March 2020 Archives

Dear America,

In today's mail, our household received a card, ostensibly from the CDC.  It had no address on it, but rather was emblazoned with these words: PRESIDENT TRUMP'S CORONAVIRUS GUIDELINES FOR AMERICA.  It should come as no surprise to anyone that Donald Trump sees the coronavirus crisis as a campaign opportunity.  He is on television every night saying more or less the same thing, sanguinely and pontifically, albeit not really truthfully.  But his veracity doesn't seem to matter, as I heard John Carl, the reporter from ABC News say when being interviewed about his new book, "Front Row at the Trump Show."  It's about Trump and his cavalier attitude toward the truth, and in that context,  Carl observed that Trump's attenuated attitude about candor makes no difference with regard to his political standing.  Those who already know he is a liar just have their opinions confirmed every time he opens his mouth.  And as to Trump's die-hard constituency, the fact that he is a liar to the bone doesn't matter.  The lies he tells are the ones they want to believe.  So when he says that this whole Covid-19 business will be over in two weeks, his true-believers believe him, and even if it were a possibility, those of us who see him for what he is can't believe him because of all the lies he has told us in the past.

And as for the odious nature of his opportunism, blatant and despicable as it is, it won't change people's minds about Trump either.  As I've said before, being from Long Island I saw Trump's vacuous visage beaming from the television every time I went back to my origins to visit family for holidays.  I remember the first time I saw him on the news getting out of a limousine and holding court on one thing or another, I asked my brother who he was.  I was in my early thirties at that time, and since I was born about two months after Trump, he was too.  My brother said something like, oh, he's just some rich guy from the city.  He didn't even know what Trump did to make himself so prominent as to be on the news...just that he was some rich guy.  So, for forty years or so--ever since he came into daddy's money--he has been promoting himself shamelessly, and at every opportunity...getting his picture taken with everyone who couldn't get away from him quick enough and talking to anyone foolish and shallow enough to indulge his insatiable appetite for publicity. Rona Barrett is one such person I remember interviewing him about all kinds of profundities as if he were qualified to comment, apparently just because he was rich, when it was obvious he wasn't as soon as he opened his mouth.  But his buffoonery was never a disqualification as far as the sensationalists in the media were concerned.  For some reason people wanted to see him--perhaps like they wanted to see the two headed chicken in the side show--and he was therefore good for ratings.  Trump saw that and since he has no scruples of any kind, was off like a rocket promoting himself, toward what end no one knew...until 2016.

This particular promotional gambit--the "I'm saving America and I'm going to tell you about it every day" routine--is particularly contemptible given what we are all going through and the dangers we face, but I knew it was coming after the first of his incessant press conferences.  Even I thought he handled himself fairly well, with only one or two self-serving comments...a record for an hour in his life.  Then came the second such photo-op and the third and on and on.  And his true nature came out more and more in each one, but that didn't stop him.  He knows something that Hollywood has capitalized on for probably a century: there is no such thing as bad publicity.  And in Trump-world, there is no excuse for not seizing every opportunity to get some, good, bad or indifferent and tawdriness aside.  Just stay obtrusively public and keep talking and mugging for the cameras because as P.T. Barnum has been apocryphally attributed with saying, there's s sucker born every minute...and I might add, approximately 140 million of them voted in 2016 and might again in 2020. 

The problem with this thing we got in the mail, and that you and all your friends probably got too, is that it is against the law, specifically the Hatch Act, for federal employees to promote political candidates with federal resources.  So, some Trump shill at the CDC should now be subject to prosecution, or a least to being fired, and my guess is that it's the guy at the top, Trump appointee Robert Redfield: Trump's sycophant-expert of the moment.  I just hope he...that is, neither one of them...gets away with it.

Your friend,

Mike

Dear America,

It seems that no matter how effectively Donald Trump's staff communicates with him regarding his unseemly and predatory tendencies, he always reverts to type.  He held a press conference a few days ago that was actually presidential.  He answered questions directly and with candor; he deferred to the experts surrounding him, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has been running the NIAID (National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases), one of the constituent institutes of the NIH (National Institutes of Health) for decades; he was non-partisan; he stuck to the facts and labeled his hypotheses as such, and in general feigned civility, even if it is not in his nature.  But there have been other public appearances and statements by our president since, and he seems to have reverted to type despite the fact that he is undoing the gains that following sage advice initially gave him.  He has taken to calling COVID-19 the "Wuhan virus," to which the Chinese have naturally taken unbridge...either that or the even more inflammatory "Chinese virus."   He continues to boast about the "excellent" job that his administration is doing, even though he they got a late start because the boss insisted that the virus was just the latest "Democratic hoax, number 7."

Despite the plethora of news reports on the virus and what is being done, it is hard to know a couple of things.  First, is there more that could be done.  Second, despite Trump's braggadocio, did we get a late start and if so, has that cost us anything.  And third and most important, what are our prospects for the future.  Trump seemed to acknowledge that the duration of the virus outbreak was of indeterminate length, but could last well into the summer.  But at the same time, the development of a vaccine is projected to take a year to a year and a half, which necessarily precipitates the question, why bother if it's going to be gone by the end of the summer, or even the end of the year.  And then of course there is the legislation he is urging that would give each of us a thousand dollars, and maybe that much more than once.  I feel for those who are losing jobs because of the sequestration of the American people from one another and their commerce, but wouldn't extended unemployment insurance be a better directed effort, given that many people are still working, but just doing so from home.  But then again, Trump's motivation, as always, is suspect.  Those payments may well be his attempt to buy reelection, and thus give money to as many people as he can rather than just to those who need it.  If his rationale includes stimulating the economy by giving the money to everyone instead of just those in need, he only needs to talk to George W. Bush to learn that infusions of cash into individual households just results in paying down consumer debt, not additional consumer spending, so what else is left to explain the program other than trying to co-opt the American voter with cash.  Granting automatic extensions for filing federal income tax returns has no effect on the danger of infection or on the finances of most Americans: extensions are available for those who owe but cannot pay upon request, so why make them automatic except to curry favor.

