Littwin: They’re coming to man the barricades and Trump is cheering them on

Protesters are expected in Denver this weekend condemning a continued stay-at-home order. (Flickr photo courtesy of Marco Verch Professional)
Protesters are expected in Denver this weekend condemning a continued stay-at-home order. (Flickr photo courtesy of Marco Verch Professional)

There’s apparently a reopen-the-economy demonstration coming to the state Capitol this weekend. I have no problem with protesters. In fact, back in my youth, I was on pretty intimate terms with the not-so-sweet smell of tear gas in the morning.

But this protest could be dangerous. I know it’s sort of counterintuitive to the very idea of protesting that you worry about taking precautions — like, in this case, maybe staying in the car instead of marching in the streets. But from the data we have, it’s fair to guess that a certain percentage of protesters would be COVID-19 positive, even if they’re entirely asymptomatic. And by walking around, they could infect others, which is the basis for the statewide stay-at-home orders. And yet, don’t expect this to change anyone’s mind.

In fact, the president is now on record encouraging these protests against, as it turns out, mostly Democratic governors. That may not fit neatly into Trump’s acknowledgement Thursday that it will take some time for the country to reopen for business despite the very real and very serious economic costs. But it fits precisely into Trump’s strategy of blame — that is, blaming someone else. Here’s a guess: Many in the crowd will be wearing MAGA hats.

And then there’s this small irony: No one in the state is more eager to reopen Colorado for business than the governor, Jared Polis. And yet, many Colorado Republican leaders seem to have missed that point, with some actually calling Colorado a police state. I’d like to introduce them to what police states look like.

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville took it another step altogether, saying Polis’s policies could lead to a “Gestapo-like mentality.” Seems like Neville may have some serious gaps in his knowledge of history — and that either he didn’t know or just didn’t care how Colorado’s first Jewish governor, who lost family in the Holocaust, might react to being compared to Nazis. Neville can learn more by linking here.

But, in brief, the Gestapo, among their other loathsome duties, helped round up Jews and other so-called undesirables and send them to death camps. Polis, meanwhile, is asking people to stay indoors or wear masks if they need to leave the house.

The blame game is now in full force. Trump is back to blaming governors, as you might expect. We know he’s blaming the Chinese (guilty as charged) for not informing the world quickly enough of the novel coronavirus. And yet, Trump was praising China’s response long after the virus became public knowledge and, in any case, long after his own intelligence people had briefed him. Trump is also blaming the World Health Organization (also guilty as charged) for being too China-centric and dictator friendly, although Trump, well, see above. And I can’t help noting that long after WHO issued full-blast warnings, Trump was still likening the coronavirus to the flu and saying it would likely go away by April or by miraculous intervention.

And now Trump, in his Trumpiest move yet, is aligning himself with insurrection — or at least protests that defy stay-at-home orders — in a Friday morning tweeting trifecta: 

“LIBERATE MICHIGAN! … LIBERATE MINNESOTA! … LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!”

Glad we got the Second Amendment in there. Maybe he’s talking armed insurrection, but I can say that not everyone thinks it’s funny. Here’s what Washington Gov. Jay Inslee tweeted, in part: “The president is fomenting domestic rebellion and spreading lies — even while his own administration says the virus is real, it is deadly and we have a long way to go before restrictions can be lifted.”

Trump’s support for protesters — I’m old enough to remember when he wanted to punch those protesting at his rallies — was first registered in his Thursday press briefing when he refused to say whether he’d advise the protesters to stay home. That’s the briefing in which he conceded, without actually conceding, that as president, he doesn’t have “total” power and can’t “call the shots” in reopening a state’s economy. It was only the day before that he was totally saying that total meant total.

In reading the Trump administration’s three-phase suggestions for reopening the economy, doctors and scientists felt the need to note that the guidelines called for far more testing than we’re now capable of doing and far, far, far more contact tracing than we’re now capable of doing. Reopening won’t be easy and, however well you do it, people will die. Which is why, you might guess, that Trump gladly reversed himself and handed the job back to the governors. 

But while telling governors to call the shots, he failed to provide any bullets. He said it was up to the governors to find the needed supplies, ignoring the fact that the only entity capable of achieving that supply scale is the federal government, which has utterly failed. Instead of taking action, Trump acted as if he believed he could talk the virus away.

