CVIndependent

Fri11272020

Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

One day, those of us who survive this crazy time will look back on this year—and particularly this week—and shake our heads at the sheer unbelievability.

The Trump tax thing. That debate. The sudden—and somehow surprising, even though it should have been rather predictable—flood of positive coronavirus tests among prominent people, headlined by the president himself, who is currently being treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

This has all happened since Sunday. And who in the hell knows what’s coming next.

So, on with the gusher of news:

• Today has seen a nonstop stream of updates regarding who has tested positive for COVID-19, and who hasn’t. Here’s The New York Times’ live updates page. It’s worth a follow—and you’ll want to hit refresh frequently.

• A professor of immunology, writing for The Conversation, breaks down why President Trump, who is 74, is more at risk of the coronavirus than people who are younger. Key quote: “As you age, the reduced ‘attention span’ of your innate and adaptive immune responses make it harder for the body to respond to viral infection, giving the virus the upper hand. Viruses can take advantage of your immune system’s slow start and quickly overwhelm you, resulting in serious disease and death.”

• A local news bombshell dropped yesterday: Palm Springs City Manager David Ready will be retiring at the end of the year, after two decades as the city’s chief executive. While Ready’s tenure as city manager was far from perfect—the whole Wessman/Pougnet thing happened under his watch—and his high salary made him a target for detractors, it’s undeniable that the city has grown and thrived, despite three painful recessions, since he took the top city job in 2000. Interestingly, both Indio and Palm Desert are also looking for new city managers right now.

• I have to tip my hat to Riverside County, which has done a fantastic job of issuing relevant and helpful statistical updates regarding the pandemic (even though it’s weird, if understandable, that the county takes weekends off, because the virus doesn’t). Anyway, every weekday, the county releases an updated Data Summary. Here’s today’s, and I want to draw your attention to the little yellow box in the upper right corner of the last page: The county’s positivity rate, after fairly steady declines since mid-July, is heading upward again—fairly rapidly. Is this just a little blip, like we had in mid-August and earlier this month? Or is it something else? Stay tuned.

• Some news that flew under the radar today, because of, well, you know: The grand jury recording in the Breonna Taylor case was released. NPR looks at what the 15 hours of recordings reveal.

• Gov. Gavin Newsom is on my personal shit list right now. Why? Per the Los Angeles Times: “Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would have further protected journalists covering demonstrations from physical or verbal obstruction by a law enforcement officer.” The Times explains his justification for the veto, which sort of makes sense, but not really.

• Barring a change of plans, cruise ships will be able to set sail starting next month—even though the CDC wanted to keep them docked until mid-February. The White House vetoed that plan, lest Floridians and its voters get upset.

Wisconsin has become the latest COVID-19 epicenter in the United States. Hospitals are strained, and health officers are panicked. From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Before Sept. 17, the state had never recorded a day with more than 2,000 new cases. Over the last seven days, however, it has reported an average of nearly 2,500 new coronavirus cases each day. Those aren't just the highest numbers of the pandemic; they're three times higher than a month ago.

Things are also rough in Puerto Rico—and not just because of COVID-19. According to NBC News: “The increasing demand for grocery boxes … coincides with a looming funding cliff that stands to eliminate or reduce food assistance to 1.5 million Puerto Ricans, including over 300,000 children, according to an analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan research and policy institute.” Yikes.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott yesterday restricted the number of places where ballots can be dropped off by hand to one per county. Per NBC News: “Harris County, which includes much of the sprawling city of Houston, has a population of more than 4.7 million people, according to the Census Bureau. The county is home to 25 percent of the state's Black residents and 18 percent of its Hispanic population. Before Abbott's proclamation, the county had created 11 ballot drop-off locations.” Abbott cited security concerns, but really, how can this be viewed as anything but voter suppression?

