We visited the mall today where, to our surprise and delight, the only store open was Barnes & Noble. So we picked up a book (Salt by Mark Kurlansky). As we were checking out we saw this issue from our former employer, complete with a boomer seeming to warn kids to Get Off His Lawn. We wanted to ask them if the story we’d written for them four years ago on this very topic had helped prod them to do this cover story.
Maybe it’s the book we bought, but sure, we’re feeling a bit salty ourselves.
*The judges will accept “Tokyo Woes” but will not accept “Japandemic”
As foretold on our dearly departed Twitter feed last Sunday, the Tokyo Olympics will be postponed one year. This was always the right move, though it surely must be disappointing for thousands of athletes who’d geared their training, their careers, even for some their future pregnancies on family-starting, on the Olympics taking place this July.
Whatcha gonna do, though? One of the many secrets of happiness is to not worry about what you cannot control. Another secret: blot out Clay Travis and Darren Rovell from your life.
The delay will be interesting for the hard-working folks at NBC Sports, who will now need to prep for and then produce two different Olympics (2021 Tokyo and 2022 Winter Games in Beijing) within a six-to-seven month span. Maybe they should look into hiring some industrious types who might just help them with the task. I dunno.
The Dallas Cowboys have not been to the Super Bowl in 25 years. In that span of time 20 different NFL franchises—one of them, the Rams, from two different cities—have advanced to the Super Bowl. About two-thirds of the NFL have gone to the Super Bowl since Dallas last played in one in 1996, and yet television executives and fans and ESPN, judging from the coverage the Cowboys continue to garner, treat them not as their true selves but as their vestigial selves.
In other words, the Dallas Cowboys are trudging past on their prior reputation. They truly are America’s Team.
For America, if the past six weeks has taught us anything, is not as great as it likes to think it is, which is to say that we beat our chests at every opportunity and call ourselves “the greatest country in the world.” Are we? I’ll spare you the Will McAvoy lecture unless you explicitly want to click on it, but yes, the U.S.A. is tops in military expenditure, gross national product, gun deaths and incarceration. We are the most ROBUST nation in the world, and certainly the most violence-oriented. We’ve become the Empire from the Star Wars saga, which makes Washington, D.C., the Death Star.
We’re STRONG, but we’re not necessarily smart, not self-aware, not insightful and definitely, under this administration, no longer ethical. For the last one, just look at the stimulus bill the Republicans are attempting to pass in Congress. Huge money to major corporations with no tags attached as to how the money will be spent and who (the Trump Corp.?) would not be allowed to have access to it. A slush fund for the uber-wealthy, in essence.
As for the rest of it, last night the numbers were released: by the end of February, only a little more than three weeks ago, a grand total of 352 Americans had been tested for the coronavirus. Here we are three weeks later and more than 100x that have tested positive and some 537 Americans have died. By Thursday more than double the Americans who had been tested, in total, by March 1 will have died from the virus.
This wasn’t hard to see coming. The White House and the Senate Intel Committee was briefed on the virus a full month earlier, in January. Some Senators were smart enough to unload their stock—in February. But shore up the nation’s health care services in that month of time? Nope.
Last night New Mexico governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, who looks a lot like Katie Couric’s not-as-cute sister, was on The 11th Hour with Brian Williams. In her brief five-minute hit Grisham was able to explain that all New Mexicans are able to get tested free and she also explained the logistical problems with the testing process, how different companies provide either different materials or services so that you need to keep all of them up to date in order to get a single test through. A process not unlike being Red Panda spinning multiple plates.
In Grisham’s brief interview, I came away feeling that New Mexicans can feel confident in their leadership. Why? Because 1) she grasps the intricacies of the problem, 2) her priorities are in order: battling the disease as opposed to battling the stock market and 3) she came off as a person who’s interested in doing their job, not in her own glory.
I thought, How many of the 50 governors are worse than the president when it comes to dealing with this crisis? Maybe Florida’s, Texas’ and Oklahoma’s. All big Trump states, of course. Everywhere else, I’d trust the governor of a state (Andrew Cuomo, Jay Inslee, Grisham, just to name three) to handle this crisis far better than Trump is doing.
Meanwhile, this morning’s news tells us that Donald Trump is “losing his patience” with Dr. Fauci. Apparently, our president feels that Dr. Fauci is making him look bad. No, Donald, you’re doing that all on your own.
