The Smoke Eater For April 6, 2020

Mass graves, RIM jobs, and "The Bean Queen."

Good day, this is The Smoke Eater for Monday, April 6, 2020, and don't take that shit from anyone.

Quick Hit

* Finger pointing * Mass graves * What's in a name * A unsurprising and shameful statistic * "I need you to commandeer a plane with troops and guns and Bruce Willis and go get our stuff." * Con artists  and Russian Nazis * "The Bean Queen" *

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It Just Gets Worse

Yasmeen Abutaleb has an exhaustive recounting of the administration's first 70 days of dealing with the coronavirus, including the efforts by the Chinese government to push back against U.S. health officials. The administration's arrogance and refusal to listen to health professionals over protests from economic advisers inevitably led to the current crisis, and persistent meddling from the president and his inner circle have only exacerbated the outbreak.

Reporting for AP, Michael Biesecker writes the administration wasted the first two months to prepare for the outbreak by giving misleading statements in public and private to the American people and members of Congress. Purchasing records show the administration waited until march 12 to begin replenishing the Strategic National Stockpile, about six weeks after the World Health Organization declared a global public health emergency on Jan. 30. An additional order stipulates that mask manufacturer, 3M, wasn't required to deliver the masks to the stockpile until the end of April.

I've Got Something To Say

At the time of writing, global stocks appear to be having another good day on Wall Street's roller coaster. This has led to speculation from the high finance talking heads that we're beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel now after the New York had body ticked down on Saturday. They seem oblivious to the fact that the light is the incandescent the glow of a crematorium. Some argue that this isn't a time to point fingers, but the people making this argument all seem to be the ones who ignored medical professionals in fear upsetting the great and powerful stock market. Three weeks ago I wrote that we should memorialize the abysmal failures of the people who exploited their public charge by etching their names into the inevitable memorial plaques we'll erect next to mass graves. I still stand by that statement.

You're On Your Own

Lacking any coherent leadership from Washington, legislators are are left to fend for themselves, which often amounts to begging and pleading on national television for medical supplies. Over the weekend several governors complained about being forced to compete against other states for basic medical supplies. Most state and local leaders have reserved their criticisms for the administration, likely in fear of reprisals. Illinois Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker was particularly pointed in again criticizing the administration on Sunday, telling CNN's Jake Tapper, "The president does not understand the word federal - Federal Emergency Management Agency." Pritzker explained states don't have access to the resources, intelligence, or logistical capacity like the federal government, adding, "If they had started in February, building ventilators, getting ready for this pandemic, we would not have the problems that we have today and frankly, very many fewer people would die." [Video]

Pritzker's comments come as Chicago, like much of the rest of the country, braces for an expected spike in infection rates and death. In Chicago, the virus is killing poor black residents on South and West sides at a disproportionately high rate, according to NPR affiliate, WBEZ. Health experts say they aren't surprised, noting that Chicago's black community has historically been prone to a number of underlying health problems, a reliance on public transit, and basic living conditions that also increase risk factors. Last week ProPublica reported that black communities in major cities across the country make up a disproportionate number of infected people. ProPublica notes that it may be problematic to map the spread of the virus in various communities as the CDC has yet to release specific data on infection rates with regard to race for the coronavirus pandemic.

Over the weekend a Washington Post investigation found that many deaths attributable to the virus are not being counted. There's some debate about whether doctors should be counting people who suffer from underlying ailments and then become infected with COVID-19 and die. There's also discussion about measuring annual death rates against other numbers, such as China's spike in cremation urns.

With the administration reluctant to help states, Rep. Elisa Slotkin has been trying to move heaven and earth to get protective gear for medical professionals in her district, Gregg Jaffe writes for the Washington Post. Slotkin has been using her time at home to stitch together a coalition of local hospitals and businesses willing to place a collective order large enough to convince a Chinese supplier to accept a bid while representatives from other states literally wait in the same line outside a factory -- some with bags of cash -- in an attempt to out-bid one another.

Snake Oil and RIM Jobs

Rudy Giuliani has been trying to get back on the new season of peddling drug cocktails cooked by another wannabe game show host who sells snake oil.

The US is expected to designate the Russian Imperial Movement as a foreign terrorist organization, according to The New York Times. RIM has been attempting further nationalist and white supremacist ideologies outside of its own borders, and offered paramilitary training in St. Petersburg.

One More Thing...

Here's an episode of I Love Lucy where Lucy becomes the queen of beans, via the Internet Archive.

OK, here's a cute critter video: SLOTH!

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