“. . . Beyond the $300 million that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given to blunt the spread of the virus, Gates has made himself a spokesman for science. It needs one. While President Trump spouts life-threatening nonsense, Gates calmly explains how a spike protein of coronavirus fits into the urgent hunt for a vaccine.
“In 1847, members of the Choctaw Nation sent relief money across the Atlantic to a starving Ireland — something the Irish, who lost more than a million people in a famine made worse by British indifference, have never forgotten. The Irish are now giving financial aid to Native American tribes hit with a pandemic that has been made worse by American incompetence.
This is a gracious act, a boomerang of good will, as reported by my colleagues Ed O’Loughlin and Mihir Zaveri. But it also shows how much of the world has started to feel sorry for a nation laid low by the lethal ineptitude of President Trump.
“The country Trump promised to make great again has never in its history seemed so pitiful,” wrote Fintan O’Toole in The Irish Times. And he asked: “Will American prestige ever recover from this shameful episode?”
Before we take up O’Toole’s question, let’s look at where we rank in the worst global crisis since World War II. In Trump’s assessment, his government has done a “spectacular job” with the Covid-19 pandemic.
“And I’ll tell you, the whole world is excited watching us because we’re leading the world,” he said, in an updated pat on the back this week.
He’s right about the leading part: Every 49 seconds or so, throughout the first week in May, an American has been dying of this disease. With 1.3 million reported cases, the United States, just five percent of the world’s population, has nearly 33 percent of the sick. With more than 75,000 deaths, we’re at the front of the pack as well. No country comes close on all three measures.
Globally, the average death rate is 34 people per million residents. In the United States, it’s more than six times higher — 232 per million.
South Korea and the United States both reported their first cases of Covid-19 at the same time, in the third week of January. South Korea immediately started testing on a mass scale and socially isolating. The United States denied, dithered and did next to nothing for more than two months.
By the end of April, new cases in South Korea were down to less than 10 a day. In the United States at that time, the pandemic raged at a daily rate of more than 25,000 newly sick. New Zealand, which also quickly went into lockdown, reported no new cases earlier this week for the first time since mid-March.
“The United States reacted like Pakistan or Belarus, like a country with a shoddy infrastructure and a dysfunctional government whose leaders were too corrupt or stupid to head off mass suffering.” That’s the indictment of The Atlantic’s George Packer, calling the United States a failed state.”
I look at the numbers every day, sometimes every hour, sometimes before dawn. China is not to be trusted. Nor is Russia. I’m always curious about the latest death toll out of Sweden, a country with a riskier, more self-regulated approach to keeping people apart. And cheers for long-suffering bell’Italia, finally seeing a drop in active Covid-19 cases.
All of us want the same thing — a road map to the way out. The scientific consensus is clear and not that complicated: We need a significant upgrade of testing, contact tracing to track the infected, nuanced and dutiful social isolation, all to buy time until a vaccine is developed.
But the political way out reveals a stark divide, and some true madness. For Republicans, that pro-life slogan of theirs is just another term for nothing left to lose. They are now the party of death.
When Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick of Texas doubled down this week on prior remarks elevating commerce above life — there are “more important things than living,” he said on Fox News — he was speaking for a significant slice of his party. People are disposable. So is income. But one is more important.
“President Trump clearly hates the most populous state in the country he governs. While trashing California with his gutter mouth, the president has used his office to physically trash the home to nearly one in eight Americans — seeking to make its air more polluted, its water less clean, its forests more vulnerable to catastrophic fires.
But now the Golden State is poised to strike back. By moving its presidential primary from June to March 3, California will finally exert a political influence commensurate to its size. Almost 500 delegates, a fourth of the number needed to win the Democratic nomination, are at stake.
Perhaps more consequential — or at least overlooked — is what’s happening among the vast diaspora of more than 7.3 million people who have left California since 2007. They appear to be changing the political makeup of the states they’ve moved to, perhaps enough to alter the Electoral College map in favor of Democrats.
With nearly 40 million people, California is still gaining population — barely. But stratospheric home prices and unbearable rental costs have created a reverse “Grapes of Wrath,” forcing those who are not rich to flee to states with much lower costs of living.
