"The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty"—Proverbs 27:12
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Photo by Rusty Watson on Unsplash
When sharks are in the water, town officials close the beach. When hurricanes are approaching, governors issue mandatory evacuation orders. When deadly global pandemics are erupting, responsible presidents and prime ministers take action to protect their peoples.
Trump, of course, saw Covid coming. He told Bob Woodward it was “airborne” and “deadly stuff” in February 2020. Meanwhile, that same month, he played down the threat of the virus, golfed, held fundraisers, and even took a trip to India. Trump recklessly let the virus overwhelm New York at a time when he was intensifying his feud with then-Governor Cuomo. And, as the first wave of the virus spread to “Blue States” and “Democrat cities,” he then allowed Jared Kushner to kill the national testing strategy that could have helped control the pandemic.
Now it’s October 2021. More than 45 million U.S. cases of Covid-19 have been recorded. Nationally, that’s just over 138,000 cases per million population. But, in terms of cases, none of the states hardest hit in the early days of the pandemic are among the 28 states currently above the national average.
Based on total cases per million, America’s 28 most infected states are: 1) North Dakota. 2) Tennessee. 3) South Carolina. 4) Florida. 5) South Dakota. 6) Arkansas. 7) Wyoming. 8) Alaska. 9) Mississippi. 10) Rhode Island. 11) Alabama. 12) Utah. 13) Kentucky. 14) Louisiana. 15) Iowa. 16) Oklahoma. 17) Arizona. 18) Idaho. 19) Montana. 20) Georgia. 21) Indiana. 22) Wisconsin. 23) West Virginia. 24) Kansas. 25) Texas. 26) Delaware. 27) Nevada. 28) Nebraska.
Hard-hit early states that now rank below average in total cases per capita include: New Jersey (32nd), New York (33rd), Michigan (38th), Massachusetts (39th), California (40th) and Washington (45th).
While treatments have improved and vaccines have made most Covid-19 deaths preventable, the recklessness of GOP Governors and relentless misinformation emanating from Fox News and Facebook, have made sure anti-vaxxers are disrupting communities and overwhelming hospitals—even as the U.S. death toll keeps rising. In August 2021, as the New York Times reported: “Every age group under 55 saw its highest death toll of the pandemic.”
Earlier this month, the number of U.S. deaths from Covid-19 in 2021 surpassed that of 2020. Covid has now killed more Americans than the 1918-19 influenza pandemic. And unlike the 1918-19 pandemic which killed 50 million around the world, the USA—the high-tech, 21st Century, billionaires-in-space USA—is leading the world in death during this pandemic.
The US death toll from Covid-19 will soon surpass 750,000.
Trump failed America in many ways. His lies and criminality created “a legacy of profound corruption” that may never be fully untangled. His assaults on our institutions and our elections have led to deadly violence and continue to threaten the future of our democracy. And his complete, psychopathic failure to protect public health during the pandemic caused both an unforgivable human tragedy and a historic economic catastrophe.
There’s a movement online to rewrite history and claim that Trump built a strong economy that was derailed only by an unstoppable global pandemic.
But the debt-fueled “Trump economy” was always a scam. And the virus was never unstoppable.
As Andy Slavitt notes in his recent book Preventable, Dr. Michael Osterholm, writing on the University of Minnesota’s CIDRAP website, first predicted a possible U.S. death toll of 800,000 on 20 January 2020.
It wasn’t until the end of March that Trump attempted a brief pivot toward reality, telling America that he would have done a “very good job” if he kept the death toll in the 100,000-200,000 range.
By then, of course, it was too late. Even as Trump spoke in March 2020, the U.S. Covid-19 death toll was ticking above 2,400.
Today, as Osterholm’s devastating prediction of 800,000 U.S. deaths gets closer to becoming reality, the total Covid death toll in New Zealand is just 28. In Singapore, it’s 224. In Finland (which shares an 830-mile border with Russia), it’s 1,116.
Because of Trump’s failure, simply living in America has made us more than 3X more likely to die of Covid-19 than the global average. The U.S. death-toll-per-capita is now higher than Italy’s, twice that of Germany, 16X that of Japan, 38X that of Australia.
If Covid was a disease spread by shark bites we would, of course, take it more seriously. But Republicans have made spreading Covid as easy as breathing or buying a gun.
“When it comes to climate change, the point of no return has already passed.”
If you think America’s failure with Covid was bad, just wait till you see how we handle climate change.
