Harriet Vane

Trump de-funds social security for several months by Executive Order

I am not sure he can get away with this. It might be illegal, but the courts may said with his specious reasoning: it is needed in this emergency to give people more money. Which people? not the unemployed, not those in the gig economy (what is left of it?).


Martha Rosler, The Grey Drape

I have a story about the US social security system to which Trump has just dealt a death blow if he gets away with de-funding it. About 37 years ago when I moved into this house in this upper middle neighborhood I've lived in ever since, I got to talking to an older woman living next door to me. She had said hello and introduced herself as people did as a matter of course then. People no longer do that.
She began in front of me to inveigh against social security. I was shocked but said nothing as she talked. It seemed that her black "yard man" (that was the way she referred to him throughout) did not come to garden in her yard every week, and when he did come, there were things he would not do. Why was this? because he did not need the money badly enough. He had social security to tide him along. I remember her distinct bitterness to this day. I wanted to find her shameless and did, but the problem was that she wasn't ashamed. She didn't realize she should be.
She also didn't realize I didn't agree with her until I spoke and told her the story my father used to tell me. Before social security he used to see so many old people without enough food, how they would line up in food kitchens, how they were dependent on other people to hand out food to them. How they lived with adult children and had no space of their own. What a blessing FDR's program had been to all. His own mother especially who in her last two years of employment with Bordens' was moved around and given jobs too hard for her (my paternal grandmother was a cleaning woman) and managed to get rid of her before she was eligible for a pension. So she lived her days in a house he and my uncle and other relatives had built for summertime visits.
I looked at her -- Mrs Walker was her name. She went silent and a cold hard look came on her face. The phrase "political correctness" had not been invented yet so she had no easy words to accuse me of hypocrisy. I think I did manage to say that I expected some day I would need social security too, but I'm not sure because it was clear the conversation was over.
Ladies and gentlemen, that woman still exists. She lives in many of the houses in my neighborhood. About 20 years ago I would hear as a regular thing how useful illegal immigration was, for the woman then could demand more of the hispanic women who came to clean for them. They never talked back. Oh right.
Don't imagine for a moment that Trump's support is just the 1% or the 10% or the crazed white impoverished bigots, or the immoral evangelicals (who are called "transactional" in their voting); oh no. Think of all the small business people who hated contributing to ACA though the tax system (since Trump this has stopped), think of the people inhabiting many of the houses in my neighborhood.


Martha Rosler, If you had to live here (Englished)

Shakespeare's Lear: "What is it in human nature makes such hard hearts" it's not a failure of imagination. I wish it were.

Miss Drake
Harriet Vane

On behalf of the Post Office: a vital service connecting us all

As I write this blog I am saddened because starting next week, I will be gradually changing my way of paying my bills from mailing out checks to automatic online payment. I deeply regret this but Trump's patsy destroyer, Louis DeJoy, whose qualification is he is a major donor to Trump's campaigns, put at the head of the post office is now wreaking enough damage on the Postal service so that my checks no longer arrive on time -- Or I cannot depend on them arriving reliably in a timely fashion.

I endured an agon of several hours two days ago when my TV and Internet and Modem were all turned off, without notice, probably because last month's check came in slightly late. Like so many in the US I am utterly dependent on the Internet for my and my daughter's jobs, for most communication with the outside world; without the modem my phone doesn't work.


A rural post office -- many rural places in the US lack broadband services that are reliable and inexpensive

When I first heard that even the post office was not safe from Trump's wrecking ball, I was shocked. I knew the Republicans several years ago thought of a preposterous demand that the post office should somehow guarantee they can pay pensions for the next twenty years (by money literally there) in order to privatize them -- as through chartered schools, they are forcing privatization on the public school system.  On the real problems with that system (entrenched localism) see my Sylvia II blog (My & US education). I am not naive; I know in earlier history the post office was the target of corrupt spying systems, that no letter was safe from prying from the 15th to mid-18th century in many, maybe most places, and that the move to make the mails sancrosanct, and a service to the whole public to unite a nation's communities began in the early 18th century and was not in place until the mid-19th century. Correspondence societies in the later 18th century were one way for reformists and radicals to reach one another; in the Irish civil wars, one fight was over the post office.

One of the people responsible for this Enlightened progressive changeover is a novelist I've spent years reading, studying, & liking very much: Anthony Trollope, who said of his thirty-seven years of service (when he worked every day, but then he also worked later on to help make treaties), rooting out petty bribery, working hard so that postal routes covered western Ireland and then southwestern England, helping to establish pillar boxes that the "angelic nature of his mission" was insufficiently understood.



Well probably because I love to write letters, receive them and read published books of letters (of all sorts) I understand the angelic mission. Trump is said to want to destroy the post office because he believes that this will help him be re-elected. He thinks about everything only as it affects his immediate monetary and ego interest. He is famous for calling the post office a joke. He's a bad joke. Long ago I told someone I felt the Post office was superior to any of the gov't agencies empowered to destroy other countries or have anything to do with citizens. They get an enormous amount of mail out to everyone -- remarkable. 6 days a week! Get rid of the FBI and CIA first.
The subtextual reason the Republicans felt they could demand such a preposterous requirement and Trump believes he can just sabotage it is it is majority African-American and people of color: Asian, hispanic. The place African-Americans got jobs for decades was the US or liberal state gov'ts.

So while I am not able personally to help them by sending my bills in stamped envelopes i want at least to record the interview Wm Brangham had with Mark Dimondsen, the head of the postal  union. You can read the transcript and see and hear the two men speak.  Basically what's happened is DeJoy demands that everyone who is delivering the mail leave promptly at 8:40 am whether or no all the mail for a given district has arrived or not. Hitherto the post man would wait extra minutes or more to make sure he had all that day's mail. Then the post man must stop promptly at 5:00 pm and come back -- whether or no he's finished delivering all the mail. Again, the practice was you spent a few extra minutes (maybe ten or more) to be sure and deliver all you had.  DeJoy had changed and eliminated routes so mail comes in more slowly and to less places directly. Everything being done to prevent mail from arriving in a timely way.

Dimondsen argues the post office is not a businesa; it operates as a service to everyone in the US equally based on buying stamps which are not expensive. He asked that this sabotaging stop.



Judy Woodruff's latest program sees this in terms of the coming election.  We know that Trump is doing all he can to throw wrenches at trusting the election, trying to make believe there is enormous voter fraud, especially for mail-in ballots (there is practically none, this is all lies); that his Republican instruments beyond gerrymandering their states to favor them have cut down on early voting, made voting harder by demanding IDs with pictures, throw thousands off the rolls wantonly, and now shamelessly cut down the amount of polling places to such a ridiculous level sometimes where there were 200 polling places there are now 6.

the attack on the post office is part of this. If he could, Trump would block the average person's access to the Internet.

But the post office's place in a society and our democracy has many more functions. See Woodruff's previous story from 9 years ago about who needs and relies on the post office.  I am disappointed to see that DemocracyNow.Org (Amy Goodman) has not had a segment of her program on the diminuation and wrecking of this vital service.

