Friday, March 27, 2020

Trumpidemic Tales - those of us at greatest risk are expendable

This morning (March 27) I posted Why I think Trump’s ‘feeling’ about the coronavirus may kill me. One view of that post is that I engaged in mere hyperbole. My hysteria is unwarranted ( so goes the apology for Trump’s willingness to sacrifice people for a stock market tick).

Pardon me as I double down.

The right wing, you see, is perfectly content to let the old and infirm die off so that (1) the stock market and larger economy will improve thus (2) stroking Trump’s malevolent mental maladies.

With regard to (1), the right-wing connection between killing off the elderly and jacking up the economy, I recommend this post by Max Boot at the Washington Post Now we know: The conservative devotion to life ends at birth. Here is some of what he wrote.

After watching so many on the right deny the science of climate change for so many years, I am not remotely surprised to now see so many “conservatives” denying the reality of the novel coronavirus. I am, however, shocked to see that the “pro-life” movement is so willing to sacrifice the lives of the elderly and ailing in a sick attempt to restart the U.S. economy while we are struggling with more coronavirus cases than any other country. Apparently, the right-wing devotion to life ends at birth.

The Republican reaction initially was to write off concern about the virus as a “hoax” designed to embarrass President Trump. There was a brief turn in mid-March, when both Trump and his media boosters began to take the virus a bit more seriously. But now Trump and the right-wing media are coalescing around the theme that “the cure is worse than the disease” — meaning that, after trying social distancing for a week or two, we should all get back to normal and pretend people aren’t dying around us.

Fox News host Laura Ingraham, for her part, touted Trump’s miracle cure, claiming: “Lenox Hill in New York among many hospitals already using hydroxychloroquine with very promising results.” As a HuffPost reporter noted, this was based on false information from a man who doesn’t actually work at Lenox Hill Hospital. In fact, a small Chinese study just concluded that hydroxychloroquine is no more effective than standard treatment for the coronavirus. More research needs to be done, but it is highly irresponsible to tout this anti-malaria drug as a “gift from God,” as Trump has done. An Arizona man even died from ingesting fish tank cleaner containing chloroquine phosphate in hopes of preventing covid–19.

Vastly more irresponsible — in fact, downright terrifying — is the willingness of some right-wingers to argue that we should sacrifice the lives of seniors to restart the economy. This notion was put forward most explicitly by Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) on Fox News and amplified by other right-wing commentators. “You know, we don’t shut down the economy to save every single life that’s threatened by a widespread disease,” said Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume. “We just don’t.” A Daily Wire host said we should accept “way over 35,000” deaths to “preserve our economy.”

I thought I was hardened to the depravity of the Trumpified right, but even I am astonished by the callous willingness to risk large numbers of innocent casualties — as if the economy can function while the medical system is overwhelmed and people are (rightly) terrified of being infected.

Many on the right sound like characters from “Dr. Strangelove.” (“Mr. President, I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks.”) R.R. Reno, the editor of the “theocon” publication First Things, writes that “there are many things more precious than life” and laments that “fear of death and causing death is pervasive.”

But for a truly “sick” response it’s hard to top the Federalist. This right-wing website published a piece urging a “somewhat unconventional approach to COVID–19,” namely infecting volunteers to boost their immunity. In a similar vein, the Wall Street Journal editorial page ran an article urging the “deliberate infection” of first responders. I wonder what Christell Cadet would think of that. At last report, this 34-year-old paramedic in New York City was hooked up to a ventilator, fighting for her life, after contracting covid–19.

I wish I could dismiss these commentators as an inconsequential, lunatic fringe. But they have the ear of a president who wants “packed churches” on Easter. If churches really are packed on Easter, those same houses of worship should be prepared to hold a lot of funerals by Memorial Day — if, that is, funerals are even permitted during a pandemic.

Scriber won’t be among any of those congregations on Easter Sunday but that does not mean that I won’t suffer from those pestilential conflagrations as they disband and send their members out into our communities. Think of “Amen” as a pronouncement of a death sentence for their friends and neighbors.

Now with regard to (2), Trump’s mental maladies, I recommend this piece from rawstory, Psychoanalyst explains the bizarre and dangerous reason Trump lacks ‘the ability to cope with’ reality. Here are excerpts.

Dr. Justin Frank literally wrote the book on Donald Trump’s mind and behavior. In “Trump on the Couch,” Frank tracks Trump’s life from childhood to adulthood and reveals a man who is mentally unfit in many ways — from his intelligence, values, emotions and temperament down to the deepest parts of the psyche — to be president of the United States of America.

Trump’s lies, delusions, greed, corruption and malignant narcissism have thrown the United States and the world into peril as this unstable president has confronted the coronavirus pandemic in increasingly erratic fashion. It’s a crisis of science and empirical reality that he cannot simply wish away or ignore, much as he has tried.

In this conversation, Frank told me that Donald Trump is essentially a sociopath who has no feelings of care, concern or empathy for other human beings. More frightening still, Frank raised the possibility that Trump is not capable of feeling guilt or remorse. Not only will Trump feel no responsibility for the thousands if not millions of Americans who may die in the coronavirus pandemic, Frank said, he is likely to blame Barack Obama and the Democrats for the carnage. Trump’s followers, Frank warned, now perceive him as an infallible deity, and will obey his commands — even at the risk of their own lives.

On Monday he also tweeted that the cure may be worse than the disease, and that social distancing can wreak havoc on our economy. Will he end social distancing because he needs the attention at his rallies?

President Trump himself is a public health risk. What I mean is that his paranoid behavior risks America’s physical and emotional health. Because he is obsessed with the press being out to ruin him, he cannot accurately assess reality — even the reality of his own intelligence services. He ignored the threat of coronavirus when presented with it on Jan. 24. He didn’t even think much about it because it didn’t fit with his delusional belief system about “fake news.”

… Trump could not perceive the dangers of the virus and therefore he is ill-equipped to respond to the pandemic. Because Donald Trump lies about reality so much, he does not have the ability to cope with it.

… Donald Trump could see dead bodies lying in the street from the coronavirus and step over them. Trump would say to himself, “Why are all these people lying around? How did that happen?” Trump would never think that he had anything to do with all of the deaths.

One of those deaths could be yours or mine.

To repeat: “President Trump himself is a public health risk.”

So, don’t go to church. Stay home and worship in your own way. Stay home and stay safe.

(Tnx to Paul McCreary.)

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