Wed. Sep 29th, 2021


A survey of Covid-19 implications from an international perspective written by Adolfo Quizon Paglinawan

Chapter 3

Racism in the raw

The first time I heard it, I said this is racism in the raw, spoken at high levels of any government.

My friend Wilson Lee Flores, an accomplished feature writer for Philippine Star and owner of the legendary Kamuning Bakery host of the Pandesal Forum, blasted in his Facebook page:

“I used to partly admire #Trump,

but after #Covid19 fiasco in #USA,

I realize he’s dangerous in tantrums,

lack of logic & racist too in mindset!”

But tantrum it may not be, in fact, premeditated even.

Batya Ungar-Sargon of The Daily Beast said “Using racist or racially inflected language, and waiting for Democrats to respond with fury, is a go-to move for Trump.”  Straight out of the brains of Steve Bannon, former executive chairman of Breitbart News who served as White House Chief Strategist during the first seven months of Trump’s term:

 Bannon explained the two-pronged strategy in a 2017 interview that led to his ouster from the administration: “We can crush the Democrats. I got ‘em!””

Racist tweets were a way to steal an economic platform from the left, not the endgame but a way to distract the enemy —the Democrats and the liberal media—with something the electorate doesn’t care about; and then you feed the electorate something they do care about. Get the left by talking about racism, and then supply the electorate with a soaring economy, stealing what should have been their plan all along.

The tweets aren’t for his base—they are for the media. 

She says it’s a move Trump has used again and again, pulling the rug under the Democrats’ feet and allowing the president to scramble the left and right economic divide.

Sargon also cited the kind of “America First” protectionism that was the signature platform agenda of Trump’s first term, a new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico that, ironically, resembled nothing so much as the lefty economic agenda that the Democrats had long abandoned.

Image Botsford@jabinbotsford

Close up of President @realDonaldTrump notes is seen where

he crossed out “Corona” and replaced it with “Chinese” Virus

as he speaks with his coronavirus task force today at the White House.

#trump #trumpnote

2:06 AM · Mar 20, 2020·Twitter Web App

Subsequently, Trump used his right hand in his trade war with China, taking up actions that labor unions and other liberals have long demanded. Note that his newly renegotiated trade agreement with Mexico and Canada was by all accounts the most pro-labor, environmentally friendly trade agreement the U.S. has ever entered into. Trump’s approach, beginning with a cut to corporate taxes, and buoying that with pro-worker bottom-up measures, was a kind of Americanized version of the Scandinavian democratic socialist model touted by Bernie Sanders.

 If, in that long-ago time before 2016, Republicans stood for American exceptionalism, endless war, free market economics and an aversion to Russia, Trump stands for just the opposite, giving him a lot more in common with Sanders than with someone like Ted Cruz or Pat Toomey, at least on the economic front. 

Trump’s reaction to the corona virus followed suit. On the same day he started referring to it as the “Chinese Virus,” the Washington Post reported that the White House would act on calls to send cash directly to American families. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the Fox Business Network that plan was to send payments totaling $500 billion directly to Americans, $1,000 for adults and $500 for each child, with another infusion in six weeks if the emergency persists. 

Trump also said that the government might demand equity in businesses it helps save, saying that “People are coming for money… in some cases where they did certain things including buying back stock… maybe I view that a little differently as someone who didn’t.”

Compare this to the bank bailouts accompanying the recession that the Democrats presided over in 2009, and you would see what Bannon was talking about. 

The monicker “Chinese virus” is all about re-election politics.

As the corona virus pandemic has deepened, Democratic governors bearing the heaviest burdens are increasingly wary that if they complain too loudly about the federal response, they will anger Donald Trump and risk losing critical support during a life-or-death crisis onto the November 2020 national elections.

Blaming China is no different from blaming Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo that half the cases and deaths due to Covid-19 in the US is in the state of New York.

Trump said “He had a choice… He refused to order 15,000 ventilators,” Trump said, referencing a recent column by Betsy McCaughey, a longtime health-care policy crusader on the right. “She said that he didn’t buy the ventilators in 2015 for a pandemic, established death panels and lotteries instead.”

But this is beyond just ventilators, according to Jeremy Konyndyk, who previously led the office of foreign disaster assistance at USAID and served as the Ebola response co-coordinator in the Obama Administration.

