Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Well, that lasted about a day...

Thanks to Trump’s need to never be wrong. Ever.

Now Wait a Minute (Gardening Postponed edition)

April 30 is well over two weeks away.  Is there a Trump calendar I'm unfamiliar with?

And that's still a best-case scenario.

Still, the White House could still be listening to this guy:

You wrote, “The adaptive responses should reduce the exposures in the high-risk groups, given the tendency for the coronavirus to weaken over time.” What tendency are you talking about, and how do we know it will weaken over time?
Well, what happens is it’s an evolutionary tendency. [“There is absolutely no evidence for that,” Ko told me. According to Kuritzkes, “There is no proof that this is the case. To the extent we see that evolution taking place it is usually over a much vaster timescale.”] So the mechanism is you start with people, some of whom have a very strong version of the virus, and some of whom have a very weak version of the virus. If the strong-version-of-the-virus people are in contact with other people before they die, it will pass on. But, if it turns out that you slow the time of interaction down, either in an individual case or in the aggregate, these people are more likely to die before they could transfer the virus off to everybody else.

On the other hand, those people have the more benign version of the virus that will allow them to live longer, which means that they have the chance to make a connection with somebody else. And so what happens is, if it turns out you think something like the coronavirus is ten times as strong as another virus, what that means is that the distancing is going to be more violent, which means that the
evolutionary process should be more rapid than that for the ordinary flu.

There is no "benign version" of this virus.  And Epstein, who originally posited only 500 would die in America from the virus before the "adaptive response" swooped in to save us all, later upped his estimate to 5000.

The total number of deaths nationwide on Tuesday surpassed 3,400 — more than the number of people who died in the initial Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and surpassing the number of deaths attributed to the viral outbreak in China, where it was first reported late last year.

I don't like to be gloomy, but the trend in deaths is not toward suddenly slowing down:

As I say, the silver lining is that Epstein is no longer taken as a reliable seer.  But it's a slender reed to rest much on:

On the other hand, Trump pointedly gave the podium to Fauci this afternoon to discuss the expected number of deaths.

 He's no longer calling it a "flu," either.

Small graces.

In Which I Stop Reading the Internet and go out to garden....

Yeah, Feb. 5th; but we need to start there to get this all in context:

“This the price we pay when we elect presidents who have no experience in government at all,” [Elaine Kamarck] told me.

Other presidents, she explained, have tended to have some form of executive branch experience or prior work as governors, in which they are forced to manage in a crisis. But Trump came into office with no understanding of how the government works at all and no apparent desire to learn. He often expresses surprise at the powers he or the government he runs has.

“It is extraordinarily dangerous to elect people who are discovering things as they go along,” said Kamarck, and we’re seeing why now more than ever.

“If the country is at peace and prosperous, frankly, we have the luxury of having a president who entertains us or appalls us as the case may be,” she went one. “Having outsiders is a disaster when we have a disaster.”

One of Trump’s major flaws, she argued, is his distrust of expertise. And that’s largely what the federal government is: an army of subject-matter experts overseeing their own areas of responsibility. A president needs to understand how to use that apparatus to detect emerging disasters and respond to them as they’re coming. Instead, Trump dismisses these experts as the “deep state.”

“What most presidents understand is they need a system around them that accesses the expertise in the federal government,” Kamarck said. But Trump has never understood this. Under his leadership, the pandemic office at the National Security Council was disbanded. It seems this made it much harder for the issue to make its way to the president’s desk early on, when active intervention could have mitigated the disaster we’re now experiencing.
“You didn’t have the competency in the White House to pull this all together,” she said. “So who is he left with? He’s left with Jared!”

Trump’s reliance on his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is emblematic of his disdain for expertise. Kushner came into government without any particular policy strengths. Instead of letting him focus on one issue, which he could have immersed himself in, he has bounced around from priority to priority, adding little apparent value but wielding preposterous levels of authority.

