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‘That Woman From Michigan’ Talks Trump
Donald Trump’s exchanges with Democratic politicians usually go something like this: He picks a petty fight, almost always lobbing a tweet with a low-grade schoolyard taunt. The politician he targeted makes some bland statement about not engaging, but slips in a few passive-aggressive comments to needle him back. Political reporters lap it up.That’s what’s been playing out between Trump and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer over the past week.Except this time is different, Whitmer says. This time, Trump’s routine is going to lead to Americans dying.While Trump is taking shots at her from the White House, Whitmer told me, “more people are going to get sick and more lives are going to be lost because we don’t have enough testing, because we don’t have enough [personal protective equipment], because there aren’t enough ventilators, because the national stockpile, I understand, is getting close to being depleted. And we’re not even close to meeting the needs of people that are already sick, and more and more are going to get sick.” This isn’t a normal political fight, she said. “There’s going to be a horrible cost.”Whitmer is trying to be diplomatic, even as she tries to negotiate for lifesaving equipment with a president who seems ready to let his personal vendettas guide his public-health response. She’s worried not just as the governor of a state that’s been shorted, but as the daughter of a man with COPD who’s living in Florida and who’s potentially put at more risk by the governor there, Ron DeSantis, who until earlier this week was taking more of a trust-his--gut approach to the pandemic. Whitmer said she’s dismayed by “the inconsistent messaging and the lackadaisical attitude at the national level, [which] really undermined the seriousness of the issue for a lot of people,” and by the “staggered inconsistent response we’ve seen nationally.”Trump is often influenced by raw, self-interested politics. He’s looking to win votes in Michigan in November, but right now he’s depriving Michiganders of the help they need, because of his feelings about their governor. How does she make sense of that?“I’m not sure how to answer the question,” Whitmer said.Our full interview can be heard on the latest episode of The Ticket.Subscribe to The Ticket: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher (How to Listen)What follows is an edited and condensed transcript of their conversation.Edward-Isaac Dovere: Do you remember the first you heard about the coronavirus?Gretchen Whitmer: You know, in January and February, [thinking] This is a global phenomenon that it's really just a matter of time. In February, my sister really started sounding the alarm. She was watching it very closely. Our dad is in Florida and we’ve been consistently, for a couple of months, trying to get him to come back to Michigan—frankly, because we’re so concerned about his ability to get the care he might need. He has COPD. And we really started working on him. We still have not been successful. And that’s why I’ve been watching what that governor’s not been doing, increasingly alarmed.Dovere: What may turn out to be the final “normal” rally of the campaign happened in Detroit on March 9, the night before the Michigan primary. It was a Joe Biden event, and you were there endorsing him. The next day, things started to shut down. Why did that rally go on?Whitmer: We were getting so much inconsistent messaging from the federal government and we hadn’t seen it occur in Michigan at that juncture. Now, the next day were the first two cases. And that’s when everything went to hyper-speed. But, you know, I’ve thought about that evening, because I’d told people, “We’ve got this virus. We’ve got to stop shaking hands.” We’re doing fist bumps, doing elbow bumps. You know, people were kind of teasing me about it, because they say, “Oh, I can shake your hand,” you know? I think that the inconsistent messaging and the lackadaisical attitude at the national level really undermined the seriousness of the issue for a lot of people. I think it still is.Dovere: If you could go back in time and talk to yourself the morning of that rally, would you have said to cancel it?Whitmer: I would say: Start buying every N95 mask I could get my hands on. I would say: Start shutting things down immediately. You know, despite all that, we’ve been more on the aggressive side and have moved faster than a lot of states. And each of those decisions has hurt. It weighs on you. You worry about people losing their jobs and not having money, and businesses that may not open again, and kids that you’re pulling out of school. And even at that juncture, there was conflicting advice even in the medical community.Dovere: In 2018, when you were running in your primary, single-payer health care was an issue. You were not for it. Your primary opponent, whom you beat by quite a lot, was