Plague Diary 28: The Great MAGA Virus

Does Trump Really Want to Kill Off His Supporters?

With the coronavirus rising again, especially in the Southern states that have formed the core of the president’s base, I seriously wonder if the Donald is trying to kill off his staunchest supporters? While eating lunch, I happened upon an article by Fintan O’Toole in the May 14, 2020 issue of the New York Review of Books entitled “Vector in Chief” from which this quote is excerpted:

We must bear in mind that Trump’s “real people,” the ones who make up his electoral base, are disproportionately prone to the chronic illnesses (“the underlying conditions”) that make Covid-19 more likely to prove fatal. A 2018 Massachusetts General Hospital study of more than three thousand counties in the US reported that

poor public health was significantly associated with the additional Republican presidential votes cast in 2016 over those from 2012. A substantial association was seen between poor health and a switch in political parties in the last [presidential] election.

For every marker of the prevalence of poor health (such as diabetes, obesity, days of illness, and mortality rates), there as a marked shift roward voting for Trump. Trump has acted in relation to Covid-19 like the God who tells the Jews to mark their homes with a sign so that the plague he is inflicting on Egypt will pass by their doors—with the malign twist that he has marked out his own chosen people for special harm.

How ironic! Following the example of their Great White Hope in the Whitest of White Houses, the voters attending his rallies in Tulsa and Phoenix are mostly not masked, and sneezing and coughing and shouting streams of coronavirus throughout the crowd. So far, Trump appears to be immune, but that is helped by the fact that he is a germaphobe who washes his hands incessantly with hand sanitizer.

More Evil Than Trump

Yes, There Are Forces in America Even More Evil

I have friends who think that all that needs to happen for the good times to come again is for President Squid Lips to be ignominiously defeated and face a lifetime of legal actions arising from his grotesque corruption. But there are worse things to fear.

Most particularly, the people who support Trump are still around. These are the Ayn Rand followers, the ignoramuses of Flyover Country, the rich who want government to make them more rich, the racist haters, the sociopathic gun-lovers, and Confederates who refuse to recognize the surrender at Appomattox. Worst of all are the billionaires and millionaires, the heads of corporations whose sole political principle is self-aggrandizement. Even if the Trumpster dies in office from Coronavirus or STDs or just plain rotting from the inside just like Herod, the people who put him in office are still around. People like the “My Pillow” guy or the various criminals who occupy seats in the cabinet, the Barrs, the Mnuchins, the DeVoses.

Whatever happens to Trump, the United States is in for a long fight to protect their voting rights and their livelihoods and—in the case of African-Americans—their lives.

Election day is only a few months away. The Current Occupant will resume his red-hat rallies in Tulsa (scene of a 1921 massacre of blacks) on June 19 (or Juneteenth, commemorating the emancipation of slaves in Texas). With luck, his cohorts and co-conspirators will dwindle away between now and November—but don’t count on it!

 

 

Down with Twitter!

I Owe This Drawing to Cartoonist Berkeley Breathed

There is something deeply troubling about a President that spends the wee hours of the morning on the shitter while tweeting his unedited dissatisfactions at length. There are two possible solutions:

  1. Get rid of the President.
  2. Get rid of Twitter

If Trump were dipped into hot tar, coated with chicken feathers, and ridden out of Washington on a rail, we probably would not have to cringe at his disruptive Tweets. Ditto if society decided that Twitter as a medium of expression is best allowed to die—unsung and unloved. It would even be better if both options were put into action.

Never before has the United States had a leader whose every written (or even verbal) communication causes nothing but dismay or disgust.

That leads me to an interesting thought. If there were a Trump Presidential Library, what would go into it? There would be the Tweets, of course, and a series of Presidential Proclamations whose principal purpose was to undo the accomplishments of previous administrations. And also, who would pay to visit such a library? I suspect that even the 40% of the population that supports Trump would give such an institution a wide berth. (Bad-asses don’t read.)

The Trump Administration reminds me of the Coronavirus. It’s something I am dead set against, but prefer not to think about.

