This week, Greg and Kevin look possible Biden Cabinet appointments, why Bernie would be a poor choice at Labor, the national embarrassment of the Trump legal team, and what TV commercials for Coronavirus vaccines might look like.
This week the gang discusses what the world will be like in the aftermath of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing, the future of the ACA and Roe v. Wade, the presidential campaign in the shadow of the upcoming confirmation battle, and the Emmy Awards in the time of Covid-19.
Hollywood veterans Paul Block and Ward Anderson join the panel to preview the Democratic National Convention and wedge issues that are heating up the 2020 campaign.
This week the gang talks about Trump’s threat to delay the election, how and why the the postmaster general is trying to weaken the postal service, the war on TikTok, the demon sperm doctor who endorsed hydroxychloroquine, and the hosts make their best guesses as to why Joe Biden’s vp announcement was delayed.
This week’s podcast covers the escalating tensions on the streets of Portland and Seattle, Kim Kardashian’s comments about Kanye’s bipolar disorder, Johnny Depp versus Amber Heard, and AOC’s perfect takedown of Ted Yoho.
As the coronavirus pandemic rips through the nation, everyone seems to know someone who’s been personally affected, including the More Perfect Union family. This week Kevin and Jessica describe their experience after testing positive for Covid-19.
This week’s MPU podcast looks at how millennials on TikTok turned Trump’s Tulsa rally into a low-turnout debacle, the new John Bolton book PR debacle for the administration, and how the Supreme Court continues to defy expectations with surprisingly fair-minded decisions.
Colleges and universities are claiming they can reopen safely, with students acting like mature adults. College professors and parents know differently.
As the father of a rising college sophomore, I am highly conflicted about the wisdom of reopening universities in September. On one hand, my son is thrilled to be going back to his beloved Emerson College in Boston for the Fall semester. But I also know that no matter what I say about masks and eight-feet of space and avoiding parties, he will listen to my sage advice about as much as he listened in his first 19-years. In other words, hardly at all.
Last week, after three months of home isolation and angst, my son got the long-anticipated email: Emerson will indeed reopen this Fall with a “hybrid” combination of live and online classes. The email from the college president painted a rosy picture of all the smart precautions they are taking to ensure it can be done safely. But the one crucial element left out of the email was that the success of this high-risk venture mostly depends on the rational and mature personal discipline of 18-21 year olds. Often under the influence of liquor.
While colleges across the country are sending out similarly optimistic emails about all the “precautions” they will be taking to make campus life safe, professors and administrators will privately tell you it’s a delusional fantasy. Sure, you can limit dorm rooms to two students each, but the hallways and bathrooms are communal, as well as study lounges and, of course, cafeterias, where masking is impossible.
Then there’s the nasty issue of peer pressure. I’m a 63-year old man with a fair amount of self-discipline, yet even I find myself relenting to non-mask social interactions with neighbors who invariably edge from 6 feet away to 4 to 3. Of course, as an adult with nothing to prove, I can back up or withdraw entirely. I don’t have to worry about whether I’ll be teased by my friends or if I look cute to the boy I like. But what happens when classmates and dorm-mates from southern states who have been conditioned by their families to mock mask wearing start to put social pressure on those kids who are trying to do it right? What will your son or daughter do when they go to a “must mask” party only to find that most kids are showing their faces, and your kid is the one who looks like a weirdo? You know the answer: the teenage desire to fit in will prevail, and the mask will lose.
Then there’s frats and sororities – which take all those problems and adds bravado and liquor.
The data is already coming in: teens and young adults are not immune from Covid-19, and it can wreak havoc on even the strongest bodies. Reports from army bases and prisons are showing troubling outbreaks among young, healthy people living in close quarters. If coronavirus can plunder its way through a county jail or prison, which are essentially dorms with bars, what makes you think it won’t happen on a college campus?
The colleges say they will set aside a certain portion of their on-campus housing for students who test positive and need to be quarantined. Okay, but who will nurse them and bring them food when those positive cases turn into serious Covid symptoms? Colleges can barely man their health offices. Who is going to tend to the health of my violently sick student locked in a dorm-turned-ICU when his parents are 2000 miles away?
Then there’s the question of transmission to faculty, which is inevitable. What happens when 3 or 6 or 12 faculty members are suddenly hospitalized (or worse)? What happens when 20 or 40 or 400 college students across the country suddenly turn critically ill in the first few weeks, with some landing on ventilators? What happens when students have to skip class to attend a classmate’s funeral?
