Thursday, April 30, 2020

Big Government and Big Meat

JBS meatpacking plant in Green Bay, via Wisconsin Public Radio.

It's funny, and not uninteresting, to look at the Trump administration as if it were trying to prove that the conservative theories about Big Government are true—that it's inevitably inept, roughshod, deaf and blind to the realities of life on the ground, and probably corrupt.

But in the case of conservative "federalism" (the bizarre cult around the design of the US Constitution according which it was intended to preserve the autonomy of states against a powerful central government when, as a matter of well understood historical fact, it created a powerful central government to counterbalance the autonomy of the states under the failed Articles of Confederation), it's getting downright spooky.

I'm thinking in the first place about Trump's crusade on behalf of Big Meat, where our capitalism-loving president, so deeply unwilling to use his powers under the Defense Production Act to ensure essential medical supplies, has deployed them to protect our threatened pork, beef, and chicken industry after some plants have become the centers of Covid-19 outbreaks and shut down.

One reason they've shut down is the press, which has been reporting on appalling failure to deal with the pandemic:

Tuesday, April 28, 2020



Via Yahoo:
President Donald Trump praised his administration’s work on the coronavirus pandemic as “incredible” on Monday despite repeated missteps, including long delays in dispensing test kits. Then he attempted to shift the blame to a nameless “somebody” from “a long time ago.” 
“There has been so much unnecessary death in this country,” Trump said, adding:
“It could have been stopped and it could have been stopped short, but somebody a long time ago, it seems, decided not to do it that way. And the whole world is suffering because of it.”
My thoughts were drawn irresistibly to a famous story by Shirley Jackson, "Charles", which if you don't know it already, please read it now at the link, because it's one of those old-school commercial stories (in Mademoiselle in 1948) that depend on a twist, and there will be a spoiler in a moment.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

With the Happiness

Donald Trump looks on as Bill Bryan introduces his graphic. Photo by Alex Brando/AP via ABC News.

It's pretty clear at this point—it's probably been clearer to most of you than it has to me—that the simplest explanation of Trump's Light-Inside-the-Body disaster was the correct one: he has no idea what's going to happen at any of the Covid briefings, since he hasn't paid any attention to the preparation or read any briefings, and was taken by surprise by a graphic showing the findings of a DHS study according to which the novel coronavirus on surfaces or in aerosol droplets has a shorter half-life in high heat or humidity.

Marcy (whose good work on this I'm just shamelessly scavenging) notes:
The NYT discovered that some of Trump’s advisors claim (anonymously in the NYT version, but named as Mark Meadows and Kayleigh McEnany by CNN) to have realized that allowing acting DHS Undersecretary for Science... William Bryan was going to be a mistake even before it happened. But Mike Pence liked the pretty pictures and good news he offered, so it went into the briefing.
Of course we understand what is meant by "good news": not good news about our ability to deal with the virus, but good news about Trump, evidence that one of his most embarrassingly stupid comments of this whole season, from last February

Saturday, April 25, 2020

President on Drugs: Update

Note: I keep updating this.
"Night singer of shares" from the South Sea Bubble, Amsterdam 1720, via Wikipedia

Of course it's possible that Trump knew exactly what he was doing, just as he did with the oil futures a while back or the hydroxychloroquine market more recently, in a classic little pump-'n'-dump scheme.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Literary Corner: This Is Your President on Drugs

"Frodo Smokes Crack", by Sikojensika/DeviantArt

Listening to some BBC expert solemnly explaining that while ultraviolet light and Lysol both can kill coronaviruses on surfaces, President Trump is wrong to suppose that either could be used as injection treatments for Covid-19 patients, and in fact injecting a liquid disinfectant would kill the patient before the virus did. Hey, we knew that, and for all we know Trump does too. They're missing the point.