And while Trump keeps insisting that no one could have seen this kind of crisis coming, Kamarck dismissed this.

“It was totally foreseeable, you could see it coming,” she said. “I can’t tell you the number of times I taught the SARS cases study.”
Yeah, this is what happens when you elect a President who's dumb as a stick.*

And this is his new talking point (because all he has are talking points):

And that "Impeachment Distracted Us!" meme is floundering:

In other news:

Well, that and by the time automobile manufacturers retool (if they do; there's still California, and Europe has emissions standards despite Trumps' actions), Trump will be out of office and the rules will change again.  So it's not the executives who are fools.

Just yesterday their boss was at the White House calling Trump God's blessing.  I guess not so much for them, huh?

Yeah, well....

Stay inside.  Stay safe.  Hunker down.  God be with you.

*On that point, I'd reconnect you to this, and point out another article on that topic at Vox. 

Follow the Bouncing Ball

"The impeachment trial of Donald Trump, the 45th and incumbent president of the United States, began in the U.S. Senate on January 16, 2020, and concluded with his acquittal on February 5."

Yeah, that was the distraction.

Which is going to last longer?  This talking point, or "China virus"?

Morning Edition

Encounters With the Almost-Famous

Here’s where I get to say I know Lee Yeakel. When I was in law school, I clerked for him. He wasn’t a judge then; I had no idea he’d ever be one. In fact, this was long enough ago Lee and I and his then-young son went to the theater on a weekday to see “Aliens.” It was the only "Alien" movie I ever saw in the theater (except for "Prometheus," but that doesn't even count as a movie.  I took my daughter to that one, a sort of echo of seeing "Aliens" with Lee and his son.).

I remember how much Lee loved a good argument, about politics or law. Lee was an active Republican and I was a yellow dog Democrat, so we argued often after hours. We also argued over Roe v Wade. He couldn’t accept the legal reasoning of the case. But as the article makes clear, he has always upheld it (and it’s progeny) as a Federal judge. Even though he was appointed by George W. Bush.

I haven’t seen Lee since before my daughter was born, which is my loss.  But I've admired his fairness and his work as a judge, what little I've seen of it.  Most of what a judge does never gets reported in the newspapers, and what does get reported about court cases is often distorted and wrong (I know this from personal experience).

Dahlia Lithwick has a more extensive quote from Lee's opinion ruling against the state's position:

“Regarding a woman’s right to a pre-fetal-viability abortion, the Supreme Court has spoken clearly. There can be no outright ban on such a procedure,” Yeakel wrote. “This court will not speculate on whether the Supreme Court included a silent ‘except-in-a-national-emergency clause’ in its previous writings on the issue.”

That sounds like Lee, as I remember him.  The State of Texas tried to argue that the exigency of the coronavirus crisis meant PPE and surgical masks needed to be diverted from abortion clinics to hospitals and ER's.  Lee was having none of it:

The benefits of a limited potential reduction in the use of some personal protective equipment by abortion providers is outweighed by the harm of eliminating abortion access in the midst of a pandemic that increases the risks of continuing an unwanted pregnancy, as well as the risks of traveling to other states in search of time-sensitive medical care.
As I recall Lee was never so much against abortions, as he didn't like the legal reasoning used to support them in Roe.  He was always much more conservative in his politics than I was (and I'm more liberal now than I was then), but he was never blindly ideological.

It's good to see that Lee is remaining true to what the law requires, and continuing to tell the State of Texas (this isn't the first time) that what the crazies like Paxton want to do is something up with which he will not put.

Blaming Obama Didn't Work, So....

Ignore the baselessness of the argument (if impeachment "distracted" Trump, then he's not fit to lead.), and consider why it's being made in the first place.  I mean:  does this do one thing to put one more mask on one more healthcare worker?  Does it produce and deliver one more ventilator (and the technician to operate it?  Those things are plug-in air conditioners, after all.)?  Does it have anything to do with the crisis we face?