Speaking of Trump beliefs, you may have noticed that he doesn’t talk much any more about the supposed benefits of hydroxychloroquine in treating coronavirus patients. His gut may have shut down on that one. There is, however, potentially good news on that front, with some early evidence — very early — that an experimental drug called remdesivir could possibly be helpful. The markets did jump at the news.

There is also bad news, though. Some rural states where there had been smaller numbers of infections have seen their rates shoot up. According to data compiled by The Johns Hopkins University, Iowa saw an 82% jump in cases in a week, Nebraska a 74% jump, Arkansas 60%, and Oklahoma 53%. And we already knew that South Dakota had become a hot spot. Its numbers jumped 205% in a week. The common factor is that each of these states has not issued a stay-at-home directive.

As Trump’s favorite sparring buddy, Andrew Cuomo, put it in his coronavirus briefing Friday: “The federal government has passed three bills to address this crisis. Of those three bills, the state governments have gotten precisely zero, zilch, nada in unrestricted aid. That is passing the buck without passing the bucks.”

It is aid to the states and hospitals that Senate Democrats insist on adding to the Republican bill that would provide $250 billion to the small-business fund, which has already run out of money. Democrats favor finding the money for small businesses, but Mitch McConnell and Trump object to the Democratic add-on, which is strange because Trump’s re-election prospects are directly tied to how this pandemic plays out.

There’s an interesting piece in Vox by German Lopez on the difficulties of knowing when and how to reopen. It’s clear that stay-at-home orders and physical distancing have saved lives, maybe hundreds of thousands of lives. But if you’re doing it right, the doctors tell us, it always looks like you’re overreacting.

Lopez quotes Kent State University epidemiologist Tara Smith as saying: “It’s the paradox of public health. When you do it right, nothing happens.”

We know the pain accompanied with the shutdown of the economy. We know of the 22 million unemployment claims (including 104,000 in Colorado just last week), the heartbreakingly long lines of people in desperate need of food for their families, the likely loss of family businesses, the human costs of a deep recession.

But we also know, even as the curve seems to be flattening in some places, that the coronavirus has shown it often resurfaces. Dr. Tony Fauci says that safety must always come first in reopening economies. Meanwhile Donald Trump is calling on Americans to man the barricades — not against the virus, mind you, but against governors or, let’s be honest, anyone but him.

14 COMMENTS

  1. The blood of a lot of people is already on Donald Trump’s figurative hands. The virus doesn’t care how well he plays the role of mob boss and thug. Directing aid away from critics and toward states with governors not averse to… ahem… boot-licking, heaping blame (and childish nicknames) on anyone who questions his infallibility – these do not sound like the attributes of a president. They sound like the attributes of a dictator wannabe or extraordinarily thin skin and enough insecurities to merit hospitalization. Urging people to “Free “state ‘x'” is beyond stupid. it’s sending people to their death for his own political (and let’s not forget, economic) ends. He’s not just the worst president of the 20th century, he’s the worst elected leader in world history, supported by the most craven and anti-American political party we’ve ever seen. No, it’s not the Nazis. It’s the current version of the Republican Party.

  2. I agree with one thing this socialist writer stated and that is Polis does want to get the economy moving as bad as anybody. He has however, made many judgement errors. In Mesa County, as one example, there are no deaths and nobody in the hospitals. Only 34 cases of Covid. So why is that County shutdown? He has, like the other governors, believed everything that the “scientists” said including 2.2 million people would be dead from the virus, now the numbers 95% less. This state should be open today with the numbers that are coming out. Masks, hand washing, 6 feet apart are good ideas. These socialist scientists and liberal Governors have no idea what the real effects are of these shutdowns as they continue to draw their paychecks from the taxpayers. Until you lose everything you worked for, everything you built, the ability to pay people that depend on their jobs to eat, these socialists will trade common sense for any scientists “beliefs” This socialist writer has never had to make a payroll. He is in not an intelligent person on this subject

    • Jay, did I miss it, or is Mesa County domed in? Does no one enter or leave? Do the residents consume all the fruits, wine and other agricultural products produced? I remember when there was 1 case of novel coronavirus in the US, and no lockdowns or other precautions. How did that work out?

      We all want to get back to ‘normal.’ We need widespread testing, contact tracking, and accurate data for decision-making. Frankly, your wish and the Republican President’s rush to open back up before we have the virus under control will do more harm then good. But, like Trump, whatever is good for you is all that matters, eh, Jay?