Like a critic acknowledging that Alph is indeed a sacred river, personified by the Peloponnese river god Alpheus, but Mr. Coleridge errs when he claims that it runs through caverns, measureless or otherwise, and empties into a sunless sea; actually, it empties into the Ionian Sea, where the sky is generally quite bright.

Really, Mr. Coleridge is not doing geography! He's doing something else!

Here's the poem:

Bring the Light Inside the Body
by Donald J.Trump

Bent Out of Compton

Last time David Brooks referred to Compton was in a column of 2012 when he alleged that Tupac (born in Harlem, ranged from Baltimore to Marin City and is most associated with Oakland) represented the city, which in fact had far less to do with his artistic development than his career as a Shakespearian actor, since he never spent any significant time there at all). Via Spin
Shorter David Brooks, "Who Is Driving Inequality? You Are", New York Times, 23 Aprl 2020:
Apparently inequality is my fault, for being better than everybody else. And you too, probably, if you read the column and you waited till after your kids grew up for your first divorce, contributed financially to their music lessons and SAT tutoring, and read aloud to them at bedtime. Unlike some people who were working night shifts at the 7-Eleven instead. This is why your law partner children earn 40 times as much as a secretary, while in 1960 they only earned five times as much, though I'm not sure if that's because future law students back in the day had more music lessons or there wasn't any 7-Eleven for a future secretary's parents to work in in those days. But who would refuse to read bedtime stories to their kids or fail to marry their mothers or insist on working in a 7-Eleven just to prevent inequality? That would be perverse!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Horse race stuff

Hi Cowpokes from Mike's Roundup, thanks Monsieur Bouffant!

Via All Hat No Cattle.

Jordan writes in comments:
Yas, what do you think of Steve's new post about how the likelihood that testing won't get straightened out by November won't affect Trump's reëlection chances?
Not to impugn Steve, obviously (and we all know he's been on that side of every "Trump support will not flag" argument), but I wonder whether this is a "hot hand fallacy" (to the extent that I understand the idea: I admit I got it from The Big Short) -- whether this is finally Trump's Waterloo or whether that's as false as it's been every previous time.
As usual, I think Steve is right-but: he's always right when he says Trump support won't flag, that's not a "hot hands" fallacy but a consistent reality of the last four years and he's been on it from the start.

But they're still a minority and always will be. He's now back to a more normal 8.6 points underwater in the 538 average. Which doesn't in itself stop him from winning (on election day 2016 he was down 13 points in the Gallup poll!), but it takes more cooperation from Fate and from the Democrats than he's likely to get a second time. Saying there's any likelihood he'd be able to steal it through the Electoral College the way he did last time would be in the hot-hands universe, I think, because it took such a lot of factors to line up, and most of them won't be available to him this year. Not Wisconsin and Michigan.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020


Here we go again with the imperial Tweedict.
Two White House officials said an executive order is being drafted and that Trump could sign it as soon as Tuesday. The order, which was discussed among senior staff members Monday [sure, Jan], would suspend nearly all immigration under the rationale of preventing the spread of infection by foreigners arriving from abroad.
Oh, sure, but

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Cure, maybe, but not proof that capitalism will solve all your problems

Image via Freedom From Religion Foundation.

This week's news of a remarkably successful early trial at the University of Chicago for a possible Covid-19 drug, Gilead's Remdesivir, is really good, let me say that, but I'm not so sure about Mr. Bret Stephens and his panegyric to pharmaceutical profit (The Story of Remdesivir")—
Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there should be no big-pharma haters in pandemics. Last year, Elizabeth Warren wrote that “giant drug companies only care about one thing: raking in profits on the backs of patients.” I wonder if the Massachusetts senator would have the nerve to say that to [Gilead clinical research head Diana] Brainard and every other private-sector scientist laboring to find cures under the intense strain of this global emergency.
—and their beneficent employers,
profit-seeking companies operating in fiercely competitive and well-regulated marketplaces. Whatever the fate of remdesivir or any other drug, one lesson from this pandemic is how dependent we are for our survival on an innovative and robust pharmaceutical industry. Maybe we should do more as a country to cultivate it than tear it down.
As a matter of fact, Gilead has had plenty of cultivation from our federal government, in particular with respect to Remdesivir, starting with the CDC in 2014 pulling it out of a "library" of some 1000 possible antiviral compounds the company had been patenting over some decades, as a possible treatment for Ebola, refined with the full collaboration and financial support of the the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) whose scientists did the actual testing of the drug's effectiveness in cell cultures and 100 rhesus monkeys who all survived the disease.

