Never Put a Narcissist in Lockdown

From a Google image Search – salon.com

EyyyyieE. Watching Donald Trump handle the times of the novel coronavirus has never been easy. Maybe the virus would have gotten away from him even if he did heed the wisdom of past virus protocols, but we will never know because we are all operating on “the wisdom of Trump’s gut” which was created in 1950 and is connected to a brain that was created in the Reagan era in a cauldron of sycophancy and toadyism and Daddy’s largesse. So his gut tells him what is best and then his brain says, “you’re a genius,” and then our brains say “we are screwed.”

When Ebola appeared on the global scene the US health apparatus, the CDC and local public health agencies immediately isolated people and tracked who they had been in contact with. These are the tools we eventually came to use for slowing this virus, self-quarantine and contact tracing. To that we have added, much later, social distancing and masks. Donald Trump fought against every one of these policies. Perhaps he thought he could halt the virus and save the economy by sheer force of will. He fought against it all because doing these things meant admitting the virus was real and that people would die on his watch. Two months were lost with only some isolation – those cruise-ship 14-day quarantines. There was very little contract tracing or none, and then once the virus reached the community spread stage it basically got so big that contact tracing was impossible. But that was true only on the West Coast and in NYC. Other communities could have used these tools, but the President of the United States kept lying to them. 

The President made an enormous number of deaths sound like nothing. He kept excusing himself from any blame. He kept flailing around to place blame anywhere but on him. However, he does bear some blame for the dimensions of this disaster, if not the cause of it. He will not – he refused – to consult the wisdom of past administrations, in fact he despises Obama so much that he erases him piece by piece, legislation by legislation, executive action by executive action. Had Trump not folded the Pandemic agency into the military and had he allowed the CDC to act with their usual strength Trump may well have been able to go out in public in the Rose Garden each day and give us good news. He is a vengeful man who could not stand to walk in the footsteps of Obama, even if they were footsteps many Presidents helped make, a well-trodden path.

Instead we got his gut, his bile-filled gut that refused to help blue states get the medical supplies they needed. He told the states they would have to fend for themselves. He even sold essential PPE’s to other countries while the states were scrambling. Why? It’s the crooked businessman who lives in the head. Every day is just about protecting himself from imagined attacks by counterpunching wildly at whoever or whatever. And about wheeling and dealing. Eventually he was persuaded to use his emergency powers to order factories to switch over to produce the medical equipment the states needed but it was not done in a spirit of national unity and it made us feel even more like a divided nation.

He was far more concerned about the stock market and he only agreed to an economic pause to keep the stock market from bottoming out. He agreed to bail out the economy but he still wanted to only send money up the chain. He and his Republican cohorts have a deep disdain for people down the economic chain. In order to keep control over where the stimulus went he fired the IG who was supposed to have oversight and, of course, the neediest companies went without while the largest corporations took in goo-gobs of bucks. Now the Democrats would like to do another stimulus that would help those on the bottom, the ones who can’t put food on their tables, who are losing their small businesses. But the Republicans and Trump do not understand Capitalism. They do not understand that without small business and consumers those at the top will eventually starve. They still see the middle class and the poor as drags on the American economy, as the Takers. And they say, “you won’t take anymore from big taxpayers (us).”

Trump wants the country to reopen. He wants it so badly that he speaks out of both sides of his face. One side says that we should heed the public health wisdom, and the other side allows his ersatz militia to threaten states that won’t reopen. It is clear from the data that the disease has not struck equally everywhere. It is a matter of population density, which was already becoming a big divider in America. Rural states resent metropolitan centers and they are tired of having city folks call the shots. So they don’t need to follow the same health guidelines as those idiots who live in cities. They agree with Trump’s gut. As long as you stay out of a meat plant, or an nursing home, or a prison and stay away from minority neighborhoods you can do whatever you like. It is, after all, every state for itself. We want our NASCAR, our concerts, our summer fun and we will take it at gunpoint.

