What A Difference A Year Makes: 500,000+ Coronavirus Deaths And Counting

It’s time to Break It Down!

On Monday, two days ago, the U.S. Coronavirus death toll eclipsed 500,000. One year ago, today, not a single American was known to have died from the illness. On February 23, 2020, then President Donald Trump proclaimed the virus was under control in the United States. The first reported U.S. fatality, due to COVID-19, was on February 28 in the Seattle area. Months later, in April, it was determined via postmortem testing, that at least two people died in Santa Clara County, California, attributable to Coronavirus.

In my March 11th post last year, entitled, “Coronavirus: The Next Big Thing,” I laid out the basic details, as we knew them to be at that time. In what has been a year-long evolving litany of proposed remedies, we have witnessed, and in far too many instances, experienced, competing narratives between science and conspiracy theories about how to stem the scourge of the latest global pandemic. Focusing upon the national ramifications of the dreaded disease, the one-half million American lives lost, has to be the headline, but quickly thereafter, we must confront the opportunity costs of the politicization of the virus. 

The former President of the United States rejected, for far too long, the premise that Coronavirus posed a serious threat on American soil. Ergo, his enthralled mass of supports followed suit. Even now, many of them disparage mask-wearing, and more pointedly, the team of doctors and scientists selected to lead our national effort to defeat the menace that is COVID-19. The collective resistance of the man formerly holding what some consider the most powerful position in the world, along with his supporters, resulted in Coronavirus establishing a much more significant foothold than it might have gained otherwise. The list of actions that ultimately muted, and or delayed, our national response is long and substantive. 

Here is a less than exhaustive sample:

May 2018 – The Trump Administration disbanded the White House pandemic response team.

July 2019 – The CDC epidemiologist embedded in China’s CDC left the post; the role was eliminated.

January 22, 2020 – Trump said, “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. It’s going to be just fine.”

January 24, 2020 – Trump said, “China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American people, I want to thank President Xi!”

February 2, 2020 – Trump said, “We pretty much shut it down coming in from China.”

February 7, 2020 – Trump said to Bob Woodward, The Washington Post, “It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu… This is deadly stuff.” (Made public September 9, 2020).

February 10, 2020 – Trump said, “I think the virus is going to be—it’s going to be fine.”

February 10, 2020 – Trump said, “Looks like by April, you know in theory when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away.”

February 24, 2020 (one year ago today) – Trump said, “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA… the Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”

February 25, 2020 – Trump said, “CDC and my Administration are doing a great job of handling Coronavirus.”

February 25, 2020 – Trump said, “I think that’s a problem that’s going to go away… They have studied it. They know very much. In fact, we’re very close to a vaccine”

February 26, 2020 – Trump said, “The 15 (cases in the U.S.) within a couple is going to be down to close to zero.”

February 26, 2020 – Trump said, “We’re going very substantially down, not up.”

February 27, 2020 – Trump said, “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”

March 4, 2020 – Trump said, “If we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work — some of them go to work, but they get better.”

March 5, 2020 – Trump said, “I NEVER said people that are feeling sick should go to work.”

March 5, 2020 – Trump said, “The United States… has, as of now, only 129 cases… and 11 deaths. We are working very hard to keep these numbers as low as possible!”

March 6, 2020 – Trump said, “I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it… Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for president.”

March 7, 2020 – Trump said, “No, I’m not concerned at all.”

March 13, 2020 – Trump said, “I don’t take responsibility at all.”

March 14, 2020 – Trump said, “I’d rate it a ten,” [Trump’s rating of his coronavirus response]

March 17, 2020 – Trump said, “The only thing we haven’t done well is get good press.”

March 19, 2020 – Trump said, I intended “to always play it down.”  [Trump in a private taped interview with Bob Woodward, made public on September 9]

March 26, 2020 – The United States becomes the country with the most confirmed coronavirus cases. A title it keeps for the remainder of Trump’s time in office.

March 30, 2020 – Trump said, “Stay calm, it will go away. You know it — you know it is going away, and it will go away, and we’re going to have a great victory.”

April 3, 2020 – Trump said, “I’m feeling good. I just don’t want to be doing — somehow sitting in the Oval Office behind that beautiful resolute desk, the great resolute desk, I think wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens, I don’t know, somehow I don’t see it for myself. I just don’t. Maybe I’ll change my mind.”

April 6, 2020 – Trump said, “LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL!”

April 6, 2020 – U.S. death toll passes 10,000

April 9, 2020 – Trump said“I couldn’t have done it any better,” [When asked if his coronavirus response could have been better]

April 11, 2020 – U.S. death toll passes 20,000

April 14, 2020 – Trump said, “[w]hen somebody’s the president of the United States, the authority is total.”

