• Politics
    The Guardian

    'We won't see coronavirus here' ... and other gems from Trump's new press secretary

    Kayleigh McEnany, who replaces Stephanie Grisham, has embraced birtherism and claimed Democrats were rooting for the pandemicThe White House on Wednesday confirmed the appointment of Kayleigh McEnany as Donald Trump’s fourth press secretary – even as her long history of disturbing public statements came to light.McEnany, who turns 32 next week, worked for the former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee on his Fox News show and as a pro-Trump commentator on CNN during the 2016 presidential election. She became national spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, then for Trump’s re-election campaign.A survey of past remarks and tweets suggests she is perfectly qualified for the job of being his master’s voice – and attacking his nemesis, Barack Obama. For instance, she embraced the original sin of Trumpian politics: birtherism. It is the conspiracy theory that Obama, America’s first black president, was not born in the US but rather in Kenya.On 29 August 2012, McEnany tweeted: “How I Met Your Brother -- Never mind, forgot he’s still in that hut in Kenya. ObamaTVShows”.Along with the spurious dig at Obama, who was born in Hawaii, the tweet also traded on stereotypes of Africans living in huts. Highlighting the tweet on Tuesday, Richard Painter, a former White House chief ethics lawyer, wrote: “What is this? A KKK rally in the White House?”As president, Trump reportedly called African nations “shithole countries” and said of a deadly white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia: “You also had people that were very fine people on both sides.” But McEnany told the Fox Business Network in May 2018: “The president has come out multiple times saying he denounces all racism. We all denounce racism, that would include the president.”In March 2017, she tried to defend Trump’s frequent golfing by turning the tables on Obama over the killing of Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter in Pakistan.“You had President Obama, who after the – I believe it was the beheading of Daniel Pearl – spoke to how upset he was about that, then rushed off to a golf game,” she claimed on CNN. “I think when we’re in a state of war, when we’re in a state of mourning, you should take time off from the golf course.”But when Pearl died in 2002, Obama was still a state senator. McEnany subsequently apologised, explaining she meant to say James Foley, a photojournalist kidnapped in Syria and beheaded by the Islamic State in 2014.According to a Washington Post count, Trump made 16,241 false or misleading claims in his first three years in office. But on 28 August 2019, McEnany told CNN’s Chris Cuomo: “No. I don’t believe the president has lied.”And taking her cue from the president, McEnany played down the threat of the coronavirus. On Trish Regan’s Fox Business Network show in late February, she praised Trump’s partial Chinese travel ban and asserted: “We will not see diseases like the coronavirus come here. And isn’t it refreshing when contrasting it with the awful presidency of President Obama?”Regan later parted ways with the network after calling the coronavirus an “impeachment scam”. McEnany has been rewarded with a senior job at the White House.On 28 February, McEnany appeared on Fox News. “What is bad for America is good for Democrats. It’s incredible that they think this way. They root against the stock market. They root for this [coronavirus] to take hold. They have a demented dream of taking down President Trump. It doesn’t matter how many Americans they destroy in order to get there.”On 11 March, with the Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and then candidate Bernie Sanders having cancelled campaign rallies, she was asked on the Fox Business Network whether Trump would follow suit. She wasn’t worried, she insisted. “Look, we have the commander-in-chief, we have the best health experts, we are taking it day by day, we are currently proceeding as normal,” McEnany said.“And look, Joe Biden, he’s suspending his rallies. He’s been dying to get off the campaign trail. The man can only speak for seven minutes … The media’s best hope is for Donald Trump to suspend his rallies … they know it’s his avenue to speak directly to the American people.”Later that day, the Trump campaign did cancel rallies.Meanwhile, when it comes to the climate crisis, McEnany has a history of denying the scientific consensus that humans are heating the planet, primarily by burning fossil fuels.In 2014, when climate protesters marched during a cold winter in Washington DC, McEnany told Fox News: “The science is not settled, so let’s stop the liberal hysteria, take a break from the protesting, go get some hot cocoa, sit inside.”The Fox host Neil Cavuto and McEnany laughed as an Occidental College professor explained that the vast majority of qualified climatologists agreed on the climate threat.McEnany countered that “in the 1970s it was global cooling” and “they always change the verbiage. It’s the verbiage to justify the liberal mechanisms that they would like to put in place.”McEnany also claimed corruption of the scientific process, saying: “Let’s be real. Who’s getting the grants? Who are the liberal universities giving the grants to? Of course it’s going to be people who buy into the fact that global warming does exist.”More recently, McEnany has shifted to focusing on the costs of addressing the climate crisis.In February, McEnany tweeted that the Democratic plan for climate change was “to eliminate more than 1 million jobs in America by eliminating the fossil fuel industry. Kill the economy!”Last July, she mocked the former 2020 candidates Pete Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke for emphasizing the narrowing window for addressing the crisis.Trump’s first two press secretaries were caught in lies. Sean Spicer began by claiming about Trump’s inauguration: “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration – period – both in person and around the globe.” Sarah Sanders admitted that her claims that she personally communicated with “countless” FBI officials about Trump’s decision to fire James Comey was a “slip of the tongue”.Then came Stephanie Grisham, who became the press secretary and White House communications director last June but never gave a formal press briefing. Grisham will rejoin Melania Trump’s office in a new role as chief of staff.McEnany is a rising star in Trumpworld despite – or because of – her misstatements. Brad Parscale, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, said: “Kayleigh McEnany is a first-class professional who will serve President Trump and the American people well. She has been one of the strongest assets to the president’s re-election campaign with her keen mind, positive attitude, strong faith, and tireless work ethic.”