Or is it just the Republicans avoiding responsibility for being in charge of government?  Again?

Monday, March 30, 2020

Meanwhile, back in the courthouse

I don't expect Trump will talk about THAT on teevee any time soon; more's the pity.

Meanwhile, Back In the Rose Garden

Probably because it would be a suggestion, not an order.  That kind of "police power," as the lawyers say, resides solely with the states.  (How many times do we have to explain this?)

(I mean, I know he's reading from a prepared statement, but "guidelines" should be at least a clue, right?)

Again:  is everybody watching?

(Yeah, about that:

Alright, back to regular order.)

That is the question Yamiche Alcindor was asking that prompted Trump's response in the tweet just above.

I do hope everyone was watching.

No, not part of the press conference.  But maybe it will be tomorrow.

We live in hope.

The First Amendment in the time of pandemic

The charges are unlawful assembly and violation of public health emergency rules.  

Is this allowed?  I'll let our regular commenter/resident practicing attorney (no, not me) explain:

If the issue here is the first amendment,

first, that would prevent almost all forms of mass expression and entertainment from being shut down

second, it can be allowable as a "time, place and manner" restriction

IOW, a red herring

I greatly value the notion of freedom of religion in the first amendment. But I fear how so many people are going to lose any sense of the importance of freedom of religion by its loudest advocates insisting it nullifies the obligation to abide by conventional public health measures.

There is no 1st Amendment issue, IOW.  Freedom of assembly can be regulated as to time and place; even "freedom of religion" can be restricted for reasons of public health.

“His reckless disregard for human life put hundreds of people in his congregation at risk and thousands of residents who may interact with them this week in danger,” [Sheriff] Chronister said.

And this came after repeated attempts to meet with Pastor Howard-Browne about the church's violations.  The arrest warrant came last, not first.  As a Supreme Court justice once said, IIRC: the Constitution is not a mutual suicide pact.

Corporate Leaders are People, Too.

I'm not a GM fanboi, but let's look at what they've done:

On March 19, G.M. began collaborating with Ventec, which normally makes about 200 machines a month, to figure out how to make about 10 times as many in that time. Working through the weekend of March 21 and 22, they hurried to find new suppliers that could provide parts in high volumes, said the five people, who asked not to be named because they fear it would further antagonize Mr. Trump.

Over the weekend, G.M. called in workers to clear out the Kokomo plant, which has been idled because of the outbreak, of machinery previously used to make electrical components for cars. Over the next few days, the automaker and Ventec plan to begin setting up an assembly line. G.M. is already taking applications for the hundreds of jobs. “We continue to work around the clock on our efforts with Ventec,” G.M. said in a statement on Sunday night. “We are working as fast as we can to begin production in Kokomo.”

As for Trump's tweet posted above:

G.M. wasn’t negotiating price and other details with the government. Ventec has led the talks with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services about how many ventilators the government would like to buy, and at what price. The automaker has said it will not make a profit on the ventilators it assembles and is only seeking to cover its costs.

I don't care if GM profits from this effort.  I think they should, rightly.  But that's beside the point now.  And I'll skip over the recitation of the timeline and the efforts GM put into setting up to build ventilators (quite a lot, as it turns out), and cut to the chase:

When Mr. Trump lashed out at G.M. on Friday, executives at both companies were stunned. G.M. executives were furious Mr. Trump would attack the company after it had made so much progress in a week and the administration had earlier been supportive of their effort. (The president on Friday also took aim at Ford Motor, writing, “FORD, GET GOING ON VENTILATORS, FAST!!!!!” Ford is helping General Electric’s health care division increase production of its ventilators.)

“What we’ve accomplished in five days is incredible,” Larryson Foltran, who works in a technology support group at G.M., wrote on Facebook, noting he had been working 14 to 18 hours a day. He said that the president’s posts had bothered him “on a deeper level.”