 

Plague Diary 25: False Dawn

A New Dawn Is Approaching … But Look Out for Storms

Yes, the authorities are gradually releasing us from our long quarantine; but we’re not out of the woods yet. After the 1918-1919 Influenza Epidemic, the United States entered into a ten-year period of prosperity, until the Crash of 1929 put the kibosh on that. It would be nice to think that everything will be hunky-dory within a few weeks or so. Fat chance.

Except for one thing: That man in the White House. He was personally responsible for tens of thousands of deaths, and he is itching to send thousands more into the next world. He continues to be supported of legions of bitter-enders who will support him regardless what he does, because he is one of them—a bona fide bad ass. If Trump should be reelected this November, I think the United States is in for it. In the end, I even think there will be another attempt at secession, and maybe that’s what it’ll take in the long run. The bad-asses will want to set up their own New Revised Confederate States of America.

As I look into the future, I have no pollyanna visions of everything coming together in a great cumbia of toleration. The battle lines are being drawn, and they look pretty hard and fast to me.

 

 

“Heroes” and “Warriors”

Comrades Brezhnev and Nixon: За здоровье!

Under the rule of Hero of the White Race Donald Jehoshaphat Trump, it is suspiciously reminiscent of the bad old days of the Leonid Brezhnev’s Soviet Union. Both rulers are mentally decrepit, yet outwardly pugnacious. To come up to the Brezhnev standard, our Presidente is now using battlefield language. According to a story in the Los Angeles Times:

Donald Trump has described himself as a “wartime president” during the coronavirus crisis, and now he seems to have found his army as he pushes the country to reopen despite the risks.

In recent days, he’s begun describing citizens as “warriors” in the battle against the pandemic and suggested some of those fighters might have to die if that will help boost the economy.

“Will some people be affected? Yes,” he said on a trip to Arizona this week, his first outside of the Washington area in nearly two months. “Will some people be affected badly? Yes. But we have to get our country open, and we have to get it open soon.”

Notice the two medals that Brezhnev is sporting. One of them signifies that he is a Hero of the Soviet Union:

Hero of the Soviet Union Medal

Perhaps Trump needs to send us—in addition to those putative $1,200 checks—a medal signifying that we are Heroes of the Chinese Virus War.

I for one do not wish to be a “hero” or “warrior” as Trump defines it. That could only mean in Trumpspeak that we are losers. It is preferable to the Donald that all the “heroes” and “warriors” die nobly so that he could look good at our collective obsequies.

 

The 190th Rule of Acquisition

The Ferengi Have Begun to Influence Me

The quarantine has resulted in my watching television more than usual. The one show that I like most is Deep Space 9 with its plethora of interesting characters, one of which is Quark (played by Armin Shimerman), shown above. If you are familiar with the series, you may have heard of the Ferengi “Rules of Acquisition” of which there are some 300, which can be viewed here. (Interesting that the website comes from Belgium.)

These Rules of Acquisition would be much loved of Ayn Rand and most Tea Party conservatives. They include such admonitions as:

  • Once you have their money, you never give it back.
  • The best deal is the one that brings the most profit.
  • Never spend more for an acquisition than you have to.
  • A woman wearing clothes is like a man in the kitchen.
  • Never allow family to stand in the way of opportunity.
  • Keep your ears open.
  • Small print leads to large risk.
  • Opportunity plus instinct equals profit.
  • Greed is eternal.

My favorite is one of the most simple (and most true):

190. Hear all, trust nothing.

In these days of False News—both real and imagined—that is excellent advice.

Trust Nothing from This Notable Liar

I will continue to watch Deep Space 9 with interest.

 

 

Plague Diary 9: What Comes Next?

My Real Worry Is How We Transition Back to Normal Life

Eventually, the COVID-19 curve will flatten and the number of new cases will decline. I expect millions will die, in prisons, in refugee camps, in nursery homes, on aircraft carriers—everywhere where people are forced to live in close quarters. The economy will not simply bounce back: There will be a lot of casualties. They will include hospitals; many of your favorite restaurants, bars, and clubs; thousands of retailers; hundreds of companies across the country, large and small; numerous airlines and (I sincerely hope) ocean cruise lines. The notion of democracy in the United States will likely be in shambles, what with the millions of brain dead who rely on Fox News and fundamentalist Evangelical ministers for the “real story” of what happened.

