The Vote: A Mixed Reaction

I have a mixed reaction to the vote. Admittedly it’s three days after the event and I still don’t know for sure who won. But it does look like Sleepy Joe has. Virginia Haffernan, of the LA Times, wonders, given his lead, why liberals are going around moaning about a disaster. She quotes somebody to the effect that liberals tend to care more about winning hearts and minds than elections, and drags in Richard Rorty to argue those liberals are just not sufficiently pragmatic. Well, ok, she has a point. And she puts it well when she reminds us of all we have to gain if Sleepy Joe becomes President:

Here’s what we know if Biden’s lead holds: In a few months Trump won’t be in office. America’s disgrace will start to fade and its spirits will start to rebound. We will not have to endure those loathsome people in power anymore: Bill Barr, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Don Jr., Mike Pence, Stephen Miller.

We can reenter the Paris Climate agreement. Ar. Antony Fauci will deliver briefings on the pandemic. Our leaders will know their ABCs: Wear masks works, systematic racism is real, and the climate crisis is dire.

She’s right. Maybe we can breath, for a moment, a little easier. Or maybe not. Maybe the despair and the handwringing have nothing to do with liberalism or pragmatism, but with the simple realization that the failure to reject Trump more overwhelmingly suggests Trump may go but Trumpism may stay. That’s what Fintan O’Toole suggests when he writes:

This is the most important thing to understand about the postmortem Republican Party. The logic is not that a permanently minority party may move toward authoritarianism but that it must. Holding power against the wishes of most citizens is an innately despotic act. From 2016 onward, the GOP has become not so much the RINO Party, Republican in name only. It is the RIP party, repressive in perpetuity. When Trump said on Fox & Friends at the end of March that Democrats want “levels of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again,” he was openly redefining the meaning of the vote. Voting, in this formulation, is something to be “agreed to”—or not—by Trump himself. Democracy is no longer rooted in the consent of the governed, but in the contingent permission of the indispensable leader.

Fake President Pushes Fake Zen Tonic

While the fake President is no zen master, he seems to be pushing a fake zen tonic for the anxious soul. Don’t think about the past, he seems to say, the agony endured, the lives lost. What’s done is done. That’s that. Why dwell on it. No use crying over spilt milk. And equally, don’t try to imagine the future, the many deaths sure to come, the misery to be endured. We can’t know the future. Who knows the future. You don’t. So don’t agonize in anticipation about what may or may not come. Because, you know, who knows?

And once you have stopped thinking of the past and speculating about the future, just breathe deeply and rest in the moment. And when you are there, neither in the past or the future, ask yourself, “Do I feel sick.” And if you don’t feel sick, why rest assured, in your narcissistic bubble, you are among the eight billion, plus, people who don’t have the COVID.

So why worry? And to maintain this worry-free state, be sure not to wear a mask, or wash your hands, or social distance. And, for God’s sake, don’t listen to CNN with its COVID, COVID, COVID or do anything to that might remind you of the deaths that have occurred and the ones that are sure to come. What are they to you, in your perfect moment.

But be assured, the fake President doesn’t mean a word of this. He only wants you to forgot just how badly he and his power hungry cohort botched the whole damn thing, how he and his useless bunch could have done much more to make us all feel better, but didn’t.

The Fake President’s Plan: Killing or Letting Die?

I don’t know why exactly, but as I try to think my way through the philosophical and moral morass raised by the fake President’s response to the virus, these words keeping ringing in my cranium: killing or letting die. That’s a distinction philosophers try to make. In a way it’s an easy. one. You stick a needle in a person’s arm and you inject poison. That’s killing. You (say you are a doctor) don’t stick a needle in a person and don’t inject anything. And the person dies. That’s letting die. Seems pretty clear, maybe.

Judith Jarvis Thompson writes that most people believe killing is worse that letting die. But she thinks up an elaborate example to cast provisional doubt on that assertion, as follows:

1. Alfred hates his wife and wants her dead. He puts cleaning fluid in her coffee, thereby killing her, and that

2. Bert hates his wife and wants her dead. She puts cleaning fluid in her coffee (being muddled, thinking it ’ s cream). Bert happens to have the antidote to cleaning fluid, but he does not give it to her; he lets her die. 1

Alfred kills his wife out of a desire for her death;  Bert lets his wife die out of a desire for her death. But what Bert does is surely every bit as bad as what Alfred does. So killing isn ’ t worse than letting die. 

So I guess I am wondering if the fake President’s plan is perhaps a form of letting die. His plan to just let the pandemic burn seems to me to parallel Bert’s failure to give his wife the antidote. Burt withholds the cure; the fake President fails to supply the leadership and the plan to curb the virus.

This is the sort of stuff stick in my brain these days.

