[WSMDiscuss] Letters from an American… (Heather Cox Richardson)

Jai Sen jai.sen at cacim.net
Sat May 2 19:24:05 CEST 2020

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Viruses in movement…, The US in movement…, War in movement…

[… from this (and referring here to earlier related posts I’ve tried doing on this list), another way to look at where the US is now, not triggered by the epidemic as such but brought into the open by it, is that it is already deeply in the midst of yet another civil war…  But which is by far its costliest war ever, in terms of human lives lost.  But which are of course, under the virus of neoliberalism that we have all been infected by, seen only as ‘collateral damage’ for achieving its *real aims.  (Didn’t someone once say, “To make an omelet, you have to break a few eggs…” ?)

[But where there is however, the broader perspective yet, of the war on the world as a whole that the scourge of neoliberalism and the empire that sustains it is waging, where millions upon millions of people have been killed and maimed by it – and where the pandemic around the corona virus is just one more stage; and even on an everyday basis across the world, through just pollution, let alone military action…

[Thanks Joanie, for telling me about Heather Cox Richardson and her newsletter… this is agonising, but brilliant :

Letters from an American…

Heather Cox Richardson <https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/people/4875576>
May 1, 2020

https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/may-1-2020 <https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/may-1-2020>

The United States is in the midst of a pandemic that has, so far, claimed more than 65,000 lives and infected more than 1 million people.

We have officially lost more people in four months than we did in the entire eight years of the Vietnam War, and there is good reason to believe the official counts are low. This is a disaster of unimaginable proportions.

More. Than. 65,000. Americans. Have. Died. In. An. Epidemic. That. Was. Largely. Preventable.

And yet, news media is beginning to turn to other topics. After suffering ridicule last week for suggesting that doctors should investigate whether injecting disinfectants into patients could kill coronavirus, the president decided this week to drive the news cycle away from the pandemic. It is working beautifully.

Although officially the White House has released guidelines for reopening states that suggest none is yet ready, Trump has encouraged states to go ahead and end their stay-at-home orders. Some have already begun, and more than 30 states will begin to ease social distancing restrictions this weekend, although by large majorities, Americans want restrictions to stay in place until the spread of the virus has slowed.

Right-wing political groups have organized protests of governors who are not opening the states fast enough for their liking. It is, of course, possible to save both lives and the economy with social welfare legislation, as other developed nations have done, but that strikes to the heart of their ideology.

Yesterday, armed men stormed the Michigan statehouse to protest restrictions imposed by Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer. They shouted “Lock her up!” while the Republican legislature offered by email to cut her a deal. “The following is what we propose:,” Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey’s chief of staff wrote, “two one-week extensions in exchange for a public agreement that all future stay-at-home-type orders (and only those) be enacted through bipartisan legislation and the democratic process rather than executive order.”

Whitmer replied: “While I welcome partnership, information sharing and robust discussion with the legislature, I cannot abrogate my duty to act in an emergency to protect  the lives of Michiganders…. We are in the midst of a global pandemic that has already killed 3,670 people and COVID 19 numbers continue to climb in parts of our state. Michigan remains in a state of emergency regardless of the actions you decide to take or not take.” With 40,399 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Michigan and at least 3,670 dead, Whitmer said, “This is not a political problem, it’s a public health crisis…. We’ve already lost over 3,700 Michiganders — that’s more than we lost in Vietnam.”

Whitmer extended the state’s state of emergency orders. Today, Trump tweeted: “The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire. These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal.” In Orange County, California, where local health officials announced a new spike in cases, thousands gathered in Huntington Beach to flout Governor Gavin Newsom’s closure of all beaches and parks in the county.

Infectious disease specialists warn that reopening the country is a “big mistake” that will “cost lives.” Juliette Kayyem, CNN’s national security analyst, said today: “There will be more dead people. Just say it. It’s an experiment we’re living in real time.” Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the administration’s leading infectious disease specialists, warned that reopening was “a really significant risk.” Trump today revised estimates of dead upward, saying “hopefully” we will lose fewer than 100,000 people.

Indeed, infections are increasing in the reopening states. Today, Iowa reopened 77 counties on the same day the governor reported 740 new infections, a one-day high, and warned that a backlog on test data would likely mean higher numbers over the weekend. She then began to talk of reopening of churches. In Georgia, where Governor Brian Kemp was among the first to reopen his state, there were 618 new cases Thursday, and 1,228 new cases Friday.

The Governor of New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham, has locked down the city of Gallup at the request of its mayor, restricting business hours and ordering residents to shelter in place except for health, safety, or medical emergency. “The spread of [Covid-19] in McKinley County is frightful,” she tweeted. “Physical distancing has not occurred & is not occurring. Stricter measures are necessary to stop the virus. A problem in one part of our state, with a virus this dangerous & contagious, is a problem for our entire state.” A twitter user responded: “Good luck, fascist.”