The thing is I am worried sick. I ask myself, are there are other countries without a decent functioning post-office. Perhaps. Which ones? some miserable dictatorship? this is what Trump & the Republicans have brought the whole of the US to.

I will myself keep an eye out for more material on what is happening and add it onto this blog.

Miss Drake
Harriet Vane

President Obama's eulogy for John Lewis

He is also speaking to us today:



The US federal gov't has now turned life in the US for a vast vast number of people into a nightmare that is real. We are in the US up to 150,000 deaths in four months. Congress went home without passing a relief bill at all, Trump shrugged his shoulders. After trying out postponing the coming election (but he's not done) he ranted about fraud. He's back to making fun of the public with ludicrous solutions. And trying to destroy the Post Office now. What will be next if he should win or successfully cheat once again to take office for 4 more years
A professor of epidemiology speaking on BBC now says three things needed - effective social distancing, effective track and trace, and control of incomers. He instanced New Zealand and Taiwan, who have effectively eliminated domestic transmission of the virus; their cases are from incomers, who are controlled. This is easy for islands, much more difficult for adjoining landmasses. The UK has brought in 3/4 lock-down in northern England in the Manchester area, extending into parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire.
He says life in NZ now back to normal (pre-virus), with one exception - foreign travel, and that one can travel, but are quarantined on return. He says other alternative is Sweden - do nothing, let the virus rip; extra deaths, no end in sight. That is US, us here on this landmass between two oceans, Canada to the north, Mexico to the south.

Everyone in the US who cares in the least about their future (life itself, money) must go out and vote in November (on foot, in person, for however many hours) for Biden. Don't trust to anything (no mail in, no absentee ballot which can be thrown away): go to the polls and vote there, for it's the best chance you have of being counted.

Miss Drake
Jocelyn Harris




Harriet Vane

Why Trump loathes WHO, who is Tedros, & what kind of public health intervention Tedros stands for

I've been very reluctant to write another blog, because by doing so the explanation for COVID (contrasted to other flus) and the harms it can do even if it does not kill you is scrolled down -- where conscienceless corrupt people want to obscure the reality of the danger.

This is a related posting: an article in the London Review of Books for 2 July 2020 (42:3) by James Meek (which I have a hunch a lot of  people will not have seen) sets forth a fair history of the World Health Organization, how it operates, how central it has become as a advisory and instrumental agency across the world. It's a social necessity and moral relief that other nations are coming forward to support it finally now that Trump (the dictator who lets no day go by without its evil deed) has pulled the US and its multi-billion contribution out.

What can the WHO do?



The story in my simpler words is Tedros is the first African person to be at the head of the WHO; he got there because for the first time ever a genine election was held. Many of those appointed have been doctors; Tedros is not a physican but a man with a thorough background, a Ph.d in Pubilc health. He is rightly famous and respected in Africa due to his successful large experiments i different African countries in group led low tech healthy initiatives. Tedros identified important women (socially) in a village; taught them all sorts of procedures for preventing illness, gave them training in low tech procedures they could do as trained nurses, and then sent them out as teams. He thus enabled several African countries to be healthier, to beat a number of endemic serious diseases: TB, cholera, among them.

Let us recall that what we call medicine are a group of behaviors towards conditions we define as illness -- these behaviors include operations, high tech procedures, drugs, and expensive hospitals and personnel, but these are by no means the central ways we promote, keep and manage good health.  We know that when we define alcoholism or drug addiction as a moral failing and seek to punish the people, we are doing them a terrible disservice, and filling our prisons; when we define it as an illness, and send the person to a doctor, attempt to help the person change his or her behaior we are improving our community.  The central ways of maintaining good health then are social behaviors of all sorts, including good water, decent diet, work schedules that are humane, much less psychological pressure.

So there needs no more explanation for why Trump loathes the man -- these ways do not allow for profiteering and gouging people by unnecessary high tech medicine (including drugs & machines).



What can the WHO do? tonight listen to or read the transcript of Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez interviewing Dr  NKengasong -- he formerly worked in the US CDC -- naturally he was got rid of.

Dr Nkengasong explains why the pandemic was delayed in Africa: they followed all the procedures the US CDC said to do in Februrary 2020.  (By the way not only is Trump refusing to sign the present budget as long as it has billions in it for testing, tracing and quarantining using an inexpensive quick testing from the Rockefeller Foundation; he is continuing to refuse to release the billions now in some place in the federal system under his control. (What a tyrannical king is the American president -- it's worse than George III his powers because 2020 is a different time than 1780s.)


Fatima Hassan

The problem is the disease is not Ebola or others they have fought because it is so highly contagious. Now it is beginning to spread. He and the other guest, Fatima Hassan, a human rights lawyer with the Health Justice Initative is in South Africa are trying to prevent the rich companies from "developed" countries from grabbing the vaccine first -- once a vaccine is certified as safe and useful and doable after guineas pig trials from 2000 South Africans, to stop these companies and their politician stooges from turning around and selling it to the gov'ts of rich countries.

I fear that Trump would then give the vaccine to a company owned by a friend and try to gouge as many people as possible -- and get away with it as he's gotten away with so much of just this kind of action all along.  (Tump is the central cause of 160,000+ deaths and massive unemployment, near bankruptcy coming homelessness for millions). But Hassan can do nothing about that; she can only hope to intervene to get the vaccine to the African countries in a timely way.

These two conversations and this background history are important to know to understand what is being right now inflicted on US people and what the dire future holds if Trump is re-elected. The threat.  He is attempting to (and slowly succeeding I fear) in setting up a military dictatorship in the US. The Homeland Security dept was set up to control the US; to do in the US what CIA and FBI abroad do (called National Security). The mayors are trying to stop this man from doing to their cities what his secret military (from Homeland Security) has been doing to protester and demonstrators in Oregon (violent tear gas, kidnapping, beating up, shooting, terrorizing citizens). The man openly talks of invading democratic places -- to play to ruthless people who will take it he is on their side because he does not send militia to states run by male republicans. They trust no one so don't expect any principled behavior (in their revealing jargon, "political correctness")

Ellen
Harriet Vane

Some important truths about COVID19: why you must wear a face-mask; Ed Yong science writer