We’ll have 1,000 U.S. deaths by Sunday. Meanwhile, the President and his aides are preoccupied with keeping their stock portfolios or those of their major supporters robust.
How ’bout them Cowboys?
Social Media Distancing
I’m practicing it.
This is the only place where any of my feisty, condescending, arrogant and smug thoughts will be seen for the foreseeable future. Why battle all of Twitter when I’ve got Susie B.? I’m sure I’ll miss a lot of clever takes and other current thoughts, but it was time for me to go. Like an alcoholic, I found that Twitter was controlling me and not vice-versa. And if you’ve ever broken up with someone because you didn’t like the person YOU were when you were together, then I hope you can understand.
Perhaps you’ve heard the term “100-year flood.” It’s a flood event that has a 1 in 100 chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. (Well, duh.) (And never mind that in the last few decades we’ve seen a few “100-year floods.”)
Your Veteran Scribe is currently reading “The Great Influenza – The Story of The Deadliest Pandemic in History” written by John M. Barry. Yes, dear reader, this is like watching “Titanic” before embarking on an April trans-Atlantic cruise.
In summary: The so-called Spanish Flu reached its peak in the U.S. in spring and fall of 1918. World War I had mobilized the nation to the point that a majority of doctors and nurses served the Army, draftees were so jam-packed in camps they spread and fell victim to a virus that killed horrifically. The world-wide pandemic killed an estimated 15 million to 50 million.
Just over a century ago, the U.S. was ravaged by the influenza and the ravaging was made worse because of several factors. President Woodrow Wilson’s single-mindedness about winning the war led to an anemic and federal response. Cities, in particular, were on their own. Philadelphia, rife with political corruption, suffered horrifically – the one-day death toll of 759 nearly doubled the weekly average of deaths by all causes. Corpses of dead family members remained in homes for days and weeks.
It is unimaginable understanding the terror that was felt in that city and around the nation. The U.S. military lost 116,000 in France but over half of those deaths came from disease (mostly, but not all, attributable to the Spanish Flu.) The epidemic’s second wave in autumn was more deadly, with 195,000 American citizens dying in October alone.
One chapter of the book foreshadows our current situation. “The federal government was giving no guidance that a reasonable person would credit … As terrifying as the disease was, the press made it more so. They terrified by making little of (the disease), for what officials and the press said bore no relationship to what people saw and smelled and touched and endured. People could not trust what they read. Uncertainty follows distrust, fears follow uncertainty and, under conditions such as these, terror follows fear.”
What, you were expecting light-hearted reading?
Two military terms – SNAFU and FUBAR – aptly summarize the Trump “administration” and its handling of COVID-19. The coronavirus would have been a serious health problem with a perfect response. Now we’re in the “we ask why, and Trump lies” portion of our program. Instead of ranting about the Idiot-in-Chief, the point here is to illustrate a major difference between what this country experienced in 1918 and what it is experiencing now.
A century ago, newspapers provided the only flow of news and information. Other than perhaps powered flight, the advancements in information dissemination is one of the most remarkable achievements in the last 100 years.
We’re more informed but the argument could be made we’re not smarter. The age of idiocracy is fueled by the full-blast firehose of content that flows to our screens via the Internet. More is not better.
Because of the null set in the Oval Office, there is no singular outlet of information or hope. What should be a pyramid of directions and assistance flowing from the government to states and cities is an inverted pyramid. Trump is ignorant and ill-informed, but he has made himself the spokesman for the government. State governors and in some cases, mayors, are charged with decisions and policy-making which means the response to this medical crisis is a hodgepodge patchwork quilt that Rube Goldberg (Google him, kids) would reject.
Social distancing and sheltering in place are the only methods available to “flatten the curve.” Those edicts in states and cities are more suggestions than urgings. People are still leaving their homes; some are staying six feet away from each other, some aren’t.
Social media means we don’t have to social distance but social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter contribute to the cacophony of information. Being more connected doesn’t mean we’re more informed.
The lack of trusted government leadership leads to mixed messages. Johnny Carson, the King of Late-Night (Google him, kids), early in his career hosted a game show called “Who Do You Trust?” Left to our own information quests, answering that question is difficult.
