I took a much-needed break from the media, politicians, and the disease COVID-19 last week. It felt pretty good! Perhaps because I’m lucky, because I chose not to have children, because I work from home, and because of the house my wife and I occupy, I can pull off “unplugging” from the Internet, phone, and cable news (mostly) for four or five straight days. I told my wife, “If we get a shelter-in-place order, hopefully you find out, because I won’t!” I was listening to the radio, watching movies and inane TV, reading, going to the gym (when it was still open), volunteering for Meals on Wheels, and so on. Gone was the “the sky is falling!” feeling that results from watching my wealth manager, whom I pay 1% of my stock assets to every year, having chose stocks that lost 30% in value in twenty days, hearing Donald Trump speak, and thinking of what the virus is doing to Italy and Spain. Now that I’m back, I feel like I’m back up on the cross, not only enduring raw facts about the disease, but all manner of bullshit from the land that invented steel-cage wrestling matches, Cheese-Puffs, and The Apprentice. Here are ten examples on my mind today:
Note: these examples were largely taken from The Week, a weekly magazine I highly recommend.
I also recommend reading David Leonhard’s viewpoints on the virus; they are concise, well-reasoned, and compelling (LINK)
- The Stay-At-Home Orders Bring Out Both Pain, and Selfishness
Wealthy New York residents are feeling the coronavirus en masse to the Hamptons, leaving roads in oceanside towns packed with Range Rovers and Lexus SUVs. “I’ve seen breathtaking acts of selfishness,” year-round resident Jason LaGarenne told the New York Post, citing a man who filled a shopping cart with carrots. Another shopper spent $8,000 in one grocery run. “We should blow up the bridges! Don’t let them in!” (James Katspips).
I don’t want to make this blog all about Trump, but let’s face it, not only is he about the biggest asshole we have in the Western Hemisphere, he is on television everyday now, engaging in impromptu rah-rah-ing and trying to rise to the occasion as best as his constitution and character will allow. Just as oneexample of Trump’s fantasy self-appraisal about the virus, so I’m not here typing all day: “We have it so well under control. I mean, we really have done a very good job.” How about you bring the incidence curve down from skyrocketing at a 145-degree angle, asshole, and then pat yourself on the back? The epitome of selfishness.
Writer David Brooks asked folks to write him about their mental health during this pandemic. He was horribly shocked by the replies — which number 5,000 and counting. Here is some of what he writes about it:
- Many Economic Sectors Are Extremely Hard-Hit; Unemployment Skyrockets
In my county alone, 5,000+ restaurant jobs are kaput. Movie theaters, oil, tourism, and the like are just devastated. The stock market itself saw a 35% drop, wiping out all the gains since 2012. We are in the midst of a severe economic recession, and a “depression” isn’t out of the question, depending on if we can up our game and stem the kinds of losses that Italy has suffered. Indeed, with over three million folks applying for unemployment last week, and a $2,200,000,000 bailout underway, you know things are tenuous and sketchy here. The good news is that many of them were Republicans. It’s great that now conservatives will have a fuller appreciation of what the social safety net can mean to everyone, including themselves. I say this because it is easy for one to believe that “I work hard, and I don’t take handouts” until you yourself are taking handouts. Is it possible that you’re the only hard worker who needs help, and everyone else is a slacker and a taker? Possibly, but extremely unlikely. Look in the mirror and remember what your pastor said last Sunday.
A record 6.6 million people made initial applications for jobless benefits in the U.S. last week, the federal government reported on Thursday. The figure smashed the previous high mark of 3.3 million set the previous week. The nearly 10 million jobs lost over those two weeks after business shutdowns and slowdowns due to the coronavirus crisis have wiped out nearly all of the job gains of the last five years. (The Week)
Guess who will weather the storm, watching their movies on giant projection TV screens, behind gates in golf course communities, sanitizer at the ready? That’s right, the wealthy. Whom do you imagine will suffer the most? You guessed it, the homeless, the poor, those who live paycheck to paycheck, those without health insurance, those who live in inner cities or forgotten-about rural locations, those in nursing homes.
