RE­LIEF TALKS AT DEAD END; TRUMP VOWS MORE OR­DERS

Chicago Sun-Times - - BUSINESS - BY AN­DREW TAY­LOR

WASHINGTON — A last-ditch ef­fort by Democrats to re­vive Capi­tol Hill talks on vi­tal COVID-19 res­cue money col­lapsed in dis­ap­point­ment Fri­day, mak­ing it in­creas­ingly likely that Washington grid­lock will mean more hard­ship for mil­lions of peo­ple who are los­ing en­hanced job­less ben­e­fits and fur­ther dam­age for an econ­omy pum­meled by the still-rag­ing coro­n­avirus.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump said Fri­day night he was likely to is­sue more lim­ited ex­ec­u­tive or­ders re­lated to COVID, per­haps in the next day or so, if he can’t reach a broad agree­ment with Congress.

The day’s ne­go­ti­a­tions at the Capi­tol added up to only “a dis­ap­point­ing meet­ing,” de­clared top Se­nate Demo­crat Chuck Schumer, say­ing the White House had re­jected an of­fer by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to curb Demo­cratic de­mands by about $1 tril­lion. He urged the White House to “ne­go­ti­ate with Democrats and meet us in the mid­dle. Don’t say it’s your way or no way.”

Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin said, “Un­for­tu­nately we did not make any progress to­day.” Repub­li­cans said Pelosi was re­ly­ing on bud­get ma­neu­vers to curb costs and con­tended she has over­played her hand.

Of­ten an im­passe in Washington is of lit­tle con­se­quence for the pub­lic — not so this time. It means longer and per­haps per­ma­nent ex­pi­ra­tion of a $600 per-week bonus pan­demic job­less ben­e­fit that’s kept mil­lions of peo­ple from fall­ing into poverty. It de­nies more than $100 bil­lion to help schools re­open this fall. And it de­nies bil­lions of dol­lars to state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments con­sid­er­ing fur­loughs.

Ahead is un­cer­tainty. Both the House and Se­nate have left Washington. With no deal in sight, their ab­sence raises the pos­si­bil­ity of a pro­longed stalemate that stretches well into Au­gust and even Septem­ber.

Speak­ing from his New Jer­sey golf club Fri­day evening, Trump said “if Democrats con­tinue to hold this crit­i­cal re­lief hostage I will act un­der my author­ity as pres­i­dent to get Amer­i­cans the re­lief they need.”

Trump said he may is­sue ex­ec­u­tive or­ders on home evic­tions, stu­dent loan debt and al­low­ing states to re­pur­pose COVID re­lief fund­ing into their un­em­ploy­ment in­sur­ance pro­grams. He also said he’ll likely is­sue an ex­ec­u­tive or­der to de­fer col­lec­tion of So­cial Se­cu­rity pay­roll taxes, an idea that has less sup­port among his Repub­li­can al­lies.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Mead­ows said, “This is not a per­fect an­swer — we’ll be the first ones to say that — but it is all that we can do, and all the pres­i­dent can do within the con­fines of his ex­ec­u­tive power.”

Rule One in ev­ery cult is to ig­nore ev­ery­body ex­cept Dear Leader. He alone can ex­plain the world­wide con­spir­acy against him­self and his acolytes. Al­ter­nate sources of in­for­ma­tion can­not be trusted. It’s all Fake News, de­monic lies from the pit of hell cal­cu­lated to de­ceive.

Rule Two is that only Dear Leader can pro­tect and save you.

So ig­nore all the hearses. Pay no at­ten­tion to the so-called “fact” that the United States, with roughly 4% per­cent of the world’s pop­u­la­tion, has 22% of the pan­demic’s fa­tal­i­ties. 155,000 corpses?

Those peo­ple were all go­ing to die even­tu­ally any­way.

In a wide-rang­ing in­ter­view with Ax­ios re­porter Jonathan Swan on HBO, Trump claimed that U.S. deaths from the COVID-19 virus are “lower” than any­where in the world.

“Lower than the world? In what?” Swan asked.

Trump pro­duced a chart pur­port­ing to show that a smaller pro­por­tion of in­fected Amer­i­cans have died than any­where else.

Never mind that he’s in­sisted for months that statis­tics show­ing an alarm­ing rise in COVID-19 in­fec­tions are phony. If the United States didn’t do so much test­ing, see, we wouldn’t have so many sick peo­ple.

By the same logic, of course, the best means of re­duc­ing drunk driv­ing would be for the state po­lice to elim­i­nate so­bri­ety checks al­to­gether. Think about it: no tests, no more DUIs.

