Saturday, April 4, 2020

The United States is the Sick Man of North America

(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari.)
It's an apt description of our country. China, which was once called "the sick man of Asia (or East Asia)" is, after all, the originator of this disease named coronavirus and its endgame, COVID-19. And in January, China was the epicenter. Then it spread to Europe and in February. Italy became the epicenter. By March, it was our turn.
     The United States now leads the world in coronavirus cases. Our nation that comprises only 5% of the world's population now accounts for a quarter of the planet's confirmed cases. Or, to put in numerical terms, out of 1.2 million cases world-wide, 310,000 of them belong to us. And, while it's undeniable that the original Ground Zero for what would be the worst pandemic since 1918 was in Wuhan, China, it now belongs to all of us. Finger-pointing will get us nowhere any more than it would've gotten us anywhere if the world kept harping on the fact that the so-called Spanish Flu actually originated in America and that our troops fighting in the trenches of France and Belgium imported it to Europe.
     However, while finger-pointing about the origin of the virus will not save a single life or bring us one second closer to a proven cure, we must nonetheless remember how America, moreso than any other nation, was caught flat-footed and is now the world's newest epicenter. We need to remember who had been in charge and what had happened, or not happened, at the outbreak of the pandemic when we'd squandered invaluable weeks by spinning coronavirus as "just another flu." We need to remember these countless failings so in the future we can prevent such failures in leadership that have plainly cost thousands of Americans their very lives.
   That's not to say we haven't seen any evidence of leadership. But they tend to come from Democratic governors such as Andrew Cuomo, whose state now accounts for about a third of the cases in the United States. New York's 3565 fatalities dwarf that of any other state and Cuomo can be credited for taking swift executive action, issuing a state-wide state of emergency back on March 7th.
    But examples of leadership are far and few between as Republicans, starting with Trump, have shamelessly have shown more concern for Big Business and local commerce than the human beings who need to be alive to maintain that commerce.
     And it's important to identify and enumerate all the various bad moves and dearth of good ones the Trump administration has made since Trump, and Congress, were first briefed on it way back in January. Doing so and documenting such instances of incompetence and willful dysfunction will better prepare for a future pandemic or national epidemic, namely by doing the exact opposite of almost every single thing the Trump administration has done to that end.

How Has He Fucked Up? Let Me Count the Ways
It all started, as do many tragedies, years ago, specifically to May 10, 2018. That was the day Trump, still thinking that he was running a privately-owned corporation instead of one of the most powerful governments on earth, directly ordered the firing of Rear Admiral Timothy Ziemer, the man who ran the pandemic task force within the White House's NSC office. Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of our very few trusted voices of authority, had gone on record as saying that working with such an office "would be very helpful." 
     In fact, the WaPo had said with alarming prescience, "Ziemer’s departure, along with the breakup of his team, comes at a time when many experts say the country is already underprepared for the increasing risks of a pandemic or bioterrorism attack. Ziemer’s last day was Tuesday, the same day a new Ebola outbreak was declared in Congo. He is not being replaced."
     Then he lied about his part in it.
     It all went downhill from that point on.
    Trump and his team of rabid assclowns were briefed about a future pandemic by the outgoing Obama administration. Trump and many of his Cabinet designates couldn't be bothered to show up. 
     HHS had done a simulation of a future pandemic that was eerily accurate in which the fictional outbreak was called "the Crimson Contagion" that would've originated in China and spread to the US. That was ignored.
     He'd been briefed about coronavirus in particular by our intelligence agencies back in January. They were ignored.
      By the end of the month, Trump had issued a travel ban that he'd later claim saved many lives. But there so many exceptions to the ban, such as Americans coming back from China, as to render it meaningless. To date, in just the last two months, 43,000 Americans have entered the US from China on 269 flights and counting.
   Then, our so-called government decided to ignore a 70 page playbook guiding that same government of how to manage a pandemic that was put together by the same Obama-era pandemic task force that Trump would soon disband. He ignored that.
     That same year, 2018, the CDC had shut down literally 80% of its efforts to combat a pandemic, efforts that would sure come in handy now.
      This was because Trump had slashed their budget by 18%.
      Then, in short order, Trump had
      Eliminated the US government's $30 million Complex Crises Fund. 
      He reduced national health spending by $15 billion. 
      He consistently attacked officials in charge of spearheading the US's global health programs, like Mark Green, the director of the US Agency for International Development. 
     Trump's former national security adviser, John Bolton, also pushed out Tom Bossert, the White House homeland security adviser who had called for a robust strategy against pandemics and bioweapons attacks.
     It was as if Trump knew a pandemic would hit us then did every single thing humanly and inhumanly possible to murder as many Americans as possible.
     And that was just the beginning...