The New York Times Editorial Board, in an excellent piece, carries the banner for a functional, robust, transparent, accountable, “good” government, and here is a solid example of the political/philosophical argument they make:
“Corporate action and philanthropy certainly have their places, particularly in the short term, given President Trump’s feckless leadership and the tattered condition of the government he heads. But they are poor substitutes for effective stewardship by public institutions. What America needs is a just and activist government. The nature of democracy is that we are together responsible for saving ourselves.”
- Dr. Fauci Shines as America’s Top Doc
Dr. Anthony Fauci is like the straight man to Trump’s comedy act. Dr. Fauci might be the most trusted man in Washington, said Sarah Owermohle in Politico. He noted “It’s really tough, because you have to be honest with the American public, but you don’t want to scare the hell out of them.” Sober, amiable, educated, and competent, he exudes a gentle and palatable authority and gravitas. Basically, the opposite of the President, whom he has to repeatedly correct on national television. Luckily, he cares more about the truth and the health of the American public than The Donald, who seems to only want to make America great again — as soon as conceivably possible. Trump knows that he is one error away from a lost reelection, and that he can’t bully a virus. “To my knowledge,” Fauci said, grinning, “I haven’t been fired.” You can’t make this shit up. However, true to form, the forces of evil are afoot (see #7 below).
- This Virus is a Motherfucker
A shout-out to my late, close friend John A. Marshall, whom I affectionately called “Johnny Ringo”. He would have said exactly thatabout this virus, I imagine. Indeed, it is a malicious invader, trying its damndest to kill you. It’s almost hard to imagine how something that essentially prevents your ability to breathe can exist on God’s green earth, but hey, God works in mysterious ways, so let’s just not dwell on that. We need science. That is, if a vaccine comes out, you’d better take it. I fear that if my sister and her husband (supported by my mother) choose not to vaccinate her children, should a vaccine be developed in 2021, I will lose my shit,as they say. One thing is for sure: you want the best immune system you can have. That is, smoking is foolish; age is a factor one can’t control; diabetes is more or less preventable; exercise and diet and weight are critical factors one can manipulate in the lead-up to a deadly virus attack. Word to the wise: if you’re sitting on your couch, at over 250 pounds, smoking and drinking, death is at your door, my friend. John always characterized his mortality as a slow-moving, life-or-death contest between himself and “the Grim Reaper” (yes, black robes, scythe, vacuous visage), and we are all now facing the Reaper, and he is (to use a phrase from a Oingo Boingo song), cut-cut-cuttinghis way to a bumper crop of unlucky and unprepared Americans. Not to mention Italians, Spanish, Chinese, and so on. It did ensnare Boris Johnson and Harvey Weinstein, so it’s not all bad.
- Social Distancing: My Dream Come True, Though Possibly a Nightmare
Perhaps I am riffing on Woody Allen, Bill Maher, George Carlin, Dennis Miller, Larry David, and my other favorite comedians, here, but this social distancing is a blessing and a curse. Typically, I’m both attracted to social connection, and repelled by it. Especially in public, where drivers and pedestrians and gawkers and n’er-do-wells roam, the thought of gaining social distance from the great, unwashed masses in a dream come true. On the other hand, I long for more sincere and deeper connections than I have with people in reality-TV-land. It’s a rub; it’s ambivalence when I ponder it. It could have a pernicious, long-lasting effect to close schools, movie theaters, public transportation, and so on. We can expect suicides to go up, and while some are brought closer by the need for affiliation and camaraderie and cooperation, others will suffer under relative isolation, and some will even take the opportunity to sow chaos and pain for society. Here is how Theunis Bates describes our new normal:
Right now, my daughter and son are each other’s only playmates, and it’s heart-breaking to tell them they can’t invite their friends over or meet them in the playground. During a visit to the beach last weekend, we sat some 30 feet from another family with a girl about the same age as my daughter. In normal times, these two first-graders would have built sandcastles together and become friends. But in our new age of social distancing, all they could do was look at each other forlornly from afar.