Lindsey's Song

To the tune of:

a kook, a crook, a piece of shit
a mook completely out of it
and presidentially unfit
I've looked at Trump that way
but now I think he's always right
a source of wonder and delight
I pray to him most every night
and talk him up by day
I've looked at Trump from both sides now
in spite, in love, and still somehow
I'm not quite certain what I think
I guess I'll pour myself—a-a drink
my tastes are wet, my humor's dry
I take my pleasures on the fly
I've always been espoused to my
political career
but now I'm feeling so forlorn
my friends all stare at me in scorn
I'm sorry but I wasn't born
to be a mutineer
I've looked at Trump from both sides now
from high, from low, and still somehow
I can't remember what I think
I guess I'll pour myself—a-a drink

Friday, April 17, 2020


That's what causes the spread of disease, allowing these ruffians to go on breaks. Meanwhile David Brooks is taking a big break from the watery cosplay compassion of his Weavery and letting the real Brooks out of the house with a big Tory Harrumph ("The Age of Coddling Is Over"):
Over the past decades, a tide of “safetyism” has crept over American society. As Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt put it in their book “The Coddling of the American Mind,” this is the mentality that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you weaker. The goal is to eliminate any stress or hardship a child might encounter, so he or she won’t be wounded by it.
("The Untruth of Fragility: Whatever Doesn't Kill You Makes You Weaker" is the title of chapter 1 of the Lukianoff-Haidt book, so now we know pretty much exactly how far Brooks got reading it; he doesn't believe in coddling authors either.)

Not only is this indulgence of the little ones ridiculous, it also causes suicide and mental illness:

Vignette From the Age of Covid

Maggie Haberman, 16 April, on the first three weeks of the president's new chief of staff:
In the case of Mr. Meadows, it has not helped him with his White House colleagues that the former North Carolina congressman, who has a reputation for showing his emotions, cried while meeting with members of the White House staff on at least two occasions. One instance was in the presence of a young West Wing aide; another time was with the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
On both occasions, Mr. Meadows was discussing staffing changes, according to the people briefed on the events. A White House spokesman declined to comment on either meeting. A person close to Mr. Kushner said he denied that any such episode involving him ever took place.
I'm not going to try writing it up as a scene, but I can't stop picturing it as a lockdown moment that should be part of the history, a Skype call between Haberman in her Washington apartment and Jared and Ivanka on a couch somewhere, maybe still in Jersey—they flew to the Bedminster golf course for the first Passover seder, with their Secret Service friends and presumably hundreds of freshly rented golf carts, and it must have been a pretty idyllic moment of respite, unspoiled by any golf or First Golfer raging through the clubhouse. Jared's regaling Maggie with tales of weeping Mark, and they're laughing their little hearts out, and then Ivanka raises a warning finger: "Of course Jared denies that any such episode involving him ever took place." And then they're laughing harder than ever.

If identity politics exists it's probably not that bad. Explain your disagreement in detail.

Via Boston Review.

In Saturday's post-mortem on the Bernie Sanders campaign, contemplating the idea of the Sanders strategy for winning as a kind of bona fide and sort-of-Marxian theory (that certain classes of oppressed voters will respond to a certain kind of economic analysis of their situation and this is the way to get them to vote in greater numbers than they normally do) that has now been definitively shown to be false, I found myself wandering into some very big topics without adequate preparation, perhaps, and saying some things that maybe sounded more adventurous, or horrifying, than they actually were, and because I'd like to keep using these thoughts, I thought I'd spend some time pulling back to couch them in a more traditional political-science discourse.

