Contagion as Metaphor

The thing about coronavirus — about any disease, really — is that we know what to do.

We may not know how to prevent it. We may not know how to cure it. We may not even know how to alleviate suffering.

But we know what to do.

We know how to look for it. We know how to identify it. We know what to do about it.

We know what to do.

Problem is, we don’t do it.

We haven’t known what to do all that long, century-and-a-half maybe, half-dozen generations. Before disease was known for what it is, for most of human history, for most of civilizations, we didn’t what to do, and we were all over the place with it. And while we’ve known what do for maybe six generations, it’s only the past four, the past hundred years, where we’ve had a good handle on it.

The hundred years since the global influenza pandemic.

Yeah, we know what to do now. Not that we do it. We knew what to do about HIV. We didn’t.

That’s what Randy Shilts wrote about. He covered that epidemic from Ground Zero, in San Francisco. He later died of it, but not before he published And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic in 1987.

The title tells you know you need to know, for present purposes. It wasn’t the epidemic. It was the politics. That’s why we didn’t do what we know to do.

That’s why we’re not doing it now.

And that’s why we’re scared shitless.

Some people know what to do. Some people are doing it. We’ve already seen an extensive genetic analysis of one strain of the virus, on Twitter no less. That doesn’t give you the cure, much less prevention, but that’s how you do it, that’s how you go about it. We’re already getting a handle on how it spreads, and how to mitigate that.

We’ve learned a lot in the past six generations, especially the past four.

But we haven’t learned how to put the right people in charge, the people who know what to do. Instead we put the wrong people in charge, people who not only don’t know what to do, but people who have a knack for making it worse.

And that’s what scares us shitless. It’s not that we don’t know what to do. It’s not even that we don’t do it. It’s that we make it worse.

Every time.

Every fucking time.

Just look at global warming.

31 comments:

9:54 pm • Sunday • March 1, 2020

Blogger went to six Upper West Side stores – all were out of hand sanitizer. And there’s a pasta shortage. At least NYC health authorities have a storehouse of supplies, ready for the worst.

10:15 pm • Sunday • March 1, 2020

@blogenfreude: At least it wasn’t facemasks.

We’re not going to manage this well. Understocked container ships are already arriving in Long Beach. Store shelves are being stripped. The fear is going to do much more damage than the contagion itself. That’s the part we really don’t know how to do.

1:22 am • Monday • March 2, 2020

@nojo: Japanese heard story about toilet paper shortage and stripped the shelves … of course I said: NO SHIT?

11:47 am • Monday • March 2, 2020

@nojo: True, regardless of whether this is an overreaction or social hysteria, the effect on our eCONomy is very real and the government can’t just lie its way out as with everything else.

12:27 pm • Monday • March 2, 2020

Our nation’s case of Moronavirus however, appears to be terminal.

7:12 pm • Monday • March 2, 2020

Sadly, we did know reasonably well what to do in 1918, and our leadership lied to us about it back then, too…

7:54 am • Tuesday • March 3, 2020

Welp, we won’t have Tweety to kick around anymore…

11:27 am • Tuesday • March 3, 2020

Wow, for a “capitalist” eCONomy, our oligarchs sure do get a lot of socialized trillion dollar bailouts : )

I’m sure they’ll get right on passing along those interest rate cuts to our student loans, credit cards, and HELOCs, ha ha.

9:42 am • Wednesday • March 4, 2020

@¡Andrew!: Looks like the markets saw the rate cut as the desperation move it is. Better luck next time!

10:00 am • Wednesday • March 4, 2020

Oh please Jeebus, not Biden.

He’s Al Gore, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton all rolled into one; a milquetoast status quo candidate that people think other people want to vote for. He’s a daily gaffe machine running an uninspiring campaign and compromised by the billionaires, the banks, and the credit card companies to a comical degree. We’re gonna have to relive every detail of his sleazy, sordid political career between now and forever.

Vote blue no matter who, but we’ve seen how this movie ends in 2000, 2004, and 2016. Given the choice between a “centrist” Dem and a lying, fascist Republican, our despicable system installs the moronic right-winger each time. Ugh, just no.

10:16 am • Wednesday • March 4, 2020

@nojo:
Oh no our neo-fascist kleptocracy is at stake.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

11:31 am • Wednesday • March 4, 2020

@¡Andrew!: The worst arguments insist Biden is “electable”, when a candidate like him has never won in my lifetime. Maybe it’s different this time, but I’m getting Spring 2016 vibes: I hope you people know what you’re doing, because I’m stuck with your collective judgment.

6:02 pm • Wednesday • March 4, 2020

@nojo: Yeah, Bill Clinton and Obama both ran progressive campaigns and then governed as moderate Republicans. “Obama moved into the White House, and Republicans moved into the insane asylum,” to quote Bill Maher. Not saying that made them bad presidents—Obama was the best president in our lifetimes—however it does reset expectations, much, much lower down to the “we’ll still be screwed by the oligarchs” level.

6:06 pm • Wednesday • March 4, 2020

@nojo: Spoiler alert: They’ve no clue what they’re doing.