for it. Has anything over the last couple weeks made you think differently about that question or other questions about health-care access from where you were before this outbreak began?Whitmer: I’ve always been for getting everyone covered. The debate in my primary, I thought, was not an honest one, because the state isn’t going to do this on our own. The ability for a governor who’s going in with a Republican legislature—I couldn’t tell people I can single-handedly do something that I know I couldn’t do. I just don’t think it’s intellectually honest. And that’s precisely why I took a more thoughtful approach to the same goal, which is getting more people covered.Dovere: It’s impossible to talk with you about what’s going on here without getting into what your relationship has been with President Trump. He doesn’t want to talk to you. If you were on a call with him right after this one, what would you say to him to try to break through?Whitmer: You know, it’s interesting. He did call me on Tuesday. And you know, I just reiterated: I don’t want to fight. We need to join together in the fight against COVID-19. We can’t afford to fight each other. We all have to be fighting this virus. And so I would say: Thank you for the 400 ventilators that FEMA sent. I’d say: I need about 5,000 more immediately. Every one of us has a job to do here. And the federal government, I think, really should be taking more of a national strategy. Having this patchwork of policies makes it more porous in terms of our ability to fight COVID-19 as a nation. We need to focus on bringing manufacturing back into the United States. We’re waiting on swabs from Italy and masks from China. Global trade is not all bad, but the fact of the matter is, we are at a disadvantage in terms of fighting COVID-19. And I would say we need to deploy the Defense Production Act in a meaningful, real way to meet the needs of Americans right now. These are the things I’ve said consistently on television. I’ve seen other governors say essentially the same thing and not have the same reaction. I’m not going to spend a lot of energy analyzing the difference there. But I will just say this: I’m doing my job and I’m doing the same job that governors across the country are doing. We are trying, in this untenable environment, to do as much as we can for the people we serve.Dovere: Are people going to die because of the government’s shortfalls?Whitmer: More people are going to get sick and more lives are going to be lost because we don’t have enough testing, because we don’t have enough PPE, because there aren’t enough ventilators, because the national stockpile, I understand, is getting close to being depleted. And we’re not even close to meeting the needs of people that are already sick, and more and more are going to get sick. And so I do think that there’s going to be a horrible cost because of all of these pieces.Dovere: Joe Biden has been talking with a lot of people about what’s going on. One of the things that puts you into the conversation is, of course, you get talked about as a potential running mate for him. He said he’s going to pick a woman. You’re from a swing state. Even aside from that, you’ve generated a lot of national political interest. If he called and asked you to do it, what would your answer be?Whitmer: Well, I’ll just say this: I am 15 months into my job as governor. I worked for two years to earn the opportunity to have this job. And no one could ever have anticipated that we would be here in this moment. I didn’t go out looking for the national spotlight. I know that the most important thing, where I’m spending all my energy right now, is trying to help my frontline health-care providers and trying to educate Michiganders so that we can slow the spread of COVID-19. I don’t like being attacked in national news. I didn’t go out of my way looking for all of this conversation. I just know that I need assistance and I need to use my voice at every opportunity to try to highlight what’s happening in Michigan so that I can help my nurses and doctors and respiratory therapists who are doing superhero work.Dovere: The president called you “that woman from Michigan.” When you did your Daily Show interview, you were wearing a T-shirt that had that written on it. So there’s some of this fight that you seem to have identified with.Whitmer: I have been called many things in my lifetime. And I know that if you can, try to keep it in perspective ... Someone sent me that shirt and I thought it kind of said, This is not something that was going to hold me back. I’m going to keep trying to forge every alliance I can, whether it’s with the administration or it’s with a Michigan business that can produce some of these needed things or it is someone who will reach in and contract with me to help me get this critical equipment in. We’re gonna keep perspective because that’s what’s most important. And that means we are not one another’s enemies. The enemy is COVID-19.