Will the 2020 presidential election even take place? Or will the orange-haired dictator be crowned king?

People who live paycheck to paycheck will be thrown out of their jobs and be cast out into the streets, unable to pay the rent. Some movements are afoot to prevent this from happening, but I suspect the growing numbers of indigent will just be too much for the system to bear. If things get particularly bad, I may be one of the victims.

I don’t think the present leadership of this country is even marginally competent. There are some governors of populous states who have braved Trump’s displeasure, but the Feds themselves are a sad crew, what with the evil McConnell at the helm of the Senate and circus clowns running the Executive and Judicial branches of government.

My feeling as I look to the future: Dread.

 

 

“The Poet Remembers”

Polish Poet Czesław Miłosz (1911-2004)

Sometimes, I like to look at what is happening in this country with the eyes of an Eastern European. I dedicate this poem to our president.

You Who Wronged

You who wronged a simple man
Bursting into laughter at the crime,
And kept a pack of fools around you
To mix good and evil, to blur the line,

Though everyone bowed down before you,
Saying virtue and wisdom lit your way,
Striking gold medals in your honor,
Glad to have survived another day.

Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
You can kill one, but another is born.
The words are written down, the deed, the date.

And you’d have done better with a winter dawn,
A rope, and a branch bowed beneath your weight.

 

 

Serendipity: “A Contract of Mutual Deceit”

Finding Truth in a Mystery Novel

Toward the end of James Lee Burke’s excellent A Stained White Radiance, written in 1992, I suddenly came upon this passage, in which Detective Dave Robicheaux of the New Iberia, Louisiana, police force ponders the existence of ex-KKK, ex-Nazi politico Bobby Earl. I suddenly found myself thinking about Donald Trump.

I had been determined to prove that Bobby Earl was fronting points for Joey Gouza [a New Orleans mobster], or that he was connected with arms and dope trafficking in the tropics. I was guilty of that age-old presumption that the origins of social evil can be traced to villainous individuals, that we just need to identify them, lock them in cages, or even march them to the executioner’s wall, and this time, yes, this time, we’ll catch a fresh breeze in our sails and set ourselves on a true course.

But Bobby Earl is out there by consent. He has his thumb on a dark pulse, and like all confidence men, he knows that his audience wishes to be conned. He learned long ago to listen, and he knows that if he listens carefully they’ll tell him what they need to hear. It’s a contract of mutual deceit by which they open up their flak vests and take it right through the breastbone.

If it were not he, it would be someone like him—misanthropic, beguiling, educated, someone who, as an ex-president’s wife once said, allows the rest of us to feel comfortable with our prejudices.

I think the end for Bobby Earl will come in the same fashion as it does for all his kind. Unlike the members of The Pool [Burke’s term for the mob] and that great army of villainous buffoons trying to sneak through life on side streets, Bobby Earl’s ilk want power so badly that at some point in their lives they make a conscious choice to embrace evil. It’s not a gradual seduction. They do it without reservation, and that’s when they leave the rest of us. You know when it happens, too. No amount of cosmetic surgery can mask the psychological deformity in their eyes.

 

Coming Apart Like a Cheap Suit

In the End, Will His Main Legacy Be Gold Plumbing Fixtures?

I fear that, in our country’s history, the Trump administration will in the end be like a persistent skid mark on one’s underwear. The disintegration seems to be accelerating, as our President is being assailed on all sides—except by his die-hard fans in flyover country. The incompetence almost seems to be spreading, like the Nothing in the movie The Neverending Story (1984). In that film, the Nothing is described as “a manifestation of the loss of hopes and dreams.” That is a very good description of the way I feel as the 2020 election approaches.

Since his inauguration in January 2017, Trump has become the anti-President, whose main goal was the dismantling of the apparatus of government—especially those benefits that seemed to benefit voters in any way. His rule has benefited only those multi-millionaires, who, like him, are against paying any taxes at all.

The political parties gearing up for 2020 are like, to use a witticism by Jorge Luis Borges, two bald men fighting over a comb.