The Sunday Driver, S1, E3: You’re Going the Wrong Way!

Good Evening, and what a lovely time for a drive. It is pleasantly temperate, with a lite, happy breeze, and if you’re bothering to read this, you’re likely not on a ventilator, so let’s roll out.

Our first attraction on this spin will have to be the numbers. As of this writing, the US still leads the world (ahem), racking up 3,383,888 total Covid-19 cases, nearly 90,000 new cases in the last 24 hours, and 137,589 dearly departed. So our death toll now surpasses the war dead from two Korea’s and one Vietnam. For some compare and contrast, India, often-scorned as an “other” nation, has more than three times our population, but just one-third of our land mass. In such cramped and inter-generational quarters, they have experienced one-quarter of our total deaths, and one-quarter of our total cases. Must be fuzzy math, huh?

Here in the mitten, things are not improving so much. Michigan currently has 64,948 total confirmed cases, 653 new cases, 28 new deaths, including an update from public records, and 6,067 total deaths. So since the April 15th Operation Gridlock astro-turf farce, when we had 27,001 total cases and 1,768 total Covid dead, these numbers are up 59 and 71 percent, respectively; sure enough, that MAGA/anti-masker stuff really works.

Straight Outta Scranton

Shifting gears to something less dire, at least for those who “get it,” national and battleground-state polling for Donald J. Trump continues to bring nothing but bad news. The most recent RCP national polling average still shows Joe Biden riding nearly 10 points above Trump, with the average lead for Michigan at +7.5 Biden, Pennsylvania at +6.5 Biden and, wait for it, Florida (!) at +5.2 Biden.

Yes, but it’s early, with 113 days ‘till the election! OK, so it’s really not that early but what about Hillary and her emails?! OK, so Hillary’s not running, but polls can be wrong! Yes they can, and the whole picture can absolutely change, but the window for a trend-disruption short of WW3 or a terminal cancer diagnosis is closing rapidly. And when a fresh Texas PPP/Emily’s List poll has Trump losing by 2 points, and the Dallas Morning News poll shows Biden up +5 (yes, I said Texas), I’m sure Trump and/or his argumentative supporter above would much rather have their paltry poll numbers right now than Biden’s. Yes?

Moving along to job-approval, a recent ABC/Ipsos poll released Friday showed two-thirds of Americans disapprove of how Trump has managed the pandemic. More ominous still is the precipitous drop in pandemic-job approval among independents; in the mid-June poll, the president’s rating among independents was 40 percent, and now it’s at 29 percent. Y’all need to ask your MAGA buddies once more if they’re sure they don’t wanna swap numbers.

In a major economic policy speech from his boyhood home of Scranton, PA on Thursday, Biden went straight after Trump’s fake-populism, stating “Growing up rich and looking down on people is a bit different than how I grew up here . . . throughout this crisis, Donald Trump has been almost singularly focused on the stock market — the Dow and the Nasdaq. Not you and not your families.” Biden continued “If I am fortunate enough to be your president, I’ll be laser-focused on working families, middle-class families like I came from here in Scranton . . . (a) manufacturing and innovation strategy (that) will marshal the resources of the federal government in ways that we have not seen since World War II.”

Going after the cut above Trump’s eye, Biden hammered “When it comes to COVID-19, after months of doing nothing, other than predicting the virus would disappear or maybe, if you drank bleach, you may be okay, Trump has simply given up.” He’s not wrong.

The Double-Down-Double-Dumb-Dare

Moving to the beltway, which is straining under Trump’s mighty girth, the week bore some mixed news from a Supreme Court which has already “betrayed” its master. Splitting two decisions, the SCOTUS first ruled against Trump’s assertion of a presidential baby-blanket immunity from everything, holding that Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. would indeed get a crack at Trump’s tax returns and other financials for any colorably relevant purpose. The bad news for lefty partisans in the 7-2 decision (Clarence Tee and Alito sided with the POTUS and dogmatic immunity) is the unlikelihood that any such data will see the light of day before November.

In a second ruling less favorable to Trump-haters, the court held Congress could not immediately get access to financial records of the president that were subpoenaed by the Democratic-led House committees. The justices said lower courts did not sufficiently consider separation-of-powers concerns implicated by the subpoenas, and sent the matter back down for more deliberation.

And notwithstanding that both decisions were defacto favorable to Trump’s game of election day keep-away, he appears so goddamned dumb he couldn’t see it, and exploded on Twitter, screaming “Now the Supreme Court gives a delay ruling that they would never have given for another President. This is about PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT. We catch the other side SPYING on my campaign . . . and NOTHING HAPPENS. But despite this, I have done more than any President in history in first 3 1/2 years!” I can’t. I just.

