We Are Trump’s Hostages

Sorry I’ve been scarce. I gave a Zoom talk this morning to some zennies and had to prepare something. But now it’s done.

We’re being held hostage by a virus. Very little of our civic or economic life can be normal until we are no longer being held hostage by a virus. That’s what our situation amounts to.

The Right is still trying to blame China. There are stories out today in right-leaning media that Steve Bannon is pushing a story that Chinese scientists have defected to the West and are helping the FBI (wouldn’t that be the CIA?) build a case that the coronavirus was deliberately leaked by a Chinese lab.

Real scientists insist that they can tell the virus evolved in nature and is not a lab creation. But Trumpies remain obsessed with blaming China for our current situation. As if it matters.

If you were being held hostage by crazy gunmen, and you found out that instead of trying to rescue you the authorities are just arguing about who the gunmen work for — the mob? the deep state? Tucker Carlson? — you’d probably be pretty damn pissed about it. Just rescue me, already.

Today Trump is raving on Twitter that he won’t let crazy leftists tear down the Washington Monument or the Lincoln Memorial, “or any other Federal Monumrnt  [sic],” as if that were a real threat. And he’s bragging aboujt the great economy and insisting that Barack Obama played more golf as POTUS than he did. That claim has been debunked copiously, most recently at Business Insider.

But what are you doing about the pandemic, Donald? Anything? He submitted to wearing a face mask yesterday at a visit to Walter Reed. That’s about it, as far as I can tell.

Instead, Trump is pissed at the coronavirus task force officials who keep warning people to maintain social distancing, etc. ABC reported yesterday:

As President Donald Trump threatens to cut funding to schools that don’t reopen in the fall and continues to host mega-rallies as cases of coronavirus increase, there appears to be a growing rift between the Trump White House and its top health advisers.

The president has taken his criticism of the government’s top expert on infectious diseases and of leaders at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention into the public forum in his massive push to reopen the country.

Despite coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx asking Americans in hot spot zones to avoid indoor gatherings and reduce them to 10 people or fewer, Trump on Friday delivered remarks and attended a home fundraiser in Florida as cases there rise — one day after the state saw a record death toll.

The trip came as Trump seeks to downplay the danger in states like Florida, Arizona, Texas and California struggling to control outbreaks — which he calls “embers” — and openly disputes coronavirus task force officials.

In a series of interviews this week, Trump questioned the expertise of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institutes of Health for more than three decades and a prominent member of the White House coronavirus task force, who continually polls higher in favorability than the president.

We’re being held hostage by crazy gunmen, and instead of rescuing us the police officer in charge tells us to just ignore the gunmen and go on about our lives. Some of us may get shot, but hey, that happens.

A couple of days ago, the New York Times released an internal Trump administration document that said “fully reopening schools and universities remained the ‘highest risk’ for the spread of the coronavirus.”

Clearly, the document was prepared to release to school districts to provide guidance. But it was never released. This is possibly because some of the suggestions for mitigating risks to children and faculty, like widespread testing and contact tracing, would be expensive.

We’ve heard of threats that schools could be invaded and children taken hostage by crazy gunmen, but the government doesn’t want to deal with it because providing protection for children would cost money. So just send the kids to school, anyway. Most of them probably will be okay. And, anyway, we need to deploy troops to protect our monuments.

Oh, there is one thing the White House is doing about the pandemic. It’s working to discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci. NBC reported today:

The White House is seeking to discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, as it works to marginalize him and his dire warnings about the shortcomings in the U.S. coronavirus response.

A White House official told NBC News that “several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things.” The official provided NBC News with a lengthy list of past comments by Fauci earlier in the pandemic, including Fauci saying in January that coronavirus was “not a major threat” and “not driven by asymptomatic carriers” and Fauci’s comment in March that “people should not be walking around with masks.”

Many of the past statements the White House is criticizing Fauci for are ones that were based on the best available data at the time and were widely echoed by Trump, other members of the task force and senior White House officials. As Surgeon General Jerome Adams told CBS News on Sunday, “When you learn more, you change those recommendations. Our recommendations have changed.”

Let’s review:

We’re being held hostage by crazy gunmen. The police have an excellent hostage specialist who might know how to rescue us, but officials dismiss him because he originally thought the hostage-taking would happen on a Thursday instead of Wednesday. So now no one is working to rescue us, because the new guy in charge of rescuing people won’t admit we need to be rescued.

About a week ago Dr. Fauci got out a warning that we must not read good news into a falling death rate.

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, warned Tuesday the U.S. should not fall into “false complacency” because COVID-19 death rates have dropped, noting the virus can cause other severe health outcomes.

“It’s a false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death,” Fauci said Tuesday during a livestreamed press conference hosted by Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.)

“There’s so many other things that are very dangerous and bad about this virus, don’t get yourself into a false complacency,” he added.  …

…Experts anticipate deaths, a lagging indicator in an outbreak, will rise as people generally don’t die until weeks after they become sick.

Still, President Trump and his allies have touted the falling death rate as an indicator the U.S. is succeeding in its fight against COVID-19.

Trump over the weekend claimed that COVID-19 is “totally harmless” to 99 percent of people who get the disease and he continued to tie surging case numbers to increased testing.

Experts say both claims are false. They note that even people who don’t die of COVID-19 can become seriously ill, requiring hospitalization and ventilation.

And then the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday that death rates are going up in key states, notably Texas, Arizona and Florida, where the rates of infection are surging. Deaths are a lagging indicator, we are told. We don’t see death rates going up until several days after case rates go up. Now, rates are going up.

Crazy gunmen keep taking people hostage, but the authorities tell us the situation is getting better because the gunmen aren’t shooting as many hostages as they used to. Until, eventually, they do. But for that reason, we don’t need to take any measures to stop the hostage taking. Things are just fine.