April 15, 2020 – U.S. death toll passes 30,000

April 20, 2020 – U.S. death toll passes 40,000

April 24, 2020 – U.S. death toll passes 50,000

April 29, 2020 – U.S. death toll passes 60,000

May 5, 2020 – U.S. death toll passes 70,000

May 11, 2020 – U.S. death toll passes 80,000

May 18, 2020 – U.S. death toll passes 90,000

May 22, 2020 – Over 38 million jobless claims filed

May 27, 2020 – U.S. death toll passes 100,000

September 19, 2020 – U.S. death toll passes 200,000

October 2, 2020 – Trump tweets that he tested positive for COVID-19-19.

December 9, 2020 – 3,103 COVID-19 deaths in a one day

December 14, 2020 – U.S. death toll passes 300,000

January 1, 2021 – U.S. surpasses 20 million confirmed COVID-19 cases

January 4, 2021 – CDC reports that 4.6 million people have been vaccinated.

January 6, 2021 – Trump mob stormed Congress. Officials reported at least 3,963 new coronavirus deaths in the US, a new single-day record.

January 14, 2021 – The Trump administration promised to have 20 million people given their first shot by the end of 2020. Two weeks later, they have administered just over 11 million.

January 20, 2021 – Each day in January, covid-19 killed an average of 3,100 people in the United States — one every 28 seconds.

Trump’s term in office saw over 25 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States, over 400,000 of which resulted in death.

February 22, 2021 – U.S. death toll surpassed 500,000

The Biden administration has been in office just over a month. He has pledged to be guided by science in working to fight Coronavirus. The disease Trump conspiracy theorists claimed would disappear November 3rd, has continued to ravage the country. While there are signs it is receding at long last, partly due to getting past the holiday season, partly because of the expanding vaccination effort, and partly as a result of masking, social distancing, and handwashing, doctors and scientists warn, this is no time to relax. Doing so, may lead to another spike.

Research has shown a disparity in who’s getting vaccinated. Blacks and other people of color are disproportionately impacted by the effects of the virus, but are also the least likely to receive vaccinations. This combination presages a deadly double jeopardy. It is wrought by a confluence of circumstances that includes an uneven distribution system, further complicated by an inherent reluctance of certain groups to avail themselves of the vaccine. Black people in particular, are concerned about being on the receiving end of historical patterns of abuse, perpetuated by what at times has been a wantonly irresponsible healthcare system. That the current wave of vaccines came about so rapidly is by and large a good thing. It does not, however, lend itself to alleviating the reservations of people who have legitimate reasons to mistrust a system that has abused them on a horrific scale, on more than one occasion.

Nevertheless, there is an undeniable hankering to return to some level and degree of normalcy. Refusing the vaccine heightens the likelihood one will contract the virus, which increases the probability one will become seriously ill, which ups the odds one with prematurely perish from Coronavirus. Over half a million of our friends, family, co-workers and acquaintances have already died on that hill. Most of them didn’t have the option to take the vaccine. It’s coming to your cohort; sooner rather than later. Don’t be a vaccine martyr. Take the shot. Your kith and kin need you. “What A Difference A Year Makes: 500,000+ Coronavirus Deaths and Counting!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

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Blue Lives Mattered…Until They Didn’t: Is Kneeling Really That Bad?

It’s time to Break It Down!

OK, here’s the skinny; this is how privilege works.

How often have we been immersed in the righteously indignant refrain of Blue Lives Matter! Typically, a rejoinder to a Black Lives Matter event, or banner, or pronouncement. It’s as if, in the hearts and minds of those who declare it (Blue Lives Matter), two things cannot be true at once. They can, of course. In fact, Black Lives Matter, in and of itself, is not a diminution of Blue lives, White lives…or any other lives, for whatever its worth. Yes, Blue Lives Matter. But don’t tell that to Trump’s marauding MAGA-mob; that’s right, the same riotous interlopers who begat an insurrection on that vaunted citadel of American democracy, the U.S. Capitol, on January 6th.

On that day, as you, and most Americans, and countless people around the world, know by now, the marauding MAGA-mob attacked, not only one of our pre-eminent symbolic institutions, and the 535 men and women who work there as members of the U.S. House of Representatives, and the U.S. Senate, but they also attacked the men and women, the Blue Lives, if you will, who protect the Capitol and the Congress. Three Blue Lives were lost, due to the events of that day. One who perished from the injuries he sustained while trying to protect the Congress, as it went about its Constitutional duty and responsibility to certify the 2020 Election results, and two others who subsequently committed suicide. Many others sustained serious injuries, courtesy of the marauding MAGA-mob. Say it. Say it loudly. Blue Lives Matter! But, apparently, not that day. Not to those people. Not to Trump’s marauding MAGA-mob!

