2020: The History That Was – Part 2

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2020 to 2021

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America: The Empire Strikes Back (at itself)

 

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Further to my comments in the first part of 2020: The History That Was, the following should be considered regarding the current state of the US. They most likely will be by future historians pondering the critical decades of the 1920s and 2020s.

On at least two fronts, the world is witnessing – in Real Time – the United States eating itself alive.

The Not-So Invisible Enemy

As this is written the pandemic in the United States continues to wreak havoc with rising numbers, hospitalisations, and death toll;

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US covid cases

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The most technologically advanced nation on this planet seems powerless in the face of a viral pandemic. Like scenes from Third World and developing nations with minimal resources, American hospitals are creaking under the weight of surging covid cases requiring hospitalisation;

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The pandemic has exploded under a presidency that has been more concerned with it’s own political survival than the crisis affecting 380 million Americans. Even the roll-out and distribution of the much-heralded vaccine has been ineffectual;

More than two-thirds of the 15 million coronavirus vaccines shipped within the United States have gone unused, U.S. health officials said on Monday, as the governors of New York and Florida vowed to penalize hospitals that fail to dispense shots quickly.

US healthcare workers are not only over-worked and near burn-out, but have started to fight back against ineptitude and lack of meaningful leadership over the vaccine roll-out;

Protests erupted Friday at Stanford University Medical Center Hospital in California, where frontline medical residents and fellows staged a walkout in frustration over the hospital’s botched Covid-19 vaccine distribution.

[…]

Demonstrators accused the medical center of prioritizing more senior doctors and other medical workers who don’t directly interface with patients over employees at the highest risk of contracting Covid-19 from patients.

The nation that sent human beings to the Moon through 384,400 km of cold vacuum in a space craft that was little more than a small, fragile steel can; to the crushing, frigid depths of the planet’s oceans; that developed atomic weapons that could obliterate an enemy; and a myriad of other technological and scientific achievements – is losing it’s greatest challenge since it entered WWII against the might of the Axis powers.

The Enemy Within

Alongside America’s leadership paralysis is the vocal, and often right-wing covid-deniers and mask-refusers. Led by an ignorant narcissist in the Oval Office, refusing to follow even the most basic of health precautions has become a political statement against the so-called “liberal establishment”;

For progressives, masks have become a sign that you take the pandemic seriously and are willing to make a personal sacrifice to save lives. Prominent people who don’t wear them are shamed and dragged on Twitter by lefty accounts. On the right, where the mask is often seen as the symbol of a purported overreaction to the coronavirus, mask promotion is a target of ridicule, a sign that in a deeply polarized America almost anything can be politicized and turned into a token of tribal affiliation.

The virus – unsurprisingly – cares little for our political affiliations and ideologies;

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covid 19 coronavirus get sick

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Hyper-individualism has been well canvassed by Dr Ronald Pies, examining the phenomenon in the Psychiatric Times;

I argued that, up to a point, this rugged individualism serves as a useful counterweight to the communitarian impulse—the belief that the community is a “bearer of rights”, to which an individual’s interests may have to be subordinated in some cases. But carried to an extreme – what I called, “hyper-individualism”—the “Don’t Tread on Me” mentality can become an insidious force for societal disintegration.

In my view, many mask refusers are acting out of a debased form of individualism that some would call “toxic masculinity,” and which I would call machismo. I hasten to add that I am using the latter term in a broad, generic sense, and not as a trait endemic to “Latin” culture or society. A very useful definition of machismo is:

“Exaggerated pride in masculinity, perceived as power, often coupled with a minimal sense of responsibility and disregard of consequences.”

In my view, this brand of American machismo helps explain the behavior of many (though not all) mask refusers. In effect, refusal to wear a mask in public settings has become a mark of being “a man’s man” – someone who won’t be pushed around or “muzzled” by governmental “tyranny”.