Currently infection rates among broad populations seem to be hovering in the 4-7% range. In Boston, the city where my child matriculates, there are 100 institutes of higher education serving some 350,000 college and post-graduate students. If even 2% of them become sick enough to need hospitalization, it would be a healthcare nightmare. If 7,000 Boston students get sick, and only 0.5% of them succumb to the illness, that’s still 35 dead college kids. Just in Boston! Project that out to the approximately 15,000,000 college students in the USA. Are one or two semesters of college worth 1,500 lost college lives?
Look, all of this is speculation, and I’m no epidemiologist. I’m just an anxious dad. I may be wrong and our kids will be fine and thrive. I pray that’s the case. But what if my worst fears are realized, or worse? As a nation we have a bad history of sacrificing our young people in wars that were supposed to be short and relatively bloodless, only to find ourselves thousands of deaths later ruing our blind faith in the public assurances of our national leaders. Do you really trust college presidents and the corprorate Boards they report to to put your child’s health ahead of their bottom lines?
Of course, as a feckless father, I’ll let my child return to college this Fall, because I don’t want my anxieties to stand in the way of his dreams. But if their dreams turn into our worst nightmares, we will have to carry that burden for a lifetime to come.
And then there’s K-12 and childcare. Those are a whole other set of landmines waiting to explode.
Kevin Kelton is a co-host of The More Perfect Union podcast.
This week’s podcast features comedian Ward Anderson as he and the gang discuss the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, the Lindsey Graham “Lady G” rumors, and some common misconceptions about the 2020 presidential race.
by D.J. McGuire
Donald Trump recognized his response to coronavirus was a disaster both nationally and politically. He won’t tell you that; nor will his die-hard supporters. He knows it all the same. Otherwise, he would never have bothered trying to distract everyone – especially said die-hard supporters – with an irrelevant but damaging executive order halting all immigration to the United States.
Trump’s entire response to coronavirus has been a slow-motion version of “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks.” First, he insisted it wasn’t a big deal (Tim Miller, Bulwark). When that didn’t work, he tried convincing Americans that this was a surprise to everyone (Miller has the receipts showing otherwise). Then he tried blaming “China” – by which I presume he meant the Chinese Communist Party. That might have gotten him somewhere had he not tried to rope Joe Biden in via guilt by association (Biden promptly pulled out his own receipts on Trump’s obsequious praise for Xi Jinping). So he pivoted to spouting off about the need to remove restrictions imposed by the states (insisting governors should “LIBERATE” them). Pew Research found that most Americans would prefer they didn’t.
At long last, with each narrative collapsing under the weight of reality, Trump shifted gears and went to his standby: irrelevant nativism.
The idea that an immigration pause would do anything against the “invisible enemy” is laughable. The nation with the largest caseload and body count from the virus is … the United States. Even on a per capita basis, we are in the top ten, with the only nations ahead of us from Europe (which was already under a partial travel ban). We have ten times as many cases and deaths as mainland China, a disparity no amount of (certainly happening) Communist cover-up could erase.
Then there is the question of how America is in such good shape that the economy can reopen while also being so bad that immigrants have to be barred for two months.
Of course, Trump probably knows this too – otherwise he wouldn’t have added boilerplate nonsense about “protecting jobs.” The idea that a two-month pause in immigration would have any visible effect on a labor force where 22 million (at least) have been forced into unemployment is nonsensical.
Not only is there no short-term gain, but lots of long-term pain, as Linda Chavez noted (Bulwark):
While most immigrants work in the service economy, a 2018 study by the Brookings Institution indicates that nearly a third of our STEM workers and students are also immigrants or the children of immigrants. When researchers find a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19, we shouldn’t be surprised that an immigrant or first generation American will be on the team, or even leading it.
In the meantime, the orderlies, nurses, and doctors caring for patients in hospitals around the country are increasingly likely to be foreign born, with immigrants accounting for almost a third of physicians and nearly 40 percent of health aid workers, according to a study by the Migration Policy Institute.
Note how Trump didn’t couch his order as “Fewer engineers and health care workers” – but those are the effect regardless. Unintended consequences don’t care about anyone’s feelings.
The reality is this: Donald Trump needed a distraction. He needed something to rile up his base. Bashing immigrants has always been his break-glass-in-case-of-emergency move.
There is one silver lining to this, however. We have yet more proof that for Trump and his supporters, it was never really about “illegal” immigration. It was about immigration, period. We should not forget this.