Why, What Else Did He Do, Mikey?
I'm almost glad you asked.
     As far back as February, there were so few test kits available, the testing criteria was made so stringent almost no one could get tested, including a nurse in California and another in Florida This kept the number of cases artificially low.
     Dr. Anthony Fauci found out he had to get clearance from the ignorant meatheads at the White House before speaking publicly about coronavirus.
     He named Mike Pence as his Coronavirus Czar before professional son in law Jared Kushner took it over.
    Added to this right wing Justice League were Larry "Happy Hour" Kudlow and Steve Mnuchin, thereby betraying Trump's real motivation for assembling this Republican version of the Sinister Six.
     Then he announced the vaccine, if we ever developed one, may not be affordable to everyone.
     Then he allowed coronavirus-infected Americans to come home.
    Then he said he planned to strand passengers on a cruise ship to keep the infection numbers artificially low.
     Then he called it an ordinary flu bug.
     Then he refused testing kits from the World Health Organization then denied doing so.
    Then he promised 4,000,000 testing kits that largely never materialized and what few there were didn't work.
     His only trip to the CDC was a thinly-veiled campaign whistle stop in which he called Gov. Jay Inslee "a snake"
     He pushed out his HHS Secretary Alex Azar to brag about the economy, even as Wall Street was in freefall.
    Trump ordered coronavierus advisory posters in Spanish removed from all immigration courts then they mysteriously reappeared when the Miami Herald screamed about it.
    Then, weeks before we heard a word from Washington about bailing out soon to be unemployed workers, we began hearing about corporate welfare.
     Then Trump's GOP enablers stalled a stimulus relief bill when Republicans and their employers in Big Pharma were worried they'd get cut out of the action from vaccine sales.
    Those same drug company executives tried to talk sense to Trump about a virus vaccine and he asked about a "solid flu vaccine."
     Then Trump blamed Obama for leaving him with an outdated system to combat coronavirus. That would be the same Obama whose team tried to brief them about a future pandemic, left them with a pandemic task force and a 70 page policy manual in how to deal with it.
     He accused the WHO of issuing fake death toll numbers.
    Then the White House claimed everything was "well in hand" even as the US coronavirus cases began to skyrocket.
    Then the news that 96,000,000 Americans could be infected had to be leaked out like Soviet-era samizdat.
     Trump starts drawing the political dividing lines on whether or not coronavirus was real.
     Then he used coronavirus to attack Social Security.
     Then he blamed people for not getting tested when there weren't enough kits to go around.
    And there weren't enough testing kits because a company in which Trump may still own stock didn't get a monopoly on it.
    After co-opting control of the so-called coronavirus task force, it came out Jared Kushner was doing his research on Facebook.
     Then he had Bolsonaro over for dinner at Mar a Lago at a time when his top aide had it.
    Then he tried to buy a German pharmaceutical company so he could have exclusive rights to whatever vaccine they develop.
     Then he tried to patent the tests themselves.
     Then a Trump admin official called coronavirus "kung flu" to Chinese-American journalist Weijia Jiang.
    Then Trump stumbled and bumbled his way through declaring a national emergency five weeks after saying coronavirus was nothing to worry about.
     Then Trump's USDA tried to steal food stamps from the hungry.
      Then he announces, flanked by corporate scumbags, that private industry was going to set up testing sites for Americans until it came out that only five sites were opened for first responders only and the locations kept a secret from those same American people.
     Then he announced Google had a website for testing sites that Google later said didn't exist.
    Then passengers just off a coronavirus-infected ship were dissuaded from getting tested because were still weren't enough testing kits.
    Then it broke that Trump's agencies haven't been transparent with their own employees about coronavirus and their exposure to it.
    By late March, our hospitals still didn't have enough PPE with which to adequately protect themselves.
    Then, while ignoring our doctors and nurses, Trump offered our help to his fellow dictator in North Korea.
