A Mad Man In Mad Times
Within a short period of time all of our lives have changed and at this point we don’t know how long it will be before things get back to normal, whatever normal is these days. In the US on Friday Trump finally declared the coronavirus (COVID-19) to be a national emergency. Right away 50 billion dollars will be allotted to fight the epidemic. A number of corporate executives appeared on stage with Trump and promised to be actively involved in combating the disease. Other than providing parking lots for testing it was unclear what many of the retail corporations could do. It was enough to see a huge swing in the stock market, if only temporary. One thing that seems very evident is that every corporation that was represented on stage stands to profit from the epidemic. Trump insisted on shaking hands with every executive even though every doctor in the US pretty well says that shaking hands is one of the easiest ways to transmit the disease. Trump said that 1700 Google engineers are working on a website that would make it easy for people to detect whether they had the virus. A lady doctor, Debbie Birx, even showed a poster indicating how easy the steps are. The reality is Google is not doing any such thing. A subsidiary of theirs is planning on creating a test site in the San Francisco area. No Google executives were in attendance at Friday’s press conference.
It is interesting who Trump often has on stage with him when he is talking about coronavirus. The dark haired guy with the beard and glasses is Alex Azar, the Secretary of Health and Human Resources. Mr. Azar is a lawyer and not a doctor. In his past he was a corporate lobbyist and CEO for the drug manufacturer Eli Lilly. Under Azar, Eli Lilly tripled the price of insulin. Mr. Azar is second only to Mike Pence to kissing Trump’s ass in public. VP Mike Pence is anti-science in a number of ways including being a global warming denier. To his credit he seems to have coordinated communications between the federal and state and city governments. A few days ago a Democratic congresswomen from California, Katie Porter, grilled Dr. Robert Redfield, the current director of the CDC (The Department of Disease Control and Prevention). Redfield is often seen on stage with Trump. He is the white haired guy with a beard and glasses. Katie Porter stated that a full battery of testing for the coronavirus could cost $1300.00 or more. She pointed out that over 50% of Americans have less than $500.00 in the bank. She pointed out to Dr. Redfield that he had the authority to make testing free to every American. Dr. Redfield hummed and hawed and tried to avoid the question. Porter was having none of it. Dr. Redfield finally capitulated and agreed to cover the costs of all coronavirus testing.
One doctor who really stands out is Dr. Anthony Fauci. He is trusted by both Republicans and Democrats. Over a period of time he has contradicted Trump’s statements a number of times. Sometimes you can see Dr. Fauci wincing while Trump is bullshitting.
Two Fridays ago Trump stopped off in Atlanta and told a bunch of lies before continuing on to Mara Lago for the weekend where he played golf twice (something he promised not to do as president because he wouldn’t have the time) and held a fundraiser. So far 3 Mara Lago guests have been found to have coronavirus. On average Trump has played golf on 25% of the days he has been in office.
Things move fast in American politics, particularly with Trump as president. Lies are often forgotten or overlooked because there is a new batch of them coming out of Trump’s mouth every day. Let’s look back on Trump’s involvement in the coronavirus epidemic so far.
In 2018 under the instructions of Trump national security advisor John Bolton shut down the office overseeing responses to pandemics. A lot of people with expertise in the field were out of a job.
The current version of the coronavirus disease was discovered in China in December of 2019. It was soon pretty obvious that it would spread to other parts of the world. The first case in the US was discovered in Washington State on January 20th of this year. As more cases were discovered FOX News and a number of Republican politicians scoffed at the deadliness of the disease. Some of these nuts suggested that the whole thing was a plot by the mainstream media and the Democrats to undermine President Trump. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican politician and close friend of Trump went so far as to wear a gas mask to mock those that were in fear of the virus. Matt Gaetz is currently under self imposed quarantine. Gaetz was recently on Air Force 1 with Trump
As the disease started to spread across the US Trump became more and more obsessed about how the stock market was doing. He seemed to care far more about losing his leverage about a soaring stock market in the upcoming elections this fall than the plight of American citizens. In the past he has always tried to lie his way out of difficulties. It wasn’t going to be as easy this time around.
