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Tag: trump pandemic failure

How Top Pence Aide Made Masking Political -- And Doomed Thousands

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

In 2020 Marc Short, the chief of staff to then-Vice President Mike Pence, made a fateful decision that paved the way for the politicization of wearing masks. Had he chosen differently there's no question countless lives could have been saved.

Short, who once served as the executive director of the far right Young America's Foundation, "focused on the political and economic implications of the coronavirus response and approached many public health decisions by considering how they would be perceived," The Washington Post reveals. That report comes from a deep-dive into the Trump pandemic response detailed in the new book, Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration's Response to the Pandemic That Changed History, by Post journalists Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta.

In possibly the most damaging of those decisions, Short nixed a plan, which was far along enough to have a PR campaign already created, to send face masks to every household in America. The Dept. of Health and Human Services was backing the program, while other reports have revealed the U.S. Postal Service was also working on it.

If it had been executed, "some public health experts think [it] would have depoliticized mask-wearing," The Post reports, but Short believed it "would unnecessarily alarm people."

Previous Post reporting revealed the program would have flooded the nation with 650 million face masks, five for every U.S. household.

Short has a long history of focusing on optics instead of fact-based communication to the public. As far back as the 1990's he labeled efforts to educate the public that HIV and AIDS do not only affect gay people a "propaganda campaign," a "distortion campaign," and "intentional deception."

And he called gay people "sodomites," while attacking "the perverted lifestyles homosexuals pursue," and delivered a warning to not "glorify homosexuals' repugnant practices."

Short tested positive for coronavirus in October.

Americans were already alarmed, but Short's and the White House's focus on optics and pretending the coronavirus was not as dangerous and deadly as it in fact is, according to Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, led to hundreds of thousands of deaths that could have been avoided.

Dr. Fauci And His Enemies

Ever since the Republican Party devolved into a wholly owned subsidiary of former President Donald Trump, it is increasingly preoccupied with conspiracy theories and smear campaigns. For Trump himself, as well as such Trump operatives as Roger Stone, smears and conspiracies define their politics, rather than policy or principle. Over the past few years, unfortunately, we have become accustomed to their grimy style.

The latest target of their fantasies and defamations is Dr. Anthony Fauci, now among the most familiar faces in America as the principal presidential adviser on the coronavirus. Fauci has become someone about whom right-wing noisemakers feel free to fabricate vicious lies. They slander him incessantly because — in the course of performing his duty to the nation — he displeased their master.

You see, the renowned epidemiologist didn't think Trump was making America great when the former president suggested that we inject bleach into ourselves, or buy up hydroxychloroquine or shun masking. Fauci even dared to note that the Trump administration's horrendous mismanagement of the pandemic had led to many thousands of unnecessary deaths. Because it did.

Now these same extremists — some of whom, such as television personality Tucker Carlson, masquerade as journalists — have insinuated that Fauci is actually responsible for the virus escaping from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, where it was supposedly "engineered." This grotesque falsehood briefly gained traction when a series of Fauci's emails were disclosed by BuzzFeed — and were promptly distorted and falsified to defame him. As The Washington Post's Philip Bump demonstrated in an article dismantling Carlson's charges, the Fox fabricator didn't even try to check whether there was any factual basis for his argument.

As Bump showed, there is no evidence that Fauci misled Congress about the origins of COVID-19. Nor is there a shred of proof that he tried to suppress research into the possibility that the virus somehow escaped from the Wuhan lab — a theory that most virologists still reject, although it bears further scrutiny. Demands for transparency from the Chinese government are valid; demands to "fire Fauci" are ridiculous.

The unsubtle goal of Trump's minions is to wipe away the blood of dead Americans that is now all over him and deflect the blame elsewhere. Republicans are now echoing a true meme about their fallen idol — "Trump Lied. People Died." — and trying to stick it on Fauci. But their noise cannot exonerate Trump. History will record him as a failed president who oversaw the worst American medical catastrophe in a century.

How will history regard Anthony Fauci? Unlike Trump, born to wealth and privilege, Fauci was a Brooklyn kid who grew up in an apartment over his father's pharmacy. He earned his way through merit, whether as the diminutive captain of his college basketball team or as the eventual winner of nearly every prize and award that matters in his chosen field. Having joined the National Institutes of Health as a clinical associate as soon as he completed his medical residency, he has served this country for more than 50 years.

