David Pisarra

In the history of humanity, there may be no greater failure by a leader than that of President Donald J. Trump, certainly there is no greater prevaricator in chief. For a man who craves to be the “best”, “greatest” and any other form of superlative available, he has certainly proved himself capable of outdoing the lies, misinformation and frankly incompetence of every other world leader dating back to the Thag, King of the Cro-Magnons. (Yes, that’s a Far Side reference.)

Four weeks ago I landed in Johannesburg, South Africa, and upon entry I was scanned by a digital thermometer. I then flew to Namibia, where I was again inspected by a digital camera / thermometer. Upon return to S. Africa, I was scanned for a third time. Now according to the experts, for the most part these types of mass scannings by digital thermometers don’t do very much in slowing the transmission of infections. It may be that they are nothing more than just political theater to keep the masses calm with the impression that the government is taking decisive action.

Contrast those experiences with what happened to me last week on my return to California. At the Delta desk in Joburg the attendant asked me if I had been in China or Iran, thankfully I had not. That was the last time anyone expressed any interest in my overall travel, or health condition. When I arrived in Atlanta, Customs and Border Patrol looked at my Global Entry receipt, and said, “You can go.” That’s it. Nothing else.

That was a week ago. In the ensuing days the President has variously lied about the extent of the screenings, the availability of tests and the extent of the infections. I realize that as leader of the free world, head of the Executive Branch he may have access to information that I do not. Frankly he’d better. Of course it will do none of us any good for him to have access to information if he ignores it, refuses to accept it, or doesn’t bother to even read it. I’m reminded of the quote by one of my favorite inspirational speakers, Zig Ziglar, “There’s no difference between the man who can’t read, and the one who doesn’t.”

By all reliable accounts of the President’s habits, and by his demonstrated behavior, he’s beyond ignorant, lazy and negligent. He is actively acting as an agent of disinformation, and in times like this, in my opinion, he is culpable for those who will die needlessly.

The planet is confronting a situation of epic proportions. This is the seminal event of the modern era. Whether or not there are widespread infections and catastrophic losses, is frankly beside the point that we need a leader to reassure, to set a course and to instill trust, hope and confidence. We need a leader to lead. What we have is a bumbling buffoon who has endangered millions.

You may be asking yourself, “Really? Millions?” well let’s just do the numbers. If the projections by the CDC of a 40-70 percent infection rate are to be used over the course of the next year, and we expect a mortality rate of 1-3 percent, then we have between 132 million and 231 million American people infected, if between 1- 3 percent of them succumb to the disease, that means we’d have between 1.3 and 6.9 million people die.

The world hasn’t seen a pandemic on this scale since 1918, when it is estimated that 500 million were infected and approximately 50 million died, of which 675, 000 were in the United States.

How likely is this dire prediction? Unknown. We have more technology, we have great ability to respond, and get people to isolate. As the Coronavirus works its way through our society we will have those who survive develop immunity, and virii tend to become less virulent over time. We are moving into the summer season, and that will hopefully help with reduction of transmission of the fragile virus. So in reality we have factors that will help us fight this.

On the other hand, it’s been said that most people don’t die of fire in a house fire, they die of the smoke inhalation. There’s another big factor that needs to be addressed here. The damage that this is doing to the economic health of the planet is profound. We have strong leadership at the state, county and city level that is shuttering or rolling back business operations. While I expect that this is good for the community from a health perspective, from a financial perspective, it’s very reminiscent of 1991, 2000, 2008, when recessions hit and people’s lives were destroyed.

The courts are shutting down to skeleton crews, restaurants are on delivery status only, gyms, barbers and nail salons are closed. People are expected to stay indoors with their spouses and what will this lead to? Divorce and bankruptcy will be up, businesses will be going under, lives will be disrupted, and the birth rate come December will be at historical highs.

I don’t want to be an alarmist. I want to be optimistic and hopeful. I know this will pass. I’ve been through tough times, and as Robert Schuller would say, “Tough times don’t last, tough people do.”

It helps when you have a good leader, and for that, we have to look beyond 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist.  He welcomes your questions and comments.  He can be reached at dpisarra@pisarra.com or 310/664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra

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