Those are two prime examples of the snake oil that is being peddled. Nature abhors a vacuum and cretins like Jim Bakker and Alex Jones are more than happy to promote false hope for a profit.
On the other side of the coin is Dr. Grayson. Her 30-minute video is worth the time. She has the credentials and her information is credible. Grayson’s facts are sobering but also hopeful because it is as close to the truth that’s available.
The instant information available is both helpful and hurtful. The recipient of the information must sift and filter what’s disseminated. Immediately being informed can mean that measuring progress vs. time can lose meaning. If a week of social distancing currently feels like a month, what if we’re still confined to quarters when the calendar flips to May?
Woodrow Wilson never acknowledged the Spanish Flu. We would be well-served to have an FDR, a JFK or a Churchill to urge courage, strength and a sense of community. Unfortunately, it appears we’re holding ourselves hostage, ala Sheriff Bart.
As it turns out, having unerring faith in your own talents and intelligence without ever having put in the work to buttress such faith can have disastrous consequences. And not just for yourself. Who knew?!?
Meanwhile, at Sunday’s presser Trump was informed that Senator Mitt Romney, the lone Republican to vote in favor of his impeachment two months ago, was in isolation. “Gee, that’s too bad,” Trump said sarcastically.
Then, after midnight, Trump tweeted something about not wanting the “cure” to be worse than the problem itself. In other words, he’ll only let the stock market dip so far before he says the hell with it, let’s let people die.
Actually love that this woman cries “Donald Trump! Donald Trump!” because we always have known what “America First” really means: “ME FIRST!” She’ll probably get home and unpack all of this material and then she and husband will head off to their ultra-white Christian evangelical church.
In the Coen Brothers version of this movie, someone will carelessly toss a cigarette butt near this stash and all of it will go up in flames, their home included.
There’s a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode this season where the term “golden-ruling it” comes in to play. We should all be golden-ruling it. If there’s one thing I know about Trump fanatics, it’s that they don’t. The “Me First” it. Always.
In The Weeds
We wrote about this a week or two ago, but it’s time to reiterate. A week ago in the U.S.A. on Monday morning we were still dealing with a death count in the dozens, somewhere between 50 and 75. This morning, according to TheNew York Times, we’re at 428. By week’s end we’ll easily be over 1,000, perhaps closer to 2,000. Even Dr. Jerome Adams, the sycophantic Surgeon General, warned this morning that this week it’s going to get “very bad.”
Which means that doctors and nurses and physician’s assistants and the like are America’s new heroes. They deserve the same praise and meaningful support that America’s been giving to soldiers since 9/11. Perhaps more.
Every day hospital workers are not only treating the infected, but risking their own health to do so. They absolutely need masks and garments to wear to protect them. Before one dollar is sent to a cruise ship company (Donald thinks they’re essential because they have so many employees in south Florida and Donald feels much more strongly about south Florida than he actually does about America), this needs to happen.
And not just for their welfare. For ours. As illnesses spike up ten-fold in the next two weeks, America will be in dire straits if these docs and nurses go down in significant numbers. The system will backlog just the way a restaurant does when it’s a busy, busy night and staffers call in sick. The situation becomes mayhem and beyond saving. But this time it’s not your veal Oscar arriving late to the table (note: I’ve never had veal Oscar) but maybe it’s one of your parents perishing. Or you.
In New York City, Mayor Bill DeBlasio says that the city’s 11 public hospitals will run out of supplies within a week. Which probably means even sooner than that.
The amplification of more illnesses coupled with the declining numbers of docs and nurses due to having to self-isolate will be what causes the pandemic to become catastrophic. Never mind just treating the patients with COVID-19 or its symptoms. People are still suffering from all the old diseases they always have. And now hospitals won’t be able to care for them, either.
Total triage, just like Italy. The real tragedy is still to come.
Sorry to be “fear-mongering.” I’ve been called out for doing that this past week by Trump supporters, the same people who never had a problem with him or Fox News doing that about caravans of refugees coming up from Mexico. What ever happened to those people?
Things That Makes Us Toss Our Hands In The Air And Ask, ‘What The F*ck!?!”
