Where Do We Stand? How well have we done so far?
So, if you grab every book on the subject of Epidemiology that you can get your grubby hands on, and erase everything relating to pandemics; then viruses don’t exist anymore, right? That seems to have been Trump’s only strategy, figuratively speaking – the only thing he could come up with, during the first stage of the Coronavirus Global Pandemic.
Call Phase 1 the: “Reaction.” Our national grade and our global, collective grade for Phase 1 are the same: ‘F-minus-minus.’ Three things made the Reaction such a total failure: The unfathomable denial of the American president. The failure of the European nations to unite. And, the “pitting” of state against state, and against cities, made it necessary to sort through endless problems of logistics before a “response” could even begin; problems that should never have existed. Trump’s immediate reaction was to fire our own own medical experts, cut off connections to China’s anti-virus infrastructure; and of course, insult and alienate experts around the world so that everyone would know who the Boss was. None of those were positive steps, and none have any measurable benefits. The Reaction was almost entirely in exactly the wrong direction.
The Best President Who Might Have Faced Phase 1: Bill Clinton, who would never have been blindsided like this. Clinton wasn’t always making enemies, and he knew everyone who knew anything about anything. He’d have given us a two-month heads-up, at least. Trump showed us his ass for two months. Clinton was the most “modern” of our Presidents, and he or Barack Obama are the most likely to “imagine” what Trump was incapable of understanding.
No warning was given. Trump stood-down the watch. That was dereliction of duty. He is responsible for every death.
It’s not possible to imagine a worse mess than the Response. We needed a “Hero of Olde.” Instead, we got the: “Pence and Trump Lonely Hearts Club.” In the Rose Garden, no less. And we got: federal agents confiscating PPE’s, doctors sacrificed to inefficiency and the complete absence of effective planning. We saw doctors, heroic women and men putting their lives at stake: “I just grabbed a tube and stuck it down his throat, he couldn’t breathe, there was nothing else to do.” We read about their deaths and wept such bitter tears.
Our grade? ‘F’. Tens of thousands died needlessly, so an egomaniac could claim a victory: over reason, decency, honesty – over even honor: He swore an oath to defend his people and country, and he betrayed it, and them. When the barbarian was at the gate, he advised, Kalki-like, that everyone play in the sun, dance and sing, because the danger was merely a fabrication by his enemies. He advised magic, and every panacea ever imagined. And he stifled the dissemination of all-important data about the seriousness of the plague. That should have been Trump’s first job, to inform, but he worked at cross-purposes to every expert. He actively spread disinformation, and spit out his cruel lies. Killing thousands more.
Equal in importance to the success of the Response was to defend the Economy and the micro-economy of every family. But, no real effort was made; they, Congress, just gave trillions more to the rich. It’s the only thing that they know how to do. The issue of rebuilding the Economy has not really been addressed at all. Just giving away the earnings of future generations to greedy pigs won’t do it. And pumping up the stock market – we all know that’s nonsense: it won’t produce a single job.
The Response begs for an overarching Plan to make the next several steps survivable, but none is forthcoming. Are we doomed to perpetually plan our future based on Donald Trump’s hunches and guesses? On his “perfect” wisdom?
But, when it was vital to a hundred million people, Trump, Mnuchin, and all the little Trumpkins could not manage to get stimulus money delivered before rent was due. That simple, stupid act of neglect ruined the financial futures of millions, but then; no one writes about that. No one apologized, or offered help – or spoke a single damn word at all. And how will we pay the landlord next month? What does your infallible intuition say about that?
The Best President to Have Handled Phase 2: Dwight’s David “Ike” Eisenhower. If there was ever an American who proved that he could pull together a response to aggression employing thousands of assets, a man who no detail ever escaped, it was Ike. He worked with men so powerful that, in bygone ages, might have turned aside and created empires of their own. When he gave the word, and he did eventually, everyone, the entire Western world, responded. And they were unstoppable. “There may be greater men, but there’ll never be better.”