This is from a friend's FB comment, taken from a medical website:
Welcome to share:
"Chicken pox is a virus. Lots of people have had it, and probably don't think about it much once the initial illness has passed. But it stays in your body and lives there forever, and maybe when you're older, you have debilitatingly painful outbreaks of shingles. You don't just get over this virus in a few weeks, never to have another health effect. We know this because it's been around for years, and has been studied medically for years.
Herpes is also a virus. And once someone has it, it stays in your body and lives there forever, and anytime they get a little run down or stressed-out they're going to have an outbreak. Maybe every time you have a big event coming up (school pictures, job interview, big date) you're going to get a cold sore. For the rest of your life. You don't just get over it in a few weeks. We know this because it's been around for years, and been studied medically for years.
HIV is a virus. It attacks the immune system, and makes the carrier far more vulnerable to other illnesses. It has a list of symptoms and negative health impacts that goes on and on. It was decades before viable treatments were developed that allowed people to live with a reasonable quality of life. Once you have it, it lives in your body forever and there is no cure. Over time, that takes a toll on the body, putting people living with HIV at greater risk for health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, diabetes, bone disease, liver disease, cognitive disorders, and some types of cancer. We know this because it has been around for years, and had been studied medically for years.
Now with COVID-19, we have a novel virus that spreads rapidly and easily. The full spectrum of symptoms and health effects is only just beginning to be cataloged, much less understood.
So far the symptoms may include:
Fever
Fatigue
Coughing
Pneumonia
Chills/Trembling
Acute respiratory distress
Lung damage (potentially permanent)
Loss of taste (a neurological symptom)
Sore throat
Headaches
Difficulty breathing
Mental confusion
Diarrhea
Nausea or vomiting
Loss of appetite
Strokes have also been reported in some people who have COVID-19 (even in the relatively young)
Swollen eyes
Blood clots
Seizures
Liver damage
Kidney damage
Rash
COVID toes (weird, right?)
People testing positive for COVID-19 have been documented to be sick even after 60 days. Many people are sick for weeks, get better, and then experience a rapid and sudden flare up and get sick all over again. A man in Seattle was hospitalized for 62 days, and while well enough to be released, still has a long road of recovery ahead of him. Not to mention a $1.1 million medical bill.
Then there is MIS-C. Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. Children with MIS-C may have a fever and various symptoms, including abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes, or feeling extra tired. While rare, it has caused deaths.
This disease has not been around for years. It has basically been 6 months. No one knows yet the long-term health effects, or how it may present itself years down the road for people who have been exposed. We literally *do not know* what we do not know."
Please don't risk the lives of others.
Please listen to medical experts.
Please follow baseline precautions such as:
"Frequent hand-washing
Physical distancing
Reduced social/public contact or interaction
Mask wearing
Covering your cough or sneeze
Avoiding touching your face
Sanitizing frequently touched surfaces
The more things we can all do to mitigate our risk of exposure, the better off we all are, in my opinion. Not only does it flatten the curve and allow health care providers to maintain levels of service that aren't immediately and catastrophically overwhelmed; it also reduces unnecessary suffering and deaths, and buys time for the scientific community to study the virus in order to come to a more full understanding of the breadth of its impacts in both the short and long term."



Last listen to Ed Yong of the Atlantic explain how it is has happened that we are in the middle of a fierce pandemic still, and how our society's structures as well as the incompetent corruption at the top (the refusal to do anything for real to contain and suppress the virus) has happened and is continuing to happen.
Harriet Vane

Coronavirus leaves more Americans dead than WW1; Dexamethasone reduces deaths ...

Where we are, just now,

UK is patting itself on back having discovered that Dexamethasone can reduce death rate in ventilatored or oxygened Covid patients by 25% - 30%, but no use for less seriously ill. Still, this may cut the death rate by about a quarter, but it does not prevent the disease, or cure it in milder cases. Whether this will be used in the US, not reported. If drug companies think there is no profit in it, would they use it? Certainly the US gov't would give no incentives or any help to any US citizen or hospital to get or to pay for it.

From Irish Independent:  https://www.independent.ie/world-news/major-breakthrough-oxford-scientists-say-widely-used-steroid-reduces-coronavirus-death-rate-39290484.html



From an Irish (RTE) news site:

With 740 new coronavirus deaths in 24 hours, the United States has seen more people die from the pandemic than died in World War I, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The new figure brought the country's total Covid-19 deaths up to 116,854, the tracker from the Baltimore-based university showed. The increase came after two days of death tolls under 400. And 23,351 new cases in the same 24-hour period brought the total US count up to 2,134,973, making it by far the hardest-hit of any country in the world. The country's pandemic death toll had already passed that of its soldiers in the Vietnam War in late April.

The United States, where many businesses are reopening, continues to register around 20,000 new cases of the novel coronavirus each day. Several states are even recording their highest levels of new cases since the start of the pandemic.  The administration of US President Donald Trump, who has downplayed risks of the virus and instead focused on reviving the economy as he faces a tough re-election battle in November, insists there will be no shutdown of the economy if a second full-blown wave of the epidemic arises. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, meanwhile, warned that the US economy is unlikely to recover as long as "significant uncertainty" remains over the course of the pandemic.

Latest coronavirus stories

Mr Trump has come under scrutiny for an upcoming campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma - his first since March when the pandemic halted mass gatherings. It is so far planned for an indoor arena that holds about 20,000 people. The United States also agreed to keep its borders with Mexico and Canada closed until 21 July, officials said yesterday, extending travel restrictions for a third time due to the pandemic.

India coronavirus death toll sees record increase India's official coronavirus death toll increased by more than 2,000 to reach 11,903 as Germany advised its nationals to consider leaving the country because of growing health risks. Mumbai revised its toll up by 862 to 3,165 because of unspecified accounting "discrepancies" while New Delhi saw a record jump of more than 400 deaths, taking its total to more than 1,800. It was not immediately clear how many of the deaths had occurred in the past 24 hours and how many were from adjustments over a longer period.

The pandemic has badly hit India's densely populated major cities and Chennai ordered a new lockdown from Friday because of a surge in cases. Elsewhere, lockdowns are gradually being eased because of the damage they have caused the economy. India, the fourth-worst-hit country in the world by cases, has now recorded 354,065 cases, according to official figures.

Beijing cancels flights, shuts schools over new virus outbreak Beijing's airports cancelled more than 1,200 flights and schools in the Chinese capital are closed again as authorities rushed to contain a new coronavirus outbreak linked to a wholesale food market. The city reported 31 new cases today while officials urged residents not to leave Beijing, with fears growing about a second wave of infections in China, which had largely brought its outbreak under control. Tens of thousands of people linked to the new Beijing virus cluster - believed to have started in the sprawling Xinfadi wholesale food market - are being tested, with almost 30 residential compounds in the city now under lockdown. At least 1,255 scheduled flights were cancelled this morning, state-run People's Daily reported, nearly 70% of all trips to and from Beijing's main airports. The outbreak had already forced authorities to announce a travel ban for residents of "medium- or high-risk" areas of the city, while requiring other residents to take nucleic acid tests in order to leave Beijing. Meanwhile, several provinces were quarantining travellers from Beijing, where all schools - which had mostly reopened - have been ordered to close again and return to online classes. "The epidemic situation in the capital is extremely severe," Beijing city spokesman Xu Hejian warned yesterday. Officials have closed 11 markets and disinfected thousands of food and beverage businesses in Beijing after the outbreak was detected. The city has now reported 137 infections over the last six days, with six new asymptomatic cases and three suspected cases today, according to the municipal health commission. An additional two domestic cases, one in neighbouring Hebei province and another in Zhejiang, were reported by national authorities, while there were 11 imported cases.