- The Senate, House, and Reality-TV-Star-Executive Crafted a Hugely Expensive, Probably Poorly-Conceived, Likely Only Somewhat Effective “Rescue Plan for the U.S. Economy”
Never far from our television screens lately were the likes of Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul, Chuck Schumer, and of course, the man who should never have been elected if it weren’t for skullduggery with Russia, Hillary Clinton, and a stupid CNN, Donald Trump. The word around the campfire is that the $2.2 TRILLION dollar Wall Street bailout and Main Street economic coagulant is better than nothing, but inadequate and poorly designed. “To get this deal, said Kaylee McGhee in the Washington Examiner, Senate Republicans fought off a raft of ideological add-ons from Democrats, like student loan forgiveness, early voting, and a postal service bailout.” I’m not sure I see those things as foolish and unnecessary, considering who all good and just people are dealing with (Trump, McConnell, Barr, Tillis, Graham, etc.), but be that as it may. “That’s a win for the GOP, but it’s also a gamble for the GOP, said Robert Costa and Philip Rucker in The Washington Post. After the Wall Street bailouts of the 2008 financial crisis, fury among the party’s rank-and-file spawned the Tea Party revolt and the loss of seats by Republican centrists. That the president and many of his allies came to power on the backs of that grass-roots movement makes this moment ironic.”
Former National Security Counsel official James E. Baker aptly puts the federal response thusly: “Every Marine knows better than to pull a knife in a gunfight. But so far, that appears to be the federal government’s approach to battling Covid-19.”
Jamelle Bouie adds: “The list of presidential failures is long and varied. But when it comes to failure in the face of an external force — a natural disaster or an economic meltdown — it is difficult to find anything as catastrophic as President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, even at this early stage of the crisis.”
Eric Alterman slices and dices his natural enemy, The Donald:
“Trump’s tendency toward ‘bullshit’ [which Harry Frankfurt defines as statements made ‘when the speaker does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly; he just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose’] can be entertaining, such as when he pretends to have expertise in toilet flushing and windmills. But the habit is a great deal more problematic when the topic is, say, an ongoing pandemic that has the potential to kill millions of people, disrupt national economies, and cause chaos across the globe.”
- Never Far from Screwing This Country Up for Good, the Right-Wing Goes After Fauci
Such soul-eroding shit comes from the right wing of the political spectrum, I tell you! The latest (LINK) is that, according to reporter Isaac Becker, ‘The president was right, and frankly Fauci was wrong,’ Lou Dobbs said Monday on his show on the Fox Business Network, referring to the use of experimental medicine.” Essentially, the disinformation machine is attempting to prevent Trump from taking (deservedly!) flak over some unconscionable impulses, poor decisions, nasty impulsivity, egomaniacal machinations, and rookie mistakes by denigrating top disease expert, Anthony Fauci. I’m sure that the extreme Right will make common cause with anti-vaxxers from both sides of the political spectrum, as well.
Here is how the article above describes the ideological hit on Fauci, again “perhaps the most-trusted voice in Washington” and clearly one of the adults in the room: “…the disregard for expert guidance being pushed by some conservative and libertarian voices goes further — aimed not simply at proving Fauci wrong but at painting him as an agent of the ‘deep state’ that Trump has vowed to dismantle. The smear campaign taking root online, and laying the groundwork for Trump to cast aside the experts on his own coronavirus task force, relies centrally on the idea that there is no expertise that rises above partisanship, and that everyone has an agenda.”
Fauci now has to have armed bodyguards. This kind of pernicious disregard for science, truth, respect, and wisdom will surely cause the Grim Reaper to smile with eagerness as he takes a thousand Americans a day (as of this writing).
“Already the Pew Research Center has documented a remarkable divergence of views about the coronavirus outbreak based on news consumption. Nearly two-thirds of Republicans who turn to sources that cater to right-leaning audiences said that news outlets have greatly exaggerated the pandemic, while 42 percent of Republicans who don’t follow such sources said the same.” (Isaac Becker)
- We May Be Up Shit Creek, but Good People Shine in Times Such as These
Just as one needs darkness for light to be perceptible, this pandemic is laying bare all manner of motives, acts, character, and stripe (see my latest blog about how Shakespeare is still very relevant as we battle for our very lives today, HERE).
Three stories popped up as good news in a sea of discouragement, pain, isolation, and rank politics:
- Look out for others: “Amid the coronavirus pandemic, a first-grader in Maryland used money he saved up to help those in need as a way to overcome fear with acts of love.Cavanaugh Bell, 7, spent $600 of his own money saved up from two birthdays and three Christmases to purchase and package 65 “COVID-19 Carepacks” along with 31 hot meals from a local restaurant, Buca Di Beppo, to serve to senior citizens. It was also an effort to help the local businesses impacted by being closed after the governor shut down restaurants” (LINK).