But Mr. Trump’s Twitter posts appear to have unnerved other corporate leaders. A person familiar with the Stop the Spread campaign said that several corporate executives who had been willing to contribute to the effort earlier had backed away for fear of ending up becoming targets for Mr. Trump as Ms. Barra had.

At a White House news conference on Sunday, the president struck a different tone. “General Motors is doing a fantastic job,” Mr. Trump said. “I don’t think we have to worry about General Motors now.”

Well, until he decides GM is making him look bad now; or otherwise gets a FoxNews/OAN bee in his bonnet.  This is who we have put in office:  a child who thinks everything is about him.  Even GM is trying to do good for people who need help.  Are they profiting, or just selling at cost?  Who cares?  What is Trump doing?  NOTHING!  He hasn't invoked the DPA yet, he hasn't made any arrangements with GM even though he's the head of the Administration; he's done nothing but attack GM baselessly, and make other companies reconsider whether they want to get spattered with Trump's shit.

Trump is a danger to the populace at large.  There's no other way to understand it.

"How should we imagine a healing that we can only begin together?"--Rowan Williams

Speaking Thursday, Pastor Bill Scheer of the Guts Church franchise in northeast Oklahoma delivered a message all about “winning.” It was akin to a message from President Donald Trump, who frequently sees the world as the difference between winners and losers.

“See, the key, and I gotta tell ya, is you gotta put God first and keep Him first, No. 1. And No. 2, our help comes from above and that’s where we have to look,” said Scheer. “Man, let the government do what it does, let the media do what it does but we have to understand who God is in our lives and the hope that we get. And of all of those thousands of promises that are in God’s word they put us on the offensive rather than on the defensive. Man, we’re just not sitting back on our heels anymore just taking it in the teeth. We’re allowed to come humbly and boldly in the throne of grace…

“Man, we’re overcomers in this age. We’re winners. God’s destiny, God’s legacy, God’s — God’s call and purpose on your life is to win and to win every day.”

The event on Thursday was a state-wide prayer day in Oklahoma, to "pray away" the coronavirus.  I don't usually comment on statements like this, even though I have strong opinions about them.  But this statement struck me as something a cult leader would say.  It sounds more like "the flying saucers are coming back to retrieve us!" than it does Christianity.  And it's certainly as non-Biblical as anything can be:

“There was a pastor who shared during the prayer time that said we need to know ‘that we are overcomers in this age. That we’re winners,'” Rev. [Ryan]Taber [pastor of First Baptist Church of Piedmont, Oklahoma] quoted Scheer.

“There’s only one problem with this statement,” he continued. “It’s a complete and total lie. It’s not the message of scripture. This statement, the more I meditated on it and thought about it and sort of stewed over it, it infuriated me because this pastor was given the opportunity to speak truth to an entire state of suffering people and he looked into the camera and he told a lie that goes against not only what God’s word says but it actually heaps more suffering on the suffering that people are already experiencing.

“Because if you heard this message that God’s call and his message for your life is for you to be a ‘winner’ and that you would ‘win every day,’ and you heard this message and you just lost your job, or you’re worried about how you’re going to feed your kids or how many paychecks you can miss before you become homeless, then guess what, in that moment you don’t feel like a winner. You don’t feel like you’re winning,” he continued.

“It’s not the message of the Bible from Genesis to Revelations, nowhere is there found this message that God’s sole purpose to alleviate us of our suffering,” Pastor Taber explained. “In fact, it’s the exact opposite.”
That could quickly devolve into the worst charicature of Calvinism, but let's not do that here.  His citations were to Job, Jonah, Samson, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, and even Jesus of Nazareth.  There is certainly more about suffering in Scripture than there is about God making everybody happy and rescuing them from calamity and plague.  There is more in Scripture about facing the human condition than about fleeing it for a cultish vision of perfection and deliverance from....well, life itself.

The former is also every inclusive, while the latter is quite exclusive; something Archbishop Rowan Williams speaks to very clearly here.

