We are all Grand Princess cruise ship passengers now

Operation Gridlock, Lansing, MI, April 15, 2020; AP photo by Paul Sancya

Back in the first week of March, the Grand Princess cruise ship sat floating off the coast of San Francisco in political limbo after 21 of its passengers and crew members tested positive for covid-19 with 2,422 passengers stuck onboard along with 1,111 crew members, some of them serving meals to passengers’ rooms.

“I like the numbers being where they are,” the president said about the possibility of allowing the passengers and crew off the ship. “I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault.”

While the curve has yet to plateau, as infections still surge and with the White House frantically flailing to reopen the frozen culture and commerce of the nation, the American Clinical Laboratory Association reported that the number of daily samples analyzed by commercial labs fell from 108,000 on April 5 to 75,000 by April 12.

He doesn’t even have to care because, as long as we cannot adequately test, we cannot track the viral spread and we cannot know exactly how many are infected or have died from it. Without the data, any old argument for “getting back to normal” will do.

Yesterday, Wednesday, April 15, 2020, Michigan reminded the rest of us of the armed protests of the Obama era, when it was common enough for teabaggers to show off their arsenals in public displays of aggression. So, of course, the Prince-DeVos family AstroTurf money behind stormTrumpers like the Michigan militia is mobilizing against a Democratic governor in defiance of federal Center for Disease Control (CDC) policy recommendations. (Are there any other veterans of lefty protests wondering where the “protest pens” go whenever it’s armed right wingnuts doing the protesting?)

The important thing to remember is that it did not have to be this way. But Trump was afraid of angering the markets, the only real measure he has for any illusion of success in his White House term. So, the policy to address the novel coronavirus pandemic from on high was to simply will it away, like a House Committee subpoena.

But this virus is smart, the president said. “This is a very brilliant enemy, you know. It’s a brilliant enemy. They develop drugs like the antibiotics, you see? Antibiotics used to solve every problem. Now one of the biggest problems the world has is… the germ has gotten so brilliant that the antibiotic can’t keep up with it… There’s a whole genius to it! We’re fighting… not only is it hidden but it’s very smart, OK? It’s invisible,” the president insisted — never mind that antibiotics work on bacteria, not viruses. “And it’s hidden! But it’s very smart.”

This president came into office way over his head and serving at the pleasure of a brutally cynical antigovernment agenda that had hidden in plain sight, dominating public airwaves and private cable television franchises for a generation while privatizing public services and deregulating private industry at various points from local to state to federal levels on the promise of fetal gun rights and tax cuts.

The Michigan Conservative Coalition (MCC) funded the “Operation Gridlock” protest in Lansing. “This group is funded in large part by the DeVos family,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer said. “And I think it’s really inappropriate for a sitting member of the United States president’s Cabinet to [be] waging political attacks on any governor.”

Earlier this week, we learned that senior officers from USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier, the ship stricken by a coronavirus outbreak that has infected at least 950 of its crew of 4,800, wanted to sign on to the letter from their commanding officer, Captain Brett Crozier, who was fired for sending out the four-page request to evacuate the ship to over 20 recipients, eventually making its way to the San Francisco Chronicle. According to news reports, the officers’ request to sign on to the letter was denied by Captain Crozier out of concern for their careers. Following his firing, Captain Crozier was ripped by the Trump administration’s acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly as “too naive, or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this” in an address to the carrier’s crew. When Captain Crozier wrote the infamous letter, about 50 crew members were reported infected with the virus. In a recent count, the USS Theodore Roosevelt’s 950 currently confirmed coronavirus infections amount to 62 percent of the US Navy’s total reported cases.

What we have now in the White House is not leadership, anymore than the armed protesters violating CDC recommendations are grassroots populists. We can arguably call it piracy or a fascist death cult but it is certainly not patriotism.

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