The Long-term Medical Effects and Costs, and Rebuilding the Economy:
Some people may take a long time to recover. Some, because of lung damage, may require long-term, or even permanent nursing care. Some may suffer so much memory loss that they can no longer function without assistance. Some may take long convalescence in order to regain mobility. Many may never drive again. The rural hospital network will need to be beefed-up and rejuvenated. Ambulance services will need expansion. And Congress will have to guarantee both care and prescription costs. Testing must be available everywhere. And extremists must be visited with the harshest penalties for threatening to harm anyone seeking medical attention, or availing themselves of medical care or advice. And, it will be back.
The Damage to Small Business:
This is going to be the hardest to bear. It will cost the most suffering and disruption. And starvation, before we are done. It is everywhere: I have seen a dozen different scenarios where small businesses, their owner’s pride and joy – just pass away, gone. And the small business owners will be the first forgotten. The most likely to be destroyed, and the least likely to receive aid. But, as always, as with real farmers, the most likely to be lied to.
The Long-term Diplomatic Damage:
There is nothing to compare to, in our two hundred plus year history, in this regard. No President has ever shamed his people in such a disgraceful manner, with such vulgar manners, in the first place. But, we elected the fool, or at least: somehow the fool got elected, and the European nations have been quite loyal and patient, all things considered. Till now! This is different!
Our President has gone rogue, and is a threat to the entire world order. He is deranged and out of touch with reality. And he can’t discern fact from fantasy. This is different: Europeans, not European nations, believe that when you have a mad dog, it is your responsibility to put it down. But if you don’t, you are responsible, down to your last farthing. We will be held responsible.
Trump’s first priority was to destroy the diplomatic corps, founded by Ben Franklin. It was a gentleman’s game, to which he could never be invited – and nothing galls him more.
The Psychological Damage:
Eighty thousand dead, and no one has said a word about the grief. It will hit us, sooner or later, like a runaway freight train. Not just because someone we loved (or many) died tragically, or that villains claim your loved one’s death as a victory. But also because they claimed her or his death in the name of unreason. Because they claimed a right to take what was yours. Because they strut proudly denying all of history and science, everything you ever worked to learn, and all the great scholars from Socrates to my first grade teacher, Mrs. Mohondro. I worked to learn, to understand, and they declare it worthless. And they say that my family, and I, are worthless. Somehow working people have become a lower caste – untouchable.
The psychological damage will be another epic nightmare for Native Americans. And for the elderly, and for medical professionals, and first responders. And, for the military? A tragedy.
The Best President to have Handled the Recovery, Barack Obama:
No one else is even close. And he had advantages, like a cabinet whose membership never changed in his first four years. And advisors who were highly trained and experienced, and respected experts in their respective fields. Rather than children and clowns who last a few weeks, then start a podcast.
The Counter-offensive: and Its Leader
We are not ready to be hit again. We are not prepared, but we must strike first – and hardest. We have to kill the virus, and we can’t depend on luck. If another, even worse, plague were to hit us, we might become extinct. Just the looming financial crisis may change America into a different country – a poor one. Donald Trump cannot lead us through this labyrinth. He is weak because of his corruption. He lacks vision because of his narcissism, and that keeps him prisoner in his “room full of mirrors,” damned for all time. He can’t even help himself. Every university must participate. Every industry must support the effort, like in the pre-WW2 period in America. Cooperation and Collaboration must become our watchwords. Compassion must be our guide.
We have to fight back with everything that we have. Hundreds of billions will be needed for research, squeezed from the stony hands of the grubber’s in D.C. Cooperative effort is our only chance, and may be our best advantage. We can work together and share and save resources; but that would “take a miracle,” it seems. We have to change!
It may take decades, a generation even, to recover, if we ever do recover fully. Are we going to allow Trump to preside over the Recovery and the rebuilding of America? A new civilization built around one man’s freakish personality defects and obsessions. Now, that’s a good enough story to be in primetime. Be strong.
