The past couple of weeks, as America burned, Trump has been flogging a drug known as hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) as a treatment for COVID-19. He has been obsessive about this in the face of thousands of scientists who have stated that there is no evidence that hydroxychloroquine has any affect at all on the SARS-type virus, but that it has a wide range of side effects, including, per wikipedia, “...altered eye pigmentation, acne, anemia, bleaching of hair, blisters in mouth and eyes, blood disorders, convulsions, vision difficulties, diminished reflexes, emotional changes, excessive coloring of the skin, hearing loss, hives, itching, liver problems or liver failure, loss of hair, muscle paralysis, weakness or atrophy, nightmares, psoriasis, reading difficulties, tinnitus, skin inflammation and scaling, skin rash, vertigo, weight loss, and occasionally urinary incontinence. Hydroxychloroquine can worsen existing cases of both psoriasis and porphyria.” Even by the rushed monotonic disclaimer at the end of all the drug ads on TV, that sounds pretty nasty.
Overdoses are even worse: “Overdose symptoms include convulsions, drowsiness, headache, heart problems or heart failure, difficulty breathing and vision problems.” There’s only a half dozen reported cases of overdoses in the US, since the drug, because of the side effects, is used mostly as a last-ditch treatment for RA, lupus and other auto-immune diseases. It’s main use is as an anti-malarial drug, something not widely needed in the West outside of London, where a mild version of the drug, quinine water, became a popular base for mixed drinks. London had a lot of lead in its air back then.
So for Trump to push this pill is fantastically irresponsible in the first place. Not just because of the threat it poses just by itself, but because people who have symptoms of COVID-19 may ignore standard treatments and seek out black-market versions of the drug. Those might range from sugar pills at $10,000 a pop to chemically active and highly lethal fakes. And for people who already have prescriptions to the drug, supplies of the real thing have already vanished because American medicine follows the profits, not the patients.
Even before yesterday, there was little doubt in my mind that Trump and / or members of his loathsome family had a stake in this, and stood to make big profits off a rush to acquire hydroxychloroquine one way or another. He had no interest in offering the American people hope (he already has a tower of self-serving lies that he broadcasts every day) and he certainly doesn’t have a clue as to whether the stuff would work or not. He’s seeking personal advantage, not national salvation.
Then yesterday he upped the ante in a way that buggered disbelief. Hydroxychloroquine, he proclaimed, could not only CURE COVID-19, but it could PREVENT it.
Prevent it. No need for those silly, ugly masks (and Donald would be caught dead in one, he has haughtily proclaimed). No need for social distancing. Open your business. Go to work. With these babies, you don’t have to worry about that pandemic hoax! Cures cancer and old age, too! Get yours today and eat a handful. In just a half hour, COVID-19 won’t be able to touch you!
Even by his inhumanly vicious, selfish, and stupid standards, this seemed utterly insane. There are millions out there who believe every word he utters, and are willing to fight and die on his behalf. They issue death threats against those who gainsay Donald in any way, and every so often one tries to commit mass murder on his behalf. Just last week a Trumpkin engineering a train in NYC tried to derail his train so it might plough into the Naval Hospital Ship that had just docked a short distance from the tracks. He felt using a freight train to sink a Naval ship with 5,000 on board was a good and appropriate way of showing his love for Donald, and Donald’s America.
These people are the ones who are going to believe Donald, and his vicious lie that hodroxychloroquine can prevent COVID-19. By the millions, they’ll stop taking precautions, and by the thousands they will sicken, and cause others around them to become sick, as well, In the end, this could up the eventual death toll by tens and even hundreds of thousands. Mostly amongst the people who are his strongest supporters.
Trump is stupid and profoundly self-centered, but he does possess a low animal cunning. He knows that he is at a moment where he can permanently consolidate his power in the midst of crisis and confusion. He knows that it’s a make or break situation, and he can’t afford to have his more certifiable followers commit atrocities that might rouse the American people to arms.
2020 is, for him, what 1934 was for Adolf Hitler.
He’s a student of Hitler. For years, he kept a copy of “My New Order” by Hitler on his bedside table. It was, apparently, his notion of bedtime reading, and according to various bedmates of his, he was obsessive about reading it. For a man who normally doesn’t read at all, it was extraordinary, and should have been deeply disturbing. THIS, of all books, excited his literary passion?
Hitler had a problem in 1934. The brass ring was almost within his grip. But his followers, dogmatic, cultic, perfervid, and filled with inchoate rage, had become a potential liability. They had to be brought to heel.
So Trump plotted Operation Hummingbird, Der Nacht der langen Messer, or, as we know it, The Night of the Long Knives.”
He only murdered a small percentage of his most loyal followers, claiming they were plotting against him. (And it’s the nature of cult politics that a few actually were.) The rest lived, he said, because they were loyal and true and would be richly rewarded, and most were incorporated into favored positions in the SS and other branches of the Hitler government tentacle.
It’s likely that Trump knows his advice will kill a large number of his followers. He probably has his excuses lined up: liberal scientists lied to him about the drug. Mexican cartels made fake and dangerous counterfeits. Obama told people it was good for them.
Amongst his followers, he can avoid culpability. That will be child’s play.
Besides, he’ll assure them that when the dust has settled, they will be found to be the loyal and true ones, and would receive rich rewards and become as On High in his vision of Heaven on Earth.
And they’ll believe him.
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Posted: May 11, 2020