If you missed "Last Week Tonight" with John Oliver last night, the Main Story was on the World Health Organization. And it was excellent. More detail-oriented than funny than most -- but the details were fascinating and galling...and there was still plenty of humor.
I had something else I was going to write for this morning, but then I saw this over the weekend. It's just too good. Two minutes. Watch and enjoy.
UPDATE: Best read after watching the video above.
Wat I didn't realize until the third time I watched the video -- even having read the end credits each time -- is that the fellow who wrote the parody lyrics and sings the lead, Noah Lindquist, ALSO sings the voice of Mrs. Potts!
As I said, I had read the end credits, but saw the woman's name listed and mentally just put that with being who sang "Mrs. Potts." It was only after the third time, that's when I saw she was just the Ensemble, and his credits were for singing *both* parts.
By the way, what I don't know if if this falls under a copyright issue. I know that parody lyrics are OK, but don't know if the use of the movie footage would be. So, whether Disney says to take it down or whether it qualifies as parody in full...we'll find out. In the meantime, though, I downloaded it, so I can always watch again...
This story is from last week, so many know it. But it's the kind of thing that fell through some of the cracks and didn't get the major attention it deserves not only for how it relates to Trump, but it's long-term health implications, as well.
For those interested in more of the details, you can find the full article referred to here.
While there's nothing good about the coronavirus, in life at our best we try to find something good that we can bring out of the worst. Sometimes that's learning something about ourselves that makes us grow. Sometimes that's discovering something that has other benefits to society in a totally unrelated way. Sometimes that's finding something that wouldn't have been looked for otherwise.
The coronavirus, hideous as it is, as much as we wish it had never happened, wish that we could close our eyes and find it was all just a bad dream, has perhaps just one benefit. But it's a really big, very good one.
COVID-19 may have made it far-less likely that Trump will get a second term as president.
Even before the pandemic, while Joe Biden was in the lead, there was no certainty that he'd win. In 2016, Hillary Clinton had a big lead and even won the popular vote by 3 million -- but because of 70,000 votes Trump won the election through the Electoral College. But even more to the point, consider after the pandemic. Without even doing much more than was sane and normal, if Trump had simply followed basic CDC guidelines, if he had pushed people to wear face masks, if he had told people to socially distance, if he had recommended that states keep their businesses closed for a few weeks longer -- it's likely that infections and deaths in the United States would have been significantly less and in line with the rest of the world. And if after all of that he showed just the most human hint of compassion, he very well would have been seen as a savior who actually kept the country safe, and he may have won in a landslide.
The coronavirus isn't like any of Trump's other victims he's confronted in his life. It couldn't be bullied. It couldn't be be scared off by a lawsuit. It couldn't be bought off by a settlement. It didn't care about state borders. It didn't care about anyone's politics. It didn't care about making America great. Or making it liberal. Or keeping it a democracy. It didn't care about if you're from the city or country. Or care about gender. Or age, even if some people are less likely to die because they're young, because anyone can be infected, and then infect others. And above all, it didn't care if you believe in it. It's science, it's not a belief system.
And yet Trump being Trump dealt with COVID-19 like he dealt with any obstacle in his life. He lied, swaggered and pretty much ignored it. He ridiculed masks. He kept lambasting the country's most respected doctor on infectious diseases. He praised a doctor who believed in alien DNA and demon sperm. He suggested testing the use of bleach, disinfectants, UV rays, quinine and hydroxychloroquine. He watched the stock market and ignored the actual economy. He showed a stunning, total lack of concern for those who'd lost their lives or lost loved ones or lost jobs. He kept saying that COVID-19 would just disappear like a miracle. And his team would go around saying how the coronavirus was locked-down air tight, and that the pandemic would be over by Memorial Day. And how the economy would boom in July. And Trump said he thought "only" 40,000 Americans would die. And then he was hearing "just" 60,000. And he thought "big ratings numbers" meant that people loved you, and so he went on TV every day and put on a sick vaudeville show which people watched -- because a) all channels interrupted their regular programming to air it, and b) people slow down to look at car crashes. And the public could not only see this leader in charge out of control, they could also see the reality of COVID-19 around them and how it had changed life. And so, Trump's approval actually started to drop. And the divide between him and Joe Biden grew, in Biden's favor.
But COVID-19 wasn't done. And neither was Trump.
For starters, because of Trump ignoring the basic CDC safety protocols, there was never a "second wave" since the first wave never ended. Infections and deaths grew. And people in droves refused to go out to local businesses. And the public actually knew this, saw it, lived it. But Trump and the enabling, complicit Republican Party thought they could flim-flam them.
