Who Knew What When? Part 4

America the Divided

So, fun little fact to start us off with. One of my sources has been edited. Well, another one if you count the WHO’s little erasures within their Mythbusters page. Yeah, the New York Times article, which I had added to simply give a launching point for some of the topics, was edited most recently on May 12th. (2)

Now you may be thinking, “Shadow Bard, it’s an ongoing event and the article is a timeline. It makes sense that they would add to it!” And to that I say, you’re right. If that was all that had happened, I’d count my blessings since this whole thing spirals away from me by the hour. But no, this change pushed me over the edge in deciding how much of America’s crap I would dive into with this global look at what the WHO and others knew during this entire mess. They took something out.

Specifically, they removed the part where it explains that US President Donald Trump asked congress for a loan of $1.25 billion to secure PPE for hospitals and begin work on a vaccine on February 24th. Now, that is the sum of new money. Overall the bill would allow for $2.5 billion while pulling half out of other programs to direct the funds towards the biggest emergency the nation is facing right now. (3) For an emergency fund to get started, it sounds pretty substantial to me, but hey what do I know?

Not much according to the Politico article I found and all the lovely politicians quoted therein. And yes, I know that both the NYT and Politico are heavily biased. Every news source is, even someone like me who goes around and includes things taken from opponents’ perspectives and talks about them. That’s life. If you’re not in a coma, you’re not a neutral entity. The only difference is how you treat the opposition and I’ll get to that at a later date.

The point the article, written on the day of the request, hammers home is how horribly inadequate this action was. Trump didn’t do this soon enough, he didn’t ask for enough, trying to be moderately budget minded by getting half the funds from other programs is terrible and insulting and how dare he. It’s pretty straight forward. (3) You know, because we were falling behind with our 35 patients and no deaths reported by the WHO (1:35) or the 53 patients according to Politico (3). {I think that might be a typo you guys, let’s just stick with that for today.}

No matter the number of cases, the fact remains that Congress was unimpressed by the numbers and the seriousness which the president was showing. Then, because stigma was the greatest issue of this whole ordeal (1:35), or perhaps because primary members of the congress were out telling people to travel to their local China town to prove they weren’t racist instead of taking it easy on the unnecessary trips (4), {NOTE: It’s more an issue that she was telling people to go out during an event that she apparently thought would ravage the country, not where she told people to go.} it took congress until March 5th to come up with and pass an $8.3 billion bill in its place. (5)

This, of course, begs a very serious question… IF CONGRESS COULD PROPOSE AND PASS ITS OWN BUDGET WHY DIDN’T THEY? I mean the word of the moment is that Trump does everything terribly. Why didn’t they make a move prior to this if they were really concerned for the American people?

GOV 101

Buckle in kiddos, ’cause we’re taking a field trip back in time to government class/American history/ whatever other class where you were taught about the constitution that half of Americans seem to have slept through. For any non-Americans coming across this, I guess you can imagine going back to my government class for aesthetics.

The United States federal government is divided into three branches. The Executive run by the President, the Legislative run by Congress (both the House of Representatives and the Senate together), and the Judicial run by the Supreme court. (6) With me so far? Good. Guess which one is in charge of making and passing laws?

If you said anything besides Legislative, you’re why we’re having this little discussion. Congress makes the laws while the president approves and enforces them. The president can veto a law, but if the Congress can get 2/3rds of its members to agree that the law is good for the country, they can overrule that veto. (6) Since the eventual spending bill was passed 96-1, it’s safe to say they had that requirement in the bag (4).

A bill doesn’t need the president’s approval or involvement to be written up or proposed and there is even a clause stating that he can’t ignore it for more than 10 days without if automatically going into effect as long as Congress isn’t recessed. (7) So what, and I mean this in the nicest way possible, the HELL has everyone been whining about this whole time?

Surprisingly, the President of the United States isn’t a bloody king. Who would have guessed that the nation created by a group of men who felt betrayed and abandoned by a king and decided to do things their own way didn’t have one of those same kings in their uppermost position? The President is allowed to sign or veto laws, lead the army in a war, negotiate treaties (that Congress still has to approve afterwards) and appoint members to different stations. He can even issue an executive order to “direct executive officers or clarify and further existing laws” and pardon offenses. But you know what he can’t do? PASS A BUDGET! (8)

Another duty of the President is to keep Congress posted on things happening inside the nation. This is normally achieved through the annual State of the Union address(8) and, wouldn’t you know it, but the virus was mentioned there. Maybe if Pelosi had listened instead of pre-tearing her copy, she and others might have heard him and known to start thinking about this then. (9)

Too Much is Never Enough

I’m not going to call out average citizens, I think I made that clear in my article about a shooting last week, but I’ve seen people complain that Trump didn’t really address the coronavirus in the State of the Union. And granted, it was only a paragraph made in passing among other accomplishments and it’s not very informative. (9) Here’s the thing though; by February 4th, {when the speech took place} the United States had a whopping 11 cases. (1:15)

By that point we had established a COVID Incident Management Structure on January 7, placed entry screening at our airports despite the WHO saying they wouldn’t do much, engaged our emergency response and raised our travel alert,(1:3) and Trump had given a big middle finger to the WHO by deciding to close off travel to foreign nationals who had been to Wuhan on the 31st. (2) {Yeah, that’s still on the page and it’s the site I quoted in my last article addressing this. I think their little note about the total cases and deaths, ignoring that they were 99% China based, is new.}