- Everyone has to poop, people! “Jonny Blue, a 33-year-old physical therapist and avid surfer from Encinitas, was seriously bummed Friday night. He saw reports across the country of people hoarding toilet paperin the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, and one of his good friends had a difficult time finding diapers and essential supplies for his kids at a nearby store. So on Saturday morning Blue took a cardboard sign bearing the simple request — ‘Share your toilet paper!’ — and camped out on a street corner.” (LINK)
- Doing right by your employees: “‘I’m the provider for my employees; I supply their salary, and if they don’t have a salary, they won’t be able to afford their rent, their credit card bills, their insurance, their gas,’ Michael Morin said. He decided to ‘do the right thing and take the hit, and I’ll make it up somewhere down the line.’ So about two weeks ago, he secured a $50,000 line of credit from his bank. He promised his workers they’d have a job for at least the next two months, come what may. He’d reassess conditions after that, but he’d do everything possible to keep the paychecks flowing.” (LINK)
- Ford has teamed up with 3M to speed production of respirators to battle the coronavirus. The automaker said that its engineers have been working on ways to rapidly manufacture powered air-purifying respirators, even utilizing parts that are currently used in the best-selling Ford F-150 pickup, such as fans from the truck’s cooled seats. By combining parts from both companies and using 3D printing, Ford and 3M say that they could boost production of disposable respirators and plastic face shields to 100,000 a week. Phoebe Wall Howard in the Detroit Free Press
- All 800 of Greg Dailey’s customers received the same note stuffed in their newspaper: If they needed anything picked up from the grocery store, he was happy to do it for them, free of charge. Dailey is a newspaper carrier, delivering the Star-Ledgerevery morning to homes in central New Jersey. After Dailey learned that one of his elderly customers was afraid to go outside to pick up the paper amid the coronavirus pandemic, he thought about others who might have difficulty navigating this new world. He wrote a note to customers offering his services, and soon the calls came flooding in. When he’s done delivering his papers for the day, Dailey hits the grocery store, then brings the items back to his house for disinfection before dropping them off. “This isn’t something that we’re just going to do for a few days — we’re in this for the duration,” he told The Washington Post. [LINK]
- 40-50% of Americans Can’t See Through Ideological, Educational and Characterological Blinders
“My estimation of President Trump has never been lower than it is right now. And his approval rating has never been higher,” Damon Linker astutely points out. “That disjunct has become familiar to lots of liberal-leaning journalists, intellectuals, and academics over the past three years. Though this hasn’t kept plenty of them from trying to deny or explain it away. Unwaveringly convinced that the president and his party are inept, corrupt, ignorant, and brutally callous, they have written and published article after article under headlines like, ‘This is the end of the Trump presidency.'” I could have sworn it would be, too. I mean, how ill-prepared, unscrupulous, inept, smug, and callous can one man be? I get that people want to rally around a leader when times are tough, but hell, when will those on the political Right see reason? I have been waiting for nearly four years and I sincerely hoped that this pandemic would do justice to Trump in a way that 80% of people in the developed world (and 100% of wise persons) had been hoping for. Perhaps when we see how many Germans Hitler had in his sway, despite his absurd and monstrous plans, it shouldn’t come as a surprise any longer.
I know for a fact these two people regret being stupid — and Trump should be held accountable — and he won’t, you watch. From The Week: A man died and his wife was in critical condition this week after they ingested non-medication chloroquine phosphate, a fish tank cleaner with a chemical promoted by Donald Trump as a treatment for Covid-19. The couple watched television briefings in which Trump said chloroquine, found in a decades-old malaria treatment, was a ‘game changer’ and which had shown ‘very, very encouraging results’ treating the coronavirus — though it had only seen limited testing. Trump later tweeted that the medicine should ‘be put in use IMMEDIATELY.’ The couple were not symptomatic but were ‘afraid of getting sick,’ the wife said.
