For those of you wondering whether you’re going to heaven or hell, you’re in hell. In the midst of the worst pandemic in a century, we’re being led by a family of incompetent grifters. While tens of thousands of Americans are about to die, they’re trying to figure out how to make a buck off the crisis. 

Maybe it’s not hell. Maybe we’re in a dark comedy, a la The Truman Show except we’re all Truman. If you had told me twenty years ago that we’d elect a shady real estate mogul turned reality star President of the United States, I might have laughed but I wouldn’t have believed it would happen. Today, not only is he president, he’s brought his whole family to the White House. It’s like the cast of Arrested Development is running the country but nobody’s playing the role of Michael.

Donald Trump has shown little comprehension of the threat we face or the response we need. Instead, he’s shown that he doesn’t understand the role of government or how to make it work. He talks about supplies and resources as if they are part of his own personal stash. He demands compliments from governors watching disasters unfold in their states before he offers assistance.

Instead of looking for ways to help, he’s looking for cable news ratings and profits. He brags that his daily briefings get bigger audiences than The Bachelor or Monday Night Football.  And every day, against the advice of his own medical experts, he’s hawking an unproven treatment that might actually be dangerous. MAGA, of course, will head the stores. You can bet Trump or somebody in his orbit is making a handsome profit even if they’re causing a shortage for people who actually need the drug. 

Trump doesn’t trust experts but he does trust his idiot son-in-law, so he appointed him to head up the pandemic response. Jared Kushner seemed a perfect choice since he’s failed at almost every other task he’s been assigned. He must be good at something. Maybe he can get this right. 

He’s not off to a good start, though. Kushner advised his father-in-law to announce Google was working on a website to help people identify symptoms and find testing sites. Unfortunately, the site didn’t exist and Google denied the claim. No worries, though. Kushner had a firm ready to build the site. Coincidentally, the firm was co-founded by his brother and Kushner had financial interests in it before he joined the White House. The site never launched.

When the president allowed Kushner to address the press at his ratings-topping daily coronavirus briefing, the idiot son-in-law told the country that the stockpile of ventilators the US Government owned were not for the states even in the case of the current emergency. Kushner’s statement directly contradicted information on the Department of Health and Human Services website that said, “Strategic National Stockpile is the nation’s largest supply of life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for use in a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out…When state, local, tribal, and territorial responders request federal assistance to support their response efforts, the stockpile ensures that the right medicines and supplies get to those who need them most during an emergency.” In an Orwellian move, the language was erased from the website by the next day.

Now, it turns out that the US Government is competing with states for access to desperately needed resources. The President invoked the Defense Production Act to force medical suppliers to sell to the US government before selling to states who put in orders earlier. The government is then selling those supplies to private sector distributors who then sell to the states, ensuring the private sector gets its cut. It’s the invisible hand of the market strangling old people to death while they wait for basic medical supplies.

And while Donald Trump won’t deliver ventilators to people who need them, the states are turning to other sources. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced China is going to donate 1,000 of them to the state. That’s right, China. Fortunately, other states are stepping up to help each other. Oregon is also sending ventilators it got from the Strategic National Reserve to New York. 

Several articles have implied Trump’s approach is in line with federalism, allowing states to take the lead in solving the crisis. That’s absurd. Trump doesn’t have any political philosophy. Occam’s razor applies here. It has nothing to do with federalism and everything to do with Trump and his buddies profiting off this crisis. Trump’s not hawking that unproven drug for nothing. 

The whole episode would be funny if it weren’t so tragic. A whole lot of people are going to die because of incompetence in the name of grifting. Trump has learned that he can do as he pleases with no consequences because the Republicans in the Senate will not hold him accountable. By the time this pandemic ends, a lot of people will be dead, a lot of businesses will be gone and there will be plenty of blame to go around, most of it heaped on the corrupt GOP and the grifters in the White House. 

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