The Life in My Years

An anthology of life

We’re establishing a routine in the midst of the abnormal.  Order out of disorder.  A calm within the chaos.  Welcome to the homelife of covid-19.  Put up with being pent up.  Pent up physically and pent up frustrations.  In fact I’m not aware of any frustrations within our home.  We seem to be coping well.  Maybe for Cora and I the shelter in place isn’t so much of a departure from our retirement routine.  We’re fortunate here within our little domestic circle.  We’re at less risk than many others and for that we’re thankful.  That’s not to say that we’re completely free of angst.

Our abnormal normal should be easy for families like mine to adapt to but if they’re like us then they feel the same lingering anxiety.  It isn’t anxiety over the virus itself.  I feel, strangely I guess, that I have some control over it.  Stay home, stay clean, cover my ass figuratively and mouth and nose literally and I think we’ll get through it.

It’s those things that I don’t have any control over that I brood over.  It’s the other virus that floats around in the news.  It’s symptoms are anger, confusion, fabrication, obfuscation, discombobulation and incompetence.  During the past week we’ve seen a nationwide manifestation of those symptoms.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis finally gave in on his refusal to order a statewide shelter in place order.  Better late than never?  I suppose that works when you’re late to class or you arrive at church just after the sermon ended.  Not so much when you allow yourself to be weeks behind in trying to stop a pandemic.  DeSantis’ state is in the top five in covid cases and being in the top five is not the place of honor.  He ignored spring break recklessness, the ravages that have been going on in other states, the fact that the population in Florida has a high percentage of the most vulnerable and the mounting pressure coming at him from within and outside of his state.  Apparently what helped to move him was seeing how shaken his mentor Trump appeared during the briefing on Monday the 30th.  And still DeSantis doesn’t get it as he allows an exemption for church services.

In Georgia there was raging discombobulation.  Governor Brian Kemp in what could rightfully be described as criminal cluelessness delayed ordering a shelter in place for his own state despite pressure to do so.  Kemp held firm until April 1st when he announced that he and the state’s health commissioner Kathleen Toomey didn’t know until March 31st that the virus could be spread by someone without symptoms.
“Finding out that this virus is now transmitting before people see signs … we didn’t know that until the last 24 hours,” said Kemp.
How is that possible?  How, especially in Georgia where the Centers For Disease Control is headquartered.  How, after the CDC issued a warning in mid-February that the virus could be spread by people without symptoms.  In any normal, functioning workplace that would be grounds for finding yourself in the unemployment line.  In it’s own sick burlesque way this all shook out on April Fools Day.

The medical community warns that America’s mortality numbers will increase without a national stay at home order, which the president refuses to issue.  Apparently Mike Pence agrees with both the medical community and with Trump.  On April Fools Day in an interview with CNN the vice president offered the blood chilling opinion that Italy “may be the most comparable area to the United States” in terms of coronavirus mortality rates and cases.  And then in a stunning example of contradiction he downplayed the need for a national shelter in place order.

I went out wearing a mask today.  We had an old box of surgical masks stuffed in the back of a bathroom cabinet.  For weeks. like a good little soldier I eschewed a mask per the advice of the “experts.”  The “experts” are now reconsidering the efficacy of the universal usage of masks.  A month ago the stern message to the public was that masks are only useful for those who have the disease.  These course reversals don’t help with keeping the stress level down.

It took two months for it to sink in.  Two months after downplaying covid-19, Donald Trump finally appeared shaken during his March 30th update.  Two wasted months in which he chose not to make payment on the front end resulting in a higher cost, with interest, at the back end, whenever we get to the back end.

A lot of the talk on social media is about the $1200.00 stimulus check.  Some complain that it’s not enough, some worry if it’s taxable, others wonder if they qualify and many needed the money yesterday.  What I’m not seeing much of from my more conservative friends is the notion of turning down the money because it smacks of dreaded socialism. The dominoes are falling.  Before you know it they’ll be coming for the guns and requiring every home to display a picture of old Joe Stalin. I’m not sure exactly who they are.  Ask that neighbor who sports a tinfoil hat.  He’ll tell you.

At the same time that the administration is dipping its toes in the murky waters of socialism, the failure of capitalism and its odious ugly side are on full display as hospitals and healthcare workers try to secure needed equipment.  The states are being placed in a bidding war against each other for ventilators, only to lose out to FEMA which is also bidding.
Competition naturally causes the cost of the equipment to go up. Cora and I were stunned when we heard New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo report that ventilators that were going for $20,000.00 are now going for $50,000.00.  How can this be allowed to happen?  Later that same day I learned that masks which normally sell for $1.00 or less are being offered from one supplier at $6.43 each, with a minimum buy of one million units.  Capitalism is a system that’s bereft of morality.

Has the notion of setting price controls not entered Trump’s mind? Given his non-existent knowledge of history he’s probably unaware of the federal government’s power to set price controls.  There are precedents; price controls were enacted in both world wars (and Trump is touting himself as a war president) and later by Presidents Nixon and Ford.