News photos from the White House indicate a nation gone back to normal. This week Vice President Mike Pence refused to don a mask when he visited the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, despite being alerted to the hospital’s policy that all visitors must wear masks, sending a clear signal that coronavirus safety rules are optional. In explanation, he said: “As vice president of the United States, I'm tested for the coronavirus on a regular basis, and everyone who is around me is tested for the coronavirus." Indeed, Pence, Trump, and their aides all get tested regularly, and anyone coming to meet them has to have an on-site rapid test that yields results in 15 minutes.

We all need such widespread testing to reach the sort of confidence in returning to our normal lives administration officials enjoy. But tests remain out of reach. The White House promised 27 million test kits by the end of March; by that point we had a million. As of today, the US has completed about 6.5 million tests. There are not even enough tests for the country’s 100 Senators when they go back to work on Monday approving Trump’s judges. (Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told radio host Hugh Hewitt: “Of course we will go back to judges…. My motto for the rest of the years is to leave no vacancy behind.”)

On April 19, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, told CNN’s Jake Tapper “Every governor in America has been pushing and fighting and clawing to get more tests.” And yet, when he secured tests for Maryland himself, through the help of his Korean-born wife Yumi Hogan, Trump was furious. Remembering Trump’s initial refusal to let passengers from a cruise ship land in America because “I like the numbers being where they are,” reporter for Politico Dan Diamond told NPR’s Terry Gross that Trump doesn’t want aggressive testing because he’s “made clear the lower the numbers on coronavirus… the better for his potential reelection this fall.” Similar political concerns were likely at work in Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis’s administration today finally released information about deaths at long-term care facilities only to have observers quickly note the numbers were lower than previous numbers already public. “Questions received,” a spokesperson told a reporter. “We are looking into this.”

In the White House, anyway, it appears all eyes are on reelection. The president yesterday claimed “a high degree of confidence” that a Chinese lab created the coronavirus—an accusation that the chair of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff (D-CA) quickly contradicted. Today the White House has blocked Dr. Fauci, who has been critical of reopenings, from testifying before the House. White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said: "While the Trump Administration continues its whole-of-government response to COVID-19, including safely opening up America again and expediting vaccine development, it is counter-productive to have the very individuals involved in those efforts appearing at Congressional hearings…. We are committed to working with Congress to offer testimony at the appropriate time.”

Tonight, in a spectacular Friday night news dump, Trump moved to get rid of Christi A. Grimm, the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services who had documented the lack of supplies and testing delays during the coronavirus pandemic. Trump intends to replace her with a loyalist.

Antietam, bloodiest day of Civil War: 2100 Americans dead. Battle of the Bulge, the bloodiest single battle the US fought in WWII: 19,000 Americans dead. Vietnam War: 58,000 Americans dead. September 11: 2,977 Americans dead.

Coronavirus 2020: 65,000 Americans dead… so far.


You can sign up for this free newsletter at heathercoxrichardson.substack.com



Deaths: https://www.google.com/search?q=how+many+people+have+died+of+coronavirus+in+the+united+states&oq=how+many+people+hae+died+ov+&aqs=chrome.4.69i57j0l7.13815j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8 <https://www.google.com/search?q=how+many+people+have+died+of+coronavirus+in+the+united+states&oq=how+many+people+hae+died+ov+&aqs=chrome.4.69i57j0l7.13815j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8>
Undercount: https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/2020/04/27/covid-19-death-toll-undercounted/ <https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/2020/04/27/covid-19-death-toll-undercounted/>
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/investigations/2020/04/29/far-greater-u-s-covid-19-death-toll-indicated-cdc-data/3048381001/ <https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/investigations/2020/04/29/far-greater-u-s-covid-19-death-toll-indicated-cdc-data/3048381001/>
Pivot: https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/29/trump-coronavirus-business-219443 <https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/29/trump-coronavirus-business-219443>
Politics and protest: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/05/01/anti-stay-home-protests/ <https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/05/01/anti-stay-home-protests/>

Ryan J. Foley @rjfoley
As Iowa reopens 77 counties today, the governor reports a staggering number of new COVID-19 infections: 740, a one-day high. Warns of high numbers coming this weekend due to test data backlog, pivots to talking about reopening church services beginning today
May 1st 2020

675 Retweets1,432 Likes
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/05/01/coronavirus-us-may-hit-10000-deaths-record-cases-may/3062216001/ <https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/05/01/coronavirus-us-may-hit-10000-deaths-record-cases-may/3062216001/>
Michigan: https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/gretchen-whitmer-michigan-legislature-emergency-declaration <https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/gretchen-whitmer-michigan-legislature-emergency-declaration>
https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a32345214/michigan-lockdown-protests-guns-capitol-building/ <https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a32345214/michigan-lockdown-protests-guns-capitol-building/>
Fauci: https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2020/05/01/politics/anthony-fauci-white-house-blocks-house-testimony/index.html <https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2020/05/01/politics/anthony-fauci-white-house-blocks-house-testimony/index.html>

