Post #49 The Rising Threat of Covid-B: Steve Bannon

There were 782 deaths from covid-19 around New York State yesterday. That number has been steady all week. Total deaths in the state long ago exceeded 10,000. Around here, there is little evidence that there is a killer in the air. Oh, there are some packages of food in quarantine by door, and maybe our quiet country road is quieter than usual but other than that the neighborhood looks the same. Change here in the country happens at a snails pace.  Excitement on our walks is noticing that a neighbor has painted his mailbox a new color or that there's a squashed frog on the road in front of No. 37.

Even in good times, we never see that many people, and now we see even fewer. Those we do pass will say a brief hello. It's the sadness in their faces or their willingness to step further to their side of the road that is a tacit acknowledgement that they recognize that despite the hardships — and this is no wealthy suburban street — we're all in this together.

That's why it was so unsettling to see the anti-stay-at-home rallies in Michigan, Ohio and elsewhere. Far from being ad-hoc affairs, they have been organized by rightwing groups,  egged on by Fox commentators like Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity, who downplay the dangers of the virus while broadcasting from their basement studios. Last night, we watched MAGA-hatted protesters on the news, waving flags, blocking traffic and screaming about their Constitutional rights to make as many people as sick as they can. Maybe they're just tired of being cooped up with their wives and kids, helping with the dishes, the vacuuming and their kids' homework, so this is a way to burn off pent-up testosterone. To me, though, it was more menacing than that. The rallies had the look of those you saw in the newsreels from Germany in 1933 when Nazi thugs, who intimidated anyone who disagreed with them, especially Jews, and helped bring Hitler into power.  The question is, can those kinds of tactics work here? Clearly, they're trying.

I wasn't surprised when reading about the reasons for Trump's anger at the World Health Organization to see Steve Bannon's name in the article. Apparently, the dark knight is whispering in the president's ear again.  We might as well call him Covid-B, because he keeps coming back, he works invisibly and, if the defunding of the WHO has the intended effect of destroying its worldwide efforts to fight pandemics, he is just as dangerous.

It is Covid-B who is undoubtedly telling Trump to rewrite history, and if his revisionism doesn't take when it's trotted out once, Covid-B knows his history well enough to reassure the president that all you have to do is repeat the big lie often enough before people start believing it. That's what we're seeing every night with these briefings that everyone acknowledges are a joke, except for Fox, which takes them very seriously and airs them from beginning to end. Then their substance is repeated by Trump's pet commentators who are no longer content just to vent but now send their supporters out into street to intimidate those who are just trying to do the right thing.

The commentators know Trump is in trouble. His minimizing the virus is backfiring in the states that he can ill afford to lose. There were 22,000 cases in Florida as of yesterday and the number is spiking every day after DeSantis followed Trump's lead and scoffed at those who said he had to close the beaches. Trump refused requests to send aid to Michigan after the governor begged for PPEs. Michigan has 28,000 cases. Trump won that state by 11,000 votes. If he loses those states, he has virtually no chance in November, so his only shot is to harness his street gangs while at the same time calling in his chits among the judges who owe their shiny black robes to him. No doubt the Democrats will file law suits to open up more polling places but after three years of remaking the judicial system, the administration is confident that any ridiculous position it takes will ultimately be ratified by the Supreme Court. He could decree that only registered members of the Klan could go to the polls in Mississippi and the Court would approve it by a 5-4 vote.

And do you think Trump's is refusing to bail out the post office because he hates getting junk mail? Nope, that also has Covid-Be's fingerprints all over it. If he weakens the USPS, it buttresses his argument that mail-in voting is an invitation for fraud, which everyone knows isn't true. But mail-in balloting is the best way to protect lives (a necessity if he pushes states to open too soon) and guarantee turnout in the wake of polling place reductions and intimidation. "If we make it easier to vote, then no Republican will ever win another election," Trump said, letting the cat out of the bag. It not only makes it easier, but it takes away the power of the mobs Fox and Covid-B know they can deploy to great success. There is a certain irony here, too, as Trump's policies cause the virus to spread through Red states, the more of his supporters are going to want to mail in their ballots. — a subtlety that is undoubtedly lost on Trump who only has a thug's mentality.

Will it work? Well, maybe not. Wisconsin may have been the canary in the coal mine when it came to their intentions, but it was also a warning in regard to the outcome, as voters were so furious with their plight and could see through the bullshit that they  turned out in record numbers, risking their lives to defeat Trump's chosen judge. That's not a good sign for the Republicans in November when the vote will not be about a judge but a president, and they know it. I think it's no coincidence that these rallies have started up in the wake of Wisconsin vote. They're already getting desperate. Covid-B will do whatever he can while voters will do what they can to vote. We're not only facing a summer of record deaths, but I predict it will also be a summer of chaos, riot and intimidation as the two sides head toward a major collision in the fall. Our little street may stay quiet, but out there in the states that are up for grab in the courtrooms there is going to be pitched battles, the likes of which we have never seen before in this country, except from 1861 to 1865. The stakes are that big.


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