February 27, 2020

The Politics of a ‘Viral Fear Pandemic’

Democrats are hoping that the COVID-19 threat will be Trump’s “Hurricane Katrina.”

Democrat Party leaders Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi are in a quandary. They have to decide which of the headline tragedies today make for better political fodder — do they keep feeding the coronavirus fears, or do they put that on pause and politicize the Milwaukee murders in order to advance their gun-confiscation agenda?

Yes, their political modus operandi is just that causticly crass.

It follows the model perfected by Barack Obama and his then-chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who openly declared, “You don’t ever want a good crisis to go to waste; it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” And that is exactly what they did in 2008, when Obama used a pandemic of financial fear as his ticket to the presidency. At the time, even Bill Clinton admitted that the Democrats were responsible for that crisis because they resisted “efforts by Republicans in the Congress … to put some standards and tighten up a little on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.” Clinton himself had loosened up those standards 10 years earlier, with disastrous financial consequences but fortuitous political consequences.

My point is not to relitigate how the Democrats used that “fear pandemic” to ensure Obama’s election but to say they are experts at converting tragedy into political triumph. Their current “Hate Trump” platform is constructed on their perennial political foundation of fear, anger, and division.

At this point in the 2020 election cycle, Democrats are scrambling for any “opportunity to do things you think you could not do before” to enable them to defeat Donald Trump, especially if they can’t dispense with Bernie Sanders frontrunner status. COVID-19, the scientific term for coronavirus, is providing them an election-year crisis that they won’t let go to waste, especially if it becomes a significant domestic health threat. They see the potential to convert coronavirus into Trump’s “Hurricane Katrina.”

In January, I provided a comprehensive analysis, “The Flu and You,” putting the potential for a COVID-19 flu pandemic into perspective and offering helpful links on preparedness and response. At that time, the Trump administration was taking significant steps to prevent a viral spread in the U.S.

Monday of this week, reflecting concern about the economic impact of coronavirus, there was a 3.5% equities-market selloff — a bellwether indicator of economic concerns. For the record, there are other factors – equities are likely due a 10-15% correction, and the possibility that Bernie Sanders could somehow win the 2020 presidential election is cause for a lot of concern among businesses and consumers. Responding to the selloff, Nate Jackson provided an update on COVID-19, noting how Schumer and Pelosi had their coronavirus crisis/fear machine at full throttle.

Pelosi, who claimed, “Lives are at stake, this is not a time for name calling or playing politics,” in almost the same breath started playing politics, claiming the Trump administration’s request for $2.5 billion in funding was “long overdue and completely inadequate,” and that she doesn’t “think the president knows what he’s talking about.” According to Pelosi, “Weeks after [Trump] called for slashing the CDC budget during this coronavirus epidemic, this undersized funding request shows an ongoing failure to understand urgent public health needs.”

Schumer picked up on Pelosi’s viral political play, declaring: “All of the warning lights are flashing bright red. We are staring down a potential pandemic and the administration has no plan. We have a crisis of Coronavirus and President Trump has no plan, no urgency, no understanding of the facts, or how to coordinate a response. We must get a handle on the Coronavirus and make sure the United States is fully prepared to deal with its potentially far-reaching consequences. But the Trump administration has been asleep at the wheel. President Trump: There’s a pandemic of Coronavirus, where are you? Where is your plan?”

Schumer dismissed the administration response as “too little too late,” and asserted it is “indicative of [Trump’s] towering and dangerous incompetence.”

After acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney suggested that the best thing Americans can do in regard to coronavirus, is turn off their televisions, tune out the Democrat and Leftmedia fear mongering, Schumer said: “For Mick Mulvaney to suggest that Americans turn off their TVs and bury their heads in the sand when they’re worried about a global health pandemic is Orwellian, counterproductive, dangerous, and would be repeating China’s mistake. Trump and his team have to stop blaming everyone but themselves, focus less on political rallies and more on solutions to combat the spread of coronavirus.”

On Tuesday, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, an official at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), promoted a panic narrative that ran contrary to the Trump administration’s measured concern and effort to encourage calm. Messonnier, who is the sister of former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (one of the coup co-conspirators), told Leftmedia reporters that the pandemic potential is “bad” and the “disruption to everyday life may be severe.” She declared, “It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen.”

Let me be clear: Messonnier could be right. COVID-19 is estimated to be more much lethal than the .1% fatality rate of typical flu bugs, which have killed more than 60,000 Americans in a single year. As I have noted previously, it is going to be another bad year for U.S. infectious disease deaths, and could far exceed the 2017-18 flu season, when the CDC estimated the U.S. flu death toll was 80,000.

But her comments were irresponsible and played right into the Pelosi/Schumer “panic narrative” — and another market selloff of 3.2% Tuesday, which continued Wednesday and Thursday, heading for one of the worst weeks since the 2008 financial crisis. By undermining consumer and business confidence, and thus the equities markets, Democrats and their Leftmedia propagandists are playing fast and loose with the job stability of all working Americans and their families. Pelosi said “The market drop is disturbing,” but I can assure you that she and her Democrats ilk are high-fiving each other in Capitol Hill cloakrooms, knowing that what is bad for America workers is bad for Trump’s reelection prospects.