The president calling the cruise lines an essential industry… Rand Paul using the Senate gym and the Senate pool after being tested for the coronavirus (and he’s positive)… the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange even being allowed to own stock (it’s like giving Roger Goodell part ownership in the Dallas Cowboys)… Vice President Mike Pence telling Americans they don’t need to be tested if they’re asymptomatic but then revealing that he and his wife have been tested… the column in the Boston Globe imploring us to bring back the NBA season… the very idea of gas lighting the world by blaming everyone but Donald Trump… the idea that maybe, just maybe, if we’d have been on top of this coronavirus early enough and canceled events early enough that Mamba would still be here… and all those celebs convening together at Staples on 2/24 to honor him when obviously the virus had already arrived… Floridians and Texns, in general.
Let’s imagine there’s a baby mama in the Bronx. Maybe she hasn’t made all of the best life choices to this point. She’s unemployed, she has a mouth or two to feed, and she is on government assistance. Her welfare check arrives and she heads directly the corner bodega to buy scratch-offs or, if she’s more industrious, up to the Yonkers Raceway casino.
Many of us would have very little pity for her and in fact, more than a few would demand our government stop subsidizing these people’s irresponsible lives.
Now, let’s say it’s not a baby mama but the CEO of a company. The U.S. government, under an act signed by the president, gives major corporations the biggest tax breaks they’ve ever seen. This isn’t exactly a check, but it may as well be since it’s money the corporation will no longer have to pay the government and the exponential difference between tens or hundreds of millions back in a company’s coffers versus baby mama’s few Benjamins a week is difficult to fathom.
Now, let’s say that company pours a ton of that money into buying back its own stock. It’s basically doubling down on the bet. It’s no different than buying scratch-offs in the sense that the company isn’t using that money to buy food or diapers or anything the baby(yes) or she needs, but it’s simply trying to turn that money into mo’ money.
And the buy-back comes up bust. This unforeseen pandemic hits and it turns out men (almost exclusively men) who are paid eight figures to make very big decisions never had a rainy day account because they were too busy buying back company stock (in order to create an artificial scarcity of stock on the open market to make the price of the stock go up as opposed to doing it the right way, by making a superior product and selling it well). So now they’re in trouble again.
And guess what? They’ve got their hand out again.
In fact, one of those people may be… Donald Trump. Who has refused thus far to say that he will not allow his resorts to accept any sort of federal hand out. Maybe we should have put this last note up in the previous item?
Here’s the count of coronavirus cases diagnosed by day in the U.S.A. since February 15, per the site worldometers.com. It demonstrates the exponential growth of the virus. These aren’t deaths; just positive diagnoses for infection. It helps us understand why people in power did not take this seriously at first and brushed aside projections from experts in infectious disease. The numbers indicate the total number of Americans infected that day. As you can see, in the beginning the number actually went down in the beginning.
By the time those in power began to appreciate what the experts were saying to them, it was already too late (Climate change: “Hold my beer“).
February 15……….. 12
February 20………. 10
February 21……….. 29
February 24………. 48
February 27………. 54
March 1…………….. 65
March 2…………….. 85
March 3…………….. 106
March 4……………… 138
March 5………………. 200
March 6………………. 289
March 7……………… 401
March 8……………… 504
March 9……………… 663
March 10…………….. 949
March 11…………….. 1,248
March 12…………….. 1,625
March 13……………. 2,157
March 14…………… 2,830
March 15…………. 3,553
March 16………….. 4,503
March 17…………… 6,196
March 18……………. 9,003
March 19…………….. 13,474
March 20……………… 18,980
It’s important to remember that these numbers only represent the minuscule percentage of the American population that has actually been tested. The amount of people who have been positive this entire time has been a multiple greater than the number corresponding to that date at every date.
And while most of us won’t die from coronavirus, a significant number or people will. Particularly because of the carelessness and recklessness of others the past fortnight.
You may have noticed the evolution in the past month yourself. First, someone in China had it. Then, a famous basketball player had it. By now, you may know someone personally who has tested positive (that happened for me today). The next step will be when you know someone personally who has died from it.
Stay safe, everyone. And keep it on “mute” unless Dr. Fauci is speaking.
We started doing the Chinese Virus coronavirus death calculus and here is what we’ve found: Less than 50 of the more than 10,300 deaths have happened in the Southern Hemisphere. Here’s where I might get up on my high horse and note that most of the terrible things that have taken place on this planet, via mankind, have taken place from people who are from the Northern Hemisphere.