Here’s list of just some of the lies Trump or his advisors have told the American public in the last several weeks…..
-February 10th. Trump claims that there is strong possibility that the coronavirus will go away once the weather warms up. There are no facts to indicate that.
-February 24th. Trump claims the coronavirus is “very much under control”.
-February 25th. Senior White House National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow said “We have contained this. I won’t say airtight but pretty close to airtight.”
-February 26th. Trump claimed that coronavirus cases were going down not up. A total lie.
-March 2nd. Trump claimed that a vaccine would be available in a fairly short time. The reality is that at best a vaccine might be available in a year or a year and a half. Dr. Fauci had already told him this but Trump insisted on lying anyway.
-March 4th. Trump blamed Obama for impeding testing while Obama was in office. A totally false claim.
-March 4th. Trump claims that over 100,000 Americans died of the “regular” flu in 1990. The number was closer to 26,000 deaths.
-March 6th. The Secretary of Health and Human Resources, Azar, claims there is no shortage of test kits nor has there ever been, Trump repeats the lie.
-March 6th. Trump claims the numbers the numbers of deaths and people with coronavirus in Italy were getting much better. This was totally untrue and since then Italy has shut off parts of the country.
-March 6th. Trump claims that the US numbers for those that have contacted coronavirus are lower than most countries. The US is about 7th in coronavirus cases.
-March 9th. VP Pence says that Trump’s priority was to get people off a cruise ship floating near San Francisco. 3 days earlier Trump had said he wanted the passengers to stay on the ship so the coronavirus numbers wouldn’t rise.
It does appear that Trump is more worried about the stock market than anything else. The Fed is talking about injecting 1 trillion dollars into the market. Trump has talked about buying low cost oil from fracking companies and storing it. It has become quite evident that fracking companies are not profitable and even before the coronavirus scare they were severely undercapitalized. More and more it looks like the federal government will be bailing out various sectors of corporate America including the oil companies, the cruise ship industry, and the airlines. The American farmer is already being subsidized by the American taxpayer. Just what about all of this doesn’t make the US a socialist nanny state?
Something else that has become quite evident of late is how badly the American version of health care works. Something like 1/3 of Americans put off medical care due to the costs. Almost 90 million Americans are underinsured and over 30 million have no insurance whatsoever. Viruses don’t choose who is wealthy and who is not. Testing for coronavirus is just part of the potential costs should one be infected. There is no assurance that the health care insurers or the government will pay for hospital stays and continued care. With that type of recipe it is certain a number of Americans will do all they can to avoid expensive care and debts which will no doubt increase the spread of the virus.
Neither US VP Pence nor Secretary Azar can say how many Americans so far have been tested for the virus. A few days ago it was estimated by sources outside of the government to be around 10,000 tests. South Korea alone has been testing 10, 000 of its citizens daily for some time. Somehow with the shortage of testing kits in the US, 38 rich NBA professional basketball players managed to get tested. Money still talks, even in a crisis.
At the end of last week a bipartisan bill was agreed to between the White House and the Democrats that would expand funds for free testing. The bill would also give some Americans a limited time of paid sick leave. The Republicans insisted on one exception and that was that guaranteed sick pay didn’t apply to US companies with over 500 employees. Something like 49% of Americans work for corporations with over 500 employees. Even in a time of crisis the Republicans chose to favour Corporate America over working people.
Saw Trump briefly on TV today. He was wearing a ball cap that said USA instead of his regular MAGA cap. Someone on his staff must have gotten to him finally. Not enough to clear up the fiasco he has been involved in for the last several weeks.
It is anyone’s guess what the world is going to look like in several months. In the past Americans could go about their daily activities oblivious to their county being involved in foreign wars. Not this time.
The coronavirus outbreak has been a horrible thing. Instead of being a compassionate leader Trump made the whole situation worse by telling lie after lie. Hopefully Trump and the coronavirus will be a thing of the past in 8 months.