Excruciatingly traditional, in fact, with the help of the trusty old Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and beginning with old Aristotle, who named the subject, πολιτικη επιστημη, politikē epistēmē, the science of things related to the polis, city stuff, by analogy with (say) physics, φυσικη επιστημη, physikē epistēmē, the science of material bodies, and so forth.


The idea of "politics" has a bad reputation, going back a ways, used, as Jordan was saying in the comments,

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

And the (journalistic) grift goes on

Startled by a headline in The Hill

AG Barr just signaled that things are about to get ugly for the Russia collusion team

into thinking what? there's a chance that Junior and Jared, Flynn and Prince, Stone and Parscale, and some of those other malefactors could be in trouble?

Sadly, no, and of course that's not what Barr is talking about. The headline writers didn't realize that the expression "Russia collusion team" has an obvious meaning. What the author of the article, one Kevin R. Brock, is offering, is an interpretation of what Barr meant on his visit the other day to Laura Ingraham's Foxhole:
"I think the president has every right to be frustrated, because I think what happened to him was one of the greatest travesties in American history," Barr said. "Without any basis they started this investigation of his campaign, and even more concerning, actually is what happened after the campaign, a whole pattern of events while he was president. So I -- to sabotage the presidency, and I think that – or at least have the effect of sabotaging the presidency." 
That is, Brock is hoping Barr's announcing an effort to get the real villains, McCabe and Strzok, Simpson and Ohr, and Robert Mueller and presumably James Comey and Barack Obama and maybe FBI inspector general Michael Horowitz, who had the nerve to say that the investigation of the Trump campaign was not baseless, or a travesty, or sabotage, at all.

Monday, April 13, 2020

How Socialists Vote

As you know I've had my issues with Senator Bernard Sanders over the years, but his guest star appearance on Twitter TV this afternoon made me feel all kinds of warm.

I think I've talked about my dear dead communist friend Wayne in this space before, and tried to explain what he taught me about being a socialist, but I can't remember exactly how I did it. This time I'd like to put in in a way I just thought of, that it involves perpetually thinking on two distinct levels: one about what a truly just society would look like, and the other about what you're going to do right now, at whatever moment in the history of capitalism you happen to be located in. For example, when it's time to vote.

When it came to voting, and door-to-door canvasing, Wayne was a Democrat, with a preference for "reform", but a nostalgia for city bosses, because, as he said, everybody in Richard J.Daley's Chicago could get a good city job. He wouldn't talk about the "lesser of two evils" but rather about the marginal good. He'd frame the question in terms of whether your candidate might do any good at all, for working and poor people.

That's what I saw Bernie doing today with Joe, in their different Covid-world stay-home screens. I'm sad that these guys don't have more room for women in their mental world, but I'm still glad they're friends, and are able to attend to and show some appreciation of their differences. I found it endearing that the thing was scripted kind of like an amateur radio interview, with the awkward asking-each-other-questions format that ensured they'd get in the essential things but made sure it wasn't going to be smooth in production values.

But mainly I saw Bernie judging that Joe was going to try to take an opportunity to make life better for working and poor people in our country, and could use some help (and pushing, obviously), and it would definitely be on the marginally good side, starting, obviously, with getting rid of the dreadful ascendancy of the Trump Republicans but going well beyond that, and he's going to vote—and campaign—like a socialist.

Notes from the commentariat continued

Eli Valley's Passover cartoon (Gut yom tov!) featuring Bret Stephens and Bari Weiss.