Eric Alterman, Ph.D., professor of journalism at CUNY, points this out, and it would be wise for me to remember this, since it is easy to consider journalists and media outlets to be “the good guys” since they are currently one of two or three bulwarks that have the potential to stand between us and a full-time Fox News fascist farce:
“When Trump was the host ofThe Apprentice,according to a supervising editor on the series, the editors’ ‘first priority on every episode…was to reverse-engineer the show to make it look like his judgment had some basis in reality, which sometimes would be very hard to accomplish.’ Unfortunately, many in the mainstream media have defined their jobs the same way. This time, due to the coronavirus, the results will be deadly.”
- What the Hell Happened to One B-52 Every Ten Minutes??
Did you know that in 1944, America was so tuned-up that we turned out an average of one B-52 Flying Fortress every ten minutes? Can you imagine that? It was a feat of both industry as well as social cooperation. During that all-out fight for our very existence, the rich wouldn’t even think oftrying to lobby Congress for some special consideration; indeed, from 1946 through I think 1990, the top income tax bracket was 91%. This began under Dwight D. Eisenhower, hardly a “socialist.” It just goes to show how divided and selfish the country has become. This cannot long stand. But what is remarkable, and disheartening, and disturbing, is how we compare nowadays. Now, as this link indicates, we can’t even keep, construct, or distribute enough respirators. This kind of thing should be government’s #1 priority. Yes, Trump has dropped the ball. Yes, we should have accepted tests when the World Health Organization offered them to us. Yes, we should have done this or that. It’s just remarkable how low we have sunk. It really can cause a sense of panic if you’re not careful. As well, it shows the dangers of relying on for-profit companies to do the work that the government should be doing. One case in point is vaccines: we leave it up to for-profit biotech companies to produce them if they wish, and they do a lackluster job, and it costs us dearly.
In more military-related coronavirus embarrassing news:
“The U.S. Navy on Thursday relieved Captain Brett Crozier as commander of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt after he sent a scathing letter to his superiors demanding ‘decisive’ steps to protect his sailors from a coronavirus outbreak on board. U.S. Navy Secretary Thomas Modly announced the decision to remove Crozier, saying he had exercised poor judgment in broadly distributing the letter, which leaked two days ago. ‘He did not take care to ensure that it couldn’t be leaked and that’s part of his responsibility,’ Modly said. In his letter, Crozier called for providing accommodations off the ship where members of the 5,000-person crew who show no COVID-19 symptoms can be isolated to make sure they don’t become infected.” (The Week)
“Today, with the coronavirus ravaging America’s health care system, the nation’s emergency-response stockpile is still waiting on its first shipment. The scarcity of ventilators has become an emergency, forcing doctors to make life-or-death decisionsabout who gets to breathe and who does not. The stalled efforts to create a new class of cheap, easy-to-use ventilators highlight the perils of outsourcing projects with critical public-health implications to private companies; their focus on maximizing profits is not always consistent with the government’s goal of preparing for a future crisis.” (NYTimesreporters Nicholas Kulish, Sarah Kliffand Jessica Silver-Greenberg)
The New York TimesEditorial Board (LINK) put out an amazing piece about how COVID-19 is stretching and exposing America’s social fabric. It’s a compelling read. It is rife with quotes such as:
“The coronavirus pandemic has also exposed the federal government’s lack of resources, competence and ambition. The government failed to contain the virus through a program of testing and targeted quarantines; it is struggling to provide states with the medical equipment necessary to help those who fall ill; and instead of moving more aggressively to contain the economic damage, the federal government has allowed companies to lay off millions of workers. The vunemployment rate in the United States has most likely already reached the highest level since the Great Depression.” Ω
This blog was pretty depressing to write, I must say, so if you’re still reading, it conveys your will and your concern for America. To end, I will share twenty-five quotes I think are interesting and telling:
“Early data from several states indicate that Hispanics and African-Americans already account for a disproportionately high number of coronavirus-related deaths, a finding that is both unsurprising and unacceptable. A better system would direct federal aid to where it’s needed most — and would work to eradicate legacies of injustice and abuse that mar the history of public health victories.” Jeneen Interlandi