The question is: Are they bringing California values — fierce defense of the environment, tolerance of immigrants and a multiracial society, insistence on universal health care — with them? It could be just demographic churn. But if you look at the changing politics of Nevada, Colorado and Arizona, all fast-growing states packed with new arrivals from California, the answer is yes. Texas may not be far behind.”
“Watching “Succession,” the HBO show about the most despicable plutocrats to seize the public imagination since the Trumps were forced on us, made me want to tax the ultrarich into a homeless shelter. And it almost made a Bernie Bro of me.
That’s the thing about class loathing: it feels good, a moral high with its own endorphins, but is ultimately self-defeating. A Bernie Sanders rally is a hit from the same pipe: Screw those greedy billionaire bastards!
Sanders has passion going for him. He has authenticity. He certainly has consistency: His bumper-sticker sloganeering hasn’t changed for half a century. He was, “even as a young man, an old man,” as Time magazine said.
But he cannot beat Donald Trump, for the same reason people do not translate their hatred of the odious rich into pitchfork brigades against walled estates.
The United States has never been a socialist country, even when it most likely should have been one, during the robber baron tyranny of the Gilded Age or the desperation of the Great Depression, and it never will be. Which isn’t to say that American capitalism is working; it needs Teddy Roosevelt-style trustbusting and restructuring. We’re coming for you, Facebook.
The next month presents the last chance for serious scrutiny of Sanders, who is leading in both Iowa and New Hampshire. After that, Republicans will rip the bark off him. When they’re done, you will not recognize the aging, mouth-frothing, business-destroying commie from Ben and Jerry’s dystopian dairy. Demagogy is what Republicans do best. And Sanders is ripe for caricature.”
“The impeachment hearings had been bumping along, the main story clear: a parade of impeccable public servants trying to uphold the values of their country against a gangster White House. A candidate who had gloated over chants of “lock her up” for an opponent who had used unsecured emails had, once elected, conducted foreign policy by extortion, on open cellphone lines penetrated by the Russians.
Most Americans felt that Trump had committed an impeachable offense, but barely half favored removing him by the constitutional equivalent of the death penalty.
Instead, he said that the unusual diplomatic dance in Ukraine was not part of a rogue operation holding up American tax dollars as part of a scheme to take down a political opponent. It was White House policy, the government of the people in service of one person.
“We followed the president’s orders,” he said. “Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret.” “
“With 66 weeks to go until the election, the Democrats tasked with saving a sinking ship of state have shown that they would rather drown in a sea of self-righteousness than steer the Donald Trump-rotted hulk to a fresh shore.
You know the presidential debates this week were a disaster for Democrats because Republican attack ads are already parroting the lines used by the leading candidates: Take away people’s private health care, decriminalize the border, socialism!
And rather than effectively prosecute the easy case against the worst president ever, the Democrats went after one of the best: Barack Obama. This is a winning strategy only in a world where everyone gets a trophy, which is to say, much of the younger Democratic base.
Debates are supposed to refine and reduce a party’s message. The unwinnable and unpopular are shown to be just that. Crazy falls away. Good ideas rise. A story emerges. A governing strategy is presented. You can imagine the Day After Trump, which is what a majority of the country desperately wants.”
“Kids in cages and tanks for the tyrant. After that dictator-friendly Fourth of July, it’s time for all true patriots to conduct a political gut check.
“Like many people, I’m worried about the Democrats. A majority of Americans are desperate for someone to dislodge the despot from the White House. And yet some Democrats are pushing policy positions — such as taking away private health insurance from more than 150 million people — that are deeply unpopular.
The smarter candidates will rethink this, and soon, or otherwise ensure that an awful American aberration is more than a one-off.
But as troubled as I am by the Democrats, I’m terrified of the Republicans. In numerous surveys of a party that has adopted the worst pathologies of President Trump, Republicans have shown themselves to be explicitly anti-American. The Founders would gag. So would Abraham Lincoln.”
“. . . . Trump has compared himself to Abraham Lincoln, which is like comparing a noxious weed to a redwood tree. When the anti-immigrant Know Nothing party was at its height in the 1850s, Lincoln had this to say: “I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be?” He continued, “As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it, ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics.’” ”
Thank you Tim Eagan, for light and truth. Here is the most popular comment, which, along with many others, I endorse.
