NOTE: My colleagues and I are back in the office, but every other stall in the cubicle farm is empty for social distancing, and some of us have been dispatched to other floors. My lair is a small conference room just far enough from my co-workers to instill a perpetual case of FOMO. I feel like the Columnist of Monte Cristo in here. Since we’ve returned to “normal,” I considered retiring the “Coronavirus Diaries” tag. Since the virus is surging in 39 states and the Trump White House has utterly surrendered to its spread, I’ll keep the tag. This ain’t over. And it ain’t the flu. Act accordingly. That concludes today’s sermon. Please clear your mental palates with the delightful blog below. And wear a damned mask! cjk. 

Got away for a long weekend in the Pennsylvania Wilds. Chrissy and I went camping with the inlaws on the shores of Raystown Lake in Huntingdon County. It’s the largest lake in Pennsylvania, a project of the Army Corps of Engineers and a vast, hidden gem in the center of the Alabama that yawns between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. 

When I crave communion with the Creator, I head for the woods. Churches are fine, but built by mortals. God made nature and I easily connect with Him/Her/It when I’m in a cathedral of water, leaves. stone and sky. The three days we spent by the lake and kayaking around it were an overdue escape from the outsize anxiety inspired by a pair of plagues on everyday American life — COVID-19 and the failed presidency of Donald J. Trump. 

I knew it was a mistake, but about an hour after returning to civilization I went doom-surfing on my cellphone to catch up on all the hellish developments I missed while in the woods. The first item that popped up was Trump’s Tuesday campaign rally in the White House Rose Garden. Team Trump billed the sideshow as a “news conference,” but after a few minutes of talking tough about China, Trump went Trump, meandering for more than an hour along a low-energy path of lies, fantasies and grievances completely inappropriate for any setting. 

Many critics bemoaned Trump’s abuse of the Rose Garden — treated by previous presidents of both parties as hallowed ground — for partisan politics. It was an ugly choice, but it helps to think of Trump’s rant as fertilizer for future roses. The “news” here isn’t where Trump said what he said, but what Trump said. The president mentioned presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden 30 times, bizarrely claiming that the former vice president would end travel bans from “jihadist countries” to aid and abet terrorists to enter the U.S. 

“We don’t want people that are going to come in and blow up our cities,” Trump said. “And frankly with the liberal Democrats running the cities that we do have, where they do have problems, maybe they wouldn’t mind. But I would mind. And the people of this country mind.”

The president said his opponent would open the country up to terrorists and Democrats wouldn’t care if their cities were attacked. Also, Democrats apparently are not “people of this country.” These were the most coherent elements of the “speech.” Here is Trump rambling about working with Central American countries to combat illegal immigration:

“We have great agreements where when Biden and Obama used to bring killers out, they would say don’t bring them back to our country, we don’t want them. Well, we have to, we don’t want them. They wouldn’t take them. Now with us, they take them. Someday, I’ll tell you why. Someday, I’ll tell you why. But they take them and they take them very gladly. They used to bring them out and they wouldn’t even let the airplanes land if they brought them back by airplanes. They wouldn’t let the buses into their country. They said we don’t want them. Said no, but they entered our country illegally and they’re murderers, they’re killers in some cases.”

Someday, I’ll tell you why this gibberish is an unmistakable sign of a tiny mind in rapid decline. Here’s some more, as Trump continues to push the imbecilic idea that more testing creates coronavirus infections:

“And, frankly, if we didn’t test, you wouldn’t have all the headlines because we’re showing cases.  And we have just about the lowest mortality rate.  But if we did — think of this: If we didn’t do testing — instead of testing over 40 million people, if we did half the testing, we would have half the cases.  If we did another — you cut that in half, we would have, yet again, half of that.”

Yes, and if we stop testing for cancer, it’ll be cured in no time. This is the logic of a frightened child, not an alleged adult in the most important job on the planet. The pandemic — or the more than 135,000 American lives it claimed in under five months — can’t be wished away. Unfortunately, neither can Trump. 

I referenced the official White House transcript to write this blog. If you’re a masochist, read the whole “speech” here. If you can get through and still believe this wreck of a man should be leading this nation, I pity you. 

I’ll close with Trump’s lone mention of his obsession with stuffing America’s kids, teachers and school staff inside school buildings before the election. He said nothing (directly) about solid science that says this will trigger a tsunami of infections and widespread fear among parents and teachers that America’s schoolchildren and educators are being led to slaughter for Trump’s poll numbers.  

“But we did what we had to do, and now we’ll put out the flames as it — as it happens.  We have to get the schools open.  We have to get everything open.  A lot of people don’t want to do that for political reasons, not for other reasons.”

The irony here is mind-numbing. Trump writes off legitimate scientific and moral concerns about reopening schools during a global pandemic as politically motivated while his main motivation for rushing to reopen is saving his alleged presidency and staying in power. Even a mind as tiny and diseased as Trump’s must grasp that he is rolling the dice with the lives of millions of Americans. 

Trump is willing to bet our lives on his reelection. Are you?