Category Archives: Politics

It’s the end of the American century — and of America too?

The 20th century was the “American century” for a variety of reasons. We played a major role in ending WW I and in WW II (though the USSR’s fighting on the Eastern Front was probably more important). As a nation that hadn’t been bombed (besides Pearl Harbor) or invaded, we emerged from the Second World War in great economic shape. While we did many horrible things during the Cold War (overthrowing multiple democratically elected governments and putting in despots), we also helped relieve ravaged Europe with the Marshall Plan, and organized an airlift to keep Berlin going after East Germany cut off access. We gave the world TV, popular movies, rock-and-roll and put a man on the moon. An immigrant arriving in the country with no money or a kid who’d dropped out of high school could still land a job and become a success, at least to the point of putting a roof over their head and their family’s (if the kid was black, of course, it was a damn sight tougher).

Not so much any more. Eonomic mobility is dying: the poor can’t move up, the rich are protected from falling by the glass floor. Our economy increasingly rewards the people in finance who push papers and move money around than the people actually doing the work (including the supposedly essential grocery workers and such). Our infrastructure is crumbling, our medical system is overpriced with poorer outcomes than many nations and our maternal death rate is the highest in the developed world). We’re turning into a rich failed estate.

Internationally, Trump’s been vigorously shredding our alliances, agreements and treaties and our handling of the Trump Virus is wrecking them further.  I wouldn’t mind us backing off being the world’s policeman — we’ve done horrible things as well as good — but I’d rather do it without alienating the rest of the world. And I suspect it’s less about withdrawing than that 21st century Republicans much prefer using brute force to negotiating or working out alliances. Former Veep Dick Cheney, for instance, had his macho posturing moment where he declared (quite untruthfully) that “we don’t negotiate with evil — we destroy it!” As Iraq and Afghanistan proved, that’s a clumsy, ineffective approach.

George MacDonald Fraser has written what a seismic shock the loss of the British Empire was to his generation; I wonder if we’ll see that here. When Japan outperformed us economically 30 years ago, it led to a major freakout portraying good business as an act of war, Pearl Harbor II (Michael Crichton’s racist Rising Sun, for instance). Then again, people who believe in American exceptionalism accept America is “the greatest country in world” regardless of what we actually do. So perhaps they won’t care.

As for the survival of America itself … well we have open calls from Canadian white supremacist Faith Goldy for white America to secede and form its own nation. Goldy is, of course, a chickenhawk — I guarantee she has no intention of putting herself on the front lines to make it happen — and it’s not like most of Trump’s aging base of support are ready to take up arms either. Despite all the tough talk that Virginia passing new gun legislation would trigger civil war, it didn’t happen (instead, look at the results).

But Republicans are doing everything they can to restrict the vote including exploiting the Trump Virus to do it (though in Wisconsin they lost); one bullshit artist proposes (not seriously I think) that the U.S. force all liberals to live in California, then strip them of voting rights. And prioritizing supplies in the crisis based on how thoroughly Trump’s ass is kissed. This is civil war by other means: it doesn’t divide the country into separate states, but divides us between the minority with the right to vote (Trump’s own agenda) and a minority that will impose its white/male/Christian supremacist views on everyone else.

Speaking of which we have California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom declaring that as federal government isn’t providing equipment to deal with the Trump Virus, California, as “a nation state,” will take care of its own and possibly export to other states. As California isn’t a nation, that’s generated a lot of questions about what he meant. The article at the link speculates (I’ve heard similar thoughts before) that some Dems may be ready to pay back Republicans in their own coin: if they’re going to ignore the rules, the rules they make aren’t binding either. If California goes ahead and ignores Trump and the Supreme Republican Court, what will the feds do? Marijuana legalization might be a forerunner: the feds still count it as a dangerous drug but lots of states don’t care.

Either way, I suspect the concept of the United States by mid-century will be very different from what we see today.