Over these months, I had a lot of friends saying, "Oh, God, I hope people remember when the go to vote in November.." But I kept replying -- seriously??? People are sheltering at home. They're wearing face masks when they go outside. They're working at home. Their children aren't going to school. They got laid off from their jobs. Their businesses went bankrupt and many of those lost jobs won't be coming back. They aren't going to movies, the theater, restaurants. They aren't getting together with friends. Or relatives. Tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of Americans have died. And you wonder if people will remember that in November??! Four months away?? People will likely not forget this for the rest of their lives. And further -- people don't even have to remember until November. Early voting would be starting as early as September, in just two months. And for most states, in October.
And Trump was oblivious to this, oblivious that this was how the coranavirus worked. That when you ignore it, it grows and spreads. And not only did COVID-19 not stop, his most cult supporters would gather en masse as human Petrie dishes without face masks and social distancing -- and that only served to make the problem worse. This wasn't something where, if you chose to be irresponsible, it would only hurt you, personal choice and all that -- COVID-19 is an infectious disease. It spreads to others. That's how it works.
And Democrats understood this, and therefore planned for months to have a virtual convention, and as a result it went smoothly and was even interesting and entertaining, On the other hand, Trump wanted Big Crowds to cheer him, and so Republicans kept trying to hold a real, in-person convention, that no city wanted, and so at the last minute had to cobble together a virtual campaign, and it was sloppy and didn't put the party and its candidate in a bright, shining light, which is largely the point of a convention these days.
And for all this, much of the public watched aghast. Enough Americans understood the reality of COVID-19 by then, since it had overtaken their lives. And they could see the deaths and infections grow. And they could see the lies and understand them first-hand. And see the antics. And seniors could hear him say that nobody dies from COVID-19, just seniors. And so, many his supporters didn't even want to go to Trump campaign events in the same numbers as before, to the point where his Tulsa rally indoors was a disaster, and the outdoor "overflow" actually had to be cancelled, and the end result was one of the iconic photos of the Trump time in office -- him haggard, without a tie, wandering from his helicopter across White House grounds.
And his approval dropped. He lost 12 points from seniors alone. Biden's lead in the polls grew. And COVID-19 kept rolling along.
And yet it got even worse.
Trump held that ghoulish "Rose Garden Massacre" to rush through his nomination to the Supreme Court. And as a result, 34 people associated with the White House tested positive for COVID-19. And among Republicans who've subsequently tested positive from that and elsewhere were Trump's campaign manager, his press secretary, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee and two Republican senators.
And...and...and yes, of course, Trump himself tested positive. And had to get airlifted to the hospital. And Trump being Trump made even that worse, taking a bizarre joy ride around the block, putting Secret Service agents in unnecessary danger purely for his own egomaniacal self-aggrandisement. And then, while still testing positive, took off his mask before entering the White House. And had his posturing Mussolini on the balcony moment.
And COVID-19 didn't care. It just kept infecting people and lowering Trump's approval and polling numbers, not only nationally but in battleground states to the point where Trump is in deeply serious electoral trouble -- most especially with 12 million people already having voted. And where the best hope of Republicans now is not electoral, but voter suppression and legal machinations.
And then Trump and Republicans kept pushing forward with this Supreme Court nomination, even though they hypocritically did the opposite in 2016, which most everyone remembers, almost a year before the election while voting this year has already started and is just 20 days away. And the public, by a massive 74% want Congress to deal with COVID-19 relief rather than this confirmation. And yet Trump and Republicans are going ahead with the Senate hearings, ignoring COVID-19. Ignoring the realities of COVID-19 that everyone can see and feel.
He still hasn't learned that ignoring COVID-19 is a Really Bad Idea. It doesn't care. It just doesn't care. And Republicans haven't learned that either. And so, not only are Trump's poll numbers terribly bad, but Republicans might lose the Senate. And lose the House.
All because of Trump screwing up COVID-19.
I hate it. I hate what COVID-19 has done to life.
I'm just glad that Trump is taking a massive hit as a result of it. And it might keep him out of office for another four horrifying years.
Yes, I know, there are still three weeks to go. But that also means Trump has three more weeks to screw things up even more. And given that he's running on empty, and now is on his COVID-19 Superspreader Tour again, and on it big time, every single day, I think that the odds are in favor of him screwing things up even more.
How much more? Well...after I finished writing this, I had to jump back in, because the Washington Post has a report from a White House source that the administration is, fact, now going for the disastrous, horrifying policy of herd immunity, where many more hundreds of thousands could die just before the end of the year. So...yeah, there's more that Trump can do to really screw up by the election with the coronavirus.