On April 2nd the nation was introduced to a new coronavirus and supply wizard, Jared Kushner the president’s son in law, a guy who I like to call “Skippie”, a man whose primary occupation has been real estate development.  He has no medical experience and no supply chain experience and apparently isn’t up to speed on the purpose of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).

During a national briefing, Skippie, the new logistics guy who doesn’t know why his stockroom is there, declared erroneously and in arrogant tones that, “The notion of the federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile.  It’s not supposed to be states’ stockpiles that they then use.”

If one had visited the website for the SNS before Skippie’s remarks one would have noted the purpose of the SNS is described as “the nation’s largest supply of life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for use in a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out.”  The description continued: “When state, local, tribal, and territorial responders request federal assistance to support their response efforts, the stockpile ensures that the right medicines and supplies get to those who need them most during an emergency.”

Of course Skippie’s remarks drew a raging blowback.
“We are the UNITED STATES of America. The federal stockpile is reserved for all Americans living in our states, not just federal employees. Get it?” Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., replied.
No truth, no problem.  You can’t pin the murder if you don’t have a body and to that end the language on the SNS website was changed the next day to be more in line with Skippie’s comments.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has backed New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s prediction of needing 30,000 ventilators.  Responding to Cuomo, Dr. Fauci said, “There are a lot of different calculations.  My experience, I tend to believe Gov. Cuomo.”

In an interview, Skippie, who isn’t a doctor but plays one at press briefings said, “I have all this data about I.C.U. capacity. I’m doing my own projections, and I’ve gotten a lot smarter about this. New York doesn’t need all the ventilators.”

He’s “gotten smarter about this,” begs the question of why we need someone who has to get up to speed when surely there must be people who are already up to speed.  And why do we need an extra layer of bureaucracy?  Did Skippie feel somehow left out of all the action?

This morning I told Jessica about Skippie’s excellent adventure and remarked that the administration’s response to the virus scares me more than the bug itself.
“Well, we’ll vote them out in November,” she said.
“November?! If this goes on until November there won’t be anything left standing.  It’s only been 3 months and look where we are now,” I said.  Where are we now?  On the very threshold of hell.

And the poor buck, the buck that used to stop at the oval office desk has become persona no grata at the White House.  During all of the brouhaha over the national stockpile the president has sent the weary, well traveled buck on a journey to the fifty states and back in time.

During a briefing Trump blamed the states for not keeping enough inventory, “Ideally those states should have had the equipment,” he said.  “We’re (the federal government) a back-up not an ordering clerk.”

Not satisfied with pointing the finger of blame at the states he shifted the onus to the Obama administration claiming, erroneously, “We took over an empty shelf. We took over a very depleted place, in a lot of ways.”  If we grant that the stockpile was empty, the current administration has had over three years to replenish.  The consistent and blatant finger pointing and shirking of responsibility nullifies the notion of leadership from the top.  It’s every man for himself.

Part and parcel with the refusal to accept any responsibility is Trump’s lashing out at reporters when he feels that he’s being attacked.  The day after Skippie’s remarks on the SNS, Weijia Jiang asked Trump to comment and was berated by the president for being “nasty.”

It’s disheartening to see a president accuse the people who are literally exposing themselves to a deadly disease, healthcare personnel, of stealing personal protection equipment.

I’m shaken because the President of the United States goes before the world and pulls bogus, off the cuff crap from his ass and presents it as fact.
Asked if Americans should start using masks, Trump’s response included the inaccuracy that, “In many cases the scarf is better, it’s thicker”. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers bandanas and scarves to be a last resort measure.

I am absolutely worn out by the daily fabrications.
In mid-March Trump said, “I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”
On March 6th, “Anybody right now and yesterday, anybody that needs a test gets a test.”
At the close of February he claimed that a vaccine would be created “very quickly.”

Weren’t we warned about this when Trump spouted the innocuous, annoying lies like the ones about his “historical” margin of victory and the size of the crowd at his inauguration? The question was asked, if we can’t trust him to tell the truth about the little stuff what will happen in the event of a real crisis?  Easy answer, we can’t trust him.

What chills me to the bone more than the virus is the ass covering and the lashing out at pointed questions during the briefings. I’m terrified of the self-aggrandizement by a president who goes before the world and spins yarns and fairy tales of a job well done when in fact the response has been one that can most charitably termed “three stoogian.”

The daily sideshow of officials pointing fingers, recoiling from responsibility as if it were an angry rattlesnake, balking at decisive action, claiming credit where none is due and some still downplaying the entire crisis. These are the things that weigh on our household more so than the virus itself.  These are the really scary things.

The president says we’re in a war yet sometimes I wonder whose side he’s on.

