Thursday, March 26, 2020

Doctor Mengele Rising

The only way that Donald Trump and his kleptocratic cronies can make their America great again is to make their servants work for them again. This is notwithstanding the corrupt political duopoly's relative pittance of $1,200 checks and a few extra months of guaranteed enhanced unemployment benefits. These are nothing but the shiny little baubles they twirl before us in order to mask the multi-trillion dollar permanent slush fund that they've allocated for themselves.

Democracy is not only a myth, it has officially been declared a dead myth. This is especially true when more than a few "experts" and media propagandists have openly asserted that if people have to die so that they and their Plutonomy may live, so be it.

As they plunder the wealth of a nation and a globe in their orgy of disaster capitalism overkill, all remaining shreds of their propaganda masks are getting ripped off their smirking faces at the speed of the avoidable death rate directly attributable to the orchestrated dearth of the cheap face masks essential to protect human beings from infection by COVID-19.

The value they place on money over human life has always been a given. It's just that, until now, they've been fairly subtle about it, succeeding, through their political lackeys,  at convincing enough people that this is still a democracy because we are allowed to vote every two and four years.

With their own lives at stake even as they rob and plunder in full public view,  they're caught between the rock and the hard place of both despising us and needing us. Their contempt has only served to once again display the abject fear they so nakedly exhibited when Bernie Sanders had briefly appeared to be beating Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination.

Much to their chagrin, the coronavirus is now more threatening to their continuing rule than a million Bernie Sanders could ever be. They can't cheat the virus, red-bait the virus, lie the virus out of existence, or make fun of the virus's odd little spikes the way that they made fun of Bernie's Brooklyn accent, wispy hair and flailing arms.

It seems like only yesterday that  MSNBC legal analyst Mimi Rocah went on the air to complain that "Bernie makes my skin crawl." Fast forward a couple of months, and she's got herself an enemy that actually infiltrates your skin and has the potential to drown you to a painful death as your lungs fill up with fluid.

Not that she and her fellow plutocrats had to worry about Bernie, who just caved by not showing up for the final vote for the aforementioned corporate coup and slush fund bailout of the despised billionaire class.

Matt Stoller@matthewstoller·Love all the Bernie stans arguing that for practical reasons he *had* to compromise and do what Schumer wanted. I don’t remember such charitable feelings when Elizabeth Warren organized her Medicare for All plan. Weird double standard.
So how ironic that the non-wealthy service sector - which runs the gamut from nurses and teachers and child care workers to sanitation truck drivers and delivery people and grocery clerks - turns out to be more indispensable than the corporate media borg and the leagues of scolding neoliberal Thought Leaders and lecturing elite technocrats!

When Donald Trump says he wants America's churches packed by Easter, what he really means is that he wants the service sector back on the job by Easter so that the oligarchs can enjoy the glorious Slush Fund Resurrection of their wealth and power in ungodly comfort as they feast at the altar of Mammon. Who's going to make all the beds and manicure all the lawns at Trump's properties, maintaining him and his class in the comfort to which they have become accustomed?  We certainly cannot expect Melania to load her own dishwasher or Ivanka to do her own hair and makeup.

Or as Wells Fargo CEO Dick Kovacecic so bluntly puts it, "Healthy workers below about the age of 55... we'll gradually bring those people back and  see what happens. Some of them will get sick, some may even die, I don't know.... Do you want to suffer more economically or take some risk that you'll get flu-like symptoms and a flu-like experience? Do you want to take an economic risk or a health risk? You get to choose."

To make matters even worse, with the Hamptons and Martha's Vineyard now full to bursting with off-season wealthy New York City refugees, Flyover Country is actually warning rich potential virus-carriers to stay the hell away. Several upstate New York counties, for example, have informally banned them from entry. These well-heeled refugees find themselves being treated uncomfortably similarly to the "illegal" migrants they have either caged or enslaved at sub-minimum wages, as the need and their whimsy dictates.

Despite the pyrrhic Senate victory which officially turned the Republic into a formal rather than de facto neofeudal oligarchy, the class war is getting turned right on its ear. Now it's the poor who have established gated communities to keep out the rich. The poor all over the world are refusing in ever increasing numbers to return to work and to risk their lives for abysmally low remuneration and no benefits.

