The social distancing we really need

by Phil Anderson

Social distancing is essential to stopping the spread of the COVID-19 disease. To accomplish this much of the economy has been shut down. Millions of people have been laid off. All of our lives have been disrupted. But there are several acts of social distancing we have failed to take.

One of the biggest threats to public safety is Donald Trump. His statement suggesting people inject disinfectants to combat the corona virus is a prime example. It is time to distance the country from this dangerous and irresponsible president.

His behavior from day one in office has violated all the normal political standards of decency. His ignorance, arrogance and many boneheaded statements have been dangerous to the nation in many ways. Now he is proving to be a real and present danger directly to individuals. People are getting sick and dying because he can’t keep his mouth shut or accept the advice of experts.

From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump has made many inaccurate, misleading and inconsistent statements that have created confusion and doubt about the best course of action and undermined the advice of medical experts.

These reckless statements have contributed to the slow and ineffective response to this disaster. Many of his statements go beyond the standard positive spin fed to the public during crisis situations. Many of his statements are grossly irresponsible and border on criminal negligence.

His statement about injecting household disinfectants should have been the last straw. At one of the pandemic news conferences, Trump speculated about injecting household disinfectants to kill the virus and suggested scientists should test this idea.

He was reacting to a prior briefing that household disinfectants can kill the virus on surfaces. Being totally ignorant of almost everything, he apparently had no clue that there is a difference between cleaning non-living surfaces with toxic chemicals and injecting those chemicals into a living human being.

This profound lack of common knowledge is disturbing on its face. But his reaction to the widespread horror and ridicule of his statement is even worse. Immediately doctors, public health officials, and even the makers of Lysol, responded  with warnings against using highly toxic disinfectants as anti-virus medications.

His staff, of course, spun his statement claiming he was misquoted and did not recommend drinking bleach. Trump back-pedaled saying to reporters the next day, “I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen.”      

In a time of crisis making sarcastic remarks “just to see what would happen” is highly irresponsible.

This whole incident shows a complete lack understanding of the consequences, or concern for the impact, of his statements. The consequences? Poison control centers were reporting a significant increase in calls related to household disinfectants.    
Trump’s dangerous, premature promoting of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine is another example. He repeatedly touted this drug as a “game changer” despite the drug not being approved for use against COVID-19.

There have been no clinical trials and the few studies done have inconsistent results. But this has not stopped Trump from making irresponsible statements and playing doctor.

In promoting the drug he has been quoted saying, “I’m a smart guy, I feel good about it – What do you have to lose?  – I want them to try it, and it may work, and it may not work. What if it doesn’t work? It’s nothing lost …”

What have you got to lose? Trying untested drugs on the basis of “feeling good about it” is simple stupid. Playing doctor when you are not one can have serious consequences.  

Of course Trump is not running the country into the ditch on his own. He has many enablers.

The Republican-controlled Senate has enthusiastically approved and abetted his many  outrageous, illegal and destructive behaviors and policies in the last three years. The handpicked, extremely conservative, Supreme Court has condoned much of his illegal actions (incarcerating children, bypassing Congress to build the wall, etc.).

Much of the news media has been complicit by not challenging false statements and by disseminating false and misleading information.

Trump’s unpresidential behavior is an embarrassment to conservatives, but because his administration is destroying all oversight of business and funneling unprecedented amounts of money to the 1%. So Trump is tolerated and encouraged.

As I have written often, Republicans and their policies HURT PEOPLE! Their reaction to the  COVID-19 crisis is another example. Here is the proof.

• Rather than helping the people and public health institutions that really needed support, the multiple corona virus bailouts are turning into a boondoggle of huge proportions that is bailing out large businesses and cutting taxes for the wealthy.

• Even the individual bailout payments are skewed and give money to many people who do not need them while giving nothing to the truly poor.

• Republicans have fought vigorously to limit support for those laid off because of the pandemic. They are threatening to cut of unemployment to workers who refuse to return to unsafe workplaces.

• They have opposed financial support for state and local governments who are bearing the brunt of the pandemic costs. Republican Mitch McConnell said the states should go bankrupt!

• In defiance of common sense and basic human decency, Republicans want to strip millions of families of health insurance during the pandemic. They have a lawsuit pending in the Supreme Court to completely invalidate the Affordable Care Act.

• Prematurely opening the economy is yet another example of Republicans putting the money before people.

• In Wisconsin Republicans are suing Gov. Evers to end his public health efforts.

It is time for some much needed social distancing to protect all of us from these morons and their harmful, destructive, and dangerous greed. It is time for some good old fashioned shunning. Shunning, shaming, and expulsion have traditional been used to isolate and control behaviors and beliefs considered unacceptable by the larger society.

People should stop paying attention to the clowns. Media should stop reporting the lies. In November we should vote the bums out.

November should be a widespread repudiation of Trump and his enablers.