Amazon said yesterday that nearly 20,000 employees—or 1.44 percent of the company’s workforce—have contracted COVID-19, as of Sept. 19. According to CNBC: “The information comes months after labor groups, politicians and regulators repeatedly pressed Amazon to disclose how many of its workers were infected by COVID-19. Early on in the pandemic, warehouse workers raised concerns that Amazon wasn’t doing enough to protect them from getting sick and called for facilities with confirmed cases to be shut down. Lacking data from Amazon, warehouse workers compiled a crowdsourced database of infections based on notifications of new cases at facilities across the U.S.”

The Paycheck Protection Program continues to be a mess. According to The Washington Post: “The Treasury Department and Small Business Administration have not yet forgiven any of the 5.2 million emergency coronavirus loans issued to small businesses and need to do more to combat fraud, government watchdogs told Congress on Thursday. Small businesses that received Paycheck Protection Program funds, as well as their banks, have been frustrated by the difficulty in applying for loans to be forgiven, despite rules saying that if the funds are spent mostly on payroll they will not need to be paid back.”

• A speck of good news: The supply of remdesivir—one of the most effective drugs in treating COVID-19—has caught up with demand, to the point where the drug-maker, Gilead Sciences has taken over distribution of the drug from the federal government.

The Washington Post has declared the current recession to be the “most unequal in modern history.” In web-graphic form, the newspaper explains how minorities and lower-income Americans have been hurt the most.

Speaking of inequality, check out this lede, from the San Francisco Chronicle: “Federal funding that put money in the pockets of local farmers and organic produce in the mouths of food-insecure families has come to an end. The United States Department of Agriculture launched the Farmers to Families Program during the pandemic to get free food to low-income families while supporting small farms scrambling for more business. But the department recently stopped issuing funds to local community organizations in favor of multinational food distributors like Sysco.” Sigh.

• I was again a guest on this week’s I Love Gay Palm Springs podcast, with hosts Shann Carr and Brad Fuhr. We discuss all things COVID—including sports! Take a listen, even though it was recorded yesterday, which seems like seven years ago, news-wise.

• Finally, if you’re in the mood to read about the inappropriate behavior that reportedly led to Kimberly Guilfoyle’s departure from Fox News, have at it, via SF Gate. Why should you care about Kimberly Guilfoyle? You probably shouldn’t, even if she is Gavin Newsom’s ex, is dating Donald Trump Jr., is the Trump campaign's finance chair, and became well known for her crazy speech at the Republican National Convention. But, boy, the things she allegedly made her poor former assistant—who, according to the New Yorker, was paid $4 million by Fox News to settle a sexual-harassment claim against Guilfoyle—do make for some salacious reading, if you’re into that sort of thing.

That’s all for now. Consider helping us continue producing quality local journalism by becoming a Supporter of the Independent. Please, please, please try to unplug and safely enjoy life this weekend. As always, thanks for reading.

Published in Daily Digest

On this week's mushroom-shaped weekly Independent comics page: The K Chronicles ponders Donald Trump's fervent supporters; This Modern World looks at yet another Trump tweet cycle; Jen Sorenson predicts Brett Kavanaugh's oath of office; Red Meat offers up some special milk; and Apoca Clips talks to Li'l Trumpy, climate-change denier.

Published in Comics

I got drunk recently and read all (as of then) 2,735 tweets that Donald Trump has written since the election, in the hopes that Trump’s Twitter feed—collected and searchable on trumptwitterarchive.com—might be a good way to get a sense of the horrors we’ve endured.

Looking at the tweets was like reliving all of the unbelievable moments since the 2016 election in fast motion. It’s important not to forget that we used to not have to deal with the dread of waking up each morning to realize that Donald Trump is president, and scramble madly to check Twitter to make sure we’re not at war. A year ago, all of this was new to us.

So here are 10 of Trump’s tweets, in chronological order, that capture something about the authoritarian nature of this presidency, or the insanity of our social media moment. I left off some obvious favorites (covfefe!) and tended to favor some earlier ones that prefigured later themes. They’re presented here verbatim, with no editing.

