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writing for godot

COVID-19, China, the CDC, and Trumpist Politics/Policies

Written by Steven Jonas   
Wednesday, 09 June 2021 10:45

By Dr. Steven Jonas


"Either this nation shall kill racism, or racism shall kill this nation."  (S. Jonas, Aug. 2018)


I wrote frequently on this subject in 2020, as Donald Trump appeared to be fumbling the ball-of-control. But then I came to the conclusion that what he was doing/not doing was all part of a plan, to the degree that Trump ever plans for anything, like, let us say, dealing with his upcoming probable indictment[s] in New York City and/or State, other than by a) screaming about how he is being persecuted politically and otherwise (poor baby); b) creating his WMD --- Weapons of Mass Distraction; and c) figuring out who else he can blame/finger/get-to-go-to-prison for him (see Manafort, Cohen, and etc.).

As I said back in March of 2020:

"Apparently the COVID-19 virus broke out publicly in epidemic form in China sometime in early January 2020. At least its existence became public at that time. Given the power of the US international intelligence services various authorities in the United States likely knew of it before then. And that knowledge ought to have made it to the desk of the Director of National Intelligence, and then to the desk of the President. However, nothing        much happened in the U.S. in terms of a response until about a month later. At the same time, there was significant international spread, to countries such as South Korea, which, for example, undertook a swift and massive response to the threat.

"However, while both China and South Korea were responding vigorously to the rapidly expanding epidemic, as is well-known the U.S. President was telling his people and the  world that there was nothing much to worry about. This in the face of the fact that various infectious disease/epidemic experts outside the government were sounding the alarm very loudly, both about the possible extent of the epidemic and the likely major deficiencies in  the U.S. response to it were it to occur here.

For example, in a Jan. 28, 2020 article entitled "Act Now to Prevent an American Epidemic," from the American Enterprise Institute of all places, published in the Wall Street Journal ( american- epidemic/) of all places, Luciana Borio and Scott Gottlieb said:

" 'The novel coronavirus now epidemic in China has features that may make it very difficult to control. If public- health authorities don't interrupt the spread soon, the virus  could infect many thousands more around the globe, disrupt air travel, overwhelm health-care systems, and, worst of all, claim more lives. The good news: There's still an opening to prevent a grim outcome.' [Emphasis added.]"

In January of 2020 Joe Biden himself published a warning both about the oncoming epi/pandemic and dealing how ill-equipped Trump and his people were to deal with it

Of course Trump didn't follow the control-the-pandemic road (although if he had done, as I said in March 2020 in the title of the column of mine from which I quoted just above: "An Ounce of Prevention --- and Trump Could Have Been on a Glide-path the Re-election"). It did take me some time to figure out what, in my view anyway, what was Trump's plan for winning the November election (the only thing he ever cared about during 2020 --- hardly an original observation[!]). In the end, after considering a variety of alternatives, I decided that it was to create chaos (as I said in my Oct. 8, 2020 column entitled Trump, COVID-19, the Election, and Planned Chaos").

And so, in the meantime he set about doing just that, with a variety of measures. The cause was the "China virus" or the "Kung Flu." And claimed, and does to this day with a generous assist from Hannity (over and over again) that he stopped it by his early "China ban" (except that his version was not that early and was certainly quite leaky). In fact, the "Ban" was described as "closing the barn door after the horse has gone" [which is as original to me as anything Trump did to effectively deal with COVID-19 was original to him --- which of course wasn't much]). And we all know what trump did and didn't do deal with COVID-19 in the U.S., which eventually led to cases/disease numbers considerably out of proportion to those that occurred in any other advanced capitalist nation.

So where did the virus come from? As is quite well known, the pandemic originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. Since the beginning of the outbreak, most scientists believed that there was some kind of animal (bats, maybe) to human transmission. A few thought that it came from the Virology Lab in Wuhan, through an accidental release.  However, based on the evidence available at the time, that hypothesis was widely dismissed, but now --- using science --- oh my, Sean and Tucker (who haven't the foggiest notion of what science is) --- science does change its mind, and changes minds-attuned-to-science, over time, --- it is thought that that hypothesis has enough validity to be further examined. And so, the sudden uproar from the Trumpites.

"See it's the dastardly Chinese and their dastardly cohorts in the World Health Organization, who are covering up for them." (You know, those dastardly WHO docs [non-white, of course] who offered the U.S. a rapid accurate, cheap COVID-19 test right at the beginning of the outbreak at the end of January, 2020, which the Trumpites turned down in favor of a CDC test which, as it happens, the CDC couldn't get going for a month [and then of course the Trumpites refused to set up a national testing program of any kind. But that's another story, which can be followed above in the "did" and "didn't do" references.]) Of course, the Chinese continue to deny that such a story has any validity.