“If this crisis is highlighting our weaknesses as a nation, it is also bringing out some of our greatest strengths. In the absence of competent national leadership, others are stepping up. Governors and mayors, business owners, university presidents, philanthropists, pastors and nonprofit groups of all kinds have taken the initiative to mobilize, guide and protect those they lead and serve…. Governors are leading the charge.” Anne-Marie Slaughter
“Of all the resources lacking in the Covid-19 pandemic, the one most desperately needed in the United States is a unified national strategy, as well as the confident, coherent and consistent leadership to see it carried out. The country cannot go from one mixed-message news briefing to the next, and from tweet to tweet, to define policy priorities. It needs a science-based plan that looks to the future rather than merely reacting to latest turn in the crisis.” Michael T. Osterholm and Mark Olshaker
“Destiny is a name often given in retrospect to choices that had dramatic consequences.” J. K. Rowling
“A crisis always exposes the corruptibility of capitalism. This expresses itself in everything from price gouging on essential items, to congressional figures shedding stock ahead of the market downturn, to the details trickling out about the $2 trillion stimulus package agreed to between Congress and the White House. The rich and powerful will always find ways to insulate their wealth if not increase it, including on the backs of American taxpayers.” Charles M. Blow
“Wisdom comes to no one by chance.” Seneca
“Crucial programs — including ones that provide vaccinations, test for sexually transmitted infections and monitor local food and water supplies — have been trimmed or eliminated. As a result, several old public health foes have returned: Measles and syphilis are both resurgent, as is nicotine consumption among teenagers and the contamination of food and water with bacteria and lead. Each of these crises has received its own flurry of outrage, but none of them have been enough to break what experts say is the nation’s default public health strategy: neglect, panic, repeat.” Jeneen Interlandi
“The coronavirus pandemic has laid bare once again the incomplete nature of the American project — the great distance between the realities of life and death in the United States and the values enunciated in its founding documents.” The New York Times Editors
“Looking at America, I often feel the mournful optimism of the soul stirring lyrics of that song echoing within me. “It’s been a long time coming, but I know a change gonna come.” Of course, change always comes to the United States. I for one believe that the deeper greatness of this country is reflected in the moral triumphs the American people have achieved, from one generation to the next, in the way that we treat each other and in the example we set for the world.” John Wood, Jr.
“The general drift of public policy in Republican-governed states is in the responsible direction — which isn’t that surprising given the proliferation of cases across most of the country — but GOP pols remain vulnerable to another backflip by Trump. His earlier mutterings aloud about wanting to simply declare the crisis over have led some of his fans to make rebelling against sound medical advice an act of ideological loyalty.” Ed Kilgore
“The coronavirus pandemic will bring out the best and worst in people.” Robert L. Lloyd
“America believes in a thing called Truth. She does not believe that we are entitled to our own alternate facts. She recoils at those who spread pernicious falsehoods. There is nothing more corrosive to a democracy than the idea that there is no truth. America also believes that there is a difference between right and wrong, and right matters. But there is more: truth matters, justice matters, but there is also decency. Decency matters.” Adam Schiff
“Wars and elections are both too big and too small to matter in the long run. The daily work goes on, and it adds up.” Barbara Kingsolver
“Sooner or later, Donald Trump will cease to be president. But whether we emerge from the Trump era as a true democracy depends on more than his removal; it depends on whether we transcend Trumpism as an ideology and a policy agenda,” K. Sabeel Rahman
“Washington is, finally, working toward a response. But even the most ambitious proposals are nowhere near powerful enough to actually stop the coronavirus from destroying the economy. To do that, policymakers have to go beyond stimulus or bailouts for select industries. They have to take responsibility for economic life on a scale not seen since the New Deal.” Jamelle Bouie
“Sure, Donald Trump has been a terrible leader. But drop the bar a little. Unlike the king of Thailand, he hasn’t moved to a luxury Alpine hotel with a huge entourage of retainers. And he hasn’t demanded the permanent right to rule by decree, like Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary. Truly scary to think of Trump ruling by decree. “Today, I want everybody to go out shopping and boost the economy,” he’d begin the day. Then after all the health experts reminded him about sheltering in place, he’d announce that anyone caught shopping would be guillotined. Followed by a retraction that was coupled with a press conference in which he introduced America to some of the nation’s most prominent guillotine manufacturers. See? Things could be worse.” Gail Collins