But anyway, that’s less than 1/10th of 1% of the deaths, to this point, having taken place in the Southern Hemisphere. If you were wondering, about 90% of the world’s population lives in the Northern Hemisphere.
But it would be cool if the Australian and New Zealand prime ministers began referring to this as “the Northern Hemisphere virus.”
The United States of America is now 0 fer 2 on Senator Burrs. Aaron shot and killed Alexander Hamilton while Richard Burr (R– North Carolina) has now topped that by being the Senate Intel Chief, being briefed on the coronavirus on January 24, immediately liquidating at least $600,000 in stock, more than he had in 14 months (back when Khashoggi was murdered), and never informing anyone other than his $100,000 campaign contribution club, the Tar Heel Club, about it.
Is that bad?
This is taking “talk less, listen more” to a dangerous extreme.
Even Tucker Carlson is affronted:
“[Burr] had inside information about what could happen to our country, which is now happening, but he didn’t warn the public. He didn’t give a prime-time address. He didn’t go on television to sound the alarm. He didn’t even disavow an op-ed he’d written just 10 days before claiming America was ‘better prepared than ever’ for coronavirus. He didn’t do any of those things. Instead, what did he do? He dumped his shares in hotel stocks so he wouldn’t lose money, and then he stayed silent. Now maybe there’s an honest explanation for what he did. If there is, he should share it with the rest of us immediately. Otherwise, he must resign from the Senate”
The Loeffler Curve
First-term Senator Kelly Loeffler, also a Republican senator from the South (Georgia), received the same briefing. Like Burr, she sounded no public warning regarding the existential threat but instead sold somewhere between $1.2 million and $3.1 million of her stock holdings. Loeffler, who is married to the head of the New York Stock Exchange, is worth roughly $500 million.
But apparently that’s not enough.
Like Burr, faced with a decision of whether to inform her constituents of the existential danger or to not warn them, feathered her own nest with the disaster. Loafer’s husband is the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, but I cannot imagine her ever sharing state secrets with him. Now would she?
You Can Still Run
The restaurant’s closed. The bar’s closed. The gym’s closed. The lap pool’s closed. The movie theater’s closed. The bookstore’s closed.
You’re sick of being indoors. You’re sick of your co-habitants. No less important, they’re sick of you.
You can still run. If you can’t run (yet), go for a walk. Be outdoors. Exercise.
We can do this.
Last Friday President Trump called the reporter from PBS News Hour, Yamiche Alcindor, nasty. Today it was NBC’s Peter Alexander. So at least we know he does not only reserve that term for women of color.
Trump only uses “nasty” when you’ve nailed him and he cannot wriggle out of the question with a lie. He’s such a clown.
Meanwhile, I have a few questions: 1) If Richard Burr and Kelly Louffler knew and comprehended how dangerous the coronavirus was on January 24th, why didn’t Donald Trump? 2) What do you think you’d find if we had access to the Trump and Kushner family’s stock trades in the weeks right after January 24? 3) Where is Dr. Fauci? Is it possible he told Trump he’d no longer be a part of his prop-up-you-legitimacy-with-my-presence show? Or that he saw what Trump did yesterday on his notes and said he no longer wanted to be associated with this?*
Correction on that last Q. He is at the presser today, but read his body language. This is what you do when your significant other makes a racist joke at a wedding.
*The judges will also accept “Brady-ton, Florida”
It’s official. Tom Brady, 43, will sit out the 2020 NFL season as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The team immediately raised ticket prices 15%, which did not seem to affect demand. There may not be a season, of course, but who cares? And instead of a refund those purchases will likely just be applied to the following season.
All we know is that Tom will be receiving mucho Tampa Bay Bucks.
More Truth: Chinese state officials, particularly when the epidemic first broke out, were not just irresponsible but downright criminal in how they compelled doctors and scientists to suppress their findings. Literally to destroy positive test samples. This was back in December.
A transparent state could have fought this outbreak far more responsibly and there would only be a fraction of the deaths worldwide.
Ultimate Truth: President Trump only began referring to it as the “Chinese Virus” once he realized his ego alone could not contain it. Once he realized it wasn’t actually going to be “15 going down to 1, going to zero” he opted to go racist on it. Pass the blame, that’s his game.