We are rightly outraged by pundits and politicians glibly discounting both the working class and the indigent as expendable, and treating our health and survival as secondary in importance to the economic growth that benefits only the few. We purport to be astounded that in Italy, elderly pandemic victims are being denied ventilators in favor of giving younger victims a fighting chance at survival..

Italy has single payer health care, which gave Joe Biden the perfect hook to decry Medicare For All at the recent debate with Bernie Sanders. He didn't mention that the outsourcing of manufacturing of medical equipment in the "free trade" deals he has spent his entire political life championing is what has led to the global shortage of life-saving supplies to fight the virus. The health care systems offering free treatment at the point of entry have nothing to do with the virus's morbidity and mortality rates.

Biden campaign adviser Ezekiel Emanuel, for example, has long advocated for letting old people die when they are no longer useful to society and to the bottom line.

In a controversial 2014 Atlantic piece, the self-described "medical ethicist" and leading Obama administration health official wrote:

But here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic....
 Americans seem to be obsessed with exercising, doing mental puzzles, consuming various juice and protein concoctions, sticking to strict diets, and popping vitamins and supplements, all in a valiant effort to cheat death and prolong life as long as possible. This has become so pervasive that it now defines a cultural type: what I call the American immortal.
I reject this aspiration. I think this manic desperation to endlessly extend life is misguided and potentially destructive. For many reasons, 75 is a pretty good age to aim to stop.
Emanuel apparently has not advised his own client, the 77-year-old cognitively declining Joe Biden, that he is already two years past "the pretty good age to stop."  But perhaps instead, he has suggested that Biden be kept out of the public eye as much and as long as possible to stop all the public speculation about his cognitive decline.

(For more on Emanuel's neoliberal ethic, please read "Medicare, Doctor Mengele, and You.")

To mangle both the Mengele metaphor and the late great George Carlin: not only is it a big club that you ain't in, they want to club you over the head with it. 

While they're wielding their weapons, let's wield ours with a massive general strike. Let's stop making their beds, mowing their lawns, tutoring their pre-Ivies, paying their rents, building their mansions, cooking and delivering their food, fighting their wars, and manipulating their balance sheets to effectuate their tax evasions.

As soon as this pandemic ends, and it will end, we must don our yellow vests. We might not win, but at least it will feel good trying. At least we can make them feel moderately uncomfortable about killing people in new record numbers.


Jay–Ottawa said...

Consumption Interruptus

Strike! Boycott! Smash! Repeat!
Revolutionaries strong and true
have called up pitchforks and
torches to jam the avenues

Mob the rich, the cops, the troops
the bosses, the spies, the generals
the Times, the Journal, the Post
and don't retreat until they poop

No! no! no! say the teeny coronavira
Global house arrest in every nation
will get you the identic desiderata
with far less perturbation
as you take a long vacation

The Joker said...

This is an outstanding piece of writing, Karen, that compiles, dissects, and explains much of what is wrong with the modern capitalist nations, the pinnacle of which is the United States. Bad times can bring out the best, but they can also bring out the worst, as well as reveal "true nature", and we are indeed seeing some of that from the plutocracy.

Your piece ought to be read by all, but more expansively, it'd be great as formal introduction in two required civics classes, one in the early teen years (14-15?) and one in more depth during the first or second year of college, that would explore modern politics and economics from the viewpoint of intense, necessary critique.

But the powers-that-be would never allow that. Fundamental national problems may receive occasional passing reference in required classes, and even intense focus in a few isolated low-enrollment elective classes, but the plutocracy certainly doesn't want many people to develop a deep, focussed understanding of what is wrong with current politics and economics. (Not that they would hesitate to on a large scale violently repress a revolution by an enlightened greater populace, it's just that they would rather prevent a revolution, via a combination of popular ignorance, surveillance, and precisely-targeted repression of dissidents.)

Of possible interest:

"No greater love hath Trump than to lay down your life for his re-election.
Richard Wolffe.
Only a once-in-a-century leader has the guts to say out loud what the worst among us are really thinking: everyone other than me is expendable."

Pari-zitis said...

The Achilles heel of the plutocracy is now exposed in broad daylight with a big target on it. They need us more than we need them and it is killing them.