So, as much as I hate this COVID-19 pandemic down the bottom of my bones...I'm just extremely glad that at least one thing good may come of it. And happily, it's a Really Good Thing.
That Trump may not get re-elected to another four years.
I had another article written and saved for tonight. But this is Trump World. Things change. Fast. At least I have my column already written for tomorrow! Unless something else changes between now and then. Hey, this is Trump World. The world turns fast.
Unlike some people I spoke with last night, I'm not doing a dance. When some Republican official has tested positive for the coronavirus, I've always written on social media that I wish the person well, I hope they recover, and most of all, I hope that they didn't infect any innocent people, who in turn infected others. That holds for Trump, as much as he's responsible for so many tens of thousands of deaths in America, and millions of needless infections.
I wish him well, I hope he recovers, and I hope he didn't infect any innocent people, who in turn infected others.
And yes, I fully understand the reaction of others who are pleased that, of all people Trump has tested positive, because of how responsible he is for so many tens of thousands of deaths in America, and millions of needless infections. And for his refusal to condemn white supremacists. And for separating children from their parents. And putting children in cages. And for being the other nation in the world who has withdrawn from the Paris Accord. And for dividing America. And for crushing the economy. And for trying to repress the vote of Americans. And for trying to destroy Americans' faith in the electoral process. And for his sexual abuse. And for his actions against women in general. And for his hatred of minorities and immigrants.
By the way, one other thing I hope: I hope that this becomes a "teachable moment," where Trump shows great humility about how COVID-19 can not only infect anybody, but how that person can become Ground Zero for infecting others and spreading the disease (which is such a weird thing to say that everyone hasn't figured that out by now with 7,501,186 infections in the United States, and 212,730 deaths so far.) And he explains how critically important it truly is to wear a mask and socially distance. I hope that very much. I don't believe for a moment that it will happen, indeed I expect that if Trump recovers fairly quickly he'll do the opposite and try to show how the coronavirus just creates at worst slight symptoms for most people, and so we should "open up" the country, never mind how Hope Hicks' one infection impacted so many other people's health. But I hope it becomes a very teachable moment. I hope that instead of the "We're doing well, thanks for the good wishes" tweet that Trump and his wife are sending out, the see the light and begin to wish their best to all those people they came in contact with and may have infected. I dearly hope it becomes that teachable moment. Even though...well, yeah, not so much.
Dealing with health aside, it's impossible to separate this all from the real world, and that means the election. And it's hard to see how this doesn't pummel Trump. His "brand" has been one of swaggering, and ridicule of those promoting wearing masks and social distancing. In my article I had written for today, I referred to this Trump Coronavirus Petrie Dish Tour. And that just spit in the face all health safety protocols. As did his ridicule in the debate of Joe Biden wearing the biggest mask he'd ever seen and for not holding mass rallies, but only small circles with a few people because he couldn't attract more. And for campaigning out a bunker, locked away in safety. All that "brand" and swagger is gone. Trump will try to bombast his way around it -- assuming he stays reasonably healthy -- but it doesn't matter. The public know that Trump contracted the coronavirus, that he tested positive. And had to quarantine.
And it's a near certainty that Trump will not be taking hydroxychloroquine. Or bleach. Or disinfectant. Or having ultraviolet lights blasted into him. And that, too, will be a matter of attention on his recovery, chipping away at this swagger and "brand."
Trump won't likely be traveling on airplanes for a while, and there are fewer than five weeks left before the election -- and people are already voting. It's hard to imagine him ever having a big rally again. And the next debate is probably off, unless they do one by social software, like Zoom or Microsoft Team. But not a Town Hall in front of the public.
And all this presupposes that all goes well. Which mean that no others in his inner-circle test positive. Or that none of the press corps traveling with him test positive. And that no one in Congress gets infected who his staff has come in contact with or with Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett has come in contact with on her rounds of interviews. And that he himself stays reasonably healthy and recovers well and soon, which is an uncertainty given his age and obesity and possible (if not probable) other underlying health issues, despite what his doctors keep trying to say. Or, because of that, even worse, which can't be ignored. For that matter, it can't be ignored that anyone on the Joe Biden team couldn't have gotten infected, though that seems (hopefully) less likely. But for now, we can only take details one moment at a time, so for now that means that Trump will recover okay and move on.