The US only had 5 cases that day (1:10), and the President’s decision received a salvo of criticism. Joe Biden {or, let’s be real, whoever they pay to write coherent sentences on his behalf} called the move xenophobic, hysterical, and fear mongering. Bernie Sanders had a similar take. Many seemed to. Until all the European countries followed suite. (10)

Then, it was no longer racist to close the borders. No, that was now reserved for calling COVID-19 the Wuhan or Chinese virus, which had been perfectly acceptable up to that point. Not only that, but closing the boarders only to foreign nationals who had visited China in the last two weeks wasn’t good enough. Everyone who had cried foul at what he did do suddenly changed their tune to say it wasn’t enough. He wasn’t doing anything! He was Nero, fiddling while Rome burned. (10)

Hey Nancy, maybe you should have thought of that before you encouraged unnecessary travel. (4) Or any time from December 31, 2019 onward when you could have done what any congress member can do and propose a budget to start working towards an action plan for the virus. Which is YOUR job, not the president’s.(6)

Critique or Scorn

So, do I think everything Trump has done through this ordeal has been spot on? No, I don’t. Like through the rest of his presidency, there are times when I wish he would reign in his rhetoric. Or found better ways to convey ideas. Sometimes I feel it would be better if he had to wait 24 hrs to tweet or talk about something. But that’s small fries compared to most of the complaints I hear. Let’s take a look at a few more of the issues that people have pointed to during this event and see if they are worth getting worked up over.

Hypocrisy is a word heard all too often, and it has been thrown at the US President more times than I care to count. Specific to the corona epic, Trump has been called a hypocrite due to some of his early Tweets from the beginning of what we now know to be a pandemic. Specifically the pictured one from late January that I’ve included. I can’t say how many times I’ve seen it dropped as a sign of Trump’s incompetence, poor handling of the tragedy, hypocrisy and more. How can Trump now put so much blame on China when he initially praised them?

Well, if we completely ignore the fact that situations evolve over time and that no one was really worrying about questioning the WHO’s assertions until the numbers stopped adding up, there is still a very good reason why Trump would initially take the high road in dealing with China. It involves him displaying a trait that many of his opponents don’t often credit him with: discretion.

Around the time of the tweet, the US and China had just signed a new trade agreement. It was brought up in the State of the Union only about a week after the above tweet went out. In that speech he says “a few days ago” meaning that when the tweet went out, the ink would have barely dried. (9) Which seems more reckless? Praising someone who had just made a deal with you who we now know may not have been truthful, or scolding the very powerful man who had just made a deal with you who at most was just starting to seem suspicious?

Because, remember, or learn for the first time depending on where you get your news from, the ABC report claiming that Trump knew about the virus back in November and December 2019 have been completely discredited. Colonel (Dr.) R. Shane Day who is the Director of the National Center for Medical Intelligence in the Defense Intelligence Agency went so far as to release a statement, which he admits he rarely does, because he thought there was something just that harmful about this lie. (11)

And I still see people saying “mid December” in multiple contexts. The most concerning of which are news articles and celebrity twitters. An article by the New Yorker was going around, courtesy of a tweet from actor George Takei, claiming that a teen had launched a coronavirus website as early as December 29, 2020. (12) Here’s the problem with that… The WHO claims they didn’t even know about the virus until December 31 (1:1).

Now, say all you want about the President and his resources, but how exactly is the average seventeen year old with an above average set of coding skills supposed to make a tracking website before the information goes public? Ignoring that, as I mentioned in my first piece, the WHO didn’t start tweeting or posting articles until around January 10th and they didn’t start posting their situation reports until January 21st. Where is he supposed to get his information? The imaginary government contacts they say were informing the president?

This all wouldn’t be so bad if people didn’t believe it. Heck, I would even say it’s good to see stories like this if people would do their research and could start to see who is lying. But they don’t. Too many buy these lies wholesale and that is why the lies keep coming. If I hadn’t written down notes and double checked, I wouldn’t have known about the NYT article changing. (2) And anyone who caught the original story but not the follow up still believes that Donald Trump called the virus a hoax. Which has been debunked; he was talking about the Democrats blaming him being the hoax and even the Post admits that. (10)

This doesn’t even cover the hydroxychloroquine mess that I’ll talk about when we reach March. Overall, it has been a tiring and frustrating journey, this pandemic. The fighting, the arguing, all the lying. I wish we could all be a little more like California Governor Newsom, willing to put aside bias and pass issues to acknowledge when good things happen. (10)

Next time we’ll pick back up with the timeline. Until then, try to be healthy and be happy with the rest.

Sources

  1. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports
  2. https://www.nytimes.com/article/coronavirus-timeline.html
  3. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/02/24/trump-coronavirus-budget-request-117275
  4. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/pelosi-says-she-encouraged-public-gatherings-in-chinatown-to-end-the-discrimination-against-asian-americans
  5. https://www.malaymail.com/news/world/2020/03/06/us-congress-approves-sends-to-trump-us8.3b-to-fight-covid-19/1843843
  6. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/separation_of_powers_0
  7. https://www.usa.gov/how-laws-are-made
  8. https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/the-executive-branch/
  9. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/state-of-the-union-2020-read-president-trumps-complete-prepared-remarks
  10. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/dems-media-change-tune-trump-attacks-coronavirus-china-travel-ban
  11. https://www.dailywire.com/news/abc-publishes-damaging-report-on-trump-coronavirus-response-military-official-shreds-it
  12. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/03/30/the-high-schooler-who-became-a-covid-19-watchdog

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