As Matthew Rozsa wrote in Salon on October 16:
A new report published in the esteemed scientific journal Environmental Research Letters… paints a picture of a future Earth in which, regardless of actions taken today, hundreds of millions of people will be displaced from their homes by rising sea levels. The carbon dioxide emissions already released into our atmosphere will linger for hundreds of years, warming the oceans and thus causing sea levels to rise. The only question now is whether the damage can be limited.
Discussing the same report on Yahoo News, Ben Adler notes that, even at the 1.5°C target for global warming set forth in the 2015 Paris climate agreement, Santa Monica will lose its beach. If temperatures rise 3°C, London’s Buckingham Palace and sites such as the Texas Energy Museum would be underwater. And, of course, the “consequences of sea level rise will fall hardest in the developing world, where huge populations live in large coastal cities.”
We can see the future.
Unfortunately, it seems, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is determined that we do nothing about it.
As the New York Times writes, Manchin’s opposition to President Biden’s clean energy agenda comes at a time when “the rest of the world remains deeply wary of the country’s commitment to tackling global warming after four years in which former President Donald J. Trump openly mocked the science of climate change and enacted policies that encouraged more drilling and burning of fossil fuels.”
Manchin is determined to block Biden’s $150 billion clean electricity program, which:
Was the muscle behind Mr. Biden’s ambitious climate agenda. It would reward utilities that switched from burning fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, and penalize those that do not.
Experts have said that the policy over the next decade would drastically reduce the greenhouse gases that are heating the planet and that it would be the strongest climate change policy ever enacted by the United States.
Manchin has grown personally wealthy from coal investments and is choking on the dirty money of fossil fuel lobbyists.
As Dan Rather wrote here on Substack on October 17:
Senator Manchin deserves all the scrutiny he is getting. Reporters should try to follow the money and dig into his strong connections to coal and other fossil fuel interests. But I suspect he will not ever budge. And furthermore, all fair coverage should also state at the top of the story that the entire Republican caucus stands with him in opposition to meaningful action on the climate crisis.
A few years ago, I would marvel at how this one issue could generate such complete disregard, and indeed contempt, for scientific consensus. But with the pandemic we see the rot on that score is far more pervasive.
Before being elected in 2016, Trump had openly embraced the anti-vaxxer movement, joining the growing conservative movement that rejects science and ridicules expertise. In his first year in office, he oversaw the most disastrous response to the seasonal flu in decades. He set the whole world back when it came to climate action. And he left office in shame in the midst of the worst pandemic in more than a century.
2020 internet meme showing actress Lee Fierro in Jaws
When it comes to dealing with visible dangers, this is a country that accepts regular beach closings because of shark warnings. And we terrorize children with active shooter drills because of the ongoing threat of school shootings. In the midst of the pandemic, shouldn’t we treat an unvaccinated teacher without a mask the same way we treat someone entering the school with a possibly loaded gun? Instead, many Republican voters refuse to even model the decent behavior that would protect children, teachers and communities from deadly disease.
When it comes to climate change, the forseeable threats look even more devastating than the current Covid reality. REPEAT: “Regardless of actions taken today, hundreds of millions of people will be displaced from their homes by rising sea levels.” Meanwhile, a single Democratic Senator is aligning himself with the anti-science GOP to block meaningful action. Just remember who to blame when your beach has disappeared and you see sharks at what used to be your upstairs window.
Three people were killed in the U.S. by sharks in 2020
Compared to Covid-19 and climate change, shark attacks aren’t a YUGE threat to American lives. We take them seriously despite the fact that there were only 3 fatal shark attacks in the U.S. in 2020.
One reason we do is perhaps because of the performance of Lee Fierro in Steven Spielberg’s iconic 1975 movie “Jaws.” As Deadline wrote in 2020:
Fierro played the role of Alex Kintner’s (Jeffrey Voorhees) mother whose son was killed by the titular shark. In a memorable scene, she is mourning her son’s death and walks up to Roy Scheider’s Brody and slaps him after learning he knew that a girl was killed after a shark attack. “You knew it was dangerous, but you let people go swimming anyway,” she told him while crying. “You knew all those things and still my boy is dead now, and there’s nothing you can do about it. My boy is dead. I wanted you to know that.”
At the age of 91, Lee Fierro died in 2020 of Covid-19. Trump knew it was dangerous. But he let us all go swimming anyway.
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Trump and the GQP is the shark.