Doubling Down

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TPM Reader DB reports in from the Shenandoah Valley …

So I was listening to your podcast tonight and I wanted to share some things I’ve been seeing. You have been talking about covid turning points, and I will get to that in a second, but I wanted to say I was also struck (dumb) by this warrior bullshit. Like, what the actual fuck? Here’s what the actual fuck: Trump instinctively knows that he does not have what it takes to deal with this crisis. He just doesn’t. We all see that. But he is a betting man, and he always doubles down.

We are in this mess because he bet that this wouldn’t turn into a pandemic, and he didn’t want to spook the market. He lost that bet. His response to the pandemic is a world historic clusterfuck. I think Brian Beutler a few days ago was musing, “has any leader in history ever shit the bed this bad” You gotta go deep in the history vault to find examples. His new bet is this: the pandemic is not going to spread to my base. That’s the bet. I think he is going to lose that bet, very badly. We just received news that the grandmother of a close family friend died yesterday in Luray, VA, where my wife is from. Our friend’s mother works in the local nursing home, and believes her grandmother got it from her mother, who tested positive for COVID, along with 40 other members of the staff. 40 people! And that is just staff. Who knows how many patients? When you get into small towns, the nursing homes are not necessarily staffed by immigrants and people of color. In a poor town like luray (which has less than 3000 people), the nursing home gig is considered a reasonably good job. That’s gonna be working class white christian Trumpy people. It’s gonna hit red America. they are not being careful. Yes, yes, we know there’s no subway, and its not crowded, wide open spaces and dirt roads and all that, and at least for now, my in-laws’ church is congregating on Zoom. But that’s not gonna last. we know that. and who knows how that is going to go down. It is definitely not a bet I would make.

My covid turning point was around my birthday, on March 7. I had been spending the days around Super Tuesday engaged in a two front Facebook war, arguing with a conservative friend (and her Facebook friends) that it was reckless, irresponsible and frankly offensive to make light of the COVID stuff. I was getting this “Bernie wants to give away the COVID vaccine, for FREEEE” nonsense. And I had to say “mark my words, this is gonna get bad. And Trump will be doing more socialism than Bernie ever dreamed of.” and on the other side, I was trying to ask Bernie diehards very politely to explain to me exactly how, if Bernie wasn’t going to back removing the filibuster, how the revolution was gonna go down. you can pretty much figure out how that went down…

At any rate, I digress. My wife and I teach Music Together classes for our work, and I was starting to freak out, because our classes are pretty much a Petri dish, and so I saw this coming, didn’t know the extent of it, but started working on better hygiene protocols the last week of February. This was, as you remember, during the days when COVID was only dangerous for old people, and so since I work with young families, I was introducing this extra level of fastidiousness in the classroom in the following terms: “so it seems that we, as young parents and babies, aren’t really at risk, but we are very concerned with being a vector for the virus, so let’s all be careful, etc.” and everyone is nodding along. Then, right after my birthday, I very suddenly get sick, spike a high fever, feel like crap, etc. my wife and kids had something similar the previous week, went to the doctor, tested negative for flu, negative for strep. It was a weird sickness, lasted 3-4 days, only had fevers, (super sweaty, weird dreams, etc.) mainly at night, it was like nothing I ever had. went to the doctor. no tests for COVID available, right? But it stuck with me. Did our whole family have it? On Thursday March 12, my kid’s school was supposed to sing the national anthem at a Harlem Globetrotters game in Charlottesville. The day before, on the 11th, I email the music teacher and the class, saying “you know, I don’t really want to be this guy, but like, are we really still doing this?” and there is kind of this ambivalent response. The next morning, on the 12th, I have two music classes to teach, one at 9:30 and one at 10:30. I am starting to feel uneasy about teaching, whether it was morally OK to do. But I don’t want to cancel classes people have already paid us for. Most of the people showed up for the 9:30 class, only one person showed up for the 10:30. I called my wife, and said, we have to cancel the rest of the session, and we have been Zooming ever since (since you asked, it’s going better than I thought, but like everyone else, it still sucks, and I want to be with people for real).

So that’s my COVID turning point. Something must have happened between 9:30 and 10:30 am on Thursday March 12 to make everyone in my client community go on lockdown right at that moment (also, the globetrotters game was postponed by the time I had left the classroom). Sorry to ramble, and not write in an easily excerptible way, but it is what it is. Thank you for all the wonderful work you do. For some reason it really lifts my heart, when I hear your podcast, when you all check in on how you all are doing during it, and the way in which you continually remind people to support local businesses. That means a lot to us.

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