Opinion

Dispatches From Isolation Vol 5

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Posted: Apr 16, 2020 12:01 AM
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
Dispatches From Isolation Vol 5

Source: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

This is the latest in a continuing series of thoughts, half-columns, policy observations, and parenting journals during life spent inside.

It’s all very odd how normal this has become

The first time I wore gloves to the store I kept them in my pocket, determined to not need them. The idea felt weird. “What am I, Michael Jackson?” I thought. But sitting in the parking lot of the Safeway at 2:00 am (the best time to go, if your grocery store is 24 hours), I was uneasy: will I or won’t I? 

By the time I got to the automatic doors and saw the carts I figured, “What the hell? No one is going to see me.” I put on the gloves and entered Thunderdome. 

The store was decimated. It wasn’t a mess, there wasn’t enough left to make a mess out of.

The produce section was almost empty, with the exception of a few apples – gala apples, which are some of the best, so it was a bit of a score. Also, pineapples. I don’t buy pineapples – mostly because why would I? – but apparently no one else does either, as there were plenty. You’d think they’d sell, if only for personal protection – there is no good part of a pineapple to be hit with, it’s all violent. 

With my hands covered, I scored what I needed and wanted in other departments further into the store, mostly because it was in the process of being restocked at the time. The only people in the store besides me were the heroes working to keep the place in business by restocking the shelves so people would have things to panic-buy when the shoppers who aren’t night owls would return. 

I’ve now, like about 99 percent of the people, added a mask to my shopping uniform. It would almost feel weird not to. 

When at Target, a new normal has emerged. There are a lot fewer people there, so when you’re in an aisle, you own that aisle. If someone turns down it before noticing you, they sort of apologetically turn away and go to the next one, waiting their turn to circle back after you leave.

I work under the assumption that everything is coated in coronavirus, everything. I use one gloved hand only to push the cart and fill it. The other hand, gloved as well, sits in my pocket with my phone, wallet, and keys, uncorrupted and waiting for the opportunity to use my phone for Apple Pay so I don’t even have to touch the keypad. It’s quite a system. I can unlock my car without polluting my keys, load the car with two hands, dispose of the gloves and make my getaway. 

A new pair of gloves awaits my arrival at home for the unloading and delousing, or ritualistic wiping down of everything outside before bringing them in and scrubbing up like I’m prepping for surgery. All my clothes go into the wash, I start the machine and wash my hands again. 

The most bizarre part of the whole thing is how quickly it began to feel normal. 

Pandemics don’t mean government stupidity stops

One thing being home all the time affords you is the opportunity to read. Whether you avail yourself of that may have something to do with the quality of your cable provider and your movie collection. For me, my job requires it. As such, I continually come across things that show just how awful/stupid/incompetent government is. 

One example I discovered recently was penned by the late, great Senator Tom Coburn on how Medicare is obstructing senior citizens’ access to innovate health care. In this case it’s cancer treatment.

Medicare is supposed to help seniors, but all too often it denies them the latest and best options for treatments. This was true when former VP Dick Cheney had a defibrillator implanted in this chest (Medicare didn’t cover it and Congress had to scramble to add it to avoid public outrage), and it’s true today for innovative cancer treatments. 

There is a cancer treatment called Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cells therapy, or CAR-T. As Senator Coburn, himself an MD, put it, “CAR-T therapy takes a cancer patients’ own white blood cells and re-engineers them to fight the cancer. We have seen positive results in clinical trials throughout the country.”

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Putting aside the fact that I was a health policy analyst a lifetime ago (I’m still recovering), like you, I’ve known people lost to cancer. Anything that can help beat that evil is welcome news.

Yet, as Coburn writes, “many rural Medicare beneficiaries may not have access to this promising treatment.” 

Why? Because big government sucks. Medicare sets “reimbursement rates,” which is a bureaucratic way of saying “price controls,” for rural CAR-T treatment much lower than in urban areas. Of course, the cost of performing CAR-T therapy doesn’t vary by location, but because Medicare decided other costs of living in rural areas are less, hospitals should be paid less for this (and other) treatments, largely because they can. If something costs more to perform than you’ll be paid for performing it, it won’t be performed very often, would it? Such is the case with CAR-T. 

