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QUOTE OF THE DAY
“There was no sense of ‘Team America’ in the conversations…It was like the United States had disappeared. It was always ‘Just me’.” — an anonymous Trump administration official, describing Trump’s phone calls with foreign leaders, according to a CNN report.
- The European Union officially banned US visitors. American citizens are barred until the US controls its COVID-19 outbreak, as are citizens from most of the world, including Brazil and Russia,
- China imposed a sweeping, draconian new security law on Hong Kong. The text of the law is still secret, but it clearly will give China the power to punish and imprison protesters, perhaps even retroactively. Hong Kong democracy activists are already resigning from organizations and erasing social media accounts.
- The president was briefed on Russian/Taliban bounty killings. According to news reports, his daily briefing in February described the Russian sabotage campaign, but White House officials deny he was told about it.
- Trump’s phone calls with world leaders are “delusional.” A devastating CNN article cites Trump’s own staffers describing how the President fails to prepare for calls, gets played by Putin and Erdogan, insults Merkel, and endangers US national security.
- Carl Reiner died at age 98. The comedy legend teamed with Mel Brooks and Sid Caesar, helped create the modern sitcom, directed a bunch of great comic films (including The Jerk), and was a pretty good actor too.
VIEWS OF THE DAY
Imagine you had a boss like Donald Trump.
Imagine your boss did this:
You send him a memo about a life-or-death issue for the company, and he doesn’t read it. He has regular calls with firms you’re doing deals with, but he doesn’t prepare for them, and instead spends the whole call talking about himself, or insulting the person he’s talking to. He commits an egregious, humiliating screw-up one morning, then turns his phone off and plays golf, leaving everyone else to clean up the mess.
These are not hypothetical examples. This is quite literally an account — taken from a single day! — of how Donald Trump does the job we hired him to do, and that we pay him to do.
In the last 24 hours, we learned that his Presidential Daily Briefing did highlight the shocking Russian murder-for-hire program and the American soldiers killed by it, but the president doesn’t read the daily briefing. Even though the briefing summarizes the most important threats facing the United States, the country he runs.
In the last 24 hours, we also learned that Trump doesn’t prepare for his calls with other world leaders, which have enabled them to gull, outfox, and manipulate him. The president, whose primary job is safeguarding national security, is so incompetent that he’s viewed as a threat by his own staff. (Oh, and he also spends much of his time on the calls belittling the leaders of America’s allies, especially if they’re women.)
In the last 24 hours, we also learned that the president went dark after retweeting a video of his supporters yelling “white power.” He headed off to play golf, and no one could reach him. His own top aides say they could not find the President of the United States for three hours. You’re probably not the president of any country, and you probably don’t have a security detail, but I bet your colleagues could track you down in less than three hours, even on a Sunday morning.
None of these episodes even concerns what Donald Trump does as president. They have nothing to do with the shameful mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic, for example. They are just three examples from a single day of how he does his job.
We all know what would happen to a boss who behaved like this in any regular workplace. He’d be out in hours, fired by the board and sued by shareholders. — DP
A national “mask mandate” could save 5% of GDP
Everyone’s sick of lockdowns, especially the White House, so it seems unlikely that the Federal government would ever support a national stay-at-home order.
And even if the government did issue such an order, it’s unlikely that most Americans would comply with it. We had our shot to control and crush the coronavirus with lockdowns, and we flubbed it.
But there’s a much simpler measure the Federal government could get behind that would make a big difference: A national mandate for Americans to wear masks.
According to many studies, ubiquitous mask-wearing radically reduces coronavirus transmission (see, for example, the Goldman Sachs analysis below). Mask wearing also gives people the freedom to resume more of their normal lives, and, therefore, preserves more economic activity.
Goldman’s economics team estimates that a national mask mandate would significantly increase the percentage of Americans who wear masks.
More importantly — compared to another lockdown of similar effectiveness — a mask mandate would preserve 5% of GDP.
In other words, if only he were able to swallow his pride and order Americans to wear masks, President Trump might be able to singlehandedly boost the US economy. — HB
Is Parler — the conservative-friendly “free speech” social media platform — already banning users?
Mainstream conservatives such as Sen. Ted Cruz and far-right activists such as self-described “proud Islamophobe” Laura Loomer have touted the new social media platform Parler as a safe space for right-of-center voices marginalized by the “techo-fascists” who run Twitter and Facebook.
Parler is supposed to support “free speech,” whereas established platforms like Twitter and Facebook supposedly restrict it.
But according to TechDirt, Parler is already banning some left-of-center users. (I reached out to Parler for comment, but have not heard back yet.)
Parler describes itself as a “non-biased free speech driven entity,” but also acknowledges that its “interactions are subject to guidelines; and when you respect them, you are free to participate wholly.” Its terms of service plainly state that it “may remove any content and terminate your access to the Services at any time and for any reason or no reason.” And here’s how Parler’s CEO described their policies last night in a tweet.
That doesn’t sound much different than any of the platforms such as Youtube, which caused a stir yesterday by banning some white nationalist and alt-right channels.
As I’ve written for Business Insider, there are good reasons to not demand that billionaire tech bros become the arbiters of truth and acceptable discourse. But if Parler’s mission is to bring back the wild west of the internet, its own rules appear to be designed to prevent that from happening. — AF
IDEA OF THE DAY
Nothing is solved until kids return to school. There are 32 million American households with school-age children, and more than 50 million kids attend US public schools, and we have no plan for them.
Recovery remains a pipe dream unless kids go to school. Normal life can’t begin until kids go to school. A deservedly scathing column from the New York Times’ Michelle Goldberg lays out how we’ve neglected and botched the most important economic question of the pandemic.
Americans are being summoned back to work. Great! But where are their kids supposed to go while they tend bar and install furnaces?
School districts are talking about having kids spend a couple of days a week in the classroom — at most — to ensure social distancing. They’re proposing to rely instead on remote learning, which is a disaster, and steals future economic productivity and happiness from our children. Has there been a crash program to find extra classroom space so kids could go back four days instead? Has there been an emergency appropriation so schools can hire temporary aides and thus reduce classroom sizes? We solve nothing till we solve this, and we’re barely trying. — DP
BUSINESS & ECONOMY
Uber is in talks to buy Postmates. It failed to buy GrubHub earlier this year, reportedly because of antitrust concerns. Postmates is much smaller and wouldn’t attract as much regulator scrutiny. Uber’s reportedly bidding $2.6 billion.
Coronavirus surge could drag US into an L or W shaped recession. Bank of America says a V-shaped recovery is looking less likely because the pandemic is spreading so wildly.
LeBron wanted to go to the Knicks back in 2010. But of course the incompetently run NYC NBA team botched the negotiations, and so LeBron made The Decision to go to Miami.
For sale: A New Zealand town modeled on the Wild West. You can buy Mellonsfolly Ranch, with its double-door saloon and robbable bank, for $7.5 million.
THE BIG 3*
German officials were so alarmed by Trump’s calls with Merkel that they kept them secret. According to CNN’s report, Trump spent the calls haranguing the German leader and even called her “stupid.”
A North Carolina racetrack owner offered a “Bubba rope” for sale. The racist stunt was widely condemned, and cost the track its races and sponsors.
Ryan Reynolds crashed Hugh Jackman’s X-Men Zoom reunion. And he brought Sophie Turner with him.
*The most popular stories on Insider today.