So of course too, the Trumpites are now yelling and screaming once again about the "China flu" and the intentional release or leak or what have you, and "the President [Trump] was right all along," it was just the 'fake news' that was out to get him, and the WHO, and Biden, and, and, and, anybody or agency other than Trump and the Trumpites, who as it happened, to repeat, just happened to have had no national program even for testing, allowed the PPE shortages, who "let the Governors do it" especially the Right-wing ones neglecting the that, for some reason or another, viruses just don't recognize State boundaries), kept telling us that it was going to be over by --- Easter, Memorial Day (Pence), July 4, "the Fall" [just in time for the elections, of course] and so on and so forth.

And so now, as Trump prepares for another Presidential run, in 2024, (he continues to want to use politics to try to stay out of jail just as much as Bibi does), he is unloading once again one of the Six Magic Tricks by which he has lived his life, a WMD: Weapon of Mass Distraction.

Not that where SARS-V-2 virus initially came from --- bats, other animal, accidental or intentional release from a lab --- would make one whit of difference in how the virus got into the atmosphere and ultimately spread in the U.S. once it got here, and what effect it has had on difference our whole society since it did get here. Whether it came from a bat or a lab or somewhere else, a) it has caused, b) is still causing, untold misery around the globe, and the Trump Program for dealing with it was a disaster (as reviewed above).

Which brings us to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colloquially known as "The CDC" (without the "P"). Ah yes, the perfect villain, as Michael Lewis tell us in his new book "The Premonition: A Pandemic Story." It wasn't Trump so much; it was all the CDC's fault. You know, all those "government scientists" who don't know what they are doing --- except of course for the career CDC officer Nancy Messonier, who did get it right, early, who did speak out and of course was severely shut up by Trump and her the Trump appointed bosses. (And of course, Messonier wasn't by herself as an experienced scientist within the agency. But Lewis just conveniently ignores them. By Lewis, she doesn't count.) And so, we have Lewis' big conclusion that is being trumpeted everywhere: Trump was just "a comorbidity" in the pandemic that has killed so many U.S. It was all the CDC' fault. Oh really?

Let's just take a quick look at what Trump and the Trumpites did --- to the CDC on which Lewis puts so much of the blame. Over time they cut its budget by about a third. They functionally closed the pandemic-preparedness office that Pres. Obama had created in the White House, presumably because it had Obama's name on it (and after all, Kenya is the source of many infectious diseases, is it not?) They chose as the new Director one Dr. Robert Redfield, who a) had no experience running a large organization (which the CDC is), b) was a well-known Christian Rightist (probably his leading qualification for the Trumpsters for whom Lewis is apologizing), and c) was (believe it or not) dumped off Reagan's very tardily-appointed AIDS task force for proposing that the single most important intervention for dealing the HIV/AIDS epidemic was abstinence. Then there was, also from the outside, the now-infamous Dr. Debra Birx, also prominent on the Trump Team as an original member (even though it must be said in all fairness she was in a very difficult position and did try to inject science into the Trump Tank without success, of course for which hanging-on to try to do the right thing she has paid dearly in terms of her reputation), who was largely side-lined.

Then for a period of time we had Little Scotty Atlas, the neuroradiologist who thought that "herd immunity" (that is when enough people in the population are immune to the disease so that the virus doesn't have "enough spots to land") was to be achieved by enough people are getting sick and dying, rather than understanding that its true historical meaning goes back to herds of cows and BCG immunization against tuberculosis in France, to be achieved in the COVID-19 pandemics by, duh, widespread immunization. Further, it wasn't the CDC that was pushing hydroxychloroquine. It wasn't the CDC that was recommending the internal (!!!) application of ultra-violet light and the injection of disinfectant. It was the CDC that had no way to push back against the Trumpites' no-mask message.

This is what Trump gave us. Trump was much more than "co-morbid." For the U.S., Trump was the engine of the pandemic (as were his would-be-Trumps in Brazil, the United Kingdom [for a time], and India [other than the Communist-led State of Kerala]). No, Mr. Lewis. It is not the CDC that was at fault. It was Trump's version of the CDC that was at fault. We can see this clearly now, as the Biden Administration, with a major role being played by a professionally-led CDC, is rapidly bringing the pandemic under control --- to the extent that that can be done, of course, with the constant opposition of so many Republican government officials and politicians (did anyone say Marjorie Taylor Greene, McCarthy’s Fascist-out-in-front?) False stories about how the CDC "made things worse" can only politically inhibit, in a major way, how the CDC can now, finally, help make things better.


An earlier version of this column was published at: your social media marketing partner
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