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And it’s another Trump Virus news roundup

In late February, President Tinybrain claimed that the Trump Virus cases would soon be down to zero because he’d done such an awesome job. He now insists nobody had briefed him on how many people were going to become infected. And he’s still freaking out that anyone denies his crisis performance has been perfect. Trump also claims that his stopping travel from China was perfect, a big, life-saving game changer, but it wasn’t an effective travel ban. And the federal government is now seizing medical supplies from hospitals without explanation. Since red-state Republican governors who’ve toed the Trump line are getting hit too, I’m baffled what the angle is, but I’m sure Trump has one.

Evil, of course, is making hay while the sun shines, as they say. Red states are claiming abortion is nonessential, so going to a doctor violates stay-in-place orders. The Supreme Court isn’t supporting mail-in ballots as an alternative to in-person voting, because as Trump himself admitted, more voters means less Repubican victories (LGM adds some commentary). The right-wing Heritage Foundation wants to set the terms for the post-Trump Virus recovery. And the Religious Right is backing parts of the stimulus that will pay pastors’ salaries while being exempt from any conditions such as nondiscrimination requirements.

The stupid and evil: Bill O’Reilly claims he’s just a simple man speaking the truth when he says Trump Virus victims around the world were on their last legs so it’s no big deal. And Rush Limbaugh claims that flu shots aren’t a real vaccine.

The smart: Bill Gates discusses where we go from here. And the WaPo rounds up more suggestions on how we can adapt, from ways to find more doctors to using prepaid cards instead of stimulus checks.

If grocery-store workers and delivery drivers are essential, why is their pay crap?

Black men worry that if they wear masks for their health, they’ll be seen as criminals.

Now, some less political stuff:

One of my Atomic Junkshop co-bloggers recommends Alan Brennert for reading during isolation.

Which cleaning products are good for countering COVID-19?

Is social isolation getting to you?

Exercise routines you can do at home. Though in my case, not the pushups —too much strain on my impinged shoulder.

Camestros Felapton on the role of the arts in a time of plague.

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Black comedy and the Trump Virus

A number of political bloggers have described our current situation — idiot authoritarian putting his useless son-in-law in charge of a medical crisis — is a banana-republic kind of thing. Me, I’ve come to see it as a kind of black comedy about the British aristocracy at its worst. Only very black, and not very funny.

In this view of things, Trump is a duke from some hideously inbred line of aristocrats. He’s stupid and feckless, but with his distinguished pedigree and his vicious willingness to lash out at anyone who questions him, lots of people are perfectly willing to treat him as if he were worthy of respect. Jared is the equivalent of an airheaded fop, the kind of nitwit who populates so many P.G. Wodehouse stories. Except Wodehouse’s protagonists are invariably decent; in a pandemic they might have no idea what to do, but if it were pointed out, they’d do the right thing. Kushner not so much. Whoever’s behind seizing state Trump Virus supplies, for instance, they’re not doing the right thing.

And this article about Trump’s endorsement of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment has Trump, Giulani and an economic adviser admitting they don’t know nothin’ ’bout medicine, but they did stay in a Holiday Inn last night — well about that level of rationality.

And we have the Republicans horrified, like countless earlier generations of aristocrats, that doing anything to help the peasantry will give them ideas they have rights. That they can get better treatment! They might realize Medicare for all is affordable! BBut I’m sure right wingers will be happier with new proposals such as “pitching a payroll-tax cut, a capital-gains tax cut, creating 50-year Treasury bonds to lock in low interest rates, and a waiver that would clear businesses of liability from employees who contract the coronavirus on the job.” Yes, the poor and small business owners suffering from the Trump Virus will certainly be able to survive on their 50-year-treasury bonds!

But looking at the effects on the ground, it’s not funny. It’s true all governments struggle with the unexpected, but Trump’s White House has been exceptionally bad. “It took 70 days from that initial notification for Trump to treat the coronavirus not as a distant threat or harmless flu strain well under control, but as a lethal force that had outflanked America’s defenses and was poised to kill tens of thousands of citizens. That more-than-two-month stretch now stands as critical time that was squandered.” Doctors are going above and beyond — why isn’t Trump? Okay, the question’s rhetorical, it’s because he cares far more about avoiding any blame than actually solving the crisis. See, easy?