New Zealand military to oversee borders. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ordered the military to oversee New Zealand's borders after a quarantine slip-up that allowed Covid-19 back into the country. A 24-day run with no new cases was broken yesterday when it emerged two women who recently arrived from Britain were allowed out of quarantine early without being tested for the virus, even though one had mild symptoms. Ms Ardern said it was "absolutely nonsensical" they were not tested earlier and it was clear border controls needed to be tightened to ensure similar failures were not repeated. She said assistant chief of defence Digby Webb had been appointed to oversee border quarantine operations and was being given access to military personnel and logistical expertise. She also suspended the programme that allowed the women to be released early from quarantine on compassionate grounds, saying New Zealand's successful virus response could not be undermined. She stressed that the women, who were visiting a dying relative, had done nothing wrong and complied with health protocols at all times. The women remain in isolation as health officials scramble to test about 320 people they had contact with while in New Zealand.

Meanwhile, Australia is unlikely to reopen its border to international travellers until next year but will look to relax entry rules for students and other long-term visitors, Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said. Mr Birmingham said a quarantine rule for returning citizens could be applied to international students and other visitors who plan to stay for a long period of time. The return of international students will be a boost for universities facing big financial losses with the border closed as international education is Australia's fourth-largest foreign exchange earner. Australia has had more than 7,300 cases of the coronavirus and 102 people have died from Covid-19 and recorded its biggest daily rise in new infections in more than a month today, with the most of them in Victoria. Victoria reported 21 new cases overnight, of which 15 are returned travellers in quarantine, taking the total tally for the day to 22 cases, with some states yet to report their data.

Peru's coronavirus deaths surge past 7,000 Peru's health ministry said that the nation's coronavirus death toll had reached 7,056, the third-highest in Latin America after Brazil and Mexico. Officials said the number of confirmed cases is now beyond 237,000 in Peru, which has been under a nationwide lockdown for three months.  Nevertheless, Health Minister Victor Zamora told reporters that the number of new cases has begun to decrease. Peru's healthcare system is on the verge of collapse, with more than 10,000 Covid-19 patients in hospitals. 70% of Peru's cases have been reported in the Lima metropolitan area, home to a third of the country's population.

The death toll includes more than 200 inmates who caught the disease in Peru's overcrowded prisons, at least 170 police officers working to enforce curfews and border closures, and more than 50 medical personnel, according to official figures.

Brazil yesterday recorded its highest daily jump in new coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, with nearly 35,000 registered in 24 hours, the health ministry said. Brazil now has more than 923,000 cases of Covid-19 and 45,241 have died. Experts say under-testing in the country of 212 million people probably means the real figures are much higher.

Posted by Miss Drake
Harriet Vane

Keenaga-Yamahtta Taylor, Cornel West & Bakari Sellers on the demonstrations/protests

Nothing I have read, watched or heard said comes as close to centrally what has been happening these past days since the remorseless public murder of George Floyd as this conversation on DemocracyNow.org with Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh:

How racism and racial terror have fueled this nation-wide anger:

https://www.democracynow.org/2020/6/1/keeanga_yamahtta_taylor_protests_class_rebellion

I think it’s important to say that these are not just repeats of past events. These are the consequences of the failures of this government and the political establishment, the economic establishment of this country to resolve those crises, and so they build and accumulate over time. And we are watching the boiling over of that.

Imagine how angry, desperate, rage-filled you would have to be to come out and protest in the conditions of a historical pandemic that has already killed over 103,000 Americans, that has had a disproportionately horrendous impact in Black communities. I believe 23,000 or 24,000 Black people have died. To put it more bluntly, one in every 2,000 African Americans in the United States has died as the result of COVID. So imagine how difficult things have to be for people to come out in those conditions. So, I think that the buildup around police brutality, the continuation of police brutality, police abuse and violence and murder has compelled people to have to endure those conditions, because it is obvious that there is either nothing that our government can do about this or that the government is complicit and chooses not to do anything about this ...

Read or listen to the rest.

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That this nation-wide anger to be understood must be seen in the context of global greed maintained by military terrorism:

https://www.democracynow.org/2020/6/1/cornel_west_us_moment_of_reckoning

But we want to make the connection between the local and the global, because, you see, when you sow the seeds of greed — domestically, inequality; globally, imperial tentacles, 800 military units abroad, violence and AFRICOM in Africa, supporting various regimes, dictatorial ones in Asia and so forth — there is a connection between the seeds that you sow of violence externally and internally. Same is true in terms of the seed of hatred, of white supremacy, hating Black people, anti-Blackness hatred having its own dynamic within the context of a predatory capitalist civilization obsessed with money, money, money, domination of workers, marginalization of those who don’t fit — gay brothers, lesbian sisters, trans and so forth ...

The catalyst was certainly Brother George Floyd’s public lynching, but the failures of the predatory capitalist economy to provide the satisfaction of the basic needs of food and healthcare and quality education, jobs with a decent wage, at the same time the collapse of your political class, the collapse of your professional class. Their legitimacy has been radically called into question, and that’s multiracial. It’s the neofascist dimension in Trump. It’s the neoliberal dimension in Biden and Obama and the Clintons and so forth. And it includes much of the media. It includes many of the professors in universities. The young people are saying, “You all have been hypocritical. You haven’t been concerned about our suffering, our misery. And we no longer believe in your legitimacy.” And it spills over into violent explosion ...

Read or listen to the rest.

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On the decades of systemic immiseration and barbaric putdowns of African-American:

https://www.democracynow.org/2020/6/1/bakari_sellers_400_years_systemic_racism

I’m from Denmark, South Carolina, where we have three stoplights and a blinking light. And I grew up in a food desert, meaning that you couldn’t go two to three miles and get fresh fruits and vegetables, meaning that you probably have a higher propensity to have things like diabetes. We’re drinking dirty water where I’m from, which means that you are taking in toxins that are likely to cause cancer at higher rates; inhaling dirty air because of Brownfields and the manufacturing plants, meaning that you’re more likely to have asthma. Because we didn’t expand Medicaid, my hospital shut down. We live along what’s called the “corridor of shame,” in which kids go to school, and their heating and air don’t work, and their infrastructure is falling apart. These are the systemic injustices and systemic racism that we’re highlighting and talking about ...

February 8th, 1968, is by far the most important day of my life. Not only did law enforcement shoot into a crowd, killing Henry Smith and Samuel Hammond and Delano Middleton. Not only did they shoot my father. Not only was he the only person who was incarcerated.

Read or listen to the rest.

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Who are we funding? we should tonight be arresting the police all over the country who have been brutally attacking protesters:

https://www.democracynow.org/2020/6/1/keeanga_yamahtta_taylor_defund_us_police

I mean, look at the kind of wanton, reckless abuse and violence that the police are instigating, and attacking people who are trying to protest. I feel like what we’ve seen over the weekend is a national police riot. And, you know, it’s no wonder. They feel emboldened by the white nationalism of the president of the United States and, really, the lawlessness of the Republican Party writ large. And so, it feels like we’re bearing the consequences of that.