     Then he touted chloroquine phosphate as a new miracle cure, forcing the FDA to say minutes later it's barely entered the testing phase.
    Then Trump refused to say whether his own company would get a bailout from the relief package.
    Then after 15,000  people died from the virus, he started whining he was getting treated badly by the press.
    Then he said people would commit suicide by the thousands if they didn't go back to work.
    Then he invoked the Defense Production Act, only he didn't.
    Then he tried to smear Andrew Cuomo during a Fox Town Hall using a right wing blog post.
    Then the G7 tried to issue a joint statement then had to scrap that when Trump ordered Pompeo to call the coronavirus "the Chinese virus."
    Then it came out that while millions of Americans fearfully awaited tests, those closest to Trump got tested first.
   Then he announced, long before the flattening of the curves (which still hasn't come close to happening yet) that he wanted to reopen the country's businesses by Easter.
   Then he complained that GM was shaking down the government about the maufacturing of ventilators fell through.
    Then corporate executives went on record as saying they were reluctant to enter into contracts with the government to make medical supplies because of how he treated GM. 
    Then, after a public spat with MI Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Trump told Pence not to take her calls and directed medical suppliers to stop deliveries to Michigan.
    Then he pretended to order more ventilators on Twitter from GM while still refusing to actually invoke the DPO.
     Then he declared victory over coronavirus based on no evidence and blamed Canada even though, at this writing, Canada has 14,000 cases compared with our world-leading 310,016. And we've lost 6700 Americans to this disease in just the last eight days.
    Then he said he was locking down New York State then said hours later he wasn't.
    Then he told Andrew Cuomo to find his own fucking equipment.
   Then Trump accused New York health care workers, two days in a row, of stealing masks and selling them through "the back door."
    Then, after saying just a month ago that we had just 15 cases, Trump announced that if "only 100,000 to 200,000 die" from the virus, he can pat himself on the back for a job well done.
     Then he told governors during a conference call, "I haven't heard about testing being a problem."
     Then he sent Illinois thousands of the wrong masks instead of the millions they asked for.
     Then he sent NY hospitals Yankees fan ponchos that can barely keep out water let alone coronavirus.
     He's repeatedly called coronavirus "the Chinese virus", thereby painting a target on the backs of all Asian Americans.
     Then the Pentagon announced it had 2000 ventilators ready to ship from its own stockpile but hasn't because the White House hasn't given them shipping instructions.
     Then he decided not to allow people the means to sign up for Obamacare exchanges in certain states.
     Then we were forced to accept help from the country that hacked out elections, the same Russia that said just weeks ago that America should not be counted on to lead the world combating the pandemic.
     Then, the much ballyhooed onetime $1200 stimulus checks for the poors won't be in the mail until Labor Day, if that.
     Then Trump backed a patent for the vaccine that Gildead's been allowed to have.
     Then he fired the captain of an aircraft carrier of over 5000 men and officers for writing a letter to his commanders warning them their lack of guidance was putting his crew at risk.
     Then Jared claimed the National Strategic Reserve was "for us", meaning the federal government, even though its mission statement stated it was for the states if they needed it.
     Then, to comport with Kushner's lies, Trump ordered the mission statement to be changed.
     Then, when long-suffering CBS correspondent Weijia ("Kung Flu") Jiang asked Trump why he said Kushner meant "us" as in the states, Trump went off on her and called her "nasty."
     Then we stole 200,000 masks bound for Germany and diverted the plane to the US.
     Then at the same time we were stealing medical supplies from Germany, we were stealing medical supplies from Canada.

     Keep in mind, this isn't a complete list of Trump's fuckups, outbursts, lies and delusions regarding this pandemic. There are only so many hours in the day. And by tomorrow morning, it will need to be added to.


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