11:19 am • Thursday • March 5, 2020

With Warren out and Sanders on the ropes, there goes any chance of ending the oligarchs’ stranglehold on this nation and ever having any kind of adequate healthcare coverage, economic security, or a future.

I truly hope that the Stupid Tuesday voters are right that Biden’s Magic Geezer Penis can seduce the scared, hate-crazed old white people into voting Democratic, since the most qualified candidates have left the field.

It will be highly amusing/despair inducing seeing senile Tr666p and Biden try to out-fake-macho each other. (baarrrrrrrfffffffff).

11:47 am • Thursday • March 5, 2020

@¡Andrew!: We’re not getting anywhere with at least some breathing space, and it looks like that’s the best we can hope for this round. Not optimal, likely not even sufficient in the time we have left to tackle things, but still better than nothing.

10:18 pm • Thursday • March 5, 2020

Oh hi – just waving to say hello to let y’all know that my feminist sorrow and coronavirus haven’t yet wiped me out, as I’ve been alternating the past 12 hours between sobbing at the Warren news / press conference (OMFG, verklempt!), and *finally* reading “Catch and Kill” on a plane ride and trying not to go full *HULK! SMASH! KILL! ALL! SMUG! MEDIOCRE! WHITE! MEN! PATRONIZNG! NICE! SOUTHWEST! FLIGHT! ATTENDANT!*

10:26 pm • Thursday • March 5, 2020

@SanFranLefty: Today I learned about Warren’s dog Bailey and why hadn’t I seen him before? Run a 60-second spot of him just sitting there happy and I’d vote for her twice.

10:36 pm • Thursday • March 5, 2020

@nojo: Ummm sugar how the fuck did you not know about Bailey, the dog named after GEORGE FUCKING BAILEY from my favorite subversive movie of all time?!?!

Bailey had his own Twitter account and the Warren campaign gave donors an option to sign up to get all their campaign alerts texted from “Bailey” so every request for money or reminder of a debate came with a picture of an absurdly adorable Golden Retriever. Yep, it’s possible that a certain Stinquer maxed out her donations thanks to lots of Goldie puppeh photos….

10:42 pm • Thursday • March 5, 2020

@SanFranLefty: You’d think that with all the politicos I follow on Twitter SOMEONE WOULD HAVE FUCKING MENTIONED IT.

10:45 pm • Thursday • March 5, 2020

@nojo: (cough! /goes to check her Twitter feed to see how many Bailey pics she retweeted /update: not enough)

10:46 pm • Friday • March 6, 2020

@SanFranLefty: I voted for Warren in the primary, and I’m glad I had the honor. She’s the best leader we’ve had in a generation.

10:48 pm • Friday • March 6, 2020

This country’s deranged anti-intellectualism has been its undoing.
We’re gonna have to change the national motto to “I’m with stupid.”

10:52 pm • Friday • March 6, 2020

@SanFranLefty: I’m still thinking she’d make an outstanding senate majority leader or treasury secretary. She’s the one that scares the oligarchs shitless, even more so than Bernie ’cause she’d have ’em hog-tied on a spit, no question.
Can you imagine her in charge of the IRS???
She knows exactly how their schemes and syndicates work.

11:42 pm • Friday • March 6, 2020

P.S. Warren has always reminded me of Molly Ivins and Ann Richards. Sassy and tough as hell.

12:09 am • Saturday • March 7, 2020

@¡Andrew!: Usually it takes an alien invasion for the American government to abandon its citizens.

12:32 pm • Saturday • March 7, 2020

As much as I’m hurting bad over Warren’s withdrawal from the race, I’ve come to the conclusion that for once I’m a single issue voter: Prezinazi AntiChrist and his gang of incompetent, cruel, lying, thieving goons must be removed from the White House at all costs, and if Biden’s Magic Geezer Penis is what it takes, fine. I still think the Dems once again are walking into a (S)Electoral College disaster, but I’m gonna STFU about that and focus on donating to flip the Senate.

P.S. Biden should choose Castro as his VP to cover his left flank, attract progressives, neutralize the age issue, and put TexASS in play. I’ll take my million dollar consulting check now, thank you : )

1:14 pm • Saturday • March 7, 2020

@¡Andrew!: That’s my saving grace: In Colorado, I have an asshole Republican senator to vote against.

8:42 pm • Sunday • March 8, 2020

@¡Andrew!: As much as I love Castro (and Stacey Abrams, and Warren), I present to you Tammy Duckworth for VP with Biden. She’d young, would bring some Midwest cred, she’s a disabled veteran (who dubbed Drumpf as “Bonespurs”), and is the daughter of an immigrant on one side and can trace her family back to the American Revolution on the other side. I would pay cash money to watch her wipe the floor with Pence (assuming Mango Mussolini hasn’t fired him for bungling the coronavirus response and brought on Nicki Haley or Ivanka).

3:52 pm • Thursday • March 12, 2020

No reason to worry until you see this headline:

WALMART OUT OF AMMO!

3:55 pm • Thursday • March 12, 2020

Warren would make a great Comptroller of the Currency.

She could don a barbed wire strap on and head over to Wells and BofA for nice, penetrating bank examinations before she decharters them and machine guns their C-suits on ESPN2.

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