But I think that there is a bigger issue about the cops that is also worth talking about, which is, why these police are never arrested, prosecuted, punished, really, even beyond just arresting and prosecuting people, but just punishing them as public servants for their kind of racist, abusive and violent behavior. And I think that, you know, regardless of what these elected officials have to say, I think that we’re actually going to see a lot more of this, which is why the conflicts will continue.

And the reason why I say that is because it has been a strategy of cities across this country that have committed themselves to not investing in the civic and public sector infrastructure — so, public schools, public hospitals, public libraries — all of the things that make a city function. Those have been systematically defunded, increasingly privatized. And the way that cities manage the inevitable crises that arise from that, when combined with unemployment, when combined with poverty, when combined with evictions and all of the insecurities that we see wracking cities across this country, the police are used to manage that crisis. And that is why, in city after city, as other public institutions take financial hits, as other public institutions are defunded, it’s the police that always get to maintain their budgets. And we look around now, where, because of the COVID crisis, every city is talking about massive budget cuts, but not to the police. The police almost never have to incur layoffs. They never have to incur budget cuts, because they are seen as the public policy of last resort.

Read or listen to the rest.


This is one of many peaceful crowds marching, demonstrating before the police surrounded them, determined to diminish and end what the swelling crowd was doing ....

Miss Drake
Harriet Vane

Mourning but no testing in America; Wm Brangham interviews American Enterprise; Goodman, Rev Barber

Last night to my astonishment a man from the American Enterprise institute agreed with a professor with liberal leanings that Trump is incompetent; well, he went further, the professor said that Trump doesn't believe in using gov't to help its people; that he does not act because he does not want to act, but the American enterprise man said Trump's idea of the presidency is that he is a performer on TV and that's it.  Not quite true since Trump has been busily destroying agencies (among them now the Post Office), writing Executive orders to turn the environment over to fossil fuel industries (his friends), acting counterproductively to (among other things) prevent governors from getting the ventilators they bought by hijacking or out paying them. Still as to help against the coronavirus, both men are spot on. Watch and listen to Wm Brangham interview:

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/how-eroded-bureaucratic-processes-undermined-u-s-pandemic-response

As no one can transfer the videos from this PBS News-report site, here is an audio podcast:

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/how-eroded-bureaucratic-processes-undermined-u-s-pandemic-response#audio

Similarly non-transferable, here are Amy Goodman & Juan Gonzalez interviewing the Rev Barber: Stay home, stay safe, organize; his assessment of the callous indifference to death and the forcing of people back to work in lethal conditions:

https://www.democracynow.org/2020/5/20/rev_william_barber

Trump is doing all he can to get this one out of public view; it shows that the US is lagging behind in testing tremendously.  We cannot go back to work and the US get back to normal without being sure that others are not infected around us; tracing must be done. He refuses to allow the one place with the money and central capability to do this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7flBPG2djQI

But here is one that will transfer:



Trump is trying to prevent this one from disseminating; it's said to be a version of or the one first concocted by Republicans: it is powerful and true: Mourning In America



From a transcript of what Rev Barber said (in case you can't reach DemocracyNow.org):


Yesterday --

Rev Barber (to Juan Gonalez):  These are hard times. And what we’re seeing in America now, a lot of the pain is by choice. It didn’t have to be. It’s not because of the virus, per se. It is because of the pandemic of greed and lies and trickle-down economics that, in this situation, caused us to move in the wrong direction from the beginning.

Now, what we know is, even before COVID hit, too many people in power were too comfortable with other people’s deaths. We have 140 million poor and low-income people in this country, 43% of the nation, 700 people dying a day from poverty and low wealth, two-and-a-quarter million a year, even before COVID hit, and 80 million people either uninsured or underinsured before COVID hit.

And what all of the public health officials tell us, that pandemics exploit the fissures in the society and the wounds in the society, the open wounds, and that America had a whole lot of open wounds as it related to systemic racism and poverty, because when you break down those numbers, 61% of African Americans were poor and low-wealth before COVID. Sixty-six million White people, in raw numbers, were poor and low-wealth in COVID. From the mountains of Appalachia to the Delta of Mississippi, you had extreme disparities. And COVID hits. And what we have now, as I just heard you mentioning, is the disparity among Black people and — and really, it’s low-income African Americans or poor African Americans, and then Whites and Latinos. And we don’t really know how bad it is, because the data is so spotty. But what we do know is that the pandemic is exploiting those fissures.

And our response, from the beginning, has been terrible, both from the White House and, dare say I, from the Congress, and from particularly the McConnell Congress, since he has blocked so many things, because it’s kind of our imagination has been limited by this Reaganism, this trickle down. So, what happened? We passed three bills up front, and 83, 84, 85% of all the resources go to the corporate heads, go to the top. The bills did not start at the bottom up. It did not — think about it. We’re in the middle of a pandemic. We’ve had three so-called rescue bills. Not one bill provided healthcare for everybody and the uninsured, in the midst of a pandemic. Not one bill provided living wages, in the midst of a pandemic. Not one bill guaranteed that your water couldn’t be cut off and your utilities, in the midst of a pandemic. Not one bill ensured the protections that you need in terms of personal protection and the ventilators. Not one bill significantly dealt with all the homeless in this community, in this country. Not one bill focused on the undocumented workers.

And so, what we’re saying is this is the moment that you have to stay at home. Don’t you believe these lies these governors are telling us about the time to open back up the society. Stay at home. Stay alive. Organize. Organize. And we’re demanding that all the things that were not done up front that should have been done, they have to be done now, in order for us to move forward and possibly overcome this pandemic. Otherwise, the pandemic is going to still have root in our society. And it’s not just going to hurt poor people; it’s going to exploit poor communities and the fissures, but it’s going to continue to spread throughout the rest of the society.



Miss Drake

Harriet Vane

President Obama's message to the Class of 2020

As I listened to him, looked at him, I just felt like crying. "When an Ebola epidemic in West Africa, in 2014, the United States and China, the world's two largest powers, responded in starkly different fashions. The Obama administration dispatched the 101st Airborne and other troops to build treatment hospitals, and donated more than half of the 3.9 billion in relief funds collected from gov'ts world wide. Within six months, the outbreak was under control, and the US-led effort was hailed as a template for handling future epidemics" (Evan Osnos, New Yorker).
Who can doubt that if Obama had been president this past January he would have set the unit he set up to deal with pandemics into operation, that he would have immediately acted to contain the virus by starting everywhere "sheltering in place" suggestions and orders, gotten states to follow by February, begun wide-spread testing and tracing (like New Zealand and South Korea did), and the virus would have been partly contained. That we would not be in this catastrophic disaster with well over 80,000 now dead, a collapsed economy, 40% of people unemployed (when Trump came into office unemployment was 3%), with millions w/o health care ...

Lest you missed President Obama, cannot locate this video, or would like to see and to listen again:



IN case you want to know what having a mild version of coronavirus is - the man did not go to the hospital, and took only 2 aspirins, read Recovering from Coronavirus" at Spitalfields.

Two Washingtons A BBC correspondent.

