Six Feet Apart, Not Under, Colltalers
The U.S. is far behind the coronavirus curve and, yes, the Trump administration is responsible for it. All headlines about COVID-19’s stunning spread are related to these two truths. No large scale testing is scheduled; no extra medical supplies will be provided; Americans are sitting ducks. Discuss.
And yet, elected officials have profiteered from the crisis just as Big Pharma and healthcare insurers surely will too. Keep that in mind as a depression approaches; when social justice is restored in this country, they shall be all accountable. Will American compassion have its own day to shine too?
The U.S. woke up this morning in a virtual shutdown. With unemployment set to break records and fatalities from the disease unfortunately set to skyrocket, Americans are doing their best to stay safe and together. But most don’t know whether they’re infected, or if there’s still time to be saved.
There’s such a gargantuan vacuum at the top leadership of this country that even billionaires with the muscle to move markets and create a path to solutions are confused and unarticulated. The same about the legions of healthcare and customer service workers thrown in the trenches of this battle with little more than a thermometer – don’t bother trying to get one; like face masks and rubbing alcohol, most retailers online or not don’t have them.
We’ll be back to that, but let’s first note China, whose brutal tactics to control the virus have finally reversed the curve. It kicked out the NYTimes, Washington Post, and Wall Street journalists in response to U.S. restrictions to its state-run news outlets. Yeah, bash reporters; that’ll teach them well.
On the other side of the spectrum, Cuba has stepped up to the plate and is offering medical and humanitarian help. Besides having developed a drug, Interferon alfa 2b, proven effective with dengue fever and HIV/AIDS, adopted by the Chinese medical
authorities to this coronavirus too, it’s sending doctors to Italy to help out. It did the same during cholera and Ebola outbreaks but you wouldn’t know about it by just following the American media.
It even allowed last week a 1,000-passenger-and-crew Britsh cruise ship to dock in Mariel, after charting what was dubbed the ‘voyage of the damned.’ Some 50 people suspected of being coronavirus-positive were among those it took care of and arranged for their flights home. To the deranged far-right, it’s all propaganda, but its Samaritan efforts of the past decades go beyond that and equate to what was one of the U.S.’s main export: solidarity.
A major crisis such as the one the world faces now has also another side effect: other stuff happens but no one notices. Or rather, some pick the time to advance their interests. Take Vladimir Putin, for instance. Last Monday, Russia’s Constitutional Court approved changes to allow him to remain in power till 2036, pending a referendum. As president or prime minister, he’s been there since 1999, so his latest maneuver surprised absolutely no one.
Also, speaking of washing hands, the United Nations marked yesterday the International Water Day by reminding everyone to use it plenty to protect themselves. Unfortunately, some 20% of humans don’t even have plumbing, others have to walk miles for a gallon, and in major cities such as Flint, MI, and Newark, NJ, drinking from the tap is not a good idea at all. That leaves us with all the extra water that’s being melted from ancient glaciers.
Consider Greenland. In a stark development, its melted iced raised global sea levels by 2.2mm in just two months. That’s faster than anyone had predicted, indicating that, well, science was right, climate deniers have been wrong, and no matter what, humanity still has an even bigger fish to fry.
But if there’s a silver lining to the coronavirus worldwide pause is that it grounded economic activity, and its pollutants, to a halt and, guess what, air and waterways got immediately cleaner all over the world. That proves one remarkable thing: we can do it. We should take this worldwide idleness to apply a grand plan, say, a Green New Deal, and reboot the economy from a different, renewable starting point. Sadly, Congress is not with us in that.
Back to stuff that happens when no one is looking, here are some of the less honorable, downright ruthless things that the White House is setting up behind doors: a cut in food stamps for 700,000 Americans; a multibillion-dollar package for airlines – which spent their tax breaks on buying back stocks and let their business rot – and oil and gas fracking companies; and the immoral, pervasive rush to nominate the highest number of judges.
That’s an unforgivable travesty, to load the bench with utterly party-biased federal judges who by stamping rulings favorable only to the executive will simply destroy the independence of the judiciary. It’s been a well-planned tactic from the get-go by the Republican Party and it’ll take years to be rebalanced even if a combative, argumentative, visionary Democrat defeats Trump in November. Can Joe Biden be that people’s warrior on this issue?
Time will tell but the events of the last few days bode poorly to President Obama’s VP. While his adversary Bernie Sanders was all over the country fighting to prevent yet another bailout to big business, Biden was all but missing. He was part of the single stimulus Congress was trying to pass and failed. For it would neither protect over 20% of the U.S. workforce nor guarantee free testing and treatment and offered only a paltry 15 days of leave.
Now comes word that he was ‘preparing’ (which probably means, learning his lines). Indeed, many think Joe’s a nice chap, just as Trump rated a 10 his disastrous mishandling of the coronavirus crisis. We’re not dismissing yet anyone willing to lead the country into another direction before it sinks for good, but it seems Trump has successfully downgraded all expectations for this election. Disillusioned Sanders supporters may stay at home again.
With rampant profiteering from the crisis by all sides at the top, the impossibility of having massive protests around the nation, and the imminent collapse of the entire hospital system due to an expected spike in demand, ‘Spring Will (Indeed) Be a Little Late This Year.’ Frank Loesser could never have imagined that his beloved Broadway, where The Fantasticks broke records, would be in the dark just before the new season. But here we are.
We’ll miss it to save ourselves and be around for the next spring. Instead, we’re actually calling people we’d talk to only online; we’re cleaning and doing stuff around the house; cooking, reading, digging the garden, or just being silly with kids and pets. And thoroughly washing hands, of course.
Over 500,000 thousand will sleep in the streets tonight; countless will perish either from exposure or the virus; many more will get infected. But we’ll survive and resist such an ungracious leader who hasn’t offered a single word of comfort to Americans before and during this scourge. He’s actually made it worst whenever he opened his mouth. But we’ll find the strength. Yeah, it’s Ok to call Mom again. Rest well, we will need you tomorrow. Cheers WC
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