“Health care spending grew by 52 percent in the past decade, while the budgets of local health departments shrank by as much as 24 percent, according to a 2019 report from the public health nonprofit Trust for America’s Health, and the C.D.C.’s budget remained flat. Today, public health claims just 3 cents of every health dollar spent in the country.” Jeneen Interlandi
“Recognition of the falsity of material wealth as the standard of success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false belief that public office and high political position are to be valued only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit; and there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing. Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish performance; without them it cannot live.” Franklin D. Roosevelt
“The present crisis has revealed the United States as a nation in which professional basketball players could be rapidly tested for the coronavirus but health care workers were turned away; in which the affluent could retreat to the safety of second homes, relying on workers who can’t take paid sick leave to deliver food; in which children in lower-income households struggle to connect to the digital classrooms where their school lessons are now supposed to be delivered.” The New York Times Editors
“It’s a nightmare scenario: the possibility that President Trump might take advantage of the unfolding health crisis to delay the November election in defiance of the law. If you think that is alarmist, you haven’t paid even glancing attention to the president’s will to power and contempt for constitutional conventions.” John A. Meacham
“Never have I felt so grateful for a walk. There’s solace in knowing that as long as I put one foot in front of the other, I will keep moving through this particular world. It might not be the same world tomorrow or next week, so I take a moment to feel lucky for every walk, every waft of jasmine, I have now.” Lena Felton
“More than anything, what the United States needs right now is for the president to undertake an intellectual Manhattan Project: gather the best minds in public health, medicine, medical ethics, catastrophe preparedness and response; political leadership; and private-sector manufacturing and the pharmaceutical industry. It took nearly three years to develop the atomic bomb. The effort against Covid-19 will need to be bear fruit within days — and come up with a comprehensive but realistic blueprint for getting America through the next 12 to 18 months….” Michael T. Osterholm and Mark Olshaker
“It’s a major advantage to a president, and a major source of safety to the country, for him to know he is not a great man.” Calvin Coolidge
“Fox News might end up with blood on its hands. By repeatedly comparing the new coronavirus to the flu, and echoing Trump’s claim that he was ‘doing a great job’ controlling its spread, the network has persuaded its aging viewers to ignore ‘the hysteria’ and go about living their lives as if nothing has changed. …This may well be a new low for Fox News — and that’s really saying something.” Justin Peters
“46% of Americans say they have had to use their savings or retirement funds to pay for healthcare costs, and the same percentage have had to borrow money from friends or family.” NBC Commonwealth Fund (LINK)
“With the number of cases of COVID-19 still rising here in the US, there’s no longer any doubt that we’re facing a grave, pressing and unprecedented crisis, not just as a nation, but as a planet. These are perilous, nerve-wracking times, and it doesn’t help that the US government is led by — we won’t sugarcoat it – a deceitful, incompetent, narcissistic ignoramus who doesn’t mind sacrificing American lives in order to prop up the wealthiest among us and salvage his chances of reelection.” The Young Turks
“America has changed virtually overnight. Tens of millions of workers, hundreds of thousands of college students, and millions of school kids are stuck at home. Even churches are shut. Fear and anxiety compete with boredom, and there’s a sudden vacuum of activities — live entertainment, dining out, dating, movies — that would provide much-needed diversions from this unnerving new reality.” Annie Gowen
“We’ve been conditioned to think of ourselves as individual consumers first and as interconnected members of society second. But [the coronavirus] pandemic marks an inflection point, and we will emerge from this ordeal either even more atomized and callous or realizing that we’re all small parts of a bigger organism.” Sarah Jones
“President Trump, his congressional allies, and conservative media outlets have been downplaying the [coronavirus] crisis since day one. Fox News’ Sean Hannity echoed Trump’s claim that the coronavirus was like the flu, while Rush Limbaugh called the virus ‘the common cold’ and ‘a ploy to stop Trump rallies.’ All this while Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was warning that if Americans don’t practice social distancing, we’ll all face a catastrophe.” Zeesham Aleem
