You Must Testify in the House, Dr. Fauci

From National Geographic

I just can’t understand how there are people anywhere in the country right now so brainwashed by right-wing media propaganda that they cannot see what is being foisted onto them by the wealthy donor class.  While the ones making all the noise in the Fox media bubble about “opening up the economy” and “give me my freedom” are fully insulated from any fear of catching Covid-19 by virtue of their wealth and status, they are funding “Astroturf” demonstrations in cities all over the country by people armed with assault rifles and other firearms who are almost entirely white and still employed.  The ones who are most at risk by a “return to normal” are the lowest-paid, mostly minority citizens or immigrants with the least to gain by being forced back to a job without adequate protections or sufficient testing to keep them from getting the virus.  I haven’t seen anyone like that at any of those stupid protests.

It’s amazing to me that it is still possible for propaganda to convince such large swaths of people of outright lies that are easily debunked with just a few Google searches.  A virus has no interest in the political leaning of the human host that it infects, and a lack of belief in the virus does not provide immunity.   It is not the wealthy donors/corporate leaders that incite these Tea-Party-esque protests who are out in the streets spreading Covid-19; many of the armed protestors were members of militias, along with extremist groups and conspiracy theorists attracting in-kind attention.  These are a loud, vocal but statistically insignificant section of society encouraged to expose themselves to Covid-19 by groups supporting the presidential reelection.  The vast majority of us agree that it is too soon to relax social distancing guidelines or to go back into enclosed spaces with large groups of people.  Nothing the Republicans and their donors are doing now in any way is meant to benefit the vast majority of us, and anyone who tries to tell you anything different is lying to you. 

Every one of the loudmouth idiots on right-wing media claiming that getting the “economy” going again is worth a loss of some lives continue to keep themselves and their loved ones safely sheltering at home, away from the masses that includes the rest of us.  Our lives are of no importance to them in the big picture, as they see the rest of us as expendable and of little use if we’re not promoting a cause that benefits their corporate line.

Everyone who died after contracting Covid-19 mattered to someone, and their deaths are being mourned by loved ones all over the world.  It is notable that there have been few publicized cases of Covid-19 in the Republican Party higher echelon.  There were a few representatives, and of course Senator Rand Paul (who continued to expose everyone with whom he had contact while he waited for his test results) who tested positive early on, but all of them had an uneventful disease course and recovery.  To the best of my knowledge, none have lost family members or close friends to the virus, what with their white privilege and higher net worth versus the population at large.  Trump, Pence and everyone with whom they come into contact are getting tested regularly, while those of us in the real world can only access tests that may take days to return results if we’re hospitalized and symptomatic, so no one knows who among us are asymptomatic carriers.  Still, Trump keeps pushing to “reopen our country” while regularly but insufficiently raising the expected number of Americans who will not survive his negligence while trying to convince his base he has no responsibility for those unnecessary and totally preventable deaths.

Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York said, “They want to fund corporate America.  That’s who puts money in their pockets.  And I say let’s fund working Americans.  That’s the choice.”  The Republicans in power at the federal, state and even local levels are parroting Trump’s reelection politics and also focusing foolishly on the economics of the pandemic, rather than sensibly addressing the pandemic, which is the only way the economics will improve.  I don’t care how many beauty shops, massage studios, tattoo parlors or restaurants are approved to reopen – if customers don’t feel safe enough to come in, there will be no recovery.

This is the bottom line for the Republican Party – keep the money flowing to their donors so it can find its way into their reelection coffers.  They have sold their voters a real bill of goods using dog whistle politics.  Trump’s xenophobic attack on the “Chinese” or “Wuhan” virus – like he used immigration from Central and South America during the 2016 election – and a debunked conspiracy theory that the virus was 1) man-made in a lab in Wuhan and released or 2) released accidentally from a Wuhan lab where they were experimenting with virus in monkeys, are just the start.  Republicans all over the country have jumped onto the bandwagon with Trump, including (no surprise) Jeff Sessions, Tom Cotton, Kris Kobach, Josh Hawley, John Cornyn, Lindsey Graham and Martha McSally.  They and many more are utilizing this rhetoric in their campaign ads, and they have no problem saying so out loud in public.  These things strike a chord in voters with a tendency towards racism and xenophobia, and they have learned to manipulate their constituents by tapping into this underlying inclination.  Birtherism, confederate flags, “illegal aliens” – all are used to inflame racial tensions and divide us.

When right-wing media – particularly Fox – supports this skewed and highly prejudicial messaging, it makes it easier to keep their viewers tuned in to their propaganda.  Who doesn’t want to have their own biases confirmed by the host on your favorite “news” channel?  No one questions whatever garbage comes at them from their screens; confirmation bias keeps the bullshit meter quiet, and using this xenophobic rhetoric helps to distract from Trump’s utter failure to protect us.

