What Impact Will COVID Have On Our Future? If The Black Plague Is Any Guide, The Impact Will Be HUGE

Three years into the COVID-19 pandemic, we still have no fixed idea of how to deal with this damned pathogen. That’s less a reflection on the science than it is on the nature of pathogens. And people. It’s hard enough fighting an actual pandemic. Having to battle misinformation, deliberate propaganda and genuine, honest confusion at the same time? People wanting black and white answers is understandable. Being handed a delineated tick tock of how to solve a problem beats having to figure it out for oneself. Alas, pathogens don’t play nicely. They’re intensely single-minded. Bigger problem? They’re adept at adapting. For a creature that’s no more than a clump of RNA, incapable of reproducing itself by itself (it needs another creature’s host cells and their DNA in order to do that), COVID-19 has been remarkably savvy. It has evolved continually, always looking for a way to improve its ability to infect us and our cells (saliva, lung, heart, brain, blood or whatever) and spread more explosively. Like most viruses, COVID-19 evolves on the fly because it can – and because it has to in order to survive. That’s why pinning it down is so challenging. That’s why as a way to cull the human herd, pandemics are even more efficient than war.

Consider our relationship with COVID from COVID’s point of view. COVID has one “mission” built into its being: make more of itself. That’s it. That’s its entire mandate – reproduce at all costs. That reproduction will require penetrating our cells and converting our DNA into their RNA. In essence, viruses see human beings as cheap sex hotels where they go to boink like bunnies. Considering what a mess COVID makes of its lodgings – it does to us what Who drummer Keith Moon used to do to hotel rooms – what kind of idiot “lodging facility” would open its doors to monstrously rude guests like these? In America, it turns out, plenty of idiots.

Like war, pandemics cause massive disruption to nearly ever facet of normal life. We are now part of a data set that proves the point. We ache for life to return to normal because we assume life CAN still return to “normal”.

History says “normal” died the moment COVID appeared. History says pandemics not only kill, they leave the survivors with a “new normal”. The first pandemic that provided a viable data set for us to consider is the Black Plague that swept through Europe, when a Genoese trading ship unwittingly transported plague from Kaffa (in the Crimea) to its Italian base in 1347 . Along with trade goods, these ships carried sailors sick and dying from pestilence. Imagine how much more terrifying a pandemic would be if we had zero idea what was causing it and even less of a clue how to stop it. The sars-cov-2 virus, so we keep learning, is remarkably at home inside our bodies. It finds purchase not just in our lungs but in virtually every one of our organs. Long term COVID has only just begun to present itself. It’s going to be torment millions of the disease’s survivors for the rest of their lives. But, sdars-cov-2 – as bad as it is – pales in comparison to what the plague bacillus does to human (and animal) bodies.

Bubonic plague arrived in two forms at the same time: one infected the bloodstream and caused egg-sized buboes to form in its victims’ armpits and groin. The buboes oozed dark blood and foul-smelling pus. This form of plague – spread via physical contact – caused severe pain, internal bleeding and organ failure that could kill a victim within five days of being infected. The second form of plague killed even more brutally and quickly. Pneumonic plague infected the lungs and spread via infected bodily fluids. This form could kill in three days; sometimes within 24 hours or less. Its victims coughed and sweated heavily. Everything flowing from them – sweat, saliva, blood, urine, shit – smelled foul and spread infection.

Depression and despair accompanied both forms of plague. As historian Barbara Tuchman describes in her magnificent work “A Distant Mirror”, “before the end, ‘death is seen seated on the face’.”

Just as COVID-19 has massively impacted the world’s economy – being as so much of it is now tied together – plague disrupted the Medieval economy. In fact, bubonic plague destroyed feudalism. Feudalism relied on a kind of slavery at its core. Peasants farmed the land for the benefit of their immediate lords. Those lords owed the lords above them taxes paid in the form of the farm products grown on their lands by the peasants. Most of everything flowed upward to the king, the “lord’s lord”. But, after the plague wiped out anywhere from 20% to 100% of the people in any particular place, every part of the economic process ground to a halt. Dead peasants couldn’t pick anything. Unpicked crops didn’t get to market and didn’t get up the food chain to the higher lords and the king. And it’s not like the lords were going to do something as crazy as farm their own fields.

Here’s Tuchman:

“When death slowed production, goods became scare and prices soared. In France, the price of wheat increased fourfold by 1350. At the same time, the shortage of labor brought the plague’s greatest social disruption – a concerted demand for higher wages. Peasants as well as artisans, craftsmen, clerks and priests discovered the lever of their own scarcity. Within a year after the plague had passed through northern France, the textile workers of St. Oman near Amiens had gained three successive wage increases. In many guilds artisans struck for higher pay and shorter hours. In an age when social conditions were regarded as fixed, such action was revolutionary.”