  3. The COVID-19 pandemic is a Republican wet dream.
    It’ll kill off all the old people so they’ll no longer have to fund their Medicare and it’ll kill off all the impoverished minorities so they no longer have to fund their health care and food subsidies.
    Mission Accomplished!

  4. I think anarchy is unavoidable as people resist social distancing orders which are almost impossible to enforce. I see sureptitious rebellion already in my own building and in my Capitol Hill neighborhood as well as scrupulous, almost paranoid obedience. So what is a poor citizen to do? If you are male, fat, have diabetes, high blood pressure, are a smoker with early COPD, or heart issues, or if your immune system is depressed, or if you’re over 60 you can get very seriously ill from this highly contagious virus. And people with no symptoms, up to 25 percent, can give it to you. But you can also end up on the street because you can’t pay your rent with many other homeless people. And if you get very sick you can’t go to work either. I guess my own strategy is to protect myself by staying inside no matter what everyone else does. And keep telling myself “Get used to it,” because thanks in part to unmitigated Climate Change, experts are saying that this may be the first pandemic but not the last.

    .

  5. Nothing says ‘Merica like a bunch of Incels protesting their first amendment right to be stupid.

    What else are you going to do when your Dear Leader sends out the call?

    Befehl ist Befehl, no?

    Don’t forget your armbands…I mean red hats.

  6. My outraged self suggests the MAGA crowd congest and shout all over each other; but my better angel says, “Don’t be that way.” My rational brain reminds me that any unnecessary socializing endangers all of every opinion. So, taste this food for thought: until now listening to Trump, Fox News or Rush just made you willfully misinformed. Now it can kill you … and your grandmother.

  7. Thank you Mr Littman for you article it was fairly complete in its topics. Specifically, Trump continues to divide this country to support and bolster his base using what he wants to believe is true because it is good for him. I personally don’t understand why people fall for his gimmick.
    I would love to go back to life as normal, but we need to do it safely. It’s not only the old people at risk, but also the homeless, the immune compromised, the obese, diabetics, and who knows what this virus may do to a fetus (think Zika). And just because a community hasn’t had a case yet, well, let’s keep it that way.

  8. The coronavirus was a dream come true for Democrats, using it in a cynical way to seize power by destroying our market economy and the American way of life. The Democratic governors are gleeful over “lock down orders” as their leftist acolytes first chant “flatten the curve” and then start insisting on staying in shut down mode to prevent a second wave. Many other leftists want to shut down until a vaccine is proven safe and effective, or at least until November. Meanwhile, the Republicans and their governors are being level headed and acting more responsibly.

  9. The pics of these Snowflake Republicans being stopped in their tracks by nurses invoking memories of Tiananmen Square are absolutely priceless.

  10. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, most of us will be just fine, even if we contract coronavirus.” – Colorado Gov. Jared Polis

    “The first and only time that Dr. [Deborah] Birx and I went in and formally made a recommendation to the president to actually have a … shutdown in the sense of … strong mitigation … the president listened to the recommendation and went to the mitigation.” – Dr. Anthony Fauci RealClearPolitics.com

    So far, the Wuhan coronavirus is not much more frightening than the outbreaks of other recent coronaviruses like SARS in 2003 or MERS in 2012, each of which killed fewer than a thousand people around the world. The new virus’s death toll has just exceeded 130; for context, according to the CDC, about 15 million Americans have been sickened by the seasonal flu so far in the 2019-2020 flu season, and 8,200 have died from it. (The flu kills between 300,000 and 650,000 people around the world annually.) – New York Times January 29, 2020

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    I appreciate very much Mr. Littwin’s history lesson on the Gestapo. If only he was as concerned about the history of the deadly (Wuhan) coronavirus pandemic that, as of April 22, 2020, has produced these unbelievably tragic numbers:

    2,603,147 Confirmed cases worldwide
    180,784 Deaths worldwide

    Fortunately for the people of Missouri their attorney general is concerned about the history of the deadly (Wuhan) coronavirus pandemic and is taking legal action against China:

    “Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has filed a lawsuit against the Chinese government for allegedly running an “appalling campaign of deceit, concealment, misfeasance, and inaction” amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.”