1. Nov 10, 2016 09:19:44 PM: Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair

Even though it is from the period between the election and Inauguration Day, this tweet is in many ways the most representative tweet of the Trump presidency. It is only Trump’s fourth post-election tweet, but it captures the spirit of his feed: validate Trump + attack enemies + attack media = complain about affront to Trump.

2. Nov 19, 2016 08:56:30 AM: The Theater must always be a safe and special place.The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!

This tweet is about the VP-elect’s attendance of the hit play Hamilton, whose cast ended the performance with a short speech expressing the concern we all felt in those uncertain days while hoping “this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”

But Trump took this as an opportunity to remind us of the depths of his cynicism when he demanded a safe space for a powerful white man. Brandon Victor Dixon, who gave the speech, is black, and Trump has made a habit of demanding apologies from black people.

This tweet barely made the list, just edging out Trump’s claim, also in November, that “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag - if they do, there must be consequences - perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!” Both introduce autocratic themes we’ve seen develop over the year.

3. Feb 2, 2017 06:13:13 AM: If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view - NO FEDERAL FUNDS?

Here, the president threatens the funds of a major university in order to support Milo Yiannopoulos, the right-wing troll who had white supremacists line-edit his ghostwritten Breitbart stories, when his speech at Berkeley was being protested. Milo worked for Steve Bannon, who worked for Trump.

4. Feb 17, 2017 04:32:29 PM: The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @CNN, @NBCNews and many more) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American people. SICK!

This is at the top of the list of authoritarian tweets. It’s got it all.

5. Apr 11, 2017 07:03:43 AM: North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A.

Foreign policy by tweet. This led to all of the little Rocketman stuff that almost started a nuclear war and ruined a perfectly good Elton John song.

6. Apr 23, 2017 10:44:59 AM: Eventually, but at a later date so we can get started early, Mexico will be paying, in some form, for the badly needed border wall.

Walking back an impossible promise while making it look like you’re delivering—this is exactly how Trump ran (runs?) his businesses.

7. June 16, 2017 08:07:55 AM: I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt

This reminds me of a line from an Oedipus play. Read it again with that in mind. Tragic.

8. Sep 30, 2017 06:26:16 AM: ...Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They……

Sep 30, 2017 06:29:47 AM: want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job.

OK, this is two tweets. But he’s attacking the mayor of a devastated city and using racist stereotypes all in one. (He seemingly practiced for this after the London terrorist attack.)

9. Nov 29, 2017 07:16:21 AM: Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.” But when will the top executives at NBC & Comcast be fired for putting out so much Fake News. Check out Andy Lack’s past!

The complete cynicism of the entire administration becomes painfully clear here. Remember how tough Lauer was on Clinton as he bro-ed it up with Trump during the election? And remember the 16 allegations of sexual harassment against Trump? Yeah. He still went there.

10. Dec 2, 2017 12:14:13 PM: I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!*

This one has an asterisk beside it because when it seemed like it could be an admission that Trump obstructed justice in the investigation of Flynn, Trump lawyer John Dowd claimed that he actually wrote the tweet.

Bonus retweet: I couldn’t not include this, because it’s Trump retweeting Laura Ingraham responding to a story I wrote:

The New York Times opinion page tweeted: Nov 20, 2017 9:38 PM: Charles Manson wasn't the inevitable outgrowth of the Sixties. If anything, he was a harbinger of today's far right.

Ingraham quoted that and wrote: Nov 21, 2017 8:37 PML “Far right”? You mean “right so far,” as in @realDonaldTrump has been right so far abt how to kick the economy into high gear.

And Trump retweeted it, somehow both proving my point and completing the circle of my year.

Baynard Woods is a reporter for the Real News Network and the founder of Democracy in Crisis, a project of alternative newspapers across the country. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Twitter: @baynardwoods.

Published in National/International

On this week's weekly Independent comics page: This Modern World writes itself; Jen Sorenson drops Donald Trump into Puerto Rico; The K Chronicles solemnly repeats itself; Apoca Clips makes a new hire; and Red Meat decides to take up hiking.

Published in Comics