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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Is Joe Biden president of the United States yet?

Biden certainly sounded like the commander-in-chief on Thursdaymorning, when he addressed the pandemic crisis in a sobering televised speech. Calmlyyet firmly, he called the American people to action, proposed a substantive anddetailed plan to mitigate the coronavirus outbreak, and promised to protect thenation from future threats in cooperation with our overseas allies.

If his words lacked the emotive power of a Barack Obama orBill Clinton, the former vice president was more than adequate to the moment – especiallyin contrast to the wretched performance of the actual president on the prior evening.Even Donald Trump must have realized that his flat, monotonous, seeminglyspooked reading of the teleprompter had failed to reassure the country, when marketsreacted with another record-breaking decline.

Drafted by his kooky xenophobic aide Stephen Miller, Trump’sspeech struck an immediately discordant tone. When he referred to “a foreignvirus,” the president echoed moldy tropes of bigotry, dating from the DarkAges, when fearful monarchs blamed the outbreak of plague on Jews and other “foreign”influences. His announced policy initiative – to curtail travel between Europeand the United States – embodied that backward worldview without muchlikelihood of reducing infections or saving lives.

No doubt Trump meant to “re-set” his ruinous approach to thepandemic, realizing that continuing failure will inevitably mean his ejectionfrom office in November. He needed a major adjustment, after weeks ofdownplaying and distorting the coronavirus threat and encouraging his idiot supportersto depict it as a “hoax.” But his speech — devoid of serious proposals toavert catastrophe — only emphasized how poorly he and his cohort are servingthe nation.

Within minutes after the telecast ended, various Trumpminions realized that he had just uttered several damaging falsehoods. Couldthey have been surprised? He said that all travel between the US and Europewould be halted, when in fact the restrictions only apply to foreign citizens. (Permanentresidents and their spouses will also be exempted.) He indicated that all importsand exports would be stopped, although only people and not goods are affected. Andhe claimed that he had persuaded health insurance executives to waive allpayments for coronavirus coverage, when actually they had only agreed to covertesting without charge, not treatment.

Such boobery is depressingly familiar to a nation that suffersTrump’s misstatements and outright lies every day. But this is not what is supposedto happen in an Oval Office speech. And it is not what would happen in a normalpresidency, where a speech of that gravity is subject to the most careful compositionand checking. It is what happens, however, when a puffed-up tyro like Jared Kushneris running the White House.

The arrant stupidity of the speech’s main point is obvious,except to the Trump mindset. Even if restricting inbound travel might reducethe number of infected people entering our borders, any such policy must beenacted only in consultation with the European Union and its leading memberstates. A global pandemic requires global cooperation, not “America First” posturing.

The most glaring omission from Trump’s speech was anyacknowledgment that coronavirus testing is central to a national mitigationstrategy. But the president couldn’t talk about testing because hisadministration has failed to ensure that tests are available in the tens ofmillions, as needed.

What Biden proposed, by contrast, was not only a rapid expansionof testing but a whole series of policy actions that would prepare us againstthe worst. In addition to ramping up test production in both the public andprivate sectors, the Democratic frontrunner laid out a plan for mobile testfacilities, the deployment of military medical personnel and equipment, acceleratedtraining and development of treatments and vaccines, plus much more to dealwith future threats as well as the current crisis.

Biden’s entire plan is well worth perusing (joebiden.com/covid19/).It provides an instant sense of how deeply his team understands government andhow federal authorities can respond to a national emergency. All of thisknowledge is “foreign” to the Trump crew and their Republican cronies inCongress, whose ideological disdain for government is potentially deadly to usall.

As the Democratic candidates cancel political rallies, inaccordance with guidelines concerning crowded events, voters may wonder how Americawill conduct national conventions and even the November election. What’s toobad is that we can’t move the election up by several months, rid ourselves ofthese dangerous incompetents  – and inauguratea government that works.

Until then God bless America, because we really need it.

Actor as Donald Trump in Russia Today video ad

Screenshot from RT's 'Trump is here to make RT Great Again'

Russia Today, the network known in this country as RT, has produced a new "deep fake" video that portrays Donald Trump in post-presidential mode as an anchor for the Kremlin outlet. Using snippets of Trump's own voice and an actor in an outlandish blond wig, the ad suggests broadly that the US president is indeed a wholly owned puppet of Vladimir Putin– as he has so often given us reason to suspect.

"They're very nice. I make a lot of money with them," says the actor in Trump's own voice. "They pay me millions and hundreds of millions."

But when American journalists described the video as "disturbing," RT retorted that their aim wasn't to mock Trump, but his critics and every American who objects to the Russian manipulations that helped bring him to power.

As an ad for RT the video is amusing, but the network's description of it is just another lie. Putin's propagandists are again trolling Trump and America, as they've done many times over the past few years –- and this should be taken as a warning of what they're doing as Election Day approaches.

The Lincoln Project aptly observed that the Russians "said the quiet part out loud" this time, (Which is a bad habit they share with Trump.)