As a nation, there’s no avoiding stating the obvious and dispiriting truth about the COVID-19 pandemic, “We Blew It.”
We had a chance to act, back in early January, when our intelligence agencies alerted us to the deadly pandemic coming out of China. US Intelligence Agencies Report Pandemic on Jan 3rd
We could have, like the South Koreans, started a massive testing program, identifying those with the virus, tracking and locating all who they had contacted, and quarantining only those people. The rest of the population would go about their business, albeit wearing a mask outdoors until the crisis has passed. Sadly, we didn’t act.
Who caused us to fail so grievously? There’s an old adage: “Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan.” The orphan, in this case, is none other than President Donald Trump.
Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, previously the CEO of ExxonMobile, called Trump “a fucking moron” after a disastrous meeting with military leaders at which Trump insulted all the generals in the room. Trump fired Tillerson after one year of service, but Tillerson never denied that he made the “fucking moron” comment.
For me, I’d describe Trump in the immortal words of the character Ruth Langmore in the Netflix series Ozarks: “He doesn’t know shit about fuck!”
All those stories about Trump being a narcissistic dotard and not knowing “shit about fuck,” is it “Fake News?”
To answer that, you have to know how journalism works and, more specifically, how White House journalism operates. An excellent example of a working White House correspondent is NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell, who has been on the White House beat for years.
Journalism emphasizes the five W’s: Who, What, Why, When, and Where. The journalist gets to the bottom of any story by interviewing “sources” who are guaranteed anonymity to spill what they know. Professors teach that you never publish until you get other sources to corroborate the original scoop. When they do publish a juicy tidbit, it’s usually described as from a “highly-placed White House source.”
We see Kelly and her colleagues in action when they ask questions at a televised press briefing or at one of Trump’s helicopter harangues. At other times, she has an office in the West Wing and prowls its halls and those of the Executive Office Building next door. Kelly and her colleagues chat up the staff and visitors to the President’s Oval Office and pump them for information. That’s how it works, and Oh, how these people talk about their boss Trump.
What White House correspondents have found out about Trump over the last 3 ½ years is disheartening. All the President’s Men and Women describe a lazy man, who shows up for work at noon, refuses to read intelligence briefings, disdains science, and is prone to witless speculation such as “Can you nuke a hurricane? windmills cause cancer, or can you inject disinfectants into the human body?”
Aides have learned to keep information given to the President to less than one page in length, with pictures of Trump to catch his attention. He apparently has the attention span of a goldfish and the intellectual curiosity of a tapeworm.
There have been scores of newspapers, magazine articles, and books about Trump’s incompetence. One book, “Fire and Fury,” written by Michael Wolff, whom Trump had foolishly given access to the White House staff, was positively incendiary. In an NPR review by Annalisa Quinn, she said in her review: NPR Review
“I’ll get all the good stuff out of the way first: President Trump likes to eat cheeseburgers in bed; his hair is the result of scalp reduction surgery and deft, even architectural, styling; he has three TVs in his bedroom; his advisers speculate about whether or not he can read; Steve Bannon called Ivanka “dumb as a brick”; Trump called Sally Yates a “c***”; Hope Hicks and Corey Lewandowski had an affair that ended in a street fight; and Trump’s inner circle walks around in a state of “queasy sheepishness, if not constant incredulity” at the president’s behavior. You’re welcome.”
There’s no more celebrated critic of Donald Trump than Tallahassee’s Rick Wilson. Rick, a former Republican operative, is no angel. He engineered a campaign against Senator Max Cleland, a Vietnam war double amputee, claiming that Max was soft on terrorism. Yet, he has turned on Trump and seems to always get under Trump’s skin. Wilson is famous for the observation that “Everything Trump Touches, Dies.”
In his book “Running Against the Devil: A Plot to Save America from Trump–and Democrats from Themselves,” Rick opined:
“Trump’s short temper, lack of knowledge or experience in national security matters, and inability to see beyond the time horizon of his next tweet will, in the event of a more kinetic crisis, leave American forces and interests at risk. God forbid an American warship fails in battle, or a Special Forces unit can’t complete a mission. He’ll likely declare them enemies of the people and issue a tweet to mock their shortcomings. The bad guys know the same things our allies know: This is a weak man in a weak White House. He is unreliable, untruthful, and unmanageable. No matter how many flyovers and tank displays are arranged to keep him clapping like a toddler, and no matter how tough he talks on Twitter, they’ve got his number…and America in their sights.”