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7 thoughts on “The Covid Chronicles – Saturday, April 4th. The Things That Scare Me

  1. Scott Blake says:

    You wonder what side of the war the Tweeting Twit is on, but you know the answer. It’s the same answer it’s always been, he’s on his side. One doesn’t need a PhD in clinical psychology to realize that this creature is a textbook case of narcissism. I think he may even be certifiably crazy. He certainly seems to not remember (or decides to avoid remembering) things he says from one day to the next, using what are supposed to be press briefings on the pandemic to rage against any reporter who dares to quote him from a day or two before and blame the whole mess on those who want to see him not be reelected.

    Of course he put Skippie in charge of something greater than anything he should be in charge of. Surrounding himself with a team of rivals would be anathema to this pathetic excuse for a human being. The world and this republic will somehow manage to get through this, just as we got through the 1918 pandemic. One really bad part of it will end up being the Tweeting Twit taking full credit for recovery when he should be taking a huge dose of blame for letting it get as bad as it now is. He won’t take that blame and neither will his legion of nitwit supporters ascribe it to him.

  2. Jane Fritz says:

    So well said, Paulie. I wish saying it well could change it, let us back up the clock and make things right. Sadly for all of us both inside and outside the US, the one thing that’s not accurate is the world waiting to get the word from the US. That started to stop shortly after Nov 2016, when Trump took the US out of the Paris Climate Accord, then NAFTA, then the TPP, then started to diss NATO, then pretty well everyone else standing who’d ever been a friend or an ally, everyone in fact but Putin, Netanyahu, Saudi Arabia, and Xi, and Kim. The moral authority and expectation of world leadership from the US is gone. Now he continues to insult every thoughtful well-meaning both inside and outside the US, and the main things the US seems to be leading the world in are guns and COVID-19 cases. It has been a monumentally tragic three and a half years, for the world as well as the US. The world is in desperate need of good leadership. It could be so different!

  3. Nicely written as usual Paulie. The way that the USA is set up with individual state governments deciding how to handle this pandemic…some locking down others saying business as usual….then with inept leading at the Federal level it’s no wonder that you guys are now leading the world in coronavirus infection and deaths. It was criminal that the Gov of Florida didnt shut things down from the outset when there are so many retirees there.
    Trump has mishandled this from the start flip flopping at every turn and Pence is like one of those nodding dogs that used to be in the rear windows of cars. Nod nod nod…agree with anyone about anything…just please like me. Pathetic.
    Good luck and stay safe.
    PS.
    I disagree what one of your other commenters said about USA leadership being morally bankrupt since 2016. Having seen all the unnecessary conflicts that the USA have been involved in over the decades…moral bankruptcy is not a recent thing. Just that Trump does it so well. Morality went even further out the window when the US started using drones for remote assassinations. That was preTrump.

    1. Paulie says:

      Thank you for visiting and commenting.
      The entire state by state method of locking down is just death by a thousand cuts. In this respect I feel lucky to be living in the San Francisco Area in California. Both state and local leaders jumped on this from the start and they are enforcing it.
      That said it’s hard to feel positive right now. We not only have idiots at the top, we have idiots in all strata. We have preachers opening their churches for services with people sitting side by side, people throwing house parties and out shopping. With the freeways empty people are speeding and getting into solo accidents diverting first responders and sending people to already bulging emergency rooms.
      America has had a morality problem since well before drones. From slavery to the genocide of native Americans to land grabbing to the support of tin horn dictators to illegal and immoral wars it’s not been a pretty past. Still, and this might sound contradictory, there have been other nations that have looked to the U.S as a moral leader in a conceptual way. We just haven’t been good at walking the talk.

  4. “Capitalism is a system that’s bereft of morality.”

    I guess it should come as no surprise, then, that in our most desperate moment we have turned for leadership to a man as bereft of morality as capitalism itself. My 75-year old neighbor, who has become a dear friend, was surprised to find out I was “anti-Trump,” as he called it. “Since when?” he asked. Since the 80s, I told him. Since I first caught wind of him, saw what he was about. A con-man, bereft of morality. That was apparent 40 years ago.

    “Show me a decent Democrat, then,” he said, scornfully, “And I’ll vote for them.”

    “Show me a decent human being, Democrat or Republican,” I said, “Let’s start right there.”

    Politics aside, let’s at least be sure we vote for a decent human being. What the hell else really matters?

    1. Paulie says:

      Decent human being is a good place to start indeed. That said, Republican leaders have for the most part been showing some breathtaking lack of decency and common sense through this. The governors of Georgia and Florida and those states that haven’t initiated shelter in place, the legislature of Wisconsin that presented voters with the choice between exposing themselves to a virus or being disenfranchised, the entire Fox News crew. I can go on and on.
      I have this fear that somehow Mr. Trump is going to come out of this unscathed. He will continue to lie his way through this and people will continue to be convinced, hopefully not enough to tilt an election in his favor. I just can’t understand it.
      “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” Joseph Goebbels

      1. Oh yes, the Republicans in the Senate and on Trump TV have not only given him a pass on his 20,000 lies, they’ve facilitated them. And, sometimes, they have to change their lies as quickly as he changes his. Make no mistake about it, these co-conspirators will go down in history as scumbags just like Trump.

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