And now I've got to go order some of Marilynne Robinson's books.  I think my local bookstore (and former employer) is providing curbside service still....

And will Trump repeat this tonight?

Will the sun set in the West? And yeah, screaming about impeachment is now a “defense:”
I predict it will be very popular among the ill, the afflicted, and the scared-to-death.
Maybe he’ll mention this, too.

“We have always been...,” etc., etc.

Wait a minute: who is “rewriting history”?

Sunday, March 29, 2020

How it feels to have a gun pointed at your head

And knowing there's nothing you can do about it.

Millions of people tuned in to see this!

Or at least we hope.

And you knew he would bring it up:
And about starting things up at Easter? He never said things would start up at Easter!

So, that 100,000 dead projection?  Well, he's not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed!  In fact, it's so low a number let's just double it!
I really do hope millions tuned in to watch this. It saves the Democrats a lot of money in campaign ads.

Favorite Joke Among Lawyers

(I belatedly realized I buried the lede on this.  Richard Epstein is the author of an article referred to in the interview, which was widely influential in the White House.  Carry on.)

...is the lawyer who thinks he's an expert in any field of endeavor because he's a lawyer!  A favorite joke among lawyers because every lawyer knows a lawyer like that.  In this case, it's Richard Epstein:

O.K., so your expertise in the subject I guess comes in part from your work with aids, which you just referenced, is that right?

AIDS, and I’ve worked on evolutionary theory for forty years in its relationship to law.
This, we must point out, would not qualify him as an expert witness in any court in the land, including J.P. court.  Let's start with his "expertise" in evolutionary theory (the bracketed bits are in the original, and are the responses of real experts).  His basic evolutionary theory seems to be that winners win, and humanity prevails because diseases weaken and we don't!  Yeah!

You wrote, “The adaptive responses should reduce the exposures in the high-risk groups, given the tendency for the coronavirus to weaken over time.” What tendency are you talking about, and how do we know it will weaken over time?

Well, what happens is it’s an evolutionary tendency. [“There is absolutely no evidence for that,” Ko told me. According to Kuritzkes, “There is no proof that this is the case. To the extent we see that evolution taking place it is usually over a much vaster timescale.”] So the mechanism is you start with people, some of whom have a very strong version of the virus, and some of whom have a very weak version of the virus. If the strong-version-of-the-virus people are in contact with other people before they die, it will pass on. But, if it turns out that you slow the time of interaction down, either in an individual case or in the aggregate, these people are more likely to die before they could transfer the virus off to everybody else.

Needless to say, that isn't happening with novel coronavirus at all.  Otherwise cases would have plateaued much earlier.  Besides, who is the "high-risk group"?  40% of cases in the U.S. are in persons 18-45.  An infant in Illinois died and was posthumously tested positive for cocos-19.  This guy's "theories" are blowing up in his face.  And here's where the "my legal experience makes me an expert in many, many fields" comes in:

You keep talking about your “sense.” I think that’s the word you’re using. But you’re stating as a fact that the virus is going to weaken over time. It seems like we do not know that. We can turn to other viruses and how they’ve—

No, that is not what I said. I said there’s a long-term tendency in these ways. Over time, yes. And is this a hundred-per-cent tendency? No. Is there any known exception to it? No. [“We did not see SARS or Ebola weaken over time,” Kuritzkes said. “It is only appropriate public-health measures or vaccines that have helped to control those epidemics.”] It seems to me that if you do this, what you’re trying to do is to figure out what the probabilities are, and I think the answer is, if you look at all of the cases that we’ve seen, no matter what’s going on, even if you subtract out the coercion that was used in China and in Korea and so forth, you cannot come up with a credible story that those places in Korea would have had, say, a half a million cases a day. Or in China you would have had, say, thirty million cases a day. And so I do think that the tendency to weaken is there, and I’m willing to bet a great deal of money on it, in the sense that I think that this is right. And I think that the standard models that are put forward by the epidemiologists that have no built-in behavioral response to it—

And you’re not an epidemiologist, correct?