An Elephant Never Regrets
In Yunan province, China, a group of elephants overtake a vineyard and get themselves intoxicated on corn wine. Who knew that elephants threw bachelorette parties?
The size of the mammal never matters. At some point it’s better to just sleep it off.
Maybe American Exceptionalism Is The Disease And COVID-19 Is The Cure?
Thought a lot about this yesterday and I was going to torture you with 4,000 or so words on it, but then it struck me that maybe we can go more succinct.
Look around at America circa 2020. The rules no longer apply to the wealthy. It’s more advantageous to be ignorant than educated. To be obnoxious than kind. Strength and cruelty trumps kindness. Self-absorption and sybarites rule.
Far too much of America are addicted to sports. It’s not a pastime. It’s an addiction. Wealth is virtue, no matter how it is obtained. Smart young people are going into finance and “wealth management” as opposed to medicine or any type of public service. “I’m a get mine” is the national mantra.
And then COVID-19 strikes. And a person such as Dr. Tony Fauci emerges as a national hero. And Americans, no longer able to satisfy their sports addiction daily, hopefully will find new outlets for their interests and energy. And people are beginning to realize that having enough food, some shelter, and of course some toilet paper are really all you need. Besides your health.
On St. Patrick’s Day evening TCM aired the 1952 classic The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. A couple of things struck me about that film: 1) What a striking and strong couple. That ginger lass was every bit the foil for Wayne, who frankly never looked more handsome and was never better-dressed in any film. You got the feeling watching this film that they genuinely got along off-screen. O’Hara, a striking Irish beauty, could hang with the boys. 2) They have everything they could ever want in the film, and yet they live in a two-room cottage. It has a bedroom and a main room with a hearth. And they’re completely satisfied 3) The reason for No. 2 is that their village is a true community, with friends and family who bicker and keep secrets and drink together and laugh. It’s a place you not only want to visit, but that you want to be a part of. It’s something that we as Americans have forgotten in our pursuit of a bigger time-share and a faster car: nothing can substitute for community, be it through family or friends or both.
Will COVID-19 change us? I hope so. I’ve not been much of a fan of America the past few years. I used to be.
Waerner A Winner
As they say at the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, “There’s no place like Nome!” Norwegian Thomas Waerner crossed the finish line (as opposed to the Finnish line, but Norway’s not even on the border of Finland so that joke does not work) in 9 days, 10 hours, 37 minutes and 47 seconds. It’s about 1,000 miles. The closest trailing musher was a full five hours behind him.
In his post-race comments, Waerner was quick to praise his two lead sled dogs, Bark and K2. “He’s the one just charging through everything,” Waerner said of Bark. “It doesn’t matter what comes, he will just go through it, storms or whatever.”
Every dog has his day.
Waerner’s next challenge? How to get back home to Norway.
Suite: Judy Blue Eyes
You probably have heard the Crosby, Stills & Nash tune “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” A classic. You may even know that Stephen Stills wrote it about his girlfriend, musician and actress Judy Collins (sweet Judy blue eyes). They’d been dating for two years and when she was back in New York City doing a play she met and fell in love with Stacy Keach, which precipitated their breakup.
Anyway, I’ve always loved the song and couldn’t believe when I looked it up that it never rose higher than No. 21 on the charts when it was released in 1969. Then again, 1969 was a stupendously strong year for music.
I invite you to listen to the song again. But really listen to it. The lyrics. It’s the words of a totally heartbroken dude who is almost pleading with his girl not to break up with him because he’s still that crazy about her. It’s not an angry song. He’s still so in love with her.
Stills actually played the song for Collins when they were recording it for the album. In Collins’ words: “[Stephen] came to where I was singing one night on the West Coast and brought his guitar to the hotel and he sang me “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” the whole song.“
He was still pleading with her, even in that moment, I suppose.
The last week of February I tweeted to two national college basketball writers asking if the NCAA had any contingency plans regarding the NCAA Tournament and potential problems posed by the coronavirus.
Two weeks ago (seems like two years), as sports began to shut down and the NCAA Tournament was postponed for the first time in its history, I tweeted that the impact of COVID-19 would get worse before it gets better. That was when many were reacting to cancellations and postponements by hoping there would be a pause of maybe a few weeks, maybe just two months.
Is 18 months a “pause?”