Michelle Lujan Grisham @GovMLG
Gallup city police and McKinley County sheriff’s department will partner with New Mexico State Police, the Department of Transportation and the New Mexico National Guard to enforce the emergency order and road closures. I sincerely thank all of them for their work to save lives.
May 1st 2020

17 Retweets63 Likes
Huntington: https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/01/health/us-coronavirus-friday/index.html <https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/01/health/us-coronavirus-friday/index.html>
Georgia: https://www.augustachronicle.com/news/20200501/may-1-georgia-covid-19-cases-surge-but-augusta-slows <https://www.augustachronicle.com/news/20200501/may-1-georgia-covid-19-cases-surge-but-augusta-slows>
Pence: https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/04/28/847570879/pence-responds-to-critics-after-not-wearing-face-mask-at-mayo-clinic <https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/04/28/847570879/pence-responds-to-critics-after-not-wearing-face-mask-at-mayo-clinic>
Tests: https://www.newsweek.com/white-house-promised-27-million-coronavirus-tests-end-march-us-just-hit-1-million-1495356 <https://www.newsweek.com/white-house-promised-27-million-coronavirus-tests-end-march-us-just-hit-1-million-1495356>
https://covidtracking.com/data/us-daily <https://covidtracking.com/data/us-daily>
testing: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/30/trumps-triumphant-rhetoric-coronavirus-testing/ <https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/04/30/trumps-triumphant-rhetoric-coronavirus-testing/>
Trump angry at Hogan:

Aaron Rupar @atrupar
"The governor of Maryland didn't really understand. He didn't really understand what was going on" -- Trump begins the April 20 #TrumpPressBriefing by attacking Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, who has been critical of the federal coronavirus response. 
April 20th 2020

899 Retweets2,661 Likes
Numbers quotation:

Aaron Rupar @atrupar
"The governor of Maryland didn't really understand. He didn't really understand what was going on" -- Trump begins the April 20 #TrumpPressBriefing by attacking Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, who has been critical of the federal coronavirus response. 
April 20th 2020

899 Retweets2,661 Likes
https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/trump-coronavirus-testing-reelection-966872/ <https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/trump-coronavirus-testing-reelection-966872/>
McConnell: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/mcconnell-bringing-the-senate-back-is-an-irresponsible-act-of-partisan-selfishness/2020/05/01/35ba6cca-8b0c-11ea-8ac1-bfb250876b7a_story.html <https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/mcconnell-bringing-the-senate-back-is-an-irresponsible-act-of-partisan-selfishness/2020/05/01/35ba6cca-8b0c-11ea-8ac1-bfb250876b7a_story.html>
Florida: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/state/florida/article242446331.html <https://www.miamiherald.com/news/state/florida/article242446331.html>
Schiff: https://twitter.com/chrislhayes <https://twitter.com/chrislhayes>

Kayla Tausche @kaylatausche
Pres. Trump says "hopefully" the US will lose fewer than 100,000 lives from #covid19.
May 1st 2020

61 Retweets111 Likes


Jai Sen

Independent researcher, editor; Senior Fellow at the School of International Development and Globalisation Studies at the University of Ottawa

jai.sen at cacim.net <mailto:jai.sen at cacim.net>
Now based in New Delhi, India (+91-98189 11325) and in Ottawa, Canada, on unceded and unsurrendered Anishinaabe territory (+1-613-282 2900) 

CURRENT / RECENT publications :

Jai Sen, ed, 2018a – The Movements of Movements, Part 2 : Rethinking Our Dance. Ebook and hard copy available at PM Press <http://www.pmpress.org/>
Jai Sen, ed, 2018b – The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ? (Indian edition). New Delhi : AuthorsUpfront, in collaboration with OpenWord and PM Press.  Hard copy available at MOM1AmazonIN <https://www.amazon.in/dp/9387280101/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1522884070&sr=8-2&keywords=movements+of+movements+jai+sen>, MOM1Flipkart <https://www.flipkart.com/the-movements-of-movements/p/itmf3zg7h79ecpgj?pid=9789387280106&lid=LSTBOK9789387280106NBA1CH&marketplace=FLIPKART&srno=s_1_1&otracker=search&fm=SEARCH&iid=ff35b702-e6a8-4423-b014-16c84f6f0092.9789387280106.SEARCH&ppt=Search%20Page>, and MOM1AUpFront <http://www.authorsupfront.com/movements.htm>
Jai Sen, ed, 2017 – The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?.  New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM Press.  Ebook and hard copy available at PM Press <http://www.pmpress.org/>
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