s raging megalomania, the latest polls showing public support for Trump and the GOP falling deeper and faster, my take on Rachel Maddow’s interview with Mary Trump last night, and disturbing reports of unidentified federal forces attacking and removing protesters in unmarked vans without due process of law in Portland, Oregon.
More than 138,000 people have died from coronavirus nationwide, and experts warn that number will likely go up as hospitalizations rise in several states. In Texas and Arizona, morgues are filling up in the hardest-hit areas and officials are bringing in coolers and refrigerated trailers to store bodies.
An unpublished document prepared for the White House coronavirus task force and obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit newsroom, recommends that 18 states in the coronavirus “red zone” for cases should roll back reopening measures amid surging cases.
The “red zone” is defined in the 359-page report as “those core-based statistical areas (CBSAs) and counties that during the last week reported both new cases above 100 per 100,000 population, and a diagnostic test positivity result above 10%.”
The report outlines measures counties in the red zone should take. It encourages residents to “wear a mask at all times outside the home and maintain physical distance.” And it recommends that public officials “close bars and gyms” and “limit social gatherings to 10 people or fewer,” which would mean rolling back reopening provisions in these places.
The report comes despite President Donald Trump’s insistence that states reopen and a push to send the nation’s children back to school, even as cases increase.
A sycophant governor
WASHINGTON — Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said Friday that she thinks it’s no coincidence that Georgia’s governor filed a lawsuit against her over her city’s mask law a day after she said President Donald Trump violated it during his visit Wednesday.
“This filing of a lawsuit is simply bizarre, quite frankly,” Bottoms, a Democrat, said in an interview with NBC’s “Today” show.
Bottoms noted that Savannah implemented a mask order on July 1 and Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s hometown of Athens instituted one on July 8.
“Then when Atlanta instituted a mask order — and I did it via executive order — he filed a lawsuit,” she said. “I don’t think it happenstance that this lawsuit came the day after Donald Trump visited Atlanta and I pointed out that he was violating city law by not having on a mask at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.”
GOP falls deeper
Americans’ views of President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic have deteriorated significantly as cases rise across the country and personal fears of becoming infected persist, a Washington Post-ABC News poll finds.
The Post-ABC poll shows 38 percent of Americans approve of his handling of the outbreak, down from 46 percent in May and 51 percent in March. Sixty percent disapprove, up from 53 percent in May and 45 percent in March.
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, governors have generally received better marks for the way they’ve handled the crisis than President Trump has. However, new polling suggests that may be changing, especially for Republican governors in states where the number of coronavirus cases has spiked in recent weeks.
Gallup recently found that Americans in the 26 states governed by Republicans are souring on their leaders’ approach to the public health crisis, while sentiment remains steadily positive among residents of the 24 states governed by Democrats. In fact, over the past month, the share of respondents who agreed that their governor cared about the safety and health of their community fell by 8 points, from 61 percent to 53 percent, in states where a Republican is governor; opinion in Democratic-run states hovered around 65 percent, despite some movement week to week.
And on the question of how clearly governors were communicating their plans to address the coronavirus, the GOP also got low marks. Among respondents in Republican-run states, just 43 percent said their governor offered a clear plan, down from 54 percent about a month ago. Meanwhile, 58 percent of respondents in Democratic-run states said that their governor was communicating clearly, which was nearly identical to the share who said so in early June.
Last night’s in-depth interview with Mary Trump on The Rachel Maddow Show provided additional insights on Donald Trump’s sociopathy and other psychological pathologies which make him an extremely dangerous threat to the nation and the world. Here’s my take on the highlights (or lowlights) of the interview:
- Mary described Donald as “virulently racist” and said she heard him use racist language on many occasions (see: Mary Trump on if she ever heard the president use racial slur: ‘Of course I did’).
- Mary said she realized the grave threat Donald posed to society if he was elected president.
- She said that only a massive defeat in the 2020 election would prevent Donald from doing everything possible to stay in power.
- Mary said she wasn’t afraid, but recognizes that her life could be in danger by writing this tell-all book and that she is prepared to accept whatever consequences may result.
A crackdown in Portland
Federal law enforcement officers have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland and detain protesters since at least July 14. Personal accounts and multiple videos posted online show the officers driving up to people, detaining individuals with no explanation about why they are being arrested, and driving off.
The tactic appears to be another escalation in federal force deployed on Portland city streets, as federal officials and President Donald Trump have said they plan to quell nightly protests outside the federal courthouse and Multnomah County Justice Center that have lasted for more than six weeks.
In a statement, the U.S. Marshals Service declined to comment on the practice of using unmarked vehicles, but said their officers had not arrested Pettibone.
And Thursday, a DHS spokesperson said on background, that they could confirm Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf was in Portland during the day. The spokesperson didn’t acknowledge other questions about about the arrests.