And does Trump’s support for using a malarial drug to treat the Trump Virus have anything to do with the manufacturer paying for access to him? (or, as noted in that hydroxychloroquine article, that he and a lot of people in his orbit have investments that would benefit). I’ve heard similar points made about our government scooping up N95 masks — privatized contractors will get to distribute them and profit thereby. More on the science here.

In other Trump Virus news:

Sean Hannity now insists he took the virus seriously from day one. He lies. And lies some more.

With Diamond, the only remaining comics distributor, shutting down for now, comics companies are searching for solutions.

Andrew Lloyd Webber is streaming his musical on YouTube for free.

More on the Internet Archive undermining copyright during the crisis. And the incredibly intrusive proctoring/data gathering checking on college students taking tests online.

 

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“Dilettantism raised to the level of sociopathy”: Jared Kushner and the glass floor

The glass floor is a term for the support systems that keep talentless rich people from failing (more here): they keep getting multiple chances when they fall on their face, they get legacy admissions into top college, they have rich friends and family who can finance their business ventures or give them jobs. Case in point, Jared Kushner: merely by being Trump’s son-in-law he’s now heading the White House pandemic response despite a complete lack of qualifications and a conviction he’s smarter than the experts. As Michelle Goldberg puts it, “Kushner has succeeded at exactly three things in his life. He was born to the right parents, married well and learned how to influence his father-in-law. Most of his other endeavors — his biggest real estate deal, his foray into newspaper ownership, his attempt to broker a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians — have been failures.” (her column provides the quote in this post title).

But that’s not how Jared sees it: when he was in real estate, he became a master of multi-tasking who could take a call in the middle of college class, send a plumber to fix the problem and never break a sweat. Wow, that’s what we need for fighting COVID-19 (as someone notes at the link, if the guy running a $10 million portfolio has to be the one calling the plumbers when a toilet breaks, that’s a sign of mismanagement, not talent). And providing us with deep insight such as “The notion of the federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile … It’s not supposed to be state stockpiles that they then use.” (the linked article says yes, it actually is).

But he’s not the only dimwit who distinguished themselves last week. Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia insists he only just learned that seemingly healthy people can be COVID-19 carriers. As this has been discussed in the news for a couple of months, either Kemp’s really stupid or he’s trying to CYA his inept responses. Or maybe both, because as a CYA this is pretty stupid. Heck, he got into office by voter suppression, maybe he figures he doesn’t have to be competent.

Smarter, but equally odious conservatives are working on using the current crisis to get state funding for churches (a liberal pastor protests) and to create a de factor national abortion ban.

Not so smart: reporters who continue writing that Trump is becoming a great leader at last. Jared’s his pandemic point man, remember? And Trump’s response to criticism is still misogynistic bile (some detailed examples here).

And lets not forget the Republicans who continue to enable Trump’s stupidity and narcissism.

So was Sen. Kelly Loeffler just incredibly lucky that her investment managers sold off stocks in businesses that tanked after the pandemic hit? While I’m skeptical, the article at the link points out some of the sales (Facebook stock for instance) don’t seem to take advantage of what Loeffler knew was coming.

And while he’s not COVID-19 relevant, I’ll just mention law school professor Adrian Vermeule. He’s a conservative Catholic (adult convert) whose deep thoughts include that atheists who swear oaths cannot be trusted because, you know, they don’t believe in God. And he thinks it’s time to ditch individual rights and freedom in favor of a nice authoritarian government that will dictate to us for our own good. The government’s “subjects” will soon learn to thank them!