In­ter­viewer Swan, an Aussie by the sound of him, ob­jected. “I’m talk­ing about death as a pro­por­tion of pop­u­la­tion,” he said. “That’s where the U.S. is re­ally bad. Much worse than South Korea, Ger­many, etc.”

“You can’t do that,” Trump sput­tered. He im­plied that South Korea (300 deaths in a pop­u­la­tion of 51 mil­lion) has faked its statis­tics, and in­sisted that Amer­ica is do­ing far bet­ter than Europe. Why, deaths are drop­ping sharply in Florida and Texas, he claimed, which is ab­so­lutely false.

Re­al­ity: On July 30, the en­tire Euro­pean Union (pop­u­la­tion 446 mil­lion) re­ported 7,532 new cases of the virus. The United States (pop­u­la­tion 328 mil­lion) re­ported 65,112. That would make the Amer­i­can rate of cur­rent COVID in­fec­tions roughly 10 TIMES Europe’s.

Trump sin­gled out Spain, de­scrib­ing it as hav­ing “a big spike” in cases. The Washington Post’s Philip Bump ran the num­bers. Spain has in­deed ex­pe­ri­enced a re­cent resur­gence of the dis­ease: “av­er­ag­ing 2,600 new cases a day over the past seven days and five deaths, ac­cord­ing to data from Johns Hop­kins. The United States has seen nearly 60,000 new cases per day and a bit over 1,000 deaths.”

Of course, the U.S. is larger than Spain, but not 200 times larger.

But the beauty of be­long­ing to the Trump Cult is that you don’t have to believe the num­bers. In­stead, you can trust Don­ald Trump Jr., who re­cently in­tro­duced us via Twit­ter to the med­i­cal the­o­ries of one Dr. Stella Immanuel, who holds a num­ber of in­ter­est­ing views, among them that gy­ne­co­log­i­cal diseases are caused by women hav­ing sex with de­mons in their sleep. (Tech­ni­cally an “in­cubus” in me­dieval folk­lore.)

Immanuel also con­tends that space alien DNA can be used in medicine, and that gov­ern­ment sci­en­tists are con­spir­ing to cre­ate a vac­cine elim­i­nat­ing re­li­gious be­lief. She also thinks face masks are un­nec­es­sary.

Of course she does.

It fol­lows that this med­i­cal sa­vant con­tends what Rush

Lim­baugh and Sean Han­nity have con­tended all along: that the mir­a­cle drug hy­drox­y­chloro­quine is a sure cure for COVID in­fec­tions, con­trary to what the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion, the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and White House test­ing chief Ad­mi­ral Brett Giroir say: that the stuff has proven some­where be­tween in­ef­fec­tive and po­ten­tially harm­ful due to heart-dam­ag­ing side-ef­fects.

Need­less to say, Dear Leader en­dorses Dr. Immanuel’s views. Of course he does.

The ori­gins of the hy­drox­y­chloro­quine fix­a­tion re­main ob­scure to me, but its prom­ise re­mains a foun­da­tional be­lief of the Trump Cult. Writ­ing in The Daily Beast, Will Som­mer ex­plained:

“For the vast ma­jor­ity of Trump sup­port­ers ... the drug rep­re­sents the pos­si­bil­ity that COVID-19 can be suc­cess­fully treated and the deaths stopped. But there’s also a po­lit­i­cal ben­e­fit: Por­tray­ing hy­drox­y­chloro­quine as a for­bid­den cure al­lows pro-Trump me­dia to blame any­one but Trump for the coro­n­avirus disas­ter. In this telling, COVID-19 could have been cured months ago with hy­drox­y­chloro­quine, if only the Democrats, the me­dia, and Dr. An­thony Fauci would have lis­tened to Trump!”

Me, I hear from an­gry Trump­ists all the time.

Many sin­cerely believe that there’s a doc­tor oper­at­ing out of a store­front clinic in Texas who has a COVID cure, but that the ly­ing news me­dia keep it hid­den to hurt Trump. Like chil­dren, they have no idea how jour­nal­ism works.

A clas­sic Trump­ist reader email: “Please. 156,000 dead are Trump’s fault?! Glob­al­ist op­er­a­tives Lord Fauci and Birks de­stroy the econ­omy and Amer­i­can lives. You prove my point, Kom­rad.”

Even his own White House Task Force, it seems, con­spires against the great man. Why they’re not drinking Clorox on ice, I can’t tell you.

MAN­DEL NGAN/AFP VIA GETTY IM­AGES

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

PA­TRICK SEMANSKY/AP

Sup­port­ers of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump stand out­side Trump Na­tional Golf Club in Ster­ling, Vir­ginia, last Satur­day as Trump’s mo­tor­cade passes.

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