These were part and parcel to the same crowd that derisively scolded Colin Kaepernick, for kneeling during the Nation Anthem. Donald Trump, and many of his loyalists figuratively flayed Kaep, and anyone else across the sports world who dared kneel during the Anthem. They considered it a desecration of Old Glory, our preternatural flag. Even though a veteran suggested kneeling to Kaepernick, as a way to register a peaceful protest of police brutality and violence against people of color, Trump and his “super-patriot” crew would simply not hear it. Trump called them SOB’s and suggested they be fired. Team MAGA co-signed, and attacked Kaepernick, and anyone who agreed with or supported him, at every turn. To this day, many of them preach about the sanctity of the flag.

At least, they did, until January 6th. On that day, the marauding MAGA-mob repurposed the flag, along with the pole upon which it was hoisted, into a spear; a weapon to poke and bludgeon the enemy, which included…you guessed it…Blue Lives. Can you hear me now?

All of these actions reek of sheer hypocrisy. The variety that oozes privilege as its source and inspiration. I understand denying white privilege is in vogue. That’s a debate for another day, as far as I’m concerned. For now, I’ll leave it at this. “Blue Lives Mattered Until They Didn’t: Is Kneeling Really that Bad?”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

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It’s Showtime

It’s time to Break It Down!

Yesterday afternoon, Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial kicked off on the Senate floor. Conventional wisdom suggests that the proceeding is a mere formality. Second impeachment trial; let that sink in.

So how can an historic second impeachment trial be categorized as a formality? Consider the prevailing context. Congress, both the House and Senate, like the country, is separated by a political and ideological divide. The chasm, as I’ve frequently noted, is deep and wide. The Senate is the jury; they are also witnesses. The Senate/jury is composed of 100 members, and is split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans. It would take 67 Senators to convict Trump. For anyone who may be arithmetically challenged, that means, if all the Democrats vote to convict, 17 Republicans would be required to join them in order forge a conviction.

In a vote to determine whether the proceedings aligned with the provisions of the Constitution, the outcome was 56-44 in favor. Yes, that’s right, only 6 Republicans were even willing to say it was Constitutionally permissible to conduct the trial in the first place. And that’s after 5 weeks of airing and re-airing the events of January 6th, including what amounted to a pre-insurrection pep rally, led by the individual formerly known as President. Apologies to Prince Rogers Nelson.

For two months after the November Election, Donald Trump hyped the untruthful notion that the election was fraudulently stolen from him. In the days leading up to January 6, when Congress was scheduled to meet to certify the final results, and officially declare Joe Biden President, Trump “invited” his supporters to come to Washington; thousands did. In a rally, just prior to the scheduled vote at the Capitol, Trump exhorted his already fired up crowd to “fight like hell,” or they would no longer have a country. He urged them to walk down to the Capitol, and added that, he would be there with them.

Now, as his recently reformatted legal team attempts to defend him, they are arguing he played no role in the MAGA-mob action that resulted in virtually the entire Congress fleeing to safe rooms, at least 5 deaths, including a Capitol police officer, and a lingering distrust among some members of Congress, who believe a number of their cohorts conspired to have them killed. The mob broke windows, doors, and furniture, yelled epithets, and threatened to kill Mike Pence, Nancy Pelosi, and others. That his defense team had the audacity to make that claim after the House Impeachment Managers presented the 13-minute video linked below was clear evidence that Trump has no self-awareness, and his legal team has no shame. The Impeachment Managers are expected to present new never-before-seen footage today of the insurgent Capitol mayhem inside the Citadel of the U.S. government; the inner sanctum of the People’s House.

Each side has up to 16 hours to make their case. Neither the House, nor the Senate is expected to use all their time. Initial estimates are that a vote may come as early as this weekend. I admit, I fully expect Trump to skate, even as I know, had a Democrat, any Democrat, done the things Trump has done, Republicans in Congress, and Republicans/conservatives throughout America would be calling for prosecution to the fullest extent of the law. And yet, it is what it is. And what it is, is, now on the record”It’s Showtime!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

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Mourning in America

It’s time to Break It Down!

As with many people I know, it would have been hard for me to have envisioned our country finding itself enmeshed in the degree of national civil discord that we find ourselves today. But, on the short odds that we’d find ourselves here, arriving at this unenviable space, largely via the courtesy of a President of the United States would have been simply unfathomable. At least, it would have been before 2016.

