As we tumble not so gently into the abyss

Coronavirus

I’ve been assuming for days now that I will be exposed to the novel coronavirus sooner or later if I have not already been.

The number of cases testing positive for the covid-19 has been doubling nearly every two days since the state [Pennsylvania] began processing them, [Rachel] Levine said.

“It’s not just increased testing,” she said. “We are actually seeing a spike in (covid-19) cases because more people are ill.”[1]

But I have had no symptoms and therefore no reason to seek out testing.

Then there’s this weirdness:

We’re on new ground here. … But I also know that Pennsylvanians are strong and resilient, and that our communities will get through this if we do it together.[2]

I don’t know what communities she’s talking about. I really don’t.

Next, David Remnick has a blast at not only Donald Trump, whose malfeasance on coronavirus is already well-documented,[3] but his entire enabling Faux News bubble:

[Donald] Trump cannot be forgiven for his preening and his belatedness. And yet this least trustworthy of Commanders-in-Chief is entrusted by the authority of his office to make a series of critical decisions. In order to “flatten the curve,” we have rightly set in motion a set of edicts that, while necessary to control the pandemic, will continue to batter the economy, create deep atomization, and cause all manner of suffering. The human need for solidarity is frustrated by the need for social distancing. An economy that seizes up entirely could, in theory, produce nearly as much suffering as the virus itself, particularly for the most vulnerable among us. A host of well-judged policy decisions must be made and executed effectively if the country is to be spared the worst. As recently as Friday, however, the President spent much of his briefing berating a reporter and further alarming the public. It is better to be lucky than good, the old saw has it. Trump is not good; we must hope that he will be lucky.[4]

I’m remembering a lyric by Albert King: “If it wasn’t for bad luck, you know I wouldn’t have no luck at all.”[5]

Finally, on March 20th, I wrote,

What if Donald Trump’s initial diminishing and mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic[6] was meant to cover a retreat from the stock market by his allies?[7] They all deny it, of course. But also, it just looks to me like, for all that earlier denial and minimization, the Republicans are better prepared to present proposals than the Democrats.[8] For a lot of folks, this will be just putting two and two together. Or as Watergate’s “Deep Throat” was famously portrayed saying, “Follow the money.”

Consider this: After a decade of Republicans obstructing Democrats, suddenly on this singular issue, it is Democrats who are cast in the role of obstructing an urgent Republican proposal.[9] Something is surely up and I’m pretty sure it isn’t that Nancy Pelosi is smarter than Mitch McConnell.[10]

Now, here’s Kevin Williamson at the mostly neoconservative National Review:

If you want to know why people are so vulnerable to conspiracy theories and to misinformation, it is in part because they believe that they are being lied to by those with whom they have entrusted great power, that the truth is being kept from them by design. They are not wrong about that: The New York Times has the emails explicitly directing state authorities to keep the facts — “numeric values” — from “the public.”

Right now, the question for Trump, et al., is whether they will be reelected. But there are military hospital ships anchored off both coasts, and ventilators and other necessities are in short supply, for a reason. Perhaps we will be successful at “flattening the curve” and avoiding a pandemic that is as bad as it has the potential to be. These clowns in Washington had better pray perfervidly that we are successful. Senator Burr is not expected to run again in 2022. His retirement is understood to be a foregone conclusion. But the world is going to remember that when history called, Senator Burr called his broker, and it will take more than stock profits to ensure that his retirement is a comfortable one.[11]

This quote and the headline on Williamson’s article slightly mislead: Williamson points to a number of data points implicating a number of politicians. Earlier in his piece, he writes,

The senators’ explanations run the gamut from the more or less plausible, at a glance, to the barely plausible. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that these stories may be plausible on a case-by-case basis but that that plausibility requires a level of trust that Washington as a whole has not earned. And maybe Hunter Biden has some special charm known only to Ukrainians.[12]

I have little use for neoconservatives as a general rule. And Williamson’s appearance in the National Review only suggests he is probably a neoconservative. I’m more suspicious than he is—I think—but he lays out the evidence.

Kevin D. Williamson, “History Called — and Senator Burr Called His Broker,” National Review, March 20, 2020, https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/03/history-called-and-senator-burr-called-his-broker/

Natasha Lindstrom, “Pennsylvania reports 103 new covid-19 cases, large clusters in Allegheny County,” TribLive, March 21, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/pennsylvania-reports-103-new-covid-19-cases-large-clusters-in-allegheny-county/

David Remnick, “How the Coronavirus Shattered Trump’s Serene Confidence,” New Yorker, March 22, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/03/30/how-the-coronavirus-shattered-trumps-serene-confidence