Then there was Mr. Bret Stephens, complaining about how Big Government is stopping folks from feeding children ("Covid-19 and the Big Government Problem"):
Katie Wilson, a deputy under secretary at the Department of Agriculture in the Obama administration, is the executive director of the Urban School Food Alliance, a nonprofit that works with the country’s largest school districts to improve the quality of student nutrition. Her topmost concern is with the millions of poorer children and their families for whom school meals are essential to diets and budgets alike.
In this pandemic, she has a message for government bureaucrats in Washington and every state capital: Stop getting in the way.
Note how he makes the Urban School Food Alliance sound like some nice little private thing, "a nonprofit", as opposed to a nonprofit institution that is a pretty big slice of government in its own right, a confederation of (not "with") the nation's 12 largest school districts with an almost billion-dollar budget used to "leverage our purchasing power to continue to drive food quality up and costs down while incorporating sound environmental practices."

Notes from the commentariat

Via BBC, August 2013, reporting findings by Richard Toye that "many people thought the Prime Minister was drunk during his famous 'finest hour' broadcast. Prof Toye, from the University of Exeter's Department of History, said Churchill's speeches did stimulate and excite people but also caused disappointment and considerable criticism. 'There is little evidence that they made a decisive difference to the British people's will to fight on,' he added."

Meanwhile Hugh Hewitt thinks Winston Churchill is the more apt comparison, because of his rigorous insistence on happy talk:
Churchill insisted that everyone in his cabinet, in the country really, choose to put on confidence and resolve like an overcoat. Even when gloomy, and he often was, or waspish, snappish and impossible to please (it seems like a daily occurrence in Larson’s account), Churchill knew his audiences were many: In Britain, across its empire, in America’s ambivalent White House and Congress, and of course in Berlin.
Of course. Our allies, who can't decide whether to fight or not, will be inspired by Trump's eloquent courage, while the virus, holed up in its bunkers, is going to be baffled by Trunp's resolute cheerfulness and probably make tactical mistakes.

What an idiot, but what an appetite for trying to rationalize public deception. I hate praising Churchill, but he never told Britain that "we will win this war sooner than people think".

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Note on ideology

A little outdoor Joe.

I like this insightful piece by Zack Beauchamp/Vox, though at first sight it's just validating something I've been trying to say for years:
Sen. Bernie Sanders’s theory of victory was simple: An unapologetically socialist politics centering Medicare-for-all and welfare state expansions would unite the working class and turn out young people at unprecedented rates, creating a multiracial, multigenerational coalition that could lead Sanders to the Democratic nomination and the White House.
“When we bring millions of working people, people of color and young people in the political process, there is nothing we cannot accomplish,” Sanders wrote in a February 2 Facebook post....
In the end, this approach failed. It was former Vice President Joe Biden, not Bernie Sanders, who assembled a multiracial working-class coalition in key states like Michigan — where Biden won every single county, regardless of income levels or racial demographics. Sanders had strong support among younger voters, but they did not turn out in overwhelming numbers. In at least some key states, they made up smaller portion of the primary electorate than in 2016.
But where I'd just have said Sanders was misled by his fear of alienating the "white working class" into putting economic issues up in front of race and gender, and ended up courting a working class that didn't exist, Beauchamp brings out some other thoughts that might lead to some more positively helpful conclusions, starting with bringing Marx into it:

Friday, April 10, 2020

Stay Healthy!

Tom Sawyer applying some management skills to the whitewashing of Aunt Polly's fence. Not finding credit.

David Brooks got his readers to help out with a column on mental health in the year of plague ("The Pandemic of Fear and Agony"), sending out an appeal last week
to tell me about your mental health — how you are faring in this hard time. I don’t know what I expected; maybe some jaunty stories about families pulling together in a crisis. What you sent gutted me. There have been over 5,000 replies so far, and while many people are hanging in there, there is also a river of woe running through the world — a significant portion of our friends and neighbors are in agony.
The column he gets out of it, and a supplementary selection ("'I Feel Like I'm Finally Cracking and I Don't Even Know Why'"), is all agony, and I'm of two minds about it: on the one hand, better to devote space to real human voices than to another David Brooks column, and these barely edited  fragments of sorrow and anxiety are pretty real, but they're jumbled together in an awfully uncurated way, as if to emphasize the lack of a pattern in who's suffering: old people in isolation, old people saddled with family responsibilities, people with a history of anxiety and depression disorders, people who have always thought they were completely healthy, people who think they're doing something about it (some reading Victor Frankl on Brooks's recommendation) and and people who don't know what they're going to do.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

There once was a pisher

Photo via The Independent.