What’s more dispiriting is what has been revealed about Trump’s motivations for his actions (or inaction) about the COVID-19 pandemic. He’s only interested in what affects him, his family, and his business. Trump could care less about you and your family, for he’s the quintessential narcissist.
Had we a competent leader, the following actions could have been taken, starting in early January. Impossible, you say? Turns out, this is pretty much what the South Koreans did.
- Immediately accept the World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 test recipe.
- Order anyone who tests positive to “shelter-at-home.” Find and check everybody they have been in contact with and “shelter them at home” if needed.
- Set up a simple government website to allow any business that has lost an employee to “shelter-at-home” mandates to continue to pay their salary (plus tips) directly from the US Treasury.
- Provide funds directly from the US Treasury to tide businesses over during any temporary enforced shutdowns. So far, Secretary Steven Mnuchin has distributed those funds mostly to his wealthy friends.
- Have Medicare cover any and all required COVID-19 treatments. Nobody would go bankrupt due to COVID-19.
- Utilize the Defense Production Act (DPA) to compel pharmaceutical manufacturers to mass-produce these COVID-19 tests and distribute them everywhere (doctor’s offices, hospitals, etc.).
- Utilize the DPA to compel all US manufacturers of personal protective equipment (PPE) to halt all overseas shipments and run these factories 24/7 to produce all the supplies our hospitals need.
- Use the Army Corps of Engineers to expand hospital capacity in hot spots (this has been implemented in a few places).
- Protect the imperiled. Provide funds and programs to prevent vulnerable populations, such as myself (elderly, pre-existing conditions) from being infected. Provide food delivery, checking on their health, and other needs.
Sadly, Trump didn’t do any of these actions (save for the Army Corps of Engineers and a hospital ship) before it was too late. He wasted two full months with inaction and foolish promises that the coronavirus would “just go away.”
On January 22nd, Trump stated: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.” CNBC interview
That, of course, was BS as the virus was coming in from China, Europe, and cruise ships, and spreading like wildfire in the United States.
Now that the death toll is rising to disastrous levels, killing more in two months than in the entire Vietnam war, Trump has changed his tune. Today, it’s “let’s open the country back up and take whatever losses that entails.” Or, in other words, asking granny to take one for the team. Whatever the final death toll is, Trump intends to say something like, “It could have been 2 million dead, so that’s a huge victory for me.”
So, thanks to this moronic President, the country faces a conundrum: continue to shelter-in-place or open up and take the death toll as a necessary sacrifice for the stock market.
I had a 45-year career in electrical engineering, so by nature, I am trained to be practical. The proper response to a pandemic is to quarantine those who are infected. This is only possible with extensive testing, something that Trump refused to do. In fact, Trump never called for any “shelter-in-place” measures.
The governors of those states with the worst outbreaks ordered the “stay at home” quarantines (New York, Washington, etc.). When you don’t have enough testing to identify those infected, the only recourse is to quarantine everybody. So, most of the nation entered a lockdown.
The problem is that such a lockdown can only last for a couple of months before all hell breaks loose. We now have near-depression levels of unemployment. It’s just a matter of weeks before families, with no income or food, are going to get eviction notices. Even with the lockdown lifted, how many people are really going to gamble going to a department store, restaurant, stadium, or movie theater. The collapse of demand will worsen the recession. This is going to be a disastrous third and fourth quarter.
I’m in the worst COVID-19 risk group (elderly, pacemaker, diabetes, arthritis, and weight issues). My only strategy is to hide out in my condo and hope that coronavirus doesn’t come through my front door, and that I live long enough to see an effective vaccine developed.
There is one other thing I intend to do. That’s to vote Trump and his band of grifters and incompetents out on November 3rd. That will include every Republican, from dogcatcher to Senator, who are guilty of enabling this incompetent and corrupt President.
We blew it in electing a moronic reality show huckster to run the country. We blew it, in not correctly responding to a dangerous global pandemic. But there’s one thing we can’t blow. It’s time to…
Flush the Turds on November 3rd.