No, I’m trained in all of these things. I’ve done a lot of work in these particular areas. And one of the things that is most annoying about this debate is you see all sorts of people putting up expertise on these subjects, but they won’t let anybody question their particular judgment. One of the things you get as a lawyer is a skill of cross-examination. I spent an enormous amount of time over my career teaching medical people about some of this stuff, and their great strengths are procedures and diagnoses in the cases. Their great weakness is understanding general-equilibrium theory.

I'm not sure what "all of these things" is that he's trained in (as we will see below, he is not trained in reasoning or argument).  I've never heard the "skill of cross-examination" related to "understanding general-equilibrium theory."  Wiki tells me its an economic theory, so there is no connection whatsoever between it and cross-examination, or practicing medicine, for that matter.  If this guy argues like this in court, he's a terrible courtroom lawyer.

You write, “There are two factors to consider. One is the age of the exposed population, and the other is the rate of change in the virulence of the virus as the rate of transmission slows, which should continue apace. By way of comparison, the virulent aids virus that killed wantonly in the 1980s crested and declined when it gave way to a milder form of virus years later once the condition was recognized and the bath houses were closed down.” [I read this passage to Kuritzkes, who responded, “It’s completely inaccurate. It had nothing to do with the change in the virus. We were able to do it by safe-sex practices and the like, and we saw the explosive growth of H.I.V. during the nineteen-nineties in sub-Saharan Africa and more recently in Eastern Europe. There is nothing about the virus that has become less virulent.”] What milder form of the virus are you talking about?

Look, all it is is it’s a distribution. What you do is you figure out what this toxicity strength is and if it’s X at one point, then it’s going to be some fraction of X down the road. And it’s quite clear that that is what happened with aids. And then, when it comes along and you start getting [the antiretroviral drug] AZT and other conditions, it’s easier to treat them because all of a sudden aids is evolved in much the same path as syphilis. If you go through the history of syphilis, it starts off, it’s essentially a deadly disease and kills most people. And then those who survive have the milder version of it. And so after a while what happens is it becomes a tamer disease. [Syphilis is a bacterial infection, not a viral infection. “One doesn’t have anything to do with the other,” Kuritzkes said. Ko told me, “That’s not something that is based in empirical evidence, so the fallacy in his argument is the over-all lack of scientific rigor in his analysis.”] 

The lack of empirical evidence is something he seems to acknowledge, but he thinks that makes him smarter:

No, look, I’m not an empiricist, but, again, let me just be clear to you, because you’re much too skeptical. The evolutionary component has not been taken into account in these models, and so before one is so dismissive, what you really need to do is to get somebody who’s an expert on this stuff to look at the evolutionary theory and explain why a principle of natural selection doesn’t apply here.

Let me stop right there:  how can anyone be "too skeptical" about an argument?  How is that even vaguely a defense of an argument, unless you're facing the extreme case of someone who refuses to listen to what you have to say?  All the interviewer refuses to do here is to allow Epstein to say any damned fool thing he wants.  Again, we'll come back to that.  For now, back to Epstein's words:

What I’m doing here is nothing exotic. I’m taking standard Darwinian economics—standard economic-evolutionary theory out of Darwin—and applying it to this particular case. And, if that’s wrong, somebody should tell me. But what happens is I just get these letters from people saying, “You’re not an expert. The H1 virus differs from this one in the following way.” What I don’t get from anybody is a systematic refutation which looks at the points parameter by parameter.

Huh?  He gets letters explaining precisely why he's wrong, but not looking "at the points parameter by parameter"?  No wonder he says the interviewer is too skeptical.  He can't get the log out of his own eye.

I guess my point is that shouldn’t you be careful about offering up these theories before they’re printed?

No. It turns out in this particular world if you become quiet about this stuff it never gets heard. And what we’ve had now is very loud talk on one side. I think most of it is incorrect. I’m always willing to debate somebody on the other side who wants to say this is the way the model works. In fact, I have several of my Hoover colleagues who have done exactly that.

