On the day of Trump’s inauguration I posted a black flag here in mourning for American democracy, fearful for what would come: fears I elaborated in November 2016 and February 2017. In the four years since, I’ve posted occasional links and short pieces about the U.S., but have mostly written about the U.K.’s own slide into right-wing irrelevance. This, after all, is the polity I’m part of; analysing the details of Trump’s malfeasance seemed better left to Americans.
I’d managed to go a couple of months without spending too much time dwelling on the current resident of the Oval Office—as opposed to the wider hellscape he’s created—to the point where I didn’t get around to posting a bunch of links I’d collected about U.S. politics last month. But now we’ve had a week where stories about Trump sabotaging the first debate with Biden, his tax records showing him paying $750 in income tax in 2017 and strongly suggesting money laundering, him testing positive for coronavirus, evidence that he knew about his diagnosis for days before announcing it, and now his risky and manic behaviour while on medication, have created a screaming video-wall of distraction when he’s the last person I want to think about.
Covid-19 symptoms and illness classification. Every symptom we know. How exactly do you catch Covid-19? Thousands who got it in March are still sick. “I’ve been ill for months, but I still don’t know if it is Covid-19.”
It’s been hard to disentangle my thoughts about the week from the events of the country and the wider world, and even harder to get through the work I’m supposed to be doing instead of writing posts here. Trying to keep on top of a full-time job from home, with two school-age kids and a partner also working full-time and all the other constraints and tensions of lockdown, is like trying to juggle the contents of the computer cable drawer while walking calmly across the room. You’re lucky to get a few feet before stepping on a three-pronged plug.
Nothing I’ve read in the past two months has changed my suspicion of early March that the UK government would use the pandemic as cover for refusing to request an extension to the Brexit transition period and ending it on 1 January 2021 without a deal. When everything’s shit, it’s too easy to smuggle in an extra steaming pile of shit.
Merkel ally warns that the UK will need to extend the Brexit transition. What Northern Ireland’s businesses need to have in place by the end of the year is daunting. EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan thinks that the UK will blame a hard Brexit on COVID-19. “The Conservatives are embracing the timing with the sweaty gratitude of a guy who knows that the unfortunate fire at a storage unit facility will take care of the corpse he’s been storing there.”