As an aside, I was watching a history of pandemics and plagues… I’m not saying bring back the plague doctor or bells and carts of bring out your dead, – but curve flattened or not – Donald Trump or not – people are going to die. I’m not an epidemiologist or a fatalist – but people are going to die. I’ve been made fun of for being a goth sort, but mostly because of the eyeliner and black in high school. However; it’s not that I celebrate in death, but I recognize the darker aspects of life. I don’t wish death or suffering on 99% of people.
Unfortunately, this is mother nature. Some can say it’s the Chinese and wet markets – but if it hadn’t been this it would have been something else. I guess I have my own religion of sorts. You can only screw with mother earth so much, she will seek balance. I have no science for that, and I stress I don’t want my parents to die from Covid-19 or anybody.
I’m just looking at it dispassionately on the other end of Trump’s complete lack of empathy. In fact, the fact that no one could have seen this coming? Fauci did. Epidemiologists did. A lay historian like me could have told you blithely something was coming. Like, the patterns of these things over centuries of recorded history? We were due…
I, too, wish we had a leader to at least talk to us like adults about that, and mobilize the nation. I think it would be devastating to have a military coup, but… somebody be an adult at least. The governors are forming their own regional micro-states. It’s part of what made me think of resurrecting my perennial dream of Cascadia joined with the Republic of California and part of Nevada.
The same person that wanted military parades – the wannabe dictator – says it’s all to the states. Fine. Go fuck yourself Mango Mussolini. At least Hitler and Mussolini wrote their own books…. if anything, the fact he’s such an idiot is our saving grace. And even Hitler was self-aware enough to admit he wasn’t a great writer. Even Hitler had more humanity than Trump.
There is something truly disturbed with him. From his childhood. From his dad. I also think he is a sociopath. If he hadn’t been born to Fred Trump, another racist narcissist, but to a poor family, he’d be a serial killer stalking highways in a van. I’m sorry, but that is my firm belief; not hyperbole. I’ve never seen him have affection for animals, or a true sense of humor. Everything is transactional. Not one ounce of humanity. There is nothing there ‘there’ with him. It’s effing creepy to me and always has been. Who creates alter egos to talk about themselves? And then names their son after one of them…???
No, when I talk about how this might kill a lot of people, and probably will kill many more, I actually have sadness. Not sadness for the Stock Market, but for human lives.
Just occurred to me that Pope Francis (speaking of the Middle Ages) said last year that he wouldn’t go so far as to say that the Earth would “get even” with mankind for all their depredations, but he would say that there would be “corrections.” Much more recently, with all his advisers, and Frankie, saying: “Don’t do it!” he came out and said it: “the Earth will get even.” Right before the pandemic began!
Too much to respond to. Just, bravo. I did want to, but you’re like me and sort of cover it all.
I would add FDR though. We need a modern CCC. Hell, we need a Marshall Plan or Berlin Airlift for our own country.
I did want to include FDR, but I couldn’t single out one thing he did best, to fit the style of the piece. He spent the decade of the Thirties preparing us for the inevitable war against fascism, negotiated with world leaders, recovered the banking system, and was beloved because he talked to the American People. Can you imagine that? Treating us with respect, and talking to us. Where did we lose the, “Great Dialogue?” I honestly don’t know. I know that I detest our worthless politicians because they threw the Great Dialogue in the trash.
I don’t think it’s something that applies to you, but I would suspect that most Americans would think that I’m speaking generally; but the Dialogue was a historical event. All around the world, thinkers engaged each other, and each built upon the ideas put forward by others. Russia was very much a part of it, and Europe; and later, during the Countercultural Revolution, we gathered in dimly lit rooms, and talked all night. We thought that love would last forever – we were wrong. I thought that the Airlift was such a “good” thing. We were able to do “good things” then. Where did we lose the way?