Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire – [Part 2]
I admire the work of Trump’s health care and pandemic experts, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci and others, their dedication to sharing their expertise with the public – finding creative ways to present information, while trying not to directly contradict the President’s pronouncements. That they often feel the need to coat their corrections with vacuous flattery underscores how far expertise has fallen. The emperor has no clothes and we all must tell him how nice his new suit is.
Trump continued to promote hydroxychloroquine on several occasions, ignoring the cries that rigorous studies had not been completed to show any benefit.
This caused Ian Reifowitz to write in the Daily Kos:
Donald Trump and his state propaganda sycophants over at Fox News hyped hydroxychloroquine as a "game changer,” until it was game over. We learned this week that taking the drug not only doesn’t help people recover from COVID-19, it makes it more likely that they will drop dead. Why doesn’t this make hordes of Republican voters say, “What in the world am I doing listening to these shameless liars?” The fact that they don’t is what makes them dangerous.
But wait, there’s more.
To paraphrase George Orwell:
Hydroxychloroquine is a game changer.
Hydroxychloroquine has always been a game changer.
We will not speak of hydroxychloroquine.
We have never spoken of hydroxychloroquine.
Of course, this is even bigger than just hydroxychloroquine. Even though they had been warned—and thus knew better—Trump, Republicans, and Fox News have been lying about the severity of the coronavirus since the start. Then, once the bodies started piling up, they began lying about the fact that they had lied.
Trumps touting of the RIGHT TO TRY hydroxychloroquine was more like a RIGHT TO DIE.
Perhaps my disappointment about not believing anything the President says has an upside.
Even though most areas lacked sufficient testing, as infection rates continued to escalate and deaths continued to increase, an even more desperate “very stable genius” ventured further into areas where he knows less than nothing…
NOBODY KNOWS MORE ABOUT IT THAN ME
Last week, Trump again began offering Medical Advice at his daily Coronavirus Press Circus:
[Trump heard that] "The virus dies quickest in sunlight," leaving Trump to wonder whether you could bring the light "inside the body."
"So supposing we hit the body with a tremendous — whether it's ultraviolet or just a very powerful light — and I think you said that hasn't been checked because of the testing," Trump said, speaking to [one of his officials] during the briefing. [Trump recounted],"And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or some other way, and I think you said you're going to test that, too."
He added: "I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning? As you see, it gets in the lungs, it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that."
"I'm not a doctor," Trump added. "I'm like a person who has a good you-know-what," pointing to his head.
You may have caught on that Trump is the train wreck that I can’t stop following. These remarks were completely off the rails.
In George Orwell’s 1984 one of Supreme Dictator Big Brother’s slogans was: Ignorance is Strength. Not in this case. For that matter, not in any case.
Trump’s light and disinfectant suggestions caused great consternation. Disinfectant manufacturers worried about uninformed people actually attempting what Trump suggested. They issued warnings. The media was all a flutter. The remarks were condemned as wildly irresponsible by many, while right wing pundits and Fox News offered absurd and convoluted alternative facts. Trump later undercut all of these efforts by declaring the he was being sarcastic. Yeah. Right.
COVID-19 was a wakeup call to American arrogance. We are not the shining city on a hill, resplendent, isolated, and independent. America is irrevocably connected to the rest of the world. America is indeed an Empire in Decline.
One of my favorite journalists, Amanda Marcotte, wrote in Salon:
The reason Trump is grabbing onto whatever asinine idea pings around inside his head is not mysterious. Public health experts have made it clear that the only thing that will actually solve this crisis is mass testing, but Trump doesn't want mass testing, because he thinks it's bad for his "numbers."… So instead he bounces around from one "miracle" solution to the next, desperate to come up with a reason we can just skip the mass testing strategy that could actually work.
I learned a new word in researching today’s talk. “Astroturfing”. An article in the Guardian defined Astroturfing as:
"...the attempt to create an impression of widespread grassroots support for a policy, individual, or product, where little such support exists. Multiple online identities and fake pressure groups are used to mislead the public into believing that the position of the astroturfer is the commonly held view."
I ran across this term referring to the protesters rallying in many State Capitals to re-open America. Responding to Trump’s suggestion that “We can’t have the cure be worse than the problem.” An astroturffed popular uprising of the fanatic few was orchestrated, complete with AK-47’s and Confederate flags.
My freedom to swing my fist is restricted, when it comes into contact with your face. Your freedom to wander about unrestricted during a national pandemic is restricted, when it could rapidly spread a deadly contagion.
Opening up too soon could cause COVID-19 cases to skyrocket erasing the gains made by social distancing and sheltering in place. None-the-less, many States are doing so. Some states, like Georgia, are way ahead of this…
The other day, a friend forwarded this Facebook Posting to me from “Professa Cross”.
Sooooo.. I did a thing.
Since Georgia is open now I called the Governor’s Mansion and asked them when it would be open for a tour. I would like to schedule one. A very irritated staffer told me that there will be NO tours until further notice… Hummmm.. I asked “and why is that??? Surely if nail salons and gyms are open today the mansion would. I find it very unamerican that my rights to visit my Government’s mansion would be infringed upon. Who is your boss?”
The irate woman replies. “There is a nation wide pandemic and the mansion is being closed is for safety purposes.”
“Oh really??? You don’t say??? I still would like to schedule a tour please. The Governor himself said it was safe to come out.”
The irate lady hung up in my face.