Now before keying another word, let me say, emphatically, Donald Trump is not the root cause of our national internal strife and rancor. It has always been with us. Having stipulated that, Mr. Trump has elevated matters in a distinctly next level way.

From disparaging Mexicans before descending down that escalator in 2015, to nauseating Birtherism claims, to boasting he could shoot someone on 5th Ave. and not lose any voters, to initiating lock her up chants, to at first, refusing to disavow David Duke, to rolling out the Muslim ban, to the good people on both sides assertion, to the s-hole countries comment, to siding with Putin over his own Intelligence community, to 30,500+ false and misleading statements, to 2 months of patently false claims about election fraud, culminating in a high-octane pre Capitol riot speech, he has increasingly stirred disunity and fanned the already sizzling embers of rage into white hot flames of tumult. America mourns.

In the August 5th Edition, I wrote about Jonathan Swan’s (Axios) Donald Trump interview, aired by HBO, when Trump discussed his antipathy toward the late Congressman John Lewis, also known as the “It is what it is” interview. Well, Swan has delivered on another epic storyline. This time, as part of an eight-episode series, entitled Off the rails, plus a bonus piece co-written Swan and Zachary Basu; called, Inside the craziest meeting of the Trump presidency. The story is linked below, for your edification. To give you a sense of the internal acrimony, as Trump’s term wound down, here are a number of the more compelling quotes for you:

“How the hell did Sidney get in the building?” White House senior adviser Eric Herschmann grumbled from the outer Oval Office as Sidney Powell and her entourage strutted by to visit the president. 

“Hold on a minute, Sidney,” Herschmann interrupted from the back of the Oval. “You’re part of the Rudy team, right? Is your theory that the Democrats got together and changed the rules, or is it that there was foreign interference in our election?”

“It’s foreign interference,” Powell insisted, then added: “Rudy hasn’t understood what this case is about until just now.”

But Powell, fixing on Trump, continued to elaborate on a fantastical election narrative involving Venezuela, Iran, China and others. She named a county in Georgia where she claimed she could prove that Dominion had illegally flipped the vote.

Herschmann interrupted to point out that Trump had actually won the Georgia county in question: “So your theory is that Dominion intentionally flipped the votes so we could win that county?”

As for Powell’s larger claims, he demanded she provide evidence for what — if true — would amount to the greatest national security breach in American history. They needed to dial in one of the campaign’s lawyers, Herschmann said, and Trump campaign lawyer Matt Morgan was patched in via speakerphone.

By now, people were yelling and cursing.

Flynn went berserk. 

“You’re quitting! You’re a quitter! You’re not fighting!” he exploded at the senior adviser. Flynn then turned to the president, and implored: “Sir, we need fighters.”

Herschmann ignored Flynn at first and continued to probe Powell’s pitch with questions about the underlying evidence.

Flynn was ranting, seemingly infuriated about anyone challenging Powell, who had represented him in his recent legal battles.

Finally, Herschmann had enough. “Why the fuck do you keep standing up and screaming at me?” he shot back at Flynn. “If you want to come over here, come over here. If not, sit your ass down.” Flynn sat back down.

The meeting had come entirely off the rails.

This was a remarkable level of personal familiarity, given it was the first time Byrne had met the president. All the stanchions and buffers between the White House and the outside world had crumbled.

Byrne kept attacking the senior White House staff in front of Trump. “They’ve already abandoned you,” he told the president aggressively. Periodically during the meeting Flynn or Byrne challenged Trump’s top staff — portraying them as disloyal: So, do you think the president won or not?

At one point, with Flynn shouting, Byrne raised his hand to talk. He stood up and turned around to face Herschmann. “You’re a quitter,” he said. “You’ve been interfering with everything. You’ve been cutting us off.”

“Do you even know who the fuck I am, you idiot?” Herschmann snapped back.

“Yeah, you’re Patrick Cipollone,” Byrne said.

“Wrong! Wrong, you idiot!”

The usually mild-mannered Lyons blasted the Powell set: “You’ve brought 60 cases. And you’ve lost every case you’ve had!”

Trump came back into the Oval Office from the dining room to rejoin the meeting. Lyons pointed out to Powell that their incompetence went beyond their lawsuits being thrown out for standing. “You somehow managed to misspell the word ‘District’ three different ways in your suits,” he said pointedly.

In a Georgia case, the Powell team had misidentified the court on the first page of their filing as “THE UNITED STATES DISTRICCT COURT, NORTHERN DISTRCOICT OF GEORGIA.” And they had identified the Michigan court as the “EASTERN DISTRCT OF MICHIGAN.”