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Money for nothing and my books for free? It depends

So as I think I’ve already mentioned, I made my Smashwords short-story collection, Philosophy and Fairytales free as part of a promotion running through April 20. I’m quite happy that two people have already downloaded the book.I was much less happy to discover the Internet Archive had an ebook of Screen Enemies of the American Way available on its website for free reading. Camestros Felapton’s post alerted me that IA, in addition to storing old web pages, digitizes print books and lends them out, just like any other library — except, as Slate says, regular libraries don’t just digitize books under copyright and make them available (with exceptions such as services for the blind). Libraries actually pay for ebooks; IA doesn’t. So I asked the IA to take my book down (it appears to be the only one of mine up there) and they did. First time I’ve tackled a pirate site (and in my not-a-lawyer opinion, this does seem to be piracy) and it felt good.

My work on Leaf wrapped up Monday — one of their regular breaks in the work flow — which is good as Leaf articles seem to suffer from the distractions of TYG and pups in the current quarantine more than anything else I do. That’s probably because I try to keep to sharp deadlines writing them and there’s just enough distraction these days to slow them down. So maybe it’s simply more noticeable with Leaf than other work? But hopefully by the time they start up again, I’ll have a smoother process for the new normal.

I got plenty done this week. Two chapters of Impossible Takes a Little Longer. Final draft (subject to one more beta reader weighing in) of Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates. A good deal of work done on Undead Sexist Cliches. Finishing the second draft of Laughter in the Dark. And I participated in a Zoom-meeting of my Tuesday writer’s group. Damn, but it felt really good to see everyone’s faces.

As I woke up early this morning, I am now done. Bring on the weekend.

#SFWApro. Cover image by Lisa Wildman, all rights remain with current holders.

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Hey Democrats, why not let Republicans pick your candidate?

This is an argument that periodically turns up on right-wing blogs and even some mainstream punditry: Republicans hate voting for Trump. They’d happily vote for a Democrat, but dang it, why do we have to pick socialists and ultra-liberals? If you’d only pick someone acceptable to the Republican Party, then you could get all their votes!

Someone in an FB discussion informed me that she really doesn’t want to vote for Trump, so if the Democrats vote for someone other than the “trash” they keep nominating. Setting aside that I don’t believe her (I hear far too many “hey, I don’t really support Trump even though I’m aggressively defending everything he does” arguments), I think selecting our candidates based on what Trump voters want is a laughably bad idea.

First off, let’s remember that in 2016 (and also 2000) we did indeed pick someone the majority of voters wanted, so where’s her issue? We were clearly more in tune with the American electorate than Republicans were. So who cares what they think?

Second, this person claims she’s planning to vote for Trump in 2020 if Dems don’t field a better candidate. Because of Trump’s obsessive fear of looking bad, the government downplayed the threat and the number of affected and avoided encouraging testing. Now President Tinybrain is insisting he took it seriously from the first (and he doesn’t take any responsibility for what went wrong) and he’s really, really knowledgeable, to the point all the doctors are in awe of how well he’s grasped it. Trump is literally getting Americans killed, but apparently that’s not an issue for her.

Third, sorry, the vast majority of Republicans are not going to vote for any Democrat acceptable to Democrats. The Republican orthodoxy is that they want a WASP-run America, whether by keeping out non-white immigrants or repressing non-white and liberal votes. They’re ranting against the “Chinese virus” rather than questioning their leader’s incompetent response. They may wring their hands over children being put in cages but like one friend of mine said, “they shouldn’t have broken the law” as though that’s the only moral issue. They’re fine with a man accused of attempted sexual assault being on the Supreme Court. For some of them, it’s a plus. As John Scalzi says, they may not be white supremacists, but they’re okay voting for one. There is no way they’re going to vote for any Democrat the Democratic voters would vote for (Biden, as a kind of low-key centrist, comes closest, but I doubt he’ll do it).

And why the hell is it our responsibility to pick a candidate they want to vote for? You never hear this argument in reverse: a lot Democrats don’t want to vote for Biden (at this point he looks like a certainty), so if Repubs would just nominate a pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-woman candidate, maybe we wouldn’t have to. But nobody makes this argument because it’s Democrats who are always portrayed as the extremists who need to move to the center.

No, we don’t.