But as much as the focus is on the health of a person, the future of the country is, in fact, at stake, with an election about 30 days away, and votes already in. And on that level, for a campaign that is 8-10 points behind, on the heels of a disastrous first debate, and the New York Times story on his taxes, and Trump's words saying he won't guarantee a peaceful transition and didn't condemn white supremacists, all causing polls showing worsening news, where the Trump campaign can't afford any hiccup and has to use every remaining moment to its advantage...this, as purely an election matter, is a disaster for Trump.
I wish him well, truly.
And I'm glad for all the many reasons that Trump's campaign is becoming a disaster.
The text of this tweet says all that is necessary to describe the video and the woman who is its subject.
The first month of his time in office, Trump said that he would have a great new healthcare plan that would be so wonderful it would have more in it that the Affordable Care Act and cost less. He also said that "No one knew that healthcare was so hard," so, you know there's that. (And yes, pretty much everyone knew that healthcare was really incredibly hard.)
Over the past 3-1/2 years, Trump kept talking about his wonderful new healthcare plan that would be better and cheaper and nowhere in sight. And in July, he told Chris Wallace on "Fox News" that his big, beautiful, new healthcare plan would be announced in two weeks.
For the record, "two weeks" was August 2, which as the calendar flies was 53 days ago. But what's two months when we're quibbling over...well, never.
But...but...Good News! Yesterday, Trump finally released his big, beautiful, new healthcare plan!!. Honest. And it was really cool, as long as you're only into the environment and conserving paper. And not actual providing healthcare to anyone.
Trump's plan does the following (sort of, bear with me, don't jump to any conclusions) --
It gets rid of "surprise billing," where people go into the hospital under their insurance plan, and work is farmed out to third parties who aren't covered by the plan, and the patient gets a big bill that they have to pay.
It also protects coverage of pre-existing conditions.
And in addition, it's important to note that if you were expect more, no, that's pretty much it. Like I said, it's great if you're into saving paper. There's also a "However...", which I would imagine most people were expecting, even with something this dismal.
The first "However" is that it doesn't actually get rid of surprise billing. It's just a non-binding executive order. He directs Congress to work with him to get rid of surprise billing.
And the second "However" is that Trump's Justice Department is currently in the Supreme Court working with 28 Republican states to argue on behalf of eliminating the entire Affordable Care Act which would mean getting rid of protections of pre-existing conditions.
So, that's it. Pretty much two bullet points, and two "However's..." to go with them.
Trump's big, beautiful, new healthcare plan. In the middle of a pandemic. Where 207,516 Americans have died, so far.
Personally, I think Trump would have been much better served to do what he always does, promise and do nothing, just keep putting it off. He could have said that his big, beautiful new healthcare plan was still on its way, and you'll love it because it will be so amazing. Few people would believe him, but he couldn't be criticized for the details. But this -- releasing this as his big, beautiful new health care plan -- this is nuts. This shows he's got nothing. This is reaching into your pockets and pulling them out, showing that you have a gum wrapper and a torn, used tissue.
Given that Joe Biden was on the team that passed the Affordable Care Act, I suspect that the topic will come up in the debates. And that he will have a whole lot more to say about healthcare than Trump. Especially since we're in the middle of a pandemic where healthcare is really quite important.
And make no mistake, this isn't just Trump's big, beautiful new healthcare plan. This is the new healthcare "plan" of the Republican Party.
Because, yes, this isn't about Trump, we know who he is. This is about the elected members of the Republican Party who enable him, support this "plan" and are complicit.
Tragically, according to Worldometer records, deaths of COVID-19 under Trump yesterday afternoon passed the 200,000 mark.
We are now at 200,197 deaths. So far.
This is not like the flu.
It will not go away like a "miracle."
The time for miracles is long past. A miracle" would have been if the deaths of Americans had stopped at "only" 60,000 in April when that was the number Trump said he'd "heard." Or if it had actually been "all over by Memorial Day" in May as VP Pence said, who is in charge of overseeing the coronavirus task force. Rather than it going away like a miracle, we are now in survival mode. Hoping for at least something near-normal.
And Trump knew all this in early February, as he said on the recording in private to Bob Woodward. But otherwise in public to the nation. And still says otherwise, holding an indoor rally in Nevada only days ago..
So far. It's only September. This is around when the second wave -- considered likely more deadly than the first wave -- is expected to start.
And yet, despite what all America could hear Trump admit on the Woodward recordings, he keeps saying in public that COVID-19 will "just go away."
But OK, let's pretend. Let's pretend his "Miracle!!" actually happens. Let's even say it just went away TODAY, right now - 200,197 Americans would still be DEAD.
