Donald Trump's promise in an ABC News town hall last month that the United States would soon achieve herd immunity for the coronavirus, and conflating that with herd mentality, may be explained because Trump is counting on the latter to rescue his second term. It's otherwise impossible to imagine a campaign whose endgame is to recover the lost loyalty of voters over 65 selecting as its closing argument, "Not enough of you have died yet."
Presidents have available, and have routinely used, the Cold War-era Defense Production Act to overcome such critical supply shortages — not just in wartime, but also to ensure adequate relief supplies after natural disasters. DPA can be used to put emergency purchases at the head of a supply chain, but also to require factories to convert their output to provide needed equipment in adequate volumes. Members of Congress urged Trump to appoint a military official as DPA czar to coordinate production and distribution of essential pandemic-related medical supplies, as was done in the Korean War.
This disaster belongs to Trump — but the Tea Party's nihilistic hatred of government is what got us here
The catastrophic failure of the United States to prepare itself for the COVID-19 pandemic, and its equally catastrophic failure to mount the kind of "too late but effective" response to a crisis that has often characterized American history — World War II, most spectacularly — has deep roots in recent political and cultural trends.
President Trump's proposed drastic relaxation of future auto emissions standards has been widely blasted as a repeal of "the government's biggest effort to combat climate change." Careful readers have also noted that the Trump proposal would kill 300 Americans every year and cost every driver about $2,100 in higher costs by wasting about 80 billion gallons of gasoline.
- Bring back the coal industry and stop the “Stalinist” threat of wind and solar power.
- Freeze the transition from oil-powered cars and trucks to electricity by reversing Obama-era plans to encourage cleaner, more efficient vehicle fleets.
In the last several weeks, the futility of both these efforts to strangle the future have become clear.
Trump's norm-smashing has an upside: There's an opening for reform so no president can do this again
As the Trump administration lurches from usurpation to usurpation, shattering foundational practices of American democracy, the Democrats have yet to craft a coherent response. One possibility lies in the fact that among the public there appears to be consensus on three key norms: Power should be divided and accountable; all public officials, including the president, are subject to the rule of law; and government service is a public trust, not a private opportunity.
One of Washington’s favorite parlor games of late has been debating what constitutes an “impeachable” offense, and whether President Trump has committed one. An obvious candidate has gone unnoticed: the government shutdown itself.
Here's how Trump inadvertently exposed his allegiance to the petro-tyrants of Russia and Saudi Arabia
What does this fearsome threesome have in common? (Kuwait is really just a fellow-traveler to the Saudi monarchy.) Only one thing; oil. Two are petro-states, obsessed with keeping the price of oil sky-high. The U.S. still imports oil, but Trump has bet his party’s political future on America joining the petro-club. (And perhaps also on adopting the authoritarian political system that, Norway aside, characterizes most oil-dependent countries.)
This article was originally published at Salon
The Dust Bowl made its way into American culture through the songs of Woodie Guthrie, the novels of John Steinbeck, and most recently Timothy Egan’s magisterial, The Worst Hard Time. But its hold on our historic imagination was triggered by millions of “dust bowl” refugees who clogged the entrance stations to California for months, altered the demography of the nation, and emptied counties throughout the South-Central United States of their farming populations.
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