Did somebody say body counts? That is just so Week #171 as we enter the “Forget What Was Said This Morning, This Is How It Is Now” phase of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic and enter Week #172 of The Trump Era.
In an “even for him!” moment to the umpteenth degree, Trump’s monumentally bizarre behavior at his regular evening press briefing the night before, already widely being called Bleachgate, shook the entire world when he suggested some kind of intravenous mix of household disinfectants like bleach and Lysol to fight Covid-19, then recommended inserting UV lights “inside people’s bodies.”
On the bright side, this provided an immediate bonanza to the comedy industry, compelled like any other nonessential labor force to work lethargically from home in the numbing realization that they are considered nonessential, so Trump singlehandedly delivered punchline after punchline of pure comedy gold to the grateful wretches every evening at 5PM. Assuming of course, that you don’t mind the very darkest of dark comedy, the kind that involves the incalculable grief of 60,000 deaths and rising with each moment that passes.
So maybe a deadly plague is not the optimum time to have a ridiculous preening oaf for a president, one who thinks he can bluster and bully a virus into submission, and let our comedy writers work for their material like everyone else. Which is hard when he does things like order the entire West Point graduating class of 1,000 junior officers from wherever it is they have been assigned since their quiet early graduation due to Covid fears, to report back to the school so he can make the Pre-Covid scheduled June commencement address. This is considered an incredible public health risk on top of the unwarranted expense of a thousand airline flights, all in service of a superfluous ceremony that is certain to be turned into to a shameless MAGA rally and a hundred campaign ads.
And speaking of the military, incredible health risks and unwarranted expenses, the US Navy is considering reinstating the popular captain of the aircraft carrier USNS Theodore Roosevelt after Trump had him relieved of command for protecting his sailors from a Covid-19 spike similar to the tragedies all those pleasure cruise ships experienced, a commander whose sailors’ suffering was seen by Trump as something best kept secret from the public. You know, like those members of the public who are the families of sick and dying sailors? Yep, them.
Or when he claims he will negotiate to help the US Post Office survive this crisis only if they agree to (!!) quadruple their prices, a sure way for them to join Trump Casinos in business lore. Then there was the lame attempt to walk back the Bleachgate sensation by claiming he was “being sarcastic.” Hundreds of millions of eyewitnesses beg to differ, easily able to discern sarcasm from the industrial strength batshit craycray that Trump let out of the bag on Thursday evening.
Too frightening to embrace our President’s statements as the truly horrific reality they reveal, lunatic jokes and nervous laughter become the order of the day. Small wonder Trump’s Friday’s Press conference was brief, stilted and out of character, a TV show obviously in transition as his team fumbles for a new format, one that doesn’t make the star of the show look like a complete imbecile.
Also the order of the day was New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ripping Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a new shell aperture over McConnell’s refusal to fund exploding State and Municipal budgets bearing almost the entire economic brunt of the pandemic, calling them “Blue State Bailouts,” proving, by using the dead bodies of our family members as political weapons, that Old Mitch is not going to relinquish his “Worst American Ever” title to Trump without a spirited fight.
Cuomo pointed out that New York has been bailing out McConnell’s home State of Kentucky ungrudgingly with $36 billion a year forever, plus another $3 billion left over for other needy states. Even the Republican Governor of Kentucky took Cuomo’s side and reminded McConnell that his State will suffer cutbacks in police, fire and health protection, and their already minuscule education budget wold be cut back to Miss Crabreee and the School Marm days.
On Saturday Trump convened his afternoon show while his team tackled the serious problem (no, not the health crisis, silly!) of a finding new Reality TV format and launching an Official Scapegoat Search. Towards the latter goal, looking ripe for getting all the blame heaped on him is Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, he who appointed his buddy the dog-breeder to to run the HHS Covid Daily Response Team and who, perhaps most egregiously, failed to be the one person out of scores of screaming people to get Trump to snap out of his indifference to impending mass death this past December and January.
Sunday was the continuation of feverish Republican efforts to spin Trump’s disastrous Bleachgate gaffes, with the political consensus in the GOP suddenly shifting from “Trump’s daily Covid Press Briefing gives Republicans a huge advantage in the upcoming election” to “Sweet Jesus get this clown off the stage before he gets us all lynched!”
Trump himself announced that “the briefings were not worth my time” while Dr Birx tried out the bizarre excuse for Trump’s crazy outbursts was that “he just wanted to talk things through with his scientific team,” about ingesting bleach, perhaps not unlike the times he dreamed out loud about destroying hurricanes with nuclear bombs, or warning of the dangers of windmill cancer. You know, stable genius stuff that their unfettered minds tend to ruminate over.
Sunday also brought us confirmation of what every observer of human nature predicted the week before, that huge corporations were making themselves into smaller units on paper in order to glom on to the Small Business Stimulus Loan Program, as the fund was rapidly drained by our ever-vigilant corporate princes, who never met a loophole they didn’t try to gang-rape.
On Monday Trump of course proved that not only were the daily virus briefings worth his time, but they are absolutely essential to this President, the most attention-craving human being to ever inhale cheeseburgers like popcorn, determined to dominate every conversation and hog every spotlight, even when said attention invites disaster.