Miss Drake
Harriet Vane

Many thousands dying ...

Sometimes what I have to report or to share is so harrowing, I have a hard time posting it. If Trump and republicans & capitalist democrats get their way, and the way this virus is now not being handled (no universal tests or tracing, no true expansion of health care system, no opening of ACA online until next January and then just one month), does not change, and at the same time force as many people back to work in social groups, as they can, a prediction in the Washington Post taken from what statistics we have now is 3000 deaths a day by June 1. That many. Far fewer would sicken and/or die, if the people who control the federal gov't would agree to organize and pay (out of taxpayers'money) for testing and tracing.


How many deaths this man is arguably responsible (by his continued delays & refusals to do anything constructive or useful for people).

So below the usual choices of article, videos you may have overlooked or not known about linked in -- first three linked in which can inform you about aspects of the pandemic and why we have a federal gov't which far from working to contain the virus and help people, is assaulting those institutions we have which can help and forcing people where it can back into dangerous working conditions

A video with Obama from 2014 explaining why he set up units to deal with a coming pandemic, experts all at the ready - all quickly disbanded and fired by Trump when he came in:  There is one of these godawful commercials first (and ironically selling just the sort of thing that is wrecking the environment) but then in 2014 here is Obama predicting this coming pandemic and putting in place the structures to deal with it. He could never get adequate funding:



This from the New Yorker showing that the average well-to-do American in Greenwich, Connecticut is for Trump; Evan Osnos. It's not just the extremes of wealth and poverty (and no education), rigid evangelical hatred of the modern world, frantic racism, but the kind of voter who used to vote for Prescott Bush.

Shorter: Powerful people prefer mass death to adopting the social policies of civilized nations by Tim Marchand. Far fewer people would be impoverished for a long time to come were there decent social programs and helps from the gov't they pay for for them. In effect, the US gov't is barbaric -- this quite apart from its insane militaristic spending and ventures.

*****************************
Now excerpts from longer political, philosophical articles on the general conditions we are facing:



Yesterday Nurses in front of the White House honoring 88 who died -- because of lack of PPE equipment

1) George Packer from the Atlantic argues: We are living in a failed state:
We are living in a failed state. From the Atlantic. This Pandemic has made this failed state visible: no one or group of people in power to do it to work to contain and then mitigate this virus effectively and at the same time prevent the average person from falling into an abysmal of poverty across the US. We know how to do it; we see it being done in various European societies.
The coronavirus didn’t break America. It revealed what was already broken.

When the virus came here, it found a country with serious underlying conditions, and it exploited them ruthlessly. Chronic ills—a corrupt political class, a sclerotic bureaucracy, a heartless economy, a divided and distracted public—had gone untreated for years. We had learned to live, uncomfortably, with the symptoms. It took the scale and intimacy of a pandemic to expose their severity—to shock Americans with the recognition that we are in the high-risk category.

The crisis demanded a response that was swift, rational, and collective. The United States reacted instead like Pakistan or Belarus—like a country with shoddy infrastructure and a dysfunctional government whose leaders were too corrupt or stupid to head off mass suffering. The administration squandered two irretrievable months to prepare. From the president came willful blindness, scapegoating, boasts, and lies. From his mouthpieces, conspiracy theories and miracle cures. A few senators and corporate executives acted quickly—not to prevent the coming disaster, but to profit from it. When a government doctor tried to warn the public of the danger, the White House took the mic and politicized the message.

Every morning in the endless month of March, Americans woke up to find themselves citizens of a failed state. With no national plan—no coherent instructions at all—families, schools, and offices were left to decide on their own whether to shut down and take shelter. When test kits, masks, gowns, and ventilators were found to be in desperately short supply, governors pleaded for them from the White House, which stalled, then called on private enterprise, which couldn’t deliver. States and cities were forced into bidding wars that left them prey to price gouging and corporate profiteering. Civilians took out their sewing machines to try to keep ill-equipped hospital workers healthy and their patients alive. Russia, Taiwan, and the United Nations sent humanitarian aid to the world’s richest power—a beggar nation in utter chaos.

Donald Trump saw the crisis almost entirely in personal and political terms. Fearing for his reelection, he declared the coronavirus pandemic a war, and himself a wartime president. But the leader he brings to mind is Marshal Philippe Pétain, the French general who, in 1940, signed an armistice with Germany after its rout of French defenses, then formed the pro-Nazi Vichy regime. Like Pétain, Trump collaborated with the invader and abandoned his country to a prolonged disaster. And, like France in 1940, America in 2020 has stunned itself with a collapse that’s larger and deeper than one miserable leader. Some future autopsy of the pandemic might be called Strange Defeat, after the historian and Resistance fighter Marc Bloch’s contemporaneous study of the fall of France. Despite countless examples around the U.S. of individual courage and sacrifice, the failure is national. And it should force a question that most Americans have never had to ask: Do we trust our leaders and one another enough to summon a collective response to a mortal threat? Are we still capable of self-government?

On The second crisis, in 2008, intensified it. At the top, the financial crash could almost be considered a success. Congress passed a bipartisan bailout bill that saved the financial system. Outgoing Bush-administration officials cooperated with incoming Obama administration officials. The experts at the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department used monetary and fiscal policy to prevent a second Great Depression. Leading bankers were shamed but not prosecuted; most of them kept their fortunes and some their jobs. Before long they were back in business. A Wall Street trader told me that the financial crisis had been a “speed bump.”
All of the lasting pain was felt in the middle and at the bottom, by Americans who had taken on debt and lost their jobs, homes, and retirement savings. Many of them never recovered, and young people who came of age in the Great Recession are doomed to be poorer than their parents. Inequality—the fundamental, relentless force in American life since the late 1970s—grew worse.
This second crisis drove a profound wedge between Americans: between the upper and lower classes, Republicans and Democrats, metropolitan and rural people, the native-born and immigrants, ordinary Americans and their leaders. Social bonds had been under growing strain for several decades, and now they began to tear. The reforms of the Obama years, important as they were—in health care, financial regulation, green energy—had only palliative effects. The long recovery over the past decade enriched corporations and investors, lulled professionals, and left the working class further behind. The lasting effect of the slump was to increase polarization and to discredit authority, especially government’s.

..... Trump came to power as the repudiation of the Republican establishment. But the conservative political class and the new leader soon reached an understanding. Whatever their differences on issues like trade and immigration, they shared a basic goal: to strip-mine public assets for the benefit of private interests. Republican politicians and donors who wanted government to do as little as possible for the common good could live happily with a regime that barely knew how to govern at all, and they made themselves Trump’s footmen.