Konyndyk recalls attending a meeting in mid-February with top Trump administration officials present in which the only topic of conversation was the travel bans. That’s when he began to despair about the federal handling of the crisis and ask “Where’s the discussion on protecting our hospitals? Where’s the discussion on high-risk populations, on surveillance so we can detect where the virus is. I knew then that the president had set the priority, the bureaucracy was following it, but it was the wrong priority.”

So, it has transpired. In the wake of the testing kits disaster has come the personal protective equipment (PPE) disaster, the hospital bed disaster, and now the ventilator disaster.

Ventilators, literal life preservers, are in dire short supply across the country. When governors begged Trump to unleash the full might of the US government on this critical problem, he told them on 16 March – “Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment – try getting it yourselves.”

In the absence of a strong federal response, a patchwork of efforts has sprouted all across the country. State governors are doing their own thing. Cities, even individual hospitals, are coping as best they can.

It’s absurd that thinktanks and Twitter are providing more actionable guidance in the US than the federal government, but that’s where we are.”

Begging for new approaches

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned in 2015 about a novel influenza pandemic that has a lot of bearing today.

 “The detection of avian influenza in birds in the United States and abroad is an important reminder of the need for vigilance in preparing for the next influenza pandemic.

“A well-matched vaccine will likely offer the best protection against a novel influenza virus and serve as a key component of a pandemic mitigation effort.

“In the event of a severe influenza pandemic, two pandemic influenza vaccine doses separated by 21 days may be required for all age groups for optimal immune response to the vaccination and maximal protection from infection.”

The culpability of the state governor here is inescapable, as the report continues:

“State and local public health programs will be responsible for vaccine distribution and administration.” 

What is being said mostly in the report was first a general acceptance that a next flu-related pandemic is forthcoming and that second, the urgency of a mitigation or prevention necessitates a vaccination strategy.

But the question being begged is that as sure as vaccination could help reduce cases going to gruesome statistical proportions, equipment such as ventilators which enables the oxygenization of the blood when patients’ lungs no longer function, are necessary to save lives once infections go haywire.

 John McClaughry, the vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute, was even more surgical: “Our complacency is starkly exhibited by the fact that we don’t have a widely accepted treatment for knocking back the corona virus. Medical providers isolate victims, provide symptomatic relief, treat secondary complications, and hope that the patient’s immune system rallies to overcome the viral invasion. But these measures do not add up to a cure.”

He recalled that three years ago he wrote a commentary entitled “Four Widely Ignored Threats” where his fourth concern after fiscal collapse, asteroid impact, and electromagnetic pulse was “the threat of an epidemic like the 1918 Spanish flu that killed millions of people worldwide.”

McClaughry said “The heavy use of antibiotics threatens to produce mutated ‘superbugs’ that can defeat antibiotics. The FDA is offering incentives to drug companies to find new antibiotics, but this is probably a losing race. … There are non-pharmaceutical alternatives that deserve modern reexamination, but ‘official medicine’ shows little interest.

“The U.S. medical profession is uncomfortable making use of non-FDA approved treatments, and wary of retribution by frowning licensing boards and hungry malpractice lawyers.  Intravenous Vitamin C and ultraviolet blood irradiation are examples. We need to give every anti-viral treatment a fair and rigorous test, at public expense.

“Now is an excellent time, with thousands testing positive for corona virus.”

(To be continued)


Ado Paglinawan is a daily commentator at Radyo Pilipinas1, and a regular columnist at the newest daily news website and its partner magazine The Sovereign. He is a former Philippine diplomat, serving in the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC and in the Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York as press attaché, spokesman and special assistant to Ambassador Emmanuel N. Pelaez. He has served a strategic consultant to Agriculture Secretary Luisito Lorenzo, Tourism Secretary Richard Gordon and Finance Secretary Roberto de Ocampo. He studied for 15 years at San Beda College from grade 1 to 4th year college majoring in English and Philosophy, minor in political science and history. He is a veteran of the First Quarter Storm participating as president of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines. Ado has taken continuing studies in world politics and diplomacy, international public relations, information technology and remote sensing, Christian and Islamic studies in various universities in Washington DC.


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