Labor is still the key ingredient in the money-making recipe. Without leavening the cake will not rise. Without labor the market will crater.

For over a century the calls for a general strike have failed to demonstrate this fact and use it to exercise the power of the people. Now, to sustain life, the government requires working people to withhold their labor. But the realization that while this is necessary to "flatten the curve" so the neoliberal healthcare system can accommodate the flood of sick and dying, it is also flattening the financials.

Hence, the outrageous and absurd calls to sacrifice lives to get the machinery cranked up again -- for the good of the country. We don't need to march with banners in the streets for this general strike (that right has already been removed). We just need to social distance and keep washing our hands. Gandhi would be awe-struck.

But I doubt it will be too much longer before the National Guard and police are deployed to get people out of their shelters-in-place and back to the workplace. This why the lion's share of the bailout went to big corporations and a pittance to the workers. Easier to starve us out than use the bayonets.

chuck said...

Capitalism cannot die soon enough.


+ - said...

Old people are a liability. Capitalism now desperately needs assets.

Old people are not "productive" as they are not engaged in producing goods and services and so do not generate profits. They function as a consumer market and that has justified allowing them to live out their years. But now we are in a crisis and capitalism, in its self-serving wisdom, is realizing that they cost more than they spend especially with the social safety nets in place.

Social Security is keeping them fed and sheltered -- a cash outflow. Medical science has extended their longevity but that expense is covered by Medicare -- another cash outflow.

The good news for the craven capitalists is that the coronavirus can address both of those financial burdens. It impacts older people especially hard. We don't even need a death panel with a clear-eyed bottom line perspective. They just need to find their way to church for Easter services.

The question "but how you gonna pay for it?" for the next big bailout has been answered. Can we acknowledge the genius of our leader and look on the bright side of this calamity?

Annie said...

The Covfefe-45 virus has been called the Boomer Remover by the youngs.

Annie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Annie said...

Here's the YouTube link for that hilarious video 'Trump vs God on Easter PPV'

Anonymous said...

Kinda ironic MSNBC is having a hour long show with Dr. Zeke on Monday. I wonder if he's be asked questions about his attitude toward those vulnerable old people.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

I just checked in with Sardonicky today. Karen, you are spot on with this essay!

I apologise in advance if the ideas I will mention in the second paragraph following have already been covered. I have been in the middle of trying to calm my class of public school 6th graders - some of whom are being kept home and require individualised packets of work, some who coming to school but have anxiety and some who are flaunting any efforts on our part to maintain hygiene and social distancing - You know the ones - Those whose parents send them to school not for an education but because they want a tax payer subsidized babysitter. Australia's own mini-Trump, Scott Morrison, is making my head explode and the contrast between brilliant political leadership in Jacinda Ardern and Trumpian stupidity in Scott Morrison keeps me awake at night.

The reason I am so worried about the Corona Virus in the U.S. is that I know there are many people who, if they don't show up for work - self isolate, - will lose their jobs. Or those who are paid hourly and can't afford to lose their only income or else be kicked out of their apartments. These people will take whatever over the counter drug they can get to mask their symptoms and go to work. They don't want to be labelled as having this plague and being treated as pariahs and they are taking the chance - hoping what they feel is a flu - and are passing the virus around.

I really am not understanding why the Left isn't working with Bernie to hit home the message that what the U.S. needs is universal health care. We have it in Australia and it is a system that is far from perfect. However, testing is free and if you test positive, you are watched over and cared for by nurses or doctors if you need to do more than self-isolate. There is a mechanism to move people onto the equivalent of welfare and protect their jobs. I worry that this is totally lacking in the U.S. and that there is a terrible hidden reproduction of the virus going on as I write.

I'm not saying Australia is great. Our schools are still open - deemed safe by the Prime Minister who thinks funerals should be limited to 10 people - who is far more concerned about keeping the economy and his multinational and Big Coal buddies happy than the deaths of actual human beings. But I must say that I am glad to be living in a remote town in Australia right now.

Annie said...

We might as well assume everyone we meet is infected. Here's a Coronavirus story from my neck of the woods in rural Montana.

My neighbor's son and his wife flew in from Las Vegas for his 50th birthday almost 2 weeks ago . Several friends also flew in from various cities around the country and they rendezvoused at my neighbors house before heading off to stay at a lodge in a nearby resort town.