Like a wanton boy throwing matches in a parched field, Trump began to immolate what was left of national civic life. He never even pretended to be president of the whole country, but pitted us against one another along lines of race, sex, religion, citizenship, education, region, and—every day of his presidency—political party. His main tool of governance was to lie. A third of the country locked itself in a hall of mirrors that it believed to be reality; a third drove itself mad with the effort to hold on to the idea of knowable truth; and a third gave up even trying.
Trump acquired a federal government crippled by years of right-wing ideological assault, politicization by both parties, and steady defunding. He set about finishing off the job and destroying the professional civil service. He drove out some of the most talented and experienced career officials, left essential positions unfilled, and installed loyalists as commissars over the cowed survivors, with one purpose: to serve his own interests. His major legislative accomplishment, one of the largest tax cuts in history, sent hundreds of billions of dollars to corporations and the rich. The beneficiaries flocked to patronize his resorts and line his reelection pockets. If lying was his means for using power, corruption was his end .... Read the rest at the Atlantic ...


If you click below, you will get the whole article (with a short history of slavery and racist policies excluding black people
from any social programs for housing and education)

2) Chomsky gives the larger perspective, the longer view, the more thorough analysis: he says everyone must vote for Biden as a first small step to repairing the failed state. He would have preferred Sanders or any number of the original candidates for the democratic party, but those running this organization were not having any one but a deeply conservative democrat

Well, first of all, we should recognize that unless we get to the roots of this pandemic, it’s going to recur, probably in worse form, simply because of the manipulations of the capitalist system which are trying to create circumstances in which it will be worse, for their benefit. We can see that in the stimulus bill and many other things.

Now, second, because of the global warming which is going on and puts all of this into the shadow, we will recover from this at severe cost. We’re not going to recover from the ongoing melting of the polar ice sheets. And if you want to understand how contemporary capital is looking at this, take a look at Trump’s budget. It’s true that this is a pathological extreme of the normal capitalist systems and maybe it’s not fair to use it as an example, but that’s what we’re living with.

So on February 10th while the epidemic was raging, going to get worse, Trump came out with his budget proposals. What were they? First point, continue the defunding of health-related elements of the government. Throughout his term he’d been cutting back on funding of anything that doesn’t benefit private power and wealth, corporate power. So all the health-related parts of the government had been increasingly defunded. He killed programs, all sorts of things.

February 10th, let’s continue with it. So further defunding of the Centers for Disease Control and other health-related parts of the government. But there were also compensating increases in the budget, for the fossil fuel industry, more subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. So let’s not only to kill as many people as possible now, but let’s try to destroy all of society. That’s basically what the words mean. Of course, more funding for the military and for his famous wall ...

After the SARS epidemic in 2003, also a coronavirus, it was well understood by scientists that other recurrences of one or another coronavirus was going to come, probably more serious. Well, understanding is not enough. Someone has to pick up the ball and run with it. Now there are two possibilities. One is the drug companies, but they follow normal, capitalist logic. You do what makes profit tomorrow. You don’t worry about the fact that in a couple of years everything’s going to collapse. That’s not your problem. So the drug companies essentially did nothing. There were things that could be done. There was plenty of information circulating. Scientists knew what to do. There could have been preparations. Somebody’s got to pay for it. Not the drug companies. Well, in a rational world, even a capitalist world prior to Ronald Reagan, the government could have stepped in and done it.

That’s pretty much the way polio was eradicated, through a government-initiated and -funded program. When Jonas Salk discovered the vaccine, he insisted that there be no patents. He said, “It’s got to be public, just like the sun.” That’s still capitalism, but it’s regimented capitalism. That was ended at a stroke by Ronald Reagan. Government’s the problem, it’s not the solution. Let’s legalize tax havens. Let’s legalize stock buybacks costing tens of trillions of dollars to the public in pure robbery.

Government is the solution when the private sector’s in trouble, that’s understood. But if it’s just when the public needs something, government’s not the answer. So going back to 2003, government couldn’t step in. Actually, it did to a slight extent step in, and it’s very revealing to see what happened. Obama, after the Ebola crisis, recognized that there are problems. We have to do something.

Obama did several things. One of them was to try to contract for ventilators. Ventilators are the big bottleneck in the system right now. That’s what’s forcing nurses to decide who to kill tomorrow. There aren’t enough of them, but the Obama administration did contract for the development of high-quality, low-cost ventilators. The company was quickly bought up by a bigger one which sidelined the project—it was competing with their own expensive ventilators—and then turned to the government and said they want to get out of the contract, it’s not profitable enough ...

And some of the other things that went on are just too surreal to discuss. USAID had a program, very successful program, detecting viruses that are in animal populations, wild populations that are getting to closer contact with humans because of habitat destruction and global warming. So they were identifying thousands of potential disease viruses, working in China as well. Trump disbanded it. He’d been defunding it, but then he disbanded it with exquisite timing in October...

But then comes new forms of imposed slavery. So well into the late 1960s, federal housing laws required segregation. There was a lot of public-supported housing going on in the 50s. Levittowns and so on, but for whites, no Blacks. Liberal senators voted for this, hated it, but they voted for it because there was no other way to get any public housing passed ...

[Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell is the evil genius behind this. He’s been doing it beautifully. Make sure that the judiciary is stuffed with young, mostly unqualified, ultra-reactionary justices. That ensures that whatever the country wants in the future, they’ll be able to kill it. Just like the Roberts Court, the majority is able to do it now. Republicans know that they’re a minority party. There’s no way to get votes on their actual programs. That’s why they have to appeal to so-called cultural issues—gun rights, abortion and so on—not their actual policies, which are fill the pockets of the rich. That’s the actual policy. Trump is a genius at this. Have to admire him. With one hand he says, “I’m your savior, I’m working for the poor working guy.” On the other hand he’s stabbing him in the back. It’s pretty impressive. He’s most certainly the most successful con man in American history, ever.

I presume it’ll explode sometime, but so far it’s maintaining itself. They’re trying very hard to dismantle whatever elements of democracy there are ... Read the rest at Labor Notes.


Unemployment at 33 million (estimation) as of yesterday

3) A European, an Irishman specifically looks on: Fintan O'Toole from the Irish Times, 4/25/20. All. Of. This. Donald Trump has destroyed the country he promised to make great again. The world has loved, hated and envied the US. Now, for the first time, we pity it

Judy Woodruff has decided to commemorate who has died -- tell their lives, about their families, the worlds they have lost and which have lost them -- every few nights on PBS Reports; Remembering Americans lost to the coronavirus


Gone: Lysa Dawn Robinson - the deep pity of it

.Over more than two centuries, the United States has stirred a very wide range of feelings in the rest of the world: love and hatred, fear and hope, envy and contempt, awe and anger. But there is one emotion that has never been directed towards the US until now: pity.

