State governors are taking to smuggling PPE to get around the feds

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker is technically a Republican, in as much as calling himself a "Republican" helped him to garner votes in the western part of the state, which is less Deep Blue than the Metro Boston Area. But as far as I've ever been able to tell, Baker has never demonstrated any capacity for principles or beliefs beyond "being governor." I often like to say that he makes Mitt Romney look like he has a spine. In perhaps the most painfully Boston sentence of my life, I once met him at a Dropkick Murphys fundraiser while he shared a bucket of Coronitas with Mike Napoli from the Red Sox, and trust me — he's terrible.

So imagine my surprise when I learned that Baker had recruited Patriots' President Robert Kraft — a frequent Trump ally who was recently connected to a sex trafficking scandal in Florida —  and essentially commandeered the football team's private jet to fly to China in order to obtain the vitally necessary PPE (including N95 masks) that was otherwise being denied to the state by the spiteful federal government.

From The Boston Globe:

The journey began, in the governor's telling, roughly two weeks ago, when the federal government confiscated a shipment of more than 3 million N95 masks at the Port of New York and New Jersey that Massachusetts had arranged to buy.

"I just started reaching out to anybody and everybody I knew, trying to find some other path," Baker recounted in an interview.

Leveraging the Boston area's universe of globally connected companies and academic institutions, the governor reached out to people with connections not only in Asia, but Europe and elsewhere. Eventually he found some people who thought they could help the administration navigate making a big purchase from Chinese manufacturers.

"The question then became: how do you actually make the pickup work," Baker said, noting it would probably be impossible with traditional commercial air transport.

Baker further cut around some red tape by having Kraft designate the plane trip as a "private humanitarian mission," which enabled the plan to touch down and refuel in Alaska en route to China. And in addition to offering his plane services, Kraft himself put up $2 million dollars towards the 1.7 million N95 masks in his bounty.

I did not envision an America where the federal government would confiscate crucial medical equipment at shipping ports, preventing it from reaching states in need at a time of crisis. And I certainly did not imagine a world where the Republican governor of a Blue State would turn to privateering in order to get around the iron grip of U.S. customs. It's not quite the pirating adventures that I read as a child, but it's arguably a kind of modern equivalent. It's actually kind of depressing when I look at the people involved in it. Robert Kraft is not the Blackbeard I had hoped for, but if it means my healthcare workers are safer, and me and neighbors are safer as a result, then I'll take what I can get.

A Patriots plane full of 1 million N95 masks from China arrived Thursday. Here's how the plan came together. [Victoria McGrane / The Boston Globe]

Bob Kraft sends Patriots jet to pick up medical supplies from China [Stephanie Murray / Politico]

Trump-Supporting Piece of Shit Robert Kraft Does the Least He Can Do [Damon Young / The Root]

Image: Public Domain via the White House