Fauci is a professional, not a politician. He was appointed to his current position as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases during the Reagan administration and has served both Republican and Democratic presidents ever since. In that position, where he has earned the world's trust, Fauci has led the nation's defense against a series of medical challenges, including the AIDS pandemic, the Ebola threat and a series of potential pandemics including the earlier SARS, the Middle East variant, and swine flu. To the extent that we have escaped the worst consequences of living on a planet where disease spreads like wildfire, he deserves much of the credit. He is one of the scientists most often cited in medical journals.

In 2008, then-President George W. Bush — another Republican whom the right once decreed as God's anointed leader — awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Fauci. That honor was based on Fauci's direction of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, which was among the most successful government efforts in U.S. history and probably saved at least 18 million lives. Back in those days, the nation's conservative evangelicals helped persuade Bush to fund PEPFAR as a work of faith. Now, worshipping the golden calf, they disparage the man who made that program work.

Tony Fauci is a great American of no party or ideology. He would be the last to say that he has never made an error, because scientists make mistakes and learn from them. But if his dishonest critics live a thousand years, all of them together will never achieve a tiny fraction of the good he has done.

We don't need to hear any more from them.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Former White House Adviser Slams Trump's Three ‘Deadly Sins’ In Pandemic

Former President Donald Trump committed three key “deadly sins” during the coronavirus pandemic, a former top White House adviser said on Sunday. Denying the COVID-19 threat, stifling dissent and encouraging divisiveness among Americans all were missteps by the nation’s 45th commander-in-chief, said Andy Slavitt, who served on the White House’s COVID response team during the Trump administration and through the start of President Biden’s term. “We would have had a pandemic without the Trump administration. But there were three ... deadly sins that the Trump administration made that played out,...

Historians: Coronavirus Failure And Capitol Riot Will Define Trump’s Presidency

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

On Saturday, February 13, former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial ended when seven Republican senators and all 50 Democratic senators voted to convict him for "incitement to insurrection" — which was a majority of senators voting "guilty" but was still ten votes short of the two-thirds majority needed for a conviction in an impeachment trial. A talking point coming from some far-right pundits is that Trump has once again been exonerated, but in an article published by USA Today on February 15, journalist David Jackson stresses that history is likely to judge Trump quite unfavorably.

During Trump's second impeachment trial, Democratic impeachment managers — including Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland — presented a mountain of damning evidence showing that Trump encouraged the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol Building by a mob of far-right insurrectionists, including members of the Proud Boys, militia extremists and supporters of the QAnon conspiracy cult.

Author and historian Brenda Wineapple, author of The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation, told USA Today, "[Trump] knew exactly what he was doing and why he was doing it. Trump moved from demagoguery to tyranny."

Johnson, during the 1860s, was the first president in U.S. history to be impeached. But like President Bill Clinton in 1999 and Trump in both 2020 and 2021, Johnson was acquitted during his impeachment trial.

The January 6 insurrection is only one of the reasons why historians will view Trump unfavorably, according to Jackson.

Jackson explains, "Many historians had already said Trump would rank low for a tumultuous single term that included the COVID-19 pandemic, a previous impeachment, lies about his actions and those of others, business conflicts of interest and alienation of global allies."

Historian Chris Whipple, author of The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency, told USA Today that Trump will be best remembered for two tragedies: "his fumbling of a lethal pandemic that cost half a million American lives, and his incitement of a bloody insurrection against a free and fair election."

"Weighed against those twin legacies," Whipple said, "nothing else will matter."

According to historian Jennifer Mercieca — author of Demagogue for President: The Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump — Trump "will be remembered as the president who prevented the peaceful transition of power." Mercieca told USA Today that Trump "refused to accept that he lost. He spread conspiracy theory, threatened officials and called his loyal followers to Washington and incited insurrection."

Timothy Naftali, a presidential historian who teachers at New York University, slammed Trump as "the worst president in history" and stressed that he was "grossly derelict" during the COVID-19 pandemic. But Alvin S. Felzenberg, author of The Leaders We Deserved (and a Few We Didn't): Rethinking the Presidential Rating Game, believes that Trump at least deserves credit for addressing the loss of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. and trade deals that didn't benefit the American working class.

Nonetheless, Felzenberg also believes that Trump "spent four years creating carnage, or at least allowing it" and told USA Today that Trump's reputation is "certainly in the bottom tier" and "maybe at the bottom."

Why You Can’t Get A Coronavirus Vaccine

Reprinted with permission from DCReport

If you're one of the many millions of Americans who can't get a COVID-19 vaccine, know that Donald Trump never had a vaccination distribution plan for the country.

Though COVID-19 raged throughout Trump's last year in office, he did nothing to prepare for vaccine distribution. Consider that lost time, less lives saved.

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