The Coronavirus Killed the Policy Primary
What a rollout it was going to be. Joe Biden would stand next to former Representative Gabby Giffords at a big rally in Miami the Monday before the Florida primary. They’d rail against gun violence, criticize Bernie Sanders, and get a head start on taking it to Donald Trump in November. It was just what the gun-control movement needed: a big splashy event that would be all over local, state, and national news.The rally, originally scheduled for March 16, never happened.Instead, Giffords endorsed Biden in a video on Twitter. The thousands of retweets were nice. But they weren’t what the gun-control movement had been hoping for. Did you know the endorsement happened? If you did, did you care?Guns. Climate change. Immigration reform. Financial reform. Education reform. Criminal-justice reform. Spending proposals. Tax proposals. The Democratic presidential race was the thickest any race had ever been on policy. Every candidate had an advisory team; every advisory team had white papers and bullet points and ideas of what could, theoretically, happen once its candidate was in the White House and Congress was ready to play along.Thanks to the coronavirus, that’s all gone. Aside from health-care reform, the pandemic has almost completely overtaken the presidential campaign—and the health-care arguments are mired in the same dug-in pleas for and against Medicare for All that they were over the past year. The coronavirus crisis has rewritten the rules about the scope of the bills Congress can pass, sucked up trillions of dollars in government money, driven the economy into a recession and possibly a global depression, and made clear that its aftermath will define the next four years, no matter who wins in November.Advocates and activists for the issues Democrats were most concerned about before the virus had been expecting to be out in full force this spring. Instead, they’re sitting at home like everyone else, and they don’t know when their chance will come again, this year or beyond. “We need to understand that nobody has a crystal ball right now. There are not a lot of people who have a lot of confidence about the way things are going to shape up,” says Peter Ambler, the executive director of Giffords’s gun-safety organization. Squinting for a silver lining in the crisis, he told me that so many people staying at home has meant a drop-off in mass shootings, although the panic-buying of guns has spiked at the same time. It’s also meant that shelter in place is no longer a term used only during shootings. Maybe all the focus on public health will get people thinking differently about gun safety, perhaps the clearest example of American politics’ failure to produce policy that aligns with public opinion.“At a time when [Americans’] health and safety is at greater risk,” Ambler said, “I do think that gun safety’s going to continue to break through as a kitchen-table issue.”Just as social distancing was taking off three weeks ago, NARAL Pro-Choice America, EMILY’s List, Planned Parenthood, and several other progressive groups announced a “women’s summit” scheduled for the Sunday before the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee in July. Now the convention has been moved back to August, and it’s not clear what form it will take. Bringing people together for an additional gathering the day before? Even the leaders of the groups organizing the summit know that’s going to be tough.[Read: What do progressives do now?]“We’re adapting and being even more flexible in our activities, but it’s not an option to throw in the towel on organizing, even—or especially—through this crisis,” says NARAL’s president, Ilyse Hogue. “The GOP always wins when fewer people participate, and beating Trump in November remains a top priority for millions of Americans.”Everyone being confined to their home almost certainly means that women in abusive relationships haven’t been able to leave. Nonemergency medical procedures being put off almost certainly means that women who might have sought an abortion can’t do so. (Ohio, Texas, Kentucky, and Mississippi have classified abortion as a nonessential procedure, temporarily banning it entirely.) The economic wreckage that the coronavirus leaves behind will almost certainly land disproportionately on women.That, Hogue told me, means that groups like hers are looking ahead. NARAL is among the groups that have seen an uptick in online engagement, with so many people sitting on their couch with their computer. “Continuing to plan events that centralize women is an act of hope and also a pragmatic way to remind folks just