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'Diabolique,' 1955.

Ronald Reagan always got applause for his witticisms about how bad and useless government is. The Reagan Library, right on its homepage, features the campaign slogan that Reagan repeated in his inaugural address: "Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem." He was also fond of the very funny joke, "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the Government, and I'm here to help."

Oh, hey, know what else is right on the Reagan Library's homepage right now?

We're sorry. Due to the coronavirus public health emergency, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum will be closed to the public beginning March 14th until further notice.

But Ronald Reagan must surely be proud of his achievement right now, forty years into the ongoing Republican effort to dismantle the federal government. We have a hell of a problem, with thousands of Americans infected with COVID-19, plus hundreds of thousands already out of work, or soon to be unemployed, as the nation grinds to a stop, since that's the only way to stop the disease from spreading. We can say with some confidence that right now, the government isn't anywhere close to a solution. Maybe tax cuts.

Also, what's left of the government is doing everything it can to assure you it's not here to help, so we bet people sure are relieved they won't have to worry about those terrifying words, either.


Donald Trump is absolutely the very worst distillation of the GOP's dedication to turning the machinery of government over to the wise heads of industry, that they may prosper. But he's only unique in his open, boorish assholishness about it. Nothing about the way Trump has misgoverned has been especially different from the Gingriches, George Bushes, Dick Cheneys, or Paul Ryans that preceded him, although the old-fashioned Republicans were perhaps a little less inept in how they did things.

But they've all been dedicated to taxhole Grover Norquist's golden dream:

I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.

Early on in Trump's first year, Steve Bannon proclaimed at CPAC that one of the Trump administration's top goals was the "deconstruction of the administrative state." And wow, TrumpWorld has come through on that. Agency after agency has been captured by the industries they're supposed to regulate, and some might as well have irony quotes chiseled into their official names, like the Environmental "Protection" Agency, the Consumer Financial "Protection" Bureau, and the Department of "Justice."

We still have some partially functional institutions. But during the COVID-19 outbreak, even the steely-eyed microbe men and women of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention seem to have dropped the ball — it's one thing that the CDC's coronavirus test was no good, but instead of roaring back with a plan B, the agency flailed for weeks — a crisis made worse by Trump's preference not to have "the numbers" go up, because that would make him look bad.

Even National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci seems diminished. Fauci pretty much kicked the government into taking AIDS seriously all on his own, back when Reagan wouldn't even speak the name of the disease in public. Now he tries to be as truthful as he can be without going "to war with a president," and sometimes has to insist he's not being muzzled. But he has to hide his laughter and disbelief when the "president" makes funny "jokes" about the Deep State Department.

Fauci is still trying to keep this damned boat afloat amid all the splashing and gurgling from Uncle Sam, but he hasn't exactly gotten a lot of support from the people in charge, who are committed to the proposition that government is bad, so we need to eliminate regulations and sell whatever we can to the highest bidder — or at least to a friend, who doesn't have to be the highest bidder.

And the people being hurt by all this? Well hell, government doesn't work so the states should be taking care of this global crisis — (while the feds try to outbid them). Gosh, government sure is inefficient! Better learn to sew surgical masks.

Republicans have been insisting for decades that government can't fix anything. And now they've broken government so badly that they can point to the hash they've made of the coronavirus response and say, See? We told you! Best to let the private sector take care of things, at least as soon as we make sure the CEOs are bailed out.

And if people die, lose their jobs, wonder what the hell happened? Well, they should have known better than to trust the government. Bummer they didn't sell all their stock like a smart US senator.

That was one of the earliest lessons Donald Trump taught his firstborn son; Don't trust anyone. Not even Daddy. Not even when things are dire. Look out, always, for Number One, because nobody else matters.

Thank you for the continuing lessons, Mr. "President," sir. Ronald Reagan would be so proud.

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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