Fixing What's Broken: How Is It Possible?

Becky O'Malley
Tuesday March 24, 2020 - 05:12:00 PM

What’s new this week? Not much. The president of the United States of America is still stone crazy, a fact which is probably known to at least a couple of members of the crowd of sycophants who surround him, but they’re too cowardly to do anything about it.

Watching the string of campaign appearances disguised as press conferences which Trump has made this week, I’d hazard a guess that Mike Pence is not nuts, though he’s a coward and not terribly bright. When Trump went off the rails with his promotion of chloroquine and other untested remedies and his later rejection of the need for long-term social distancing, Pence did make a modest attempt to correct the record later on, but too little too late. Nevertheless, there have been a number of calls for the Vice President to exercise his powers under the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office as unfit to serve, unless and until the legislative bodies overrule him.

But that’s too much to hope for. It’s highly likely that Trump will be in power until January. Is there any way to limit the damage he can do, the number of deaths he can cause, between now and then? 

The most horrendous example of his direct responsibility for killing Americans is the couple in Arizona who misunderstood Trump’s endorsement of the kind of chroloquine product which is used to treat malaria and ingested a different kind of chloroquine compound. It killed one of them and grievously injured the other. 

I’m the world’s fiercest First Amendment advocate, but Donald Trump’s “science” comments are the exact equivalent of shouting “FIRE” in a crowded theater, the classic example of when speech should be stopped. What’s needed now is for all relevant media to agree not to run any Trump appearance in real time. Instead, they could record these events and delay distribution long enough for scientific experts to identify all the errors and just plain lies which his statements contain and clearly mark them as such before broadcasting. 

It’s clear that he’s scared out of his mind. He’s got the double fear of his ill-gotten gains disappearing in a puff of smoke in the crashing stock market and his well-known pre-existing condition of germophobia. No wonder he makes up these magical cures. 

At our house we subscribe to youtubetv.com, which makes it easy to see these travesties on time delay accompanied by knowledge comments from expert talking heads. News organizations could easily use this kind of technology to add truth, provided by scientists, to the fictions Trump promulgates. 

That’s a way of mitigating the damage caused by his misinformation, but in this COVID crisis the country also needs to have an effective chief executive. In a pinch (and we’re in a bad one) governors can exercise authority, and some are doing so, but for certain aspects, such as mobilizing the Army Corps of Engineers to build emergency hospitals, federal authority is necessary. 

It’s hard to believe, but we’re still in the middle of an election campaign, which if carried out intelligently might provide succor in January. Or not,if the Dems don’t come up with a winning candidate who could also run the country. 

Bernie or Biden? It looks like that one is just about settled, through no fault of either one. Collateral damage of the COVID crisis is that the rest of the primaries won’t count. 

It is earnestly to be hoped that Bernie doesn’t take his marbles and go home to Vermont, and I see no reason to think that he would. But his bros are a different kettle of fish. With friends like these, he doesn’t need enemies. 

A week or so ago I got this in an email : 


BERN NOTICE: Bernie Was The Original Architect Of The Stimulus Idea Congress Is Now Considering. As lawmakers now consider direct cash payments to Americans to stimulate the economy, it is worth remembering that Bernie was the original architect of such a stimulus policy. It is also worth remembering that despite Congress then being controlled by Republicans, Bernie’s initiative was adopted by lawmakers during an economic downturn. Here is an excerpt of a Gannett story from 2001, during the dot-com crash … 

"Vermont’s socialist congressman came up with the original idea for a $300-a-person tax rebate in February, when he unveiled it at a Capitol Hill news conference with fellow members of the House Progressive Caucus." 

I don’t usually respond to these mass mailings, but since this was the end of a long string of similar claims I did reply: “Nonsense--Krugman from Keynes.”. 

Bernie did not invent the idea of using a stimulus to correct a downturn. Further, many don’t agree that tax rebates work as well as the kind of direct payment Congress is now considering. In any event, some sort of stimulus technique has been advocated at least as far back as Roosevelt. 

Bernie’s espoused a lot of good ideas, some of them original with him, but he hasn’t convinced the public that he’s the right person to carry them out. It’s time to put an end to his campaign’s triumphalist boasts, some worthy of the stable genius himself. 

Much to my surprise, I got an unwelcome defensive response from David Sirota, a central bro since 2016, himself. Time to let this one go. 

The game’s over before it’s finished, cancelled by a coronavirus. 

God forbid the bros should sulk their way through this one. But anyhow, would it matter much if they did? Did they ever really command a sizeable number of votes, especially since the revolutionary young don’t seem to turn out at the polls as expected? 

This is not to say that I’m sure that Joe Biden can handle the terrific and terrifying job of restoring the United States of America (and the rest of the world) to some manageable order which will protect those in need. My cousin says Joe’s as comfortable as an old pair of slippers, but that might not be enough. I’m wearing a pair of worn-out slippers right now, fine for working at home but I couldn’t go outside in them on a rainy day. 

As always, anyone but Trump would be an improvement, but would Biden be up to the massive reconstruction effort? If not, is there anyone better? 

Here’s a new idea that’s everywhere this week: Andrew Cuomo. 

The governor of New York is dealing masterfully with COVID. He has the message down pat and knows how to communicate it, with his serious sit-down chats and well-done visual aids. Not only that, he’s had a lot more administrative experience than Joe Biden, and is, dare I say it, a lot younger. There’s a big difference between 62 and 78. Been there, done that. 

At the moment, in a fair head-to-head matchup between the two, they might be approximate equals, but if we’re looking for an eight-year term, which we might need to dig ourselves out of this hole, Cuomo would be 70 at the end, Biden 86. You choose. 

At the moment, Cuomo’s got a momentous task in front of him, and it won’t be over by the time of the Democratic convention in August. Recently it’s been expected that conventions would simply ratify the choice of the primaries, but this is an unusual year, to put it mildly. It would technically be possible to choose Cuomo, but would the Democrats have the nerve? We shall see.