Trump has some other concerns these days. His tax case is before the Supreme Court. He cannot allow his lawyers to handle his defense without some personal oversight and behind-the-scenes manipulations. He pulls out of his bilious gut the magic words, “Obamagate,” ohhh it’s bad but I can’t tell you the details right now. It seems to go back to the Steele documents. Somehow the Dems exchanged money for this ‘oppo’ research and Trump insists that this document did, what, lost him the election – no it didn’t. Trump contends that the Steele documents started the whole Russia investigation. The Steele documents were not all vetted and they were not such a stable base for the Russia investigation, but they were not the only evidence either. Trump uses the rocky base of the Steele documents to argue that the entire investigation was flawed. It’s a distraction. Hear Russia, say Steele. Perhaps Trump has twisted the facts to blame the Dems for the hacking of the DNC although Trump got the info dump via Wikileaks. Or perhaps Dems feel the Russia investigation dates to  when Trump (as a joke – a bad joke perhaps) asked Russia to find Hillary’s 30k emails. So when he begins to erase the Mueller Report last week, and the DOJ releases Michael Flynn, drops all charges, how does this lead to the cry of Obamagate? Just to distract? There is also the optic that “I lose I wreak vengeance; I win I wreak vengeance. It will take an awful lot of distraction to get us to overlook this travesty of justice. Paul Manafort is also out of jail because of the virus.

Today I see an article in the NYT’s which states that Jared Kushner is looking into changing the date of the 2020 election and alarm bells go off all over the place. Kushner says that it is almost impossible to do because the Constitution speaks to this directly. But I say that the Constitution has been turned into face masks to provide PPE’s to essential workers and what is left of it is in such tatters that it will not stop Trump from doing whatever he pleases. Given four more years our founding documents will be nothing but memories treasured by a few over-the-hill generations of Americans.

So the President does not want an actual account of how many Americans have or had the virus. He does not care to count the actual deaths that can be attributed to the virus. Tests give data and data is the enemy of a man who lives only by his gut and his twisted brain and his vengeful spirit. But now the virus has entered the President’s castle and, because he has such superior genes, he has no expectation of actually contracting the novel coronavirus, but he is angry, angrier than he has ever been. And he is lashing out in every direction. His cluster of allies in Washington is getting ever smaller and half of them are quarantining themselves and he just can’t sign that new stimulus bill that the libtards want him to sign, and someone will pay. Guess who?

Speaking Truth to Power

From a Google Image Search – theIndependent.co.uk

It’s no secret that I have never exactly been a fan of the Old Coot-in Chief. Perhaps he is an acquired taste, but I think a person’s reaction to him is more a matter of love-at-first-sight, or get-out-of-my-sight. Watching 45 handle a pandemic, a National Emergency, life or death in America has not done a thing to move him up in my regard. Donald J. has had some difficulties accepting that one novel coronavirus could appear out of nowhere and stop his fine economy in its tracks. He was counting on that economy to get him elected. He has been unable to hide his shock and disappointment. He is used to finding a way around tough obstacles, or bulldozing his way through them, and, since he feels no need to observe the usual niceties, a muscular approach has often worked for him, although not always. 

But there was absolutely no way around COVID-19, no shortcuts, nothing to negotiate, although Trump tried. By the time he acknowledged it the only way out was to go through it, and in a way that seemed to require a process that has been systematic and deliberate, not the normal MO for our chief. It was a choice between the physical health of the nation or the economic health of the nation. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think this would be an easy choice for anyone to make. The choice the President wanted to make became clearer every day, and it became clearer every day that he might not be able to win his way through this one quickly and easily. His inner struggles had consequences for the entire nation. He wanted to collect his accolades without doing his due diligence.

What has been so frustrating about watching how the President has been dealing with this virus is that he is always hampered by his pathologies, and therefore, so are we the people. First he tried to sweep the whole thing under the rug. If he had only realized that he was making things worse instead of better. 

I remember how we reacted to one woman’s experience when she was forced to isolate herself in what was basically a bubble tent. She was not ill. I am thinking this was during the Ebola scare. They were watching her through the incubation period to see if she got sick. Some people were aghast that such a thing could happen in the land of the free. But Ebola got nipped in the bud quickly and never became the pandemic officials feared it would be. 

The previous administration did what Trump did not, which was tackle the thing early and head-on. I won’t mention any names because I don’t want to upset the old man. You know how he gets when you mention a certain person. It’s like waving a red cape in front of a bull. But if instead of retribution the President had been able to emulate a successful strategy and take this virus seriously from the very first case perhaps we wouldn’t have had to go through all this. 