Thank you Timothy Egan for your harsh characterization of the American South. I so often dream about the kind of nation the U.S. would be but for the outsized influence of southern culture on our government and politics, which has been a counter-force to the realization of the American ideal since the country’s birth. We would more likely resemble Canada or New Zealand. The Republican Party is now the political reflection of the worst of southern culture. The racism, militarism, paranoia, and anti-intellectualism that animates the Republican Party has a rich history in that region. There is no Trump without the South. I hate to generalize so broadly, but I am tired of a living in a nation where a senator from Kentucky rules the country. I am tired of being unable to implement sensible policy of the kind found everywhere else in the world because Wyoming has as many senators as New York. I am tired of pandering to uneducated rural voters because the electoral college disenfranchises millions of voters in blue states. I am tired subsidizing red states while they moan about the evils of a government that redistributes resources to them. But mostly, especially on July 4, I am tired of being told that I am the one who is “un-American.” I just want the Confederacy to go away, once and for all.
By Timothy Egan
Contributing Opinion Writer
May 10, 2019, 546
The unveiling of President Barack Obama Boulevard in Los Angeles on Saturday.CreditCreditDamian Dovarganes/Associated Press
“LOS ANGELES — A big crowd showed up for the festive unveiling of President Barack Obama Boulevard here last weekend, at the intersection of “hope and resistance,” as one news outlet put it. Sure, it’s just a three-and-a-half-mile stretch of road, a living ex-president’s name added to streets honoring Jefferson and Washington.
But the ceremony also marked the latest, and one of the most joyous, of the not-so-subtle ways in which the West Coast continues to live free and prosper under a president doing everything he can to hurt the 51 million Americans in the three lower-48 states that hug the Pacific shore.
President Trump hates the West Coast. He has called California “out of control” and boasted about “my sick idea” to dump migrants into the progressive cities in this time zone. Worst of all, his administration is actively working to take away health care from more than five million people in California alone.
He appears to have warmer feelings for Kim Jong-un, the thug who starves his own people — “We fell in love,” Trump once said of North Korea’s dictator — than for a majority of citizens under his rule on the West Coast. He has higher praise for a traitor and slaveholder, Robert E. Lee — “a great general” — than for the states working under a hostile administration without seceding from the union.”
By Timothy Egan
Contributing Opinion Writer, Nov. 23, 2018
A sign designating the Corral Canyon Park recreation area stands amid landscape charred by the Woolsey fire in Malibu, Calif., on Nov. 13.CreditCreditReed Saxon/Associated Press
“AGOURA HILLS, Calif. — When I was a little kid I passed through a ghost forest in Montana, the blackened, standing skeletons of the largest wildfire in recorded American history. That was the Big Burn of 1910, which torched an area nearly the size of Connecticut in a weekend.
What remained of that blowup told a story: of hurricane force winds, of 100-foot trees that crushed firefighters, of a land so scorched by intense heat that it was decades before seedlings sprouted in some places.
But at least life returned. And over the last century, a healthy forest emerged along with a consensus political view that wild land was essential to our national character.
Today, walking over the ashen floor of another spectral land, I’m struck by how naked everything looks in the world’s largest urban national park. Almost 90 percent of the federal land in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area was burned in this month’s Woolsey Fire. The smell alone is mournful.
The story it tells is grim, a portent of nature altered and convulsive. It’s not just that this audacious experiment — a huge parkland on the doorstep of a metro area of 13 million people — is now on life support. It’s that, as we are the first species to radically disrupt the world that gave us life, much of that world may soon be unsafe for human habitation.
California used to have distinct fire seasons. Now the storms of flame and smoke are year-round, and all of the nation’s most populous state is a fire zone. One in eight Americans lives in a land that could turn catastrophic on any given day.
Last year it was the wine country north of San Francisco and the mountains above Santa Barbara. This year it’s the area around Yosemite National Park, the peopled canyons of the northern part of the state, and this last best open space on the shoulders above Los Angeles.
In the north, the town of Paradise was essentially wiped off the map, with more than 13,000 homes gone, more than 80 people killed, hundreds still missing, thousands homeless — the deadliest fire in state history. It’s a human tragedy.
In the south, it’s almost 100,000 acres put to flame in the mountains that meet the sea, with deer left charred in their tracks, an iconic Western-set movie ranch burned into black and white, the sweet-scented chaparral and sage highlands all of a moonscape. It’s a tragedy of nature.”