There is an economic adage (a "law" oF economics, I understand), that bad money drives out good.  The concept applies to ideas, too.  Bad ideas are usually the ones promoted by people who don't understand the subject, and refuse to admit they don't understand.  And I love that "this particular world" phrase.  As opposed to a world where Epstein's genius is universally acknowledged and no one is "too skeptical" of his opinions?  Do I go too far?  In this particular world, this is what Epstein said for the record:

I was just asking about—

I’m saying what I think to be the truth. I mean, I just find it incredible—

I know, but these are scientific issues here.

You know nothing about the subject but are so confident that you’re going to say that I’m a crackpot.

No. Richard—

That’s what you’re saying, isn’t it? That’s what you’re saying?

I’m not saying anything of the sort.

Admit to it. You’re saying I’m a crackpot.

I’m not saying anything of the—

Well, what am I then? I’m an amateur? You’re the great scholar on this?

No, no. I’m not a great scholar on this.

Tell me what you think about the quality of the work!

O.K. I’m going to tell you. I think the fact that I am not a great scholar on this and I’m able to find these flaws or these holes in what you wrote is a sign that maybe you should’ve thought harder before writing it.

What it shows is that you are a complete intellectual amateur. Period.

O.K. Can I ask you one more question?

You just don’t know anything about anything. You’re a journalist. Would you like to compare your résumé to mine?

No, actually, I would not.

Then good. Then maybe what you want to do is to say, “Gee, I’m not quite sure that this is right. I’m going to check with somebody else.” But, you want to come at me hard, I am going to come back harder at you. And then if I can’t jam my fingers down your throat, then I am not worth it. But you have basically gone over the line. If you want to ask questions, ask questions. I put forward a model. But a little bit of respect.

O.K. Let me ask you this question. All my questions are asked with respect.

That’s not the way I hear it.

Donald Trump is not one of a kind.  And Chotiner did Epstein a kindness by not ending the interview there.  But in my reading, that is the last word one needs to hear from Richard Epstein. And why does this matter? As Chotiner points out, the article Epstein wrote (that Chotiner quotes from) has been very influential in the White House.

Idiots leading idiots, IOW.

A braying ass...

On an international scale:
Nobody asked, but he wanted to be sure you knew.

"But...but...but...mah ratings!"

(okay, I just love that last one.  And it can't be all bad news.  Gotta be a ray of sunshine somewhere!)

Sooner or later, we're all going to be where NYC is now.

The Fool Speaks For Himself

I saw Joe Biden on MTP this morning.  I'm still not a Biden fan (he was never my first choice).  But to listen to a former Senator and VP speak intelligently about the workings of government and how it functions, was a tall glass of iced tea on a Texas August day.

So my fervent hope is that Trump is right about his ratings, and that more and more of the public is seeing what a yammering fool he is, how utterly out of his depth he is, and how incapable he is of understanding the suffering of any one person in this country, much less millions of them.  If we're lucky, he'll even repeat this praise of himself tonight.

Because in contrast to that, all Biden has to do is to discuss what needs to be done.  He did it this morning without invective or animosity or anger.  He simply spoke to the problems at hand and what needs to be done about them.  He didn't speak to Trump's incompetence and idiocy.  He is wise to let that speak for itself.

And Trump is fool enough to keep speaking.  Even Hugh Hewitt on MTP this morning had to praise everybody (he did include Trump), because he knew if he praised Trump alone the entire panel (no matter how distant in space they were from each other) would come down on his head like a ton of bricks, and even NBC would probably have nothing further to do with him (why they have him on at all remains a mystery).  For Hewitt, his praise of Trump was actually quite measured; almost muted.

Especially if Trump mentions this tonight (how can he resist?), this point will become obvious to many, many Americans.

Reality is catching up with Trump on all sides.