The Fake President Is at It Again

The fake President is at it again. This time calling Dr. Fauci and other people who actually know something about viruses and how they work a pack of “idiots.” This from a guy who suggested people drink disinfectant to kill the bug. Idiots? A case of the pot calling the kettles black, don’t ya think?

People are tired of hearing about it, says the fake President. Who the hell knows what the people are feeling? But the fake President is sure as hell tired of hearing about it. He doesn’t want people thinking about it, and figuring out that he and his cohort completely blotched the job.

And they have no plan at all. Well, the plan is to let the forest burn. That’s what firefighters do when the fire is off in the bushes and no people or homes are around. They just let the fire burn out and it can burn for months. So that’s what the fake President wants. Just let it burn…off there in the distance.

Problem is…there are people off there in the distance, and the fake President appears quite willing to let the people off there in the distance burn. And why not? Mostly those people off in the distance are old or have brown or black skin. Nobody who counts knows any of these people anyway.

So this gets us off into hairy metaphysical issues about who or what counts. When the real questions isn’t who or what counts, but why are we counting in the first place. The real question is: are all these deaths necessary. No, they are not. Had there been any planning in the first place. But there wasn’t.

The point isn’t who or what counts. But why there wasn’t any planning that may have made many, many deaths unnecessary. And the answer to that questions points clearly to the fake President and his ugly cohort.

The Sick President is Faking It!

While researching my neighbor’s claim that the President might still be sick, I found people claiming that he was never sick. They say, he is faking it. Sure we saw a helicopter descending, like a giant butterfly, over the hospital. But how do we know he was in it. And if he was in it, how do we know he didn’t go inside to hang out in the TV room and restaurant for three days. Yea, maybe, he had a fever. But that could have been a cold. And sure he was wheezing, but what else do you expect of an obese, three hundred pounder.

While lacking proof that he was eating burgers in the restaurant, these people point to his history as evidence. Faking being sick would not at all be out of character for a man who has no character. His is a history of lying, cheating, hectoring, bullying. He is a manipulator and a buffoon, a charlatan and a grifter. Lawyers, money and corrupt accountants have kept him out of jail. He breaks the law and he uses it to break others. He is the apotheosis of a sick system that sees no value in the individual except as he or she may be used to generate more money,

As to why he should fake being sick, they say, “For God’s sake, he was the central character in a reality TV show.” Can’t you figure it out? The sole purpose of a reality TV star is to keep the attention of the viewers focused on him all the time. To do that, you must constantly stir the pot. Make as much stink and trouble as possible. And what could be more dramatic than a President sick with a potentially deadly virus. That will keep them on the edge of their seats.

Don’t you see? While we concentrate on what might happen next, we are not paying attention to the fact that he and his cohort of corrupt vipers have failed to address the mess that is dragging us all down.

The Sick President Has Brought No Relief, Only Confusion

I am sad to say my identification with the un-sick President has brought me no relief. I had thought that my identification with him, as a fellow septuagenarian and fellow old white guy, would show me a path through the thicket of the plague. Where he would go, I would follow. But instead I feel led astray. I have been led, not through the thicket, but straight into it.

First he seems to assert, as his philosophy of the virus, pretend it doesn’t exist. Do not wear a mask, do not social distance, forget washing your hands. If you do these things, the virus dominates you. But then he gets the virus and immediately goes to a hospital, via helicopter, These actions suggest the virus really does exist and is not a hoax. Then he is given many medicines and pronounces himself cured and feeling better than he has in twenty years because, contrary to common sense, he is “extremely young.” But this miracle cure is not available to people like me.

I am no closer to being through the thicket than I was before all this. Then I learn from my neighbor, a fellow septuagenarian, that the Sick President may not be in fact cured. The virus may still be there in his body operating outside his consciousness and preparing for a counter attack. And it has only been a few more days that a week since he was diagnosed with the virus. Plenty of time remains for the virus to strike back.

My identification has led me into complete confusion. At this moment I am convinced I will get the virus and die in the years ahead. Because it is not a hoax and will be with us forever. Either that or I will lose my mind.

He May Still Be Sick! And Not Cured at All!

He may still be sick, my elderly neighbor said. She was out walking her dog. I was on my way to get the mail. How can that be, I said. He is cured. My hearing is going so I could not quite make out what she said. And when I tried to get closer she would move away like I had the plague or something. But I think she said something like this:

He may think he is cured. But maybe, the experts say, all those drugs they gave him only Suppressed the disease but did not cure it. Like Nyquil she said. You take it and it takes away that icky-sicky cold feeling, stuffed up nose and itchy throat. But in the morning you still have the damn cold.