Did Trump’s inability to accept an attack from a totally unexpected direction and deal with it doom Americans to social distancing and death? Did his inability to stop campaigning and accept that the economy might be less than perfect for a while cause the free fall that he (and we) have been faced with? Did his allegiance to small government make logistics a nightmare? Perhaps it is too cruel to blame all of this on one stubborn old man, who doesn’t realize that true genius is knowing how to harness the talents of other geniuses to make you look good. But he does not play well with others.

President Trump could still redeem himself by acing the recovery. He could stop his stubborn insistence, which none of us can understand, that there will be no testing. Clearly if would  shorten the recovery time, but he must think it would lengthen it. Your genius may be leading you astray on this one, sir. He could facilitate tests to see who is recovered and who has antibodies. He could facilitate testing to see who needs to still shelter in place. Testing is one area where a change of heart would be welcome. Why doesn’t he see that this is the path back to a workable economy?

Why doesn’t the President back voting by mail? Why does he plant his feet and insist that voting by mail would allow for big time election fraud? There is no reason to believe that Americans cheat in elections. In fact, that’s insulting. We respect the right to vote. It leaves us free to conclude that 45 fears that too many Democrats would get to vote if mail-in ballots were an option. It leaves us to believe that Donald J Trump does not believe he can get elected if we have a fair and free 2020 election that also takes coronavirus risks into account. Settling this issue would also help us get back to the economy he thinks will send him back to the Oval Office.

The third thing that our President could do that would help him and us would be to let the doctors do what doctors do and let the Federal government do what Federal governments do. A true genius accepts his limitations. You can stop favoring big corporations who have already received million and billions in bailouts. I think they can weather this storm. You do not value your middle class citizens enough, your small business folks. You do not value the struggling families who keep America running on minimum wages.

The bailout you gave to Americans was not big enough and it was not targeted at those who will have the hardest time recovering from this massive economic time out. I know it goes against everything that you (Trump) and the Republicans believe, but going against your instincts at this particular moment will get you back to where you want to be faster than your way will. Your way could cause this virus, for which we have no cure, to fire up anew and tank the economy all over again. Do all these things and do them well and then you can collect those accolades.

COVID-19 and Paradoxes

From a Google Image Search – Cherry Blossoms, Flickr.com

COVID-19 and Paradoxes

These are such strange days. We all learn that, although we may be alone, we are in no way an island.  Without our nurses, doctors, and hospital staffs we would lose people who we are not ready to lose. Every day we know our highly trained caregivers risk getting the COVID-19 virus and many of them have been infected. Fortunately the virus doesn’t kill all its hosts. Many people barely realize they have it. But without hospitals and first responders, our loved ones could die at home or in a nursing home gasping for breath while we stood by helpless. Most of us do not have access to oxygen, and almost none of us can access a ventilator. If you catch the virus you put yourself in danger. The disease makes life and death a gamble, seemingly based on genetics and bad habits.

Without our truckers and our essential industries where workers take a chance every day and go to work (probably without paid-sick-leave) our grocery stores and drug stores would be emptier than they are. So we are not an island. And we are not all making the same sacrifices, which is difficult for some of us to accept, that almost the only ways we can help are to stay home, order in, and donate to a few hard-pressed causes. Lately, on Facebook, the folks who bought out all the toilet paper and left our store shelves empty, and bought up masks needed at hospitals have been putting up ads to sell their ill-gotten merchandise and charging exorbitant rates ($35 for 10 rolls of toilet paper and they had all the popular brands; $65 for a box of masks). Tempting, but we know we should not buy at these prices and encourage price gouging. 

It’s spring. Our senses are blossoming. There is more light, days are getting long. We can go out and see our lakes and rivers and oceans, but we can’t meet our family in these places unless we stay 6 feet apart. Now they are saying that the very air we breathe can spread this disease so don’t even walk in someone’s draft. But we are thinking of soft summer evenings and gardens, flowers and smiles, music and conversation. And yet our reality is on display each day. There are refrigerated trucks, long semis collecting bodies in New York City and these lives are left uncelebrated by all but closest family. This shocks me, these long white trucks. It is almost as if someone actually did kill people on Fifth Avenue, and I cannot help blaming the very person who said that he could do this and still get elected.