A) Trump did it for DeSantis in Florida. Occam’s razor, bay-bee!

B) How does Trump distract from critique of his incompetence by being more incompetent? It’s the distraction argument that’s incompetent. It’s a distraction from the horror that the POTUS really is so deep in the shit he has to look up to see bottom. All the explanations I’m reading are just papering over the fear of this reality.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

The Tri-State Area...

...won’t vote for him anyway, right?


Like A Failed Souffle

Told ya!

And:  yeah, but I'm not holding my breath.

See?  Nothing really "unclear" about it.  It couldn't be enforced, legally or otherwise.

In Twitter veritas.

Will We Hear More About A Federal Quarantine?

Three guesses, first two don’t count.

Why'd he do it?

Yeah, I didn't think so, either.  So what did Trump say?

“As I said, I just spoke with [New York Gov.] Andrew Cuomo, I just spoke with [Florida Gov.] Ron DeSantis. We’re thinking about certain things. Some people would like to see New York quarantined because it’s the hot spot. New York, New Jersey, maybe one or two other places, certain parts of Connecticut quarantined. I’m thinking about that right now. We might not have to do it, but there’s the possibility that sometime in April we’ll quarantine.”

First, Gov. Cuomo has no idea what Trump is talking about, becuase Trump didn't mention it to Cuomo today.  Second, note who else Trump spoke to:  Gov. DeSantis of Florida.   Gov. DeSantis is blaming New Yorkers for the problems Florida has:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has called for closures of gyms and limited restaurants to takeout and delivery, but he has yet to issue a shelter-in-place order — and is now blaming New York for the state's coronavirus outbreak.

DeSantis spent a substantial portion of the 33-minute news briefing on Wednesday slamming New Yorkers for getting on flights out of the city, even though the state is under a shelter-in-place order.

Trump wants to win Florida.  More to the point, Trump wants to help out a fellow Republican who is a Trump supporter.  Ergo, Trump gets in front of cameras and surprises everyone in the White House (again!) by declaring he will quarantine states so as to save DeSantis' bacon from the fire.  And why not?  DeSantis, like Trump, refuses to take responsibility for problems under his jurisdiction.*  It's not exactly xenophobic of him to denounce fellow Americans; then again, it's very Southern to blame the "damn yankees" for your troubles.

Besides, Trump just moved to Florida, right?

QED.  The "police" power to quarantine (among other things) resides solely with the states.  Florida has a problem with travel from New York?  That's Florida's problem, not the federal government's.

*More like Trump than I thought:

"Because they kiss my...."

I'm pretty sure the source is you:
“Should anyone who lives in a state that has a governor that you’re not getting along with well be concerned at all?” asked NBC News reporter Kelly O’Donnell.

“No, I think most of the governors are very appreciative,” said Trump. 
And why was he asked such a question?

“I would say we’ll use [the Defense Production Act] again once or twice,” Trump told a reporter on the White House lawn. “We have a couple of little problem children, and we’ll use it where we have to. But overall, I tell you, the private, free enterprise system is at work like nobody’s seen in a long time.” 
Narrator:  he actually hasn't used the DPA yet.
I saw somewhere recently Trump described as an "authoritarian weakman."  He's not authoritarian.  He's just weak.

Does this mean Easter is postponed?  Or that the rest of the country can celebrate it without the northeast states?

No; because Trump doesn't know what the fuck the word "quarantine" means.

Signs of the times.

Friday, March 27, 2020

On the other hand....

He’s right. But it doesn’t mean what he thinks it means.

As CAP points out.

Why I am ignoring the daily “press conferences “

Times is weird when Joe Walsh speaks for me.
unfit to be in charge of a two-car funeral.
Partly because he’s so effing stupid!

'FAKE NEWS!'--A Twitter Timeline (Earlier today)

Trump still seems completely at sea in regards to his authority and responsibility.

Nothing about the cost, though.

No indication at all that anything has really changed.