Earlier in the week, Trump began beating the war drums for the nation’s nearly 60 million K-12 students to return to school, skyrocketing Covid numbers be damned. Among other exhortations, Trump decreed “SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!!” To sharpen the blunt point Trump went on to say “In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and many other countries, SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS. The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!”

Betraying his true political intent with the election reference, someone should point out to Trump that Sweden’s “herd immunity” experiment with live human subjects was an utter fail, giving them one of the highest per-capita case rates, the highest rolling per-captia death rate up to June and a puny six percent testing rate.

Meanwhile in Florida, where Gov. De Santis licks Trump footwear for a living, that particular toady sagely announced “If you can do Home Depot, if you can do Walmart, if you can do these things, we absolutely can do the schools.” This from the guy whose mismanagement built the nation’s fastest growing count, with 15,300 new cases reported this very Sunday afternoon. Unless you really, really like to shop, it is doubtful you spend seven hours in a Home Depot, five days a week. Of course, countless retail employees are forced to work there and elsewhere by the manifest failings and stupidity of the Trump administration, and get screamed at by anti-maskers for the privilege.

Crowning the week that was, Trump took a savage hit when his campaign was forced to cancel his next massive MAGA rally, this one in Portsmouth, NH. Citing weather, the leaky Trump folks confirmed that projected attendance was so anemic, Trump threw in the towel before the fight. Undaunted, Trump took his frustrations out on Lady Justice, answered a double-dog-dare from the founders, and commuted the imminent prison sentence of personal friend Roger Stone, a move so bold, brazen and bone-headed, even Bill Barr advised against it. James Madison weeps from his grave.

It is noted that this travesty, obliterating all lines and lanes of our three-branch governance, came from “your law and order president.” Tell that to the 12 jurors who were sequestered from their normal lives and jobs so that their verdict could be nullified by the most dangerous serial criminal in US history. 138,000 dead Americans can’t be wrong.

You’re going the wrong way!

As we finally round the bend and head for home, the sad theme of the drive is that the Covid-19 numbers in the US are rocketing perilously skyward, near to where Dr. Anthony “a lot of mistakes” Fauci said they would go, and topping 110,000 just this weekend.

Against this backdrop, I offer three final vignettes. First, down in pleasant Port Clinton, OH, family and friends recently mourned the death of 37-year-old army veteran Richard Rose, who passed from Covid-19 on July 4th. Regrettably, Rose will be most remembered for his April 28 Facebook post, in which he said “Let (sic) make this clear. I’m not buying a fucking mask. I’ve made it this far without buying into that damn hype.”

Celebrating the Fourth with carefree style in Northern Michigan, hundreds of revelers who enjoyed Torch Lake’s sand-bar boat bonanza are now being asked to trace and test due to a confirmed Covid-19 presence among the trunks, bikinis and beer. And those party-hounds in the southwest corner of the state attending a well-organized gathering on Diamond Lake are being sought for investigations and possible prosecution.

Lastly, right here in Troy comes disappointing news from a dear young friend who works in a popular retail outlet at tony Somerset North. Seems that despite this being one of the most luxurious malls in the Midwest, customers have screamed at, antagonized and insulted her about her required mask-wearing, driving her to exasperation and resignation from her job. Posting to friends and family, she said “I am honestly and legitimately afraid to go to work. I’m exhausted.”

And with that, I will channel the good Samaritan motorists who tried to save John Candy and Steve Martin from themselves, scream “You’re going the wrong way!” at this entire country, roll up my window, and drive off into the sunset.

Somewhere.

For Good.

Until next week.

Author: Bill Urich

A tail-end baby-boomer, Bill Urich was born in Cleveland to a grade school teacher and her Navy vet husband, and reared in Greater Detroit. Working his way through school primarily at night, Mr. Urich holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism, Phi Beta Kappa, and a Juris Doctorate from Wayne State University. In his legal career he has acted as an assistant state prosecutor, city attorney, special prosecutor, mediator, magistrate, private practitioner and mayor of Royal Oak, a large home-rule city in Michigan. Mr. Urich continues in private practice and municipal prosecution, is on faculty to DePaul University, pens regular contributions to political publications, and remains active in selected campaigns and causes related to labor, social and criminal justice. A father of three mostly-grown sons, he spends his precious free time on family, friends, the pursuit of happiness, beauty and truth, three rescue cats, and fronting the rock band Calcutta Rugs from behind the drum kit.

What say you, the people?