So the drugs may have taken away the SYMPTOMS but not killed the bug itself. He may think and feel that he is twenty years younger. Or that he has dominated the virus. But it may be lurking just outside the range of his consciousness, hiding out, and preparing for a counter attack. And this counter attack she said would be most likely to come, if it comes, when the drugs they gave him begin to wear off.

When I asked when this might happen she began to talk about some big wig in a foreign land by the name of Boris something-or-other. He caught the plague and made many videos right after saying he felt twenty years younger. And after a couple of weeks he got sick as a dog. He started singing a different tune then, she said.

I do not trust old ladies or rumors started by so-called experts. But the idea that the Sick President might collapse at any moment made me feel more anxious than ever. In fact, I feel sick with anxiety and wonder if I might be coming down with something. These are not good feelings for a person in my age bracket.

The Sick President Claims He Is So Young!

The sick President says he beat the virus because “I am so young.” Additionally, he says he is “extremely young” (whatever that might mean) and a “perfect physical specimen.” I am a septuagenarian, just like the sick President, and I believe I can say that I am not young. Of course, I am not either a “perfect physical specimen,” But even so I think I can say no septuagenarian can claim to be “extremely young” (whatever that means).

There is no such thing as a young septuagenarian. All you have to do–by way of proof–if indeed you need that–is look at old people and then look at young people I believe you will see that the old people look old and the young people look young. Young people have smooth skin; old people have wrinkles. Young people have muscles and old people have flab. The explanation for this is that young people are young and old people are not. Additionally you will observe, as I have personally experienced, that old people cannot run around, and hop, and jump here and there. Old people have bad knees and weak muscles. They mostly sit still in one place with little moving or jumping around.

Of course, one might argue the sick President did not say he IS young— though he did say that–but that he feels young, which is not the same as being young. This is true. The sick President did indeed say that he feels young. He says both: that he IS young and that he FEELS young. In this conflation of being with feeling I see the Sick President’s Philosophy of the Virus at work again. This is the Pretend Philosophy that says the virus does not exist if you pretend that it doesn’t. A more concrete proof of the Sick President’s belief in this philosophy appears in his Pretend Hair.

My Identification with the Sick President Wears Thin

My identification with the sick President, as my fellow septuagenarian and fellow human being, is wearing thin. I feel particularly alienated by what I read about a video he make in the Rose Garden, I think it was. In this video, the sick President claims to have discovered a cure for the virus. He thanks God, in fact, for giving him the disease so he could fortuitously discover this miracle cure.

I don’t know the name of this miracle cure. My memory is mercifully failing me. But it was a drug cocktail, given to him by his doctors, and not presently available to the general public. I had hoped through my identification with the sick President, as a fellow old, white, guy, to see my future should I become ill with the bug. That no longer seems possible. The sick President has taken a path not available to me as a member of the general public.

I felt our paths earlier to diverge when I sensed a possible duplicity in the sick President. He argued for example that we should not allow ourselves to be dominated by the bug. We should not wear masks, or wash our hands all the time, or socially distance, or avoid large gatherings such as baseball games. We should live our lives as we had before the virus arrived. We should Pretend it does not Exist. And yet, as soon as the sick President got a fever, he had himself taken by helicopter to a hospital as if the virus does exist. This indicates either that he did not believe what he previously said or that he failed sufficiently to imagine that the virus does not exist.

The Sick President’s Philosophy of the Virus seems to me, thus, internally inconsistent. He says one thing and does another. I become even more confused when he argues that, per his own experience with the wonder drug, the virus is really no big deal. No worse, he says, than the “normal” flu. Well I must disagree. The “normal flu” is no laughing matter to an elderly person like myself. And certainly the COVID was a big deal for the 200,000 who have died from it.

The Sick President Wanted to Get Out of That Hospital

The really sick President really wanted to get out of that hospital. I don’t blame him. I hate hospitals. They stink of disease and death no matter how much they try to cover it up with all manner of stinking disinfectants. And if you have to share a room you have to share the TV with some stranger. The food is atrocious, and they keep waking you up at night. My brother, who died of brain cancer, really complained about them never letting him sleep. What can you say about a place, he said, that commodifies compassion.

So I understand why the Sick President wanted to go home. It’s much nicer there, in your own bed, all snuggly, with your own remote, and some servant to bring you a nice cup of tea. And why shouldn’t he go home, what with the servants there. He has also his own little hospital room in the White House where he can lie around and tweet while they give him fluids intravenously. All at the taxpayers expense.

After all he is the President. He is not one of those all bent over and smelly little old ladies that you see creeping around the halls of the hospital and that are hard even to look at. (For God’s sake, can’t they keep them out of sight!) Who, you know, can’t breath and have a tube stuck down their throats, and who die completely alone because their children and grandchildren can’t get in the hospital.

So hell, yes, I understand why the sick President wanted to get out of that hospital. And he could because He is The President.