Today, Rand Paul announced that he tested positive for Covid-19, the first U.S. Senator to be diagnosed with the ailment.
Sen. Paul will get the best care that our society can engineer. Unlike millions of other Americans, he will not need to be concerned with a shortage of ventilators and a lack of health insurance coverage. As a member of congress, all those details will be handled by doctors concerned for him and attentive to his needs. He will be treated to the finest health service our country has to offer.
Despite his good fortune, his father seems not to care. Last Monday, Ron Paul,said, “People should ask themselves whether this coronavirus ‘pandemic’ could be a big hoax, with the actual danger of the disease massively exaggerated.”
Neither of them have said anything during this crisis to indicate they’ve changed their perspectives in the face of an international health crisis. Their libertarian ideology — a decidedly selfish view of the world and of humankind, in general, seems firmly in control. Even as Rand Paul was awaiting test results for Covid-19, he availed himself of the Senate gym, essentially contaminating it for all the other Senators. Nor did he practice any reasonable form of self-quarantine, meeting with multiple colleagues on the very day he was taking the test. But beyond his personal venality in the matter, there is also his callous political obstruction. Senate leaders were scrambling Tuesday to pass coronavirus legislation as quickly as possible, but Sen. Rand Paul put a damper on those plans, forcing a vote on an amendment he authored, which would “require a social security number for purposes of the child tax credit, and to provide the President the authority to transfer funds as necessary, and to terminate United States military operations and reconstruction activities in Afghanistan.”
The amendment was a purely political play, with no hope of passage. Even so it delayed effective legislative response for two days. Ultimately, Paul was also a sole “no” vote on the $8.3 billion coronavirus spending bill. Paul was seeking an equal amount of cuts in unspent foreign aid money to pay for the medical aid, because, apparently, spending extra money to prevent millions of people from dying just isn’t good enough.
His ideology, which weighs everything on the scales of a ‘free market’, could not even relent in the middle of a pandemic. As Maya Angelo has noted, “when people show you who they are, believe them.”
As tendentious as Paul’s record and attitude in this crisis has been, it’s not as vile as Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina who chairs the Senate Intelligence committee.
He sold off about 1.72 million dollars worth of stock soon after he offered public assurances that the government was ready to battle the coronavirus. The country was nowhere near ready, of course, and the fact that he sold off his stock as the result of insider information makes him a serious candidate for worst person of the week, if not the decade.
According to an NPR report, Burr had confided to attendees of a wealthy luncheon held at the Capitol Hill Club: “There’s one thing that I can tell you about this: It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history … It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic.”
He warned that companies might have to curtail their employees’ travel, that schools could close and that the military might be mobilized to compensate for overwhelmed hospitals. All true and useful information, but none of it was publically available at that time. Only his wealthiest constituents got this advance notice.
The luncheon was organized by the Tar Heel Circle, a club for businesses and organizations in North Carolina that are charged up to $10,000 for membership and are promised “interaction with top leaders and staff from Congress, the administration, and the private sector.”
So what his wealthy constituents got to hear in a private luncheon was the truth as Burr understood it at that time. What everyone else got to hear was another matter entirely.
In a Feb. 7 op-ed that he co-authored with another senator, Burr assured the public that “the United States today is better prepared than ever before to face emerging public health threats, like the coronavirus.” He wrote, “No matter the outbreak or threat, Congress and the federal government have been vigilant in identifying gaps in its readiness efforts and improving its response capabilities.”
This was a lie, of course. But he sold his stocks and let the wealthiest individuals in his social bracket know the truth of the matter—so they could prepare themselves and their businesses, as well.
In 2012, Congress passed a new law making it illegal for members of Congress to use inside information they gain through their official positions to buy and sell stock. Only three senators voted against the 2012 bill. Burr was one of them.
Meanwhile, our President has made such an inarticulate buffoon of himself that people are begging for him NOT to do anymore press conferences and let someone with a semblance of intelligence and compassion, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, take care of all public communications. The strong sense of disgust toward our erstwhile leader hasn’t prevented William Barr our sycophantic and deeply power mad Attorney General from floating a request to ‘suspend constitutional rights’ during the pandemic. Because how else will they maintain order when everything they do and don’t do brings us closer to eminent death?
If our legislative and Presidential leadership expresses itself with utter moral turpitude and an ethical perversity that makes Nixon’s excesses childishly quaint; the less powerful members of our society appear to be doing what needs to be done. In short, portions of our country are actually rising to the occasion, even as our executive leadership wallows in their incompetence. Local and state governments are mostly doing well (with a handful of exceptions— Florida, I’m looking at you- https://www.newsweek.com/lake-worth-beach-omari-hardy-covid-19-1493607) and local community efforts are also blooming like Aster flowers in the Spring.
A group that has been on the front lines of climate change, Extinction Rebellion, has formed a Mutual Aid Society and are calling for donations in Richmond, Virginia to help those less fortunate. (https://www.facebook.com/ShutItDownRVA/photos/gm.1385830658472779/2511566835610484/?type=3&theater)
A relief fund for restaurant workers has also been started in the local community.
Internationally, Cuba has sent doctors to Italy, which says more about the values their society holds dear than anything our own country has said about them in the last 50 years.
And Chef José Andrés has even repurposed his restaurants in the Washington, DC area as community kitchens. He told MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki, “We cannot leave the communities alone … The idea is that when people are in the neighborhood, they may need food.” Adrés mentions that Congressional help for the restaurant industry will be needed “because America needs to be fed.”
Excellent sentiment, though, as they saying goes, I would hope for the best, but plan for the worst. The House may come through with help, and, paradoxically, with Rand Paul’s absence thanks to his Covid-19 diagnosis and reckless behavior–that has helped to quarantine five Republican senators–we might actually get some decent legislation pushed through the Senate. Sometimes, it seems, Karma can be a good thing.
Remember to wash your hands!
Below is a continously updated list of Covid-19 resources specific to Richmond, Virginia.
Penny Lane gofundme page
Patrick Henry gofundme page
Laura Lees gofundme page
PennyLane gofundme page
Cross Roads gofundme page