Speaking of elections; we should be drowning in unwatchable political ads, and voting in primaries and our candidates should be stumping all over America. How can we get rid of a President who fired so many civil servants and changed so many rules that govern national emergencies if the only 2020 candidate we see day after day is the Bumbler? How can we hope to vote out the miserable GOP when half the country, for some inexplicable reason, sees this entire bumbling administration as somehow efficient and effective at handling this national emergency? Half of America follows religiously Trump’s every utterance, regardless of the whiplash engendered by decisions that change moment to moment, that are given and retracted day to day. Despite the white semis lined up in New York to receive the dead.

There have been such touching stories. The brides who go in their wedding dresses to visit a grandparent through a nursing home window and the new moms who make the same trip with their babies. The mom and dad who almost lost their 29-year-old son for no apparent health reason. The reporter who spent 49 days away from her child because she kept having to go into quarantine and the joyful reunion with her little son. All the American children taping hearts in their windows for passers-by to collect. And then the reality hits us once again as someone hears that a loved one has died and they were not even there when it happened. 

People are losing their businesses, which made our lives seem full of elegance, friendship, light and love. All the restaurants where we love to linger at table and just chat. All the sidewalk cafes and fresh air dining. Days spent shopping with friends and speaking of bargains and fashion and decorating. Will our restaurants and shops come back. All the unemployed with no resources to get them through the anxious days. If only the whole unemployment process was better equipped to get money to workers-without-work right away. Will jobs come back? I cannot recall a time when the entire global economy basically had to take a time out and neither can anyone else or we would have some strategies for dealing, even if the best strategy of all was just to do nothing. This is different from even the Great Depression. We cannot have a WPA in times that require social distancing. There is no way to discuss in one small essay all the many, many areas of our lives that have been affected. And although I read an article which said that life returned to normal very quickly after the influenza in 1918, it is difficult to believe that is possible this time.

These are very strange days indeed, surreal even, these days of novel coronavirus. The paradoxes are ripping us apart and putting us back together each and every hour of every day. We have to be strong. We have to make it through with as much grace as we can muster.

Agenda 21 and the Novel Coronavirus

Agenda 21 is a document that came out of a UN conference on global sustainability. The document was made public on the 13 th of June in 1992 and it was immediately attacked by rabid conspiracy theorists who claimed it was an authoritarian plan to institute a ‘New World Order.’ The UN was demonized as an arm of the Illuminati, world ‘oligarchs’ who practiced child trafficking and the sacrifice of babies. Really dark stuff. They spoke of the UN by its “true” name, as the ‘Luciferian Church of the UN.’ 

Those of us who think we are a bit more sane just saw in the document a plan for ways we could accommodate 9 billion people on a small planet without environmental disaster. Oblivious us!

But, in the time of the novel coronavirus, it is interesting to think about the recommendation made in Agenda 21 in favor of greater population density centers, cities, as opposed to far-flung suburbs and ever-more-distant subdivisions. Of course, Agenda 21 was addressing infrastructure and land use, not pandemics. Everyone, no matter how distant from the city center, wanted public sewers and water supplies. Many Americans still rely on wells and septic tanks, but people want what they want, and there was lots of pressure to get better amenities. Some local areas did pay heed to Agenda 21 in small ways. They told builders that they could not expect the infrastructure to follow them if they kept moving further from the city center. They told builders to start filling in the empty lots and fallow spaces. 

We have seen more apartment buildings, upscale of course, but still not single family homes, being built in what were fields, but close to shopping. There is a whole little world back behind those big box stores, at least that is true in my small corner of the world. 

But if we are to leave the hinterlands to farmers and hunker down in tighter, more populated spaces we now have to consider that plan in relation to pandemics. We know that what we are going through right now with the corona virus will not be the only pandemic coming down the pike (and we know this well because there has been one new germ popping up after another – Zika, Ebola, H1N1, mers virus, sars virus).

The necessity of stopping disease transmission argues against the density that Agenda 21 argues for. Those who like to plan for a sustainable future need to go back to the drawing board and figure out how we can deal with both the environmental concerns and the health concerns of having a small planet trying to house a mega-population. These diseases may be trying to establish a balance between resources and those who consume them. Who will win; virus and bacteria, or the human race? Unless we get a plan, a good pandemic plan, really soon the tiny aliens may win from the spaces within us, rather than arriving from distant planets. Can our think tanks give these two opposing human problems some productive thought, given our six feet of separation. It’s entirely possible that time to think could produce great things.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – active sustainability.com

Crisis Management By Ideology

From a Google Image Search – The Hill

Crisis Management By Ideology

The Dems want to bail out citizens who can’t work during this pandemic because their employers have had to close down. They can’t pay mortgages or rent, utilities, college loans, buy groceries and medicines. The way things are set up, if you can’t pay you can’t stay, and you end up in bankruptcy. Small businesses face the same problems on a slightly larger scale and if they can’t reopen then the downstream repercussions will be dire. We are a consumer economy. If no one consumes the economy dies. 