A friend from Chicago was feeling ill soon after arriving and somehow got tested right away and turned up positive. He immediately went into isolation according to the newspaper (after flying back to Chicago is my guess). Then the resort/lodge was closed on Governor's orders related to the pandemic response plan.

The county did a contact investigation and advised the rest of the friends to isolate for 14 days. So what did the San Francisco friend do? He hopped on the next flight out according to my neighbors.

The Las Vegas son and his wife isolated themselves at my neighbor's house. They were all instructed to remain in separate rooms and not share facilities, wear masks, etc. for 14 days.

After a week or so in isolation, the son developed symptoms and tested positive. So what did they do? He and his wife caught the next available flight, which were few and far between by then, back to Las Vegas. Time will tell if my neighbors in their mid-70's were infected.

Due to privacy concerns, the identity and details of infected persons is a closely held secret which means you'll never know who is infected. And of course many people who get infected never get tested.

My neighbors have been trying to keep the situation hush-hush, so of course their secret is safe with me!

Erik Roth said...

Frank Rich: What a Plague Reveals
March 26, 2020 ~ by Frank Rich

Rich concludes:
"As the virus spreads from its current epicenters throughout the country, the grotesque discrepancy between the elites and the have-nots is going to make ‘Parasite' look as benign as an episode of 'Modern Family'. The anger and despair that have fueled populism in America, even to the point of inducing voters to hand power to a charlatan like Trump, may metastasize at least as fast as the plague.”

Despite the rabid reactions of Trump’s base, which one should worry could “metastasize”, I shudder at his effectively lumping those with others not so demented, yet also filled with anger and despair, and part of the hopeful rise of populism. Despair is crippling, but anger is warranted.

“Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.”
~ St. Augustine of Hippo

traynorjf said...

I'm 88. And I was actually beginning to feel guilty about it.
Remarkable. Screw 'em!

Annie said...

I wish some sharp lawyers would file a massive class-action lawsuit against Trump for criminal negligence and wipe him out financially.

Annie said...

Or charge Trump with manslaughter and impeach him for high crimes. The Dems really blew it by running the failed CoupGate psy-op.

Trump is at least culpable for malfeasance in deliberately withholding critically necessary equipment and supplies from states with Democratic governors for political revenge, contributing to a multitude of needless deaths.

Erik Roth said...

The President and the pandemic: two months of dithering, deceit and distortion —
March 22, 2020 ~ by Gary Schwitzer

The missing six weeks: how Trump failed the biggest test of his life —
The president was aware of the danger from the coronavirus – but a lack of leadership has created an emergency of epic proportions.
28 Mar 2020 ~ by Ed Pilkington and Tom McCarthy in New York

Five of Donald Trump's most misleading coronavirus claims —
As US deaths rise, the president seems unable to grasp the severity of the problem – and he’s made multiple false claims along the way.
28 Mar 2020 ~ by Oliver Milman in New York

Here Are 17 Ways the Trump Administration Bungled Its Coronavirus Response —
This list doesn’t include Donald Trump Jr.’s claim that Democrats wanted the virus to spread and kill Americans.
March 3, 2020 ~ by Will Peischel & Jessica Washington

Timeline: How Trump was out of step with the CDC during coronavirus response —
March 2, 2020 ~ by Marshall Cohen and Curt Merrill, & CNN's Michael Nedelman contributed to this report.

An examination of how the Trump administration responded to the coronavirus outbreak.
March 17, 2020 ~ by Ken Dilanian, Didi Martinez, Merritt Enright, Phil McCausland and Robin Muccari

Pelosi accuses Trump of costing US lives with coronavirus denials and delays —
House speaker criticizes president on CNN while Dr Anthony Fauci says as many as 200,000 Americans may die.
29 Mar 2020 ~ by Ed Pilkingtonand Victoria Bekiempis in New York and Oliver Laughland in New Orleans

The coronavirus is the worst intelligence failure in US history —
The Trump administration’s unprecedented indifference, even willful neglect, forced a catastrophic strategic surprise on to the American people.
29 Mar 2020 ~ by Micah Zenko

There has been and there will be blood.
How and when will there be reckoning?