In one of his last acts before passing away from cancer himself, Coburn wrote we need a “solution that more appropriately reimburses the providers of these innovative treatments, which will in turn provide better access for appropriate seniors on Medicare with cancer.”

Since the federal government is pretty much the only game in town for providing health care to seniors, and we’ve shut down the country pretty much to protect the elderly, shouldn’t we provide them with the best care possible? 

Democrats really hate this country

I get it, Democrats hate President Trump. Anyone who has humiliated them as badly as Trump has for four years is bound to inspire a lot of rage, and each returned attack only outrages them more. That’s normal.

What isn’t normal is watching one major political party in the United States siding with our enemies in order to oppose the other. 

Senator Chris Murphy absolved China for its lies about coronavirus, instead blaming the president. Supposed journalists defend the World Health Organization’s repeating of China’s lies in the face of losing U.S. funding over a complete failure of the WHO to do their one job. Vapid cable news personalities suggest Democrats set up a “shadow government” to counter the Coronavirus Task Force briefings they refuse to carry. The Speaker of the House, who long after warnings, travel bans, and the task force being formed, accuses the president of being a “weak person” in a letter…from the safety of her San Francisco mansion because she’s afraid to call the House back into session and do her job.

The only way Democrats would put the interests of the country first would be to convince them that was the key to defeating the president. 

Leading from his behind

Barack Obama, displaying the leadership that made him a “meh” president, burst back on the political scene this week with a long, boring, scripted video endorsement of the only Democratic candidate left in the race. Yes, long after it was a foregone conclusion, the mystery of who would Obama support once everyone else quit the race has finally been answered.

Obama’s 12-minute video was less about Joe than it was about Obama himself. Actively rewriting history, Obama claimed credit for everything good in the world while pretending his scandals and failures didn’t exist, adding Biden “was there” as he did all of it. So was the White House photographer, that doesn’t mean he should be president. And at least the White House photographer remembers being there.

Andrea Mitchell, MSNBC personality and NBC News “chief foreign affairs correspondent,” astutely observed Obama’s endorsing of Biden was “momentarily (the) biggest moment so far in the 2020 democratic campaign.” That’s a bit like thinking the post-game show was key to a Super Bowl win, but when you work by proxy for the Democratic Party you have to pretend to be excited about anything.

Kids in quarantine 

When I started this series I never really thought it would be an actual series. Weirdly, and probably naively, the whole lockdown thing would last a couple of weeks and fade into memory. The numbers, outside of a few hotspots, give the impression it maybe should have, but here we are on week whatever, on day whatever, dressing up like Darth Vader to go buy milk. 

I’m only half-joking about not knowing what day it is. While I’m still working – three columns per week, an hour long daily podcast, and 3 hours of radio everyday – each morning I have to look in the upper right-hand corner of my computer screen to see what day it really is. Fridays used to mean something – that magical period of 36-48 hours without being obligated to do anything. My almost 3-year-old daughter reminds me that Friday is the “second best day,” after Saturday, of course, because we have more time to play with her toys together before the work cycle starts again Sunday afternoon. 

But the trips to the grocery store, her excitedly riding in the cart while pointing out cartoon characters she sees on packages and announcing every number she sees, are still missing. She and her sister have left the house only for a quick car ride so my wife could pick something up from work and to play a couple of times in the backyard, screaming and running away from every insect, each of which, no matter what they are, declared an evil “ladybug” out to get her.

We’re lucky; having two kids under 3 means they aren’t really aware of the concept. Therefore, the passage of time. Their best friends are each other and of the stuffed variety. This whole thing has given them more time to work on their “hide & seek” game, which is in desperate need of work. By the time this is over, maybe they’ll be able to stand half-sticking out from behind a chair and not giggle uncontrollably while their old man pretends not to see them. I hope not, it’s too much fun.

I do, however, feel bad for kids old enough to know there’s a whole world out there they can’t participate in. Kids old enough to read a clock are old enough to recognize how long a second really is when you’re acutely aware of each one’s passage. I have no idea how families are dealing with that. Hopefully they won’t have to much longer.          

Derek Hunter is the host of a free daily podcast (subscribe!), host of a daily radio show on WCBM in Maryland, and author of the book, Outrage, INC., which exposes how liberals use fear and hatred to manipulate the masses. Follow him on Twitter at @DerekAHunter