Trump is getting tired of Dr. Anthony Fauci and his inconvenient facts and realistic predictions for what’s likely coming in the next year, and he’s starting to do what he always does when someone with a brain disagrees with his own “feelings” – he’s pushing Dr. Fauci off the stage and out of sight of his base.  Trump refuses to let Dr. Fauci testify before the House Appropriations Committee, claiming he has to focus on Covid-19 and doesn’t have time to waste on pointless oversight, but he’s approved Fauci’s appearance next week in the Senate.  Trump has stated out loud that this is because “Trump-haters” are in the House. 

I know that Dr. Fauci has devoted his professional career to the NIAID/NIH, where he began as a clinical associate after completing his residency in 1968.   He worked his way up to director in 1984, and was instrumental in HIV/AIDS research.  I applaud his service to the country over all those years, and thank him sincerely for choosing a career in public health instead of the more lucrative private practice route.  I appreciate his desire to continue on after this has passed, but desperate times really do call for desperate measures.  This desperate time calls for Dr. Fauci to make the ultimate sacrifice for the good of the country, maybe even the world, and resign from NIAID so that he can appear before the House and testify freely about all that he knows regarding the federal government’s response (or lack thereof) to this pandemic.  Trump knows that his inability to do what is best for the country will once again be on full display if Dr. Fauci is able to enlighten us, but his ability to quash Dr. Fauci’s testimony drops to zero once Dr. Fauci leaves the NIAID and becomes just another private citizen. 

Dr. Fauci is seventy-nine years old, and (as my dad used to say), has more years behind him than he does in front.  It is time for him to pack up his desk and head off into the sunset of retirement, freeing him to testify in the House.  I’m sure that Dr. Fauci believes he can do more good by remaining in his position to push the science to manage the pandemic, but I think he’s fallen victim to the same magical thinking that has spread like a virus throughout the entire executive branch.  Remember Jim Mattis, Rex Tillerson, Reince Priebus, John Bolton and John Kelly?

Trump does not listen to anyone with expertise in any field.  The fact that Trump himself is singularly, incredibly and uniformly uninformed, under-informed and misinformed about everything that he needs to do or manage in his role as president is obvious to anyone who takes a few minutes to fact find.  It never ceases to astound me that Fox viewers, who have listened to Trump ramble on for hours and hours, bouncing from one subject to another while making almost no sense, still cannot put together his incoherence and incompetence as the existential threat to our very existence as a democracy and as humans that has been so apparent to the rest of us.  This is why Dr. Fauci has to stand up and speak out now.  Otherwise, the preventable deaths that follow will weigh on him for the rest of his life.

Dr. Fauci must resign his position at NIAID and provide the House with any and all documentation they have requested in their investigation of the response to Covid-19.  He should also include unrequested information if it addresses the matter at hand.  Dr. Fauci’s testimony should be public, and the Republicans on the committee should be prevented from propagandizing – although how you accomplish the latter is beyond me.  We have already lost more than 65,000 citizens due in large part to the denial, down-playing and inaction of Trump and his administration.  To limit further loss of life, Dr. Fauci must speak out and elucidate what the president knew, when he knew it, what was recommended by the experts, and what he chose to do instead.  Dr. Fauci needs to clarify why the US didn’t utilize the WHO tests already proven to be effective instead of tasking the CDC with a job it was not designed to do, and any information he can provide with regard to the millions of PPE that was sold to China shortly before it was discovered that our own stockpiles of these items was beyond insufficient should be enlightening.  

Trump continues to purge the executive branch of all who dare to do their jobs, since most of those jobs entail the honest and public reporting of Trump’s wildly erratic and incoherent leadership, and Dr. Fauci’s time is drawing neigh.  Trump has never admitted wrongdoing or mistakes, whether intentional or unintentional, as his malignant narcissism completely avoids any introspection or contemplating the possibility that something he did was wrong or caused harm.  He lacks empathy, or even the ability to pretend to be empathetic, never failing to make everything, including the deaths of tens of thousands of us whose protection he is expected to foster, all about him.  Since starting these stupid coronavirus rallies (which is obviously what they are in Trump’s head), the Washington Post last week reported Trump had spoken for at least 28 hours over 35 briefings, more than two hours attacking opponents and the media, an hour praising himself and his administration, around nine minutes touting the use of unproven drugs as treatment for Covid-19, and a big 4 ½ minutes expressing sympathy over the dead.  A quarter of the things he said from prepared remarks were either false or outright misleading, culminating in his off-the-cuff suggestions to inject disinfectant or get “really powerful” light inside the body.  He later tried to claim he was being sarcastic.  We have eyes, Donny, so no.

Dr. Fauci, we love you, and under other circumstances, we would support you remaining at NIAID for as long as you want to be there.  This presidency and administration are something never before considered as an actual threat to our society, and your work at NIAID is superseded by your duty to protect Americans from the negligence and incompetence that Trump has spread throughout the administration in a deliberate strategy to destroy government as we know it.  I know that this isn’t how you expected to end your time at NIAID, but rest assured that doing this now is necessary for the good of the many…

not the few….

or the one.

History will remember your choice.  We will owe our lives to you.

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