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Bonus news from the age of pandemic

A few links that didn’t make it into yesterday’s post —

Trump and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer locked horns. Now she says vendors who’ve contracted with the state to provide medical supplies are backing out. The right-wing is on Trump’s side.

Part of the deal reached on the stimulus bill was that it provided oversight for the billions going out to businesses. Trump’s just going to ignore that. And the EPA is going to help businesses by not enforcing environmental law.

Right-wing bullshit artist Candace Owens insists we should just accept “some people will die” instead of government doing anything. And Isaac Chotiner interviews law professor Richard Epstein about his theory that coronavirus is no big — because who knows better than a lawyer about this stuff, right? — and rips it to shreds.

It’s commendable that Trump sent personal protective equipment to China to help deal with coronavirus … except he did it while he was denying the problem here, and now we have a shortage.

And the AP debunks coronavirus myths.

And here we Superman social-distancing when he becomes contagious. Art by Curt Swan.

#SFWApro. All rights to image remain with current holder.

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More COVID-19 thrills and thoughts!

“The U.S. may end up with the worst outbreak in the industrialized world.” — From an Atlantic article about where the U.S. screwed up, what we should do now, and what the possible outcomes are. They’re not necessarily catastrophic. Yet. But they could be.

“Donald Trump’s response has been so predictable. He has not changed. He has not grown. He has not admitted errors. He has shown little humility.” — the BBC on what COVID-19 reveals about America. As I’ve said to a couple of people, “apocalypse” in the original Greek meant a revelation. It’s going to show a lot of people for who they are. Of course it’s not much of a revelation when right-wingers decide God is punishing America for the same things they don’t like (in this case The Gays — Arizona conservative Rep. Andy Biggs likewise voted against the coronavirus package because some of the benefits apply to gay couples). Or that Ann Coulter lies.

But on the other hand, there’s Kent Taylor, CEO of Texas Roadhouse: he’s foregoing his salary and his bonus and using the money to support restaurant staff. And a few Trump devotees have had the sense to challenge him on this; they’re still scum, but I’ll give them credit for getting one thing right.

•”Panic never helps. Panic implies that you lose your mind, and that in a war — even a war against a microscopic enemy — gives aid and comfort to the enemy. When you panic, you don’t think rationally, and in times of crisis, rational thought is the greatest weapon you could possibly have.” — from an interview with author Max Brooks.

*I wrote this morning about why blaming China is inaccurate and racist, but I’m not surprised that concept is taking hold on the right. In some people’s eyes it absolves Trump of blame; I’ve had a couple of people Trumpsplain that closing the borders proves he was on top of things from the first. And for others it gives them an enemy to punish, which makes them happy, happy, happy. Tom Cotton (who believes that if someone violates the sanctions on trading with Iran, we should be able to imprison their families without trial) now says ““China unleashed this plague on the world and there will be a reckoning when we’re on the back side of it.” Bigots are likewise unsurprisingly jumping on the hate-China train.

However the sudden swing of the right to declare it’s better if some of us die than the stock market drop any further did startle me some. Apparently Trump is freaking out about his election chances (and possibly that his hotels are now hemorrhaging money) so he wants social distancing over by Easter. The federal government can’t override states that impose stay-in-place orders but of course Trump saying it’s no big might undercut them. And it will let him blame the states when the economy tanks, a tactic he’s using already.

Like good little toadies, multiple politicians and pundits have taken it a step further, declaring it’s better we lose a few million people than make the economy slump any further. Of course there are alternative approaches, like having the government help people, but that’s anathema to conservatives: better people die than turn to the government! While some of them say they’d willingly sacrifice themselves, I take it as a given they’re lying, or confident they have the money and connections to get medical care (like these guys).  It’s the little people who must sacrifice. After all I know they’re  lying about how us older folks are willing to sacrifice ourselves so Trump’s hotels can get back in business. Though as Jeet Heer says, if these folks’ grandparents are living, they’d better watch their back.

