The national coronavirus death count officially passed 100,000 victims yesterday, a number so large and heartbreaking that it’s hard to grasp. Many of the deaths were avoidable if only Trump had listened to his National Security and Health officials and taken action alongside other countries, like South Korea. Instead, Trump dithered and eventually punted to the states–we still have no national effort nor strategy to battle the pandemic, which continues to spread. The overall numbers are down, but mostly because the hard-hit areas of NY and NJ have done a good job with their lockdowns. Many areas of the midwest continue to see increasingly bad infection and hospitalization rates, which will lead to higher death tolls. And so on.
Trump knows that 100,000 deaths on his watch “looks bad” so his response has been to create distractions. Trump usually does this by saying or doing something repulsive and scandalous, which is exactly what he’s been doing all week. He started by saying that Democrats were trying to rig the upcoming election. He then moved to insinuating that TV host Joe Scarborough was somehow responsible for the death of a staffer twenty years ago, even though Joe was in a different state at the time of the staffer’s death. But yesterday Trump sank to an ugly and dangerous new low, retweeting a video made by wannabe cowboys that started by saying “the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.” Trump will do his usual bullshit song and dance about how he retweets many things, it was only a joke (it wasn’t), it’s free speech, etc. But spreading and thereby sanctioning this kind of dangerous shit could compel some lunatic Trumper to open fire and kill people someday. After three years of rallies where Trump often mused about violence and strenuously demonized both specific individuals (Pelosi, Schiff, Waters) and entire classes of people (Democrats, reporters, scientists, the educated), his cult have become a tinderbox of hatred and seething resentment, further fertilized by right-wing media like Fox, InfoWars and OANN. As much we might rightly hate the Republican party and their corrupt figurehead, we can’t let ourselves hate our neighbors and fellow citizens simply because of their political affiliations. People are complicated, and most people want the exact same things: safety, security, respect, opportunity. The day we see our political opponents as sub-human, evil, or irredeemable is the day we are lost, and the day our Democratic enterprise fails. We have to call Trump out when he stokes violence because we recognize that violence is not the answer, it’s part of the problem.
Unfortunately, Minneapolis experienced a spasm of violence into the night as protests against the killing (murder) of George Floyd by police turned into riots. Stores were looted and structures were set on fire as police tried to break up the crowds using tear gas, flash-bang grenades and rubber bullets. Social media was quick to point out that when white protesters carrying assault rifles stormed the state capitol the police did very little to stop them, whereas when people peacefully protested the killing of Floyd they were met with police violence. It’s a stark example of systematic racism.
China yesterday approved dramatic new legislation to bring Hong Kong further under it’s thumb, and observers expect a violent crackdown when the laws go into effect in September. Trump and Secretary Pompeo want to keep China from further control of Hong Kong and are weighing their options, but the move by China was surely done in part because they know Trump is weak and distracted. He talks a big talk but his overarching foreign policy doctrine can be described by one word: withdrawal. Trump isn’t interested in conducting any meaningful foreign policy, nor is he capable of doing so. His only skill is sloganeering, and that’s how he’s tried to get things done as president–by Tweeting orders (or shouting policy delusions at his hate-rallies). At this point, all we can do is weep for the valiant residents of Hong Kong.
Trump’s weakness and incompetence are having a catastrophic impact on the economy. The World Economic Forum estimated that 2 out of every 5 jobs lost during the Covid pandemic may not come back. That’s a staggering prediction and speaks to a recovery that will be slow and painful, not the quick v-shaped recovery that Republicans and their Wall Street owners have been fantasizing about and promoting. Weekly jobless claims will be reported this morning and the bad news will surely continue. The stock market closed above 25,000 yesterday for the first time since the market collapse, and the real question remains, why is it so high? If it weren’t for interest rates near zero and massive Fed intervention in the credit markets, the stock market would have cratered–and it might still since the Fed can do little to help corporate earnings, which will surely be disastrous for many companies in the next few quarters.
There are only 158 days until the November election. Make them count. So much is at stake.
Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”