Ready or not, the Federal Government has stepped back and many states, reacting to political pressure from suspect sources, are becoming open for business again.
Making the trade-off between access to work and public safety is a difficult choice. Especially when the safety net to support closed businesses and the unemployed is non-existent or frayed and thin at best.
Staff writer Rachel Donadio wrote in The Atlantic:
"Negotiating between lives and livelihoods is not only a political and economic issue. It’s a philosophical one, with consequences that will resonate for years to come."
Political choices are being made. The absence of a prominent role for Truth and Expertise in these choices will resonate for years to come.
I have come to the realization that my government, and much of America itself, is not well intentioned. Not merely incompetent in its mechanizations, but selfish, greedy, and malevolent. A threat to the future of life on this planet.
That is what is waiting for us when America opens up again. America can shift its focus, from ignoring and denying the Coronavirus, to ignoring and denying the Climate Crisis.
The goal of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 still needs to be achieved.
The Coronavirus was not a time-out that extended the deadline for moving beyond fossil fuels. However, there was a positive effect from the Coronavirus Pandemic. It turns out, not surprisingly, that dialing down social and economic activity, is good for the environment.
The New York Times reports that according to the International Energy Agency “Global greenhouse gas emissions are on track to fall nearly 8 percent this year, the largest drop ever recorded.”
This is an opportunity to adopt some of the behavior changes that we exhibited during social distancing and sheltering in place, to continue to achieve at least some of these reductions.
RETURN TO NORMAL
Chris Hedges wrote: "These days are the good times, as compared to what is coming next."
I fear that the trials of today will be overshadowed by travails in the future as the Climate Crisis becomes manifest.
There will be no return to normal after the COVID-19 Quarantine. It is lifting in many places across the country, right now – before we have the necessary volume of testing and contact tracing methods in place. Get ready to ride a second wave caused by opening too soon. Politicians making the opening decisions will continue to fail to take responsibility for the deaths caused by their precipitous actions – after all, who could have foreseen this? Compounding this tragedy is the fact that too many Americans will accept these excuses.
The Federal social distancing and sheltering in place recommendations have expired. Some States are choosing to open up. This is not going to change my caution. I will seek out the informed expertise of pandemic health care professionals before my behavior changes, not pundits or politicians. This takes effort, effort that many are unable or unwilling to undertake. Politics, political identity, holds sway for many. In the near future will I be able to tell a stranger’s political allegiance on a trip to COSTCO based on whether they are wearing a facemask or not?
I know that things will not magically return to normal, for Normal never was. Calling the previous state of a failed political system and looming environmental catastrophe normal, stretches the word to its breaking point.
NWCoaster wrote in the Daily Kos:
"This feels like the apocalypse, and it is. Not in the way some imagine: the world isn’t going to end, it never does…, and it won’t this time around. But the original meaning of apocalypse is something like 'to reveal, to lift the veil.' This chaos is what is necessary, to see through this world and get glimpses of the new one ahead."
The COVID-19 apocalypse lifted the veil. What I have seen about my Government and my Country, the trauma of poverty and death, greed and corruption, incompetence and blame, cannot be unseen.
I steel myself for the oncoming commercial onslaught exhorting me to buy, buy, buy and consume, consume, consume. This is Capitalism’s idea of a return to normal. A normal where I can fill up my car with low priced gas and resume murdering the planet.
My five-year-old grandson David, is in the “Why?” phase. His life and media consumption leave him largely sheltered from the violence and suffering in the world. Conditions that if asked “Why?”, I can only fail to provide an adequate response.
Thinking about the world that he will inherit fills me with shame. I have failed my grandchildren. I am aware of this feeling, and I know that it will pass. Perhaps sooner than it should. I could try to make excuses but they do not serve me well. My hope is that the humanist values imparted to him, respect for the worth and dignity of others, cooperation and compassion, respect for truth and expertise, will help him cope with the difficulties that he will face.
Maya Angelou wrote: “Hope and Fear cannot occupy the same space. Invite one to stay.”
I will try to hold on to hope.
Life is balanced. Decreased human activity, driving to work, running unnecessary errands, business and industry shut-downs, and little air travel, revealed clearer skies by day and brilliant stars at night. Nature has crept back into urban areas. It is as if my distancing from so many of my human connections allowed me to see my connection to nature anew. To see the earth that sustains me. I glimpsed what life could be if I decreased my consumption.
My life became busy in different ways. Connecting to others by different means. Realizing the richness of relationships that I previously took for granted. Taking more time to improve my relationships with those that I love.
My goal is to ignore these renewed commercial temptations and try to see new possibilities. I want to bring back what works and discard those things in the times before COVID-19 that did not improve my life and contributed to the Climate Crisis. I want to join a conspiracy to kill fossil fuels and not let this beast rise again to dominate the planet.
I am beginning to see the edges of a new way forward. Seeing a world where people care about each other, help take care of each other. A life not focused on striving for more but making do with less.
In addition to human tragedy, in some ways, COVID-19 may be a great gift. Filtering up from the death, incompetence, and injustice of it all, I am beginning to see a future that isn’t driven by Wall Street profits and corporate greed. A future where human needs and human rights are lifted up. A future that I can co-create with others.
Brene Brown wrote:
"We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other that we normalized greed, inequality, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature."
Perhaps I can convince others to help stitch this new garment with me. Together we can transform the way we use the world and treat each other. We must for there to be a future that includes all of us.