I seem to have been the only participant in this contest:

But what the heck, I feel good about it.
And the third one feels like a real poem, which doesn't mean I don't hope it's funny, but that it really does say something about Tucker that couldn't be said so easily in normal commentary, and obeys the laws of the form while subverting their function. and all the words, even the Yiddish ones, seem to have more than one reason for being there.

Hugh and Cry

Photograph by Alex Brandon/AP and whatever bright spark at WaPo picked it out doesn't wish Jared well, because it looks like he's drowning and can't figure out which direction the air is in.
Shorter Hugh Hewitt, "Jared Kushner doesn't deserve this withering barrage" (age cannot wither him, nor custom stale his infinite variety, but barrages might):
After all, even liberal New York mayor Bill de Blasio thanked him for the 200,000 N95s the feds provided New York with last week. Why is everybody else so darn mean? Probably because Democrats are afraid we'll have a V-shaped economic recovery when the medication and the vaccine come out and they'll lose in November. Shame on them for politicizing this national emergency!
Actually, you're the one who brought the elections into it, Huey.

Also, de Blasio had asked for 3.3 million N95 masks and 15,000 ventilators. Some 400 immediately needed ventilators seem to have arrived too, from those provided by the feds to the state, along with 140 from Oregon governor Kate Brown and apparently more out of the 1000 that Jack Ma and associates donated to the state. The New England Patriots had done better than Kushner's task force, providing 300,000 masks. After de Blasio issued his thanks to the president and his Pooh-Bah, the government released another 600,000 masks, proving that Trump's remarks to governors on 24 March applied to mayors as well:
President Donald Trump says he’s willing to help blue-state governors who are struggling to contain coronavirus outbreaks — but only if they’re willing to stop criticizing him in exchange.
“It’s a two-way street,” Trump told Fox News on Tuesday. “They have to treat us well, also. They can’t say, ‘Oh, gee, we should get this, we should get that.’”
As usual, Trump isn't really hiding anything. He makes deals with his hostages, and expects you to live up to your end. Then he says, "See, President Zelenksyy said he didn't feel any pressure at all," or
“I’ll tell you who’s been nice, Mayor de Blasio,” Trump said in a tone of surprise. “He understands what we’ve given him.”
But there aren't any medications out there that are going to turn around the economy in a U, V, or W in the next six months, and there definitely won't be a vaccine before 2021. I hope we're well on the road to recovery in the fall, but I don't think the economy is going to be the main issue this year.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Feet of Clay

Feet of clay, Roman votive offerings, via Episcopal Cafe.

There's a weird maneuver going on to make Peter Navarro, the bogus China expert Jared Kushner discovered on Amazon, into a coronavirus hero, on the basis of warning memos he's said to have submitted to the White House showing a prescient understanding of the threat: one from 29 January, which Maggie Haberman/New York Times got hold of—
A top White House adviser starkly warned Trump administration officials in late January that the coronavirus crisis could cost the United States trillions of dollars and put millions of Americans at risk of illness or death.
The warning, written in a memo by Peter Navarro, President Trump’s trade adviser, is the highest-level alert known to have circulated inside the West Wing as the administration was taking its first substantive steps to confront a crisis that had already consumed China’s leaders and would go on to upend life in Europe and the United States.
—and one that's showed up in a piece by Jonathan Swan and Margaret Talev at Axios from 23 February calling for allocation of $3 billion to spending on PPE supplies, development of drug therapies (not mentioning hydroxychloroquine, which Navarro has recently been pushing)  and vaccine, and Covid-19 testing, which the article claims Navarro wrote, but permit me to express my doubts on that subject, because no actual evidence that he did is offered, beyond Axios's assertion.