Then we have Christian publisher Steve Strange declaring earlier this month that the coronavirus would end March 28. Antisemite shitbag Rick Wiles declares COVID-19 is targeting Jews. And megachurch pastor Rodney Howard-Browne blaming it on Jews (“globalist … money cartel“), Bill Gates, China, the communist controlled media, Big Pharma and by implication Satan (he strongly implies that a vaccine would be the Mark of the Beast). Or it’s simply that Americans have sex before marriage.

To end on an upbeat note, here’s a Sheldon Moldoff cover that shows the importance of self-quarantining even back in 1962.#SFWApro. All rights to image remain with current holder.

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Yes, calling COVID-19 the Chinese virus is harmful and racist

The standard argument I keep hearing is that “Chinese virus” is totally nothing to do with racism, it’s just a description, like the “Spanish” flu. And I’m sure some people using the term aren’t using it as anything but a description, so they assume it’s harmless.

It isn’t. For Trump’s administration and a lot of his acolytes in the media, it’s deliberate racism. And when people echo their terminology, we further their agenda.

This is not a new issue. WHO said back in 2015 that sticking geographic names on disease is bad as it can stigmatize races or nationalities, something we’re currently seeing Chinese-Americans dealing with. Even something like “swine flu” can leave people thinking they should avoid eating pork or killing their livestock, causing more economic problems.

And the names aren’t as descriptive as we think. According to John Barry in The Great Influenz, “Spanish Flu” probably began in the U.S. It got its name because most of the countries with initial cases were under wartime censorship. Spain wasn’t censoring the media as much so the first news reports of Horrible New Disease! came from Spain, ergo Spanish Flu.

Or consider syphilis: “The inhabitants of today’s Italy, Germany and United Kingdom named syphilis ‘the French disease’, the French named it ‘the Neapolitan disease’, the Russians assigned the name of ‘Polish disease’, the Polish called it ‘the German disease’, The Danish, the Portuguese and the inhabitants of Northern Africa named it ‘the Spanish/Castilian disease’ and the Turks coined the term ‘Christian disease’. Moreover, in Northern India, the Muslims blamed the Hindu for the outbreak of the affliction. However, the Hindu blamed the Muslims and in the end everyone blamed the Europeans.”

Possibly “Chinese flu” is a totally rational choice of name, untainted by a desire to shift blame or racist considerations …nah.

The arguments that OMG it could maybe possibly conceivably have come from a Chinese bioweapon lab! are also in a tradition of racist/nationalist arguments. When the Spanish flu hit, there were stories it was a German bioweapon; there were also rumors tubercular Germans were sneaking off submarines and into New York crowds and infecting people. And of course, racists have long invoked warnings that Those Minorities are disease-bearing subhuman filth. The Bigot in Chief has made this argument himself about Mexicans.

Scientists say in the case of COVID-19, it’s a product of nature. If it was a bioweapon it could just as easily be a Russian attack on China, or a U.S. attack that got out of control, or hey, Alpha Centauri trying to destroy humanity before they colonize Earth. One wild-ass baseless guess is as good as another.

Calling it the Chinese virus serves multiple purposes for the gutless man-baby in the Oval Office, currently sniveling that it’s unfair he’s actually being held responsible for his failures. Most presidents would worry, like Trump, about how a pandemic would affect their re-election chances, but they’d realize the best solution is to fix the problem. Trump’s only real concern is protecting his brand by lying or shifting the blame.

“Chinese virus” feeds red meat to the part of his base that’s happy to hate foreigners, particularly nonwhite ones. Anti-Asian bigotry hasn’t been as prominent in recent years as hating Hispanics, but dormant doesn’t mean gone. Stories of Chinese Americans being spat on, insulted and blamed for the virus remind me a lot of the late 1980s when Japan was suddenly our economic superior and some Americans had shit fits (it was Pearl Harbor all over again, a deliberate attack on America by the fiendishly cunning Oriental devils!).