These were sloppy spelling errors. But given that these lawsuits aimed to overturn a presidential election, the court nomenclature should have been pristine.

Powell, Flynn and Byrne began attacking Lyons as they renewed their argument to Trump: There they go again, they want to focus on the insignificant details instead of fighting for you.

Trump replied, “No, no, he’s right. That was very embarrassing. That shouldn’t have happened.”

The Powell team needed to regroup. They shifted to a new grievance to turn the conversation away from their embarrassing errors. 

Every judge is corrupt, she claimed. We can’t rely on them. The White House lawyers couldn’t believe what they were hearing. “That’s your argument?” a stunned Herschmann said. “Even the judges we appointed? Are you out of your fucking mind?”

Powell had more to say. She and Flynn began trashing the FBI as well, and the Justice Department under Attorney General Bill Barr, telling Trump that neither could be trusted. Both institutions, they said, were corrupt, and Trump needed to fire the leadership and get in new people he could trust.

Byrne, wearing jeans, a hoodie and a neck gaiter, piped up with his own conspiracy: “I know how this works. I bribed Hillary Clinton $18 million on behalf of the FBI for a sting operation.”

Herschmann stared at the eccentric millionaire. “What the hell are you talking about? Why would you say something like that?” Byrne brought up the bizarre Clinton bribery claim several more times during the meeting to the astonishment of White House lawyers.

Trump, for his part, also seemed perplexed by Byrne. But he was not entirely convinced the ideas Powell was presenting were insane.

He asked: You guys are offering me nothing. These guys are at least offering me a chance. They’re saying they have the evidence. Why not try this? The president seemed truly to believe the election was stolen, and his overriding sentiment was, let’s give this a shot.

The words “martial law” were never spoken during the meeting.

But this was a distinction without much of a difference. What Flynn and Powell were proposing amounted to suspending normal laws and mobilizing the U.S. government to seize Dominion voting machines around the country.

Powell was arguing that they couldn’t get a judge to enforce any subpoena to hand over the voting machines because all the judges were corrupt. She and her group repeatedly referred to the National Emergencies Act and a Trump executive order from 2018 that was designed to clear the way for the government to sanction foreign actors interfering in U.S. elections.

These laws were, in the view of Powell, Flynn and the others, the key to unlocking extraordinary powers for Trump to stay in office beyond Jan. 20.

“How exactly are you going to do this?” an exasperated Herschmann asked again, later in the conversation. 

Newman again cited the 2018 executive order, which prompted Herschmann to question out loud whether she was even a lawyer.

Then Byrne chimed in: “There are guys with big guns and badges who can get these things.” Herschmann couldn’t believe it. “What are you, three years old?” he asked.

Lyons, the staff secretary, told the president that the executive order Powell and Flynn were citing did not give him the authority they claimed it did to seize voting machines. Morgan, the campaign lawyer, also expressed skepticism about their idea of invoking national security emergency powers.

Herschmann was primed to brawl and ready to dump on Powell. It had been a long day.

“Rudy,” he said, turning to Giuliani, “Sidney was just in the Oval telling the president you don’t know what the fuck you’re doing. Right, Sidney?” He turned to Powell: “Why don’t you tell Rudy to his face?”

Three days later, Giuliani would publicly distance himself from Powell, telling Newsmax that Powell did not represent the president, and that “whatever she’s talking about, it’s her own opinions.”

It didn’t take long for the yelling to start up again. They were now in hour four of a meeting unprecedented even by the deranged standards of the final days of the Trump presidency.

Now it was Meadows’ turn, blasting Flynn for trashing him and accusing him of being a quitter. “Don’t you dare challenge me about whether I’m being supportive of the president and working hard,” Meadows shouted, reminding Flynn that he’d defended him during his legal troubles.

Powell at one point turned to Lyons and demanded, “Why are you speaking? Are you still employed here?” The staff secretary, who had already resigned, laughed and joked, “Well I guess I’m here until midnight.”

It was after midnight by the time the White House officials had finally said their piece. They left that night fully prepared for the mad possibility Trump might still name Sidney Powell special counsel. You have our advice, they told the president before walking out. You decide who to listen to.

Yeah, that was one crazy day. Meanwhile, We are “Mourning in America!”

I’m done; holla back!

Read my blog anytime by clicking the linkhttp://thesphinxofcharlotte.comFind a new post each Wednesday.

To subscribeclick on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of my Home Page at http://thesphinxofcharlotte.com; enter your e-mail address in the designated space, and click on “Sign me up.” Subsequent editions of “Break It Down” will be mailed to your in-box.

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