However bad things are for most other rich democracies, it is hard not to feel sorry for Americans. Most of them did not vote for Donald Trump in 2016. Yet they are locked down with a malignant narcissist who, instead of protecting his people from Covid-19, has amplified its lethality. The country Trump promised to make great again has never in its history seemed so pitiful.
Will American prestige ever recover from this shameful episode? The US went into the coronavirus crisis with immense advantages: precious weeks of warning about what was coming, the world’s best concentration of medical and scientific expertise, effectively limitless financial resources, a military complex with stunning logistical capacity and most of the world’s leading technology corporations. Yet it managed to make itself the global epicentre of the pandemic.
As the American writer George Packer puts it in the current edition of the Atlantic, “The United States reacted ... like Pakistan or Belarus – like a country with shoddy infrastructure and a dysfunctional government whose leaders were too corrupt or stupid to head off mass suffering.”
It is one thing to be powerless in the face of a natural disaster, quite another to watch vast power being squandered in real time – wilfully, malevolently, vindictively. It is one thing for governments to fail (as, in one degree or another, most governments did), quite another to watch a ruler and his supporters actively spread a deadly virus. Trump, his party and Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News became vectors of the pestilence.
The grotesque spectacle of the president openly inciting people (some of them armed) to take to the streets to oppose the restrictions that save lives is the manifestation of a political death wish. What are supposed to be daily briefings on the crisis, demonstrative of national unity in the face of a shared challenge, have been used by Trump merely to sow confusion and division. They provide a recurring horror show in which all the neuroses that haunt the American psyche dance naked on live TV.
If the plague is a test, its ruling political nexus ensured that the US would fail it at a terrible cost in human lives. In the process, the idea of the US as the world’s leading nation – an idea that has shaped the past century – has all but evaporated. Who, other than the Trump impersonator Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, is now looking to the US as the exemplar of anything other than what not to do? How many people in Düsseldorf or Dublin are wishing they lived in Detroit or Dallas?
It is hard to remember now but, even in 2017, when Trump took office, the conventional wisdom in the US was that the Republican Party and the broader framework of US political institutions would prevent him from doing too much damage. This was always a delusion, but the pandemic has exposed it in the most savage ways.
What used to be called mainstream conservatism has not absorbed Trump – he has absorbed it. Almost the entire right-wing half of American politics has surrendered abjectly to him. It has sacrificed on the altar of wanton stupidity the most basic ideas of responsibility, care and even safety.
Thus, even at the very end of March, 15 Republican governors had failed to order people to stay at home or to close non-essential businesses. In Alabama, for example, it was not until April 3rd that governor Kay Ivey finally issued a stay-at-home order.
In Florida, the state with the highest concentration of elderly people with underlying conditions, governor Ron DeSantis, a Trump mini-me, kept the beach resorts open to students travelling from all over the US for spring break parties. Even on April 1st, when he issued restrictions, DeSantis exempted religious services and “recreational activities”.
There is, as the demonstrations in US cities show, plenty of political mileage in denying the reality of the pandemic
Georgia governor Brian Kemp, when he finally issued a stay-at-home order on April 1st, explained: “We didn’t know that [the virus can be spread by people without symptoms] until the last 24 hours.”
This is not mere ignorance – it is deliberate and homicidal stupidity. There is, as the demonstrations this week in US cities have shown, plenty of political mileage in denying the reality of the pandemic. It is fuelled by Fox News and far-right internet sites, and it reaps for these politicians millions of dollars in donations, mostly (in an ugly irony) from older people who are most vulnerable to the coronavirus.
It draws on a concoction of conspiracy theories, hatred of science, paranoia about the “deep state” and religious providentialism (God will protect the good folks) that is now very deeply infused in the mindset of the American right.
Trump embodies and enacts this mindset, but he did not invent it.
The US response to the coronavirus crisis has been paralysed by a contradiction that the Republicans have inserted into the heart of US democracy. On the one hand, they want to control all the levers of governmental power. On the other they have created a popular base by playing on the notion that government is innately evil and must not be trusted.
The contradiction was made manifest in two of Trump’s statements on the pandemic: on the one hand that he has “total authority”, and on the other that “I don’t take responsibility at all”. Caught between authoritarian and anarchic impulses, he is incapable of coherence.
But this is not just Donald Trump. The crisis has shown definitively that Trump’s presidency is not an aberration. It has grown on soil long prepared to receive it. The monstrous blossoming of misrule has structure and purpose and strategy behind it.
There are very powerful interests who demand “freedom” in order to do as they like with the environment, society and the economy. They have infused a very large part of American culture with the belief that “freedom” is literally more important than life. My freedom to own assault weapons trumps your right not to get shot at school. Now, my freedom to go to the barber (“I Need a Haircut” read one banner this week in St Paul, Minnesota) trumps your need to avoid infection.
Usually when this kind of outlandish idiocy is displaying itself, there is the comforting thought that, if things were really serious, it would all stop. People would sober up. Instead, a large part of the US has hit the bottle even harder.
And the president, his party and their media allies keep supplying the drinks. There has been no moment of truth, no shock of realisation that the antics have to end. No one of any substance on the US right has stepped in to say: get a grip, people are dying here.
If he is re-elected, toxicity will have become the lifeblood of American politics.
That is the mark of how deep the trouble is for the US – it is not just that Trump has treated the crisis merely as a way to feed tribal hatreds but that this behaviour has become normalised. When the freak show is live on TV every evening, and the star is boasting about his ratings, it is not really a freak show any more. For a very large and solid bloc of Americans, it is reality.
And this will get worse before it gets better. Trump has at least eight more months in power. In his inaugural address in 2017, he evoked “American carnage” and promised to make it stop. But now that the real carnage has arrived, he is revelling in it. He is in his element.
As things get worse, he will pump more hatred and falsehood, more death-wish defiance of reason and decency, into the groundwater. If a new administration succeeds him in 2021, it will have to clean up the toxic dump he leaves behind. If he is re-elected, toxicity will have become the lifeblood of American politics.
Either way, it will be a long time before the rest of the world can imagine America being great again.

*************************************


Last: Edward Gorey: Quarantined for self-protection. What I've noticed reading each day the last few days this week:

-- One of Trump's cronies took over the Post Office; apparently the president can do this; it will be gradually destroyed, turned into some kind of private enterprise. I worry now about my checks getting to the people I pay; will I be forced to pay online by credit cards?  1916 wasn't it the Post Office was fought over. It's a central institution like the DMV (driving). Democrats did nothing, did not make an outcry as far as I can see; the only way Trump can be defeated is if mailing in ballots is allowed. It's said that Biden's videos from his basement are not very good -- the DNC which put him in place is said to be worried. Right. The Wash Post reported on how Trump squashed the CDC's plan for testing and tracing which would have saved lives; he stopped Fauci from testifying. They actually had a plan on how to do it and how to open the economy while preventing as much sickness and death as possible. Trump overturned Flynn's conviction, or just ignored it. Also tightening grip to stop any general statistics from federal agencies. The Justice Department is fighting in the Supreme Court to destroy what's left of Affordable Care, millions are now w/o health care, to make the whole thing unconstitutional on the grounds that the individual mandate was abolished (irrationally, this small attack is now being used for a frontal one). Many people are dying at home -- of other things beyond Covid10 -- rather than incur lifelong debt. People now fear the hospitals are unsafe because the workers haven't anywhere near sufficient personal protection gear. And Betsy DeVos has reversed the Education department's policy on rape and sexual assault, by making a law or rule that the accuser must come forth, put herself in public and there must be a hearing, a trial; this will be enough to stop the few women who have protested.

So that's just the past week and one half --

Posted by Miss Drake