It allows President Man-Baby to pretend it’s not his fault. He’d like us to ignore his manifest self-serving incompetence over the past two months and blame China instead. A recurring argument on Twitter and FB is that Trump closed the borders, ergo he flattened the curve! How dare people say he’s a bigot instead of a savior?
Well, because his border closings have always been about bigotry, though mostly against Muslims. And we’ve had multiple accounts of patients not getting quarantined as they returned from overseas, and Trump’s initial decision not to stop travel from the UK when he restricted travel from Europe (UK has a Trump resort). But the worst of the Republican base wants to believe Trump is infallible and awesome so being told it’s the damn foreigners who are really responsible and the Shit-Gibbon saved us will make them happy.

Now consider Fox host Tucker Carlson’s argument: “The Chinese coronavirus really is Chinese. It arose in that country for the same reason American businesses have sent so many of our jobs there – lack of health and safety standards and endemic corruption. China did this to the world and we should not pretend otherwise. That’s not xenophobia. It’s true. The most bitter irony of all of this is that a few years from now, when every last victim of this virus has recovered or been buried, the Chinese government can easily grow stronger because of this disaster. And America can grow weaker.”

Note the phrasing that China “did this to the world” — despite the Chinese government’s appalling handling of the problem, that’s pretty loaded. Not to mention phrasing it in Clash of Civilization terms — China’s growing stronger, we’re growing weaker! And they Did It To Us.

Keep in mind, Trump is the incarnation of endemic corruption. His administration is weakening all sorts of health and safety standards. And we could easily argue that Trump did this to the country. But Trump’s a rich white supremacist right-wing white man so Carlson applies different rules.

And finally, there’s the fact that people all over America have decided if it’s the “Chinese virus” then Chinese Americans must be at fault. Never mind whether they’ve ever lived in China or traveled there or have any emotional connection to the country, it’s their fault! They deserve to be assaulted, insulted condemned and despised (see the link earlier). And if there are no Chinese in Kansas, Kansas must be safe.

A lot of the vectors in this country will be white simply because we have so many white people in this country. But the people who shriek and curse at Chinese Americans (or ordinary Chinese who happen to be over here) would be outraged if anyone started treating all white people as if they were collectively guilty (heck, a lot of Trump voters whinge at being held responsible for putting him in office). White people are entitled to be judged individually; non-whites get collective guilt.

So yeah, calling it Chinese flu is harmful and it’s racist. Q.E.D.

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We fight pandemics with the government we have. Too bad.

In the UK, “he United Kingdom’s Conservative Party unveiled a plan to keep British workers paid and employed for the duration of the coronavirus crisis. The Tory proposal would effectively cover 80 percent of sidelined workers’ salaries, while forbidding employers who accept the government’s help from laying off staff. The policy closely resembles one implemented by Denmark’s Social Democrats, except that Boris Johnson’s wage-replacement rate is slightly more generous than the Danish left’s. Although the Conservatives have a well-earned reputation for sacrificing Britain’s vulnerable on the altar of deficit reduction, even they recognize that social welfare must take precedence over budgetary concerns in the context of a historically sudden and deep economic crisis. On Friday, Tory chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that there would be no limit on the funding available for covering workers’ wages.”

In the US, the Republicans aren’t offering anything that generous, or that will guarantee firms that get money from the government don’t just lay off workers anyway (it could, however, be great for corporations). Trump wants to end social distancing as soon as possible so the economy can restart. And Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick told Tucker Carlson that if 70somethings have to die as a result, that’s okay — he’s in that age range and he’d gladly do it to keep the economy running for his grandchildren (left unsaid was that in his position, he’ll have considerably better care than millions of people, and that the economy is increasingly shitty for people who aren’t rich).

I remember when Republicans denounced Obamacare because it would set up “death panels” that would ration healthcare and condemn seniors to death. I’m sure we’ll see the same outrage now … oh, who am I kidding?  This is what we have taking point in the pandemic. It’s in Republicans’ own interest we have neither mass deaths nor economic collapse, but their opposition to government actually helping ordinary people runs to deep. God help us all.

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