So far. Because the time for miracles was last February. Or perhaps on National Prayer Day. Tragically, though, this is very real.
We have passed 200,000 Americans dead. So far.
The question is if Trump considers these 200,197 dead Americans to be "losers" and "suckers" because they believed him that masks and social distancing aren't needed, and it will go away.
I'm pushing aside the Democratic convention for the moment, even with President Barack Obama's magnificent speech and Kamala Harris's historic speech and all the rest, because I track the coronavirus every day. And while everyone knows how disturbing this is -- and by "everyone" I mean if you're sane, understand that science is real, and aren't a Trump cultist who believes in taking bleach and following potentially-toxic medical advice from a guy who sells pillows or from a crank pushing alien DNA and demon sperm -- I have decided to vent today.
We're in August, the hottest month of the year. This is the time when Trump (after first having said in February that COVID-19 would be gone like a miracle, though, no, it didn't) later said it would drop to nothing in hot weather. And by all rights, a virus should drop to nothing in hot weather. But because Trump pushed to open business, and the highly-infectious coronavirus got all out of control, we've now been getting over 1,000 deaths a day, almost every day, in the LOW season.
The other day, crack government emergency operative Jared Kusher, whose credentials are as a slumlord and son-in-law with contacts being murderous despots, was interviewed by Wolf Blitzer on CNN. The anchor had asked Kushner if he felt there was any way he could be pleased by the number of days, and when Kushner did a tap dance and how even one death is a tragedy, Blitzer -- to his credit -- wasn't having it and asked the question again. Kushner gave an answer along the lines of how there used to be 2,500 deaths a day, but now it was 1,000 and that was a big improvement. Unfortunately, the conversation moved on and Blitzer missed the opportunity to say, "Wait, no, the word to describe 1,000 deaths every day is "horrible", not "better." And the reason the deaths are lower is because this is the summer, the hottest time of the year, when all virus infections and deaths plummet, often so much that they appear to disappear, except that there is always a second wave which often is even worse. And further, you yourself said that American business would be "rocking" by July -- and not only is it not "rocking," unless you mean sinking like a rock, but it was the very push to open businesses that allowed this highly infectious virus to spread out of control and put us where we are now, a pariah to the rest of the world, blocked from traveling to their countries, while they slowly re-open because they followed science."
As I said, I track all this on a site every day, and while the number of deaths in total, but especially every day are horrible and truly tragic -- not Jared Kushner "Even one death is tragic" tragic -- it's critical for people to remember that these horrific numbers are during the LOW season, when viruses usually drop to next to nothing, because the second wave. Which means these numbers are not just horrific and tragic, but ghastly because it pretty much means that the fall and winter will be hell.
And not just hell because it won't be hot weather than keeps infections lower than otherwise, or because the second wave is often worse than the original wave, or because the psychology of closing businesses, and once more sheltering at home and taking full-protective care yet again is probably going to be very hard on people -- but hell because in the fall and especially the winter...most people are not going to be able to even socially distance at the beach or go bike riding or go out to the park or even just have barbecues in the backyard. Indeed, in most of the country, people will be living in freezing temperature and snow. And even if not that bad in some parts of the country, there's another name for it everywhere -- flu season.
There are now 176,548 dead, so far. That we know of.
Not meaning to be bleak, but -- well, seriously folks. This is what's ahead. Hopefully, reality will set in for many, and so almost all people will readily take protective health measures to lessen the damage. And hopefully too a successful vaccine will be developed and be able to be administered sometime by at least the early part of next year. And also, the one positive thing to keep in mind is that when hot weather ends in September, that is well before the General Election and hopefully any false comforts that some people have created in their minds from the "We're doing better!" summer months will have disappeared by the time they vote. In which case there could be a third wave -- though very different, a Blue one.
Yeah, okay, a lot of this is about Trump. And so is screwing up the Postal Service.
But it only exists because the elected members of the Republican Party have allowed it to. This is about them. Because they enabled it and are totally, lock-step complicit.
It will be gone soon like a "miracle."
Now, I'm hearing 50,000
It will be over by Memorial Day.
-- Mike Pence
A cause for celebration.
-- Mike Pence
July will be rocking.
-- Jared Kushner
Yes, it will just go away. It always does.
By the way, Trump is right about one thing: even the Black Plague did just go away. Though that's because there were no such things as vaccines yet to stop it. And it didn't just go away like a miracle before killing 50 million people in Europe and wiping out 60% of the population on the continent.
As for COVID-19 -- 176,548 dead. That we know about. So far.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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