For the Record: What's Wrong With Journalism?

Via Santa Clara Univiersity.

Had an interesting back and forth with the artist formerly known as Thornton over a thing about journalism, whether we can manage to agree about it or not—where we do agree that "objectivity" and "impartiality" are bad ideas, but I insist it's not a bad thing for a newspaper to make an effort to be truthful, and he says look at the great old days when journalism knew what kind of business it was in and pleased its partisan readers and I say yeah and competed to help the imperalist swine start the Spanish-American war ("You supply the pictures, Mr. Pulitzer...") and so on:

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Literary Corner: Our Bodies, Our Shelves


by Donald J. Trump
We have a stockpile. It is a
federal stockpile. We can use it
for states, or we can use it for ourselves.
We do use it for the federal government.
We have a very big federal government.
This is apparently a comment on Jared Kushner's interesting statement explaining why the federal stockpile of medical products shouldn't be distributed to the states that need them:
"The notion of the federal stockpile was it's supposed to be our stockpile. It's not supposed to be states' stockpiles that they then use," he said. "So we're encouraging the states to make sure that they're assessing the needs, they're getting the data from their local situations, and then trying to fill it with the supplies that we've given them."
Which seemed so peculiar, because, you know, where is the place that isn't in the states where it's meant to go?

Friday, April 3, 2020

Could it be?

A nice column by Paul Waldman at WaPo ("How this crisis could help us get to health-care reform") asks a question I've been thinking about a little bit, whether the pandemic crisis might not stimulate us in in the US to do something about the inequities of our health care system. It's easy for rightwingers to say that socialized medicine in Italy and Spain is proving just as ill equipped to handle the logistic demands of the thing as our marketized approach is, but what can't be denied is that we're going to have a much harder time paying for it, as Waldman says:
untold numbers of people are going to get huge bills from being treated for covid-19. Insurance companies made a big deal about waiving cost-sharing for coronavirus tests, but if you get it and have to get treated, you could still face thousands of dollars in costs, especially if you have a high-deductible plan of the kind that has proliferated in recent years.
The number of people facing those costs will be enormous. As bad as the virus has gotten in some other countries, that’s one thing their citizens don’t have to worry about.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Not necessarily doing something nefarious, but how would you know?

Sterling is closed (as you'd imagine) until at least 30 April. Is he going out there on his own or with some "friends" and his $45,000 worth of golf carts to an otherwise closed course, like Chris Christie going to the beach during the government shutdown of July 2017? Will there be caddies, and will the kitchen at the 19th hole open up to prepare snacks?

Why is my first thought about the money?

For the Record: A note on passion and politics

Captain Picard in genuine fake bronze, $74.87 from Amazon. 

That godlike charisma thing that John Kennedy and Barack Obama had is a valuable thing in electoral politics, and of particular interest to the young male voter (the same population sector that lets itself get recruited into war fighting), and apparently Senator Bernard Sanders has some of that too, though it's hard for me to see, since I've been around people like him all my life, as I've pointed out before, but it has its limits, especially, in the American system, in the way it doesn't carry over into those midterm elections like 2010 and 2014, if only because the young male voter really can't be counted on to remember to vote. And it's not the only effective way of rousing politically effective emotion.

Biden has that ability to convey the impression that, as James Clyburn said, "He knows us," or he really does know us, as the case may be. Either way, he worked it brilliantly in two presidential elections as Obama's deputy, and he seems to have been working it pretty well in this year's primaries up until the appearance of the plague brought it all to a kind of standstill where we feel too shaken to understand what's going on.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

For the Record: Quinine

Image via Wikipedia: "The quinine content of tonic water causes it to fluoresce under black light."
Dustup on me criticizing the First Pharmacologist in the White House: