News, Views, Happiness Pursued


by | Apr 9, 2020

photo/Leon Vanella

So, um, yeah. We’re inside now. It’s weird. As a person who travels for work, it feels unsettling to be so settled. A lot of this feels unsettling, but the most unsettling thing of all so far is… ugh… our leadership.

To review, when addressing COVID-19, the President of the United States of America said:

January 22

“We have it totally under control. … It’s going to be just fine.”

January 30

“We think we have it very well under control. We have very little problem in this country at this moment — five. And those people are all recuperating successfully. But we’re working very closely with China and other countries, and we think it’s going to have a very good ending for it. So that I can assure you.”

February 24
“The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. … Stock market starting to look very good to me.”

February 25
“You may ask about the coronavirus, which is very well under control in our country. We have very few people with it, and the people that have it are … getting better. They’re all getting better. … As far as what we’re doing with the new virus, I think that we’re doing a great job.”

February 26
“And again, when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.”

February 28
“It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”

March 2
“We had a great meeting today with a lot of the great companies and they’re going to have vaccines, I think relatively soon.”

March 6
“Anybody that needs a test, gets a test. They’re there. They have the tests. And the tests are beautiful.”

March 10
“And we’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.”

March 12
“It’s going to go away. … The United States, because of what I did and what the administration did with China, we have 32 deaths at this point … when you look at the kind of numbers that you’re seeing coming out of other countries, it’s pretty amazing when you think of it.”

March 17
“Federal Government is working very well with the Governors and State officials. Good things will happen!”

And, of course…

March 17
“I’ve always known this is a real — this is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”

And one more for the road:

March 29

“Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won. That would be the greatest loss of all.”

I can’t help but think about all the time he’s wasted that could potentially cost millions of lives. And I can’t help but think about his racist grasping of “Chinese virus” and the spike of anti-Asian racist attacks across the country that followed.

I think about a recent CBS News/YouGov poll that found that while 84 percent of Republicans trust the CDC to have accurate COVID-19 information, even more — 90 percent of them — trust the president.

I think about how, as COVID-19 infection and death rates are, predictably, growing exponentially, the president is tweeting, celebrating his own television ratings.

I think about how badly the country needs to vote the Republican Party into oblivion when I see that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the only consistent voice of reason and source of accurate information coming out of this administration, has become an online target by Trump supporters.

I think about Maine and our part in this and Susan Collins. When Senate Democrats were pushing back against pro-corporate Republican proposals in the recent stimulus package, she called Democrats “disgraceful.” The hubristic, elitist and potentially deadly hypocrisy of that comment still makes my face hot, but I think Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said it best in a tweet:

“@SenatorCollins can keep her crocodile tears. She voted & fought HARD to strip pandemic prep funding. She helped drive the lack of preparation that we had leading up to this. What’s actually disgraceful is her ‘I’m a Moderate Lady’ dance to cover up brutal policies and votes.”

I think about all of this and I’m shocked at my own shock. The president and his party of immorals could barely function when the country was operating under usual conditions. It’s ridiculous to think they’d do anything but wither during a crisis, let alone a hundred-year-storm like the one we’re facing now. But I hope I continue to be shocked. I hope we all continue to be shocked, because the alternative is a lowering of expectations of what we deserve, and a waning will to fight for it.

Samuel James is an internationally renowned bluesman and storyteller, as well as a locally known filmmaker. He can be reached at

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