The problem with all the wrangling Trump is doing...all the pandering...is that it won't help the people who need help in any meaningful way.  After the thousand dollars is gone...in a week or two...what are people going to do then.  And those who are home because their employers closed their places of employment have plenty of time to do their taxes or ask for more time now.  They're home.  And the extensions of unemployment insurance eligibility, and in some states the eligibility to enroll in ACA programs for health insurance seem to be in the offing even though Trump never mentioned those things...unless of course he vetoes them.

My point is that even I began to think that Trump could change his stripes and govern effectively without pursuing self-interest because it seemed as though the human beings on his staff had been effective in convincing him that he could gain from all this virus business if he just did the right things and kept his big mouth shut.  But could he resist?  Noooo.  He is who he is, and what makes him dangerous is that he is proud of it.  He thinks that capitalizing on the misfortunes of millions just makes him smart, not callous and self-seeking.  November is going to be interesting.  Will everyone figure out his dubious motivations, or will his supporters continue "drinking the Kool-aid" as my son says, referring to the disaster in Georgetown decades ago in which a religious zealot marches his flock by a canister of the stuff laced with deadly poison because he was about to be exposed for the fraud he was in full view of them all.  Power does corrupt.  Let's just hope it doesn't kill us.

Your friend,

Mike

Dear America,

Whether you want to call it a bear market or a crash, everyone will blame it on the carona virus and the disease it causes, covid 19.  And the pandemic that they represent is a function of a lot of things, the unique dietary practices of the Chinese in Wuhan in particular.  Of course, Donald Trump will point to the Wuhan Chinese so that he can continue to take credit for the rise in stock prices as a function of the economy that he inherited and borrowed trillions from our children to preserve, while eschewing blame for the crash that is following.  That's his routine: if it's good, I did it.  If it's bad, it was the Democrats, the press and the "deep state."  And most of the time, though these notions are as preposterous as the things Alex Jones and Laura Ingram say, he can get away with it among his true-believer fans.  But this time, he's worn his ineptitude, egotism, paranoia and conceit not just on his sleeve but written all over his face and in everything he has said on the subject.

The problem Trump will have getting out from under the fact of the corona virus plague is not that he caused it, or even that he did something to exacerbate it, which he did.  The problem he will face in the near future is that he did nothing to address it but deny it as a hoax...his favorite tactic...which precluded him from doing what he could have because it would have undermined his hoax claim.  He sacrificed what few actions he could have taken for political self-advancement, as he often does.  But this time the lives of millions of Americans will be effected and he'll have no where to hide...and they'll hold it against him even if they voted for him in 2016.

If he could just have restrained himself from trying to take political coup over this, he would have possibly been alright.  If he could just have admitted that there weren't enough test kits and taken and active, visible role in facilitating the creation of more--even if his actions were just earnest gestures amounting to nothing in the end but at least appearing to be vigorous, sincere, and yes, presidential--that would have sufficed.  And even if those kits began to appear, but for other reasons, he could have taken a bow and not looked completely false and opportunistic.  But rather than identify for the public who and what had failed us and directing the effort to rectify the failure, he chose to assign his shill of a vice-president--epicene, self-proclaimed saint that he is--to take charge of something that Trump should have done himself in that it is a national crisis and he is, after all, our president.  Even if there is no one to scapegoat, Trump could have been pounding the table, requisitioning other resources or at least trying to identify some in public, and explaining to us all that while this is a dire circumstance, he, and we for that matter, will deal with it and he will lead us to do so with his resolve and fortitude empowering him and protecting us...but no.

When the governor of Washington state spoke in an effort to calm his constituents and the nation, Trump couldn't let it lie as Democratic Governor Inslee is one of Trump's overt critics, and instead of attempting to hitchhike on Inslee's noble effort, Trump called him a "snake" and commanded us all, and the press, to ignor him on that basis.  And as to the availability of test kits, he could have at least demanded an explanation of why there aren't more and just exactly how long that circumstance will prevail, but again...no.  He just claimed that anyone who wants to be tested can be, which everyone else is saying just isn't so since there aren't enough test kits.  And though the test kits are coming, no one seems able to say exactly when, about which Trump could have demanded a better answer rather than taking a pot-shot and a political adversary.

So, while the nation is roiled by fear and uncertainty, Donald Trump has whipped out his political accusation finger and continues to wave it around indiscriminately, and what's more, to no avail.  That's our president in his highest dudgeon: indignant without cause, sanctimonious without justification and totally out of touch with reality.  That's Trump.  The question is, would you buy a used car from that man, or God forbid, vote for him...no matter what silly things you believed?  

  

Your friend,

Mike

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2020 listed from newest to oldest.

February 2020 is the previous archive.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from March 2020 listed from newest to oldest.

February 2020 is the previous archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.