Dr Pies also refers to the “eternal child” or “American man-child”, quoting Jungian analyst, Frith Luton;

“. . . is used in mythology to designate a child-god who is forever young; psychologically, it refers to an older man whose emotional life has remained at an adolescent level . . . He covets independence and freedom, chafes at boundaries and limits, and tends to find any restriction intolerable.

How many times has a certain Orange-hued President been referred to as a “man-child”? A Google search using the parameters “Trump man child” yielded “621,000,000 results”.

The Other Enemies

One thing that has not been well traversed is that the US has demonstrated itself to be utterly unable to stem the advance of an implacable enemy. This is a lesson that has not been lost on those who would happily see either the destruction, or neutralising, of the United States as a functioning power. To paraphrase H.G. Wells from The War of the Worlds;

No one would have believed in the early years of the twentyfirst century that this super-power was being watched keenly and closely by intelligence agencies as effective as America’s; that as Americans busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water…

…Yet across the gulf of oceans, minds that are to American’s minds as theirs are to their rivals, intellects calculating and cool and unsympathetic, regarded American hegemony with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against them.” (Apologies to H.G.)

America is vulnerable. It’s savage, internecine political in-fighting; it’s crazy and deadly culture of hyper-individualism; the spreading toxic cancer of conspiracy fantasies impacting on Real Life events – have revealed an Achilles Heel to this super-power’s defences that no amount of atomic  megatonnage can ever hope to over-come.

America’s enemies will not have failed to notice this dangerous, critical weakness from the planet’s greatest super-power.

The next pandemic to strike the United States may not be a product of nature. A lone malevolent operative, flying a small phial of a new deadly micro-organism into New York airport, would be infinitely more devastating than flying planes into buildings.

Postscript

Those who shrug and dismiss the above scenario as not affecting Aotearoa and therefore none of our concern should recall how quickly covid19 was transported across borders from China to our very first infection detected on 28 February last year.

We would simply be “collateral damage”.

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References

New York Times:  Coronavirus in the U.S. – Latest Map and Case Count

Washington Post: Coronavirus death toll in U.S. increases as hospitals in hot-spot states are overwhelmed

NZ Herald:  Covid 19 coronavirus – Overwhelmed US hospital treating Covid patients in car park

Reuters:  U.S. under siege from COVID-19 as hospitals overwhelmed before holidays

CNN:  200 hospitals have been at full capacity, and 1/3 of all US hospitals are almost out of ICU space

USA Today:  ‘It’s what we feared’ – Hospitals from Georgia to California face surging COVID-19 cases, staff shortages and rising deaths

New York Post:  Map reveals how US hospitals are overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients

Reuters: Most U.S. COVID-19 vaccines go idle as New York, Florida move to penalize hospitals

NBC News:  Stanford apologizes to doctors after protests erupt over botched vaccine rollout

Politico:  Wearing a mask is for smug liberals. Refusing to is for reckless Republicans

Metro UK: Covid denier admits he was wrong after being hospitalised with virus

ABC News:  Louisiana Congressman-elect Luke Letlow dies from COVID-19

5NBCDFW: Oak Cliff Woman Admits She and Her Father Were COVID-19 Deniers and Now Her Father is Dead

Psychiatric Times:  Masks, Machismo, and the American Man-Child

RNZ:  New Zealand confirms case of Covid-19 coronavirus

Additional Reading

Vice/Motherboard:  US Power Will Decline Under Trump, Says Futurist Who Predicted Soviet Collapse (12 July 2016)

Bellingcat: The Making of QAnon – A Crowdsourced Conspiracy (7 January 2021)

Previous related blogposts

Life in Level 2: Two Tier Welfare; A Green School; Right Rage, Wrong Reason

2020: Post-mortem or Prologue?

2020: The History That Was – Part 1

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lost votes

Acknowledgement: Rod Emmerson

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This blogpost will be re-published in five days on “Frankly Speaking“. Reader’s comments may be left here (The Daily Blog) or there (Frankly Speaking).