The following planning assumptions assisted in the development of an operational environment for this plan. … A pandemic will last 18 months or longer and could include multiple waves of illness.
I’m 66, retired and spend waaaay too much time on Twitter – even more now. I treat Twitter as a news service. That’s why when I saw tweets Tuesday night regarding a COVID-19 report compiled by the Imperial College London group I further realized that my “worse” assessment was mild. Potentially millions dead is not mild.
Which brings me to my point. How and why did a retired sportswriter see the potentially terrible, awful, bad, no-good, horrific impact of COVID-19 weeks before “President” Donald John Trump would even admit that we had a, ahem, problem? (Editor: Maybe sportswriters are smarter than we think… or maybe this is just a self-serving editorial note)
This crisis likely would have been serious had action been taken in mid-January. Had Trump and his half-assed “advisors” woken up and smelled the coffee even a month ago, it would have been border-line too late. Now, it appears we’ll get daily news conferences and tweets from The Orange Menace with an emphasis on racism (“Chinese virus”) and gaslighting (his response has been “perfect,” and he “always knew” it was a pandemic).
(Side note: Trump has been gaslighting for over three years, but this current level has far surpassed previous levels. Maybe that’s because oil prices have tanked – hey, yet another major problem we’re not currently equipped to handle – and gas is cheap.)
This is the kind of “leadership” borne out of a perfect-storm 2016 election that put a narcissistic con man game-show host in the Oval Office. The Trump transition team did a 3-hour table-top exercise about possible crises The New Guys could face. Yep. Oneof those was a pandemic. Two years later, Trump disbanded the pandemic response team established by Obama, the man Trump loves to hate
It’s becoming obvious that after being “acquitted” and not impeached, Trump thought he could win another four years buttressed by a healthy economy and a record-setting stock market. As COVID-19 became the monster in the closet, Trump tried a lie-away plan.
And, of course, any reputable reporting about the dangers of a pending pandemic were merely Fake News attempts to damage Trump’s sterling reputation and spot-on rhetoric.
At the same time, Trump’s circle of trust had closed to just a few incompetent fools. Garbage in, garbage out. “You’re right, boss.” “They’re all out to get you, boss.” “Keep up the good work, boss.”
In an 8-hour period Tuesday, https://worldometers.info/coronavirus, which is tracking COVID-19 in countries around the world, indicated that cases in the U.S. increased by 776.That’s a pace of 2,300 per day. Our “government” response?
– A “president” who must realize that it’s game over. Biden has the nomination and Trump’s re-election becomes more doubtful by the day as the nation careens into a never-before-experienced crisis.
— A dysfunctional Congress where GOP members like Rand Paul and Louie Gohmert continue to put country over party.
– An infrastructure of agencies that could respond to help but are mired in red tape and lacking central leadership. Vice-president Mike Pence is in charge of a task force that can’t focus on tasks and has little power. (Pence, though, is a World- Class ass kisser.)
Every time Trump opens his mouth (without engaging any of the stripped gears in his brain) he makes this crisis worse. (See: Wednesday’s news conference.) At this point, almost all government responses will be too late. The analogy is the process of turning an aircraft carrier steaming at full speed.
If this national crisis results in 18 months of closed businesses, lost jobs, empty grocery shelves, overwhelmed hospitals and millions of deaths, how responsible is Trump? It will be difficult to draw a direct line of responsibility to a POTUS who has already shirked responsibility.
Trump’s high crimes and misdemeanors should be obvious and will be exposed when historians assess this era. And here comes another prediction from Your Humble Scribe that will, I fear, also come true.
While a Trump Crimes Commission should be assembled and empowered in the next year or so, it won’t be. If Joe Biden is the next president, he’ll be cleaning up the biggest mess in U.S. history. We’re facing a combination of the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918- 20 (which killed an estimated 675,000 in the U.S.) and the Great Depression.
The next administration and Congress will be so busy dealing with the aftermath –unemployment, a tanked economy, a wrecked health care system – that spending time investigating Trump will be viewed as partisan time wasting. Countering that argument will be difficult.
Most citizens will be more concerned about a new normal than holding Trump accountable. He’ll skate. He might face legal challenges but he’ll either flee to Russia –hey, folks, remember that it’s still a formidable enemy – or his lawyers will deflect and delay – hey, folks, remember, the judicial system has been packed all the way to the Supreme Court.