Trumpian death panels

President* Trump,

We’re back in the red “unhealthy” zone as far as air quality this morning after being in the orange zone for what felt like a nanosecond last night. Right now the air quality forecast doesn’t include the orange zone so I can’t tell what it’s called. The yellow zone is “moderate” – just the modifier “moderate” without anything specific that it’s modifying so it could be “moderate”ly healthy or “moderate”ly unhealthy. Not sure. I’m also hard pressed to figure out what the likely word for the orange zone. Fortunately, Google knows the answer and it’s “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” which I take to mean anyone who needs to breathe. Seriously, anyone who needs to breathe needs to breathe clean air so as not to compromise their systems. I know that’s not what the air quality index labelers mean, but it’s rather shitty that there’s messaging embedded in the index itself that air quality that is not optimal for everyone can be passed off as ok if someone isn’t especially sensitive.

You can probably tell I’m in a mood. I am feeling supremely irritated, worn out, and have already cried twice this morning. After scrolling past story after story recounting and further elaborating the multitudinous ways that you and your administration have screwed us over, I clicked on the WP piece about a woman whose family is watching her precipitous decline from Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to citing horrifying statistics about the excess dementia-related deaths over the past six months compared to the same time period in 2019 (13,200), we’re introduced to Dan and Denise Goerke and Dan’s struggle to support Denise from the porch of her nursing home while she sits all but catatonic in her wheelchair inside the building. There are pictures of them when they first met and shortly after she was diagnosed and they look like any other happy White middle-aged couple. The contrast between the earlier pictures and the current ones of Denise is wrenching.

Your ilk railed about “death panels” when you all were trying to torpedo the Affordable Care Act, but it sure looks like it’s the GOP that’s enacted the real death panels. Between your strategic failures regarding COVID, which have visited horrible disparities on Black and brown communities, and situations like the Goerke’s are facing, you’ve made abundantly clear who you deem expendable.

And then there’s the non-COVID excess mortality for this time stretch. According to the Our World in Data website (https://ourworldindata.org/excess-mortality-covid), there were about 244,000 excess deaths in the US from March 1st through August 16th, of which 169,000 are attributable to COVID-19. This means that there were 75,000 excess, non-COVID, deaths over that five and a half month stretch relative to the average numbers for that timespan over the prior five years. The website doesn’t get into what all those non-COVID excess deaths were from or which groups were most negatively impacted, but when truth-telling history books recount what happened, I’m sure we’ll see that like COVID, it’s Black and brown people and the elderly who were especially vulnerable to early non-COIVD deaths.

Remember when Sarah Palin raised the specter of “death panels” back in 2009? She said in a Facebook post (https://www.yourdictionary.com/death-panel):

“… my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care.”

That whole “death panel” deal was and is complete bullshit (obviously), but you and your handlers were paying attention, weren’t you? To you, it was a good idea that just needed to be super-charged – basically, you’ve taken it up 275,000 notches. So far.

May we be safe from our POTUS.
May we be willing to be clear eyed about what’s happening.
May we lay strong groundwork for future convictions of evil-doers.
May we accept that most everything the GOP accuses liberals of, they are doing themselves in spades.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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