See any contemporary echoes? COVID has disrupted our supply chains and caused inflation. But, it’s also given exceptional power to workers over their bosses. The Great Resignation happening now owes everything to the pandemic.

Just like now, conservative forces attempted to minimize labor’s power. In 1351, the English Parliament passed “The Statue of Laborers” which (Tuchman again) “…denounced not only laborers who demanded higher wages but particularly those who chose ‘rather to beg in idleness than to earn their bread in labor’. Idleness of the worker was a crime against society, for the medieval system rested on his obligation (emphasis mine) to work”.

The conservative forces lost the fight then just as they’ll lose it again now. Tuchman gets to the heart of it: “Once people envisioned the possibility of a change in a fixed order [like feudalism], the end of an age of submission came in sight; the turn to individual conscience lay ahead. To that extend, the Black Death may have been the unrecognized beginning of modern man.”

That’s a pretty significant disruption. Something a lot like it is coming our way. But, that’s just history talking.

Trump Is Now Trying To Do To The Rest Of America What He Did To The GOP — Turn Us Into Him

Donald Trump is a virus in human form. That shouldn’t be a revelation to anyone.

Viruses are simple creatures — strands of RNA trying to make more of themselves. To do that, they need to invade a healthy cell — and use the cell as a kind of cheap sex hotel. The virus reproduces by turning our cells into it — and then using our cells to spew more of its Frankenstein RNA far and wide making us both sex hotel and pimp. No wonder we feel so tired when we get sick — we’re working our asses off at the cellular level. America feels similarly exhausted, doesn’t it? Like we’re fighting an actual disease in our body politic. I’m not sure where the metaphor ends or where the reality begins. Most of us thought (we hoped certainly) that Joe Biden winning the election (by seven million more popular votes no less!) would put this nightmare to bed. A strong showing by actual democracy, we assumed, would make the point strongly enough that most of the Republican Party would back snap to its senses and realize the terrible mistake they’d made climbing into bed with Trump.

That didn’t happen. It’s not going to because Donald Trump literally turned the GOP into him.

Trumpism hasn’t just replaced what we used to call “republicanism”, it’s superseded it. However… the GOP didn’t turn from gentlemen into bullies when they hitched their wagon to Trump’s. Gallant didn’t suddenly become Goofus. The Republican Party had been Goofus-ites long before they became Trumpites. Something about Trump made sense to them. They had always aspired to Trump’s level of sociopathic brashness but retail politics had always prevented them from actually trying it: what if they failed? Trumpism was a herd of elephants in a china shop. He approached retail politics the way a truck hijacker approaches a parked semi filled with high end goods.

Some quick history: in the Reagan Revolution’s dimming twilight — as Bill Clinton succeeded by demonstrating how Democrats could win elections by acting like Republicans — the Clinton-despising right wing money (they think of themselves as “Captains of Industry”!) took a good, hard look at its prospects for the future. Having turned the formerly progressive “Party of Lincoln” and Teddy Roosevelt into the Dixiecrats, the RW Money (always the “heart of darkness”) saw two things: 1) a rapidly diversifying America taking political power that had always been theirs, and 2) electoral extinction hurtling at them. The choice they faced was either share power with the rest of America (which, to them, meant having less money in their pockets cos paying more taxes), lose power entirely (a very real possibility if they ever began to share power), or seize power entirely — under false pretense — in order to hold onto power forever by shoving a state of permanent minority rule down America’s throat.

The Republican money chose option three.

By the time Donald Trump landed in their midst, the Republican Party was already deep into hijacking the judiciary — recognizing that lifetime judicial appointments were the key to stopping progress and progressive ideas dead. The RW Money wrote off controlling the House of Representatives (where they’re always running for re-election), assumed they’d always hold onto the heavily-tilted-toward-them Senate and understood that only extraordinary means (like Bush v Gore) could ever win a presidency; the popular vote being a lost cause, they focused on the Electoral College, America’s grand bargain with slavery. The federal bench — and its lifetime appointments — that was the RW Money’s chosen path forward to the fever dream of permanent minority rule.

From his first moments as Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell has been the Right Wing Money’s golden boy, walking point on hijacking the judiciary. He denied Obama not only a hearing for Merrick Garland but the chance to fill more than a hundred open federal bench slots. When the majority of Americans voted for Barack Obama, we voted for the people he’d choose to fill these slots. Apparently even winning elections doesn’t have the same consequences for Democrats as they do for Republicans. Mitch McConnell has been a beacon of white corruption his entire political career.