Dems say start at the bottom and take care of everyone and maybe not worry so much about the people at the top who have been bailed out and had tax cuts and have banked some really enormous profits. (Except they didn’t bank their profits, what they did was stock buy backs – and now they want more bail-out money.) Dems say rescue everyone, even those who are the poorest people – no means testing. Just flood the bottom with money, both citizens and small business, because money may not trickle down, but a depressed economy can definitely rise from the bottom up. 

Yes there are progressive Dems. We’re in the middle of an election. Republicans do not have a progressive bone in their bodies, even dispossessed Republicans who currently have no party. Giving people money means that a Democratic ideology gets a positive vote in Congress. And that goes against everything Republicans believe. They have almost achieved their small government goals. They were ready to cut the safety net the way a winning basketball team gets to cut down the net from the backboard. They have insisted that the coronavirus should be managed in the states, by the states and for the states. They are already having to back off on this policy because the needs are too great for the states to handle without federal help. And now they want Republicans to give away money to hoi polloi which, to them, is like throwing it into a waste basket. They just cannot understand that supporting the economy from the bottom up could help give it a jump start when we are done with social distancing.

There is little taste for rescuing rich folks once again. They have not exactly showered their good fortunes down on the rest of us and if there was a trickle it was so tiny as to be untraceable. The Republicans also want carte blanche over who they will rescue. They want the Treasury Department to be able to disperse the funds as they wish. This is something the Dems can’t swallow having already watched companies spend their windfalls on buying back their own stock and lavishing the dividends of their good fortune on stockholders rather than workers. They were able to ramp up production and hire back workers but this is not actually trickle down as salaries rose very little, although it certainly benefited all of us as good economies always do.

It comes down to the “spendthrift” habits of the Democrats who think a good economy must take care of everyone, not just CEO’s, those progressive socialists as the Republicans like to label them. If Democrats are such spendthrifts then why does the deficit go down when Democrats are in charge? Check it out. Historically that has been true. 

Republicans feel that those on the bottom need to struggle more, that this will inspire them to rise, although it is easy to see that this policy is far more likely to cause despair and depression. Republicans have been implementing their ideology of small government, give power back to the states, but some states are so poor that we will have to rescue them from the novel coronavirus or we will all drown in grief. How is Republican small government working? It ended that Pandemic Program (that got folded into another program) and could not function at all when most needed. The Republican ideology is what we are experiencing right now and it is failing miserably. Yet Republicans refuse to pass a stimulus that addresses the needs of both the top and the bottom because it is against their deeply flawed ideology. 

But the face of this pandemic, the people who own it on TV every day, are the Republicans. If Republican Senators do to American once again what you are planning to do, insist on only helping those who are wealthy I swear you will lose the 2020 election so badly that your party may not recover for decades. Most Americans know nothing about ideology and they will not care if your stimulus does not stand up to your conservative purity tests. If it works you will be heroes. As a Democrat, if it wouldn’t have such dire consequences for America, I would be happy to watch Republicans go down in flames. But as a human being I have to argue for what is right, which is neither progressive nor conservative, but somewhere in the middle. We so need to see the back of Mitch McConnell.

The president also has an ideology. It is money. It is the economy. It is the stock market. The president thinks that in 15 days America will be restored to normality, I guess by royal decree. Fate does seem to favor Trump and perhaps, once again, the universe will comply with his edicts. I would love this to be over in fifteen days. The only thing I would hate about it is that our resident egomaniac would claim it a personal victory. And he would get his heart’s desire (why is it his heart’s desire) to be reelected in 2020. To try to unravel a pandemic in the midst of an election in a divided America puts us all at risk because those who are supposed to represent us have their intellect clouded by their ideology, which prevents rational, reasoned, targeted action, and literally kills Americans and possibly the American economy. 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/03/23/gop-just-smuggled-another-awful-provision-into-big-stimulus-bill/