Pandemic Diaries: The Devil’s Arithmetic

The Devil’s Arithmetic is a concept found on both sides of World War II’s concentration camps; for the meaning to the interned, see the book of the same title by Jane Yolen.

For the Nazis, it was a careful calculation of how little prisoners could be fed, clothed, and housed before they died of starvation and overwork, but not before the cost of food, clothing, housing and profit had been realized. The Krupps steelworks were notorious for burning through prisoners so fast, the SS actually complained. The. SS. Complained.

And so we come to yesterday, when the Narcissit in Chief declared he wants America “opened” for business by Easter, viruses be dammed, his gut tells him full churches on Easter Sunday will be a “beautiful thing”. Devoid of science, fact, or expert opinion (which holds the Coronavirus will be reaching peak spread at that time), Trump is using a whole new form of the Devil’s Arithmetic: how many Americans can die, and still re-elect Trump in November? This is all he cares about.

the Coronavirus/COVID-19
Image: Harvard Health – Harvard University

Larry Kudlow, Director of the National Economic Council under Trump, wrong on every important assessment he’s ever made of the American economy, declared the virus “contained” in the United States on March 7, only to pivot on Fox News Monday, March 23, “The president is right. The cure can’t be worse than the disease. And we’re going to have to make some difficult tradeoffs.” Those “difficult tradeoffs” to which he refers, are deaths. Deaths of the elderly, the immuno-compromised, the most at risk. Your Grandmother? My asthmatic daughter? My neighbor’s teenage son, recovering from Luekemia? Which should we trade off in service to a malicious chief executive’s re-election?

Dan Patrick, the Republican Lieutenant Governor of Texas, has volunteered as Tribute to Trump’s cause, at least I think that’s what he was doing when he told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson he and other grandparents are prepared to sacrifice themselves on the altar of the economy.

After dismantling the Pandemic Response Team in 2018, ignoring intelligence briefings for two months (which nonetheless scared Republican Chairman Burr of the Senate Intelligence Committee enough to dump his stocks and warn wealthy donors of a looming pandemic while continuing to lie to the public about the threat), and mouthing false assurances based solely on his re-election calculus, it took a come-to-Jesus by Tucker Carlson to get Trump to pay attention.

Here at the end of March, it’s likely we have hundreds of thousands already infected and spreading the Coronavirus unchecked because a deeply unqualified, malicious, narcissistic President and the docile, terrified Republican Party which supports him failed to act. They failed to do their jobs. Let’s not forget we hire them to do the work of the Government.

President Donald J. Trump and the Republican Party have failed. Everything they do from this point is simply mitigation. Remember this in November.

The Coronavirus pandemic has shown in stark relief Trump’s/the Devil’s Arithmetic: how many can die (who didn’t have to) while still ensuring re-election and thus, never forcing him to face the Southern District of New York and the consequences of years of illegal activities? A compliant, racist, religiously bigoted Republican Party, terrified of it’s racist, religiously bigoted base, will never hold him or each other accountable, content with shredding the Constitution while seeding the Federal Courts with young, unqualified, deeply Conservative judges to protect the Corporations (and the wealthy who own them and donate to Republican campaigns). Please spare me Susan Collins’ hand-wringing “concern”. Never again will I listen to how the Republican Party is the party of “Life” or “Family Values” while it’s representatives consider tax-paying American citizens merely “difficult tradeoffs” or sacrifices to the economy, while they enable and shield a President who’s only mode of calculation is the Devil’s Arithmetic.

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