Thursday, December 24, 2020

The Post Trump America

     OK, this is going to be a Mrs. Dalloway-type stream of consciousness post and I don't have any idea what I'll produce in the next few minutes. Actually, I'm probably just putting off all my last minute Christmas duties, which is everything, since I'm such a shameless procrastinator. So, with all due respect, or apologies, to Virginia Woolf, here are my thoughts at the end of this shit show of a year.
     As I've said before, not that I needed to, but if any one thing defines 2020 more than anything else, it would have to be COVID-19. There was nothing Trump could've done about the contagion's origin in China or its spread to Italy. But that's not the point, is it?
     The first thought that probably occurred to Trump once he realized how serious the virus was (and he proved this in his once-private phone calls to Bob Woodward as far back as February) was to think of a way he could partner with the virus. Maybe I can make a deal with it, he thought. When his health advisors informed him about herd immunity, he obviously thought, Why not let COVID-19 "wash over" the country? Then, when it burns itself out, I can position myself as a great president and win another four years even though I will have sat on my fat ass doing nothing.
     This was after obviously being told that, with the incomplete R0 models for COVID-19, letting the virus "wash over" the nation would result in at least 2,000,000 to 2,500,000 dead within a year or two. (Even with haphazard and patchwork mitigation measures, we've still lost 326,000 in under a year.) The most comparable model we had was the century-old herd immunity model from the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-1920 that, even with sketchy casualty numbers, we know killed a helluva lot more than two to two and a half million Americans.
     All those corpses were quite acceptable to Trump. Apparently, it was also quite acceptable to former HHS science advisor Paul Alexander, who'd claimed Dr. Josef Mengele as his spirit animal. Alexander, we now know from Politico, viciously pursued this course as a matter of policy, sometimes in all caps. One can perfectly imagine him furiously jabbing his laptop keys and hot spittle flying from his mouth as he thought of the glorious sight of all those rotting corpses piling up like Persians at Thermopylae.
     Pursuing such a policy was obviously not just Alexander's idea but that of the guy at the top of the shit heap, the guy who'd asked Dr. Fauci last March 14th, "Why don't we just let this wash over the country?" As I'd written in a recent post, when you look at the government's bifurcated non-response to the pandemic, when they realized Americans had a problem, after all, with hundreds of thousands of us dropping dead in less than a year, everything makes sense.
     The stolen PPE, letting the maintenance contracts lapse for the ventilators in the national stockpile, Jared saying what little we had was the property of the government, the unnecessary bidding war between states, and that same federal government, the reluctance to invoke the Defense Production Act and literally hundreds of other instances that no rational, sane, actual president would do during a pandemic... it all makes sense, now.
     The most frightening thing was that 74,000,000 of us voted for four more years of this shit. Four more years of endless streams of bodies being loaded into refrigerated trucks, bodies decaying in UHaul box trucks because the funeral homes couldn't keep up, the hundreds of thousands of devastated families with one or even several empty places at the table, economic hardship.
     74,000,000 of us hoarsely screamed, "Give us four more years of Hell, Mr. President!"
     Because anything's better than the Socialism that gave them their Social Security and Medicare.
     Fortunately, they were outnumbered by 7,000,000 more of us who wanted to live. That's not to say they were silenced. They will hold a virtual second inauguration for Trump on Facebook that will no doubt involve stuffed animals and action figures supplanting the Big Guy. They will continue shoveling money at his feet (Over a quarter of a billion, at last count) even though they could've easily been included in with that 2-2,500,000 acceptable body count with which Trump seemed alarmingly comfortable.
     The only good thing about this year is that it will be Trump's final Christmas in the White House (even though he's at Mar a Lago, the Palm Beach Kremlin).
     But we'll still have all those head-shaking, delusional zealots who still insist that Trump won despite the basic math, the government moving along in preparation of the incoming Biden administration. We'll still have COVID-19 to deal with and the rest of the vaccine to effectively roll out to all those who want it.
     We will likely still be desperately thirsty for some economic relief that the Republican Party doesn't want to give you because they suddenly remembered that deficits matter, after all. Moreso than Barack Obama in 2009, Biden will have his plate full to say the least.
     Ronald Reagan once said, "Policy is personnel." And he was absolutely right. If you want to know how an administration will play out, what policies they'll pursue, just look at the men and women the Chief Executive installs in those policy-making positions. We had no right to be horrified by the subsequent actions of Trump's pack of upholstered jackals that have, for the most part, been allowed to lope without restriction on Capitol Hill. We do, however, get something of a pass for being unprepared for the unprecedented evil they'd unleashed that defied and exceeded anyone's expectations.
     Caging children. Letting a deadly, highly-communicable and unpredictable virus never seen before wash over a nation as large as the United States without the government once mandating serious mitigation measures, stifling vital information, muzzling scientists and firing those who wouldn't play ball. Quid pro quo with Ukraine, collusion with Russia, a needless trade war with China costing hundreds of thousands of jobs then gumming up anything like a real stimulus bill that helps out those who need it the most.
     Biden and his incoming administration won't be a bed of roses, either. They're almost without exception the same exact pro-corporate, neoliberal fucksticks we'd endured for eight years under Obama. But chances are that, after what evils they will surely visit on the American public, none of them will need to be pardoned.
     Flynn got pardoned just before he let his inner right wing freak flag fly and called for martial law and insurrection against an election  result confirmed by the electoral college and all 50 states. Trump also pardoned Kushner's old man as well as four Blackwater scumbags who'd murdered 17 people in Nisour Square in Baghdad in 2007, Roger Stone and Paul Manafort.
     Flynn, Stone and Manafort stand out because they all lied to the government, were convicted in federal court for doing so and were all central to the Russia probe or the scandal involving Wikileaks' part in kneecapping Hillary Clinton. In other words, all three of those scumbags know where the bodies are buried. Trump was doing nothing for them. He was guaranteeing their silence to protect himself.
     Except, maybe Trump stopped listening when his legal advisors tried to tell him that when you pardon someone, you're simultaneously stripping them of their 5th amendment right against self-incrimination. So if they're ever hauled into court or before a grand jury, they'll be compelled to spill the beans when the situation demands.
     We will survive all this. The successful election that Chris Krebs called "the most secure in US history" is a reliable bellwether. This is the United States of America. And, while we won't last forever, we will endure and survive this pandemic, this toxic, shithole country of a "presidency", the economic ruin, the lost jobs that aren't coming back. We will survive, albeit with some necessary adjustments.
     As we enter the holiday season with Christmas tomorrow, let this spot of guarded optimism be my Christmas present to all of you who may perchance be reading this sometime during the wrapping or unwrapping of presents, hopefully with loved ones spared the ravages of this virus. Let this be my gift to you, my assurance that we will get through this, that the bad guy still loses in the end, at least sometimes.


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