The net worth and retirement plans of all middle income families is taking a big hit, and so is breadwinner job stability – thanks to the disgraceful Pelosi/Schumer fear pandemic tag team…

And then there were the Demo campaign trail claims that Trump had cut the pandemic budget. Mike Bloomberg claimed, “[Trump] has defunded – he’s defunded Centers for Disease Control, CDC.” Biden claimed, “[Trump] has cut the funding for the entire effort.”

Those claims are patently false. According to an Associated Press fact check, Congress has actually increased funding. “The National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aren’t suffering from budget cuts that never took effect.” As for the accuracy of Schumer’s claim that Trump has no plan, the AP notes: “The public health system has a playbook to follow for pandemic preparation – regardless of who’s president… Those plans were put into place in anticipation of another flu pandemic, and are designed to work for any respiratory-borne disease.”

The Demos’ dire warnings necessitated an executive press conference Wednesday evening with President Trump and his key administration officials.

Trump announced the appointment of Vice President Mike Pence and HHS Secretary Alex Azar to head the White House coronavirus-containment task force. Trump assured the public, “Whatever happens, we’re totally prepared,” adding the infection rates in the U.S. “may get a little bigger, [or] it may not get bigger at all. … Because of all we’ve done, the risk to the American people remains very low.” Of note on the “reliability” of reports from China’s communist regime that they are containing the epidemic, Trump said: “If you can count on the reports coming out of China, the spread has gone down.”

Asked if he thought the threat had been politically “weaponized” by the CDC and Messonnier, Trump responded: “No, I don’t think the CDC is at all. … They’re professional. I think they’re beyond that. They want this to go away, they want to do it with as little disruption, and they don’t want to lose life.”

But President Trump and everyone else in America who is not hooked on the Pelosi/Schumer cool-aid, recognizes their strategy to undermine Trump.

In regard to Pelosi’s political play, Trump stated the obvious: “She’s trying to create a panic. … She should be saying we have to work together. We should all be working together.” As for the Pelosi/Schumer claims that the administration’s proposed funding is not sufficient, Trump responded that it is the House which is responsible for budget allocations, and they can allocate what they want.

Secretary Azar reiterated Trump’s confidence, but was clear that the threat could shift quickly: “The immediate risk to the American public has been and continues to be low. At the same time, what every one of our experts and leaders have been saying for more than a month now remains true. The degree of risk has the potential to change quickly and we can expect to see more cases in the United States.”

The CDC’s Deputy Director, Dr. Anne Schuchat, added, “We do expect more cases [and] now is the time for businesses, health care systems, universities, and schools to look at their pandemic preparedness plans, dust them off, and make sure that they’re ready.”

For his part, Mike Pence outlined the administration’s response thus far and plans moving forward: “[President Trump] declared a public health emergency. He suspended travel to the United States from China. He initiated quarantine efforts for American citizens returning, and he established the White House Coronavirus Task Force, which has literally met every single day. President Trump has directed me to lead a whole of government approach to address the coronavirus in this country. And I promise you: We will continue to bring the full resources of the federal government to bear to protect the American people… We’re all in this together. This is not the time for partisanship. This president will always put the health and safety of America first.”

As I previously noted in my COVID-19 analysis, to be adequately informed and prepared for what may be a bad flu year, the most current information is on the CDC’s page, “What You Should Know,” which provides updates, preventive measures, travel advice, etc. You can review the CDC’s national pandemic-response plan and basic citizen flu-prevention measures. And if you are interested in country-by-country data on the COVID-19 flu virus, that is being tracked at the Johns Hopkins coronavirus interface.

Despite the Pelosi/Schumer political play, according to the latest comprehensive Global Health Security survey, here is the United States’ currently preparedness rank: Overall: #1, Prevention: #1, Detection and Reporting: #1, Rapid Response: #2, Health System: #1 and Compliance with International Norms: #1. By comparison here is how China ranks: Overall: #51, Prevention: #50, Detection and Reporting: #64, Rapid Response: #47, Health System: #30 and Compliance with International Norms: #141. It is astounding, given the lethality of the COVID-19 coronavirus variant, that the death toll among Red China’s almost 1.4 billion people, most of whom are impoverished, is not already 10X higher than the current count.

And finally, as I wrote in “The REAL Pandemic Threat” back in 2006, “Clearly, there are significant pandemic threats posed by viral infections that mutate into much more contagious forms and can spread regionally, nationally, and internationally, causing significant loss of life. The primary defense against such contagions is the capacity to shelter in place. What originates in China or Africa one week can be in your suburb the next.”

For that reason, we developed a comprehensive resource page on Disaster Preparedness Planning, including a Two-Step Individual Readiness Plan and a section on how to shelter in place. We encourage you to visit each of these pages, because national preparedness begins with individual preparedness, and individual preparedness is the firewall against a “fear pandemic.”

(Visit our comprehensive China Virus Pandemic response and recovery page, and see our related pages.

Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776

Updated Sen. Elizabeth Warren who, like Pelosi and Schumer, is a master at politicizing everything, is demanding that $10 billion in southern border security funding be diverted to COVID-19. But the fact is, our porous southern border is a signifiant entry point for the virus, particularly if there is an outbreak in Central America, sending caravans of “pandemic refugees” north. But more to the point, recently there has been a significant increase of Chinese nationals crossing our the southern border.

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