Ah, but even Mitch’s deep corruption wasn’t absolute corruption. To get there, the GOP needed Donald Trump.

The Republicans knew when they made Trump their nominee in 2016 that Russia owned him outright. They talked about it amongst themselves! Out loud! It was recorded! As current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a meeting of GOP leaders on June 25, 2016, he said: “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” No one in the room reacted with shock or surprise. There was nervous laughter — that’s why McCarthy reiterated how serious he was: “Swear to God!” Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan (third in line to the presidency!) asserted himself as the adult in the room. He didn’t issue orders that someone competent immediately begin investigating these accusations. He didn’t say “Geez, Kev — that’s crazy! You seem genuine. We better call the FBI since hat’s what we all swore an oath to do if something like this ever happened” Nope. Instead, Paul Ryan committed them all to keep this secret secret. “That’s how we know we’re family” is how he put a bow on it.

When asked about this conversation a year later (as far as I can tell, it was the ONLY time anyone in that room has been questioned by journalists about this conversation), Kevin McCarthy insisted he was joking. Does it sound like he’s joking on the tape — or does it sound like he “might be” joking? Washington Post reporter Adam Entous didn’t seem to think so. Kevin McCarthy got laughs in the room! Nervous laughs! But, that wasn’t Kevin McCarthy killing the room, that was Kevin KILLING OUR DEMOCRACY. Alongside Donald Trump. And Russia.

This is a story about a desperate, white mans’ political party making one last gasp Hail Mary chuck toward the distant end zone (where, they hope, permanent minority rule will catch the ball and score the winning TD). The Republicans — already corrupt — hitched their wagon to Bigger Corruption. Ah, but not just “bigger corruption”, the Biggest Corruption: TREASON.

Destroying the country is bad. Doing it in concert with countries we know want to destroy us? Badder times a kajillion.

Our dimwitted press seems utterly incapable of aggregating the very story THEY have reported. Were they capable of adding information to a story and then building new parts of the story upon new information as they report it, we would be way further down the road to resolving Trumpism than we are. This emperor’s nakedness is his corruption. It’s there. It’s a fact of life. And every single bit of it is illegal. I wonder… does our “journalist class” think that a car stolen right in front of them in broad daylight is any less stolen than a car stolen somewhere else in the dead of night? We The People didn’t normalize “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy grabbing”, the news media did when they equated those two very real assaults on our senses and culture with the utter bullshit of “But her emails!” “That,” our press insisted, was “both sides doing it”.

Oy.

Already, Donald Trump, like a virus, was turning us into him. America’s politics have always been ugly. But, one side, by habit, has always accepted violence as a political weapon. And, going back to Watergate, one side has consistently seen skirting the law if not outright breaking it as an acceptable campaign strategy. The reason Democrats never ever feel compelled to cheat in order to win an election is because Democrats really and truly believe in governing and want to govern. They believe in the rule of law and in upholding their oath to defend the Constitution against ALL enemies foreign (and especially) domestic. One doesn’t suppress the opposition’s voters or gerrymander because one believes one’s ideas are better. Those are things one does when one has NO ideas and only power for its own sake matters.

The majority of Americans are very good people. We want our children to grow up with the brightest futures imaginable. That is, we want all of our children to grow up that way. What makes a Republican a Republican is their knee jerk disgust at the thought of using government to help ordinary Americans. Republicans see government as a giant cash machine for them and their friends.

Perversely, it will probably be the coronavirus pandemic that saved American democracy from Donald Trump. Trump’s relentless corruption dulled news media senses already dulled by “both sides do it” thinking. But even our feeble-minded press couldn’t figure out how to normalize all that death. Having to work remotely from their houses fixed a fair amount of that flippancy. Being cast out of their safe media bubble — forced to struggle with the very technology itself (rather than having “tech people” to do it) — for a little while there, it really humanized the news media. Getting their mojo (and their sets back) has had the opposite effect. They’ve stopped seeing crime committed in front of them as crime.

Plenty of Americans have been miles ahead of the news media in seeing how the dots connect in this story. We never put on a pair of reality blinders as they did. We saw Trump for the con man and criminal he is and wondered why journalists couldn’t see the same thing. That’s the call coming from inside the house again. Trump has already, to a large degree, turned the news media into him, too.