    Mr. Littwin has admitted—-and it must have been painful—-that (a) “the Chinese (are guilty as charged) for not informing the world quickly enough about the novel coronavirus” and (b) the (Wuhan) Health Organization is too China-centric. But those admissions have not stopped him from blaming President Trump for _____________________(fill in the blank).

    And while these admissions are baby steps at least they are baby steps in the right direction. Maybe, someday, Mr. Littwin will present a complete picture of the deadly novel coronavirus and how China’s initial cover-up has effected the lives of millions of people and cost the lives of thousands more in a hundred different countries. Maybe, someday, Mr. Littwin will admit that those responsible for the initial (Wuhan) COVID-19 pandemic cover-up bear far, far more culpability for lives lost worldwide than our president. Maybe, someday, Mr. Littwin will admit his dislike of President Trump overwhelmed his limited journalistic “ethics”. Maybe, someday, Mr. Littwin will admit he has never allowed his dislike of China (“The Chinese government is corrupt and cruel, murderers and worse.”) to interfere with his dislike of President Trump and maybe, someday, Mr. Littwin will admit objectivity has never been high on his list of priorities.

    Just kidding, he’ll never admit any of that!

    And while it’s refreshing to hear Mr. Littwin concede that China is “guilty as charged” of a cover-up it really doesn’t paint a complete picture of the extent, effect and depth of that cover-up. This from The Diplomat does a much better job of that and suggests the reason for the cover-up was far larger than simple embarrassment:

    “Clearly, downplaying the disease wasn’t working and it was time for the (Chinese Communist) Party to get serious. But how serious? Would it provide full cooperation to the international community? Would being seen as the source of this virus hurt its international image? Beyond these, there was a darker dimension: the more Beijing cooperated, the less the disease stood to affect other countries. This includes countries China sees as a threat to its existence, like the United States. Why should China suffer the effects of a pandemic while others stayed safe — and increased their strength relative to China — based on China’s own costly experience?”

    Mr. Littwin is not about to address any of those loaded questions. Not now, not ever, never. Unless, of course, he can find a way to blame it all on President Trump.

    As German Lopez points out in Vox, social distancing has revealed one huge downside: the economy.

    “And in the meantime, the economic damage of closing down America is readily apparent. Some economists warn that the unemployment rate could surpass 30 percent. About 22 million have filed unemployment claims since social distancing measures took effect in March. The lines for food aid are stretching for blocks across the country. “

    Mr. Littwin was so touched by this revelation that he generously took valuable time away from mocking President Trump to express his deep concern about the plight of the unemployed albeit in the column’s penultimate paragraph:

    “We know the pain accompanied with the shutdown of the economy. We know of the 22 million unemployment claims (including 104,000 in Colorado just last week), the heartbreakingly long lines of people in desperate need of food for their families, the likely loss of family businesses, the human costs of a deep recession.”

    What would Mr. Littwin say to those 22 million who have filed for unemployment and stand in those “heartbreakingly long lines of people in desperate need of food for their families, the likely loss of family businesses, the human costs of a deep recession.”?

    It would probably be short but heartfelt and go something like this, “Well, at least you’re not dead.”

    There is another (Wuhan) pandemic-related problem that Mr. Littwin has deftly avoided discussing: domestic violence. Despite Tina Griego’s report last month about rising domestic violence incidents in Colorado during periods of quarantine Mr. Littwin has so far ignored it.

    This from Reuters:
    “Domestic violence programs across the United States have cited increases in calls for help. The YWCA of Northern New Jersey said domestic violence calls have risen by up to 24%.”

    ***********************

    “The Independent is a nonprofit. You as readers and donors (both, I hope) are our investors. We work not to fatten the bottom line, but for our mission. It’s on our home page. You can read the whole thing there. But here’s a key passage: “We seek to amplify the voices of Coloradans whose stories are unheard, shine light on the relationships between people, power and policy, and hold public officials to account. We strive to report the news with context, social conscience, and soul, and to give Coloradans the insight they need to promote conversation, understanding and progress in this square, swing state we call home.”
    Tina Griego, managing editor Colorado Independent

    “We’re funded by donations from our readers, charitable gifts, community partnerships and foundations.”
    Holly Armstrong, board chair Colorado Independent

    “Thank you for your readership and encouragement. Please take good care of yourselves and each other.” 
    Susan Greene, Editor and executive director

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