what’s at stake. The energy, ideas, and work that goes into planning will be used to foster solutions if we end up having to cancel an in-person event,” Hogue said.Meanwhile, remember the family-separation policy? The migrants who were left in detention centers? They were at the center of the Democratic primary race for about a week in June, when all the candidates took a drive from the site of the first debate, in Miami, to look over a wall at the Homestead detention center. They haven’t gotten much media attention since then, even as advocates worry about the spread of the virus in cramped facilities that don’t prioritize showers, let alone hand-washing. The response to and aftermath of pandemic don’t leave much room for immigration reform. “We know it’s a big battle for us not to be forgotten, so we’ve got to be louder and bolder,” says Javier Valdes, the co–executive director of Make the Road New York, a large immigrants’ rights advocacy organization. Like others, he is reaching hard for optimism, arguing that maybe the crisis will make advocacy easier. “The one thing that this moment also highlights is the intersectionality of all our issues,” Valdes told me.At 6 a.m. the morning before we spoke, six Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents knocked on the door of a member of Valdes’s group, a Mexican national, in full protective gear and arrested him. Even for that, there won’t be protests. There won’t be press conferences. “Right now, the only thing we can do is call and email,” Valdes said. His fear is that this, too, won’t attract notice.Then there’s climate change, the issue that had become definitional in the Democratic race, vying with health care in polls about voters’ top concerns. The pandemic might seem like the best imaginable shock to the system to get people serious about climate change—the population of the entire world responding together to a threat measured by science and (hopefully) eventually defeated by science, for better or worse.But just ask Washington Governor Jay Inslee, the official most identified with fighting climate change, how much time he’s had to talk about the environment while nursing homes and hospitals are being overrun by COVID-19. “It’s worth noting that the people who told us that the coronavirus is a hoax, or not to be concerned with it, are the same people who have ignored the clear and present science on climate change,” Inslee’s former climate-policy adviser, Sam Ricketts, told me last week.[Read: ‘We are like sitting ducks’]Ricketts is now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and though he’s been working on potential policy responses to the pandemic—he stressed that investing in climate-change technology would be one patch for the hole being opened up in the economy—he’s not expecting the coronavirus to create a sudden push for environmental policy. From Barack Obama to Pete Buttigieg, a number of Democratic leaders have suggested that the pandemic might spark that kind of action. But Ricketts isn’t sure.“I don’t know how much people are going to draw a straight line from a virus that’s killing people around the world, to climate change,” he said.For others, though, the pandemic makes what once seemed unlikely look more possible. Take the Green New Deal, which Republicans and Democrats alike spent the past two years dismissing as unrealistic and unaffordable. Stephen O’Hanlon, the national field director for the youth-run Sunrise Movement, which has led the charge for the Green New Deal, points out that the plan was designed to take the country out of a recession by making a 1930s-style government investment in fighting climate change. Now that recession appears to be here.“What we’re seeing is that the next few months have the potential to be a once-in-a-century moment of political realignment in this country,” O’Hanlon told me on Wednesday afternoon. “The Trump administration is talking about bailing out oil and gas companies at the same time that working families are struggling and seeing their paychecks disappear…. It’s a real moment of reckoning for our country.”
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Ron Darling: MLB season looking more doubtful by the day
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7 incredibly useful sites you might not know about to get things done during this pandemic
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Covering the coronavirus pandemic: CNN correspondents reflect on how we got here
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Mega Millions Results, Numbers for 04/03/2020: Did Anyone Win the $121 Million Jackpot Prize Last Night?