Every time the news media asks (having scratched their head over it for years) “Is Trump racist?”, that’s the press being Trumpified. Of COURSE he’s racist! Why the hell are you asking him? How the hell would Trump know if he’s racist? He has zero perspective. How about asking some of the victims of his racism (there are plenty!) if Trump’s racist; they know! Every time the news media asks “What’s the hold Trump has over the Republican Party?” they demonstrate their inability to tell this story. They’ve lost the thread completely.

Yeah, sure, Trump’s base scares them — as do the ups and downs of retail politics. They only like it when it’s fun! But the thing that scares them most about Trump and their ongoing involvement with him is how un-fun it can be when Trump’s madness is upon him and he’s looking for someone to blame. Then, all bets are off. Then it all comes down to the Trump gang’s willingness to keep that secret they all agreed to keep in June 2016 when Kevin McCarthy confirmed their wort suspicions. Trump had already set the hooks in deep.

They were Trumpified.

America won’t give Trump that choice. Even if he just outright takes it and forces America’s hand even further, Americans won’t give in to fascism the way Germans did. American diversity will stand in fascism’s way. There won’t be nearly enough manpower to contain all the woke opposition the Trumpublicans will encounter. And that is where it will end. The Republican Party — now entirely Trumpist — will crash and burn when treason finally gets slapped onto the table and we begin to prosecute it.

The rest of us will have to worry about whether there’s enough popcorn for the show.

If I’m Coronavirus, Donald Trump Is The Best POTUS Evah!

Think of this pandemic from the coronavirus’ point of view. It has one, ya know.

Coronaviruses have been around — infecting humans — for at least 10,000 years. Possibly longer. Ironically, most life on earth may have started out with viruses — simple strands of RNA that, eventually, evolved into us — an incredibly complex, DNA-based organism susceptible to something as simple as a virus.

On the one hand, viruses aren’t exactly “alive” as we humans define it. But then, humans always see things from our limited point of view and assume that’s all there is to see. We see and hear limited light and sound spectra while lots of other light and sound pinballs all around us regardless of how oblivious we are to them. Viruses may not be “alive”, but they have a very specific purpose “in mind”. They don’t exist simply to “be here”, they have an imperative — a purpose that drives them. They need to reproduce.

But, in order to reproduce, viruses need a host. They need some other creature’s DNA. They need to sneak in to their host completely uninvited. Not wanted, in fact.

Once inside, their goal is to make as many copies of themselves inside your cells as they can. They don’t care if they kill you because they can still spread via your dying tissue and ooze. You, the host may die, but the virus will not. It will simply live on in your festering, rotting remains. Viruses are like zombies — brainless and yet single-mindedly driven to turn you into them.

If ever a human being bore all the qualities of a virus, it’s Donald Trump. As former Republican Rick Wilson so aptly put it in his book title — Everything Trump Touches Dies. Trump invades space like a virus. He needs to turn any space he walks into into a celebration of him. He’s remarkably adept at adapting. That’s the advantage to always lying about everything. You can switch directions on a dime without fear of people calling you a hypocrite. Of COURSE you’re a hypocrite. It’s not even worth mentioning anymore!

The moment the press accepted “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy-grabbing”, we were well and truly infected. Trumpism took out most of the press and it took out the entire Republican Party. Looking back now, all those Republicans running to Trump are a lot like Stay-at-home protestors. They’re incredibly cynical and lot of them are more infected than they know. Worse, they’re spreaders — spreading it to their own.

If I put myself inside a coronavirus’ perspective — I look at those Trump-loving protestors in their protesting clumps with a smile that never quits. It’s not just proximity that’s a problem but duration. Spend a few moments in the presence of an infected person — you may get away with it (so long as you didn’t inhale any of their droplets). Spend an hour in an infected person’s presence — in a confined space — and you’re playing Russian Roulette with a gun with one chamber in it. And the chamber’s loaded.

The reason so many health care front-liners are getting hit and getting hit hard is because in addition to the proximity that allows coronavirus access to them and their bodies, there’s the size of the viral load hitting the front-liners. It’s massive and sometimes relentless. It’s like water pouring into a boat. You can bail and keep the boat from sinking. But if the water coming in is more than the water going out, you won’t keep the boat from sinking for very long.

If I’m a coronavirus, I look at China’s initial reaction (lying about me) with glee. But I look at what Donald Trump did with outright delirium. That’s how happy Donald Trump makes me. China eventually got its shit together and locked its citizens down in a way America couldn’t ever. A third of Americans don’t “do” selfless. They need their haircuts and bars. They need everyone else to know that we’re not the boss of them. If they want to get sick from a pandemic-strength pathogen, that’s their business, not ours.

If WE get sick though, because THEY infected us?

Sounds kinda “viral” in its thinking, no?