Tuesday, April 28, 2020



Via Yahoo:
President Donald Trump praised his administration’s work on the coronavirus pandemic as “incredible” on Monday despite repeated missteps, including long delays in dispensing test kits. Then he attempted to shift the blame to a nameless “somebody” from “a long time ago.” 
“There has been so much unnecessary death in this country,” Trump said, adding:
“It could have been stopped and it could have been stopped short, but somebody a long time ago, it seems, decided not to do it that way. And the whole world is suffering because of it.”
My thoughts were drawn irresistibly to a famous story by Shirley Jackson, "Charles", which if you don't know it already, please read it now at the link, because it's one of those old-school commercial stories (in Mademoiselle in 1948) that depend on a twist, and there will be a spoiler in a moment.

The story is a mother's narrative about her five-year-old son, Laurie, in his first weeks of kindergarten, who starts acting out in troubling ways but regales his parents with tales of a really naughty classmate called Charles, who has to be spanked (it's really 1948) and otherwise punished with some regularity. The narrator is particularly anxious to meet Charles's mother, but circumstances stop her from going to parent-teacher conferences and PTA meetings for some time, until after Laurie has reassumed his normal goodness, and Charles too, according to his stories, has become a "helper". The twist is that when she finally gets to a conference, the teacher tells her, "There is no Charles in the class." Of course.

I really wonder if Trump is fallen into the same kind of dissociation between himself and his misbehavior thinking that it was "somebody a long time ago" who
  • cut CDC staff inside China from 47 to 14
  • watched Bolton submerge the NSC Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense into a new unit for counterproliferation and biodefense efforts in which threats from nature were increasingly ignored 
  • ignored more than a dozen warnings about the coronavirus in his Presidential Daily Briefings in January and February. not to mention Americans at WHO headquarters in Geneva and his own advisers, while Trump continued to assert that his good friend President Xi had everything under control 
  • focused his own action on walling off travelers when it was too late for that to make a significant difference while failing to push the government into developing adequate testing for the disease because he "did not want information spread or actions taken that would make clear that the virus was a historically deadly problem"
  • failed to maintain the strategic stockpile of Personal Protective Equipment and other medical necessities, leaving the states "on their own" and then making things worse for them by having his own team compete with them over the supply
  • continued to minimize the danger of the disease in contrast to the danger of shutting down the travel and leisure industries (including his hotel business) because "the cure must not be worse than the problem"
  • continued to promote quack cures in defiance of the epidemiologists as they were standing next to him
  • created a ridiculous administrative logjam by putting the anti-pandemic effort in charge of two distinct and unrelated heads working at cross purposes, the vice president and the president's airhead son-in-law, who began by running it as a kind of frat party, showed consistent unparalleled bad judgment, and seems to have more or less absconded from the responsibilities anyway—
Over the past two weeks, Kushner has been notably removed from coronavirus-related operations, according to four officials working in coordination with his team. One official working in the White House said it was “unclear” exactly what he and his team had actually done over the last two weeks. Another individual familiar with Kushner’s work said they hadn’t received updates from his team in “about a week.” 
Ah, the hell with it, but you see what I mean. Trump wasn't doing anything! He was in the bedroom watching TV the whole time! It must have been Charles who allowed all these things to happen, and it must have been in a different time and place!

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