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Bellingcat?!
    BBCNN. NYT? WoPo…Reuters. Politico. ABC news. RNZ. ” Conspiracy fantasies”….

    Ever heard of Operation MOCKINGBIRD, Frank? CIA/MOCKINGBIRDS? Or IIO ? Inform and Influence operations? Of Designer news/views ‘pretending’ behind ‘NEWSGUARD’ and the : Integrity Initiative’? Backed By (official/but/one/step/removed)think-tank Factcheckers and intelprop ‘smell-a-rat.. I mean bellingcat?? The orchestrated Infusion of social engineering narratives into the collective conscious/unconscious by experts in the field of psychological operations ? nuanced around objective ‘truths’ by ‘Perception managers’ toward social outcomes? Any negative discussion of which will be escribed by media ‘assets’ – witting and unwitting; as ‘conspiracy theories’ jabbered by ‘conspiracy Theorists’ – another CIA ‘weaponised’ ‘meme’.

    What’s a false flag attack Frank ?
    What is a trojan horse?

    With all due respect, your source notes/bibliography read From the PSYOPs phone// book.

    • Remo – again – this time in english please? Sorry, I don’t speak conspiracese/gibberish.

      Take note, I have little patience for conspiracy fantasy-bullshit.

      Try it again. This time make your point (if you have one).

  2. Dear Mr. Macskasy,

    I very much appreciate the call-out to my article in Psychiatric Times. It’s gratifying to know that our paper makes its way across so much territory! Alas, the “American man-child” is alive and well in the darker cultural corners of my country, which, for so many reasons, is still a beloved place for most of us–even after the horrendous events in the U.S. Capitol building last week. We can only hope that with the departure of Trump and his malignant corruption and ignorance–I say this not as a psychiatrist, but as an American citizen–the U.S. can find its moral footing, and regain the blessings of “domestic tranquility.”

    Best regards,

    Ronald W. Pies, MD
    Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry
    SUNY Upstate Medical University

    • Thank you, Dr Pies. The term “man-child” seems so apt, especially with the unhealthy fixation on guns (“cowboys and indians”, anyone?) and simplistic “solutions” (Build the Wall!) to complex issues (Mexicans! Immigrants!) and problems confronting us all.

      I fear the U.S. – and the rest of humanity – has far to go before tranquility settles over our societies.

  3. Frank you posted reference to the first detected case of Civid19 in New Zealand coming from China with a passenger from Iran via Bali, seems to be based on supposition.
    At the moment WHO is running an in depth analysis of where and when various generations of the virus appeared and China has yet to be identified as the origin of patient zero.
    Traces of the virus have been found in Europe, the USA and other places as far back as October 2019 long before the identified outbreak in Wuhan.

    So Frank unless you have inside knowledge on this matter then unintended speculation just adds to the confusion the public have about the origin of the virus.
    The passenger on that early flight was identified by symptoms and testing some days after whereas “silent” carriers have little symptoms and testing was not mandatory at that stage. There were other passengers from Iran where there was a known outbreak at that time.
    There are several variations of the virus now identified in NZ from samples back early in 2020.
    Eventually the WHO will have a report on the globally coordinated tracking of the virus, that is when the USA cooperates.
    China, Japan and Taiwan virologist found that the virus in Wuhan did not originate in China.
    Now it seems relevant that the virus can travel on frozen products and has been found on many so infected frozen goods.
    As time goes by and the best scientific minds are applied to the wide virology resources globally, we will learn more but meanwhile lets not jump to conclusions.
    Trump blamed China but any fool can do that.

    • John, I’m not “blaming China”.

      Any more than I’d blame Africa for Zika or Ebola or Nth America for syphilis. These viruses and micro-organisms care little for national boundaries.

      The first reported case of C19 was reported on 28 February last year;

      “The person who has been confirmed to have New Zealand’s first case of the Covid-19 coronavirus “followed all of the steps you would hope would be followed”, says the Health Minister.

      Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed this afternoon that a suspected case of Covid-19 coronavirus has tested positive.

      Ardern said the person was in their 60s, and was a citizen of New Zealand who had recently travelled from Iran via Bali. They had previously tested negative for Covid-19 twice.”

      Ref: https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/410625/new-zealand-confirms-case-of-covid-19-coronavirus

      If there were previous passengers – “silent carriers” – infected with covid19 then we will never know. That, in itself, would be supposition.

      The only fact we have to go by is that “Patient Zero” arrived in the week leading up to 28 February 2020.

      • Agreed 100% Frank.
        There does not seem to be an analysis of that persons covid19 sample in terms of where it fits in the “tree” of the covid19 variants, that is available to the NZ public yet.
        Time may bring that information out into the public space when the international tracking of covid19 origin/s are more definite.

        I think it is important for the public to be reminded about keeping an open mind amid the vile propaganda being unleashed against China and others. Politics will not help the science nor teach us about the pandemic history as a means of learning how to prepare adequately for any further pandemic risk.
        Taiwan was prepared after the SARS event and sprung into action immediately a rumour of a flu like disease in China.
        Hence Taiwan has a low number of deaths per million standing at 0.3 DPM, while China was less prepared and probably more vulnerable, had 3.2 DPM and NZ stands at about 5.2 DPM. The USA and UK hover somewhere between 500 and 600 DPM and climbing.

  4. OMG . 380k deaths so far.
    2.8 million on average every year in the US. Got any articles on those statistics Frank and which President is responsible for them?

    Number of deaths for leading causes of death:
    Heart disease: 655,381
    Cancer: 599,274
    Accidents (unintentional injuries): 167,127
    Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 159,486
    Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 147,810
    Alzheimer’s disease: 122,019
    Diabetes: 84,946
    Influenza and Pneumonia: 59,120
    Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis: 51,386
    Intentional self-harm (suicide):

    • It’s not often I am so direct, but you, Pedro, are simply a wanker.
      In addition to its high death rate it’s as much about how our health care systems can cope with the epidemic and how it affects their broader ability to provide care, how it affects communities and public social systems and the long term ongoing health ramifications. Add to that costs of developing treatments and vaccines as well as a myriad od other costs.
      You really haven’t a clue, you wanker.

    • Pedro there is a lot of stuff thrown around, particularly in countries where denial of a pandemic is popular gossip.
      All of the conditions you mentioned above are Western lifestyle related and have no bearing on the Covid19 contagion.
      But a popular diversion parroted by many.
      What is your point.

  5. In the last few days we have heard how Donald Trump wants a military parade along with a 21 gun salute and a red carpet as a send off.
    Is he that insane and irrational????!!!!

    I would say let the US give him instead of a 21 gun salute a 21 bum salute. And may the posteriors presented to him be of those males who thinks the sun shines out of Trumps’ rectum.
    May the red carpet be a blood red for those now 400.000 victims of COVID19 in the States alone. Either that or have their names and photos be on the carpet. If Trump walks over the carpet with no concern then it would be confirmation he never gave a toss about Americans the whole bloody time he was its leader.
    Trump will be leaving behind a legacy and that is one of a selfish, self-absorbed, NPD with ADD bully who cared more about himself than anyone else. He will have a legacy of being the worst president(deliberate lower case here)in US history. Trump almost turned America into a dictatorship and those who support him remind me of the brainwashed lot from NAZI Germany.
    The next administration have a hell of a lot to clean up on due to Trump’s reckless behavour and actions over the past 4 years.
    Personally I don’t think Biden will be in the job for the long haul. But it will present opportunities hopefully for improvement in their lives for those who Trump had a facist and racist attitude towards.
    All in all America needs a younger President because it’s likely much of its population is of a younger generation. Sure age can help but for a country to prosper it also need its younger population to help out and bring the changes so necessary to making the whole world a better place.

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