“Epidemics, Anne Applebaum recently pointed out in The Atlantic, ‘have a way of revealing underlying truths about the societies they impact.’ [The coronavirus] has caught us in a moment of profound weakness. Faith in science, government, media, and all our institutions has badly eroded, and we are deeply divided politically and culturally, viewing each other as enemy tribes, not countrymen. The coronavirus cares nothing for these distinctions; it is a reminder that our separateness is an illusion. We Americans, and all humanity, are at war with a common foe. We can only defeat it together.” William Falk
“The nation’s hierarchies are starkly visible during periods of crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has necessitated extraordinary sacrifices, but the distribution is profoundly unequal. The wealthy and famous and politically powerful have laid first claim to the available lifeboats: Senators Richard Burr of North Carolina and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia secured their own fortunes by selling off stock holdings as the virus spread in January and February, even as they reassured the nation that everything was going to be OK; the billionaire David Geffen posted on Instagram that he planned to ride out the crisis on his 454-foot yacht, Rising Sun, adding, “I’m hoping everybody is staying safe”; large corporations lobbied successfully against a proposal to provide paid sick leave to every American worker, pleading they couldn’t afford the cost.” The New York Times Editors
“Actually, the federal government is almost always slow out of the gate. America was woefully underprepared to meet the challenges of World War II, the Great Depression, Sputnik’s launch, and the Mexican-American and Civil Wars. The 2008 financial crisis was initially greeted with denial and half-measures. Hurricane Katrina, too. Eventually, though, resources were brought to bear, as is happening today.” Rich Lowry
“…you can never tell what queer things a man might think of during this Depression; they say hunger produces the best that’s in a man, so if this keeps up something awful good ought to come out of some of us.” Will Rogers
“This pandemic is of a completely different political magnitude than anything Trump has faced before,’ said Jonathan Chait in New York Magazine. It was easy for Americans to tune out ‘Trump’s continuous din of scandals and gaffes’ when they were confined to newspapers, Twitter, and TV screens. But a public health emergency, coupled with the collapse of our economy, is going to have a ‘tangible impact on the lives of Americans.’ When paychecks disappear and hospitals and morgues overflow, Trump’s failures will be ‘so blatant that even his own supporters will notice.’ For critical weeks, Trump was a passive and willfully ignorant bystander to an unfolding disaster, insisting the virus would just ‘go away,’ said David Frum in The Atlantic. As president, he owns responsibility for the slow U.S. response to the pandemic. ‘He cannot escape it, and he will not escape it,’ Frum said.” The Week
“A once-in-a-century public health crisis is unfolding, and the richest country in the world is struggling to mount an effective response. Hospitals don’t have enough gowns or masks to protect doctors and nurses, nor enough intensive care beds to treat the surge of patients. Laboratories don’t have the equipment to diagnose cases quickly or in bulk, and state and local health departments across the country don’t have the manpower to track the disease’s spread. Perhaps worst of all, urgent messages about the importance of social distancing and the need for temporary shutdowns have been muddied by politics. Nearly all of these problems might have been averted by a strong, national public health system, but in America, no such system exists.” Jeneen Interlandi
“Trump voters are getting exactly what they asked for — in spades. He promised he would smash the bureaucracy and the deep state to smithereens and then dance on the rubble. Now all Americans must pay the price for a dysfunctional federal government that relies on a one-man, egomaniacal savior rather than on the thousands of dedicated, professional public servants we once had.” Julie Ioffe
“If this situation isn’t a red flag for our current dysfunctional and wasteful health care system, frankly, I don’t know what is.” Bernie Sanders
“How much do the healthiest people in society owe to the most vulnerable? That question—about Americans’ capacity for shared sacrifice—was at the core of the struggle over repealing the Affordable Care Act during the first months of Donald Trump’s presidency. Now, it’s resurfacing in the escalating partisan debate over responding to the coronavirus crisis.” Ron Brownstein
“Less affluent Americans will bear the brunt in health and wealth. Already they suffer disproportionately from the diseases of labor like black lung and mesothelioma; the diseases of poverty like obesity and diabetes; and the opioid epidemic that has raged in the communities where opportunity is in short supply. By one estimate, these patterns of poor health mean those at the bottom of the income spectrum are twice as likely to die from Covid-19. Many are losing their jobs; those still working generally cannot do so from the safety of the living room couch. They risk death to obtain the necessities of life.” The New York Times Editors