Monday’s experimental format for the daily press briefing was more of a Corporate Board Meet & Greet as Trump introduced a series of CEOs whose companies are producing various health supplies for the crisis, and giving Trump more opportunities to lie about having created the best economy in the history of the universe while neglecting to mention why it collapsed in the space of a only a few short weeks, or how his anything-goes Capitalist Orgy needed to be rescued by $2 trillion in Socialist Prudence only a year after making corporate taxes voluntary.
Tuesday’s Virus Briefing show was originally cancelled, then changed to a matinee, but carefully scheduled so as not to conflict with the Governor Cuomo Hour and suffer a potentially embarrassing ratings defeat. Because after all, Trump sees this deadly pandemic as a Public Relations problem, a crisis invented to make him look bad by closing down the country in order to damage his ratings, one more political crisis to be yelled into submission and lied about until truth itself is debatable. So far the virus seems unimpressed by these pedestrian machinations, and keeps killing Americans at a horrific rate.
Tuesday was also the day that the Department of the Treasury noticed that the big kids took all the candy for themselves as Secretary of The Treasury Mnuchin announced that he would force the large corporations to give back the Small Business Stimulus Loans they took on false pretenses, even as Congress was preparing another stimulus loan package, this one presumably coming with clearer instructions.
On Wednesday Trump tried out the Fireside Chat format, a solo show where he explained to us what a great success 65,000 dead Americans represented, such a great success that we can ignore them now and start thinking about reopening the country again ASAP.
Now, to sentimental slobs like us who refuse to see the big picture, that means 65,0000 mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, neighbors, friends, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, companions, mentors, coworkers, playmates, students, teachers, helpers, and lovers, each one a quirky bundle of their own brand of humanity.
What that number represents to the regular Janes and Joes who will always mourn their loss is 65,000 deep and wide oceans who were their loved ones. Oceans of curiosity, wisdom, experience, joy, pain, loss, gain, generosity and kindness, all sacrificed to the vanity of a venal, incompetent oaf who so feared being made to look bad that he did nothing for these people until events forced him to act, and by then it was too late. Now he uses our beloved as numbers in his own favorable performance chart.
So obsessed is Trump with image and perception that he went ballistic on Brad Parscale that day, his (!) Campaign Manager, blaming Parscale for his own self-created terrible showing in the polls, threatening (!!) to sue him if he cannot convince the American people that the Chaos Clown they see blustering on TV every day is a resolute leader deserving of re-election. Then Trump brain-farted that “China will do anything they can” to make him lose his re-election bid, for reasons no one can readily discern. Talk about Mission Impossible for poor Mr. Parscale…
There was one ray of hope that day when Dr. Fauci cautiously confirmed that there were some hopeful tests performed for a potential drug therapy for Covid patients, one that will shorten recovery times and reduce death rates. He did of course reaffirm his most severe caution to keep up the social distancing, the business closings and the high emergency alert status, knowing full well that Trump would contradict him within the hour and urge more and more people to hasten their own deaths and any number of people they might infect.
Week #172 ended on Thursday with the news of a Brooklyn funeral parlor so overwhelmed with a deluge of the dead that human bodies were being stored in unrefrigerated U-Haul Trucks parked in the sun, amid the news that some States and cities were beginning to lay off the kind of first responders and frontline health care workers who could have prevented such tragic desecration of the dead.
But Trump had other fish to fry this day, such as renewing his attacks on the judge that convicted his pal Michael Flynn and sentenced him to prison following his confession to crimes stemming from the Russian Election Interference of 2016, and trying to make this a popular cause with anyone not named Flynn or Trump, meeting with understandably limited success as public concern for the fortunes of a convicted traitor continue to take a distant back seat to the immediate and all-consuming concern that this crazy-ass president will kill another 65,000 of us just to salve his own bruised ego.
Trump was almost gleeful (not a skill he’s mastered) to announce that “social distancing is fading out,” when in fact it never faded in everywhere in the country where it should have, even as desperate but dumb Trump supporters flocked to the nation’s already overburdened emergency rooms after a huge surge in household chemical poisonings, as nincompoops actually trying out Trump’s bleach remedies needed saving, yet another disastrous result of Trump’s insane words, one more direct cause and effect for which he refuses to take any responsibility (he would also like us to forget that people died 2 weeks ago by taking hydroxychloriquine at his suggestion while we’re at it).
Another beaut of a lie is Trump constantly claiming to have “solved” Coronavirus testing and PPE gear, a sad lie exposed every minute of every day in every Emergency Room in the country as another Covid case staggers in to a hospital unsure if it can treat them all. Testing is sporadic to non-existent, and obtaining adequate supplies of safety gear is one more severe stress on our already overstressed and overworked healthcare providers and first responders, hundreds of whom have given their own lives.
Then, just in case you weren’t already nervous and angry enough, Trump decided it was time for (!!!) him personally “to seize control of the vaccine” when he announced “Operation Quantum Speed,” once again Not Getting It on an epic scale that this is a scientific problem, not a matter of motivation and political pressure. Just like you can’t grow a redwood tree in a week no matter how much you yell at it, the scientific process that produces a reliable vaccine is measured in long months, not sound bites and news cycles.
The week ends with the Nationwide Shelter in Place order poised to lift on May 1st in most places, while our President and too many Republican accomplices are shouting full steam ahead, even as stricken cities scramble to rent the refrigerated trucks that once hauled our food to store our dead.
Other than that, though…