  1. [1]Natasha Lindstrom, “Pennsylvania reports 103 new covid-19 cases, large clusters in Allegheny County,” TribLive, March 21, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/pennsylvania-reports-103-new-covid-19-cases-large-clusters-in-allegheny-county/
  2. [2]Rachel Levine, quoted in Natasha Lindstrom, “Pennsylvania reports 103 new covid-19 cases, large clusters in Allegheny County,” TribLive, March 21, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/pennsylvania-reports-103-new-covid-19-cases-large-clusters-in-allegheny-county/
  3. [3]Adam Gaffney, “Trump sees the coronavirus as a threat to his self-interest – not to people,” Guardian, March 17, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/17/trump-sees-the-coronavirus-as-a-threat-to-his-self-interest-not-to-people; Susan B. Glasser, “A President Unequal to the Moment,” New Yorker, March 12, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-trumps-washington/a-president-unequal-to-the-moment; Dana Milbank, “For Trump, a reckoning has come,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/trump-reckoning-has-come/; Ashley Parker, Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Lena H. Sun, “Squandered time: How the Trump administration lost control of the coronavirus crisis,” Washington Post, March 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-coronavirus-response-squandered-time/2020/03/07/5c47d3d0-5fcb-11ea-9055-5fa12981bbbf_story.html; Paul Waldman, “How coronavirus has deeply flummoxed conservative media,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/how-coronavirus-has-deeply-flummuxed-conservative-media/
  4. [4]David Remnick, “How the Coronavirus Shattered Trump’s Serene Confidence,” New Yorker, March 22, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/03/30/how-the-coronavirus-shattered-trumps-serene-confidence
  5. [5]Albert King, “Album: Born Under A Bad Sign,” Song Facts, 1967, https://www.songfacts.com/lyrics/albert-king/born-under-a-bad-sign
  6. [6]Adam Gaffney, “Trump sees the coronavirus as a threat to his self-interest – not to people,” Guardian, March 17, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/17/trump-sees-the-coronavirus-as-a-threat-to-his-self-interest-not-to-people; Susan B. Glasser, “A President Unequal to the Moment,” New Yorker, March 12, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-trumps-washington/a-president-unequal-to-the-moment; Dana Milbank, “For Trump, a reckoning has come,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/trump-reckoning-has-come/; Ashley Parker, Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Lena H. Sun, “Squandered time: How the Trump administration lost control of the coronavirus crisis,” Washington Post, March 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-coronavirus-response-squandered-time/2020/03/07/5c47d3d0-5fcb-11ea-9055-5fa12981bbbf_story.html; Paul Waldman, “How coronavirus has deeply flummoxed conservative media,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/28/how-coronavirus-has-deeply-flummuxed-conservative-media/
  7. [7]Michelle Ye Hee Lee, John Wagner, and Teo Armus, “Sen. Richard Burr, head of powerful committee, sold large amount of stocks before sharp declines in market,” Washington Post, March 19, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/sen-richard-burr-r-nc-head-of-powerful-committee-sold-large-amount-of-stocks-before-sharp-declines-in-market/2020/03/19/6cf4b25a-6a31-11ea-9923-57073adce27c_story.html
  8. [8]Jeff Stein et al., “Senate Republicans release massive economic stimulus bill for coronavirus response,” Washington Post, March 19, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/19/trump-coronavirus-economic-plan-stimulus/
  9. [9]Eoin Higgins, “Refusal by Pelosi to Consider Universal Cash Payments in Response to Coronavirus Pandemic ‘Maddening,’ Say Progressives,” Common Dreams, March 18, 2020, https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/03/18/refusal-pelosi-consider-universal-cash-payments-response-coronavirus-pandemic;  Michelle Ye Hee Lee, John Wagner, and Teo Armus, “Sen. Richard Burr, head of powerful committee, sold large amount of stocks before sharp declines in market,” Washington Post, March 19, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/sen-richard-burr-r-nc-head-of-powerful-committee-sold-large-amount-of-stocks-before-sharp-declines-in-market/2020/03/19/6cf4b25a-6a31-11ea-9923-57073adce27c_story.html;Jim Tankersley and Ben Casselman, “Washington Weighs Big Bailouts to Help U.S. Economy Survive Coronavirus,” New York Times, March 18, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/18/business/bailout-economy-coronavirus.html
  10. [10]David Benfell, “Why do Republicans seem better prepared to present proposals on coronavirus relief than Democrats?” Irregular Bullshit, March 20, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/03/20/why-do-republicans-seem-better-prepared-to-present-proposals-on-coronavirus-relief-than-democrats/
  11. [11]Kevin D. Williamson, “History Called — and Senator Burr Called His Broker,” National Review, March 20, 2020, https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/03/history-called-and-senator-burr-called-his-broker/
  12. [12]Kevin D. Williamson, “History Called — and Senator Burr Called His Broker,” National Review, March 20, 2020, https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/03/history-called-and-senator-burr-called-his-broker/

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