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These Muhammad Ali books are absolute knockouts
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Fordham athletic director David Roach to retire
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Long Island doctor tries new twist on hydroxychloroquine for elderly COVID-19 patients
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Anthony Volpe opens up about brief Yankees taste, coronavirus plan
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Corbynism Will Outlast Jeremy Corbyn
Barry Goldwater’s 1964 nomination as the Republican presidential candidate was a defining moment in American politics, but not for the reasons that anyone thought at the time. Goldwater was crushed by Lyndon B. Johnson in the general election, a result, everyone agreed, that proved the type of radical conservatism Goldwater represented was dead. Everyone was wrong. Four years later, Richard Nixon was elected president, beginning a prolonged period of Republican political dominance that would culminate in Ronald Reagan’s 1980 victory. “Here is one time, at least,” the historian Rick Perlstein wrote, “in which history was written by the losers.”The Goldwater experience—that electoral defeat does not mark the end of a movement—has implications today, and not only for the conservative right.Even before the coronavirus outbreak, many on the “populist,” or “radical,” left insisted that globalization, climate change, automation, and inequality were creating the conditions for their own political resurgence, despite their leaders—Bernie Sanders in the United States, Jeremy Corbyn in Britain—being rejected at the ballot box. Now, in a world where governments are nationalizing wages and public services just to keep their economies afloat, such claims no longer seem far-fetched. Indeed, Corbyn, who will be replaced as Labour leader today, said the emergency economic measures being taken in Britain have proved him “absolutely right” in his demand for higher state spending, even though he badly lost an election just a few months ago after campaigning on that pledge. Is history repeating itself, accelerated by the severity of the social and economic crisis ripping through Western societies as a result of the pandemic?[Read: The meaning of Boris Johnson’s illness]The trouble with arguments claiming long-term inevitability is that they cannot be disproved. “The long run is a misleading guide to current affairs,” the economist John Maynard Keynes observed. “In the long run we are all dead.” So let me first say that the resurrection of the left is not inevitable, despite mounting claims to the contrary. Just because extreme measures have been taken to tackle the pandemic does not mean voters will want lighter versions of such policies in the long term. One example should stand as a warning in this regard: After the Second World War, Labour’s failure to end food rationing and price controls quickly enough cost the party at the ballot box in 1951, when Winston Churchill was reelected as prime minister. History can surprise: Perhaps the coronavirus will push people to the right, and voters will rally for tougher borders and more restrictive social policies. We are already seeing this in Hungary. Perhaps the concepts of left and right will not adequately contain the political demands that will follow this crisis. We don’t know.But much as Johnson biographer Robert Caro wrote that power reveals, so too does a crisis. Crises reveal the nature of power, the fault lines that run through societies, and the characters of leaders. They reveal the underlying realities of life: in the case of this pandemic, for example, that a functioning economy rests on a functioning society; that “key workers” and “wealth creators” are not so different after all; and that national borders have not been abolished, even in Europe. This pandemic has also revealed that governing during an outbreak is not simply a question of listening to experts, because experts can disagree. Instead, governing is fundamentally about judgment, the ability to communicate, to resolve, to show compassion and instinct.The ideas of the left are likely to stick around this time, then, not because of the pandemic itself and the measures taken to contain its impact, but because of what the pandemic has revealed. The sudden, crippling economic downturn caused by the coronavirus outbreak has shone a light on systemic weaknesses that few fully understood, such as those of global-health control. But the crisis has also illuminated problems that we could already see but did not appreciate—and that were central to the left’s pitch for power under Corbyn and Sanders. Have we prized economic efficiency too much over national resilience? If a healthy economy is possible only in a healthy society, do we not need to devote more time (and funding) to the latter? How do we remove the corrupting influence of money from our politics? How do we protect living standards in the age of automation, global supply chains, and pandemics?Like mold on a bedroom wall, the left is fed by the intrinsic damp in the system: politicians selling off shares while reassuring the public that everything will be okay; health systems too frail to cope with pandemics despite years of preparation; governments powerless to protect their citizens from events caused beyond their borders. None of this is to say that the left is correct in its analysis or solutions, but merely to state the obvious: The system isn’t working.In 2008, the taxpayers of the United States, Britain, and most other Western countries were forced to