1

Let Them Eat Steak

President Trump insisted he was being sarcastic about injecting disinfectant, so maybe he's just ribbing us about keeping meat processing plants open. The administration has heard the calls of Where's the beef? after being notably hesitant in its use of the Defense of Production act, but now it's adding some meat to that bone by using it to classify meat plants as essential infrastructure that must remain open. It's a risky place to put a steak in the ground; playing a game of chicken with workers' lives—one that could turn meat processing plants into slaughterhouses.

No one has any beef with the need to address the breaking food supply chain, but in this case, the move could pit an essential service against the the essentiality of staying alive. 20 meat processing plants have closed, 17 workers have died of covid-19, and at least 5,000 have been directly affected by the scourge. Safely reopening would require a level of political chops not evidenced by this president, who has split his time between talking tripe, hot dogging it on Twitter, and roasting himself during press conferences. Can Trump, a man lean on accomplishments who has slathered us with a smorgasbord of hogwash, take a cold cut at actual leadership and beat the meat risk? Don't count your chickens. It's a long shot any way you slice it. His circle jerky butchering of the pandemic response thus far, which has put American exceptionalism through a meat grinder, hardly inspires confidence.

Having a president who's full of baloney doesn't mean your grocery store will be. Boasting about playing hide the salami is not applicable to making sure it appears. While he brags about all that sweet-bread he's made, this is a person who has turned businesses from airlines to casinos into mincemeat; and whose most applicable experience is his failed Trump Steaks business—how do you fail at selling red meat to Americans? Talk about killing the golden goose. I'm reminded of the classic Brady Bunch episode where Greg and Bobby locked themselves in Sam the Butcher's meat freezer. That episode was well-done. I worry that this one will end with rabid Trump rally attendees chanting, Meat Locker Up, Meat Locker Up.

The drive to keep a chicken in every pot is understandable. Doing so safely is a whole different animal. After bungling every program they've sunk their meat hooks into, one hopes administration meatheads will bone up on the facts, and beef up on expertise, so they don't end up choking the chicken with one hand and waving off responsibility for more American food chain dead meat with the other. For this ham-fisted team to bring home the bacon would be rare indeed (even medium rare). After more than three years of mismanagement, we've seen how the sausage is made (and occasionally where it's hidden). Maybe this time things will be different (either in a pig's eye or when pigs fly). In the best of all worlds, we could keep the food supply chain going and still protect workers. But sometimes, one man's meat is another man's poison. And with this administration in charge, one wonders if, instead of risking more lives, we might be better off going cold turkey on meat.

+ Before we put a fork in it, maybe this is all part of an effort to beef up ratings with a new Trump show: Berder, He Wrote.

+ OK, I know. You're getting tired of all the weinering. One last question: You want fries with that? Actually, in Belgium, that's no longer a question. It's a directive. You want fries with that. Belgians Asked to Eat Fries Twice Weekly as Coronavirus Civic Duty. (Until this crisis ends, we are all Belgian!)

2

Just the Tip

"The first-quarter drop was the biggest since an 8.4% dive in the fourth quarter of 2008. It marked a reversal from the 2.1% growth rate at the end of 2019." NPR: Tip Of The Iceberg: Economy Shrinks At 4.8% Pace, But Worst Is Yet To Come.

+ The pain is not being spread equally. In fact, for some, there's no pain at all. GQ: How Are Rich People Getting Richer During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

+ Even with the economic hit, Americans (by a huge margin) are not ready to reopen. Did the pandemic resuscitate reality?

3

What It Is and What It Should Never Be

"'You can call it a germ, you can call it a flu, you can call it a virus. You know, you can call it many different names. I'm not sure anybody even knows what it is.' That was neither the most consequential statement from the White House, nor the most egregious. But it was perhaps the most ironic." It's ironic because "what it is" is just about the only thing we're sure of. The Altantic's excellent Ed Yong: Why the Coronavirus Is So Confusing.

+ The New Yorker: What We Don't Know About the Coronavirus.

+ NYT: Coronavirus Death Toll Is Far Higher Than Reported.

+ Trump Says U.S. Will Run 5 Million Daily Virus Tests 'Very Soon.' His Testing Czar Says That's Impossible. (If you're looking to hire a testing czar, this guy will be looking for a job soon.)

4

Face Time With the VP

By now you've seen that VP Pence met with folks at the Mayo Clinic sans a facemask, despite his own administration's advice wear one (they lie so much, they don't even trust themselves). It's all very odd, because Pence has a mask for every occasion. The Veep explained that he opted to be mask free so he could in look health workers "in the eye and say thank you." (I wonder where he got the idea that masks block your eyes?)

+ Letterman on the executive branch's mask issue: "I have a buddy of mine who works at the State Department who's in charge of semi-secret information and he told me that his whole thing with Trump-y and the mask — he won't wear a mask because they can't figure out how to attach it to his hair." (Is it any less believable than anything else we've heard during this pandemic?)

5

Oxford, Come On!

"The Oxford scientists now say that with an emergency approval from regulators, the first few million doses of their vaccine could be available by September — at least several months ahead of any of the other announced efforts — if it proves to be effective." NYT: In Race for a Coronavirus Vaccine, an Oxford Group Leaps Ahead.

6

You Said You Pulled Out!

Did you know that the Trump administration is currently arguing that it didn't really officially pull out of the Iran nuclear deal? It's complicated. But it's happening. Slate: The Trump Administration Is Suddenly Pretending That It Didn't Blow Up the Iran Nuclear Deal.

7

Salvadoran Amuck

"The photographs bounced around the world -- hundreds of tattooed Salvadoran prisoners stripped to their underwear, crowded onto the cement floor in a forced embrace of one another. With the threat of viral infection palpable, not to mention human rights concerns, the pictures looked like they'd been sneaked out." Bloomberg: Stripped Prisoners on Floor Latest Tool of Salvadoran President (and the latest sign of the spread of authoritarianism).

8

Khan Jobs

Irrfan Khan was a true crossover artist; a massive Bollywood star who had a major impact on worldwide cinema in movies such as Slumdog Millionaire and Life of Pi. Khan passed away at the age of 53.

9

Feel Good Wednesday

"Angelina Friedman survived cancer, miscarriages, internal bleeding, sepsis and now not one, but two pandemics. More than 100 years after living through the 1918 influenza pandemic, the 101-year-old woman just beat coronavirus." (She should sue The Walking Dead for plagiarism...)

+ The largest Arctic ozone hole ever recorded is now closed. (Makes sense. Everything is closed now!)

+ Social Distancing as Demonstrated in Wes Anderson Films. (Man, I wish I had Chas Tenenbaum's family sweatsuits during quarantine.)

+ The great and good Jenji Kohan calls dibs on first remotely filmed pandemic show.

+ "I didn't know…that we have a Kentuckian who goes by Malik whose name is Tupac Shakur." (Classic.)

+ "The only thing I was thinking about was how much I hated the Astros." Dodgers-loving historic Bakersfield theater taunts the Astros on its marquee. (As longtime readers surely know, there's nothing about the Dodgers that makes me feel good. But my designer is a fan and he promised to get the new NextDraft t-shirts and stickers designed if I linked to this hogwash.)

10

Something Something Something Murder

The most excellent Damon Lindelof (Creator of Lost, Watchmen, and The Leftovers) has kindly offered to share a serialized story with NextDraft readers to help us, and him, through the quarantine. The first 15 chapters are here.

+ While you're waiting for the next installment, try your hand at cooking one of these 21 Copycat Restaurant Recipes You Can Make In Your Own Kitchen.