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    The Conversation

    Why your local store keeps running out of flour, toilet paper and prescription drugs

    Retailers are frequently running out of everything from flour and fresh meat to toilet paper and pharmaceuticals as supply chains hammered by the coronavirus struggle to keep up with stockpiling consumers. Although out-of-stock products are usually replenished within a day or two, the sight of bare shelves typically prompts more hoarding as people fear the supply of the goods they need may be cut off. This vicious cycle is a direct result of shortcomings of modern supply chains, which most companies, regardless of industry, now use. As an expert on supply chain management, I believe three main characteristics of today’s supply chain are largely to blame. 1\. Supply chains have become very complexFundamentally, a supply chain links a series of companies that make, transport, refine and deliver the finished product you buy at a retailer, restaurant or anywhere else. Consider a cup of coffee from Starbucks. Your coffee might begin as a pile of coffee beans grown and picked by a farmer in Guatemala. They’re then shipped to a coffee roaster, say in Seattle, who then sends them on to a distributor near where you live, who sells them to your local Starbucks. A shutdown anywhere along the supply chain in any of these locations stops this flow and could prevent you from enjoying your morning brew. While a coffee supply chain may be relatively simple and linear, it can quickly get complicated for products that have many parts, such as an Apple iPhone. Apple actually has suppliers in 43 countries, and tracing the journey of any one component is difficult. For example, one of the chips that run an iPhone is designed in California but made in Taiwan, tested in the Philippines and then added to Apple products in China. And many companies often share the same supplier, such as Intel for processors or Kimberly Clark for the fiber in toilet paper. So a hiccup in one link in the supply chain can have ripple effects across companies around the world. The result is that the vast majority of global companies don’t fully grasp their risk exposure. Few, if any, have complete knowledge of the locations of all the companies that provide parts to their direct suppliers. Even supply chains for foods like bananas are long and complex, as most produce comes from countries across the globe. Compounding the complexity is the problem of capacity, which is how much of something each company in a supply chain can produce. Rapidly increasing capacity is hard. Just think about the difference in hosting a dinner party for two guests versus 200. That is exactly why there is a shortage of hand sanitizer. Customers are buying huge amounts, but suppliers are not able to increase available amounts of essential ingredients, such as alcohol, glycerol and hydrogen peroxide. 2\. A lean machineWhat has made these supply chains even more vulnerable are strategies that rely heavily on “just in time” or lean inventory replenishment. That is, companies maintain only enough stock on hand for a short duration and rely on small deliveries made frequently to keeps costs low. For example, many companies keep just enough inventory to last a few weeks, confident that products will arrive as they are needed. That system works perfectly well provided there are no disruptions. However, as companies in a wide variety of industries, including food, retail, high-tech and automotive, have increasingly implemented this strategy, they no longer have the extra inventory or excess capacity to make up for production losses caused by a disruption. As a result, these businesses are highly vulnerable to even a short material-flow problem. When an earthquake shook Taiwan on Sept. 21, 1999, it created a huge disruption for the computer-chip industry, delaying shipping times for some products by more than a week. Similarly, since lean systems removed most excess inventory, many medical supply chains were not able to respond to disruptions during emergence of the avian influenza, or “bird flu,” in 2005.Yet those were relatively minor, regional disruptions. The coronavirus pandemic has virtually shut down dozens of economies, with movements of over a third of the global population restricted. This means a surge in demand for any product could easily result in shortages for days or weeks. Having a lean inventory is a strategy with many benefits and is designed to eliminate waste and cut costs. However, many companies may have taken it too far. In an era of global connectivity, a disruption anywhere can trickle down the entire supply chain. 3\. Moving manufacturing offshoreFurther exacerbating the problem is the strategy of offshoring, in which companies manufacture their products overseas in countries like China, Vietnam and Malaysia in an effort to cut costs. On the plus side, this has allowed many companies to reduce the number of links in their supply chains – or at least shrink the distance between them – by relying primarily on a smaller number of sources that are concentrated in a specific geographic area.But in this quest to lower operating costs, including labor and overhead, more companies have put too many of their “eggs” in one basket. Certain industries have favored certain regions, with the auto, tech and agricultural industries favoring China. India, on the other hand, has become the primary source for generic drugs.As a result, disruptions in a single country become even more severe. In January, well before the U.S. and countries in Europe had coronavirus outbreaks of their own, Western companies and retailers were already bracing for severe supply chain problems after China’s economy went into lockdown. And the impacts are still being felt several months later on all kinds of products, from toys and TV screens to sponges and ink cartridges, and could even extend into Christmas. Getting ready for the next crisisOf course, it makes sense that companies would do all they can to reduce costs and make their supply chains as efficient as possible. That has made them incredibly vulnerable to disruptions, even minor ones. And the coronavirus pandemic is a disruption like no other, and undoubtedly people will continue to see temporary and longer shortages of essential goods as long as it lasts. My biggest concern is that if COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the U.S., devastating the ranks of large meat packing plants and other factories and farms, Americans will begin to experience severe scarcity of foods and other goods. While it’s probably too late to do much about the current crisis, I hope companies learn these lessons and adopt better strategies to manage their supply chains risks, such as by putting in place more backup suppliers and building up more inventory. Maybe then more of them will be ready for the next disruption.[Get facts about coronavirus and the latest research. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter.]This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts.Read more: * Ventilators: why it is so hard to produce what’s needed to tackle coronavirus * Hoarding during the coronavirus isn’t just unnecessary, it’s ethically wrongNada R. Sanders does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.