take on new collective debts to bail out financial sectors that were about to collapse. After assuming these debts, voters in places such as Britain elected governments that imposed years of austerity, while incomes barely increased (if at all). At the same time, climate change continued largely unchecked, and the pay of those who caused the crisis in the financial sector remained astronomical.Will voters really endure cuts to public services again, having taken on a whole new round of debt to soften the economic blow of the coronavirus shutdown? Boris Johnson’s landslide victory over Corbyn in December was fueled by a pitch to voters to end both the Brexit chaos and the previous decade of austerity. He promised more money for health care and the police, and no tax raises. Without austerity, how will Johnson balance the books? Think tanks in Britain are already debating the answer, and one called for a new “social contract” between business and the state centered on tax. But after such a sudden economic implosion, will voters seek only moderate tweaks to the system, or will they consider more radical reform? The former British Conservative cabinet minister David Gauke told me that a move toward more communitarian politics and a bigger state is inevitable.This is not an argument for Corbyn, Corbynism, Sanders, or the Bernie Bros. While in the U.S. Sanders is technically still in the running for the Democratic nomination, here in Britain, today is the day the curtain finally falls on Corbyn’s stewardship of the Labour Party. His record is bleak. In 2015, he inherited a party that, in the same year, had suffered its largest defeat since 1983. Today, he hands it over in markedly weaker condition, having led Labour last year to its worst result since 1935. His tenure, forever tainted by the revival of anti-Semitism that happened on his watch, lasted longer than most thought possible, because of the surprise general-election result that came in 2017 when he oversaw a late surge in the poll to rob the Conservative Party of a majority. Three years on, however, the reality is that the result blinded Labour to its overall loss in the election. Celebration of the 2017 result distracted from the party’s ongoing existential crisis, its voters largely found in urban England, and its working-class and Scottish base quickly vanishing. The narrow margin of the 2017 loss, it emerged, owed more to specific circumstances than to momentous trends moving the party’s way. Unable to see its own faults, and convinced of its own righteousness, Labour condemned itself to the crushing defeat that followed two years later.[Franklin Foer: Corbynism can’t happen here]Corbyn and Sanders were—and are—flawed politicians (Corbyn more obviously so than Sanders). Their historic baggage, ideological obsessions, inability to build a genuinely broad coalition of support, and, in the case of the Labour leader, failure to adequately tackle racism in his party (the kindest possible description of Corbyn’s behavior) made the pair in some ways uniquely unsuitable to stand for the leadership of their respective parties and countries.Yet they captured a moment, representing an incorruptibility and steadfastness, a perception of moral righteousness, that many felt were needed to take on a rotten system. Sanders and Corbyn fancied themselves to be the new Reagans (or Margaret Thatchers) in terms of the imprint they would leave on their countries, but were not up to the task. The question to haunt the conservative right is, what happens if these two historically peculiar leaders aren’t the Reagans of their movements, but the Goldwaters? And what happens if—or when—the left finally finds its Reagan?
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What to watch this weekend: ‘Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children’
Saturday April 4 and Sunday April 5, 2020 | “The Windermere Children” on PBS.
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How Giants are handling their virtual NFL Draft 2020 prep
The Giants are moving forward with their draft preparation with all their coaches, scouts and front office executives scattered across the country. Meetings are held via video conferencing, with as many as 15-20 participants at a time. For the first time, there is no physical draft board situated at the team facility. The board this...
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Los Angeles Files Charges Against Four Shops for Violating 'Safer at Home' Order
In addition to these four shops, the city attorney's office says it's considering prosecuting 30 other businesses accused of operating against city orders.
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MLB players union approves aid program for non-roster players
The Players Association approved a program Friday to provide supplemental financial support to non-roster players with previous major league service who were in camp March 13, when MLB suspended the season due to the coronavirus pandemic. Players Association executive director Tony Clark was looking for a way to offer aid to players who have been...
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Islanders’ Johnny Boychuk left unrecognizable by scary skate gash
Johnny Boychuk was dealing with his own medical problem at the time the coronavirus pandemic prompted the NHL to suspend the 2019-20 season. The Islanders defenseman had been sidelined indefinitely after catching a skate blade to the face, opening a gash that required 90 stitches to repair. The first few days following the March 3...
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