Napoleon, the pig in charge: Animal Farm Redux

In Animal Farm, by George Orwell one of the key actions of a satirical revolutionary government was to weaponize propaganda to justify the actions of the governing pig. In it, you will recall Napoleon’s initial edict written on a wall sign proclaiming that “All animals are equal” morphed into “All animals are equal but some are more equal”

This narrative came to mind today as the Trump administration, in the midst of one of the worst crises our government has ever faced, retreated from one of the traditional roles of government in supporting states.

“Kushner on Thursday evening offered a novel argument about the national stockpile. He said some states still had stockpiles that they hadn’t been employing for the coronavirus outbreak and that localities should go to them first. And then he suggested that the national stockpile wasn’t even meant for them.”

“And the notion of the federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile,” Kushner said. “It’s not supposed to be states’ stockpiles that they then use.”

“As reporters quickly noted, that didn’t match with how the Department of Health and Human Services was describing the program. On its website, it said. “Strategic National Stockpile is the nation’s largest supply of life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for use in a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out.” It continued to say, “When state, local, tribal, and territorial responders request federal assistance to support their response efforts, the stockpile ensures that the right medicines and supplies get to those who need them most during an emergency.”

But overnight the HHS website’s description changed, a little like the pigs alteration of the sign in animal farm……

it now says. “Many states have products stockpiled, as well. The supplies, medicines, and devices for life-saving care contained in the stockpile can be used as a short-term stopgap buffer when the immediate supply of adequate amounts of these materials may not be immediately available.”

Here are the before and after statements.

Medicynical note: This change in the handwriting on the wall is not surprising when one considers that the leader of our country lies several times a day. And when he’s reminded of the lie, which was made in public and on video recordings, he denies it. It’s only a small step from that to following the actions of Napoleon the pig. If it weren’t so tragic, the imagery would be a cause of hilarity.

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